You are browsing the archive for Chuck Hagel.

Is Bill Maher Coming Around on the Israel Lobby’s Influence?

5:19 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I’m not a fan of Bill Maher.  His movie Religulous, left out how the nuttiness of some practitioners of one major religion, influence the politics of Israel, for instance.  His reputation for being a mild misogynist is pretty firmly established.  He’s somewhat of an Obamabot.

Back in 2010, he confronted Oliver Stone, when the latter was defending Palestinian rights under Israeli occupation:

Maher’s argument in the above case was effectively countered by Stone, who brings up AIPAC. Rachel Maddow sat on her thumbs throughout the whole exchange on Israel-Palestine. Maher’s problem in the exchange, like that of so many, is to obfuscate when it comes to individual Palestinian rights per se.

Yesterday on his show, Maher, defending Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, seemed upset about undue influence by people and organizations supporting Israel over U.S. policy making. The GOP being the case:

The two segments show possible signs of evolution by Maher in respect to the conventional narrative about that pesky little country.

What do you think?

Did SNL Blow It By Not Running the Hagel Hearing Skit?

5:05 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

During Saturday Evening’s Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal, the cast tried this sketch, which parodies the obsequiousness shown by U.S. Senators toward Israel last week, during the confirmation hearing for former Senator Chuck Hagel, to head the Department of Defense:

The sketch didn’t run, but the show soon put it up on the web at HULU, where it was picked up by Huffington Post and Mondoweiss by early Sunday morning.

In comments and articles on the sketch, many are saying that the sketch wasn’t run because it wasn’t funny.  I didn’t watch SNL this week, but my wife did, and she says it would have been one of the funniest sketches this week, which isn’t saying much these days.  I think the audience may have at times been uncomfortable watching the sketch unfold before them.

Surprisingly, the funniest headline on it, even beating out Wonkette, was the Times of Israel, which put this in the headline:

Andrew Sullivan featuring the clip this morning in a piece titled  A Cultural Breakthrough, wrote:

After being banished from earnest Washington discussion for decades by various press gate-keepers, the absurdly overblown power of the Greater Israel lobby is now seeping into the popular culture. SNL captures the lunacy.

This does appear to be the case.  As Philip Weiss noted today:

Even friends of mine who don’t know the issue are fulminating about the Hagel hearing. And remember that those gatekeepers and lobby pooh-poohers included the Atlantic Magazine, David Remnick, Leon Wieseltier, Leslie Gelb, Walter Russell Mead, Jeffrey Goldberg, among other eminent journalists.

Weiss and others have noted within the past week, that the failure of Alan Dershowitz and his ilk to stop the Brooklyn College Global BDS talk last Thursday;  the Academy Award-nominated films Five Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers getting major interviews, articles and reviews in media that too often in the past ignored important Palestinian and pro-Palestinian art; and attention being drawn to how much more interested Senators on the Armed Forces Committee are in Israel than the welfare of our soldiers and veterans, together mean more than a cultural breakthrough is at play here.

2013 is shaping up to be the year during which people will no longer have to carefully and guardedly talk about Israeli apartheid, but will finally be listened to, when they openly draw attention to Israeli Apartheid.

Watching the Breitbart-inspired campaign against Hagel’s “Hamas PAC” unfold, the SNL scriptwriters might consider keeping their pencils handy.

Thoughts on Careless or Irresponsible Use of the Term “Anti-Semite” – Updated

11:33 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Michael Walzer, political philosopher

Three recent events have brought an onslaught of hurling the term “anti-Semite” toward a number of people who certainly do not warrant such an epithet:

1)  The October 5th, 2012 letter by fifteen leading Christian clerics to the U.S. Senate, requesting the latter body investigate the legality of U.S. military aid to Israel.

2)  Objections from an array of people in U.S. public life to the mid-November 2012 bombardment of the Gaza concentration camp by Israeli forces.

3) The possible nomination by president Obama of former GOP U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.

The last of these three instances has evoked an almost shocking level of vitriol directed toward a public figure who has been what most regard as a voice of sanity in the midst of crazed rhetoric toward Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or the Palestinian people themselves, by uber Zionists.  Perhaps the best known example of this malevolence was in an article by Daniel Halper in the Weekly Standard on December 13th (emphases added):

In response to reports that Barack Obama is likely to choose Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense, a top Republican Senate aide emails, “Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite.

