Media Alert: Michelangelo Signorile Show at 4:30 pm EST — Warren Olney & Vanity Fair Too

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mousavi khatami.jpg
A couple of things to bring to the attentions of friends of TWN.
At 4:30 pm EST today, I’ll be talking about Iran on the Michelangelo Signorile Show.
Yesterday, I had an interesting and substantive short discussion with To the Point‘s Warren Olney.
And this bit by Thomas Kaplan just came out in Vanity Fair on Obama, Iran, and invites to 4th of July parties.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

122 comments on “Media Alert: Michelangelo Signorile Show at 4:30 pm EST — Warren Olney & Vanity Fair Too

  1. arthurdecco says:

    “In five hundred words or less; Questions, you’re full of shit.” POA
    Yup, I couldn’t agree more, POA. Well, maybe…in five or more words I coulda convinced those still vacilitating…

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    No, DonBacon, that was written in my version of POA’s voice. I don’t have his power/masculinity hangups about bending over or ceding power to others or not getting to do what I what when I want. It’s not at all a guiding metaphor or emotional experience in my life. So, no, I don’t think there was any bending with or without lubricant.
    Every politician in an elective system has to be both leader and follower, top and bottom, receiver and giver. Every politician needs to appeal to supporters, give them much of what they want, be willing to use and be used all at once. Somehow this mutuality is missing from notions of masculine power politics.
    Aristotle talks about the need to know how to rule AND be ruled and that all citizens must have both skills. Aristotle is a pretty smart observer of the political scene.

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  3. David says:

    I watched the speech on C-Span. I knew it was a speech he had to give, just like the one to CANF in Miami. In both cases, I listened as closely as possible for key words that suggested the possibility of change instead of ss, dd regarding Israel and Cuba policies.
    In the case of the AIPAC speech, he had no choice but to reiterate America’s commitment to Israel, a commitment which in the past has been all too often misguided, blind to Israeli atrocities, and quite honestly seemingly bipolar over the course of half a century. The key here, I think, is how Obama defines “shared national interest.” It is not in our national interest for Israel to continue the illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories, nor is in in our national interest for Israel to bomb Iran, Cheney’s idiot worldview notwithstanding.
    There is a tradition of justice in the Judaeo-Christian tradition (unfortunately, it is not the only tradition). If peace in the Middle East and justice for all parties to the conflict are what constitute for Obama our shared national interest, Obama might have an improved mindset (improved over Cheney/Bush, McCain, and Bibi).
    I really don’t know what forces will win out, but for everyone’s sake it needs not to be those forces which have defined US Middle East policy for the past three decades, and writ larger, those forces which have created the realities in the Middle East.

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  4. Don Bacon says:

    questions,
    You thought Obama had bowed before the almighty AIPAC?
    So did I, when I read the transcript of his obeisant remarks at the annual Israel pep rally put on by AIPAC a year ago.
    In fact I’d say that he did more than “bow’, wouldn’t you agree?
    Thank you so much. It is great to see so many good friends from all across the country. . . .Before I begin I also want to mention that I know some have been receiving provocative emails that have been circulated throughout the Jewish communities across the country and a few of you may have gotten them. They’re filled with tall-tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for President and all I want to say is let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama because he sounds pretty scary. But if anybody has been confused by these emails I want you to know that today I’ll be speaking from my heart and as a true friend of Israel.
    And I know–and I know that when I visit AIPAC I’m among friends–good friends, friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow–unbreakable forever.
    One of the many things that I admire about AIPAC is that you fight for this common cause from the bottom up. The life-blood of AIPAC is here in this room; grassroots activists of all ages, from all parts of the country who come to Washington year after year to make your voices heard–nothing reflects the face of AIPAC more than the 1,200 students who have traveled here to make it clear to the world that the bond between Israel and the United States –that the bond between Israel and the United States is rooted in more than our shared national interest; it’s rooted in the shared values and shared stories of our people. And as President I will work with you to insure that it is this bond that is strengthened. . .
    http://www.aipac.org/Publications/SpeechesByPolicymakers/PC_08_Obama.pdf
    And Obama has been as good as his word on this matter if not on others. He has surely strengthened the bond with AIPAC for our “shared national interest.”

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  5. questions says:

    Why would AIPAC get desperate if it’s so powerful? And I thought Obama had bowed before the almighty AIPAC and then had to bend over in POA fashion.
    In fact, the heightened rhetoric is precisely what lobbies do — exaggerate threats in order to keep the money flowing. That is, it’s what regular lobbies do.
    If you want a sense of how lobbying works, look at health issues. The health sector is dumping huge sums of money into Congress right now, and still there’s significant pushback by non-sector actors, and so health care is being disputed. People are anxious on all points, MCs are trying to please everyone, the lobbyists might not get everything they want as health care is polarized, public, openly disputed by numerous actors.
    Lobbying effects vary by issue, and still, it’s hard to know if the money comes to the legislator because the legislator is already predisposed to a view or because the legislator will sell his or her vote.

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  6. Carroll says:

    Oh gawd…the AIPAC site is hysterical.
    They are putting their “talking points” on the front page now. They must be getting desperate.
    Half a dozen pfd’s on how to combat Obama’s message that Israel was established only because of the holocaust. Now their activist are suppose to claim that Palestine lay vacant for 2000 years because no one but Jews ever had a government there.
    On the left hand side the one about Israel’s foreign aid program is a hoot.
    As is the one about how rich and advanced Israel
    is considering one of the other headlines is how Israel desperately needs increased US aid.
    These are not smart people,their propaganda is childish and simple minded. The only reason I can see that Americans haven’t ditched Israel long before is that the media has kept the real deal with Israel out of the news and from Americans…that and their congressional inflitration.
    Let’s thank Al gore for inventing the internet. LOL

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    My my, you are certainly tenacious with your bullshit, questions.
    http://www.aipac.org/For_Hill_Staff/index.asp

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    *A factor and not the only one* is fine. The next question is how big a factor, and that is harder to measure than you seem to indicate.
    The candidate with the most money doesn’t always win, though often does. A popular incumbent is pretty hard to beat, even with a slime campaign. Hence, AIPAC’s power to remove MCs is more limited than its bragging would indicate.
    Indeed, AIPAC’s power in general is likely more limited than its bragging, or the general disdain for the organization, would admit.
    I likely support none or nearly none of AIPAC’s positions. I am utterly opposed to the settlements, to “natural growth,” to the blockade of Gaza, to the militarization of Israeli society. I have generally lefty instincts tempered more by policy realism than by any desire to be “moderate.” But I don’t freak out about “foreign powers,” THELOBBY, AIPAC’s power to alter the course of anything. AIPAC strikes me as a regular lobby that is really good at credit claiming, that is really good at encouraging letter writing, that has a middling lobbying budget (telecomm and energy spend lots more, I believe). AIPAC has some rhetorical advantage in being pro-Israel while the nation is largely pro-Israel. They wouldn’t be so good/lucky/successful/powerful if they were to use their tactics on an unpopular set of policies.
    Thus, their power comes more from agreeing with the general desires of the US than from any special or sneaky ability to manipulate innocents.
    The support of Israel is relatively popular for now. It is this popularity that is misread as POWER.
    When a candidate goes down to defeat, and AIPAC money is floating around, the very fact that AIPAC money is only one factor should show pretty clearly that AIPAC can’t work miracles, can’t simply declare the defeat of a well-loved MC. McKinney had some serious issues, as did Hilliard, and so they don’t prove AIPAC’s power. I don’t see why this is so hard to grasp.
    If you want real proof, as always, you need to isolate AIPAC from all other causes, show a direct, singular relationship and an absence of that relationship when the cause is absent. Then you need to show that the relationship is causal and not correlational.
    The standard of proof for justifying belief is generally the same regardless of the issue. I’d be happy to believe AIPAC was the devil itself if I saw some actual proof. What I find instead is a lot of anecdotes, personal tales of woe from defeated candidates, lists of AIPAC preferences without any noting that AIPAC’s preferences align with large numbers of: voters, other interests, MCs, the stability of international alliances and the like. AIPAC isn’t an isolated entity, and so, once again, ascribing causality is wrong headed. One can be suspicious, guarded, concerned for sure. It’s the certainty that is not justified.

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  9. Paul Norheim says:

    “…lots of things are going on.”
    I tend to agree.

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Yes questions, I’m quite sure that money poured in by the pro-Israeli lobby groups had no effect. I mean, thats why they do it, right?
    Geez, everyone knows that they repeatedly expend these huge sums of money because doing so has no effect. They are quite simply addicted to throwing their money away, right?
    As Paul has pointed out, you keep pulling these ridiculous strawmen out of your ass. Who here has stated that the “only factor” in the defeat of candidates such as McKinney is AIPAC’s opposition? Of course, as you know, it IS a factor in their defeat, and not a small one, OR THEY WOULDN’T SPEND THE MONEY.
    Its not rocket science, questions. And I gotta tell you, you’re really exposing yourself with this ridiculous horseshit.

    Reply

  11. questions says:

    On Hilliard:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/03/us/generational-battle-turns-nasty-in-alabama-primary.html?pagewanted=all
    Indeed the Jewish money issue shows up for both people, McKinney and Hilliard, but so do a host of other issues including redistricting, demographic changes, off-key votes….
    When incumbents lose, lots of things are going on.

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  12. questions says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/washington/10mckinney.html
    One more for good measure.
    My guess is that a lot of factors played in to McKinney’s loss, as would always be the case. Money doesn’t always cash out to wins. Incumbents do lose. And McKinney is a polarizing figure, even if I’ve always liked her.

    Reply

  13. questions says:

    FWIW:
    http://www.playahata.com/?p=1779
    Why Cynthia McKinney Lost
    http://www.blackcommentator.com/12_mckinney.html
    A second reading of McKinney’s loss.
    Neither seems to refer to AIPAC.
    Could Cockburn be off a little?

    Reply

  14. Don Bacon says:

    Tons of money is needed to fuel re-election campaigns, to pay for ads and TV time, and the sway the MSM. And money can also be used against candidates who ask for a fair deal in the ME. Like Earl Hilliard, in Alabama, and Cynthia McKinney, of the 4th Georgia District, who just ran for president as a Green after being ousted (twice) from the Congress as a result of Lobby money.
    from Alexander Cockburn:
    “. . .Yet when a torrent of money from out of state American Jewish organizations smashed Earl Hilliard, first elected black congressperson in Alabama since Reconstruction, you could have heard a mouse cough. Hilliard had made the fatal error of calling for some measure of even-handedness in the Middle East. So he was targeted by AIPAC and the others. Down he went, defeated in the Democratic primary by Artur Davis, a black lawyer who obediently sang for his supper of the topic of Israel.
    “Then it was McKinney’s turn. A terrific liberal black congresswoman. Like Hilliard she wasn’t cowed by the Israel right-or-wrong lobby and called for real debate on the Middle East. And she called for a real examination of the lead-up to 9/11. So the sky fell in on her. Torrents of American Jewish money showered her opponent, a black woman judge called Majette. Buckets of sewage were poured over McKinney’s head in the Washington Post and the Atlanta Constitution.”
    http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn0821.html

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “What then is the power of AIPAC? What does it conjure? What does it make that wasn’t there before? I’m not convinced that it really makes much of anything”
    ROFLMAO!!!!
    There you have it folks, this entity, long in existence, employing thousands, flush with money, has no reason for being.
    I guess the the Israelis just keep it going because they don’t wanna lay off their staff, in this horrible economy.I don’t know why though. I would think that spies and propagandists can find work in any economy.
    Gads, questions’ arguments are getting more and more ludicrous. He better dig out Plato again, and see if he can obscure this latest fantasy with a good thick blanket of literary flatulence.

    Reply

  16. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Jun 28 2009, 10:15AM – Link
    So POA, you think it’s ever reasonable for an MC to vote pro-Israel?
    Do you think an MC might vote pro-Israel without a donation at stake?
    Do you think anyone could be pro-Israel and pro-USA simultaneously?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No one said is was money alone that influenced Israel votes.
    You have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to have heard and seen umpteen thousand articles
    in which Jewish congresspeople or nutbag evangelicals themselves have declared their loyalty to Israel..above their duty as US representatives ….just go the Jerusalem Post archives and plug in Engel, Ackerman, Berman, Waxman…loaded with interviews in which they proclaim that being jewish zoinists comes before their duty to America, their office and all else.
    Posted by questions, Jun 28 2009, 7:37AM
    “Where I see flaws in the postings around here is where they maintain this sense of incredulity that anyone could see any sense in a pro-Israeli vote.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Love to see you give an example of one pro Israel vote..aid bill or foreign policy bill or Israel trade bill ….that makes sense…for the US or it’s citizens’ interest.
    Gimme one.
    One of the reasons that congress has fought tooth and nail to prevent AIPAC being register as a foreign lobby is that is would put all the Israelis in congress on a very hot seat.

