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April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘democratic’

Senior US Sen. Charles Schumer Urges Fellow Democrats to Attend Netanyahu Speech to Congress

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

New York’s senior Senator Charles Schumer called on fellow Democrats to put principles above politics this week and be in their seats March 3 when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu walks to the podium in Congress.

The U.S. has always maintained a “bipartisan policy” on its relationship with Israel, Schumer said during a radio interview in New York.

“Democrats and Republicans have always worked together on it; we ought to keep it that way.”

Vice President Joe Biden’s office announced that he will be “out of the country” when Israel’s leader addresses American lawmakers.

Schumer offered the opinion that House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu “could have been done in a different way.”

As the leader of an ally in the Middle East that is “helping us fight terrorism,” Schumer said, Netanyahu has “every right to come here and speak, but he ought to do it in a bipartisan manner.”

Both of New York’s Democratic senators and all but two of its Democratic representatives will attend the session.

Long-time Congress member Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) is one of the ‘won’t go’s.

“I am certain his motivation comes more from Israel than from his American friends,” Rangel told the New York Daily News — as if the Israeli prime minister should put America’s interests above those of his own nation’s citizens.

“I think that they would have to realize that this is not in the best interests of Israel, that he does this for his campaign,” he added. The remark leads one to wonder why a New York Congress member would suddenly make a reference to an Israeli national election when the address – and the topic – was arranged months earlier.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) also plans to be absent for the session, according to the report. Congress member Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) did not respond to a query by the Daily News about her plans; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told the paper he is “consulting” with his constituents in Brooklyn before deciding. All other New York City Democrats plan to attend, the paper reported. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) commented that skipping the speech would be a political move. “I am not choosing to participate in those politics,” she said.

“I hope that things can be worked out to salve some of the legitimate wounds that people feel,” Schumer said. “I will go to the speech out of my respect and love for the State of Israel.”

Meanwhile, Iran continues to behave in the manner predicted by Israel, which deeply concerns its leadership over the likelihood Tehran will reach a nuclear threshold.

Iran is still not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters. The agency remains unable to clarify outstanding measures of explosives tests and other activity that could be used to create nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Data in both areas were to have been provided to the IAEA by August 2014.

But this is not new behavior; Tehran long ago mastered the technique of buying time for more nuclear development by stringing along Western leaders with promises of “new talks” and “negotiations” in return for delays on sanctions. The current P5+1 negotiations, slated to end in a “new agreement” by March 24, are just more of the same.

It is precisely the danger inherent in the repeated delays – and time granted to Iran that allows it to progress in its nuclear activities – that has finally prompted Netanyahu to turn to Congress directly.

Netanyahu Hedges Bets Over Speech to US Congress

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

It looks like Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is looking for a safety net to deal with the mounting controversy over his agreement to address the U.S. Congress on March 3.

“It appears that the Speaker of Congress made a move in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one-sided move and not a move by both sides,” HaNegbi said. However, when asked whether Netanyahu should cancel or postpone his address, HaNegbi asked, “What would be the outcome then? The outcome would be that we forsake an arena in which there is going to be a very dramatic decision (meaning Iran).”

A Netanyahu spokesman declined to comment on HaNegbi’s comments on Friday. HaNegbi is a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party.

It is clear the Likud is doing what it can to diffuse any political fallout from the controversy. The White House is working very hard to prevent him from speaking to Congress or being re-elected; Netanyahu is apparently perceived as a threat to Pres. Barack Obama, though it is not clear how or why.

Israel Ambassador Ron Dermer arranged the date with GOP House Speaker John Boehner months ago, setting the address originally for Feb. 11, but changing it to March 3, the same week as the annual AIPAC conference.

The date was set without consulting the White House or anyone from the Democratic Party leadership, skipping the usual protocol – a move which infuriated both President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders.

But what’s upset the White House even more is the topic of the address: Netanyahu has been invited to address the Congress on the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat. The speech is to be delivered less than a month from the deadline for an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear development activities being discussed with Tehran by world powers.

Obama and his supporters are deeply concerned that Netanyahu could sabotage those talks and derail that agreement, which he has worked hard to achieve.

Netanyahu, for his part, is indeed hoping he can do just that. The Israeli prime minister has underscored in every public address he has made for months the gravity of the situation with Iran, and the existential threat its nuclear development program presents to Israel. Netanyahu is determined to do everything in his power to dial back that agreement, which he insists allows the Iranians to retain the ability to create an atomic weapon of mass destruction with very little additional effort.