When asked to elaborate, the aide writes, “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.”

I wrote about this at Firedoglake on December 15th, in a somewhat humorous piece, but the anonymous quote cited by Halper is just one of many hits against Hagel that went beyond careless or irresponsible, and into libel territory.  The list of his detractors is long, and getting longer by the hour.  Yet the list of his supporters seems to be lengthening even more rapidly.

Beyond my concern for the sliming of Hagel by use of the anti-Semite libel is a tangential concern that came to my attention from an exchange in the on-line journal Dissent Magazine, between University of California sociologist James B. Rule and Princeton University political philosopher Michael Walzer.  The Dissent article is behind a paywall, but the blog Mondoweiss carried a synopsis of it on December 17th that revealed claims of anti-Semitism by Walzer toward the July 6th vote at the Presbyterian General Assembly, to boycott products from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  Walzer’s protest shows careless and irresponsible accusations toward an entire Christian denomination, which, in my mind, is an egregious fault for such a noted academic and scholar (emphasis added):

Now, I have been reading recently about the effort, narrowly defeated, to get American Presbyterians to divest from companies doing business in Israel. The debate about divestment was fierce…. I couldn’t find a single item describing Presbyterian engagement with any other contemporary state or society. I Googled “Presbyterians and China,” looking for some protest against the settlement of Han Chinese in Tibet, a project on a far larger scale and much more effective than anything the Israeli Right has been able to do on the West Bank. I could not find a single item. Not a word. Jim Rule probably doesn’t find this “jarring.” But I do; I was uncomfortable reading the Presbyterian debates, while I am, most of the time, at ease in a synagogue.

Philip Weiss, who published the Mondoweiss synopsis editorialized on Walzer’s statement:

So he is saying that the Presbyterians went after Israel because they don’t like Jews, and that scares him.

The utter carelessness of Walzer’s claim was easily revealed by commenters at the post.  Here is part of a comment by Hostage: Read the rest of this entry →

Is Obama REALLY Going to Nominate Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary?

2:22 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Chuck Hagel

According to reports beginning on Thursday, Obama is considering nominating former GOP Nebraska Senator, Chuck Hagel, for Secretary of Defense:

After a high-stakes game of musical chairs on Thursday, the stage could be set for Chuck Hagel to take over the Pentagon.

A Hagel move into the Obama administration was first signaled by a White House leak that he’d been fully vetted and reached the top of President Barack Obama’s short-list to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Hagel is serving as co-chairman of The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, and is chairman of the neo-liberal Atlantic Council, among other duties and activities. I perceive him as too realistic about policy toward Iran and Israel to make it through the nomination process, should the so-called “Israel Lobby” stand against him.

The first sign that this non-existent lobby might be concerned about a Hagel nomination surfaced Thursday evening, at the White House Hanukkah Party:

On Thursday night, hundreds of American Jewish leaders visited the White House to celebrate Hanukkah, but many also came with a less celebratory agenda: They were there to deliver a warning to President Barack Obama about the potential nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel.

The buzz around the former Republican senator from Nebraska — seen as a top contender to lead the Department of Defense — has Israel supporters worried. Hagel has been a frequent target for Jewish Democratic and Republican groups for more than a decade, even as he is close to Obama, having been a supporter in 2008 and an appointee to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

“He was one of these worst senators in his party in memory when it comes to Israel,” said one Jewish Democratic operative. “It’s a terrible idea.”

By Friday, friends of the imaginary “Israel Lobby” were openly characterizing Hagel in the most unflattering terms.  Some had the courage to attach their names to their statements.  This one did not, probably because it was so over-the-top (emphases added):

Some Jews and supporters of Israel voiced major concerns about the possible nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to lead the Defense Department, taking to Twitter and the blogosphere this week to slam the Nebraska Republican.

“Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite,” a senior Republican Senate aide told The Weekly Standard. The aide continued, “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.”

Whether or not the totally-fucking-made-up “Israel Lobby” is the “us” the anonymous threatener means is up to you.

