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To reach the ‘moveable middle’ in Jewish life, you must be inside the tent

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Malcolm Hoenlein of Conference of Presidents, seated amid Israeli Knesset at Auschwitz, photo by Shmuley Boteach

Malcolm Hoenlein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents, at right center, seated amid Israeli Knesset at Auschwitz earlier this year, photo by Shmuley Boteach

Yesterday I did a post on the decision by a selection committee of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations not to recommend membership in that leadership organization for the liberal Zionist group J Street because it has been critical of Israel. And I asked why liberal Zionist groups Americans for Peace Now and Ameinu remain in the Conference alongside so many rightwing organizations.

My old friend Dan Fleshler, who is on the Ameinu board, communicated my question to Ken Bob, the Ameinu president. Below are responses from both men.

Bob:

In response to your post on J Street’s membership application and the Conference of Presidents in general, I would like to share Ameinu’s perspective.

First of all, we strongly support J Street’s inclusion in the Conference of Presidents as they are certainly a major American Jewish organization and meet all of the membership criteria. Since the Membership Committee has designated the application for consideration by the general membership at the end of the month, I am going to respect the process and restrain from additional comment.

You ask why we remain in the Conference, sitting with representatives of right wing Jewish organizations, “breaking bread” with them. You also ask whether we should be “past this kind of tribal allegiance’ and whether “access” to a senator or two makes it worthwhile.

We get meetings with elected representatives and policy makers in both the United States and Israel on our own and as part of other coalitions, but we feel it is also important that politicians on both sides of the ocean meet us as part of an American Jewish leadership delegation.  We present our liberal Zionist perspective in those settings, whether the meeting is with someone with whom we agree or not. If we are not there, only a more right wing position is heard, creating a false impression of the range of opinions in the community. In addition, we can only have impact on the “moveable middle” in the organized Jewish community, both in formal and informal ways, if we are members of the club and inside the tent.

You also asked whether we “are bound by the Conference’s apparent understanding that you can’t criticize member organization AIPAC and ZOA?” We have publicly criticized both AIPAC and the ZOA on policy differences and we have never hesitated to issue our own positions, often at odds with Conference of Presidents’ statements. We have addressed policy, not individuals or personalities, and have never heard from Conference leadership attempting to limit us in any way, so I think there is a misunderstanding around the Conference’s civility guidelines.

Is it uncomfortable at times being part of an organization where the official position is often at odds with ours? Absolutely, but political progress isn’t accomplished by only hanging out with people with whom you agree. Umbrella organizations like the Conference is one venue where Ameinu tries to move the dial in the American Jewish community and Israel in a progressive Zionist direction.

And here is the note from Dan Fleshler:

I am on the Boards of Ameinu and APN [Americans for Peace Now] but am expressing my own views here.  The “Presidents Conference” (that’s what we call it in my world) is recognized by America’s political establishment as one of the key addresses of the organized American Jewish community.  As long as that is the case, it is a good idea for J Street to join the Conference, and for Ameinu and APN to remain.

The main reason the Conference gets at least some attention in the corridors of power is that it is a large umbrella organization that is supposed to express “the consensus” of a very contentious community on issues.  The point of anti-occupation groups being there is not to “break bread” with the right wing, as you put it (although I don’t see anything wrong with that, because, unlike some of your fans, I don’t think all right wing Jews are evil incarnate). The point is to try to ensure that our voices are heard both inside and outside the community, and by politicians here and in Israel.  That does not prevent us from staking independent positions, disagreeing (sometimes vehemently) with the Conference or AIPAC, and building alternative political blocs on key issues.

The Presidents Conference has taken some public stances that have infuriated me over the years.  Trust me on this one: there have been other, worse stances that it would have taken publicly if its leaders had not been restrained by moderate forces within the Jewish organizational world.  From time to time, liberal Jewish leaders have become so frustrated with the Conference that they’ve discussed breaking away to form an alternative.  Their conclusion was that a Conference of Presidents of Minor American Jewish Organizations might make its members feel better, but would have less impact.

Similarly, the Democratic party and Democratic presidents have taken stances that have infuriated me.  But I’m still a Democrat because I don’t see what could possibly be gained by fleeing from that tent, either.

You remind me of progressive friends who urged me to help Ralph Nader in 2000, and not to support Al Gore.  What did they accomplish by deserting the Democrats instead of working to change the party from within?  Well, they helped to usher George W Bush  and the neocon zealots into the White House. I blame the Naderites for the Iraq War as much as I blame Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. They did MUCH more harm than good by fleeing from the tent.

 

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72 Responses

  1. Hostage
    Hostage
    April 13, 2014, 11:11 am

    Well, they helped to usher George W Bush and the neocon zealots into the White House. I blame the Naderites for the Iraq War as much as I blame Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. They did MUCH more harm than good by fleeing from the tent.

    Nope, the blame ultimately goes to the 5 Justices who were essentially allowed to vote twice: once at the polls; and once again in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000). There’s no reason to cast blame for the outcome of any US Presidential race, except the antiquated electoral system that precludes direct selection of the President by the citizens in the first place.

    • LeaNder
      LeaNder
      April 13, 2014, 12:39 pm

      Great point, Hostage. but I was almost agreeing. ;)

      Nope, the blame ultimately goes to the 5 Justices who were essentially allowed to vote twice: once at the polls; and once again in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000).

      I think that was the first thing that drew my attention to the US, combined with an article in my then weekly about “the hawks” in the government as it was described.

      There’s no reason to cast blame for the outcome of any US Presidential race, except the antiquated electoral system that precludes direct selection of the President by the citizens in the first place.

      To what extend would a change in the “antiquated electoral system” have changed matters? I looked at its history at the time. No need to go into that. But: I seem to remember that Al Gore would have won Florida and the election, if not the recounting was stopped. What wrong information do I store?

      If you allow me to use your head instead of Wikipedia?

      • dbroncos
        dbroncos
        April 13, 2014, 1:12 pm

        LeanDer

        The recount was completed after the SC called it off. It was reported that Bush won by some 900 votes.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        April 13, 2014, 1:25 pm

        dbroncos, your response suggests the “5 Judges” wouldn’t have changed anything by stopping the recounting, since Bush won anyway. If I read it correctly.

        Or was the the report he had won by 900 votes before, and the judgment only served to confirm it. Which would make more sense.

        Ok, I shouldn’t misuse Hostage. I could instead look at this wiki article: 2004 United States election voting controversies to refresh my memory.

        Thanks anyway.

      • dbroncos
        dbroncos
        April 13, 2014, 11:59 pm

        LeaNder-

        “Or was the the report he had won by 900 votes before, and the judgment only served to confirm it. Which would make more sense.”

