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Can't be too careful

Governor Chris Christie, otherwise known as Governor Bridgegate, personally misspoke (he can't blame Bridget Kelly) at a Republican gathering in Las Vegas, otherwise referred to as the Sheldon Adelson Republican primary. The major potential Republican 2016 candidates were auditioning their ideas to some of the richest men in America, along with the richest, Adelson himself.

Christie referred to the "Occupied Territories," let it be said, in way wholly sympathetic to Israel. But the phrase is forbidden in Adelson land, and Christie quickly apologized for the slip-up--unlike some of the other slip-ups he's made. The territories, i.e., the West Bank, are not occupied because they belong to Israel from time immemorial, or so Adelson insists. Politico

The potential anti-Semitic fall-out from the whole meeting has been thoroughly discussed by J.J. Goldberg at The Jewish Daily Forward under the headline: A GOP Plan to Save the Jews: Buy White House.

Where is George Orwell when we need him?

Juan Cole offers five signs that the West Bank might be said to be occupied:

1. The UN General Assembly partition plan for British Mandate Palestine in 1947, which was extremely generous to the Jewish settlement community of the time, did not award them Gaza or the West Bank, where there were at that time virtually no Jews!

2. Israel militarily conquered Gaza and the West Bank only in 1967. Typically you refer to territories not belonging to a country, which it holds during wartime, as “Occupied Territories”

3. Israel is in violation of over 30 United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding what the UNSC explicitly calls the Occupied Territories....

4. Hebron has 180,000 Palestinians and some 500 fanatic Jewish settler families whose presence is illegal by the 4th Geneva Convention, and for the sake of the latter the Palestinians are regimented by the Israeli army.

5. There are 4.4 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. They are stateless. Those in Gaza are besieged by the Israeli military and forbidden to export most of what they produce, and also prevented from importing many needed goods, and denied both a sea harbor and an airport by the Israeli military. Those in the West Bank are under Israeli military rule, denied basic human rights and self-determination, and routinely have their land and resources stolen by illegal Israeli settlers. The Geneva Convention of 1949 forbids occupying powers from flooding their own citizens into militarily occupied territories conquered in war.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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What election did Adelson ever win? When did American voters trust him with their vote -- as opposed to American gamblers trusting him with their dollars? How do his sometimes apparently weird political principals line up with Republican principals? And shouldn't he have to prove his credentials before candidates line up to fawn, tug their forelocks and plead for his favor?

Or is it all about money?

The amusing part is the relegation of former "smartest guy in the room," Newt Gingrich, to a nobody by Adelson and Politico.


Principles, not principals. Sheesh, what time did I wake up.

The role of Adelson et al would seem to stem from the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United. Did these reportedly very bright and well-educated justices not imagine that the country would return to a system of elections being bought and sold?

@ MOS:  Sad reality is that a majority of the "very bright and well-educated justices" are indeed the bought and sold agents of corporate interests.  

Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy, and Thomas - all Catholics - are little more than paid shills for all those "corporate persons" over there at the US Chamber of Commerce.

The only Catholic on SCOTUS who seems to have an independent mind is Sotomayor.  I'm enough of a conspiratorialist to believe that all the corporate money that is swishing around in this 2014 mid-terms elections is intended to primarily to block President Obama from naming any more SC justices - federal judges for that matter.

Our corporate persons are determined to hold onto their oligarchy.  And, they intend to spend $billions to secure that aim.

The best way for progressives to dodge this bullet directed at their hearts is for the potential candidacies of Jeb Bush and Christie to implode leaving the field to wackos - any one of which Hilary should be able to crush.  Look for Dr. Aqua Buddha Rand Paul to float to the top of the scum pond.

JJ: For Lent I am working to beat back by well-developed cynicism, BUT let me ask: Do you think Mrs. Clinton is not subject to the same forces, albeit, in different industries?

Margaret is correct

Everybody has an agenda, everybody has vested interests, and all of us our accountable to some degree to our paymasters. In this instance though, the paymasters are the people and this is why elections should be publicly funded and if private funds are used, there needs to be complete and total full disclosure of who is giving to whom. I would prefer there be no private interest money (corporate or union) but it is imposssible to regulate that so might as well just have full disclosure.