Negotiator Erekat: Jerusalem Will Remain Unified in Peace Deal

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

According to a Kol Israel report on Saturday, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat has told U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, on a visit to Jerusalem with a group of 36 Democratic Congress members, that by the end of the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Jerusalem will remain a unified city.

On Wednesday, Hoyer told a press conference in Jerusalem that Erekat had talked to him about “the necessity to live together with mutual respect.”

“I asked whether the [Palestinian] school curriculum would comport with that objective,” Hoyer said, saying that Erekat had indicated “that they had not done so perfectly, but he believes they are working on that and trying to get to that objective.”

Regarding the status of Jerusalem, Hoyer said Erekat had not specified what kind of sovereignty would be applied to Jerusalem, nor if it would be unified as a Jewish city.

Hoyer, and the majority of the U.S. Congress—according to the Whip—believe in significant alterations of the 1967 borders. He told Kol Israel that he believes the Palestinian right of return may only be realized within the future Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, Palestinian political analyst Abdel Majid Sweilam has told AFP: “The talks are doomed to failure. There’s no chance for success.”

And Israel’s scheduled Tuesday release of the first third of the group of 104 Palestinian terrorists imprisoned before the 1993 Oslo accords, would fail to appease the Palestinian public or convince them that the talks are serious this time, Sweilam said.

Palestinian analyst Hani Habib agreed: “The Palestinian street isn’t interested in, and doesn’t think it’s affected by, what happens in the peace process,” he told AFP. “The average Palestinian citizen has grown accustomed to years of there being no talks, and is more interested in their own wellbeing. The only elements of Palestinian society interested in the big (peace) issues are the politicians and the media.”

Hoyer Again to Lead House Democrats to Israel

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranked Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, again will lead fellow Democrats on a tour of Israel funded by AIPAC’s educational affiliate.

Two freshmen, Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), said they would be joining this week’s visit, which will include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as tours of U.S.-funded defense systems, including the short-range Iron Dome anti-missile program.

Such tours, funded by the educational affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), routinely take place during the August recess of off-election years. Hoyer, the minority whip from Maryland, has led a number of the tours. A spokeswoman for Hoyer said that 31 of them are freshmen, out of 38 in this class of Democrats.

The Democrats’ tour, which lasts about a week, usually is followed by a similar tour for Republican freshmen. In past years the GOP visit has been led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader and the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress.

NYC Mayoral Candidates Heavily Courting Orthodox Jewish Voters

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Mew York mayoral candidates are boning up on Jewish law and are learning about Jewish holidays as they attend Jewish events in the race for the large Jewish vote, especially in the Democratic primary.

There are no Jewish candidates to replace Michael Bloomberg, and the lack of a strong Republican candidate more or less puts a Democrat in Gracie Mansion next November.

Approximately 600,000 Democrats are expected to vote in the primaries, a large number of them black or Jewish. Outside of Manhattan, Jews account for more than 15 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times, and nearly one-third of them are Orthodox, whose population continues to soar.

“The seven or eight percentage points that the Orthodox Jewish vote makes up in a primary could definitely make the difference,” Councilman David Greenfield told Colin Campbell in 2012.

It is no wonder that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn attended a Tu B’Shvat “seder” earlier this year and met with Orthodox women who own or manage businesses in Williamsburg.

Polls give her a commanding lead over rivals with 37 percent of the projected vote and 40 percent of the Jewish vote, but future polls could change drastically, one way or the other, if Mayor Bloomberg endorses a candidate. He previously has said that Quinn is the only “rational” candidate but has since gone cold one her after she call for a new Police Department watchdog.

With the primaries five months away, she has plenty of time to go after the Jewish vote, but for the time being, she has not been overly noticeable at Jewish events. One point against her among Orthodox Jews may be that although she is married, she also is openly homosexual.

Her closest rivals are Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio, who are running close to each other in the polls.

Thompson is a black who is highly regarded in many Orthodox Jewish circles and may be able to garner the Jewish vote to close the gap behind Quinn.

The Times reported last month that Thompson knows better than to shake hands with an Orthodox women and may even have learned a bit of Yiddish that his father, a former legislator, often used.

