Yes and No—Yes. Last month J Street kicked off a national campaign promoting a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine deadlock. J Street is a non-profit advocacy group that describes itself as the “Political Home for Pro-Israel, Pro-peace Americans.” Far more progressive and eclectic than the entrenched American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC: “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby”), J Street has, since its inception in 2008, become the second-largest Israel advocacy group in the country. J Street’s TV spot kicking off its “Community of Yes” campaign opens with scenes of Middle East violence followed by a photo montage that includes Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence — a chorus of two-state-solution naysayers. The ad cuts to a frame that includes President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and General David Petraeus, portrayed as advocates of a two-state solution and peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
No. From one of the intellectuals who shaped the foreign policy of G.W. Bush, the Emergency Committee for Israel. Weekly Standard editor William Kristol was one of the neocons who sold us the Iraq war. ECI is airing its own campaign in Pennsylvania, a hit piece tying Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak to Hamas — represented in the 30-second spot by masked commandos carrying assault weapons. Sestak is a retired three-star admiral serving his second term in the House. He defeated Arlen Specter in the Democratic Senate primary and is in a tight race with Pat Toomey, the former director of the right-wing Club for Growth. ECI also attacked Sestak for refusing to sign a pro-Israel letter on the Gaza flotilla raid circulated by AIPAC.
ECI is a mixed marriage we’ve seen before. By including Christian-right leader Gary Bauer on its board, Kristol has revived the neocon gang that informed Middle East policy in the Bush administration. Kristol describes the group as the “Pro-Israel Wing of the Pro-Israel Community.”
Missing from Kristol’s ECI bio is any mention of the central role he played in promoting the Iraq war, as one of the founders of the now-disbanded Project for a New American Century. Also missing is the odd fact that the ECI’s new D.C. office was formerly occupied by the Committee to Liberate Iraq — a front group set up to promote the Bush administration’s Iraq war effort. Credit Eli Clifton on lobelog.com for following ECI beyond its postal drop box to its office at 918 Pennsylvania Ave. NE, where the Iraq sign still hangs outside the building. And look for more ECI TV spots linking legislators who don’t toe the hard line on Israel with Hamas or other terrorist groups.
Two Grim Graphs—The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein describes it as “the scariest jobs graph you’ve ever seen.” He refers to the work of Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney at the Brookings Institution. Brookings has been following the “job gap” — the number of jobs it would take to return to the level of employment from before the Great Recession. As of July, the creation of 11.3 million new jobs will get the labor forced back to pre-recession levels of employment. Looking at historical labor market data, Brookings’ economists arrive at a grim conclusion:
If future job growth continues at a rate of roughly 208,000 jobs per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year for job creation in the 2000s, it would take 136 months (more than 11 years). In a more optimistic scenario, with 321,000 jobs created per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year in the 1990s, it would take over 57 months (almost 5 years).
Playing the averages, the labor force will return to pre-recession employment levels in 2021. But averages might not work. In July the workforce grew by 83,000.
Equally sobering is Heidi Shierholz’s graph posted on the Economic Policy Institute Web site. Analyzing the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, Shierholz finds 4.7 job seekers for every available position. Before the recession began in 2007, the ratio was 1.5 to one. The previous recession, in 2001, never saw the job-seeker-to-job ratio climb to higher than 2.8 to one.
Shierholz observes that because Congress refused to renew extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, more than 2 million unemployed workers have lost their benefits between June and mid-July — a double loss that falls on those most hurt by the recession and the labor market, as unemployment benefits are proven to create jobs by injecting money in to the economy.