        It would make more sense. But no, the recount was completed, for the record, only after the 5 judges had suspended the counting of votes and announced that Bush was the winner. Putting an end to the recount, however, didn’t start with the US Superme Court. Florida’s republican Secretay of State, Katherine Harris, decided to end the recount and even though the Florida Supreme Court overturned her decision, the US Supreme Court upheld it, saying that time had run out for counting votes. Conservative US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day-O’Connor, who provided the decisive vote in Bush’s favor, later said she regretted that decision. As it turned out, however, Bush did end up winning Florida and hence the election.

        By the way, Katherine Harris and Florida Governor Jeb Bush had pushed through policies that made a significant number of Florida citizens ineligible to vote in the 2000 election, many of them African Americans. There were enough “ineligible” voters to swing the election in favor of Gore – something for Mr. Fleshler to consider while he’s looking around for liberals to blame for the Bush disaster.

      • tree
        tree
        April 14, 2014, 1:44 am

        Leander,

        Dbroncos got a few of the details wrong. Gore made a bad tactical decision (and a bad moral one if you asked me) in not asking for a full Florida state recount. He only asked for a recount in 4 Florida counties. I understand the reasoning for that since the Democratic party would have been responsible for the cost of the recount, but still it was a bad decision. That recount was what Katherine Harris stopped and what the Florida State Supreme Court ruled IN FAVOR of, not against. The US Supreme Court overruled the Florida State Supreme Court, and stopped the limited recount again. Gore lost by 537 votes in the certified election results and would have lost by a slightly smaller amount if the limited recount was allowed to continue.

        However, a consortium of media outlets, mostly newspapers, solicited the NORC report that looked at all uncounted Florida votes and their conclusion was that a recount of all Florida votes would have resulted in a Gore victory. The most decisive element was in the counting of clear “overvotes”. Overvotes refer to where two Presidential candidates are voted for on one ballot . Most of them represented cases where two punches for different candidates were made on the same ballot, rendering it impossible to tell with certainty who the voter really intended to vote for. But some of them consisted of ballots where a candidate was selected through punch or optical scan but there was also a “write-in candidate” selected. Here, of course, if one candidate is punched and another is written in, it is likewise impossible to tell for sure who the voter was really selecting. However, some of those votes punched or optically voted for Gore and wrote in Gore, or alternately, punched or optically voted for bush and wrote in Bush. These were clear votes for either Gore or Bush and should have been counted. Counting these votes and all other clear votes would have given Gore a victory margin at least as large as Bush’s certified margin.

        So, yes, if the US Supreme Court had allowed the limited recount, Bush would have still been the victor, but if a total state recount had been conducted, then Gore would have won. There were also various problems with the voting machines, hanging chads, the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach and elsewhere, the overzealous “cleaning” of the voter rolls of voters erroneously listed as felons without voting rights, overly partisan decisions made by Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State, including the counting of several hundred illegal overseas absentee ballots, all of which combined in a perfect storm to rob Gore of tens of thousands of votes. But even ignoring those elements which could not be legally tallied in determining the winner in 2000, if all the legal votes in Florida had been counted and certified as they should have been, Gore would have won Florida by a small margin.

        As for Hostage’s comment about the antiquated electoral system, I can explain it this way. The US uses an “electoral college” to elect the President rather than a simple majority vote of all US voters. Gore won 500,000 more votes than Bush nationwide, but each of the 50 states tallies its votes and gives all its proportionally determined votes to the winner of the state election results. Thus a candidate can get 500,000 more votes overall, as Gore did, and be the clear consensus choice for the whole country but lose the Electoral College vote, which is the only one that counts, by losing Florida’s 25 electoral votes and losing the electoral tally by 4 votes.

      • puppies
        puppies
        April 14, 2014, 2:18 am

        @dbroncos – “Bush disaster” is still without proof that the Gore disaster would have been any better. Especially consider this, which was not at all impossible, in fact somewhat close to probable: President Lieberman. How do you feel now?

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        April 14, 2014, 4:50 am

        By the way, Katherine Harris and Florida Governor Jeb Bush had pushed through policies that made a significant number of Florida citizens ineligible to vote in the 2000 election, many of them African Americans.

        dbroncos, that I remember, since I looked into that closer at the time. I don’t think all these matters would be possible over here. We don’t need to register either. We are informed automatically about time and place where we can vote and in this context are given a chance to vote by mail in case we are absent at that time.

        Now on to tree, and then to the Wikipedia article which I haven’t really looked into by now.

        Strictly I don’t understand what sense it could make to vote for Nader in the American two-party-system in a presidential election, other than hoping for a big share and the intention of sending a strong signal. So till I get a better grasp, I would call this a draw between Hostage and Dan at the moment.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        April 14, 2014, 5:14 am

        However, a consortium of media outlets, mostly newspapers, solicited the NORC report …

        That was slightly hard for me to follow without the necessary basic knowledge about diverse systems involved. But I get the general drift. And watched a bit the growing suspicions about the possible manipulation of voting systems, which were easy to understand and may have resulted from this strange affair.

        As for Hostage’s comment about the antiquated electoral system, I can explain it this way. The US uses an “electoral college” to elect the President rather than a simple majority vote of all US voters.

        I know this by now. Quite possibly since I watched every US presidential election after. I witnessed it three times by now live.

        It’s in the middle of night, but our public channels have an excellent program to keep you awake. ;) The chaos in the GOP last time was amusing. Apparently due to a high-profile new system accompanied by badly informed supporters who had to use it. I have to admit this confirmed some of my prejudices against the GOP and their candidate. ;)

        thanks tree.

      • Feathers
        Feathers
        April 14, 2014, 11:20 am

        Had Gore won Joe Lieberman would have been vp. How much would have been different?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 14, 2014, 2:41 pm

        As for Hostage’s comment about the antiquated electoral system, I can explain it this way. The US uses an “electoral college” to elect the President rather than a simple majority vote of all US voters.

        My point was that Gore received a total of 50,988,442 votes, and Bush 50,449,494. If the US wasn’t using an electoral college, there would been no question at all about the fact that Gore won the national election.

        The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago study that everyone is citing here actually showed that Gore would have won, if there had been a statewide recount:

        In the review of the state’s disputed ballots, Gore edged ahead under all the scenarios for counting all undervotes and overvotes statewide:

        • Prevailing standard: County election officials told Florida journalists how they would define votes if required to do a recount, and in this scenario the majority standard was imposed statewide. A notable element of this standard was that, in punch-card counties, ballots with at least one corner of a chad detached counted as votes. Result: Gore ahead by 60 votes.

        • Two-corner standard: At least two corners of a chad had to be detached for a punch-card ballot to count. Bush supporters sometimes argued for this. Result: Gore ahead by 105 votes.

        Gore also went out front by 107 votes when counting by the least restrictive standard, something his supporters advocated, and by 115 votes under the most restrictive.