The problem is the poor and marginalized have no voice and no access to the levers of power but it has always been thus....

But Christie will not get the nod no matter how much money Adelson pours into his coffers. If he really is a gambling man, he must see that Christie is a bad bet. The Republicans are dominated by the tea party and he is simply not conservative. Being rude and bullying teachers does not count. Theatrics. If it looks like a phoney, talks like a phoney, smells like a phoney, it's a phoney!

Let's consider that Christie is out for all of the reasons, George D, enumerates. Bush III is nobody's favorite not even his mother's. That leaves Rand Paul. Depending on how the international scene boils and bubbles, he may have a chance at the Republican nomination without the Adelson & Co. money.

Who else?

Just returned from a family wedding. My family are Repbulicans and this came up (I do not offer opinion as one I like harmony, and two not my issue). But according to them, they see the only option being governor. Names touted were:


Bobby Jindal

Scott Walker

Daniels (Indiana ?)

and some other governor I had not heard of


If he [Adelson] really is a gambling man, he must see that Christie is a bad bet.

He backed Gingrich the last time. Newt Gingrich! Anyway, Adelson is not a gambling man. He's a casino operator, which is about as far from gambling as you can get.

The Republicans are dominated by the tea party and [Christie] is simply not conservative.

George enunciates here a common perception here regarding the influence and importance of the Tea Party, and Margaret seems to at least accept it for the sake of discussion.  To present an alternative point of view, I'd like to call attention to this article from a few weeks ago by Henry Olson in the National Interest.  It is entitled, "The Four Faces of the Republican Party", and provides one way to understand the makeup of the GOP, as evidenced by surveys and voting patterns.  It has stirred a lot of interest and discussion among conservatives.  

Among his claims is that the Tea Party actually is the smallest group within today's GOP, and moderate conservatives, who value winning over ideological purity tests, comprise the largest bloc.  I believe we saw this play out in the 2012 presidential nominating process, as the candidacies of the alleged Tea Party favorites crashed and burned pretty quickly during primary season, while the party, after fits and starts, rallied around the guy who was perceived to have the best chance to win.

Whether Christie will weather this political-payback storm and continue to be politically viable on the national level, I don't know.  I don't think, though, that Rand Paul is the clear and obvious alternative, and in fact, Olsen's analysis suggests that he probably wouldn't be.  At this point, I think we just don't know who the Republican nominee will be.  It could be another sitting or former governor.  Jeb Bush probably does fit the profile according to Olsen's analytic framework, perhaps better than any of the other names tossed around.  But it could be someone else.


The Politico story suggests that Christie did pretty well overall.  My own point of view is that if Christie believes that the phrase "Occupied Territories" is accurate, he should own it and defy Adelson.  That stance would fit better with the plain-speaking, champion-of-the-people persona that I believe he wishes to project to the country.  

Foreign affairs will be an advantage (one of several strong advantages, certainly not excluding funds from billionaires) that Mrs. Clinton presumably will have going into the fall of 2016.  


George D, the governor you forget is probably John Kasich of Indiana, one of the two  on the list with relevant Washington experience. He actually chaired the House Budget Committee when recently non-personed Gingrich was speaker. Mitch Daniels of Indiana is the other. He has run the Office of Management and Budget.

" 'Relevant Washington experience,' you say? 'We don't need no relevant Washington experience.' "

True. We have been voting against relevant Washington experience a lot. Our compulsions and fetishes have given us Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. Is anybody but me ready to try something different? Something like relevant Washinton experience?

I feel  little sorry for Bush III, the Jebster. Every bone in his body wants to be a Floridian, but if he sticks his toe in, the molders of conventional wisdom will turn him into the second coming of Mitt Romney -- rich, pushy easterner.


MOS:  Are you asking me if Hilary is truly a politician?  The answer of course is yes.

We'll have to see if Hilary these days is channeling her Republican-lite husband or if she is back to channeling Eleanor Roosevelt.  That's what I hope the primaries will tell us.  Let's see if Hilary is going to play it safe or really take charge - we should get a better idea once this year's election campaign gets into high gear.  Hilary, if she's smart, will go on the hustings for the Democrats. 

