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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Iran

Late-night jokes: Starbucks CEO reveals how he got rich

Obama at the UN with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit As The Ticket's 73,000-plus Twitter followers and 7,200 Facebook friends/fans know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each evening.

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Fallon: President Obama arrived 25 minutes late for a luncheon at the United Nations. In fact, he was so late, he had to sit next to Joe Biden at the kids' table.

Letterman: The U.N. General Assembly is reconvening. Fun to drive by and see those world leaders sitting on the front porch hooting at all the passing chicks.

Conan: Arnold Schwarzenegger is writing a memoir. It'll be available in hardcover, paperback and a book-on-tape that’s impossible to understand.

Fallon: At a New York City fundraiser President Obama says he's in ‘in a New York ...

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Rick Perry on Obama's Israel policy: 'Naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous'

a NY supporter embraces texas republican governor rick Perry at a  New York City news conference 9-20-11

Gov. Rick Perry's remarks on Israel, as provided by

Thank you. Let me begin by thanking Dr. Solomon Frager and Aron Hirtz for helping us organize this press conference today.

I am joined today by a diverse group of Jewish leaders from here and abroad who share my concern that the United Nations could take action this week to legitimize the Palestinian gambit to establish statehood in violation of the spirit of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership, and we are equally indignant that the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.rick Perrys Hands hold his remarks 9-20-11

Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama Policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.

It must be said, first, that Israel is our oldest and strongest democratic ally in the Middle East and has been for more than 60 years. The Obama Policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult.

There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction. America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing ‘indirect talks” through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.

Second, it was wrong for this Administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit, we see in this American Administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naïve.

Third, by injecting the issue of 1967 borders in addition to a construction freeze in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements, the Obama Administration has put Israel in a position of weakness and taken away their flexibility to offer concessions as part of the negotiation process.

Indeed, bolstered by the Obama Administration’s policies and apologists at the U.N., the Palestinians are exploiting the instability in the Middle East hoping to achieve their objective without concessions or direct negotiations with Israel.

The reason is simple: if they perceive they can get what they want from the U.N. without making any concessions why should they negotiate with Israel?

While the administration is right to finally agree to fight the Arab resolution at the U.N., it bears repeating that we wouldn’t be here today if they had stuck to some basic principles concerning Palestinian statehood:

First, Palestinian leaders must publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist, and to exist as a Jewish state;

Second, President Abbas must persuade all factions including Hamas to renounce acts of terrorism and release kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit, and;

Third, Palestinian statehood must be established only through direct negotiations between the Palestinian leadership and the nation of Israel.

By not insisting on these principles, the Obama Administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospects of peace.

Israel’s security is critical to America’s security. We must not forget it was Israel that took out the nuclear capabilities of Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. In both instances, their actions made the free world safer.

Today, the greatest threat to the security of Israel and, by extension, a threat to....

rick Perry Smiles at New York crowd 9-20-11

.... America, is the Iranian government developing a nuclear arsenal. One thing is clear: we must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Economic sanctions must be tightened and increased and all options must remain on the table to stop a brutally repressive regime from acquiring a nuclear capability.

To date, we have fumbled our greatest opportunity for regime change. As average Iranian citizens were marching on Tehran in the Green Revolution in 2009, America was wasting precious time on a naïve policy of outreach to both the Iranian and Syrian governments.

Who knows what the leadership of Iran would look like today if America had done everything in its power to provide diplomatic and moral support to encourage the growing movement of dissidents who sought freedom.

Our actions in recent years have destabilized the Middle East. We have been complacent in encouraging revolt against hostile governments in Iran and Syria and we have been slow to recognize the risks posed by the new regime in Egypt and the increasingly strained relationship between Israel and Turkey.

It is vitally important for America to preserve alliances with moderate Muslim regimes and Muslim leaders who seek to preserve peace and stability in the region. But today, neither adversaries nor allies alike, know where America stands.

Our muddle of a foreign policy has created greater uncertainty in the midst of the “Arab Spring.” And our policy of isolating and undermining Israel has only encouraged our adversaries in their aggression.

With the end-run on Palestinian statehood imminent before the U.N., America must act swiftly.

First, every nation within the U.N. must know America stands with Israel and the Oslo accord principle of direct negotiations without equivocation.

Second, America must make it clear that a declaration of Palestinian Statehood in violation of the spirit of the Oslo accords could jeopardize our funding of U.N. operations.