    Reply

  17. questions says:

    Paul,
    A further thought. You write,
    “As if your opponents are convinced that with the means available, The iLobby could force politicians, the media and talking
    heads to claim – say, that monkeys can write novels, houses can sing and stones fly – if The iLobby wanted them to say so.”
    And it occurs to me that there is an issue of what “power” means lurking in here. I don’t suggest that anyone thinks AIPAC has the “power” to do the impossible. That’s simply definitional. The impossible is precisely what cannot be done.
    The real question is whether or not AIPAC causes the possible, follows along with the possible, or claims credit for what is already done, and this puzzle gets at the heart of causal issues in the policy realm.
    That is, it is likely that AIPAC speaks for some number of like-minded people, including some MCs. The people who donate to AIPAC, the MC’s who are already strongly supportive of a particular version of Israeli policy, and probably some number of people like WigWag who agree with parts of the platform and disagree with other parts. To the extent that AIPAC collect, collates, organizes, and supports these views, AIPAC isn’t displaying any great or amazing power. It is closer to a mirror that reflects the already, than it is a magician’s wand ushering in the new and/or impossible.
    What then is the power of AIPAC? What does it conjure? What does it make that wasn’t there before? I’m not convinced that it really makes much of anything. I think that lobbies frequently respond to what is there rather than create something new.
    Thus, when DonBacon writes that AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobbies in the US, I still can’t quite figure out what the power is.
    Don Bacon cites money as an issue, but then you have to look into not just the fact of donations, but the percentage of the take, the safety of the seat given jerrymandering (that is, do most AIPAC takers have profoundly unsafe seats and unsafe margins such that they are desperate for the money?
    Does AIPAC money make up a substantial percentage of the take? These are the kinds of questions Nate Silver asks, and they are really important to have answered before one determines what role AIPAC money might play.
    AIPAC could give me money. They could give me, say 1000 dollars. It would have no effect on me because I don’t really need the money, though indeed I could spend it on something nice. But if that thousand dollars represented 50% of my income, I might have a different view of things. And to be honest, they could give me a whole lot more money and it wouldn’t sway my vote, if I had a vote, on issues I disagree with.
    The whole idea of shopping for votes is more involved than merely speaking the word “money” would suggest. That is part of the point of the article I referred to above. It is insufficient to say, “money.”
    So what else is there for all of this alleged power? The revolving door might be at play. But then you have to figure that the people who might leave Congress to go work for AIPAC must at some level feel okay supporting AIPAC. And I doubt that AIPAC can give jobs to every staffer, every former member of Congress, every WigWag who has ever sent in money, written a letter, written up a report, or voted pro-Israel.
    Power could rest on complete control of an image such that no one is capable of thinking outside that image or myth. But somehow, all the posters here have avoided that horrible fate of having their view of Israel formed by AIPAC propaganda. So maybe it’s not this either.
    In SHORT, I don’t entirely see where this most powerful lobby gets its power, or how its power creates anything. In fact, I think that, as I have argued before, the power is illusory, is more akin to pufferfish, is more about credit claiming than it is about policy.
    AIPAC needs donations in order to function. Donations come from credit claiming. AIPAC claims credit.
    MCs want money. Money comes from many sources including lobbies. MCs are happy to give credit to lobbies even if they already hold views and would already vote in agreement with the lobby.
    I don’t insist on this account, but it would seem to be in keeping with the evidence, and it seems to be less in need of magic than is “power.”
    By the way, I’m not comparing AIPAC to a parade. I am saying that the same forces that encourage an MC’s showing up to one are the forces that encourage an MC’s showing up to the other. One must please one’s constituents, or one is out of office.

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  18. ... says:

    questions quote >>Again, beware what you detach from, beware what you’re skeptical of.<<
    questions, by the same token: beware what you attach to, beware what you’re automatically accepting of…

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  19. Don Bacon says:

    Comparing AIPAC to a parade is silly. AIPAC is a lobby, one of the most powerful lobbies in the US. “Constituencies” have no say in I/P policy nor funding for Israel. Under the enforced US two-party political system there are no real choices for voters to voice their displeasure with I/P policies, so lobbies including AIPAC have free reign with politicians who must raise considerable sums of money to get re-elected, which most of them do.
    It’s not Civics 101 and it’s not democratic, but that’s the way it is. Money talks. Money gets you a hearing. Money lets you write the bills. Money finances re-election and AIPAC controls huge sums of money.

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  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “(41 words by my count)”
    Well, I don’t know why you bothered. I summed up your position just using 5 words.

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  21. questions says:

    So POA, you think it’s ever reasonable for an MC to vote pro-Israel?
    Do you think an MC might vote pro-Israel without a donation at stake?
    Do you think anyone could be pro-Israel and pro-USA simultaneously?
    Enquiring minds want to know.
    (41 words by my count)
    ******
    And DonBacon, the money/legislation connection is precisely what is being questioned by Nate Silver’s note and by other congressional scholars, and there you go again assuming it to be fixed fact rather than disputed assertion.
    Those same 5000 politicians might feel it necessary to show up to 4th of July parades around the country, wear little flag pins, be “pro-family,” “pro-education” and do all sorts of other ritualistic things, none of which have a lot of meaning, but all of which look nice to some constituent groups.
    Seriously, if AIPAC has effectiveness, what exactly is its effectiveness? Why, it must be the ability to appeal to an MC’s constituency and say, “Hey, this person is anti-Israel” and that claim must resonate with constituents, or it would be useless to make. The final word, then, rests with the constituents.
    (a lot more words!!!!!)

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  22. Don Bacon says:

    The US ME policy makes sense for a wide range of voters? No. Forty years of I/P strife, while it might serve US and Israel political purposes, makes no sense to anybody.
    Regarding lobbying, when 5,000 people, including leading politicians, feel it necessary to attend the annual AIPAC conference and summit, and clearly state their undying allegiance to a state the size of New Jersey, with less people, then it’s obvious there’s a lot of money is involved. Money is what fuels the political process, which is why ex-congressmen are paid such high salaries to lobby in their former haunts.

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  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Where I see flaws in the postings around here is where they maintain this sense of incredulity that anyone could see any sense in a pro-Israeli vote. It seems so irrational to people around here that they declare a)that there must be a cause of this insanity b)that the only people who could believe in this insanity are “manipulated” by demon lobbyists c)if we destroy the demon lobbyists, then the TRUTH of the matter will appear as if by magic”
    And you claim you’re not creating strawmen?
    In five hundred words or less;
    Questions, you’re full of shit.

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “At the risk of complexifying….”
    With you, its not a risk, its a certainty.

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  25. questions says:

    At the risk of complexifying….
    There doesn’t seem to me to be a clear straight line between actions we consider lobbying and the creation of policy. Rather, there is a bumpy and meandering path that sometimes leads to policy and sometimes doesn’t.
    When lobbyists actually write the legislation, the line is somewhat clearer, but then some lobbyists actually have more expertise on issues than do staff and legislators, so even here, there is an extra layer to sort through.
    Most lobbying/donation issues are less bright line-ish, as I’ve noted. There is honestly a question about whether or not the money causes or follows the vote. There are lots of questions about when and how lobbying might have an effect on legislative output. I am not making anything up on this point, nor am I creating a straw man. The questions are there in the studies and vote tallies and haven’t been conjured by little ol’ me just to bamboozle the more honest souls who post here.
    Do lobbyists “manipulate” cultural images and make us see boo-ghosties that aren’t there? The analysis of this kind of claim requires a huge amount of cultural study and a basic assumption that people really don’t know what’s good for them. I remain unconvinced about this kind of what I’ve called “naive false consciousness.”
    On health care, for example, it’s not clear that all people would benefit from changes in health care, and so the Harry and Louise commercials get at a kind of truth, at least for some people. If you have steady work at a large employer, decent health, and a good medical plan, you are currently well-served and you may actually lose out personally on a shift in health care policy. There might not be vast numbers of people in this situation, but there are certainly a number of people who are. Further, there are people who really do not want the government involved in programs (Ron Paul??) and these people are against health care reform on principle.
    When the health lobby advertises and plays up these points of view, are they “manipulating”? I’m unclear on this point. I tend to think that some kind of single payer system is likely to be more sustainable than what we have now, but I’m not so full of myself that I think I have the only truth. In fact, I think it’s pretty clear that any systemic change will have a new set of winners and losers, and the losers should probably lobby for staying where they are.
    In the same way, US ME policy makes sense for a wide range of voters. It appears rational to a number of thinkers across the spectrum, it has broad support in Congress, and in congressional districts. In order to argue that we’re all voting against our interests, you would seem to have to hold one or more of the following: people can’t think well at all about interests (this is the naive false consciousness argument); it is easy/possible to determine what “interests” are and some lucky souls who post here have the inside track and clear sight to KNOW what’s right and what isn’t — somehow, POA has managed not to be fooled, but I, poor little questions, am utterly in a foul-smelling fog or whatever; (I am deeply unconvinced about the issue of interests and have posted frequently about my sense that “interests” is an ill-defined concept); any partisan of Israel is completely deluded, but any other view of the ME is completely authentic. (WigWag, Sweetness (not heard from in quite some time), and questions are deluded, inauthentic, false, fake, liars, hasbarites, and the worst of all: ISRAEL-FIRSTERS, while POA and his ilk are truth-seers, authentic, real, genuine, American in the proper sense of AMERICA FIRST LAST AND ALWAYS…. I just don’t buy it. There are a lot of ways to “be” any nationality.
    I am less willing to buy in to the “I am completely manipulated by the big bad LOBBY,” and the more I deal with congressional lit, the more I see patterns well beyond naive false consciousness or mass duping by those wicked lobbyists or inauthentic treasonous badness.
    Where I see flaws in the postings around here is where they maintain this sense of incredulity that anyone could see any sense in a pro-Israeli vote. It seems so irrational to people around here that they declare a)that there must be a cause of this insanity b)that the only people who could believe in this insanity are “manipulated” by demon lobbyists c)if we destroy the demon lobbyists, then the TRUTH of the matter will appear as if by magic.
    Well, I don’t really think there is a mass delusion, that peering behind the curtain will reveal anything at all. Like the Wizard of Oz, the LOBBY is not all it’s been made out to be.
    So, > isn’t the narrative that makes the most sense to me as I wonder why the US has the policies it does. But you already know that about me.

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  26. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry, the last part of the last sentence in my comment above
    should be read as:
    “…as well as giving the vague feelings of sympathy for Israel,
    Jews, and the “Holy Land” in the American population a
    distinct, hawkish articulation in the public sphere.”

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  27. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    It`s a pleasure to disagree with you.
    You said: “I really don’t think that any lobby has quite the power
    to make the country do things that large numbers of people
    don’t want at some level.”
    Ok, my impression is that many of those at TWN who regularly
    complain about the influence of AIPAC, also complain about the
    influence of what Dwight D. Eisenhower famously called the
    “military-industrial (-congressional) complex”.
    I seriously doubt that the average American “at some level”
    actually “wants” anything remotely akin to what this complex
    actually have obtained during the decades after WWII (even after
    the Cold War) – except for workers at the actual factories
    making tanks, rockets and bullets.
    Studying “congressional processes” to verify or falsify the claim
    that this complex is extremely powerful, is rather useless. I
    think you will agree that the “military-industrial complex” was
    rather clever in exploiting and manipulating the fear of
    communism during the Cold War, hand in hand with
    mainstream media etc. This is what I mean with “influential
    factors outside congressional processes”: fear, ideology,
    ignorance and mythology… easy to manipulate with money and
    other means.
    It`s true that there must be some fertile ground in the
    population and the general zeitgeist. But lobbies skillful in
    sculpturing, in defining and enhancing that general, rather
    vague atmosphere, and who are masters of politics as a craft,
    power as an instrument, can become rather influential.
    I would guess that you are aware of this. And if you forget your
    straw men for a moment, I assume that you would admit that
    AIPAC has been rather clever and effective in manipulating the
    instruments of power at many levels, as well as giving the vague
    feelings of sympathy for Israel, Jews, and the “Holy Land” a
    distinct, hawkish direction among the American population.

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  28. Sand says:

    “…Generally, the line here is that AIPAC/THE LOBBY: controls editorial decisions at newspapers and magazines and blogs, controls university hiring, controls presidential decision-making, controls the fate of Charles Freeman, controls a great deal of espionage and the fate of spies, possibly was partly responsible for 9/11 and the dancing Mossad Israelis, forces Congress to sell weapons, forces Congress to bow, bend, insert…”
    You just couldn’t let it go could you … “CONTROL” — yeah you have to swing to the extreme — I prefer to use another word heavily MANIPULATE — with documented evidence to back up all those claims above.
    “…As always, you have given me something to think about…”
    I don’t think you think at all — you just can’t let Israel or AIPAC be judged or criticized — and instead you go try and provide some totally unrelated comparison, or bizarre red-herrings — it’s highly dishonest of you.

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  29. questions says:

    Paul,
    I don’t really feel like I’ve created “straw men” so much as I feel that I have responded to the endless postings that say things like “Congress is bought” or so-and-so has “bent over” for Israel to stick it in and the like.
    There seems to me to be a frequent oversimplification of congressional practice, a refusal to believe that for many MC’s rational calculations and sense of national interest and representation of an appropriate constituency, it simply makes sense to support Israel.
    I really don’t think that any lobby has quite the power to make the country do things that large numbers of people don’t want at some level. Even the bankruptcy bill that prodded Durbin into saying that the banks run the Senate was not without controversy.
    I know you think that AIPAC has more influence than I think AIPAC has. I have given justification for my sense of lobbying power, I have shown that there are some serious holes in the whole lobby-control theory of Congress. I take the holes to be significant enough that I no longer subscribe to the “Congress is completely corrupt, purchased by a medium-high bidder” school of thinking.
    AIPAC keeps coming up as THE driver of US ME policy. I don’t think I’m imagining that. But if I am, I’d love to hear from POA, OA, DonBacon, Carroll, you, and anyone else I’ve missed about how US ME policy is caused by significantly more than AIPAC. I can’t say as I’ve seen anything like that to be honest.
    Generally, the line here is that AIPAC/THE LOBBY: controls editorial decisions at newspapers and magazines and blogs, controls university hiring, controls presidential decision-making, controls the fate of Charles Freeman, controls a great deal of espionage and the fate of spies, possibly was partly responsible for 9/11 and the dancing Mossad Israelis, forces Congress to sell weapons, forces Congress to bow, bend, insert….
    If you see some other side to the whole AIPAC/TWN contingent, let me know. I really don’t remember reading much that supports a view closer to mine.
    And so, if anything, I feel that the way that AIPAC has been constructed by others is much more the straw man than anything I have posted.
    And, as always, I take very seriously the fact that correlation is not causation, and so ascribing causal powers to AIPAC, which really does happen here, is at the very best, uncareful thinking.
    Thank you for your tone, and the careful criticisms. As always, you have given me something to think about.

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But I think you are constructing straw men here”
    Thats the understatement of the year.
    As an aside, Paul, Nina’s latest blog essay laments our addiction to the blogosphere. For whatever reason, I’m curious as to your opinion on this. I hope you’ll go over and comment.