        He took a 171-vote lead when the consortium tried to recreate how each county said it would handle the court-ordered statewide recount, and a 42-vote lead under what is called the Palm Beach standard. That scenario features counting dimpled chads as valid votes if a pattern of dimpled chads exists elsewhere on the same ballot.

        http://cjonline.com/stories/111201/usw_election.shtml

        In addition, there were 1,700 irregular absentee ballots that were discarded because they were not postmarked, signed, or submitted by registered voters. The Bush campaign challenged the practice in 5 counties and got a statewide court order to have such ballots counted anyway, from a judge who held that there was a fundamental right to vote. http://www.wnd.com/2000/12/2256/

        But in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court was unconcerned by the fact that many citizens had been prevented from voting (more below). They actually ruled that there is no Constitutional right to vote for the President of the United States. Nonetheless, they did NOT overturn the lower court ruling that gave Bush the additional 1,700 absentee votes he needed to win.

        Several reports highlighted the way that many ballots were discarded and never counted

        Florida’s Gadsden County has the highest percentage of black voters in the state — and the highest spoilage rate. One in 8 votes cast there in 2000 was never counted. Many voters wrote in “Al Gore.” Optical reading machines rejected these because “Al” is a “stray mark.”

        By contrast, in neighboring Tallahassee, the capital, vote spoilage was nearly zip; every vote counted. The difference? In Tallahassee’s white- majority county, voters placed their ballots directly into optical scanners. If they added a stray mark, they received another ballot with instructions to correct it.

        In other words, in the white county, make a mistake and get another ballot; in the black county, make a mistake, your ballot is tossed.

        1 million black votes didn’t count in the 2000 presidential election / It’s not too hard to get your vote lost — if some politicians want it to be lost http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/1-million-black-votes-didn-t-count-in-the-2000-2747895.php

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 13, 2014, 2:24 pm

        To what extend would a change in the “antiquated electoral system” have changed matters?

        I’m suggesting that we should simply total-up the votes cast for each candidate from all of the 50 states and skip the B.S. about the race for delegates from each state in the electoral college. There have been cases where the candidate with the most votes in the general election lost, because of the winner-take-all nature of the race for a state’s votes in the electoral college.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        April 14, 2014, 5:19 am

        Hostage, obviously. But isn’t this somehow connected to the States wanting exactly this system, since it gives them a punch above the number of their inhabitants?

      • puppies
        puppies
        April 15, 2014, 12:55 am

        @Leander – Precisely. You identified Major Problem #2. So we are living under a double dictatorship: 1) a single-party dictatorship with two fractions, as they have no program differences or rather they have no program, being only distinguished by different shades of psychopathology; this is the one that is highly significant for the Zionists, and 2) the dictatorship of the hicks over the Cities of the Plain, through the Electoral College and the Senate. The Electoral College is not a major issue for the Zionists, as there is not the chance of a snowball in hell of getting to elect an anti-Zionist of even halfway reluctant President ever.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        April 13, 2014, 9:41 pm

        @LeaNder

        . But: I seem to remember that Al Gore would have won Florida and the election, if not the recounting was stopped. What wrong information do I store?

        A complete failure to understand how the American system works. The 50 states appoint electors. The state of Florida not the people of Florida choose who got Florida’s 25 votes. In most states Florida included the people get to advise the legislature on whom they want. If the vote is clear everything is fine. if not then there are various processes that are used to pick who wins.

        The legislature and the electoral officials were Republican in Florida which means Republicans win ties. The state courts were Democratic and tried to construct law ex-nihilo from allowing the natural process to play out since the stakes were so high. The USA Supreme Court just told the Florida court to cut the nonsense out. They (the Florida courts) don’t to create elections law or the electoral officials for the state of Florida are empowered to do that.

        That’s what you aren’t remembering correctly. In any case under most neutral systems Bush still won. Under some systems Gore would have won. But there was no legal path for Gore to win Florida without the electoral officials signing off on the result. At worst it gets kicked to the House of Representatives (which was also Republican) and they would have made Bush president.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 14, 2014, 3:12 pm

        A complete failure to understand how the American system works.

        Well you were doing okay until you made the nonsensical comments about the Florida Supreme Court and the impossibility of constructing a basis for a Gore win. The Court was actually ruling on the interpretation of an existing Florida statute. Gore won the national election by 500,000 votes. A Florida judge ordered a statewide recount of discarded absentee ballots in response to a petition from the Bush campaign. So it wouldn’t have been inappropriate to conduct a statewide recount. A group of major U.S. news organizations sponsored a statewide recount by The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Gore won under every methodology employed.

        So, in order for Bush to win under any circumstances, you have to employ some technicality, limitation, or intervention.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        April 14, 2014, 6:22 pm

        complete failure to understand how the American system works.

        jonah, dear, may I kindly refer you to the text in my user profile. You are welcome to use it whenever it is convenient. But strictly you choose the wrong part of the quote to prove your point. Nevertheless, you’re welcome.

        We simply wondered, if we should better send the OSZE next time. You know, they take care of fair elections too. We were just worried over here in Europistan.

        But your idea that laws were partisan only, both in the Florida Supreme Court and Washington DC is interesting. Florida election laws, or anything regulating recounts didn’t matter?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        April 15, 2014, 8:47 am

        LeaNder

        But your idea that laws were partisan only, both in the Florida Supreme Court and Washington DC is interesting. Florida election laws, or anything regulating recounts didn’t matter?

        They do matter but the problem in Florida were issues not covered by law. For example the issue of what a detached chad meant. Think about a ballet where someone pushes out a piece of paper. That chad could: detach completely, have one corner attached, have one side attached, be broken but not broken through, or just be dimpled. You got different results depending on how you count. Individual counties are the ones empowered to regulate counts not the state courts. The Florida state court starting creating their own standards, effectively writing their own laws and the supreme court rightly called them on that.

        We simply wondered, if we should better send the OSZE next time. You know, they take care of fair elections too. We were just worried over here in Europistan.

        The American system has terribly unfair systems in many states that wouldn’t come close to passing international muster. We have a much more serious problem now of racially / class based allocation of polling stations in some of the states. The notion of how challenges are decided (part of the who gets to vote) is privatized to a degree that most Europeans would (and possibly rightfully) find unacceptable.

        Selection of electors to the party conventions is vastly more obscure and opaque to voters in many states.

        But ultimately there is no requirement that states even have elections involving the population to select electors. That is in theory the 50 state legislatures could if they choose (after changing state law, not federal law) just pick the president with no popular election at all.