If I have any sense of the mood of the people, we want, we need a Jeanne d"Arc.  Here in California, Democrats have proven that a re-cycled politician can be very successful in assemblying a super-majority ruling coalition.  Of course, our Governor Moonbeam Jerry Brown can also still throw a pretty good political punch when he has to.  

We'll see about Hilary - her ascension is by no means an absolute surety no matter what the Washington chattering class likes to make it out to be.

In either case, if Hilary Clinton is elected president there is a likelihood that there will be a female majority on SCOTUS by the end of her term that could last a generation.  Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas can't live forever.  Sonia Sotomayor would make a great Chief Justice!

Sifting through the names of potential presidential candidates can be entertaining, but it threatens to keep us all distracted from the fact that our political institutions are so badly corrupted by money, on the one hand, and the widespread narcicism that teaches us to ignore facts and instead to indulge our fantasies.

Our mainstream press has become a mirror that allows us to believe whatever image of ourselves we decide to project. The social media encourage irresponsible gossip, fraud, and slander.

Manipulating voting is just one of the manifestations that in our prevailing political discourse and practice we so often behave as though we and our fellow citizens are in a zero-sum a Hobbesian "state of war" in which the principal "virtues" are force and fraud, i. e. threats and deceit. It's the poor's fault that they are needy, the unemployed's  fault that they have no money, the ill's fault that they are in bad health.

The political candidates that surface in this sort of environment are not the causes of our political disfunction. Rather, they are symptoms of our prevailing "ethos " of popularly encouraged mindless selfishness.

That said, we Christians cannot simply throw up our hands. We are "our brohters' keeper," all of them, however distasteful they may strike us. We live in this society and derive many benefits from doing so. It is our task to look for ways to re-shape our politics that emphasize our responsibilities to and for our fellow citizens, rather than to focus so heavily on our own wants. Unless our politics undergoes such a transformation, it won't matter much who gets elected president. Our real major political problems (climate change, imigration, health care, education, predatory capitalism, etc,) won't get dealt with responsibly.

JJ: Having been a Bill Clinton fan, only moderately put out about his policies (and behaviors) in office, I would have voted for him afterward if he'd run for mayor of New York, where he'd be right at home.

Hillary, not so much. I won't describe my worst opinions of her but I will say, contrary to the apparent view of many at dotCommonweal, she was a only a modest presence as Secretary of State. Good sport for taking the job after the election, and after Biden got the VP's job. I liked her for being generous-spirited.

As for her performance in office? Shrug of shoulder. She favored people like Susan Rice and Samantha Power, who I have come to see as not very competent, and therefore dangerous people on the global beat. Hillary did a lot of visiting and schmoozing with world leaders, a bit like the president of the PTA. She is a knee-jerk liberal from the sixties and seventies in a period when a lot of liberal shibbeloths need re-examination. She like her husband will turn out to be a neo-liberal on the economic front; its day has passed too. She liked poking Putin in the eye, which has turned out not to be a harbinger of good policy making. Unless Obama resets U.S. policy toward Israel, she will revert to the "whatever you want, whatever you say" policy that has gotten us, and more critically, the Israelis into the box they are now closing in on themselves.

I would say at this point, the best thing going for her is: Who else is there?

Everybody has an agenda, everybody has vested interests.

Yes, indeed:


Supreme Court Justices

Catholic hierarchy


Scott Walker for Tea Party (oops, Republican) candidate for POTUS?  I can just see him and his captive Senate and House managing “uniformity” for voting rules throughout the US of T.    I really can’t wait.

One governor's name not mentioned yet is John Huntsman of Idaho.  He's a diplomat, a conservative willing to work with Democrats to find solutions to the energy, ecological, economic and health problems.  All that should make him tolerable to middle of the road Republicans and even conservative Democrats (yes, there are some).  I suspect he didn't get much Republican support last time round was because he is too much like the middle of the road Democrats.  His disadvantage is that he didn't get very far i the last election.

Bobby Jindal is a nice enough, hard-working fellow, but he is much, much too fiscally conservative to solve our problems.  He's not too bad on ecology, knows something but not enough, about energy problems, including -- after the BP disaster -- knowing that oil companies can't really be trusted.  But he cuts programs for the poor mercilessly.  

