In Defense Of AIPAC

In describing a view that is often excoriated as "anti-semitic," Glenn Greenwald writes:

[T]here are powerful domestic political forces in the U.S. which enforce Israel-centric orthodoxies and make it politically impossible to question America's blind loyalty to Israel. . . . In the U.S., you can advocate torture, illegal spying, and completely optional though murderous wars and be appointed to the highest positions. But you can't, apparently, criticize Israeli actions too much or question whether America's blind support for Israel should be re-examined.

Of course there are such "powerful domestic political forces" (as for Glenn's characterization of such policy as "blind loyalty," to me that is beside the point for this discussion.) And there is such a "powerful domestic political force" on Cuba policy. And agricultural policy. And so on. That is politics. These are "political forces" after all. That is the way it works. And that is not a bad thing. More . . .

Consider what Glenn himself is trying to do with his Accountability Now project. Is he not trying to force a certain orthodoxy on policy? Is he not trying to change the fact that "[i]n the U.S., you can advocate torture, illegal spying, and completely optional though murderous wars and be appointed to the highest positions[?]" If not, then I withdraw my endorsement of it. It seems to me what what Glenn is really complaining about is the different way these two types of projects are treated by the Media. One is accepted and one is treated as an awful threat.

I never attack people for the fact that they try to dictate policy (be they pro-choice, anti-choice, pro-free trade or anti-free trade, pro-Cuba embargo or anti-Cuba embargo and so on.) I join with the ones I agree with and criticize the views of those I disagree with.

What I find fault with is the Media's blessing of some "special interests" while criticizing others. What makes some ok and some awful? Is it mere disagreement or something more. I think Glenn's point is that there is something more going on - that there is an ingrained acceptance of some "special interests" while others are treated as bad.

Glenn may well be right to question the wisdom of AIPAC on Freeman and on US Israel policy generally. But it always bothers me when a critique on the substance slips into mindless attacks on the "influence" of "special interests" (to be clear, Glenn did not do that.) Everyone who cares and is involved is a "special interest" - the good ones have tremendous influence. I assume they all want to be as powerful as AIPAC. And that we will cheer if "special interests" we agree with become as powerful as AIPAC.

Speaking for me only

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    I think APAC is beyond being a special interest (5.00 / 0) (#1)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:03:45 AM EST
    group.  Too much power IMO

    Then create an anti-AIPAC group (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:15:38 AM EST
    You say you aren't a pleasant person (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:06:29 PM EST
    but sometimes I cannot help having just a bit of adoration for your glib yet staunch support of this democracy and all that that entails.

    That is exactly what they would like (none / 0) (#10)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:37:38 AM EST
    you would not even get to first base.
    You could not say anything without being called anti semtic

    Others have written of AIPAC's power.  I leave it to them and their writings. Walt and Mearsheimer are two who wrote on this topic.


    Feh. (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:03:25 AM EST
    you would not even get to first base.

    J Street.


    Well they win then (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:45:24 AM EST
    Why do you want anyone to have that much power? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:49:59 AM EST
    I want people I support (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:00:59 AM EST
    to have that much political power.

    That's what elections are for.


    So much power that they can influence the (none / 0) (#21)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:06:36 AM EST
    the government to start a war a war we all know was wrong to include yourself.  

    Those weren;lt the people I supported (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:07:50 AM EST
    If the people I supported had the power then, there would have been no Iraq Debacle.

    The people I supported would have had the power to stop it.


    Maybe There would have been no Iraq Debacle (none / 0) (#23)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:17:10 AM EST
    if AIPAC did not have the power you talk about.

    To take away AIPAC's power (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:39:16 AM EST
    requires that power going somewhere else.

    To the people I hope (none / 0) (#27)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:01:50 AM EST
    and not another special interest group.  Lobbyist have their place but never at the expense of the American people who are the true voters who chose their representative and their senators.  Congress owes their allegiance to them first and then maybe secondly to a lobbyist group.  Something is wrong when a congressman or senators pays more attention to a special interest group than they do their own constituents who are the primary people who got them in to their positions. Something is wrong when more is done to satisfy the needs of a special interest group before the needs of the constituents. IMO that is exactly what is happening today. That is why I say that is to much power.

    But the people have the power. (none / 0) (#28)
    by dk on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:34:17 AM EST
    As far as I know, all of the politicians who make the decisions we are decrying are up for re-election every few years.  And the people keep voting for them.