        The problem most people had in 2000 is that we had a tie and so all the formal details of how the president gets selected suddenly mattered where generally the only detail of our system that really matters is the state by state plays.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen
      April 14, 2014, 8:24 am

      A Supreme Court Judicial coup. A selection of a President not an election. Anyone who blames Nader was not paying attention. Made it into the Bush V Gore Supreme c Court hearing for about an hour. They were rotating the peasants in and out of the court room. We had stood in line for hours.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        April 14, 2014, 10:34 am

        “A Supreme Court Judicial coup. A selection of a President not an election.”

        I don’t think so, given the case they had before them. I think the fault lies in the cockamamie set up that the Constitution and the Legislative branch has in resolving those questions. (Concerning the selection of electors, the time limit, etc.) I agree with the 7 judge majority that there was an equal protection problem in the recount that used different standards, and the fact that there was a statute in place concerning the timing and Florida’s desire to take advantage of the safe harbor provision makes the decision defensible, in my opinion, even though I would have ordered a different remedy, if given the choice. The ultimate problem, in my mind, is the lack of any uniformity in election law and the American system of multiple sovereigns, which presents numerous opportunities for mischief.

        “Anyone who blames Nader was not paying attention.”

        I disagree. Nader was running a vanity campaign and in a country which was as equally divided as the US was in 2000, he had to understand that his presence in the race could split the vote on his side of the right/left divide. US elections are always “lesser of two evils” elections by the nature of the US system, and Nader knew that. Someone who’s a “voter and more likely to vote Democrat” voter who voted for Nader essentially cast a vote for Bush.

      • puppies
        puppies
        April 14, 2014, 12:46 pm

        @Woody – “Someone who’s a “voter and more likely to vote Democrat” voter who voted for Nader essentially cast a vote for Bush.” That’s a very silly thing to say. What about the voter more likely to vote Republican in a 2-party system who voted Nader? You guys are assuming that the unmitigated disaster of the Democrats is preferable to the unmitigated disaster of the Republicans. It isn’t. If anything, the latter is preferable. It’s not a two-party system, it is a single party dictatorship as much as in old Russia. It already was that in 2000: did you vote for Lieberman? Give me Palin any day.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        April 16, 2014, 9:39 am

        ““Someone who’s a “voter and more likely to vote Democrat” voter who voted for Nader essentially cast a vote for Bush.” That’s a very silly thing to say.”

        No, it’s a very truthful thing to say. It’s the reality that people who get caught up in the passion of vanity 3rd Party runs fool themselves about.

        “What about the voter more likely to vote Republican in a 2-party system who voted Nader?”

        Both of those people essentially cast a vote for Gore.

        “You guys are assuming that the unmitigated disaster of the Democrats is preferable to the unmitigated disaster of the Republicans. It isn’t.”

        If that’s your view, you’re welcome to it. I believe that is self-evidently wrong. The Democrats may be a disaster, but not an unmitigated one; the fact that a Democratic president prevents a Republican from nominating Supreme Court justices, for example, is one giant bit of mitigation. Nader’s vanity run permitted George Bush to nominate Alito and Roberts and changed the Supreme Court for decades and constitute a bitter true-life demonstration of Voltaire’s quip about making the perfect the enemy of the good.

        “If anything, the latter is preferable.”

        Baloney. The thesis that if you let the reactionaries abuse power, they’ll destroy the country sufficient that a truely progressive politics will be ushered in is nonsense. It doesn’t work that way.

        “It’s not a two-party system, it is a single party dictatorship as much as in old Russia. It already was that in 2000:”

        While I think fact-less hyperbole has a place in political discussion, there is no real way to respond to it.

        “did you vote for Lieberman? Give me Palin any day.”

        That’s just nuts. For every issue Lieberman would be bad on (and there are many), Palin would be bad on them and problem 2 or 3 more.

      • annie
        annie
        April 16, 2014, 11:16 am

        Nader’s vanity run permitted George Bush to nominate Alito and Roberts and changed the Supreme Court for decades and constitute a bitter true-life demonstration of Voltaire’s quip about making the perfect the enemy of the good.

        elections are not stolen at the beginning of the count, but at the end. this is why on both the elections the gop stole the tallies for florida (2000) and ohio (2004) came in last, although many states were effected. it is the final state where they make up the difference. the votes for nader were not significant enough to prevent them from pulling this off they would have just cheated more. so, imho, you’re just dreaming woody.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        April 14, 2014, 2:43 pm

        There was no 7. It was a 5/4 split. The only other time a similar situation happened in our elections it was sent to congress to cast the votes. Forget what year that was but reading all about it when this debacle took place.

        On the recount. They should have recounted the whole state. But in general I am with Hostage on the “antiquated” electoral system being the big problem When it should be a direct vote of citizens that elect the President.

        Nader had every right to run and every right to stay in the race.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        April 14, 2014, 3:22 pm

        “There was no 7. It was a 5/4 split.”

        There were two different issues in the case: there was a 7-2 decision on the question of whether there was an equal protection violation if each county was using its own standards for judging voter intent. There was a 5-4 split on what the appropriate remedy was and whether there could be a constitutionally-implimented recount in the time alloted.

        “The only other time a similar situation happened in our elections it was sent to congress to cast the votes. Forget what year that was but reading all about it when this debacle took place.”

        Yes, and in part to counteract the problem, the Congress permits states the “safe harbor” provision which says (basically) that if the state has their returns in by a certain date, it will be considered conclusive. The problem in Bush v. Gore was that the Supreme Court found that Florida had indicated its public policy was a desire to fall within that safe harbor, so the only way that the certified results could be overturned was to do a constitutionally-appropriate recount by that date, which was the day after the Supreme Court decision was released. Basically, there was no time to do it, so the certified results had to stand. (Again, I don’t necessarily agree with that result, but it makes a certain amount of sense.) That’s what was decided 5-4.

        “But in general I am with Hostage on the ‘antiquated’ electoral system being the big problem When it should be a direct vote of citizens that elect the President.”

        I disagree, on practical grounds. If every vote everywhere counted the same toward electing the president, then functionally, we could have a Bush v. Gore situation every couple of elections, and not just limited to Florida, but in every county in the US. Imagine how the 2000 election might have gone, but with every vote, in every county up for grabs. The fact that the popular vote winner didn’t win only once in the modern era shows that it works pretty well. One change I would make, however, to make it closer to the popular vote winner, would be to make each state’s electoral votes a function of its population only.

        “Nader had every right to run and every right to stay in the race.”

        He had that right. Absolutely. He also had the responsibility to consider what might result if he exercised that right and the responsibility to determine whether the potential negative ramifications outweighted whatever it was he believed he was trying to accomplish by staying in such a tightly contested race, when he had absolutely no chance of winning.

        At the end of the day, he is entitled to think that there’s not a dime’s bit of difference between a Bush presidency and a Gore presidency, but the rest of use are entitled to think he’s nuts and to blame him for the cloudiness of his vision. (Imagining a Supreme Court without Alito and Roberts puts the notion that the two parties are equally bad to rest, in my opinion.)