He is an Episcopalian, but his father’s second wife was Jewish.

“I still remember his bar mitzvah,” joked Ben Barber, an observant Jew who owns a linen business in Borough Park told the newspaper.

Last month, Thompson was the only Democratic candidate at a press conference who denounced Brooklyn College for hosting a Boycott Israel movement event.

Thompson also was the first comptroller to make city investments in Israeli bonds.

De Blasio has 18 percent of the Jewish vote, according to New York Mayor BlogSpot, which also reported Sunday that he attended the Belz annual dinner in February, where he was introduced as “the next mayor of New York City.”

The New York Times reported last month that de Blasio has been “attuned” to issues of business fines and parking that have irritated Orthodox Jews.

Quinn last week attacked a $1 million ad blitz against Quinn, who implied that it was financed “by those closely aligned with my opponents,” but de Blasio denied any connection with the campaign, whose spokeswoman Chelsea Conner said, “Frankly, the Quinn folks made an inaccurate statement Sunday night, they knew it as well as us, and they had to walk it back Monday morning.”

All of the other Democratic party candidates have marginal support except for John Liu who garnered 9 percent in the Marist poll.

Some Jewish leaders have noted “he hasn’t missed any Jewish event in the years he’s been in office,”  BlogSpot wrote.

Nobel Peace Prize Rewards The End of Democracy

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Many of us can, I am sure, remember where we were when we realized that the resplendence of the Nobel Prize had diminished. For some this realization can be traced to the news that Yasser Arafat had become joint recipient of the Peace Prize (an award of which he was never stripped). For others it will have been the announcement earlier this month that the award had been given to the E.U.

The thinking behind this latest award appears to be the one you can hear among the political elite of Europe and which I was recently fortunate enough to hear pronounced by a British M.P. It usually goes something like this: that without the E.U. the people of Europe would have spent the last seventy years happily massacring each other as they did throughout their past.

To believe this you have to believe a number of things. First you must believe that Europe’s past was a particular aberration and peculiar to our continent. Second, your historical knowledge must be limited to some broad ideas about the twentieth century. Third, you must ignore the 1990s. Fourth, and finally, you must believe that this unique and innate viciousness of Europeans can best be solved by abandoning democracy.

You must believe, for instance, that you go to the people for their opinions as infrequently as possible, and only then to ask for more powers. You might do this by offering placebo referenda, the catch being that if people vote against awarding more powers to the elite (as they did in Ireland, France and Holland), then the people will be made to vote again until they come up with the right answer.

Such abandonment of democratic niceties has gone on at the E.U. supranational level now for years. The miracle of awarding the Nobel Prize to the E.U. in this year of all years, though, is that this is the year in which the E.U. has managed additionally to erase the democratic process at the national level.

For more than a decade, the Nobel Peace Prize has become ever-more narrowly a political prize. How otherwise to explain the obsession with rewarding U.S. Democrat party leaders? Over the last decade alone three of them have been given the prize: Jimmy Carter in 2002, Al Gore for his slide-show presentation in 2007 and Barack Obama, for doing less, in 2009.

It is clear from these, among other awards, that the Nobel judging committee sees its role as pushing the United States in a peculiar and specific European direction. This latest award must therefore count as one of the worst-timed awards in the Nobel’s history. The distinctly non-democratic Nobel committee has chosen to reward a project which began by subverting nation-state democracy but which now appears to be quietly going about the job of ending it.

Britain, for instance, signed up for membership in a “common market.” What we have got, instead, is membership in an unaccountable super-state whose decisions and opinions now override our national laws, stripping us of sovereignty and such basic rights as deciding who should be allowed to come and live in our country. The final insult is that, presumably, there is deliberately no mechanism built into the system that allows our increasingly unnecessary national political leaders to extricate us from this situation. It is a “roach motel”: in true totalitarian fashion you can enter but you cannot leave. The Soviet dissident, author Vladimir Bukovsky, refers to the unelected, unaccountable, irremovable group as the “EUSSR.”

At the time of the award, most media focused on the unhappy visual juxtapositions that accompanied it. For at the same moment that the Nobel committee were making their announcement, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel was being greeted in Greece by protestors dressed as Nazis. It was, indeed, a powerful blend of images, nicely suggesting that peace might not be all it’s cracked up to be for the new prize winners.