    Reply

  31. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    for a long time now you`ve been arguing as if your opponents believe that AIPAC/Israel is The Evil Force on the Planet, the
    one and only culprit in everything that`s wrong with US foreign policy and world affairs.
    You`ve been arguing as if your opponents believe that the only reason why AIPAC/Israel is so powerful, is because of A)
    money B) methods.
    As if your opponents do not regard ANY OTHER FACTORS as having any relevance here; as if they believe that with money,
    pressure, spying and other means, AIPAC/Israel could manipulate politicians and the Washington elite to say and do
    absolutely anything.
    As if your opponents are convinced that with the means available, The iLobby could force politicians, the media and talking
    heads to claim – say, that monkeys can write novels, houses can sing and stones fly – if The iLobby wanted them to say so.
    Questions, I think I`ve spotted a handful of commenters here who apparently believe in this kind of bullshit – that Jews and
    Zionists and AIPAC represent The Evil Force in the Universe… (most of them are not regular commenters). But I seriously
    doubt that your main opponents at TWN – the ones you are discussing with right now – really believe this.
    If they did, you would be correct in downplaying the role of AIPAC, and I would have supported you in that effort – there
    are, after all, other harmful entities in the world. But I think you are constructing straw men here.
    I find it a bit absurd to isolate Congressional processes from the historical, mythical, sociological and political environment
    AIPAC is operating within, and scientifically study those processes in search of meaningful FINAL conclusions on this issue
    – except, of course, to prove what is obvious for most people: that AIPAC is not The Evil Force of the Universe.
    Of course there are several highly influential factors outside Congressional processes, factors that also transcend the
    myriads of individual, private (i.e. random) choices and motivations that you often refer to: strong narratives, historical
    facts, the role of mainstream media, religious connections and beliefs etc, etc…
    Questions, I think your arguments would have more weight if your opponents here were identical with the straw men
    you`ve constructed. Reading dozens of studies on Congressional processes wouldn`t bring anyone closer to final
    conclusion on this specific matter; it would only illuminate one factor among many.

    Reply

  32. questions says:

    The Durbin comment needs to be taken with a grain of salt. First hand comments are insufficient.
    Second, Mark Kirk is an idiot who wants to run for Burris’s Senate seat. He told China on a trip there that the US wasn’t credit-worthy. Please ignore him.
    Third, my sense of the Israel funding issue is that there may well be a token tit-for-tat, and, as I put it elsewhere, a dance between the US and Israel on the broad differences on a range of Palestinian issues. Nothing changes overnight.
    And Sand, your idea of how the real world works vs how scholarship works is somewhat problematic. First hand accounts of, say, being healed by medicine, are insufficient for both knowing that the medicine works and how it works. Similarly, talking to an MC is insufficient for knowing why and MC voted in a particular way. Witnessing and first-hand accounts can be subject to a wide range of distortions. Hence, social scientists, and actual scientists, collect large quantities of data and look for patterns. There’s some advantage in perspective, multiple cases, and analysis.
    No one donor “owns” the place. No one lobby controls anything. No one pressure makes anyone do anything.
    Maybe you could work through _Black Swan_ — it’s entertaining, manic, a little inexact on the philosophy content, but does a reasonable job of running through a range of logical fallacies that hinder knowledge and make us prone to bad risk analysis. It’s a current best seller, easy to find, easy to read.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Even from questions, this contention that Bush and company BELIEVED in the existence of Iraqi WMDs is remarkably ostentatious in its absurdity.
    When one believes in something, pure fabrication of the evidence supporting that belief becomes unnecessary. One lie after another, creating a chain, was used to make the claim that Iraq had WMDs. Such a chain of lies hardly indicates conviction.

    Reply

  34. Sand says:

    “…Bush had human instincts about WMDs…”
    Well, you seem pretty definitive on that little nugget?
    The guy has a track record of being a pathological liar. Using the ‘Instinct’ is pushing it.
    Dennis Ross — total dud when it comes to his strategic and diplomatic career who is now moving from State into NSC — that’s where I ‘see’ the Lobby operating — the guy’s a total career Israel-firster — and ‘only’ ISRAEL wants that guy in there…
    Have you ever worked outside academia?

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And how does the House react to Netanyahu telling Obama to go fuck himself…..?
    House Panel Approves Aid to Israel, Targets Iran
    The House Appropriations Committee approved $2.22 billion in aid to Israel.
    The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a spending bill for U.S. foreign policy and aid efforts, directing $2.22 billion in security assistance to Israel for fiscal year 2010, Reuters reported. When combined with the recently passed emergency supplemental bill that provides $555 million in aid to Israel, the new legislation ensures that the Jewish state will receive a total of $2.775 billion, fulfilling American commitments under a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding calling for $30 billion in security assistance to Israel over ten years. As part of the foreign aid bill, lawmakers adopted an amendment that would prohibit the U.S. Export-Import Bank from extending loans, credits or guarantees to companies that supply Iran with gasoline or help the country’s domestic production. “While students are murdered in the streets of Tehran, we should not use taxpayer money to bolster the Iranian economy,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL).
    http://www.aipac.org/130.asp#26119
    “While students are murdered in the streets of Tehran, we should not use taxpayer money to bolster the Iranian economy,”
    Unbelievable, isn’t it? I suppose this piece of shit “representative” of the American people (thats a laugh) thinks that funding Israel’s brutal repression of the Palestinians (some of them students) protesting Israel’s ILLEGAL separation fence is moral, and the protesters DESERVE to be “murdered in the streets” of the West Bank. Never mind that an American was recently the target of such an assasination attempt, lodged against an AMERICAN CITIZEN engaged in PEACEFUL PROTEST.

    Reply

  36. Sand says:

    “…is a nice introduction to how congressional scholarship is done, how cases are chosen, how data are crunched, and how conclusions are reached, by the way…”
    I’m aware of how policy research is done — having been introduced to it at uni. I’m also aware of its ‘limitations’ — e.g looking how easy it is to generalize — when in reality that is not how politics works at all.
    “…MCs are not going to become convinced to be active on an issue unless there’s constituent interest…”
    Oh for the love of god.
    Oh well, I’ll just have to wait for the day a university decides to allocate some money to focus in on the Israel industry in Congress.
    “…Deal with it…”
    I deal with your think tank sponsored research, and Abe Foxman enterprises bs everyday and I can tell you it’s not working.

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meanwhile, unfolding, with no substantive rebuttal from this effin’ fraud in the White House……..
    Israel Rejects Quartet Call for Settlement Halt
    ‘Normal Life Should Continue’ in West Bank Settlements, Officials Insist
    Jason Ditz, June 26, 2009
    The Mideast Quartet joined President Barack Obama today in calling for Israel to freeze all settlement activity in the West Bank, and also pressured Israel to lift its ongoing blockade against the Gaza Strip.
    As they had previously with Obama, Israeli officials rejected the call, with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman declaring that “normal life should continue inside these communities.” The Israeli government has demanded that the US accept “natural growth” inside the settlement.
    Israel’s claim that the Bush Administration had made secret agreements to support the continue settlement construction was supported yesterday by Bush-era official Elliott Abrams, who accused the Obama Administration of ‘reneging’ on the deal. The Obama Administration has cited other officials who deny such a deal existed.
    The Netanyahu government has repeatedly rejected calls to ease the Gaza blockade as well. Since the January invasion, Israel has refused to allow concrete into the strip to rebuild, forcing the Gazans to construct crude buildings out of mud for shelter. Only minimal food and medical supplies have been allowed into Gaza, and even those were halted Tuesday when hundreds of Israeli protesters rallied at the border to block trucks.
    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/06/26/israel-rejects-quartet-call-for-settlement-halt/
    But, we do have a rebuttal offered, from Israelis, no less….
    http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=62&docid=3704

    Reply

  38. Don Bacon says:

    In the Congress money talks and bullshit walks, usually. Of course AIPAC doesn’t own Congress all by itself, it has co-owners, who share interests.
    Occasionally pols forget themselves and tell the truth.
    recent news report:
    Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been battling the banks the last few weeks in an effort to get 60 votes lined up for bankruptcy reform. He’s losing.
    On Monday night in an interview with a radio host back home, he came to a stark conclusion: the banks own the Senate.
    “And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place,” he said on WJJG 1530 AM’s “Mornings with Ray Hanania.”

    Reply

  39. questions says:

    Bush had human instincts about WMDs. And I really don’t see how you “see” the effects of lobbying. Do you wear glasses?
    And POA, too many words? Really?
    Ever read Edward Said? He wrote a lot of books with a lot of words.
    Chomsky writes a lot of words.
    There are a lot of words to be written.
    Some ideas are complex.
    Some proofs takes a lot of words.
    And let us, Sand, never analyze our instincts, for analysis is the way to madness. Let us instead believe that vaccines cause autism, that torture works, that illegal Mexicans ruin the economy, that prayer can cure cancer, that there is a left wing media establishment…. After all, these are correlations based on human instincts. Let’s hear it for instincts!

    Reply

  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Reading Questions, I realize why so many literary invites are prefaced by the request “in five hundred words or less”.
    But I would like to thank him for once again laying a smokescreen of intellectual flatulence that perfectly underscores the validity of my last comment.

    Reply

  41. Sand says:

    I should have waited and consolidated my post. Sometimes it’s so much easier talking face to face.
    I guess the bottom line is — for all ‘questions’ obsession to try and convince us not to believe our own ‘human’ instincts, nor eyes == but instead to try and analyze ‘the Lobby’ via some some form of scientific experiment is just beyond crazy. Regardless of how many variables you stick in there to confuse the whole bloody mess.
    I’m still with POA.
    “…I just consider myself fortunate that I am not afflicted with the perpetual over-abundance of fog inducing theological or historical information that has reduced many of you to moral midgets with heads the size of Montana…”

    Reply

  42. questions says:

    Sand,
    I simply do not accept the eminence grise crap about any effect in the world. If you want to explain US policy towards Israel, you don’t just write the word “LOBBY” next to the word “SPECIAL POWERS” on the input side, and then have a magical black box and then the output side.
    What you need to do is delve in to the policy process, show how influence, umm, influences. Show how lobbying works (you’re making a claim about lobbying after all), show how the inimical influence of this monster you’ve constructed actually functions.
    I would argue, as I have, that it’s not really possible to do what you want. There isn’t some overarching LOBBY-thing that takes us all in its giant teeth, chews us and spits us out as automatons who spew the AIPAC party line.
    There are editors and press people and university people and teachers and MCs all making individual decisions and those decisions don’t square with your desires. Deal with it. It’s not a conspiracy, a perversion of the true process, or anything like that. US ME policy is, like all other policy, a product of a lot of forces. Not monolithic, quite changeable based on standard forms of input.
    Conceptions of US “interest” vary dramatically. Really.
    Read a few articles, cite something beyond your own conviction.

    Reply

  43. questions says:

    One article from 2005: “PACs, Issue Context, and Congressional Decisionmaking” by Christopher Witko gives something of an overview of the scholarship on PAC influence including the notion that non-ideological and non-visible issues are more prone to PAC influence, that PAC influence may or may not be more felt in committee than on the floor, that MCs are not going to become convinced to be active on an issue unless there’s constituent interest (that is, AIPAC can’t MAKE a disinterested MC push legislation), that parties mitigate some of the PAC influence, that there will likely always be private money in politics, and so on.
    The takeaway on this piece would seem to be that there are plenty of scholars with plenty of views on PAC influence, that he may have an interesting finding, that PAC influence is not straight forward, that an already-committed member is not going to be swayed to work against his or her district’s preferences. The best phrase to search for further info is “conditionality of PAC influence.”
    Since I don’t do the quant work, I am unclear how he adjusted the data to find that a couple of votes would have gone differently absent PAC money. It’s an issue for a quant to explain, because it was done via data fudge rather than via having a real-world case. And it’s made more problematic by a version of sophisticated voting in which members vote for or against something based on whether or not it has already passed rather than based on true preferences. Congressional study is complicated stuff, and evidence isn’t always evidence!
    From Political Science Research Quarterly, Vol 59, #2, pp 283-295.
    This piece, if you can access it through a library, is a nice introduction to how congressional scholarship is done, how cases are chosen, how data are crunched, and how conclusions are reached, by the way.

    Reply

  44. Sand says:

    And of course I know who Kant is…

    Reply

  45. Sand says:

    meant to say “…how it “mobilizes” its power…”

    Reply

  46. Sand says:

    “…I am not in the business of giving definitive answers…”
    So I’ve noticed.
    For some reason you seem almost obsessed, stuck on the idea for us to only gauge the power of ‘the Lobby’ by strictly adhering to a limited set of criteria taken from the ‘Congressional Process’. When the whole freaking argument is that ‘the Lobby’ and how it influences its power is ‘far far’ more than trying to prove causation from just donations and vote counts — don’t you get that?
    And this Bush/WMD thing is a total red-herring.
    It’s simply ludicrous what you’re expecting us to swallow.

    Reply

  47. questions says:

    The “foreign-influence” stuff doesn’t work if the INFLUENCE part of “foreign influence” is absent. You don’t see that?
    The point about the Bush admin on WMDs is that one can FEEL certain about something and be really wrong. Really, really wrong.
    Arguments ad hominem don’t convince anyone, at least anyone who can think. And how it could matter that a German philosopher from the 1700s lives one way or another is beyond me. (He’s not a “moral guru” by the way. Try Wikipedia if you’re unclear about who he is.)
    There is a lot to study when it comes to congressional decision-making.
    Collect up a set of votes you think are related to what you’re studying. Make sure you can defend inclusions and exclusions so you’re not cooking the books.
    Talley up all the votes, cross that with lobby donations and see what you have. OpenSecrets does a fair amount of this kind of work. Money is separated by donor category or industry and you can see who gets what.
    The problem with doing this work is that you can’t quite settle the causation issue. You may or may not have strong correlations, but you won’t necessarily have causation.
    Next, you need to check on the following: what do the constituents want, is there a major job-producer in the district whose interests are served by a vote, is there a clear ideological position on the part of the MC, are there people who vote one way even without donations, are there people who vote the opposite of the donor’s preferences, how much money does it take, what are the influences of revolving doors, are there large events that override any donation….
    Try to figure out what, aside from AIPAC, might motivate a lawmaker to vote pro-AIPAC. Now, if you’re so stuck on the idea that ONLY bribery could possibly motivate such a vote, then I can’t really do much for you. If you concluded that there simply is no way anyone could HONESTLY believe that AIPAC’s position is EVER supportable except via bribery, then you’re never going to be able to learn — you’ve made up your mind regardless of the evidence. (Think Bush/WMD.)
    As for me, I am not in the business of giving definitive answers. But I really dislike it when misinformation and incomplete accounts wear the mask of the definitive. And Sand, that’s kind of what you’re doing.
    There’s a lovely XKCD comic about someone’s inability to sleep at night because there’s a mistake on the internet. I’m feeling that way right now. Think I need to go for a run….

    Reply

  48. Sand says:

    “…congressional motivation is complicated…”
    Yep … I’m sure blackmail comes into that as well.
    But, says Questions… because we can’t ‘study’ that all too obvious factor in politics — poof he/she concludes it doesn’t really exist.