Third, the Palestinians must know their gambit comes with consequences in particular that America will have to reconsider the $4 billion in assistance we have provided to the Palestinians over the last 17 years.

Fourth, we should close the PLO office in Washington if the U.N. grants the standing of a Palestinian state.

And fifth, we must signal to the world, including nations like Turkey and Egypt whom we have considered allies in recent years, that we won’t tolerate aggression against Israel.

Israel is our friend and ally. I have traveled there several times, and met with its leaders. It is not a perfect nation, but its existence is critical to America’s security in the world.

It is time to change our policy of appeasement toward the Palestinians to strengthen our ties to the nation of Israel, and in the process establish a robust American position in the Middle East characterized by a new firmness and a new resolve.

If America does not head off the aggression of forces hostile to Israel we will only embolden them.

That would be a tragic mistake.    ####


A Rick Perry-Mitt Romney race develops

The GOP debate's most entertaining, weird and awkward moments

Ponzi schmonzi: Republicans unbothered by Perry's Social Security phrasing

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Michael Nagle / Getty Images (A New York supporter embraces Perry at a news conference on Israel, Sept. 20); Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times (Perry holds his remarks and smiles at crowd).

Ron Paul: Could he win the Iowa caucuses?

Rick Perry new campaign Bus Iowa 8-14-11

Could the guy from Texas possibly win the Republican Iowa caucuses come January? And kick off the actual GOP nomination race with a surprising big bang?

By 'the guy from Texas' we don't mean Gov. Rick Perry, who announced his own candidacy before a gathering of conservative writers in South Carolina Saturday. He could well win it too.

But we're talking now about the other Texan in the Republican race, the elderly 11-term congressman named Ron Paul.

Once upon a time the libertarian-like Paul was considered a fringe candidate.

He still is.

The trouble for mainstream Republicans is that Paul's devoted disciples just keep on carving out apparent victories for the kindly old guy, whose son Rand is now a U.S. senator from Kentucky. The senior Paul is an Air Force vet and retired ob-gyn. He's now five years older than John McCain was when everyone said John McCain was too old to move into the White House.

History would suggest he has little or no chance of becoming the nominee, let alone the president. But history also suggests that a dedicated band of hardcore believers could in a crowded field produce an upset win for Paul come that chilled caucus night in January. It worked for Huckabee, who won the caucuses in 2008 after finishing second in the 2007 straw poll.

Most of the attention from Saturday's Ames Straw Poll has focused on another House member, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota via Iowa. With a gritty determination and fresh appeal, Bachmann captured the straw poll win, which is meaningless except from a PR point of view.

It thrust her onto five of the Sunday blab shows making rare forays outside the Beltway, giving her a national podium to reach millions of Americans. This week she's in South Carolina.Ron Paul talks with ames straw poll voters 8-13-11

But less noticed was Paul's showing, second place, only 152 votes behind the media starlette. Think he would have been invited onto all five Sunday shows?

Uh, no.

But it's interesting to speculate on Paul's outlook. Since 2008, the issues and the electorate have moved in his direction.

Everyone agrees Tim Pawlenty is a really decent guy, accomplished as Minnesota's governor and well organized in Iowa. But he badly trailed Paul Saturday and dropped out Sunday. Why?

One good reason is Pawlenty's calm, reasoned demeanor did not reflect the high-octane....

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The Ames Republican debate transcript: Everything they said that you missed

Iowa Debate 8-11-11 Ames

In anticipation of today's Ames straw poll in Iowa, Fox News Channel and the Washington Examiner co-sponsored the first Republican candidate debate in the first delegate nominating state.

The debate, due to its sharp questioning, blunt answering and occasional outbursts, has sparked much online discussion in the last two days and may have played a crucial rule in deciding the outcome of today's straw poll.

As we reported here earlier, the two-hour program enjoyed excellent ratings, but still more than 300 million Americans didn't see it. Now, you and any who desire, can read the complete transcript here of all of the back-and-forth courtesy of the Fox News Channel.

