Margaret O'Brien Steinfels

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

By this author

Hillary speaks....

As long-time readers/commenters at dotCommonwela know I am no Hillary-fan, but I did admire her snap-back at a group of "Black Lives Matter" groupies with whom she met having somehow kept them from disrupting a public appearance somewhere in Campaign Land. What I liked in this "private" but videoed meeting was her listening very carefully to them, and then giving them as good as they gave her. NYTIMES STORY

With friends (and allies) like this UPDATE 4

UPDATE 4: Ben & Jerry have come out in favor of the agreement. Will there be a new ice cream flavor: P5+!.....five parts peanut butter to one part vanilla? Or?

UPDATE 3 (8/19): Chemi Shalev, Haaretz columnist and keen observer of the U.S. has this astute and sad observation: "Fractured American Jewish Community Is First Victim of Iran Nuclear Deal." With details of the acrimony in the U.S. Jewish community.

Diplomacy is hard; war is easy UPDATES

The continuing, and sometimes vicious, arguments surrounding the fight in Washington about the Iran nuclear agreement seem to ignore an important and self-evident fact. Since 1990 U.S. policy has shown that it is all too easy to go to war. Whereas getting a diplomatic settlement for a wide range of issues has been virtually impossible.

Now we have a diplomatic agreement, how can any reasonable Congress man or woman pass up the chance to see if it will work? As recent history should teach them, we can always go to war.

Here is what the Iran deal—and Obama—are up against

It is no secret—since they announced it—that AIPAC is spending several millions of dollars to defeat the Iran agreement. Obama has called them on it—rightly so. AIPAC should be registered as a lobbyist for a foreign government, which would curtail their spending and their lobbying of Congress.

Obama made reference to this spending in his American University speech and to inaccurate statements being made about the agreement. Now AIPAC and other opponents are hitting back themselves--and with the assistance of the NYTimes, "Fears of Lasting Rifts..."

[T]he tone of the current dispute is raising concerns among some of Mr. Obama’s allies who say it is a new low in relations between Aipac and the White House. They say they are worried that, in working to counter Aipac’s tactics and discredit its claims about the nuclear accord with Iran, the president has gone overboard in criticizing the group and like-minded opponents of the deal.

Except for administration officials defending the president, the story quotes officials of AIPAC and other organizations supporting Israel and opposing the agreement. You can bet there are many people in Washington the Times could have turned to for this story with, shall we say, a more nuanced view.

The NYTimes is not of one mind on the Iran deal. From the editorial page editor's blog, Taking Note.

Fun Chart: 2014 lobbying U.S by AIPAC: $3.06 M; 2014 lobbying U.S. by Israel $2.47 M.

MORE: Andrew Bacevich at the LATimes has these observations (nothing on gay marriage!):

A breath of fresh air and a dose of reality

President Obama spoke at American University on August 5. In defense of the Iran nuclear agreement he said many things, worth thinking about. Among them a recognition that U.S. and Israeli national interests (at least as seen by PM Netanyahu) are not congruent:

Constitutional in Idaho

Lynn Winmill, a federal judge [in Idaho] has ruled that Idaho’s law banning secret filming of animal abuse at agricultural facilities is unconstitutional.

Audio and visual evidence is a uniquely persuasive means of conveying a message, and it can vindicate an undercover investigator or whistle-blower who is otherwise disbelieved or ignored.

And that Iranian money?

What will the Iranians do with all of that money when sanctions are lifted. Some opponents of the nuclear agreement have argued that they will buy conventional weapons and carry on with their terrorism, etc.

What's the problem? (Cont.)

(Continuation): A California Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring further releases of videos surreptiously made by David Daleiden and the guerrilla film maker, Center for Medical Progress. This ABCnews story seems to imply that the company StemExpress is featured in those videos. (StemExpress was featured in the science section of the NYTimes story previously posted).

What's the problem? II

Don't want to prolong this discussion, but the Science section of the NYTimes (July 28) tells us some more about fetal research, fetal tissues, and fetal parts pricing. I'm guessing Mr. Daleiden's video prompted the story.

Talk about wasting your money!

AIPAC, Sheldon Adelson, and some other members of the U.S. Jewish establishment have announced their intention to spend millions (maybe billions!) to defeat the Iran nuclear deal.