    I'm kind of surprised that was let go (none / 0) (#57)
    by nycvoter on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:33:24 PM EST
    AIPAC is not responsible for the Iraq war

    They Sure Lobbied Hard For It (none / 0) (#59)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:45:36 PM EST
    And have quite a bit of blood on their hands as a result.

    It was Wolfwowitz (none / 0) (#68)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:19:17 PM EST
    who first uttered to  Bush "We need to invade Iraq".  Others Feith and Pearle  These guys were in the defense department not by accident but by design.

    the Obama view (none / 0) (#15)
    by lilburro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:55:36 AM EST
    I take an interest group from the left, I take an interest group from the right, and I mix them together.  This was a broadly advertised perk of the Obama approach (and on the left, it was seen as a necessary evil)...and lefties believed that they would win, because Obama was a secret progressive.  [Again, Rick Warren - some groups opposed him, but many "left" bloggers were far too willing to justify his presence there].

    I think the more fundamental view that you seem to take - there are always special interest groups, they are always in conflict, win/lose - is much more solid.


    Better yet how about the media (none / 0) (#26)
    by BernieO on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:01:19 AM EST
    doing its job by covering both sides of the issue instead of being afraid to challenge the orthodoxy.

    That simple makes them . . . (none / 0) (#6)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:23:26 AM EST
    a successful interest group.  See my other comment about the anti-success bias on the Left.

    I agree with this POV (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by lilburro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:48:13 AM EST
    during good 'ol campaign season liberal "special interests" were sometimes sacrificed on the premise that Obama was going to change the way special interest politics worked (Unity Pony).  Has that happened?  No...hopefully a lesson will be learned from this.  I have to admit, I was slightly duped myself.

    The lesson is "You Can Trust NOBODY" (none / 0) (#17)
    by tokin librul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:59:55 AM EST
    no matter what they say, claim, pledge, or promise.

    Your interests (if you're poor) will ALWAYS be sacrificed on the altar of expediency...


    A lesson learned (none / 0) (#33)
    by cal1942 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:32:52 AM EST
    No...hopefully a lesson will be learned from this.

    I doubt it.


    Wasn't Hillary Clinton, as Sec'y (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:23:50 AM EST
    of State, recently stating a two-state solution is inevitable and she will attend a conference in Egypt re getting aid to Gaza?  Now that Freeman is purportedly "gone,"  will the AIPAC focus on her?

    AIPAC is not against a two state solution (none / 0) (#58)
    by nycvoter on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:34:20 PM EST
    That's encouraging. (none / 0) (#71)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:39:27 PM EST
    Hillary (none / 0) (#72)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 05:02:56 PM EST
    Has not had a conflict with AIPAC, ever, as far as I know. Not sure why you would think that they would now.

    Actually the problem with AIPAC... (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:51:35 AM EST
    ...is that it puts the interests of a foreign country ahead of the U.S.'s interests, and demands fealty to that foreign government over fealty to the U.S. I'm surprised more people aren't troubled by this. Can we imagine any politician running for office who felt compelled to constantly reiterate his/her support for, say, China? Russia? France? Even Great Britain doesnt' get the level of obeisance that Israel does.

    And let's not forget that a leading AIPAC member is currently under indictment for treason (well, that's what it is, right?).

    Bingo (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by ai002h on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:18:57 PM EST
    The problem with AIPAC is that its interests are not tied to the United States of America but to Israel, and Israel only. By forcing the US to tie its fate to Israels, they have played a role in making us less safe, and making our children less safe. They're a destructive lobby, period.

    That's your opinion. (none / 0) (#42)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:40:07 PM EST
    Many people (including me, and probably a majority of US citizens) believe that having a strong, thriving Israel is vital to the interests of the United States.  Thus I believe that AIPAC's lobbying is making us more safe, not less safe.  You are confusing your own minority opinion with reality.

    Anyway, AIPAC doesn't force anyone to do anything, so you are not choosing your words carefully.  In contrast, when newspapers published cartoons that were perceived as disrespectful to a certain religious figure, a different lobby (not AIPAC, for sure) engaged in riots and death threats until some of the newspapers backed down.  Why aren't you criticizing that lobby, which really did engage in force and threats of force against its opponents?