    Reply

  49. Sand says:

    “…You need to separate the foreign-influence anxiety stuff from the actual effects of lobbying…”
    Yes I’m sure that would help your argument — but ‘nope’ not buying it. The foreign-influence [AIPAC agenda] is the crux of argument.
    “…Remember, the Bush admin. “knew” there were WMDs all over Iraq. They didn’t separate categories very well, either. What they “felt” or wanted, they suddenly “knew.”…”
    Huh? What has that got to do with the price of bread? They “knew” — that’s an interesting way of putting it.
    “…As for Kant’s personal life, how does it matter?…”
    Some ‘great minds’ and ‘moral gurus’ haven’t always lived up to their followers expectations when it came down to them living out their own lives — just sayin’

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    Carroll,
    Start with the Nate Silver post. It’s a fine summary of what all congressional scholars know.
    I’ll go hunting for the pieces I’ve found. One of them was on a proprietary site, JSTOR, which I cannot link to or copy/paste, sorry. But it was basically a summary of the scholarship and it noted that scholars have a different set of evidentiary standards from journalists and the like, and scholars don’t see the causation running the way that journalists want to see it.
    Basically, in order to prove something using data, you have to isolate the event you are trying to prove, show that the event is there only when the cause is there, and isn’t there when the cause is absent, and you have to show that there is a connection between the two. And you have to show that nothing else could be the cause.
    There aren’t studies that show, say, some number of MCs who hold a view and then suddenly change that view when money comes in to play. MCs have numerous reasons to hold a variety of views, most of which have a lot to do with reelection pressures and prestige and informational pressures. Lobbying is only one of many factors to be taken into account.
    It might be clearer to think about drug testing — someone takes a drug and gets better. Hooray! The drug caused the return to health. Well, not necessarily. Because a lot of things can cause a return to health, we don’t rely on one person’s experience with one drug to determine causal relations. We do double-blind studies and repeat them many times in order to be clear about causation. We also don’t depend entirely on self-reporting as people will report feeling better even when they’ve had no treatment.
    Think also about autism and vaccines. Many people are convinced that vaccines cause autism because autism diagnoses follow vaccination. Turns out that vaccination and autism come at about the same time of life. Turns out that if you distribute vaccination-times randomly over all 12 months (kids’ birthdays run throughout the year, and thus, so do vaccines), SOME KIDS will be diagnosed with autism right after they’ve gotten vaccinated–it’s simply normal distribution. “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc” means “after, therefore because”. But after, therefore because ain’t necessarily so.
    Lobbying money hits the same logical fallacy. A vote after a donation is not necessarily because of a donation. A vote may come because of ideology, an intense conversation with a friend, a fear of irritating constituents, ignorance and so following someone else…. The donation may well follow the vote rather than lead the vote. People who support Israel, then, may be ideologically committed rather than financially committed.
    Note that Silver tries to control for ideology by looking at moderates who might be swayed by money. But even there, he questions the findings.
    As I have posted over and over again, congressional motivation is complicated, causal chains are not clear, we don’t actually know what’s going on. We may suspect, wonder, be concerned… but it’s not knowledge we’re experiencing.
    And as for all the other institutions AIPAC is supposed to poison, they will likely follow the same kinds of pressure. Editors and university deans and publishers respond to a broad array of pressures, not all of which are AIPAC. Really.
    I will hunt down some more links as I can. I remember spending an afternoon on this at some point. JSTOR is more fruitful, but again, off limits. But there were some open sources as well. I should bookmark everything!

    Reply

  51. questions says:

    Lobbying is lobbying regardless of the topic. If it is unclear how causation works in lobbying, then it’s unclear how causation works in lobbying. Hence it’s quite possible to bracket the international component.
    Huge numbers of people in this country, when surveyed, agree that they are satisfied with their own health care even if they think reform or wholesale renovation of the health care system is needed. It is the satisfaction rate that makes change harder.
    Huge numbers of people in this country, when surveyed, seem still to have positive associations with Israel. (I’ll hunt around for recent surveys and post as I find them.) It is this basic positive identification that makes it hard to make radical changes in policy.
    Because people tend to agree with both the health care industry and AIPAC on a general level, it appears that health lobbies and AIPAC are effective.
    A POWERFUL and WEALTHY and WILY and SNEAKY lobby that argued, say, for mandatory indoor tennis courts in every home, with the cost borne by the owner, wouldn’t get very far because most people don’t actually want tennis courts in their homes, and certainly wouldn’t want to pay for it.
    When what the lobby wants seems to agree with what people generally want (even if there’s disagreement about details), lobbies look pretty potent.
    Lots of people find bailouts unfair, don’t want to support their deadbeat neighbors who bought overly large houses, who took on too much debt, who would use bankruptcy to avoid debts they shouldn’t have taken on. So the industry lobbies look like they are subverting the people’s will. Not necessarily so.
    Lobbies are most effective when: large numbers of people don’t care about an issue, large numbers of people are ignorant about an issue, large numbers of people support an issue. But then, you have to ask, is it the support/ignorance/desire of the people rather than the lobbies? For now, the data support something less than certainty that lobbies cause policy.
    You need to separate the foreign-influence anxiety stuff from the actual effects of lobbying. Without separating these categories, you won’t actually know what you’re talking about.
    Remember, the Bush admin. “knew” there were WMDs all over Iraq. They didn’t separate categories very well, either. What they “felt” or wanted, they suddenly “knew.”
    As for Kant’s personal life, how does it matter? Try reading _The Groundwork_ and “Perpetual Peace” or at least the SparkNotes. It’s worth the effort. He’s a deeply moral thinker with a beautiful notion that all rational creatures deserve respect, good treatment, and moral equivalence. Precisely what has been called for around here for the Palestinians.

    Reply

  52. Carroll says:

    questions..what scholarship is that? Can you repost the pieces you say back this up? I’d like to read them.
    “I have said over and over — and cited pieces that back me up — that the scholarship on lobbying doesn’t support clear causal relations between donations and votes”

    Reply

  53. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Jun 27 2009, 11:55AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    “Here’s, perhaps, the central issue. POA thinks I have to be “impossibly disingenuous” if I hold the beliefs I claim to hold, and therefore I must be lying. I cannot, no one can, hold to the belief that AIPAC is a regular lobby and that regular lobbies, AIPAC included, might not be all they are cracked up to be.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I don’t know if you are disingenous or not questions…on purpose or not. Or if you are simply drowning in “theory”….because you are caught up in “theorizing” or because it’s your case for AIPAC. To not think you are completely stupid I have lean toward the latter.
    The problem I have in responding to you (so I usually don’t) is because it is a futile as the chicken and the egg discussion.
    You say AIPAC is no different than any other lobby.
    We say it lobbies for a ‘foreign country’, while not registered as a foreign lobby, which makes it different from domestic lobbies.
    You say the starfish and shark are exactly the same because they both live in the sea.
    You ask for evidence that AIPAC has too much influence on our policy.
    We give you evidence in the words of our politicans and others.
    You say that ” isn’t evidence” because “there is other evidence” other lobbies do the same.
    It’s like the mouse running round and round the wheel.
    Something is nothing, nothing therefore means something and evidence isn’t evidence because everything is the same.
    It’s not worth the arguement.

    Reply

  54. Sand says:

    I wonder what Kant was like ‘in real life’.

    Reply

  55. Sand says:

    “…Please read the Nate Silver link and tell me what the difference is between AIPAC lobbying and health care lobbying vis-a-vis LOBBYING (nevermind the international stuff for a moment.)…”
    How can you possibly discuss AIPAC ‘without’ discussing “the international stuff”! And AIPAC’s influence goes farther than just mere “congressional process” I think most of that know that here. Dennis Ross didn’t go through a “congressional process”
    AIPAC is not ‘just’ a business lobby — it is America’s fifth column. IMO Silver’s study is like dealing with apples and oranges. One lobby dealing with the business of domestic health care — rational, cutthroat, focused and business managed, the other dealing with protecting a religious/tribal identity, as well as another country, where its actions at times are neither rational, nor in many cases even focused — But its network being ‘large’ enough to permeate throughout ‘all’ governmental institutions, affecting so much more than a single issue like health-care.
    With the health-care lobb[ies] when they kill and maime — it seems to come across as sorry “don’t take it personally it’s only business” but when AIPAC’s tentacle ‘network’ acts and kills they come across and make it quite clearly known “this is strictly “personal”. Quite chilling actually.
    AIPAC = America’s fifth column.

    Reply

  56. questions says:

    POA writes,
    “You decry the use of numbers that are offered metaphorically, yet you consistently offer an argument that is impossibly disingenuous and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be offered from a position of true conviction.”
    Here’s, perhaps, the central issue. POA thinks I have to be “impossibly disingenuous” if I hold the beliefs I claim to hold, and therefore I must be lying. I cannot, no one can, hold to the belief that AIPAC is a regular lobby and that regular lobbies, AIPAC included, might not be all they are cracked up to be.
    Sadly, POA, I do hold these beliefs, even at the risk of defying your (clearly limited) imagination.
    I have said over and over — and cited pieces that back me up — that the scholarship on lobbying doesn’t support clear causal relations between donations and votes.
    I know that being relieved of historical fact makes it a lot easier to base one’s views on incorrect opinions and on feelings. That much is clear.
    Without fact, and with feeling, all things are possible.

    Reply

  57. questions says:

    Epictetus, stoicism, also focus on detachment. Again, the passive acceptance of death is a mixed bag. Death is inevitable and ataraxia is a fine feeling in the face of death. But not taking any action in the world to stay alive is also a little off the deep end perhaps.
    So the detachment thing is closer to illusory, closer to a way to justify highly stratified societies where it is the poor most of all who need to practice detachment and find ataraxia. Nothing like a slave who accepts his/her status! Nothing like a minimum wage worker who finds nothing wrong with surplus value’s being transferred to shareholders and executives….
    Again, beware what you detach from, beware what you’re skeptical of.

    Reply

  58. questions says:

    Beware of “detachment” for it leads to acceptance of the unacceptable.
    I know more about Taoism than about Buddhism, and Taoism really has a politically uncomfortable side to it. It may not be that you want people to accept their status as slaves, as objects to be tortured, as starved by the upper classes…. If this point applies as well to Buddhism, then watch for the detachment thing.
    ********
    And as for moral midgets with large heads, gimme a break. It’s not a pitch perfect phrase. It’s a rhetorical tactic that gives grace to ignorance and unthinkingness and denies the worth of study.
    Please remember that people who join militias, who are profoundly racist, who bash heads and the like might be using feeling rather than argument. Indeed, I can’t see that there’s any actual argument to be made for the far right separatists.
    Please remember that Immanuel Kant has given us one of the very best arguments for treating all people as one would treat oneself. Kant was one of those egghead types you seem to dislike.
    Argument, evidence, thought, education, knowingness, reason, and the like will get us further than feeling. What happens when you start to feel differently? How can you argue AGAINST the Israeli treatment of Palestinians when Israel bases its treatment on FEELINGS? The very same feelings you seem to think are a better gauge of moral behavior than arguments and reason.
    In fact, the best argument against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is precisely one based on Kantian notions of universal rationality, the absolute moral equivalence of rational creatures, and the fact that the Israeli position utterly violates the Categorical Imperative (the notion that you need to ask what would happen were EVERYone to do what I am about to do.)
    If all peoples were to abuse one another as Israel abuses the Palestinians, Israel would cease as a nation and would thus be unable to carry out its abuse.
    If all people were to treat one another merely as means to their own ends, as Israel treats the Palestinians, the Israel as well would be enslaved, immiserated, and unable to be a nation. Israel cannot logically extend its behavior to other nations. It must therefore make an exception of itself, and it cannot rationally do so.
    In fact, you use arguments and reason as well. In fact, you may have more than a little bit of the Kantian in you. It might be in your best interest to avoid belittling large heads?

    Reply

  59. ... says:

    …..and it clouds ones ability to see clearly, as everything is viewed through our particular attachments, to race, religion, creed and etc. which don’t allow one to see anything clearly.. lol, which is probably how you are perceiving me at the moment! there is a shred of truth here for anyone with patience!!

    Reply

  60. questions says:

    Sorry to disagree….
    Using numbers tends to lend an air of certainty, and in this case, there is not certainty.
    Using “%” when “degrees” is at issue just shows a kind of unknowingness that calls into question any larger point being made. Think about the utter difference in meaning between “180 degrees” — a u-turn or about face, half a circle… and “180%” — 100% takes you right back where you started, and 80% more gets you 20% from where you started. So a “180%” turn is really a 20% turn. Not quite the point intended?
    As for “the extreme power and influence the agents of a foreign government hold over the governing body of the United States Of America”, I just don’t buy it for all the reasons I’ve stated over the many months of my posting here.
    Please read the Nate Silver link and tell me what the difference is between AIPAC lobbying and health care lobbying vis-a-vis LOBBYING (nevermind the international stuff for a moment.) If Nate Silver feels the need to put in the qualifier about causation and lobbying, don’t you think there’s at least a chance that the point is well taken? You don’t have to trust me, you don’t know who I am, but Nate Silver is more of an open book on that score. So think about whether or not you think he’s relatively well-versed in scholarship on Congress and lobbying, on statistics and what they show or fail to show, and then argue on that basis.
    I cannot find congressional scholarship that PROVES your reading. I find much that does just what Nate Silver does. There are hints and temptations, suggestions and suspicions, but the data are not complete, certain, irrefutable. I refuse to be definitive when the data don’t support the definitive. Again, it’s a modest, intellectually honest position.
    Lobbying has uncertain effects, votes have uncertain causes. Causes and effects are not so easy to determine, despite your desire to make it easy.
    You are so bound and determined to find nothing but AIPAC’s looming presence that you seem miss to the basic understanding of congressional process.
    Your worry about foreign influence is a further and separate issue I don’t really feel like debating. It doesn’t bother me because I don’t see boundaries the way you do. I don’t calculate “interests” the way you do. I really have an entirely different set of concerns, aside from a desire for a more humane life for the earth’s sentient beings (and even on this one we don’t see eye to eye. The veggie thing, and all.) But I’m not arguing this point. I’m merely arguing that the data don’t prove what you want them to prove about lobbying in general, and therefore, AIPAC specifically.

    Reply

  61. ... says:

    i guess i didn’t communicate my idea clearly enough, of that i will concede…
    it is based of my understanding of buddhism.. identification with something, anything is a form of attachment which is a root cause of pain… let go the attachment, and let go the pain.. when we identify too closely with something we are unable to be detached or free… it doesn’t matter what one identifies too closely with… identification is one of the root causes of suffering..

    Reply

  62. Sand says:

    “…I just consider myself fortunate that I am not afflicted with the perpetual over-abundance of fog inducing theological or historical information that has reduced many of you to moral midgets with heads the size of Montana…”
    Pitch Perfect.

