Eugene Robinson Live

Jul 29, 2014

Chat with Post columnist Eugene Robinson about his latest columns and political news.

Hello, everybody, and welcome. Not a lot of cheery news to talk about today, is there? Gaza. Ukraine. The border. Maybe somebody will post something on this chat that cheers us all up. Let's get started.

This is a quote from Ron Deemer (the Israeli Ambassador for those who don't know). Even if the number is slightly lower, the media has done a horrible job of pointing this out. Its known Hamas launches its rockets with no regard for safety. They have hit their own power plants before. However when ever anything is destroyed in Gaza Israel is automatically blamed. How can the reporters do a better job of reporting the facts, or at least mentioning that there is a likelihood the explosions are not the fault of the Israeli Military. Number is from here --http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-freakonomics-peace-plan/

I disagree with the premise that the rocket attacks are not reported. I see them reported every day, along with what they hit -- or, much more frequently, do not hit. I also see reported the questions about whether Israel or Hamas is responsible for a given explosion, whenever such questions exist. The facts are that the Israeli military is inflicting a lot of damage in Gaza and the Hamas rockets, in part due to Iron Dome, are inflicting much less damage in Israel. Which does not excuse the rockets or establish moral equivalence.

"President Obama has no choice but to act on his own." No, Mr. Robinson, he does have a choice. The former Constitutional instructor should re-read the document he so clearly detests as an impediment but swore to uphold. In particular the parts about passing laws being Congress' prevue and faithfully executing them being the responsibility of the President. I am also frustrated by the Republicans' not passing an immigration reform bill, but that is no excuse for the President to "act alone." If a Republican President were acting in a way that drew as many rebukes from the Supreme Court - unanimously in many cases - as Obama, you'd be writing columns condemning him twice a week. Because he's a Republican, however, you say he has no choice. Give. Me. A. Break.

Okay, take a break: President Obama has sinned far less against your interpretation of the Constitution than some presidents and perhaps more than a few others. But yes, I'll be less upset at a president taking it on himself to address immigration reform than, say, at a president who takes it on himself to make torture the official policy of the United States. But maybe that's just me.

There is lots of finger pointing going on about civilian sites getting hit. However I feel the media is doing the public a disservice by not investigating (or at least mentioning the strong likelyhood) that Hamas is causing some of the worst incidents by accidently shelling Palestinians. So far they have hit the West Bank and their own power stations. We also know for a fact they store munitions in hospitals and mosques and that their attacks often go way off target. Since the above statement are facts it is extremely realistic that cities in Gaza could be hit by Hamas. When you combine this with the fact that Hamas is not a trustworthy news source (there outright lies are well documented), and they have threatened reporters who speak out against Hamas in gaza, reporters must not blindly accept that Israel is resposnible for all the damage in Gaza.

No one is blindly accepting the word of Hamas. No one is blindly accepting the word of anybody. I know of no dispute about who damaged what that has not been reported prominently here, and in each case reporters have done their best to ascertain the truth. 

I understand your concern about "proportionality" but what exactly is Israel supposed to do when it's being shot at by terrorists daily??

Israel has every right to shoot back. Proportionality means just that: Reaction in proportion to the threat. 

Hi Eugene -- thanks for taking questions today. As the buzz about the Republicans actually moving forward with impeaching the president continues, there seems to be a "counter buzz" that this could be a winning issue for Obama and the Democrats, with no upside for Republicans other than whipping up the base who have never accepted him in the first place. Do you agree with that assessment?

I think, frankly, that it's no accident that so many Democrats are talking about impeachment. Going forward would be a catastrophic political mistake for Republicans, in my view. But who knows whether they will be able to stop themselves.

I managed to record two obscure James Garner movies despite the fact that Comcast totally screwed up the scheduling AND the DVR timing. But seriously, the Fourth Court's striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban cheers me up.

Cheers me up too.

There are millions of people around the world applying for the privilege to enter the US legally. Many wait for years, many are rejected, yet many of them don't break the law to try to enter illegally or overstay their visas. In all this debate about illegal aliens, nobody has asked the opinions of the suckers who are determined to follow the immigration rules. Maybe you could balance out and write a column about them and find out if they believe it's fair all the attention the illegal aliens are getting.

Comprehensive immigration reform would revamp the system so that more of those people "standing in line" would have a chance of getting in. But it would also take realistic account of the millions of people who already live here and contribute to our society.