    You dont even see your mistake (none / 0) (#53)
    by ai002h on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:36:18 PM EST
    You equate a strong and safe Israel with the success of AIPAC. Many would argue that AIPACs actions have hurt Israel, not helped. If you want to support Israel look towards J Street and other groups that actually want peace for Israel and its neighbors. Many people dont realize that the biggest critics of AIPAC aren't arabs but jews who are staunch supporters of Israel and want peace. This is the biggest problem in this country, many people naively think the Israel lobby must be good for Israel since, you know, its the ISRAEL lobby.

    Perhaps many would argue that (none / 0) (#64)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:01:25 PM EST
    but I wouldn't.

    You shouldn't confuse your opinion with reality, and you shouldn't call my opinion a mistake without adducing evidence

    I've thought long and hard about my stance on this issue, and I disagree with you.  I don't call your opinion a mistake because I assume you've also thought about it.  Honest people can agree to disagree.


    The evidence is pretty clear (none / 0) (#83)
    by ai002h on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:30:44 PM EST
    AIPAC has, for all intents and purposes, run US Foreign policy towards Israel/Middle East and what do we have to show for it?? No peace process, growing settlements, more radicalized palestinians, more radicalized Israelis, lower world opinion of Israel and the prospect of the 2 state solution no longer being an option due to annexed land. I think its pretty clear that the approach has to change, but maybe you see it as a resounding success.

    Steve Rosen indictment? (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:30:38 PM EST
    Given the appeals court ruling, it will be interesting to see if the Obama Justice Dept. goes ahead with the trial, scheduled for late April.

    No...it's not 'treason.'  But if Rosen and Weissman were found guilty of anything substantial, AIPAC would worry that it could possibly be forced to file as lobbyists of a foreign power.  THAT would seriously hamper their power and status, particularly in elections.

    Indicting Rosen was a scare for them...but it was 'handled' and here we are 4 years later with Rosen free to attack Obama's appointee...who withdrew today.

    Doesn't bode well for the Obama administration's independence of AIPAC, I'd say.


    Gosh (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:58:33 PM EST
    I wish I was able to see this as dispassionately as you are able to.

    As a jew I am really bothered that the right wing Israeli interests represented by AIPAC wind up being perceived as the voice of all jews. I see a resurgence of anti-semitism as a direct result of AIPAC and the Israeli right wing.

    The biggest problem is that valid criticism many jews agree with regarding human rights abuses by right wing Israelis, winds up getting contaminated and fueled by racist stereotypes.

    I imagine that if someone like Farahakan were the leader of an all black country in the mid east who we were unflinchingly supporting largely because a powerful lobby kept all criticism at bay, many african americans would feel as I do about AIPAC.

    Squeaky - you're not (none / 0) (#60)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:48:36 PM EST
    very well informed about geopolitics.  Many of the tinpot dictators in Africa are MUCH worse than Farakhan.  The US does its best to provide humanitarian support to Africa anyway (greatly stepped up under Bush) because it's the right thing to do.  And no one even notices, since they're not obsessed with Africa the way they're obsessed with Israel.

    Hypothetical (none / 0) (#63)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:56:58 PM EST
    Farakahan could be replaced by Jeff Schoep head of the The National Socialist Movement, a white supremacist organization, or any other racist movement's leader.

    I chose Farakahan as an example only because he has name recognition.


    what a insightful, powerful and simple post (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by nycvoter on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:30:36 PM EST
    thank you, thank you for "getting" it at such a subtle level.  

    I haven't seen even one voice (none / 0) (#67)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:15:18 PM EST
    on a progressive web site (other than BTD) that has the insight (and the bravery!) to defend AIPAC with this type of argument.

    Are there any others out there?  I'd like to read them if they exist!


    Defense Of AIPAC (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 05:47:10 PM EST
    Will be in the form of a civil suit against AIPAC by none other than Steve Rosen who is suing them for defamation (firing him).

    Oddly enough once he filed the suit AIPAC offered to pay for his criminal trial where he and Weissman are charged with violation of the 1917 espionage act.

    The filing also alleges that "through their publication of the falsehoods about Mr. Rosen, defendant achieved an increase of millions of dollars in revenue for AIPAC, whereas had they told the truth, AIPAC might well have suffered a significant decrease in fund-raising, as well as an increase in legal costs."

    Sounds like this case will be interesting to follow. My bet is that both the criminal case and civil suit will disappear.

    After the FBI raid, AIPAC stood by the two employees, insisting they had done nothing wrong. Rosen says he even received a performance bonus. Seven months later, in March 2005, Rosen and Weissman were fired; they were indicted in August of that year.