But this was not the real story. As always, in an image-obsessed age it is far too easy to miss those things which are quietly going on all the time without any particularly dramatic illustrations.

It is now almost exactly a year since the E.U. parachuted in an unelected leader to run Italy. Italy’s problems, like those of Greece, are by no means straightforward, but are certainly – though nobody much likes to say this – of its own making. Like Ireland, Britain and most of the rest of Europe, Italy and Greece, for years lived far beyond their means and now face the consequences. But in last year’s appointment of Mario Monti to the head of the Italian government, the E.U. began to tread a path at the end of which is not simply a challenge to democracy but the end of it. Anybody who wants to see where the E.U. leads can see it now.

The Rise of American Mediocracy

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

A nation where governments are elected by the people is most vulnerable at the interface between the politicians and the people. The interface is where the people learn what the politicians stand for and where the politicians learn what the people want. The bigger a country gets, the harder it is to pick up on that consensus by stopping by a coffee shop or an auto repair store. That’s where the Mediacracy steps in to control the consensus.

The media is no longer informative, it is conformative. It is not interested in broadcasting events unless it can also script them. It does not want to know what you think, it wants to tell you what to think. The consensus is the voice of the people and the Mediacrats are cutting its throat, dumping its body in a back alley and turning democracy into their own puppet show.

Media bias was over decades ago. The media isn’t biased anymore, it’s a player, its goal is turn its Fourth Estate into a fourth branch of government, the one that squats below the three branches and blocks their access to the people and blocks the people’s access to them. Under the Mediacracy there will still be elections, they will even be mostly free, they just won’t matter so long as its upper ranks determine the dialogue on both sides of the media wall.

The Mediacracy isn’t playing for peanuts anymore. It’s not out to skew a few stories, it’s out to take control of the country. In military empires, the military can act as a Praetorian Guard. In political empires, it’s the people who control the political conversation who also control the succession.

In 2008, the Mediacracy elevated an Illinois State Senator who had briefly showed up in the Federal Senate to the highest office in the land. They did it even though he had no skills for the job and no serious plan for fixing any of the country’s problems. They did it to show that they could. They did it because they wanted to tell a compelling story and inflict radical change on a country that would have never voted for it, if it had not been lied and guilted into making the single worst decision in its entire history.

Propaganda is a powerful weapon and seizing control of the newspapers, radio and television stations is one of the first things that tyrants do. That wasn’t supposed to be an issue in a country where anyone could open their own newspaper. But that changed with the transformation of journalism into the media. The media, plural, embraces multiple mediums, most of them expensive and requiring a license and often, government approval.

Two hundreds years ago, a few friends could open a printing press and take on the big behemoths and often did. Today the only place they can do that is on the internet. Radio and television are walled cities controlled by a small number of interlinked corporations that keep merging together. Their staffers come out of carefully controlled environments, where with the pyramid of indoctrination, political gurus pass down their wisdom to professors who program students with its doctrines, to create the Mediacracy.

FOX News, for all its faults, is under constant attack by the Mediacracy because it is independent of that same rigid coercion. Wrong or right, it represents a view that is fundamentally different from the same mind-numbing conformity to be found everywhere from the weekly news magazine in your dentist’s office to the talking heads on your cable channel to the honeyed voices of the anchors giving you the news every 5, 10 or 50 minutes over the radio while you’re driving to work.

The real crime of FOX News is not that it’s especially right-wing, it isn’t. It is far less conservative than CNN is liberal. But FOX News’ existence, its patriotic color scheme and attempts at appealing to the heartland while putting a conservative spin on issues, forces viewers to notice how conformist and identical the rest of the media landscape. And that is what makes FOX News truly dangerous. Like a goat among the sheep, it makes you realize the sameness of their generic competitors who all cheer for the same team, shop at the same stores and dream of the day when everyone thinks like them.

They are the Mediacracy and they are the Ministry of Propaganda. They are the smirking people who got tired of telling you how many people died in an earthquake in Indonesia and decided to begin explaining to you why the earthquake is your fault because you don’t ride a bike to work. These are the people who longer want to report on a shooting, but want to tell you that it’s time for a firearms ban. They no longer want to report on Washington DC, unless they can control Washington DC.