Helping fan the flames Friday was Stephen Walt, co-author of a book the above staffer no doubt places in the fiction category, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.  Walt praised Hagel as a possible choice:

So the Beltway world is a-twitter (literally) with the rumor that President Obama will nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) to be the next secretary of defense. This is a smart move that will gladden the hearts of sensible centrists, because Hagel is a principled, intelligent and patriotic American who believes that U.S. foreign and defense policy should serve the national interest.

The reaction to the endorsement of “the worst kind of anti-Semite” by the author of the 21st century version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was met by heavy, but totally unorganized resistance by spontaneous objection from supporters of the Greatest Democracy in the Middle East.  Here’s Front Page‘s Daniel Greenfield (emphasis added):

[T]here are behind the scenes issues and screwing a constituency does not make for good feelings.

The last time this happened was over Chas Freeman Jr, currently doing interviews with Russian propaganda channels about the evils of Israel. Hagel isn’t as terrible a candidate as Freeman, who took money from China and Saudi Arabia, and suggested that China didn’t go far enough in Tienanmen Square, but he’s bad enough.

And when your loudest endorsement for Defense Secretary comes from Stephen Walt, it’s not exactly a good sign for your prospects.

And here’s from the Republican Jewish Coalition’s twitter feed:

Chuck Hagel gets a vote of confidence from the author of the infamous “Israel Lobby” bookhttp://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/12/13/top_five_reasons_obama_should_pick_chuck_hagel_for_secdef … cc: @SenatorCardin

Although some anti-Semitic Israel haters have claimed in the past that the RJC is part of the hysterically imagined “Israel Lobby,” a check of their series of tweets on Hagel clearly show this is not the case:

Obama’s Top Jewish Democrat Opposes selection of anti-Israel Chuck Hagel. Calls Hagel “concerning” to Jews http://goo.gl/PJkZN 

 Retweeted by RJC National

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RJC #News release: Hagel Nomination Would Be “Slap in the Face” for Pro- #Israel Americans http://www.rjchq.org/2012/12/rjc-appointment-of-hagel-would-be-a-slap-in-the-face-for-pro-israel-americans/ … #jcot #tcot

ICYMI: Likely Sec of Defense Chuck Hagel is paid to advice a bank under investigation for violating Iran sanctions http://goo.gl/tuqaY 

 Retweeted by RJC National

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A handy checklist for the rumored Chuck Hagel appointment.:http://moelane.com/?p=68434 

 Retweeted by RJC National

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How would Secretary Hagel deal with Iran? He shares some thoughts here: http://www.acus.org/event/iran-issue-brief-launch/transcript … (Hint: “the Brazilian-Turkish point”)

That’s just a sampling from their feed, which is spontaneously continuing to run one tweet after another about this possible nomination.  The blog Mondoweiss, is keeping up with pro- and anti-Hagel developments, which will probably deepen over the weekend.  From The War Over Hagel is On:

The war over Chuck Hagel’s possible appointment to be Secretary of Defense has begun in earnest, but right now at the fringe: leading the attack are neoconservatives at the Weekly Standard and the Republican Jewish Coalition who surely hope to nip this idea in the bud lest a Republican who has been openly critical of Israel gets a top policy job.

Following an earlier anonymous threat he published from an alleged congressional staffer to paint Hagel as an “anti-Semite,” neoconservative godfather Bill Kristol has published “a fact sheet circulating widely on Capitol Hill” (who knows what that means?) that seeks to portray Chuck Hagel as an Israel-hater who would appease Iran. Some of the fact sheet’s assertions will please those who seek a balanced American policy in the Middle East.

The article’s comments cite more links to many articles and blog posts and tweets that are coming in against Hagel from people who have nothing to do with the purported “Israel Lobby.”

So, the question begs asking, “Will Obama actually nominate this guy?”

I seriously doubt it.  My wife, mom and I (we’re visiting my 94-year-old mom in Seattle for the Holidays) discussed this over coffee this morning.  They feel that Obama may be about to break from his habit of throwing somebody out there – Elizabeth Warren or Susan Rice, for instance – as bait, only to walk away from them, and nominate somebody else for the open position.

I’m not so sure.  I think Hagel is merely more chum, thrown off the stern of the FV Obama.

Totally spontaneously.

(semi-snark tag duly attached)

Photo by Nestlé under Creative Commons license.