    Rosen's suit alleges that AIPAC gave in to government pressure to fire the two staffers, casting Paul McNulty, the lead prosecutor in the case, as making threats that would not be out of place in a legal drama.

    "We could make real progress and get AIPAC out from under all of us," the filing quotes McNulty as saying.

    The public has much to gain if the $21 mil law suit proceeds:

    Should it come to trial, the civil case promises revelations of how AIPAC works its sensitive relations with the executive branch and allegedly capitulated to government pressure to fire Rosen and Keith Weissman, its then-Iran analyst.

    JTA via Laura Rozen

    Well worth a read..

    It's the singling out. . . (none / 0) (#3)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:16:20 AM EST
    of AIPAC (which I do not support) which strikes some people as anti-Semitic, or at least of questionable moral logic.  Influencing policy is what the blogosphere is all about.  It follows that if you believe that's a legitimate activity, the same activity conducted by others, even people one disagrees with, is also a legitimate activity.

    AIPAC is wrong not because it attempts to spread its ideas, or because it is successful in spreading its ideas but rather because the ideas are often wrong.

    Unfortunately, there is sometimes  an anti-success bias on the left .  Google is good as long as it is small, influence is legitimate as long as it fails.  The best example of this was a conversation I heard about my favorite Brooklyn coffee shop after they opened a second store -- "Oh, I don't go there any more.  It's a chain."

    I tend to have a less sunny view than BTD of attaining policy nirvana through competition between single-issue policy lobbyists and so I do wish AIPAC, the AARP, the AAA, and the rest of the lobbyist alphabet had less influence.  But if one is going to curry influence themselves, it's unseemly to criticize others for doing the same.

    Singled out by whom? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:19:21 AM EST
    By people who disagree with them? I find AIPAC gets relatively little grief when you consider its power.

    As for my sunny view, whether you accept my view or not, it's the only game in town. Pouting about it will do you no good.


    Well. . . (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:26:05 AM EST
    I find AIPAC gets relatively little grief when you consider its power.

    You have to remember, I still read Daily Kos.

    And, in any event, it's this particular post by Greenwald that we're discussing.  And (here I'm only agreeing with you, I think) he does commit the fallacy of singling out AIPAC for doing the same thing he himself wants to do.

    it's the only game in town. Pouting about it will do you no good.

    I agree.  But that doesn't make it the ideal way to consider policy.


    Churchill comes to mind (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:28:59 AM EST
    So tell me how you would "fix" it.

    I have no fix. (none / 0) (#9)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:32:09 AM EST
    In a free society individuals and groups will always be able to lobby the government, in a democratic society voting blocks will sometimes have disproportionate power, in a capitalist society money will always talk.

    I don't follow the Churchill reference.


    I have an idea (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:45:03 AM EST
    A ban on lobbyists . . .

    Isn't there something in the Constitution (none / 0) (#16)
    by tokin librul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:58:02 AM EST
    about petitioning the Congress for reliefe from grievances?

    Lobbyists (and the interests they serve) claim they've only centralized the process.

    They system is so thoroughly corrupt, and the people so accustomed to their own venality, that the only way to clean it up will require a massive up-rising among the people.

    Mebbe you've noticed that since the '70s the economy has been sufficiently volatile that folks just don't seem to have time to "demonstrate" or "organize"?


    I was joking (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:00:27 AM EST
    Where, oh where. .. (none / 0) (#24)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:23:54 AM EST
    will we find a politician willing to ban (most) lobbyists (not personally known to him)?

    BTW (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:20:31 AM EST
    Unlike some folks, I found what Walt and Mearsheimer wrote a few years ago to be blatantly anti-semitic. they wrote a bit more than Glenn acknowledges.

    Your read what they wrote? (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:55:42 AM EST
    I didn't, and I don't really know anyone else who did, either.

    I read what they wrote, and (none / 0) (#39)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:19:29 PM EST
    I agree with you, BTD.

    Some facts (none / 0) (#30)
    by koshembos on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:13:27 AM EST
    If one wants to read criticism of Israel, all one has to do is read the English version of the main Israeli newspapers, in particular Haaretz. It's our duty as citizens of the world to express our opinions and if they criticize someone, so what?

    If you have selective criticism that might be a problem.

    Criticizing Israel is fine and AIPAC stupidly tries to block it, we should just ignore it. AIPAC represents, didn't always, the right wing in Israel; the majority in Israel wants the Obama supported two state solution.