    Reply

  63. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Questions, using exagerated metaphor, such as “99.9%”, is a perfectly legitimate means of expression, and is not meant to be taken literally, or interpreted as an actual statistical figure. It is offered to drive home a point, and is widely used in conversations about a full range of topics. And the use of the number “180” is so commonly used to describe a reversal of opinion, or polar viewpoints, that your lamentation of its use is asinine and purposely arbitrary, contributing absolutely NOTHING to the topic at hand.
    I find such diversionary horseshit, such as this latest bit of masturbatory mental gymnastics you’re engaging in, as ironic, considering your absolute refusal to admit that that you know is true, namely the extreme power and influence the agents of a foreign government hold over the governing body of the United States Of America.
    You decry the use of numbers that are offered metaphorically, yet you consistently offer an argument that is impossibly disingenuous and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be offered from a position of true conviction.
    As far as Pimples’ invocation of “jewishness” into the mix, and that pile of pseudo pyscho-analytic cow droppings about “subjectivity” and “affinity” goes, I have to agree with you, it was absolutely meaningless. Except in the context that it implied motives of opinion that are irrelevent to the debate about AIPAC and its power, or lack of power. How one feels about jews has nothing to do with it.
    This is where I consider myself extremely fortunate in the ability to form a personal opinion about Israel’s actions and AIPAC’s role. I am not a student of history, and would be hard pressed to recall anything I have learned about jewish history. Further, if prodded to reveal what I know about the jewish faith, and what its differences are to Christianity, or even Islam, I would prove myself to be utterly and completely ignorant in those respects. So, without the obsfucating factor of bias based in theologic or historical influence, I am able to base my opinion on the actual events and actions that I have managed to glean off of the myriad of media sources at our disposal, over the course of my adult life.
    I don’t think I need to outline the conclusions I have reached, for I have not been shy about sharing those conclusions. I just consider myself fortunate that I am not afflicted with the perpetual over-abundance of fog inducing theological or historical information that has reduced many of you to moral midgets with heads the size of Montana.

    Reply

  64. questions says:

    Love all the fake math around here! “180% opposite” is totally literate (numerate?)??!! And nothing like the occasional 99% or 98% tossed in for “good” measure!
    People, please use numbers as numbers, not as metaphors. Find a survey that backs up a claim of 99% — as in, we asked all people of this category and 99 out of 100 agreed with this sentence….
    And 180% should have been 180 degrees, perhaps?
    If you can’t get your numbers straight, how can you argue for or against anything? You make up numbers out of whole cloth and your arguments will be completely suspect, as they are. Numbers have the look of TRUTH, so you toss in a few. But there is no grounding for your numbers. Talk about “dissembling.”
    “Strong subjective affinity” is a completely meaningless phrase, by the way. An “affinity” is likely by definition “subjective.” And “subjective” merely means an attitude that doesn’t command universality. And what the heck is an “affinity for the Jewish people?” Seriously.

    Reply

  65. Paul Norheim says:

    Of course POA is correct: being a Jew or having a “strong subjective affinity for the Jewish people” does not automatically
    lead to anything. There are commenters here who are pro Israel Jews; and there are commenters here who are anti Israel
    Jews. You may also be a Jew and ambivalent towards, or completely indifferent to the state of Israel.
    There are even a lot non-Jews who have “a strong subjective affinity for the Jewish people” for reasons that also make them
    very critical towards Israel, thus also creating a strong subjective affinity for the Palestinian people.
    You would think this was fairly obvious.
    But obviously not…

    Reply

  66. Carroll says:

    Posted by …, Jun 26 2009, 2:27PM – Link
    ” so long as wigwag talks with such a strong subjective affinity for the jewish people, he will be reminded from time to time by others who don’t share in his subjectivity views that run 180% opposite his own, which is to be expected..”
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    Actually there is nothing wrong with that statement. 99% of the time Jews advocate for Israel it is becuase it is the “Jewish State”.
    I never seen any Jews for Mainland China or Jews for Jamica rallies.
    To say jews don’t have special affinity for other jews or for the Jewish state of Israel is well…silly.
    And how often on here have we said that just because Jews, and not even all Jews for that matter, have that affinity for the Jewish state is not good reason for the entire US population and it’s government to have to support it at our expense financially and otherwise?
    We’ve said that plenty of times. I still say it.

    Reply

  67. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Jun 25 2009, 11:18PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>
    You may be right. But this is the first movement on Israel we have seen from anyone since Bush I.
    Congress did Bush I in on the settlements and aid linkage back then.
    So I am going to talk up what Obama has said and done so far everywhere I go and urge friends and strangers to not let congress undermine Obama on this. I don’t want to encourage defeatism on this and have people think it’s a hopeless case and not bother to get on their politicans about it.

    Reply

  68. ... says:

    you are wrong poa, but it wouldn’t be the first time! i have a problem with one’s subjectivity being the main guide for words and action..

    Reply

  69. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “my premise is this :people act/speak out unconsciously for the most part when they identify too closely with something..”
    “so long as wigwag talks with such a strong subjective affinity for the jewish people, he will be reminded from time to time by others who don’t share in his subjectivity views that run 180% opposite his own, which is to be expected..”
    Than I take it you don’t much like jews, eh?

    Reply

  70. ... says:

    pos – continue to blather on all you want..

    Reply

  71. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Listen, pimples, did my point just wooosh right over your poor ignorant skullcap? Are you saying that “a strong subjective affinity for the jewish people” automatically insinuates a supportive position regarding Israel and AIPAC?
    Actually, you are managing to fall right into the trap set through which these people like wigwag justify themselves to blather on about anti-semitism.

    Reply

  72. ... says:

    my premise is this :people act/speak out unconsciously for the most part when they identify too closely with something.. it is what i call ‘their subjective orientation’.. one of yours is to yell and say WTF on a regular basis.. it is a knee jerk response that you offer regularly, that doesn’t communicate much, but says a lot about you..

    Reply

  73. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “so long as wigwag talks with such a strong subjective affinity for the jewish people, he will be reminded from time to time by others who don’t share in his subjectivity views that run 180% opposite his own, which is to be expected..”
    WTF does “a strong subjective affinity for the jewish people” have to do with AIPAC, or the debate upon its influence over Congress? I too have a “a strong subjective affinity for the jewish people”, as my brother in law is jewish, as is Nina, and as are a number of other people I respect and like.
    “Jews” have NOTHING to do with this debate. It is about a foreign nation, and its agents, exercising an excessive amount of control over the governing body of the United States.

    Reply

  74. Carroll says:

    Posted by Paul Norheim, Jun 26 2009, 1:08PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Actually posters attack wigwag because of the “pretenses” he/she uses in argueing for support of Israel and it’s actions. Pretenses that have been disproven umpteen times, not by opinions of posters on this board, but by actual official evidence and established facts.
    Wiggie can say he/she is an US citizen who considers Israel her/his homeland and advocates for Israel…the truth is fine. But the crapola used to justify his/her spin is wearing, like about the thousandth time you’ve had to tell a two year to stop screaming. It becomes an insult to most here and then posters start insulting back.
    I don’t bother to argue it any more because wiggie is exactly where I have always said…predicted…that people with extreme attachments and loyalty to a country other than the one live in would be when the US and Israel interest parted ways.
    As Graham Greene said in the Quiet American…”Something happens. Then you have to make a choice and choose a side”.
    Luckily most of us don’t have to make a choice. So I don’t envy wiggie’s emotional or political position or feel like rubbing it in.

    Reply

  75. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Norheim=Jew”
    “Wigwack=Jew”
    “Questions=Jew”
    “Jewish music bigs killed Michael”
    “Who is safe?”
    No one, as long as bigoted assholes like yourself walk among us.

    Reply

  76. ... says:

    whether someone signs off as …. or wigwag seems immaterial to me, but perhaps you think differently..
    wigwag has said he is a member of aipac… whether he is more or less of something doesn’t really alter how he is viewed here and it is based off his comments entirely, which may as well be the talking points of aipac or any other israel centric viewpoint that thinks hypocrictically due a subjective bias that is noted and observed by many here…
    your point is taken and for the most part i agree.. however, calling someone a dishonest commentator is the prerogative of anyone who views someones comments in that specific way and while it might offend some folks sensibilities, that is just a part of life that is never going to go away.. so long as wigwag talks with such a strong subjective affinity for the jewish people, he will be reminded from time to time by others who don’t share in his subjectivity views that run 180% opposite his own, which is to be expected..

    Reply

  77. questions says:

    Thanks!
    And …, go ahead and check out the link to Nate Silver’s piece on the health care lobby and the public option. Not even Silver will definitively link lobbying to congressional behavior in the causal direction you see. Silver knows the stat work better than I do, and he knows congressional scholarship well enough that he puts in the appropriate caveat. I’ll even repaste the link to save you the search effort.
    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/special-interest-money-means-longer.html
    Note that the piece is about the relationship between health care lobby money and health care legislation. Note that despite all the stat work, there isn’t any good statistical proof that money CAUSES the votes any more than there is that money FOLLOWS the votes. Silver gives this point an entire paragraph of its own (in parentheses.) One may well suspect a causal relation, but one lacks proof. Perhaps you, …, and other posters here are better statisticians and congressional scholars than Nate Silver, and so you know something that many scholars have been working on for ages. If so, you’ll have an easy book contract at a major university publisher. You’ll have text book offers, travel offers, your own stat blog…. A good life indeed.
    What there is is a correlation, stronger and weaker for various MCs, between money and positions. Note that it’s note even an absolute correlation, but rather is dependent on the ideology of the MC. Some people support or oppose legislation simply because they have beliefs, absent lobbying. Silver tries to isolate the effects of lobbying money. It’s not so clear.
    All work on lobbies lacks the causal proof that posters here assume actually exists, and this lack of proof is the main issue I have with everyone’s freaking out about AIPAC. AIPAC may well be correlated with particular votes, but correlation is not causation. Really. Repeat that sentence thousands of times, until it is so burned in your brain that it actually influences your belief system. Correlation is not causation. Correlation is not causation….
    And that, Paul, is why I am an AIPAC denialist. Absent proof of the causal relationship between lobbying and positions, I remain skeptical.

    Reply

  78. Paul Norheim says:

    Am I carrying water for WigWag?
    It would be a pleasure to do so once in a while, if I see a reason to do so. I would also be happy to carry water for you, … if
    I feel the urge to do so.
    However, my simple point was that WigWag has been a bit more honest in explaining his relationship to AIPAC, then you
    guys have been in branding him as a dishonest commenter. He`s been playing with open cards – and it`s up to you if you
    want to look at them.
    I guess I`m just a bit fed up of watching people accusing others of not being who they claim they are, when the accuser
    even sign his comments with …………

    Reply

  79. shogun says:

    Norheim=Jew
    Wigwack=Jew
    Questions=Jew
    Jewish music bigs killed Michael.
    Who is safe?

    Reply

  80. ... says:

    “Is AIPAC extremely effective? Yes; do they do things differently than any other effective lobby? No.”
    what do you think makes them extremely effective paul?? does it have anything to do with the “”DEGREE”” of leverage they are able to get with money and influence all the other lobbies with the exception of the military lobby ( which is probably connected directly as well) don’t have access to??
    indeed aipac is so effective, neutral observers are calling into question how this lobby skews everything in the usa to slant such a strong way towards always favouring israel…
    let wigwag make claims that aipac is no different then any other lobby, and if you want to carry water for him in this, go for it… a lot of us here aren’t buying it.. perhaps that wasn’t your intent in this post paul.. regardless that is a big part of the result…