      • Pixel
        Pixel
        April 14, 2014, 11:02 pm

        +1

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      April 14, 2014, 8:59 am

      Hostage blames the Supreme Court for the Bush presidency.

      Those of us who told the self-righteous Naderites that their gambit would lead to disaster were, of course, absolutely right. It was never about the merits of Ralph Nader, human being. It was about the realities of the American system, which is a winner-take-all system, not a parliamentary system. As usual, rather than confront the argument head on, the Naderites got on their high horse about how their critics were insufficiently progressive.

      Naderites were always about getting publicity for themselves more than about building a political movement. If they were focused on something other than their own selfish activism, they would have focused on local elections, rather than a vain national race that they were never going to win. Even when people begged the Naderites to stop pushing their campaign in closely contested states like Florida, they didn’t back off.

      The manner in which the Naderites conducted themselves in 2000 should give all American progressives pause about any campaign on the far-left.

      • puppies
        puppies
        April 14, 2014, 12:47 pm

        @hophme – I wouldn’t expect anything else from a Lieberman voter.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 14, 2014, 3:22 pm

        Hostage blames the Supreme Court for the Bush presidency.

        No I blamed the antiquated electoral system that can reward a candidate, like Bush, with the Presidency, despite the fact that he lost popular election by a half million votes and the fact that the Supreme Court intervened to reverse some, but not all of the lower court decisions in a way that favored Bush.

  2. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 13, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Play within the system. I suggest you listen to George Carlin on this folly.

    • puppies
      puppies
      April 13, 2014, 12:21 pm

      @Citizen – This is a beautiful classic but it doesn’t really apply. “Liberal” Zionists are an even more poisonous beast than the Likudniks and must be stamped to the ground. Let them have their system.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      April 13, 2014, 2:37 pm

      The problem with Carlin is that he is euro-centric(the correct term is “Western centric” but it sounds worse).

      Here is the World Bank’s development economist about globalization.
      I understand Carlin wasn’t heavy on math when he lived, and probably not some of his fans either, but it pays to pay attention:

      http://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/the-real-winners-and-losers-of-globalization

      Basically, the world has gotten a lot better. For much of the Western world, there have been increases but modest increases. (You often hear about stagnating wages in the US and that is true, but if you look at how much people spend on food, for example, it is way less than in the 60s and 70s. Technology has also become much more powerful, and cheaper. You don’t even need a dedicated camera these days for family vacations etc).

      Wars in the world have become far fewer. There are more democracies than ever before.

      Even if you limit yourself to America, racism has declined(but we don’t live in a post-racial society by any stretch of the imagination just yet), women have joined the work force in much larger numbers, graduate from college at higher levels.
      In addition, pollution has come way down. Crime is down by over 70% from the 70s, and so on.

      People like to rant about the mythical decline of life quality, but in fact on almost any given metric it has gotten better. But it can, of course, get a lot better. The main issue is taxation, we are seeing a much larger share of the rich getting their income from capital rather than from work.

      But these things are fixable, and they will. Nothing will last forever, especially as Democrats are in the process of wiping out the GOP demographically. After that, we’ll go after the cronies in our own party, as we’ll be able to take the hit in the polls without worrying too much.

      By and large, things have gotten a lot better in the world. And even in the Western world, there have been increases in real income per capita, even if it has been more modest, costs have also fallen way more, in addition to that other stuff nobody bothers with, like, uh, crime, pollution, gender equality, racism etc.

      Carlin was a biased depressive. That’s why he killed himself. He made a mistake.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        April 13, 2014, 7:29 pm

        @ Krauss
        Odd, you don’t mention the ever-growing income gap. Why not?

      • Inanna
        Inanna
        April 14, 2014, 12:03 am

        I think you are missing the point that Carlin makes. Even you acknowledge stagnating real wages for the vast majority of Americans. Combine that with oligarchical media ownership, attacks on unionisation and the real decline in the minimum wage over time, as well as the perversion that campaign finance does to the political process and the massively militarised response to protests like the Occupy movements and the protection of the bankers who defrauded million of people in this country (and it’s the homeowners who are being punished) then it looks like Carlin has got a lot of it right. Certainly enough to be depressed about.

        Greater access to technology with stagnating real incomes means you go into debt and then into financial distress if you income cannot cover that debt, particularly when you pay a greater share of your income in rent or mortgage payments and your 401K has tanked. That’s not a better life and neither is living with the type of unemployment that the GFC has wrought in the US and Europe or the bursting of the Japanese bubble in the 1990s. You’ve got a lost generation of youth in Greece, Spain and Italy who have to leave in order to work or unable to find work so they live at home and are unable to marry or have children since they have no income. I’m not sure that I would classify any of this as ‘better’.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        April 14, 2014, 1:10 am

        Thank you. And if food is really cheaper now than it was before (which I have my doubts about), it’s because it’s crap. The inflation in the price of decent food has been very noticeable.

        women have joined the work force in much larger numbers, graduate from college at higher levels.

        Yes, and it isn’t it convenient for management that two middle class salaries can’t buy the lifestyle that was typically available on one in the past.

        Krauss you sound like you’re doing rather well. Take a look around at the rest of us.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        April 14, 2014, 1:12 am

        And wait until the full fruits of Obamacare kick in.

        You obviously love drinking that pollyana koolaid.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        April 14, 2014, 7:02 am

        Greater access to technology with stagnating real incomes means you go into debt and then into financial distress if you income cannot cover that debt,

        Strictly, Inanna, there is no causal relation between greater access to technology and increasing debts. As Krauss suggested the access to technology has become a lot cheaper in the last decades. But obviously the housing boom was produced on the shoulders of people that were tricked into contracts partly. There are limits to increase in that sector, obviously.

        But there was a highly interesting link to a video documentary here on MW somewhere, about prof* who travels around and lectures people about issues like unions and their rights, he is quite small, drives a mini-cooper and apparently was a member of the first Clinton administration, but left after. He met Clinton on the way to a Fulbright exchange program in England. I wish I had stored the link.

        *Segal, Siegel, no i don’t think that was his name. I wish I had saved the link. But apparently I didn’t. Anyone around who remembers?

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        April 14, 2014, 1:22 am

        Krauss

        Pollution has been exported to China along with US manufacturing capacity.
        Carbon emissions in the 70s were far lower.
        Climate change is underway
        Inequality is back to Gatsby levels

        Who’s going to fund the next Dem campaign? Prolly some very nice tech plutocrat . What does he get in return ?

        http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/03/tony-benn-1925-2014-ten-his-greatest-quotes

        “If one meets a powerful person – Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler – one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.”