I wonder what's going on in the Jindal front.  I know a business conservative here who recently hosted a dinner where Hunstman was the main speaker -- and Jindal introduced Huntsman.  Hmm.  I actually respect the host as someone who is not automatically against all things liberal.  I'm wondering what's up there?



Re: Jeb Bush:

For what it’s worth,

Jeb bush’s wife, Columba Garnica Gallo, is a devout Catholic and member of Regnum Christi, the apostolic movement which shares the charism of the Legionaries of Christ. Jeb Bush is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus, but the Knights would probably vote for a Republican anyway.

MOS:  I share some of your skepticism for HRC.  The best thing I can say for Bill C. is that the economy was great when he was president.

If Hilary again surrounds herself with the same crowd of people who blindly led her into the Obama political buzzsaw [and on first glance, this seems to be the case], then who is to say that she can't be tripped-up again.  She's a really smart women, but politically she is not in her husband's league by any means.

If you can tune-out the Washington chattering class who just talk to themselves and repeat ad nauseum what their corporate masters have told them to say, you'd know that there are several degrees of political freedom on Hilary's left flank. 

The Democrats are in better shape for the up-coming mid-term election than you'd think listening to the talking heads on TV.  Joe Biden had it right a couple months ago when he said the "election fundamentals are solidly in the Democrats', progressives' favor."

The Republican base - white, mostly Southern, chiefly male, with flavor hints of racism and segregation - is shrinking with each successive election cycle.  They are on an evolutionary death march.  Hence, the Republicans have worked themselves into a lather try to put obstacles in the way of darker and poorer people voting.  

We've seen this fool's errand before.  Don't you hear the voices gone with the wind:  Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land ...

Watch and see this coming election campaign how Elizabeth Warren, Amy Kobuchar, Brian Schweitzer, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley perform and IF they up their game on the hustings helping other Democrats to get elected, picking-up IOUs to be cashed in when primary time arrives in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada.  Any one of these guys - and there are others - could conceivably derail Hilary's enthronement, especially if she takes the "entitled" road to the nomination.

That's why I believe that Hilary, if she really wants the nomination, needs to hit the campaign trail really hard this summer and fall - really just to preempt any insurgencies on her political flanks.  With he husband plotting political strategy for her, I'm still convinced that Hilary will crush any of the very flawed Republican pretenders to the throne.  Hilary's real test will be winning the Democratic nomination.

Obama has shown the way through the political desert to the promised land for all Democrats really:  Try to ride the blue wave that is demographically surfing through the American electorate -  that is, get progressive voters to the polls.

Si, se puede!

Jim Jenkins --

Those politicians you list as potential Hillary de-railers are unknowns across the country except for maybe Elizabeth Warren.  When was the last time a political novice was elected President?  I can't think of one ever.

By the way, Nate offers some thoughts about the upcoming Congressional elections.  It's still much too early for firm opinions, but the Republicans might gain, he says.  Or not.




[email protected]:38 pm: Does that mean Jeb Bush is Catholic?


One snark - is Regnum Christi Catholic?

If Jeb is a Knight of Columbus, he is a Catholic.

Margaret, I was glad to read that you are a cynic. That certainly seems true with regard to Christie. He's certainly a generator of controversy, but he's going down because the media and the Dems have coined another gate thing. Time will tell.

Christie is also a bully, a liar, a manipulator, and perhaps self-deluded. His decision early on to refuse federal funds to build another tunnel under the Hudson River between NY and NJ looked like a penny- wise-pound-foolish decision made for ideological purposes and not for the benefit of people who live in NJ. (They are always leaving NYC!) I could see it on his presidential campaign ads. "Saved billions. Didn't build a tunnel."

I grant that he may have been the best of a bad lot of Republican candidates. But like you, I think we'll never know. And not just because the NYTimes, the Jersey Journal, and Jim Dwyer are on his case. Dwyer finished him off in a column last week.   Christie finished himself off.

Rand Paul???? his continuous  smirk  with a hundred consecutive  takes in one video will bury his candidancy if not in the primaries at least in the general.  

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