    Reply

  81. Paul Norheim says:

    IS WIGWAG SECRETLY WORKING FOR AIPAC AND ISRAEL?
    WigWag has never made a secret about his pro-Israel sympathies. Even during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, he was
    openly, often gleefully pro-Israel. Is he perhaps also an undercover pro-Israel propagandist?
    Any intelligent person would ask: Why undercover, why secretly, when the mask he uses publicly fits so perfectly to his
    supposed undercover activities?
    To me, WigWag has always seemed to be a pro-Israel American Jew who also happens to have his own opinions and
    thoughts; opinions which sometimes happen to go against the Israeli view, but often not; thoughts and reflections that
    sometimes go way beyond the average Israeli statements and make him very interesting to read. His opponent Dan Kervick
    understood this a long time ago, and has frequently had very interesting discussions with WigWag, as you may have
    noticed. Also Steve Clemons understands this.
    But some people seem to think: “Hm… if WigWag is openly pro-Israel, then there is an obvious risk that he might be
    SECRETLY pro-Israel as well!” Even the uncertainty whether WigWag is a man or a woman seems to support the suspicion
    that this dubious personage must be paid by AIPAC. Who can trust someone who at gunpoint keeps silent when you ask:
    -ARE YOU A MAN OR A WOMAN???
    Certainly a spy for Israel and AIPAC!
    Did you ever ask him? (Or: did you ask her?)
    I actually did, several months ago. Obviously nobody took notice of WigWag`s answers. But for the record, here is my
    questions to WigWag, and WigWags surprisingly frank answers (with a link provided at the end):
    PAUL NORHEIM:
    When you claim that AIPAC is a “normal” lobby, do you do so for tactical reasons? As an instinctive (and polemical) reaction
    against people who seem to regard AIPAC as the root cause of all evils in US foreign policies? Or do you honestly believe
    that AIPAC represents a healthy and “normal” modus operandi in US politics?
    WIGWAG:
    You ask about my views about AIPAC. I contribute to AIPAC, I am on their mailing and e-mail list and occasionally I
    respond to their entreaties to call, write or e-mail my Senators and Congressman on issues of concern that they raise (no
    request was made about the Freeman nomination). It depends on the specific issue; if I agree with their position I contact
    my legislator if I don’t agree with AIPACs position I don’t respond to their request to approach my representatives.
    It’s hard to say what percentage of the time I agree with AIPAC; my guess is that it’s 30-50 percent of the time.
    I support the Labor Party in Israel; AIPAC in my opinion is more aligned with Likud. I heartily endorse a two state solution;
    AIPAC tends to support the position of whatever government that’s in power (and the coming Netanyahu Government has
    been conspicuous in its refusal to endorse a two state solution). If a viable two state solution is ever negotiated I would be
    delighted to see the settlers living beyond Israel’s negotiated territory removed by force or stripped of their Israeli
    citizenship and left to remain as a small minority in what would become Palestine. AIPAC would certainly not agree with
    me about this.
    AIPAC supports both Democratic and Republican candidates, I have never voted for a Republican and I even voted for
    Obama even though I think he is a phony. If AIPAC endorses the Republican candidate in a state or congressional district
    where I live, I vote for the Democratic candidate anyway.
    AIPAC supported many neo-conservative Republican candidates and they supported the War in Iraq. Like most American
    Jews, I never supported the War in Iraq which I thought would be the tremendous mistake it turned out to be. Like the
    Israeli Government and the Bush Administration, AIPAC seems prepared to advocate for either an American or Israeli
    military strike on Iran. I think this would be idiotic and counter productive and I don’t support attacking Iran.
    I find myself agreeing with J Street at least as often as I agree with AIPAC and I have made a first contribution to them as
    well. What I prefer about AIPAC is that they are relentless about standing up against Islamic extremism and that they won’t
    allow themselves to be deterred by people like Chas Freeman or Stephen Walt. In a certain way, I view AIPAC as the
    antidote to the Freemans and Walts of the world. People who are unwilling or incapable of seeing nuance can best be
    opposed by an organization unwilling to back down. I view AIPAC`s unwillingness to back down as a virtue in what I think
    is a hostile world for Jews and for Israel. Every time I come to the Washington Note, that view is reinforced.
    You ask whether I support AIPAC at least in part for tactical reasons; the answer is yes, it’s partly that. Certainly since I’ve
    been reading the comment section at the Washington Note my support for AIPAC has increased.
    In a nutshell I think the best way to describe my support of AIPAC is that I’m a “cafeteria” AIPAC supporter. In the United
    States, Roman Catholics are sometimes referred to as “cafeteria Catholics” if they support and abide by some forms of
    Catholic dogma but not others. That’s a good metaphor for me; I’m a “cafeteria” AIPAC supporter.
    As for your question about whether I think AIPAC is an “average” lobby, I think it’s average in its tactics but above average
    in success. Certainly AIPAC is a very effective lobby. So is the NRA, so is the farm lobby (sugar, corn, soybeans), so is the
    AMA and the health insurance lobby. Even Move On which has admitted adopting some of AIPACs tactics is becoming very
    effective.
    AIPAC does what all lobby’s do; they raise money for public relations purposes and to support candidates; they motivate
    their membership to send hundreds of thousands of letters and e-mail to legislators; they cultivate relationships with
    powerful Congressional leaders and they support and oppose legislation and government appointees based on whether
    that legislation or that appointee agrees with the organizations positions.
    Is AIPAC extremely effective? Yes; do they do things differently than any other effective lobby? No.
    Some argue that because AIPAC is lobbying about policies pertaining to a foreign government that somehow its lobbying
    activities are more nefarious. That’s one reasonable opinion to formulate, but it’s not mine. AIPAC represents the collective
    position of millions of Americans both Jewish and Christian. Is it the perfect embodiment of the collective position of those
    Americans? Of course not. I think opinion polls show that AIPAC’s positions tend to be more conservative and republican
    than Jewish Americans in general. But AIPACs positions are acceptable enough to enough Jewish and Christian Americans
    (including me) that we are willing to support the organization.
    Some people think that staunch Jewish support for AIPAC is a legacy of the holocaust. This may or may not be true, I’m not
    sure. Those same people wonder how many years it will be before that legacy fades away. I don’t know the answer to that
    but I do know that there are tens of millions of people still alive who were alive in the 1930s (including me) and I know
    that in the United States, we’re still talking about the legacy of slavery 140 years after slavery ended so my guess is it will
    take a very long time.
    In fact, at least in my case, the more people like Chas Freeman (and numerous Washington Note readers) call AIPAC
    unique, the more anxious I am to support it. From my perspective it’s not unique just extraordinarily successful. AIPAC is
    winning the case on the merits. Opponents of AIPAC like Walt, Freeman, Judt, Khalidi, Cole, Chomsky and others just aren’t
    rhetorically, intellectually or organizationally gifted enough to convince enough people that they’re right.
    Some people think that it’s only sporting for AIPAC to make it a fair fight by tying one hand behind its back. I don`t think
    they`re under any obligation to do that, and I don`t think they should.”
    You can read more from this exchange – which also contains questions and answers to and from Questions and Varanasi
    – here:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/03/chas_fre/#comments
    Funny, isn`t it? WigWag told openly about his/her relationship to AIPAC, and you didn`t notice! Or you chose to ignore it,
    because it was more effective and convenient, rhetorically, to brand him as a secret hasbara, a dishonest and suspect
    person who did not even want to reveal his or her gender?

    Reply

  82. Paul Norheim says:

    ARE QUESTIONS AND WIGWAG SECRET AGENTS FOR ISRAEL?
    Except for huge temperamental differences between the Shakespeare- Platon- Kant and Rawls-loving
    philosopher Questions, and the anti-philosophical, commonsensical moralist (and Diogenes-disciple)
    PissedOffAmerican, I really don`t understand the high degree of hostility and suspicion a handful of
    regular commenters at TWN display against Questions.
    I have often expressed my strong disagreement with what I regard as his downplaying of the role of
    AIPAC in US politics, and several other issues. I have also occasionally criticized him for frequently
    making some political problems so complicated and abstract that they disappear into something that
    you can`t deal with on a political level, and Questions freely admits that this is a weak spot in his
    way of approaching issues that actually require a certain simplification. He certainly is more of a
    Homo Academicus than a political animal or moralist (which does not imply that he lacks moral or is
    clueless about politics). This would be fine for all of you guys if you shared his opinions, but it
    apparently creates suspicion and resentment since he often disagrees with you.
    But except for that, folks, have you completely lost your ability to read, when someone disagree with
    you on issues related to Israel/Palestine?
    If you took the time to read Questions` repeated statements on settlement, occupation, treatment of
    Palestinians, etc, etc, he seemS to be pretty clear on these issues, morally and politically – and
    certainly far from the AIPAC, or right-wing point of view in Israel. He obviously disagree with what HE
    regards as simplistic views from POA, DonBacon, Outraged American, and others. Does that make
    him a secret agent for AIPAC or Israel?
    To me this looks much more like paranoia and dirty tactics among his opponents, than conclusions
    based on a careful reading of his comments. In my view, Questions is an extremely generous and
    thoughtful (too thoughtful?) commenter who I often happen to disagree with, but who I admire for
    his willingness and persistence in trying to talk to people who frequently have used the worst
    invectives at their disposal against him.
    And what about WigWag? Is he secretly working for AIPAC and Israel?
    I`ll talk about that in a separate comment.

    Reply

  83. questions says:

    POA,
    You really don’t get it, do you?

    Reply

  84. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Actually Obama laid the ground work to start removing Israel as the third rail of politicans when he said loud and clear….”Israel’s settlements and occupation are NOT in the US’s SECURITY interest.”
    Carroll, I would hazard to say that Obama’s statement is unknown to the vast majority of Americans. They are far more likely to be exposed to the constant media mantra of “valuable ally”, “only democracy in the middle east”, etc..
    In fact, I just talked to a couple that maintained that there are almost daily “suicide bombings” in Israel, and multiple rocket attacks on a daily basis.When I told them that the Palestinian casualties far outnumber that of the Israelis, my assertion was met with disbelief.
    I suspect such media nurtured misconceptions are commonplace, particularly among the brain dead variety of jackasses that feed at the MSM trough, whether it be the pro-Israel right wing blather of the Hannity ilk, or the head in the sand avoidance of the Maddow/Olberman contingent.
    AIPAC, and our miserably biased “Fourth Estate” have done a far better job quoting the script than they have giving exposure to statements such as the one you quote from Obama.
    Besides, Obama is the ultimate weaseler, and strong statements gushing forth from his lying maw are more often than not consumated by back pedaling and equivication. I wish I shared your optimism, but common sense, and an examination of his recent history tells me you are in for a huge disappointment.

    Reply

  85. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Dissemble….
    1. To hide under a false semblance or seeming; to feign (something) not to be what it really is; to put an untrue appearance upon; to disguise; to mask.
    I stand by the accusation I have often leveled against “questions”. Particularly as it applies to his dissembling about AIPAC.

    Reply

  86. Carroll says:

    Posted by Don Bacon, Jun 25 2009, 4:54PM – Link
    Carroll: “98% of the public has had it with Israel.”
    Even if it’s true, which I doubt, so what? When did “the public” matter? The Lobby controls a large portion of the money required to fund the political machines of both branches of the ruling US party,..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No matter how much money you have if the voters don’t like your message they don’t buy it. McCain didn’t have the ground organization Obama did but he got as much message time from the MSM as Obama did.
    It is true we trapped into the lesser of two evils party vote of two basically Israeli centric parties. But it seems to me people like Paul keeping making inroads. Leaving aside some of his nonsense his main message is America first.
    America first is gaining traction and could gain more in the tutonic economic shift that has taken place and isn’t going to be righted any time soon, if ever.
    Perhaps I should say 98% of the “informed public” has no use for Israel. But all it’s gonna take is some candidate connecting the dots for the less informed public.
    Actually Obama laid the ground work to start removing Israel as the third rail of politicans when he said loud and clear….”Israel’s settlements and occupation are NOT in the US’s SECURITY interest.”
    That was a blatant statement, it destroyed the Israeli meme that Israel is a valued security asset to the US. Now the idea that support should be’conditional’ is out there. Also even in upholding Israel’s security he basically defined aid to Israel as what it always has been, welfare for the Jewish state because of the holocuast. The holocaust is getting tired, it was 65 years ago, even more people will question how long we should continue to send them billions in taxpayer money we need at home. Especially if peace is reached and their Palestine “terrorism” claim is no longer usable.
    Another topic that could circulate in discussion of future Israel aid among Obama’s ME team is that $2.some of the 3 billion we give them is military aid….while Israel “imports US weapons with this aid…they actually “Export more weapons” than they import from the US. They sell their military industry output for profit while they at the same time get our weapons for free.
    But bottom line I promise you the “not in US SECURITY interest” resonates with left and right.
    And I think Obama will use it on congress on US jews and on the public if push comes to shove.
    Course I could be all wrong….but I think not. Right now at least.

    Reply

  87. questions says:

    Don Bacon,
    The “easiest policy path” is to avoid running for election. Obama is not taking the “easiest policy path;” rather, as I have noted above or elsewhere, he’s not a tyrant and he cannot therefore FORCE the universe to bow to his will.
    I think Krugman is totally off base on this notion of Obamas’ “vision of himself as a politician who transcends the old partisan divisions.” Obama can hit as needed. But he’s pretty careful about trying to encourage people to hit themselves instead.
    Obama is hedged in by political possibility just as any politician is. He can create rhetorical space for new possibilities, but only in baby steps. If he takes giant steps, he will a)walk there alone and be useless b)walk there only to be beaten up by local thugs, and therefore become useless c)walk there without convincing large numbers of people to come with him and they, meanwhile, will undermine some other important issue. Giant steps are unlikely to work, so says this incrementalist.
    There really are institutional and policy limitations. There are reactions against change. There is an entire tv network devoted to smearing this admin. There are entrenched interests, frightened people, and politicians ready to jump at the slightest vulnerability.
    The public option in insurance may or may not be the be-all and end-all of the universe. I’m not enough of an expert to know. It’s my first instinct to support it, but monopsony is a looming issue I’d love for some economist to discuss. If we Walmartize health care, are we gonna love it? I don’t have any expertise on this one, but I have some suspicions. (Krugman is a Clintonista and needs to be read with a grain or two of salt.)
    Remember, health care for all is simply expensive. 12,000 per year per family. A lot of money. A public option isn’t going to lower that amount by much, near as I can tell. If you strip out the insurance companies, you still can’t strip out all of their work on fraud detection, billing, and evaluation of treatment plans. You can strip out their pure profit. So how much does that decrease premiums, but then, how much do premiums go up as more people get the 30,000 dollar chemo infusions? As I said, 12,000 per year per family. A lot of money.

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  88. Don Bacon says:

    Carroll: “98% of the public has had it with Israel.”
    Even if it’s true, which I doubt, so what? When did “the public” matter? The Lobby controls a large portion of the money required to fund the political machines of both branches of the ruling US party, I mean the Repubs and the Dems. All the top politicians, without exception, have bowed and scraped before The Lobby, and promised their unending support, 100% support, for Israel. At the recent AIPAC Convention Biden and Kerry peeped a little bit about freezing settlements, an idea that was later shot down by Netanyahu without any decisive US response. New settlements will be built.
    Regarding Obama, he has no principles and always takes the easiest policy path, as he is doing now on health care, for example. Paul Krugman, yesterday:
    “My big fear about Obama has always been not that he doesn’t understand the issues, but that his urge to compromise — his vision of himself as a politician who transcends the old partisan divisions — will lead him to negotiate with himself, and give away far too much. He did that on the stimulus bill, where he offered an inadequate plan in order to win bipartisan support, then got nothing in return — and was forced to reduce the plan further so that Susan Collins could claim her pound of flesh.
    “And now he’s done it on a key component of health care reform [a public option]. What was the point of signaling, right at this crucial moment, that he’s willing to give away the public plan? Let alone doing it at the very moment that he was making such a good case for it?”

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  89. Sand says:

    a ‘Carter Effect’ maybe?

    Reply

  90. questions says:

    From Ha’aretz — if true, it’s possibly pretty interesting. Might just be a rumor, though.
    European diplomatic sources said Thursday that kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit will be transferred to Egypt in the coming hours or coming days.
    This information has yet to be confirmed by Israeli officials.
    According to the European sources, Shalit’s transfer is the first stage of an agreement between the various Palestinian factions, assisted by Egyptian mediation and done in coordination with the United States and with the support of Syria.
    Shalit will be used as a “deposit” toward the completion of a prisoner exchange between the Palestinian factions, the sources said.
    The agreement will include the exchange of prisoners and the opening of crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
    According to Egyptian officials, a deal will be signed between Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions by July 7 at the latest.
    The deal would put the Gaza Strip under the leadership of a joint committee subordinate to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and not under the control of the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1095663.html

    Reply

  91. questions says:

    Why easy e, you devil! You’ve outed me! I went to Israel for months for hasbara training. I learned to wield a mouse! I brandish commas and quotation marks with the best of them!
    And then I had to pass a test! On online test! Woohoo! I got a hundred per cent on the “obfuscation” section, but sadly, only a 95 on diversion and gloating!
    But you’re such a careful reader of my postings that you have me figured out! And I bet you can see right through WigWag who seems (DIVERSION COMING!! BEWARE!! OBFUSCATION ALLEY!!!!!!!) WigWag who seems to me to take Steve’s realism to the nth degree and apply it right smack to Israel. WigWag also (GLOATING) also notes frequently that Israel is more popular outside of the TWN community than it is inside. (Wait, is this a gloat, or a diversion? Umm, let me go read the hasbara manual and I’ll get back to ya! You betcha!)