The Memorandum of Understanding for the Town Hall debate was that the moderator would relay questions from the audience, but would not ask the candidates any questions or comment on what they say. Candy Crowley made it clear before the debate that she would not abide by those rules and liberal organizations piled on, deploying a petition against the silencing of Candy Crowley. And so Candy Crowley wasn’t silenced, in true Mediacrat fashion, she silenced others.

The Mediacracy’s insistence on being the third candidate at every debate, its outrage that anyone would expect it to be silent and let the actual candidates speak, reflects its power and arrogance. Its elites are not interested in the conversation except as a means of controlling its outcome. They are not here to let other people talk, except as vehicles for making their own points.

Candy Crowley, in true Mediacrat style, was not there to facilitate a conversation, but to tell us what to think. Unlike Obama or Romney, Crowley had no legitimate reason for being there. She was not a political candidate and had not passed any of the democratic tests that Obama and Romney had to be able to sit there. Her influence had no basis of any kind in the voice of the people. Instead she was there as a representative of the powerful and unelected Mediacracy which was determined to have its say. She was there to remind the pols that even in a Two Party system, the Third Estate acts as the third candidate, never running for office but always winning by controlling the conversation.

It is not in the public interest for the Mediacracy to have its say, no matter how often the Mediacrats trot out their public good routine. Power is either vested in democratic institutions or undemocratic ones and the media corporations and their talking heads are about as undemocratic an institution as can be conceivably imagined. And when Mediacrats try to control the outcome of a popular election, their actions are an attack by an undemocratic institution on a democratic institution.

Mediacrats fill the airwaves with rantings about corporate influence on politics. The 800 pound gorilla of corporate influence on politics is the media. Candy Crowley’s employer, CNN, is owned by Time Warner, the second largest media conglomerate on the planet. Not the country, the planet. The only media conglomerate bigger than it is the one that owns ABC News. But the Mediacrats never report on their own influence, never turn the camera back into the studio while warning about the danger of corporate lobbyists. But the corporate lobbyists sitting in the CNN studio don’t just want to chat with a few politicians in a closed room, they do their best to dictate the outcome of elections.

Businesses turn to lobbyists when the times are bad. The media is losing the public, so they are turning from being mere media into Mediacracy. Media is subject to the whims of the viewing public, but Mediacracy subjects the public to its whims. And they are dreaming of a country under the enlightened rule of the Mediacrats. One nation under a thousand channels all serving the interests of a dying media state.

The media, with its expensive equipment and its licenses, is confronting an era when everything is being reduced to a single medium, print, voice and visuals falling into the internet singularity and leaving them with some expensive equipment, exclusive rights to broadcast on frequencies that no one watches anymore and the ability to print millions of papers, when they can hardly move a tenth of them. And like all imploding tyrannies, they are confronting the crisis by grasping for power. They know that they will either be a Mediacracy or they will be nothing.

The greatest challenge to the integrity of our democracy may be the coup of the media corporations. Information is the lifeblood of a free society and the consolidation of information outlets in the hands of a small and powerful elite with no ethics and no boundaries is leading us down the road to a virtual tyranny that will maintain the illusory workings of a democratic society without any of the substance.
The old institutions of elections are becoming a charade, a formal routine where the outcome is determined by the employees of a handful of major media corporations that present the public with the inevitable result. And America is falling into the hands of the Government-Media Complex.

The Mediacracy has directed all its efforts into hijacking the public dialogue, turning elections into a cheap sideshow accompanied by sneering commentary. It has insisted on being the third candidate in every election and turned its corporate shills into the pretend voice of the people. It has stomped all over the traditions of this country, its independent institutions and its freedoms with thousand dollar shoes while wrapping itself in any available flag. And it cannot be allowed to get away with it.

A free society does not only become unfree at the point of a gun. It becomes unfree when its mechanisms of freedom are jammed, when the institutions that are meant to provide power to the people are taken over by unelected forces and twisted into the apparatus of a new tyranny. When undemocratic institutions seize control of democratic institutions then democracy dies, strangled by men and women who keep on smiling while they tighten their grip.

America can be a Democracy or a Mediacracy. It cannot and will not be both. And the only way to preserve democracy is to challenge the Mediacrats and force them out of the public space that they have usurped and back into the private sphere of their financial interests where they belong.

Originally published at Sultan Knish under the title “The Rise of Mediocracy.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-rise-of-american-mediocracy/2012/10/21/

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