James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Power and the Corruption of the Mind

Pat Buchanan and Gene Healy have good commentaries on the embarrassing Chuck Hagel hearings.

The mention of "Israel" was in the hearings was, literally, beyond gross: 166 times.

Sometimes I think Congress cares more about Israel than Israelis do.

Because to Congress, Israel is an idea, an abstraction, an article of faith.  To them, Israelis are as smart and well-intentioned as the American Jews they know, and as well-versed in Western values, and America has a duty to subsidize and defend their democracy come hell or high water.

While the Israel Lobby is powerful in Washington, that's only because members of Congress want it to be. It's a matter of conviction. Nobody's going to suddenly become "pro-Israel" because of a campaign contribution.

And that's probably the problem. Too often we blame lobbyists and campaign contributions for the dysfunction in DC. But members of Congress don't usually switch positions on a dime, or for a dime. They are more heavily influenced by interest groups to whom they're already sympathetic.

And that's the real corruption of power. Members of Congress think they have a right to take my money to support things they like, such as Israel. They feel entitled to do this.

And that's corruption.

If I'm to pay taxes, I'd rather they go to a blatantly corrupt regime run by criminals. They at least have a stake in keeping the system functional. Here I'd differentiate between criminality and corruption. Criminality is a sign of psychopathy, but the criminal can act rationally in his own self-interest. Corruption of the political mind is the delusion that the world can be made right by force. The more power one has, the more delusional one can get.

When I pay taxes to ideologues and True Believers intent on making the world right, that's when I get scared. Their minds have been infected, and may sacrifice our entire way of life to impose their agenda.

Congress's obsession with Israel - particularly but not exclusively from Republicans -  is a form of this corruption. In contrast, it's clear to me that most Americans oppose all foreign aid, including aid to Israel.

When Republicans start worrying about America at least as much as they worry about Israel, they might start winning Presidential elections again.  

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