      • puppies
        puppies
        April 14, 2014, 1:53 am

        @Krauss – Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes. You know, you really have the starry-eyed Candide bug (except for the sleepless watch against Antisemitism, of course.) We are going through a major, worldwide upward wealth redistribution and a worldwide fascism wave that does not look like it will be more tolerable than the pre-war one, war of aggression is now the naked rule with a smirking, rogue single superpower, but everything is going better, given that your warmonger, Zionist, Demolican mass-murderer aisle of the dictatorship party will soon be on the upswing to say boo to its rival. Oh yeah. Per capita indeed –which you still don’t get as to how it works for common folk. But then, how about your living surrounded by so many millions of Antisemites and Holocaust(TM) deniers? Problem there, my friend.
        There was a priceless Carlin skit about this kind of “liberal” prigs. Not sure it is recorded and on YouTube, though.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        April 14, 2014, 8:27 am

        Bingo Marco

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        April 14, 2014, 9:15 am

        Very interesting developments happened among the top quartile: the top 1%, and somewhat less so the top 5%, gained significantly, while the next 20% in the global income distribution either gained very little or faced almost stagnant real incomes.

        This created polarization among the richest quartile of the world’s population, allowing the top 1% to pull ahead of the other rich and to reaffirm both in fact and in public perception its preponderant role as winners of globalization. The fact that more than 1/4 of absolute income gains went to the top 1%, and more than ½ to the top 5%, probably further reinforced that perception.

        Who are the people in the global top 1%, those with 2008 after-tax per capita income above $PPP 42,000? There we find the richest 12% of Americans — more than 30 million people — and between 3% and 6% of the richest British, Japanese, German and French. As well as 9% of the richest Singaporeans and Swiss.

        It is a “club” still overwhelmingly composed of the “old rich” world of Western Europe, North America and Japan. The richest 1% of the embattled Euro countries of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece are all part of the global top 1 percentile. However, the richest 1% of Brazilians, Russians and South Africans belong there, too.

        Good luck on changing the US tax code, which is a huge tome of special privileges and redistribution of income.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen
      April 14, 2014, 8:26 am

      I post this one of Carlin getting down to the nitty gritty all of the time. “they don’t give a fuck about you”

  3. Marco
    Marco
    April 13, 2014, 12:02 pm

    If the “backbone” of pro-Israeli policy in the U.S. was evangelicalism, we wouldn’t expect the pro-Israel lobbies to be so dominant in the UK, Australia, France, Canada, etc. In Britain the Conservative Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Israel operate very well without the support of an evangelical base.

    Christian Zionists magnify the power of the U.S. Israel Lobby and increase its potency and virulence in the Republican Party. But they don’t explain Democratic support for Israel and thus don’t explain the unique power of the lobby, which is above partisan politics.

  4. annie
    annie
    April 13, 2014, 12:10 pm

    I blame the Naderites for the Iraq War as much as I blame Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.

    it’s funny how one bit of information reveals so much about someones logic.

    i’d be curious to find out who is on the membership committee. according to haaretz, “refer the membership application of J Street for consideration by the full membership of the Conference at the Conference’s General Meeting…..will require a quorum of 75% members and two-thirds of the votes to pass.”

    iow, it doesn’t become more democratic, it becomes less. so who is on the membership committee and how did they get on that committee, because they sound like the supremes.

    • Donald
      Donald
      April 13, 2014, 12:26 pm

      Yeah, that Naderites as bad as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz comment is morally insane. But that’s the insider mentality. I can sympathize with part of the logic, but when he goes that far it shows there’s something missing in his moral framework. There’s a case for saying we should vote for the lesser of two evils in Presidential elections, but if Dan wants to blame the Naderites for the Iraq War, then he should accept responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died under the Iraqi sanctions, which both Democrats and Republicans supported.

    • MRW
      MRW
      April 13, 2014, 3:25 pm

      Naderites? Brother Flesher can’t read inside that tent? No light? Here’s part of a conservative Utah 2008 op-ed ‘splainin’ what Daniel must have known before the war started when he presumably could have done something about it because the diddling for it was done in his tent:

      According to a report by the Inter Press Service, a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Philip D. Zelikow, said the Iraq war had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, the main reason cited to go to war. IPS said Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sept. 10, 2002:

      “Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 – it’s the threat against Israel.

      “And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell,” said Zelikow.

      Zelikow was right. I was one of those people who bought the WMD hook, line and sinker along with Congress, which authorized action based on erroneous British intelligence reports of nuclear bomb capacities that threatened the U.S. I even thought control of oil reserves could have been motivation to go to battle. (In part, that’s true.) But if you want to know the real reason behind the Iraqi war, it was the pro-Israel, neo-conservative influence of the Bush administration that lobbied for invasion of its primary regional enemy.

      Former Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., acknowledged that sentiment in May 2004 when he said the U.S. invaded Iraq “to secure Israel” in several published accounts.

      The op-ed was about Orrin Hatch stopping by The Spectrum news office in Cedar City, UT and admitting that the Iraq War was for Israel. Nader had nothing to do with it.

  5. puppies
    puppies
    April 13, 2014, 12:17 pm

    That Fleshler clown forgot to provide any proof the Demolicans would be any different than Bush. Or, in fact, that they would not be substantially worse.
    The same goes for Phil’s preoccupation, better said obsession, with the “Liberal” Zionists. Any proof they are any different from the common-or-garden variety? I say they are more dangerous and to fight against like the pest. They are more intelligent than the usual “hardline” Zionists and they are working like crazy toward plans for extending their life on earth and the Palestinian’s travails past doom date. Better work to destroy them; they are Zionists.

  6. Donald
    Donald
    April 13, 2014, 12:27 pm

    “Their conclusion was that a Conference of Presidents of Minor American Jewish Organizations might make its members feel better, but would have less impact.”

    So only minor American Jewish organizations oppose the occupation?

    • puppies
      puppies
      April 14, 2014, 2:06 am

      @Donald- I must have missed something. Who exactly of those minors “opposes the occupation”? All I have ever read and heard from them advocates bagsying definitely the pre- 1967 occupation first without letting the Palestinians come home or have a sovereign and secure state, which of course means continuing the sacred march of the bulldozers before the ink is dry.

  7. April 13, 2014, 12:33 pm

    What a crock. Al Gore lost the presidency because he ran a God-awful campaign and picked the worst vp candidate imaginable. I’d go so far as to say ANYONE other than Lieberman and he would have won.

    Fleshler’s comment reveals the fraudulence of the American political system. How many political parties are there in Germany? Seven? Any of those seven telling any of the other six to get out of the race??

    What a joke.

  8. edwin
    edwin
    April 13, 2014, 12:37 pm

    I blame the Naderites for the Iraq War as much as I blame Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. They did MUCH more harm than good by fleeing from the tent.