    European see the Palestinian as the almost only aggrieved body in the world. This may not be anti-semitism, but it does involve severe discrimination.  

    Public opinion in Israel, like (none / 0) (#40)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:24:43 PM EST
    in any democracy, is not necessarily stable.  Israel has a free press and a thriving adversarial culture.  As you point out, they don't hesitate to criticize their own government.

    Overall, historically Israel could be considered a center-left country, with strong socialist roots (think of the Kibbutz movement, especially as originally designed).  When Israelis feel threatened, as they do now, public opinion is liable to move rightward, as it has.  But these are the same liberal people, subject to what feels to them like life-threatening dangers.

    Overall, the points you made in your post are excellent.


    The problem with AIPAC (none / 0) (#31)
    by TheRealFrank on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:22:24 AM EST
    They seem to have become such a powerful lobby that, on average, you'll find less criticism of the Israeli government amongst lawmakers, and the press, than in Israel itself.

    That's strange and wrong, and it has made AIPAC an actual obstacle on any possible road to peace. When lawmakers can't use the word "evenhanded" without being piled on, or when a passionate plea for peace by the Jordanian king in a speech gets piled on because it did not explicitly criticize Palestinian violence (it did not criticize Israeli violence either), then something's very wrong. Open, honest discussion on the subject of Israel is not possible in US politics, which also makes it very hard for the US to be an honest broker in the peace process. And the US is the only one who can do it.

    Perhaps it is unfair to blame all that on AIPAC, but they do seem to play a big role in this.

    I hope J Street will become more important, they seem to be a common sense organization, not a kneejerk one.

    What you say is not surprising. (none / 0) (#41)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:33:15 PM EST
    Of course Israelis criticize their government more than American politicians do.  As citizens of a democratic state, it is the job of Israelis to criticize their government, or even to vote it out when they considers it necessary, as happened recently.  This is true in every democracy with a free press.

    But for us here in democratic America, with a full understanding of the conflict and the issues involved, it would be strange if we focused criticisms on Israel and didn't have at least as much criticism for its non-democratic Arab neighbors who stone homosexuals or engage in international terrorism and in other opprobrious behavior.

    People that engage in fair criticism of Israel in the context of the problems of the Middle East do fine in our political culture - look at Hillary's recent critical statements.  It is only those that disproportionately attack Israel to the exclusion of every other country that have trouble, as Chas Freeman recently learned.


    I don't think so.. (none / 0) (#45)
    by TheRealFrank on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:34:51 PM EST
    If you say that the US needs to be "evenhanded" in the mideast (like Howard Dean did in 2003), and then get piled on.. that doesn't happen with other countries.

    Also, representatives in Congress don't immediately line up to pass resolutions in support of country X, even if they are allies, unless that country is Israel.

    In fact, your comment demonstrates the problem: you talk about "focusing on Israel". Which isn't true at all. Israel's foes (Hamas, Iran) are criticized all the time.


    Really? (none / 0) (#47)
    by bocajeff on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:10:14 PM EST
    Remember the upheaval over an evenhanded approach to South Africa in the 80's?

    What other conflicts that are going on right now would deserve this kind of treatment?

    And please, are you really saying that Hamas and Iran should be treated evenhandidly? Just like the earth being flat?


    Hamas is not representative (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by ai002h on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:31:41 PM EST
    of all Palestinians, just like Avigdor Lieberman is not representative of all Israelis. Lets not act like the unevenness began with Hamas. It was there before, it will be there after. As we speak right now Israel is on the verge of doubling settlement expansion since 2001 and virtually making a 2 state solution impossible, yet all we here is how the rockets should stop if peace is to be achieved. Anyone with a vague familiarity of the issue knows that the settlements are 100X the threat to peace that the rockets are, yet they aren't mentioned in the resolution of even in the rhetoric.

    No one is advocating favoring the arabs or being unfair to Israel, thats ludicrous and a straw man if I ever saw one. If the US wants to be taken seriously as an honest broker then it needs to act like one. You do not give unconditional support to one side and then claim to be the seeker of a 2 state solution.


    Of course not. (none / 0) (#56)
    by TheRealFrank on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:32:51 PM EST
    More proof of what I was saying. People immediately get hyperbolic and bent out of shape.

    "evenhanded" means with equal concern for both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people, who both deserve peace on reasonable terms.