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Transcript of Republican Debate in Ames, Iowa, Aug. 11, as provided by Fox News Channel

BRET BAIER:  Welcome to Ames, Iowa, on the campus of Iowa State University and the Republican presidential debate. (APPLAUSE)

Our event is being sponsored by Fox News and the Washington Examiner, in conjunction -- in conjunction with the Iowa Republican Party. We're being seen, obviously, on Fox News Channel, being streamed on  You can log on and check out how you can react to our debate. We're also being heard on Fox News Radio. And these folks in the stadium -- in the studio are just fired up, as you can hear. (APPLAUSE)

BAIER:  OK.  Now let's meet the candidates: former Senator Rick Santorum; businessman Herman Cain; Congressman Ron Paul...(APPLAUSE) ... former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney...(APPLAUSE)   ... Congresswoman Michele Bachmann... (APPLAUSE) ... former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty...   (APPLAUSE)... former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman...(APPLAUSE) ... and former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. (APPLAUSE)

Joining me at the desk tonight, my Fox News colleague and anchor of "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace.And from the Washington Examiner, Byron York and Susan Ferrechio. 

We're gathered tonight at a very unsettling moment for Americans. We've watched the....

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Iowa GOP Debate: No Perry or Palin, but plenty of verbal punches

Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann swiped at each other; Rick Santorum and Ron Paul traded shots; Newt Gingrich slapped Fox News; Mitt Romney was all business but was nice to Herman Cain; and Jon Huntsman Jr. said his economic plan "is coming."

The GOP debate Thursday night in Ames, Iowa (on a far less glitzy set than CNN used for its June debate in New Hampshire), two days before the Ames Straw Poll, was hardly the lovefest that some critics might have expected, with half of the press panel drawn from the perceived conservative stronghold of Fox News Channel.

The candidates went after each other, went after the president, and a few times, went after the questioners.

(Only candidates polling 1% or higher in nationally recognized polls were invited. Among those left out was Thaddeus McCotter, who is nevertheless participating in the straw poll.)

Held at Iowa State University, the debate featured questions from Fox News Channel anchors Bret Baier ("Special Report") and Chris Wallace ("Fox News Sunday"), and Washington Examiner writers Byron York and Susan Ferrichio.

Among the highlights ...

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Herman Cain to Iran: 'If you mess with Israel you're messing with the USA'


Herman Cain loves deep dish pizza, but he may love Israel more. How do I know? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't go to war with a man who stole a  pepperoni slice; but if he were president and if a country, even one with a huge army like Iran's, caused problems with an ally like Israel, there'd be trouble.

"If you mess with Israel you're messing with the United States of America," the Georgia businessman laid out plainly in his "Cain Doctrine."

“Option A is, 'Folks, we are not going to allow you to attack Israel,' " the GOP presidential hopeful told the Washington Times.

"If they call my bluff, they already know — they will know — what Option B is," Cain said.

The official religion in Iran just happens to be Islam. Cain took a controversial stance Sunday when he said that he felt communities, like one in Murfreesboro, Tenn., have the right to ban mosques.

"Let's go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying that they are objecting to," Cain said on "Fox News Sunday".

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Space shuttle ascends in down times -- 1981-2011


Once before, NASA and its shuttle program helped to lift America's spirits in times of political and economic uncertainty; now both are victims of changing times and shrinking budgets.

The nation at the beginning of the shuttle program in 1981 was eerily similar to the one at the program's end in 2011, which came Friday morning at Cape Canaveral, Fla., as the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on the 135th and final mission, to the International Space Station.

"Employment displayed sluggish growth as auto manufacturing failed to keep pace with other industries and homebuilding remained depressed; unemployment held close to the late 1980 levels."

That's the sub-headline from a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also states that during the first half of 1981, unemployment was 7.4% after years of recession, stagflation and oil embargos.

President Reagan got to preside over the launch of the space shuttle Columbia, but it was hardly his first momentous event of the year -- or of his presidency.

Reagans_wave_after_returning_to_WH_1981 On Jan. 20, he was inaugurated after a landslide victory over former President Carter, and the American hostages in Iran were released minutes afterward.

Then on March 30, only 69 days into the new administration, John Hinckley Jr. shot Reagan in the torso outside a Washington, D.C. hotel.

The 70-year-old president was released from the hospital on April 11, a red sweater concealing his bulletproof vest.

The next day, he, the nation and the world watched as Columbia lifted off, launching a new era of manned spaceflight.

Today, with a thankfully uninjured president but a persistently ailing economy, the launch of the shuttle Atlantis means the end of that era, with a loss of many jobs in both NASA -- particularly in Florida -- and in aerospace

NASA has no manned missions planned and will rely on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Ironically, for an administration that seems eager to involve goverment in many aspects of the economy, the White House now is urging the private sector to fill the gap in low-Earth-orbit transportation.