    How dare they attempt to present their own positions on the US! The role of US citizens is not to be seen, nor heard. Dan Fleshler does not seem to understand what democracy is, and doesn’t seem too supportive of the basic concept. He could have talked about a system that was anti-democratic, creating the position that someone attempting to support their democratic rights actually ended up supporting exactly the opposite of what they believed.

    Instead we have “liberal” zionism as an anti-democratic institution – where change is carefully managed and controlled and deviation is the absolute evil — as bad as “Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz”. It is not the system that he rails against, but those who seek the right to be heard.

    Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s quote (Voltaire’s biographer) “I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” is probably not going to pass his lips any time soon.

    Like those he breaks bread with he is profoundly anti-democrat, and liberal is a sorry adjective to use in connection with his views. The problem is not that he believes in working from within, but rather the extreme conformity and profound anti-democratic stance that he demands of others.

  9. American
    American
    April 13, 2014, 1:57 pm

    ” The “Presidents Conference” (that’s what we call it in my world) is recognized by America’s political establishment as one of the key addresses of the organized American Jewish community.”

    And J-Street must be part of it to ‘move the middle’?
    That is so funny…like joining a tribe of cannibals to convert them to vegetarians.

    For the long term health of the Jews they should be tearing down these Jewish/Israeli ‘governments within other governments’.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    April 13, 2014, 2:38 pm

    RE: “To reach the ‘moveable middle’ in Jewish life, you must be inside the tent”

    MY COMMENT: Dan Fleshler & Ken Bob make a persuasive argument that from a pragmatic standpoint the gain in their effectiveness by virtue of being in “the tent” outweighs any detriment.
    Not everyone needs to don a bright red windbreaker, get up on their high hobby horse, and strike the pose of a rebel without a cause. Not that there is anything wrong with that as long as you keep yourself and your “Little Bastard” in one piece.

  11. seafoid
    seafoid
    April 13, 2014, 3:07 pm

    “You remind me of progressive friends who urged me to help Ralph Nader in 2000, and not to support Al Gore. What did they accomplish by deserting the Democrats instead of working to change the party from within? Well, they helped to usher George W Bush and the neocon zealots into the White House.”

    The problem is that Zionism is 95% Cheney.
    Working from within with 95% Cheney is pointless.
    It’s like expecting Murmelstein in 1944 to save Jews.

  12. philweiss
    philweiss
    April 13, 2014, 3:24 pm

    Dan Fleshler gave me this response to commenters. He’s trying to register, but has an old i.d., etc. (By the way, I voted for Nader; and I think Joe Lieberman would have gotten us into Iraq).
    From Dan:

    “Well, for what it’s worth, I agree that my comment on the Naderites, neocons and the Iraq war was overblown. Mea culpa. I certainly did not mean to imply there was any MORAL equivalence between Nader’s people, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. As Donald correctly pointed out, that would be “morally insane.” So let me try again: Rumsfeld and his minions were evil and misguided. I think, in the case of the 2000 election, the Naderites were just misguided.The lesser of two evils, Al Gore, would not have gotten us into Iraq. The lesser of two evils would have won if not for Nader. So I don’t see why the Naderites should be absolved of responsibility for the Iraq horror (and the deregulation of Wall Street, and the decimation of the economy, and the splintering of the social safety net) although my assertion that they bear as much responsibility as the neocons was, indeed, wrong.

    Of course the Supreme Court had something to do with Bush’s victory as well. But here is the money quote from Eric Zuesse’s HuffPo piece (I provided the link to it above), which y’all are ignoring:

    “Nader-voters who spurned Democrat Al Gore to vote for Nader ended up swinging both “Florida and New Hampshire to Bush in 2000. Charlie Cook, the editor of the Cook Political Report and political analyst for National Journal, called “Florida and New Hampshire” simply “the two states that Mr. Nader handed to the Bush-Cheney ticket,” when Cook was writing about “The Next Nader Effect,” in The New York Times on 9 March 2004. Cook said, “Mr. Nader, running as the Green Party nominee, cost Al Gore two states, Florida and New Hampshire, either of which would have given the vice president [Gore] a victory in 2000.”

    • Donald
      Donald
      April 13, 2014, 3:55 pm

      To Dan–Okay, that’s better. I don’t entirely agree, but your second argument isn’t crazy.

      To Phil–I suspect you’re right. The Gore who didn’t win was free to speak his mind. A Gore in office would have been under tremendous pressure, in part from his own Veep, to go into Iraq. That’s assuming 9/11 still happened, though that’s also something it’s a little hard to talk about without an alternate timeline handy for inspection.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        April 13, 2014, 9:48 pm

        @Donald —

        The policy since the Clinton administration was regime change. It is reasonable to believe there was a high chance that Gore goes for regime change. But… Gore was anti-fossil fuel. Getting USA / England companies into Iraq for development of their oil fields wouldn’t have been a priority. So the occupation may not have happened. The Ba’ath government is overthrown but the war could have been over in weeks. Essentially the Biden plan of allowing a civil war and Iraq to split into 3 countries could have happened.

      • tree
        tree
        April 13, 2014, 11:04 pm

        It seems to me that there is still something quite self-delusional about Fleshler’s responses. Here he is justifying his organization’s continued association with an umbrella organization whose then chairman, Mort Zuckerman, was a significant voice urging war against Iraq, and one of whose other member organization, JINSA, led by Perle, Feith, and Wolfowitz, was considered the major “brains” (I use the term loosely) behind the war, even by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. While at the same time he’s blaming Nader voters for the war when, outside of JINSA and PNAC, war with Iraq wasn’t on any American voter’s radar.
        Maybe if APN and other Jewish organizations had walked away from the war-mongering of COPMJO’s chairman and other member organizations, it might have prevented the war regardless of who was elected. Who knows, but it is no less likely than Fleshler’s insistence that Gore, or Leiberman after him, wouldn’t have gone to war.

        http://www.wrmea.org/wrmea-archives/243-washington-report-archives-2000-2005/november-2002/4354-agitation-for-iraq-war-again-raises-question-who-really-speaks-for-american-jews.html

        http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/whose-war/

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/14/AR2007091402171.html

        http://mondoweiss.net/2008/10/and-much-of-mccains-braintrust-has-ties-to-jinsa-so-this-is-a-pro-jinsa-anti-jinsa-election-remember-when-cool-waspy-hubs.html

        And another question for thought: Was it necessary, prudent or moral for anyone to join the White Citizens Council in order to “reach the ‘moveable middle'” among southern whites?

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        April 13, 2014, 11:23 pm

        It’s interesting to question the alternatives. I tend to think a Democratic president is better for freedom and peace than a Republican one, but perhaps they have the same interest groups working on both and thus one can only in good conscience support a third party. Casualties in Afghanistan are up since Bush’s presidency. Mccain would have been bad in Syria, but the antiwar movement would have been bigger. The antiwar movement has suppressed itself to some extent because Obama is the president. There is a coopting of opposition that occurs.