    Comments like yours are exactly what I mean. Whenever you say something about Israel, you have to add tons of qualifiers. If you have any criticism, you're supposed to prefix that with "I support Israel, its right to exist and its right to defend itself, and the Palestinian terrorist actions are a crime, however.." <insert mild criticism here>. Of course, all the things in that prefix are obvious, but if you don't say them, you are piled on, and sometimes even risk being called an anti-semite.

    This makes a frank discussion about this subject impossible.


    Evenhanded means (none / 0) (#62)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:54:49 PM EST
    a fair evaluation of the situation, whatever it is.  If one side is initiating attacks against the other, as is true today, an evenhanded approach would say that the attacker has to stop immediately, not that both sides have to make equal concessions.

    Evenhanded doesn't necessarily mean that both sides are equally right - this isn't kindergarten.  It certainly does mean equal concern for the two peoples - I agree with you there.


    NRA and AIPAC (none / 0) (#35)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 11:58:36 AM EST
    are parallel lobbying groups with outsize influence.

    Why?  Money.  And elections.

    Until there are counter organizations with the money to enforce their view through campaigns/candidates, it won't change.

    That's the only possible route that I see.

    Well, (none / 0) (#48)
    by bocajeff on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:12:01 PM EST
    You could say the same thing about labor unions...Are they too large or have too much money?

    Are you kidding me?? (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by ai002h on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:40:10 PM EST
    The labor unions have been railroaded by big business, they have lost the majority of their policy fights over the last 30 years and this is their first real chance to make a difference in decades. How's that like the Israel lobby which basically has its way almost all the time. If anything labor is the exact opposite, US policy has undermined them going on 3 decades.

    Yes, but if (hypothetically) (none / 0) (#66)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:12:29 PM EST
    labor unions become much more powerful (card check, supportive administration, etc.) would you support taking that power away from them?

    Or are you really saying that you don't like people you disagree with to have concentrations of power, but it people you agree with have concentrations of power, it's just fine and dandy.

    We progressives need to be consistent if we want to be taken seriously in the marketplace of ideas.


    The big business lobby does (5.00 / 2) (#84)
    by ai002h on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:37:13 PM EST
    more than its share of negating labors influence, even if your hypothetical scenario were to come true. If labor were able to make the Senate vote 100-0 on the EFCA, the same way the senate votes on resolutions issuing unequivocal, one-sided support of Israel, then we'd have a fair analogy. But since we know such a reality would never even be close to existing, its pointless. Its actually pretty hard to find a comparable lobby to AIPAC, they've effectively made taking a nuanced view on Israel the third rail of us politics.

    bocajeff: re unions... (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 05:36:27 PM EST
    the only unions with any real clout these days are public employee unions...teachers, police/sheriffs, city/county/state employees,etc.  They have almost no federal clout but some with local governments.  Hence, the drop in support in congress for the card check bill.

    Last I heard, union members were down from over 20% of the workforce to something like 12%.  That will drop further as state and local governments layoff workers to balance their budgets.

    In my state, some unions are making enemies left and right by suing the governor for denying them a raise while trying to fill an $8+Billion budget hole!  My union-president husband must be turning over in his grave...so to speak...


    The strongest public employee union (none / 0) (#74)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 05:38:55 PM EST
    in CA is the CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association).  

    No surprise...and they (none / 0) (#77)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 05:51:55 PM EST
    are an interesting bunch.  In my state, at least, it's one of the last routes to a family-wage w/benefits indoor job without requiring a diploma...except for janitorial/custodial services.  Even the office clerks have to have a high school diploma or GED.

    I think a minimum of GED is required here. (none / 0) (#78)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 05:58:43 PM EST
    Many correctional officers come to that job from a few years in the U.S. military.  Some have community college associate degrees.  Biggest problem:  intake jobs are waaay out east in the desert.  

    Problem=glass half empty. (none / 0) (#81)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:30:17 PM EST
    If you look at it as a benefit, you'd count lower heating bills (uh oh...but what about air conditioning?) and savings re eating out at restaurants.  On the other hand, if you want to go somewhere, the gas bill will eat a hole in your wallet.

    Never mind...


    Most of the ones I've met (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:50:11 PM EST
    just bide their time until they have enough seniority to bid for a better location.

    Stronger Than (none / 0) (#79)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:09:46 PM EST
    Yes. SEIU agreed to (none / 0) (#80)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:12:04 PM EST
    furlough prior to stimulus bill being signed.