A question and a comment, Gene.......If the unemployment number falls into the five point something range by October--very much possible since it's 6.1 percent now, will some of the Dem candidates be able to use that number to their advantage, Now, here's my comment that largely explains "where have the jobs gone": question: In 1990--according to the IRS--about 92 billion dollars was earned by Americans "off the books" or--in other words--money earned and not reported. Today that number is 2.1 trillion, nearly enough to reduce the deficit to zero. Why have so many left the job market, a statistic that seems to perplex the financial prognosticators each month? Today, unlike 1990, you can easily start a business with a website or on places like Craigslist or eBay. Millions are supplementing their early retirement this way which is why many economists are puzzled when they estimate retail sales and restaurant revenues as more indicative of a 5.5 percent unemployment rate rather than the current one. The IRS has shrunk by 10,000 employees since 2010. There are too many scofflaws to catch and thus the illegality of all this is unenforceable. What do you think, Gene?

Interesting theory that seems to explain a lot. I wonder what the economic gurus think.

The entertainment quotient for this trial is going to be off the charts, isn't it? I wasn't expecting that. A nice contrast to the crap going on in the rest of the world.

Entertaining for us, perhaps. Not for the McDonnells. A sad story, in many ways, but yes, I'll be paying attention.

Mr. Robinson, you need to add "like" buttons to your chats. I want to so much check a like box for your second reply about executive actions for torture.

I'll suggest it.

for any peace, ever, in the occupied territories? Because I don't think I do.

Very little hope, at the moment. I wish I could say otherwise.

You won't like the answer, but it's for Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories and give rights to Palestinians, whether it be a one-state or two-state solution. Otherwise, the only choice is for Israel to annihilate Gaza. Like that would solve anything.

The problem is that Israel did withdraw from Gaza, and Hamas continued to fire rockets. But why does Israel take such a hard line against the Palestinian Authority, which was supposed to take over in Gaza at some point? Why not cultivate Abbas a little more? 

the all-day James Garner tribute was only scheduled by TCM after he passed, so the Comcast on-screen menu was displaying originally scheduled programming. No disrespect to Mr. Garner, a fine actor, but I wanted to watch those Bergman movies!

Nice to hear both sides of this story.

Mr. Robinson, the earlier question about the 500 rockets being fired from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other radical Palestinian groups have landing with-in Gaza wasn't answered. These recognized terrorist groups have fired 2,600+ rockets since Operation Protective Edge began. Several reports show that between 200-500 of these 2,600+ rockets have not made it to their desired targets in Israel, but instead - either mistakenly or purposefully - have landed in Gaza. They weren't intercepted by Iron Dome because they never made it into Israel. The loss of any innocent life on either side of the border is tragic, but how can the media do a better job of critically reviewing the source material provided rather than accept propaganda as fact?

I'm sorry to insist but the idea that the news media do not critically review what Hamas tells us, or for that matter what IDF tells us, is just wrong. I've seen plenty of reports of Hamas rockets landing inside Gaza. If we were doing such a poor job of gathering the news, you wouldn't be so well informed.

There are lots of verbose comments about Israel using care or more caution, but there are little tangible suggestions. Not using caution would be carpet bombing Gaza or not putting its own troops at risk through a ground invasion. Not using care is launching rockets that often hit civilian populations, like Hamas and IJ have done. Since the tunnels are underground and no country can tolerate a threat like this at its children, what other immediate options are there. The only solution is dismantling the tunnels, demilitarized Gaza and disarming Hamas. Not just for Israel, but for the people of Gaza.

I don't expect Israelis to find it tolerable to have their children threatened. Also, I don't know why anyone would expect Palestinians to find it tolerable to have their children killed. 

Sarah Palin is charging nearly $100/year for subscriptions to her on web channel? Any word on who provided the seed money to start this venture? How many subscribers is she realistically likely to get? Isn't this an overreach that will pretty much render her toast? (Please say "Yes"!).

Sounds like an overreach to me, but we'll see.

President Obama honored a group of folks at the White House yesterday, and confessed that in his youth he had a crush on Linda Ronstadt. Heck, I had (still have!) a girl-crush on her, and I'm a straight female!

Who doesn't crush on Linda Ronstadt?

Well, how about that a judge ruled that gay marriage bans are unconstitutional for three states? In fact, there is another chat about this very ruling at the same time as your chat. (Don't worry--I am double screened following both chats. :) ) Also, Hampshire College became the latest in a string of colleges to drop SAT scores as a requirement for admission because standardized tests are not really good indicators of success in college and many in the education field agree. Finally, how about the safe return of that teenager after being kidnapped; although she did endure a horrible ordeal.

Let's end on these happy notes. My time is up, folks. See you again next week!

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Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson is an Associate Editor and twice-weekly columnist for The Washington Post. His column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. In a 25-year career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award-winning Style section. In 2005, he started writing a column for the Op-Ed page. He is the author of "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race" (1999) and "Last Dance in Havana" (2004). Robinson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and has received numerous journalism awards.
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