But in 1981, it was all a brave new world, and the excitement was clear in the voice of ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds, especially when he said, "Go, baby, go ... oh, honey, go, fly like an eagle, go."

Unfortunately, we can't embed the video, so click here and enjoy (Reynolds' exclamation comes at about the 5-minute mark).

After the jump, enjoy the live Tweeting the Ticket's Andrew Malcolm delivered.


Atlantis space shuttle unveiled for last flight

Obama on future space U.S. space exploration: Yes, but ...

Behind the scenes at the last Atlantis launch; What to watch for as the shuttle program ends

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment-news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos, from top:  Screenshot of Atlantis launch on ABC News (Credit: Kate O'Hare); Nancy and Ronald Reagan (

Andrew Malcolm is on assignment

Ticket pic of the week: Bad hair days not a problem

Friday ladies prayers at  Tehran University

What to wear to Friday prayers is not a complicated decision for women at Tehran University.


Ticket pic of Week: A little father-son time in Libya

Ticket pic of the Week: Did Gallup poll her on Obama?

Ticket pic of the week: A face in Japan to touch your heart

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: AFP

Don't tell Obama, but Prime Minister Netanyahu got 2 dozen standing O's from Congress for this

Israeli prime minister benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of congress 5-24-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Speech to a Joint Session of Congress

I am deeply honored by your warm welcome. And I am deeply honored that you have given me the opportunity to address Congress a second time. Mr. Vice President, do you remember the time we were the new kids in town?

And I do see a lot of old friends here. And I do see a lot of new friends of Israel here. Democrats and Republicans alike.

Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel. We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism. Congratulations America, Congratulations, Mr. President. You got bin Laden. Good riddance!
In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.

My friends, you don’t need to do nation building in Israel. We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it. You don’t need to send American troops to defend Israel. We defend ourselves. You’ve been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel’s security. I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this.

Support for Israel’s security is a wise investment in our common future.  For an epic battle is....

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What they're saying about Obama's Mideast speech, mainly on Israel and Palestine

Full text of President Obama's latest Middle East speech is available here.

Now, for some reactions:

Office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress.
Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.

Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel. Without a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem outside the borders of Israel, no territorial concession will bring peace.

Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper:

We welcome the president's recognition of Israel's security needs and that Hamas cannot be a partner in the peace process, but a call to a return to 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations, even with "land swaps," is a non-starter, when at least half of the Palestinian rulers are committed to Israel's destruction. The road to peace has been clear for a long time -- direct negotiations between parties who recognize each other's legitimacy.

Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.

George Will:

Obama should have said nothing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his prior statements (about Israel housing construction, and a deadline for a peace settlement) having made matters worse. Obama's idea -- Israel's, too -- is "two states for two people." Now, there is nothing more to be said until a Palestinian leader also says that.

Edward Walker of Hamilton College and former ambassador to Israel and Egypt for President Clinton:

The president's speech on the Middle East was clear about where he wants to go and not so clear on how to get there.

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio of the Foreign Relations Committee:

I’m pleased the president used his unique platform to address America and the Middle East during this critical moment in history.  We need to back up our words with actions and policies. Our actions should leave no doubt that America is on the side of those who strive for freedom....

Unfortunately, the president’s reference to Israel’s 1967 borders marks a step back in the peace process, as the U.S. must not pre-determine the outcome of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Our focus should be in encouraging direct and meaningful negotiations between the sides, and to continue playing an important role as a security guarantor in the region.

Republican former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty:

President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand. The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided.

To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority’s agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen.  At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it's never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

President Obama was very clear. And what we want is to continue to support the voices of democracy. Those who are standing against the brutality.  But we're also well aware every situation is different. 

And in this one, (Syrian President Bashar Al) Assad has said a lot of things that you didn't hear from other leaders in the region, about the kind of changes he would like to see. That may all be out the window, or he may have one last chance.

Republican Jewish Coalition:

....It is, in fact, President Obama’s insistence on a settlement freeze as a pre-condition to negotiations, more than anything else, that doomed his administration’s peace-making efforts. That stand emboldened Palestinian extremists, damaged the PA’s ability to negotiate, and forced Israelis to question the sincerity of the administration’s friendship.

With that immediate history in mind, we are concerned that when President Obama speaks of “the 1967 borders,” he means borders for Israel that are much less secure and defensible and that put Israel at risk.

Leave your own reaction to the president's remarks in our Comments section below.

More reactions will be added here as they become available.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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