    Reply

  92. easy e says:

    dissemble, diversions, gloating by questions & wigwag…..or hasbara?
    http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2003/4/Ambassador-s%20Course

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  93. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Jun 25 2009, 10:39AM
    >>>>>>>
    I wouldn’t count Obama out just yet. I think his ‘personal’ opinion on Israel and I-P is longer held and much harsher than even his public statements. At least that is my opinion from going back and looking at some of the statements he made long before running for president.
    He’s going too slow to suit me and most people but I don’t think that is because of public opinion, 98% of the public has had it with Israel. So he has support there.
    Congress is the problem, always has been. His own dems are the ones standing in the way on I-P and will try to sabotage Obama’s other inititives to keep him from coming down on Israel.

    Reply

  94. questions says:

    “Dissembling” means lying. I’m not lying. I’m giving an opinion. Opinions are not claims about the world, they are claims about mental states. I’m writing what I actually think, and so I cannot be lying. Got it? I can be wrong — that is, my mental state may not match up with the world; I can be foolish — that is, my mental state so grotesquely mismatches that only an idiot could think what I do; I can be deceived,; that is, only someone who has been lied to and believes the lies could think what I do…but I’m not lying, so please stop using “dissembling.” (“Obfuscating” is the wrong term as well. I’m not trying to muddy the waters, stir up dirt, make it hard to think. I’m giving an opinion.)
    Israel’s horrendous deeds? Yes, they are horrendous deeds. Horrific. Evil, awful, terrible, wicked, stupid, inhumane, grotesque, no good, horrible, terrible and very bad. I agree with you on that. Criminal, too. Genocidal, quite possibly — probably depends on the definition of “genocide,” but Israel might well have crossed the line.
    Many deeds of such a nature have been a)committed by just about every nation on earth, b)tolerated by just about every nation on earth, c)not generally stopped until they burn out on their own.
    Every policy has a sort of Newtonian equal and opposite re-policy. That is, if the US acts in certain ways, other nations will respond. Policy doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it occurs in a system. If you alter one component of a system, you alter the system in often unpredictable, and possibly undesirable ways.
    My concern, consistently over the years, is that altering US policy may lead to something MORE undesirable than what is happening in Palestine right now. It’s a pretty simple point. Analysts are tasked with trying to figure this mess out. Obama pretty clearly recognizes the problem, but the solution isn’t simple. Any policy he adopts happens within a system and will have systemic effects. We really need to watch it on those sneaky and unpredictable effects.
    And I honestly, no bs, no lying… THINK that it’s quite possible there will be a bizarre dance between the US and Israel on funding. I think the rhetorical push on the settlements and Israel’s response will create a fairly open window for some push on money. I don’t think a lot of money will be at stake, but I think there will be a program or two, a weapons system, a few bucks sacrificed on the alter of “I mean what I say.”
    TPM has suggested that Israeli PMs don’t do well if they don’t handle the US with deft fingers. Bibi may be on his way out because he has an impossible task of pleasing right wing nut religious types in Israel, middle-of-the-road racists, ordinary people who have security concerns, and Obama. Not an easy coalition. If the government in Israel falls, MAYbe there will be something like progress. But there are a lot of factors — including actual security concerns. Suicide bombers and rockets unsettle voters. Unsettled voters go to the right more often than to the left. Think “soccer moms.”
    Just as Bush and Cheneyism had to be cleansed from our national psyche and could only be cleansed after the failures were more than obvious, so anti-Palestinianism needs to be cleansed from the collective Israeli consciousness. I’m not Israeli, so I have no idea what that will take. Economic collapse? UN border guards? Soft power? Some unbelievably huge explosion? A Palestinian equivalent of Neda or Ryan White? Could the Israelis even recognize such a thing? I don’t really know.
    I could be wrong, but I am not lying or bs-ing. It wouldn’t be worth my time or electrons to post lies.

    Reply

  95. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if some amount of aid ends up being cut as at least a token of protest”
    Oh bullshit. Reid just showed us the odds of that happening.
    You know, questions, your dissembling and diversions are becoming as loathsome as wig-wag’s gloating is. Of particular note is your tactic of rebuttal that manages to avoid a direct recognition of the horrendous nature of Israel’s abuses. And it certainly doesn’t say much for our leaders, if, as you contend, aid becomes contingent on the settlement issue, while we ignore acts such as raining white phosphorous on civilian populations, or peppering population centers and farmlands with cluster bomblets. In fact, the settlement issue pales behind the other crimes, that can easily and logically be seen as genocidal.

    Reply

  96. questions says:

    A different reading….
    It becomes easier to slice the aid to Israel should Israel continue building settlements. A surgical cut here and there might not be a bad idea, if, that is, one is willing to court the possible regional destabilization as countries jockey for regional power. Not sure how the calculations need to run to figure out when to push Israel.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if some amount of aid ends up being cut as at least a token of protest. But there’s a lot of political culture, habit, and practice that needs to shift before structural change can happen. Israel will likely respond before a massive shift is allowed to take root. But Israel has all of the same domestic pressures that any elected ruling system has, and so there will be limits on the efficacy of pushing on the funding issue. I expect an interesting dance for a while.
    Another point is that as much as Obama might like to take certain actions, he is not actually a dictator and is limited by: Congress, the courts, the Constitution, re-election desires, his constituency….
    It’s a little premature to demonize him.
    And on Tristan Anderson as a metaphor, a few points. Anderson, like Rachel Corrie, volunteered, protested, and lost. Neda, in Iran, is more akin to Ryan White in an easy/bad moralizing universe. Ryan White was the first AIDS victim to be named by Reagan and Congress — because he was a kid, because he got AIDS in “innocent” fashion from a transfusion rather than from voluntary action (read “sex and drugs”). Neda, as seen on tv, was also “innocent,” walking with her teacher (philosophy or music, I’m unclear, but either way, she was pursuing truth and/or beauty) to observe, not participate. She was engaged, young, pretty…. And her death was accidental, unnecessary, and easy to characterize in easy moral terms. Narrative wins out. Lots of people have died on film, but Neda won out on the narrative.
    So, no, Tristan Anderson is not an easy narrative, a clean moral hero, a cause for uprising. Rachel Corrie, as well, didn’t catch on. As I noted on some other thread, there are numerous asymmetries between the Palestinians and the Iranians such that Iran has caught on and Palestine hasn’t.
    By the way, note that Sanford’s trip to the coast near Buenos Aires (!!) displaced Iran from HuffPo’s 150 point type, front and center.

    Reply

  97. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israel’s Crimes, America’s Silence
    By John Dugard
    Obama’s recent speech to the Muslim World failed to address allegations that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. Palestinians and people throughout the region were shocked at the firepower Israel brought to bear against Gaza’s civilians and do not want Palestinians’ ongoing misery to be further ignored. Many were surely waiting to hear from President Obama that the way to peace does not lie through the devastation of civilian life and infrastructure in Gaza.
    John Dugard: There is now sufficient evidence to charge Israel with war crimes for its actions in Gaza. Why is Obama silent?
    To date, too little mention has been made of investigations that show there is sufficient evidence to bring charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Israel’s political and military leadership for their actions in Gaza. Recently, two comprehensive independent reports have been published on Gaza, and earlier this month a mission mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, and chaired by South African Richard Goldstone, visited Gaza to conduct a further investigation into Israel’s offensive.
    On May 4 the United Nations published the findings of an investigation into attacks carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on UN premises in Gaza. Led by Ian Martin, formerly head of Amnesty International, this investigation found Israel responsible for wrongfully killing and injuring Palestinians on UN premises and destroying property amounting to over $10 million in value. Although this investigation did not address the question of individual criminal responsibility, it is clear that the identified wrongful acts by Israel constituted serious war crimes.
    On May 7 the Arab League published the 254-page report of an Independent Fact Finding Committee (IFFC) it had established to examine the legal implications of Israel’s Gaza offensive. This committee, comprising six experts in international law, criminal law and forensic medicine from non-Arab countries, visited Gaza in February. We concluded that the IDF had committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity.
    As the committee’s chairman, I spent five days in Gaza along with the other experts. Our views were deeply influenced by interviews we conducted with victims and by the evidence of destruction of property. We were particularly disturbed by the accounts of cold-blooded killings of civilians committed by some members of the IDF and the Israeli military’s use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas. The devastation was appalling and raised profound doubts in my mind as to the veracity of Israeli officials who claimed this was not a war against the Palestinian people.
    continues at…….
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090629/dugard
    But it cannot be ignored that it also raises profound doubts over the veracity of Obama’s stated concerns for human rights, and underscores how the “indignation” over events in Iran are political in nature, detestably hypocritical, and blatantly insincere. And our complicity in these crimes is not hidden by our silence. Our money and our arms are being used to commit crimes that are EVERY BIT as horrendous as anything we have seen unfold in Iran these past two weeks, IF NOT MORE SO.
    I challenge any of the champions of Israel to rebut my assertions, and explain to me how this double standard can be considered moral or just. I place one condition on your rebuttal; try to refrain from using the same tired old lies about “anti-semiitism” or “right to defend themselves”. We’ve heard them all, ad nauseum.

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  98. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “In recent weeks Washington has ramped up pressure on Netanyahu’s government to halt all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as part of efforts to relaunch the Middle East peace process”
    Actually, I suspect this is bullshit. Who is this “Washington” they speak of?? It sure as hell ain’t Congress or this sniveling little weasel Reid. Obama has already shown us that he will not go against the flow. If anyone is going to be a “lonely boy”, its Obama. But only if he holds fast to his settlement demands, and you know damned good and well he ain’t going to, because he has already shown us that 99.9% of his stated intentions are pure unmittigated horseshit. The guy has weaseled his way out of damned near every promise he made.

    Reply

  99. AC says:

    I don’t think it makes much difference who wins the election. The power is with the Supreme Leader, so issues like Israel or nuclear weapons will not change much. There is good analysis on http://www.asiachroniclenews.com of the proposed US approach and the contested elections. Have a look.

    Reply

  100. Carroll says:

    Netanyahu is gonna be a lonely boy..all alone with that 3 billion in taxpayer money our traitors in congress sent him.
    From AFP
    Published: Wednesday June 24, 2009
    A meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US Middle East envoy was called off because of disagreements over settlement growth, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.
    Officials close to Netanyahu said he had called off the meeting and denied an Israeli newspaper report that Washington had cancelled it over Israel’s refusal to halt “natural growth” in the settlements.
    “The decision to cancel the meeting … was taken by the prime minister. We must be sure before such a meeting that professional work has been done on a series of issues,” a senior Israeli official told AFP.
    “There will be a meeting as soon as this work is done.”
    The mass-selling Yediot Aharonot had earlier quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying Washington issued a “stern” message to Netanyahu to halt all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land.
    “Once you’ve finished the homework we gave you on stopping construction in the settlements, let us know. Until then, there’s no point in having (envoy George) Mitchell fly to Paris to meet you,” the paper quoted the official as saying.
    The meeting with Mitchell was to take place in Paris during Netanyahu’s first visit to Europe since taking office earlier this year at the head of a hawkish right-wing government.
    An Israeli official said Mitchell would instead meet Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Monday in Washington.
    In recent weeks Washington has ramped up pressure on Netanyahu’s government to halt all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as part of efforts to relaunch the Middle East peace process.
    The Palestinians have said they will not meet Netanyahu until Israel halts all settlement activity. The presence of some 280,000 Israelis in more than 100 settlements across the territory has been a major obstacle to peace efforts.
    Netanyahu has vowed not to build new settlements, but said he would allow for “natural growth” within existing settlements, including the main settlement blocs Israel expects to keep in any future peace deal.
    But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in May that President Barack Obama had made it clear during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington that he wants no “natural growth exceptions” to his call for a settlement freeze.
    The international community considers all settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Six Day war, to be illegal.

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  101. ... says:

    carroll – they have in the past!! how so very undemocratic of them too!! it was a precursor to the bush era i say dangamit…

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  102. Carroll says:

    Have to say.
    Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that if Americans were to riot or even disrupt activities by the hundred thousands or millions, say in front of the capitol, that congress wouldn’t have the DC police and national guard assault and even fire on American citizens for trying to assert their right to be heard or recongized?
    You know they would. If you don’t believe it, try it. Go ahead, if you think you are that much freer than the Iranians go put it to the test.

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  103. ... says:

    listen up everyone! bill r is the spammer.. he was just having one of those out of body moments expressed as a ‘flash of insight’ which (he thought) didn’t directly involve himself.. it did!!!

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  104. Carroll says:

    These days you have to do exhustive research on the author/reporter of every story/report and every person/source he/she quotes to see if they have an agenda you should be aware of before you decide to believe it. But if true, it’s interesting.
    http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/
    Mousavi, Celebrated in Iranian Protests, Was the Butcher of Beirut
    By Jeff Stein
    June 22, 2009 7:45 PM
    I offer his report as an example of why Obama is not and should not involve the US in this internal Iranian fight or be seen endorsing either side.
    I have sympathy for protestors in Iran but as I said before, who they are championing may not be any better than what they’ve got now. If they were to win they could be back in the streets in a few years protesting the corruption of a Shah like leader they put in place.
    I also agree with POA, there are entirely too many hypocritical, pretend, bleeding hearts, particulary among the politicos and zios and their mouthpieces bleating about the Iranians being attacked for standing up for their rights. When they don’t give a jack**** about babies and children blasted to hell by Israel or an unarmed American having his frontal lobe blown out by the IDF.

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  105. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://uruknet.com/?p=m55411&hd=&size=1&l=e
    Here we see two videos of dying peaceful protesters. One, an Iranian, lives in infamy. The other, a Palestinian, is ignored.
    When you cut through all the bullshit, and get honest, it lends the LIE to this whole ugly saga. We only care about the humans we are told to care about, and the “concern” of our leaders is the insincere political posturing of modern day ghouls.
    The double standard is glaring, and we are rightfully diminished by it.