        If APN and Ameinu were not allowed into the conference it would make them more vocal and oppositional in reaction to their exclusion, whether they realize it or not. This is how psychology works. If you are inside the tent you are less likely to disturb it because you are part of it. when you are outside the tent it is more natural to make noise.

    • MRW
      MRW
      April 13, 2014, 8:13 pm

      So I don’t see why the Naderites should be absolved of responsibility for the Iraq horror (and the deregulation of Wall Street, and the decimation of the economy, and the splintering of the social safety net)

      Why stop there, Dan. Include the Indians. ;-)
      —————————-

      FYI, it was CLINTON and his ignorance about how the federal economy works (he applied state economics to the federal level without having a g.d. clue what the consequences would be) that decimated the economy. It was a little delayed by the dotcom and housing bubbles, but Bubba did it.

      Here’s a leetle picture to help you see it. See that red triangle above the zero line in the 1999-2000 timeframe? That was Clinton’s surplus, and that is what caused the financial crisis, along with killing Glass-Steagall in Oct 1999, making it against the law to regulate derivatives (Dec 15, 2000 262-page budget amendment), and having the idiot Jack Lew–the guy currently destroying this economy–create the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Go back and look at the chart. Can you see what it produced? Bloomberg crowed at the time that the last time we saw a surplus like that was in 1927-1930, yahoo. It’s a teeter-totter, Dan. If the government is in surplus, the private sector is going to be in deficit. Every. Fucking. Time. There is no reason for the US government to ever be in surplus or have a balanced budget when it issues its own currency and it is the world’s reserve currency (which means we will have a trade deficit because global countries obtain our currency by selling us stuff). We’ve had seven surpluses or balanced budgets in 225 years, and each one was followed by a depression.

      The real crooks from that time were Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin who went to Clinton two weeks before his first inauguration and told Clinton–a veteran of state economic politics where you do have to balance the budget–and lied through their teeth to the incoming president. They told Clinton that he was inheriting a huge government deficit, and if he borrowed any more money to pay for his promises, interest rates would rise, people would stop borrowing and spending, and there would be an economic disaster. It’s at minute 12:20 in Part 2 of The Trap by Adam Curtis.*

      Maybe Rubin believed the tripe, but Greenspan was the head of the Federal Reserve and knew better, or if he didn’t, he should never have been the head of the Fed. Two weeks later and Greenspan would have been guilty of lying to a sitting president. Of course, he told the truth here in 2011 when he was trying to regain his reputation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_N0Cwg5iN4

      ————————————
      * BBC made youtube take down the video. Copyright issues. The Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam Curtis that explains the origins of our contemporary, narrow idea of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom. This model was derived from ideas and techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War to control the behavior of the Soviet enemy.

      Episodes included: 1. Fuck You Buddy, 2. The Lonely Robot, and 3. We Will Force You To Be Free.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      April 13, 2014, 11:32 pm

      Phil,
      That’s an interesting comment you made about the war. Liberman did in fact become conservative, even running against the democratic party in connecticut, as you may know. In other words, he was politically conservative in more ways than people realized.

      You also have the fact that the same guys who wanted the Iraq war would have wanted it in 2000. In fact the “clean break” document to go to war openly says it is a plan for 2000, and it was written when a democrat was in power and Gore was vice president. It was written without regard of which party came to power. So if Liberman supported the Iraq war, and Iraq had nothing to do with the events of 2001, then why would he as a conservative vice president not choose to go to war with Iraq when given the chance?

      I do think it would be strange for Gore, a democrat, to be demanding entrance into the Iraq war. But guess what, we are talking about an alternative timeline, and how do we know 911 would not have happened, which jolted people into militarism? And didn’t Kerry also support the war in Iraq despite being a Vietnam protestor? We are talking about a strange correlation of facts. So it is hard to say for sure what would have happened, but there would have been serious pressures brought to bear.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      April 14, 2014, 10:30 am

      “By the way, I voted for Nader; and I think Joe Lieberman would have gotten us into Iraq”

      Based on what? You’re wildly speculating. There was no louder mainstream voice against the Iraq War than Gore.

  13. joer
    joer
    April 13, 2014, 3:27 pm

    I would be interested in asking these people if they can point to any specific successes with their strategy of creating change by going along with the flow. I don’t see anything coming out of the Israeli side that would indicate they are under some kind of moderate influence.

    I suspect the reason a small number of slightly moderate groups are included in the conference is similar to the reason that a small number of Arabs are allowed to vote in Israel-to give the whole thing the appearance of inclusion and democracy.

  14. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 13, 2014, 7:50 pm

    Why Gore didn’t become POTUS:
    http://www.perkel.com/politics/gore/index.htm

  15. ritzl
    ritzl
    April 13, 2014, 8:48 pm

    It’s interesting to see these guys evoke as their principle rationale for staying within the “tent” the need/opportunity to make endless, brown PR mush by being a tiny minority within a decidedly righty org, rather than departing and creating contrast by letting that org cascade toward its natural state and simultaneously posing a clear, actionable (from their PoV; i.e. a more adamant version of the CW) alternative from outside.

    Joiners. And/or a sign of the times, generally.

    In any event, the two state track is over. These guys’ version of the conversation has concluded. What’s the point of discussing whether they’re involved in shaping that concluded version or not? Whether one is feckless or irrelevant might be an interesting whiskey-aided philosophical discussion, but in the grand scheme of shaping events on this issue it doesn’t matter all that much.

    Provide actionable alternatives, if that is the object. But it’s really hard to see how that happens from “inside” at this point.

  16. seafoid
    seafoid
    April 14, 2014, 7:11 am

    “I blame the Naderites for the Iraq War as much as I blame Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz”

    This is nonsense.
    The US economy tanked in 2000 with the bursting of the dotcom bubble.
    War was chosen as the only acceptable form of deficit spending acceptable to the plutocracy to get the economy moving again.
    (Today the only acceptable way forward is QE.)
    They spent something like $5tn fighting terrsm. For what ?
    That was a system issue. Nothing to do with Nader voters.

  17. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 14, 2014, 9:23 am

    Well, know let’s deal with the recent SCOTUS cases justifying major bribery as the American political campaign finance system. Plutocracy/Oliarchy? Well, let’s just admit it’s not Democracy.

  18. Keith
    Keith
    April 14, 2014, 12:18 pm

    PHIL- “…I asked why liberal Zionist groups Americans for Peace Now and Ameinu remain in the Conference alongside so many rightwing organizations.”

    I would have hoped that it would be at least somewhat obvious that, differences aside, Americans for Peace Now and Ameinu share the Presidents core operative value, namely, Jewish solidarity in pursuit of Jewish organized power-seeking.

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