    Great Point, and well made. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 12:16:54 PM EST
    BTD - your point is excellent, and eloquently made.  I don't see this point of view much on Progressive web sites, and it is a disappointment to me that I don't, since it is by effective lobbying, within the system, that we progressives will be able to make progress toward attaining our goals.

    Agreed, oldpro (none / 0) (#43)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 01:14:39 PM EST
    The only way to fight the lobbies we hate is to support the lobbies we love. Unfortunately, progressive or lefty lobbies tend to represent the moneyless and powerless so the battle is a lot tougher.

    AIPAC's lobbying is making us more safe, not less safe

    Ah yes, turning the Middle East into a powder keg has made me feel soooo much safer!

    Dancing Opossum...your point (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 05:43:27 PM EST
    about progressive and lefty lobbies would make more sense to me if I hadn't seen the $$$$$$ raised by Obama in the last election and noticed that he won.

    Now, if HE supported the moneyless and powerless, we'd be home free!

    Electing champions of the moneyless and powerless is the real trick...and making sure they stick to it following their elections.  Don't trust.  Verify.


    Funny, (none / 0) (#49)
    by bocajeff on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:13:09 PM EST
    Israeli policies didn't make the middle east a powder keg. It's the establishment of Israel that made it a powder keg...

    Thanks for correcting me oldpro (none / 0) (#50)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:24:59 PM EST
    And squeaky, yes that is an unfortunate and troubling side effect of the AIPAC cause, and lamentably AIPAC does much to foment it by labelilng every criticism of Israel as "anti-Semitic." It's a dangerous stance that will leave only true anti-Semites able to speak out.

    AIPAC would worry that it could possibly be forced to file as lobbyists of a foreign power.

    This is what blows me away. Why DOESN'T it have to?

    Obama wouldn't even answer a direct question when Helen Thomas asked him which "other" Middle Eastern countries had nuclear weapons. We all know it's Israel but nobody is supposed to say it out loud, and we don't require Israel to submit to any of the international laws regarding nuclear weapons (or any others for that matter).

    Regardless of AIPAC's goals, irrespective of anyone's beliefs about Israel, the bottom line remains that its interests and loyalties are to a foreign country and moreover to a foreign country that has been a far less loyal or reliable ally than many others and whose goals are often at odds with the goals and interests of the U.S.

    Power (none / 0) (#51)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:30:26 PM EST
    AIPAC would worry that it could possibly be forced to file as lobbyists of a foreign power.

    This is what blows me away. Why DOESN'T it have to?

    As BTD puts it accumulating power is what a lobby does.


    that advocate geopolitical positions with respect to overseas interests should be registered as lobbyists of a foreign power?

    Or would your proposal be limited to Jews who lobby in that way, as it appears from your formulation?

    If the latter is your intent, it wouldn't be the first time in history that legislation was made explicitly for Jews - read up your European history.


    All Foreign Power (none / 0) (#70)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:21:46 PM EST
    Lobbyists need to register as such. AIPAC is the only exception, AFAIK.

     Foreign Agents Registration Act

    Then Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Public Affairs Gideon Meir (and now Israel's Ambassador to Italy) told me that "AIPAC does not represent the interests of the Israeli government. This organization may mean well but these diaspora organizations -- in order to keep and retain their members -- present battles in black and white and see only two sides. I have to deal with five sides -- or seven sides -- to a problem; and sometimes AIPAC and these diaspora groups undermine our efforts."

    This would argue against AIPAC registering as a foreign agent. But if memos came down the pike that Israel is giving AIPAC clear instructions, then the requirement of registration should be implemented.

    Steve CLemons


    And (none / 0) (#61)
    by artsy on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:52:55 PM EST
    maybe if poor people get jobs we would not have problems either. After all, this it is just a competition in the market place.

    Because the Palestinians do not have as powerful a lobby, it is ok for Israel to confiscate their land.

    Nice thinking!!!

    Do you have a better idea of how to engage (none / 0) (#69)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 04:19:22 PM EST
    in democracy than what BTD is suggesting?

    We can't just put YOU in charge, to implement all your good ideas, because not all of us think exactly like YOU.

    Liberal Democracy is, and always has been, a marketplace of ideas.  Don't whine.  Innovate, and try to convince others of the value of your ideas.  That's all BTD is saying, and he's exactly right.