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  106. Don Bacon says:

    U.S. ‘Has Agents Working Inside Iran’: Scowcroft
    (RTTNews) – A former American national security adviser has said that the United States has intelligence agents in Iran but it is not clear if they are providing help to the opposition protest movement agitating over the disputed re-election victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reports say.
    Brent Scowcroft told an Arabic news channel Wednesday that “of course” the U.S. had agents in Iran amid the ongoing agitation against the Iranian government by protesters opposed to the official result of its presidential election. But he added that he had no idea whether U.S. agents had provided help to the opposition movement in Iran.
    http://www.rttnews.com/Content/GeneralNews.aspx?Node=B1&Id=988608

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  107. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its always comical to see wig-wag gloat. Its interesting that the more egregious the Israeli act being criticized, the more likely it is that wig-wag will dredge up something to gloat about in a purely pro-Israel gesture. It is one of the things I find especially loathsome about wig-wag.
    But it is no major revelation that a posting from State to the White House is in fact a promotion.
    Like, uh, gee, really?
    It really underscores how little of the USA/Israel dynamic is changing. Ross gets a promotion, Freeman gets castrated.
    Meanwhile, Netanyau and Lieberman successfully, with Reid’s able assistance, turn Obama into a blithering buffoon standing in the corner, making demands to the wall.

    Reply

  108. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Or this…..
    http://pakalert.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/wpchild.jpg
    What about it, Bill, whats your slimey little detestable script say about this?

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  109. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Then, of course, theres always this…….
    http://www.uruknet.info/pic.php?f=ww4295.jpg

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  110. PissedOffAmerican says:

    6 Palestinian fishermen abducted in Gaza
    Thursday, 04 June 2009 17:17
    Added by PT Editor Sameh A. Habeeb
    Gaza, June 4, (Pal Telegraph) – Gazan territorial waters – At around 9 am, six Palestinian fishermen were abducted by the Israeli Navy whilst fishing in Palestinian territorial waters.
    The fishermen are reported as being; Adham Al-Habil – 21, Mohammed Al-Habil – 21, Ahmed Al-Habil, Maher Abu Sultan – 25, Mohammed Al Arayshi, and Sadam Bakar.
    The fishermen embarked from Gaza port at 8 am, in a trawling vessel owned by Abu Adham. At around 9 am when they were 3 miles from shore, and 0.5 km south of the “K” area (a designated no-fishing area in the Oslo Accords), they reported that an Israeli gun boat had approached, fired at them, and demanded that they turn off the boats engine. Communication with the fishermen was then lost.
    It is believed that all of the fishermen have been abducted, and that their boat has been seized. Several fishermen that were recently abducted in similar circumstances, but have now been released, reported that at the time of their abduction the Israeli Navy threatened “If we see Abu Adham’s boat in the sea again, we’ll seize it and arrest all the fishermen.”
    In the last few months, the Israeli Navy have escalated their campaign of persecution against the Palestinian fishermen. Of particular note is the recent spate of abductions. Since the declaration of a cease-fire in January of this year, and prior to today, 40 abductions of fishermen have been reported, and 17 fishing boats have been seized or stolen. About 10 of these boats have been returned but with damages and equipment missing.
    Abu Adham’s trawling boat was one of three boats seized by the Israeli Navy in November 2008. 15 of the fishermen aboard along with three members of the International Solidarity Movement were also abducted. Following a court case filed by PCHR, Al Mezan, and the ISM the 3 vessels were returned – although damaged and with equipment missing. On the 7th May 2009, one of these boats (belonging to Abu Rami) was again seized by the Israeli Navy and its crew abducted. Israel is refusing to return this boat.
    Along with Abu Adham’s vessel, it now appears that two of the trawlers stolen by the Israeli Navy in November 2008, are again in Israeli hands.
    http://www.paltelegraph.com/palestine/gaza-strip/1021-6-palestinian-fishermen-abducted-in-gaza

    Reply

  111. Paul Norheim says:

    Bill R.,
    I don´t know if you are naive or something else.
    But it should not be difficult to imagine the following scenario: Iranian demonstrations are a vital part of
    a domestic drama with certain domestic dynamics AND foreign agencies are meddling AND the President
    of the United States may not even be aware of the role CIA may play in all this (as Don suggests).
    This is actually a highly credible and realistic scenario, and gives you no reason to accuse your
    opponents of spamming.
    Why get caught up in stupid alternatives like:
    A) The Iranian opposition is pure, morally superior and a promotor of democracy, human rights and
    freedom, while the leadership is evil and despotic.
    B) Everything going on in the world is the sole result of manipulation from Mossad and/or the CIA.

    Reply

  112. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israel kills more peace activists in Palestine
    Sameh A. Habeeb
    West Bank, June 5, (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli forces have killed a demonstrator in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. The Israeli army shot Yousef Akil Srour, aged 36 years in the chest with 0.22 caliber live ammunition. He was dead upon arrival to Ramallah Hospital.
    Yousef Akil Srour is the 5th Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli army in Ni’lin during a demonstration against the theft of his land for the construction of the Annexation Wall.
    Israeli forces shot Mohammad Mouslah Mousa, aged 15 years, in the lower chest shortly after shooting Srour. He was taken to Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramallah.
    Additionally, the army shot another 3 demonstrators today with 0.22 caliber live ammunition; one in the leg, one in the side and one in the shoulder.
    As of Friday, 5 June 2009, Israeli forces have shot 35 people with live ammunition during demonstrations in the village of Ni’lin.
    Israeli occupation forces have murdered five Ni’lin residents during demonstrations against the confiscation of their land and critically injured one international solidarity activist.
    Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with live ammunition on 29 July 2008. The following day, Yousef Amira (17) was shot twice with rubber-coated steel bullets, leaving him brain dead. He died a week later on 4 August 2008. Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22), was the third Ni’lin resident to be killed by Israeli forces. He was shot in the back with live ammunition on 28 December 2008. That same day, Mohammed Khawaje (20), was shot in the head with live ammunition, leaving him brain dead. He died three days in a Ramallah hospital. Tristan Anderson (37), an American citizen, was shot with a high velocity tear gas projectile on 13 March 2009 and is currently in Tel Hashomer hospital. Yousef Akil Srour (36), was shot with 0.22 caliber live ammunition in the chest on 5 June 2009 and pronounced dead upon arrival at Ramallah hospital.
    In total, 35 people have been shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition.
    Since May 2008, residents of Ni’lin village have been demonstrating against construction of the Apartheid Wall. Despite being deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, the occupation continues to build a Wall, further annexing Palestinian land.
    Ni’lin will lose approximately 2500 dunums of agricultural land when the construction of the Wall is completed. Ni’lin consisted of 57,000 dunums in 1948, reduced to 33,000 dunums in 1967, currently is 10,000 dunums and will be 7,500 dunums after construction of the Wall.
    http://www.paltelegraph.com/palestine/west-bank/1030-israel-kills-more-peace-activists-in-palestine
    What the hell, if some jackass is going to get on here and start accusing long time commenters of being “spammers”, we might as well live up to it, eh?
    What about it, Bill, you had enough, or would you like me to rub your face in some more articles that underscore your fake and contrived concern for human rights abuses?
    Ah, what the heck, I think I’ll post a few more….

    Reply

  113. WigWag says:

    More from the “That’s really interesting” department.
    According to Laura Rozen’s blog, “The Cable” (on the Foreign Plicy blog roll), Dennis Ross is getting a big promotion.
    She says,
    “The Cable has learned that deputy national security advisor Thomas Donilon, among others, is positioning Ross to assume an uber-senior NSC position overseeing Iran, Iraq, and the Middle East. The Iraq portfolio formerly assigned to holdover war czar Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute will be shifted to Ross, leaving Lute to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Puneet Talwar, the NSC’s senior director for the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Iran, will report to Ross, as will Daniel Shapiro, the NSC’s senior director for the Middle East and North Africa…
    Now Iraq hands are concerned, as word from reports and multiple sources has it that Ross will completely take over the Iraq portfolio as well…
    The other group said to be concerned by Ross’s perceived takeover of Middle East turf is the team of Middle East Peace special envoy George Mitchell, which now has to contend not only with resistance from all quarters of the region, but also a rival power center in the NSC that hasn’t tended to see Middle East peace issues the same way…”
    And Politico is reporting that in 2012, Obama is planning to drop Joe Biden and have Ross run as his Vice President.
    Nah, I just made the last part up.

    Reply

  114. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Last update – 10:55 19/06/2009
    Israeli troops humiliate Palestinians – and put it on YouTube
    By Uri Blau
    Forty-three seconds: that’s the duration of a video clip uploaded to YouTube less than a year ago under the category of “Comedy.”
    For the “hero” of the clip, an unidentified young Arab, they were probably eternally long seconds and far from amusing. He was forced to slap himself and sing to the jubilant shouts of the photographer and his buddies – all of them members of Israel’s Border Police.
    This clip, which has been viewed more than 2,800 times, shows the unknown Palestinian standing in a desert setting while a disembodied voice orders him in Hebrew to hit himself: “Yallah, start, do it hard!”
    The viewers hear the chuckles of the other policemen and a clear voice telling the Arab: “Say ‘Ana behibak Mishmar Hagvul’ [“I love the Border Police? in a mix of Arabic and Hebrew]. Say it!”
    They see him obey in a subdued voice and with a frightened look, even as he goes on slapping himself. They hear the “director” laughing and the faceless voice shouting: “Again! Ana behibak Mishmar Hagvul.”
    After a little more than 30 seconds, the voice says, “Say ‘Wahad hummus wahad ful'” – and the Arab man obeys and then is told to complete the rhyme: “Ana behibak Mishmar Hagvul.”
    After 40 seconds, the abusers appear to have had enough and the voice impatiently orders the victim: “Yallah, rukh, rukh, rukh” (“go”). The camera turns and for a fraction of a second a Border Police Jeep is visible.
    A few dozen viewers sent comments. “Hahahaha, it was great the way he excruciated himself.” Another added: “That’s how it should be!!!!! Stinking Arab.”
    And a third pointed out, “He should have been shot!! Sons of bitches.”
    continues….

    Reply

  115. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israeli Protesters Block Humanitarian Aid to Gaza
    Outraged Demonstrators Demand ‘Collective Punishment’ for 1.5 Million Gazans
    Jason Ditz, June 23, 2009
    As the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip struggle to rebuild their society with mud in the face of a crippling official blockade by the Israeli government, hundreds of Israeli protesters arrived at the border today to block what little humanitarian aid the government deigns to allow in, forcing the military to close the crossings entirely for much of the day.
    Protesters block humanitarian aid from reaching GazaThe protesters are demanding the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held by the Hamas government for three years. Despite progress in the negotiation for his release, the demonstrators have demanded that no aid be allowed into the tiny strip as an effort to win international sympathy for his plight.
    “There is no other way but collective punishment,” one of the demonstrators declared, but in the face of 1.5 million civilians living in the bombed out remains of their society in the wake of January’s Israeli invasion being deprived of humanitarian aid, it seems unfathomable that the international focus will be on a soldier being held to trade for some of the thousands of Gazans held in Israeli detention.
    continues….

    Reply

  116. Don Bacon says:

    Bill R,
    Could you clarify that “spammers” charge for me?
    I didn’t get it.

    Reply

  117. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “After seeing the videos and photos of Iranians murdered by gunshot and with horrible gaping ax wounds, it’s going to be politically hard for any American administration to have any kind of rapproachment with Iran under the present regime”
    But of course the gruesome photographs of Palestinians, incinerated by white phosphorous, has no effect on our ability to kiss ass and piss money away to Israel, does it?
    Its truly a pity that Tristan Anderson wasn’t gunned down in Tehran, so you human rights “champions” could capitalize on his situation. But no problem, you’ll gleefully take advantage of Neda’s five minutes of bloody fame, woncha? That was a real bonus for you anti-Iran ghouls, wasn’t it?
    This double standard is so despicable that it negates any faith one must hold that your abhorance for the treatment of the Iranians is founded in conviction or genuine concern for the human condition. You don’t give a shit about such tragedies unless they fit your political agenda. Sadly, it seems, our President seems to share the same kind of moral selectivity. Its impossible to believe in such selective concern for tragedy and human rights abuses. Such selectivity underscores a lack of conviction and sincerity, and lends the lie to the very foundation of your feined concerns.
    But hey, mission accomplished, apparently the current script contains the desired conclusion that diplomatic engagement with Iran is no longer an option.
    Gee, whatta suprise.
    So now, goodie, maybe you’ll get to see a few thousand, (or, if you’re REALLY lucky, a few HUNDRED thousand) of those poor oppressed Iranian dissidents become “collatoral damage” when these monsters writing the script start lobbing the bombs and Patriot missiles in. Of course, then you’ll have to go back to calling them “evil doers”, but I’m sure you can easily, and with clear conscience, make the switch.
    BTW, Bill, what hypocricy calling Don a “spammer”. He was here loooong before you showed up blathering your scripted lopsided horseshit. If I may, I’d like to call a spade a spade. YOU’RE the spammer here.

    Reply

  118. Bill R. says:

    @Don Bacon
    Here we are again, the spammers are back. “”The Iran Green movement is a CIA/Mossad conspiracy”” and it will all come back to haunt Obama because he’s behind it all. And the wingnuts on the other side are playing their tune, that Obama isn’t doing anything and trying to prop up Khamanei. So between the two delusional propaganda points, I would say Obama has it about right.

    Reply

  119. Don Bacon says:

    Bill R’s comment reminds me of a DanK comment that this could be Obama’s Bay of Pigs.
    Let’s assume, a valid assumption I think, that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is involved in this ‘Green revolution.’ The NED was formed by Reagan in 1983, and NED’s first president, Allen Weinstein, admitted openly that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” (Memories of 1953 Iran)
    The NED, currently funded at about $100m annually, along with other non-government operations (NGOs), was involved in the “rose revolution” in Georgia (November 2003-January 2004), the “orange revolution” in Ukraine (January 2005) and the “tulip revolution” in Kyrgyzstan (April 2005).
    Now we have this budding “green revolution”, which may or may not amount to anything, but which in any case might probably work against Obama’s rapprochement intentions as Bill R. suggests. Jack Kennedy, after the Bay of Pigs, fired the top CIA layer who planned that fiasco. But in this case the effort has been ‘out-sourced’, like so many other activities, and responsibility is far removed from the US administration.
    In other words, the US president may have no control over the current events. It does seem that way. Scary.

    Reply

  120. Bill R. says:

    After seeing the videos and photos of Iranians murdered by gunshot and with horrible gaping ax wounds, it’s going to be politically hard for any American administration to have any kind of rapproachment with Iran under the present regime. GHWB did it after Tiennamen, so who knows…

    Reply

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