Posts Tagged ‘House of Representatives’

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinnon Talks to PressTV about AIPAC

September 29, 2018

Cynthia McKinnon is another Black female politico that the Israel lobby has tried to silence. She was an American congresswoman, whose career was targeted and destroyed by AIPAC, the very well-funded and powerful pro-Israel lobby group in the US, because she refused to sign the pledge they foist on American politicians. This pledge is an agreement that they’ll support Israel in return for funding from AIPAC. She was also targeted because she tried to reach out to the Muslim community in the US.

In this video, she talks to Press TV’s Marzieh Hashemi. McKinnon states that she went to Congress simply to concentrate on the Black community, who were in need, and America’s policy towards Africa, which she describes as abhorrent. She wasn’t interested in any other areas. But she bumped into special interests at every turn, and none of them have more influence than the pro-Israel lobby. She states that she bumped into the Israel lobby when she tried to reach out to the Muslims, because what they really didn’t want was a politicised Muslim community, which is as large and as wealthy as the pro-Israel lobby. She said that the political assaults on her were so bad that he father had to ask publicly ‘What does Stone Mountain, Georgia, have to do with Israel?’ She says with justifiable passion that she was prevented from serving her community because she did not toe the line on America’s policy towards Israel.

She describes how every candidate for Congress was given a pledge to sign, including herself. The pledge had Jerusalem as the capital city and the military superiority of Israel. She said that this was almost like water-torture for her. She would receive a phone call from someone saying that they wanted to organize a fund-raiser for her, she’d get excited about it, and then two or three weeks into the planning they’d ask her if she signed the pledge. And when she admitted she hadn’t, the fundraiser would go ‘kaput!’

She also says that the pledge also commits you to voting to support the economic assistance the country wants. Hashemi makes the obvious point that this means that American politicians, who are supposed to be representing their country, are pledging allegiance to a foreign state. McKinnon agrees, and says that she made it public, which nobody had probably done before. And then came the excuses that this was just overzealous advocates for Israel.

After she did this, the tactics changed. But this is what is done for the 535 members of Congress, 100 senators, 435 representatives, now have to write a paragraph, more or less amounting to the same thing. You are also expected to attend forums at the synagogues. If you don’t perform, you don’t get the money to run your campaign. It doesn’t matter if this is women’s organization or an environmental organization. She says that you can read about this on the internet, and directs the viewers to Thomas.loc.gov, the official US website, and put in the name ‘Gus Savage’, because Savage was a Black member of Congress, who was targeted by the Israel lobby. He had the foresight to put his experience on the Congressional record. Savage wrote that it was the Garden Club of New Jersey that gave his opponent $5,000. But it wasn’t really the Garden Club of New Jersey, but the activists associated with AIPAC.

McKinnon then moves on to talking about how she represented many different districts over her career, as her opponents used re-districting to try to eliminate her from Congress. Her original district comprised rural Blacks in what she describes as the Black belt of Georgia. These are people, who have never had access to equal opportunity at all. She said that when she went into that district, she found such poverty that she didn’t know existed in her own country. There were people in that district, in 1992, who didn’t have running water in their homes. She says that in the four years she was in Congress, she was able to bring Blacks into areas of power, which they never thought they could possess. And then the district was dismantled. It was challenged in the Supreme Court with the assistance of the Anti-Defamation League.

Hashemi notes that she lost the last election, thanks to the Zionist lobby, and asks her what her plans are. McKinnon states that she has a target on her forehead for taking the political positions she did, for supporting human rights and the Palestinians. This means that the Israel lobby will use whatever means to stop her occupying a position of authority. She states that fortunately for her, there is a very large peace community that is interested in change, that would like to have a tested, experienced voice in Congress so that at least they could have their voices heard, even if they can’t get the policy changed. The problem for her is that it will require an awful lot of money. She doesn’t have to match the others, because she is able to amass and organize people power. But even with that you need a lot of money to cover the basis of a political campaign – this is a minimum of $500,000 and could do great things with a million.

This video has much to say about the rotten state of contemporary American politics, quite apart from the pernicious influence of AIPAC. It’s disgusting enough that this clearly capable and efficient woman was prevented from serving her constituency and the Black American community because she dared to defy the Israel lobby and support American Muslims and the Palestinians.

I am also not surprised by what she says about the grinding poverty she found in rural America. One of the alternative American news shows, I can’t remember whether it was the David Pakman Show or Sam Seder’s Majority Report a little while ago tore into Trump’s speech, where the Orange Buffoon said that if he wasn’t successful, America would become a ‘Third World country’. They said that there were areas of America that already had that level of poverty, and not even of the most developed and prosperous countries within the Developing World.

And these area’s aren’t always Black. One of the poorest, if not the poorest, is a southern country where the population is 98 per cent White. But these folks vote Republican, partly because the Repugs tell them that the Blacks are dependent on welfare and state intervention in the economy. And this needs to be stopped, in order to turn Black Americans into sturdy, self-reliant citizens. The result is that the aid that could also give these people work and jobs is also cut, throwing them on welfare as well.

As for redistricting, I’m not surprised to hear about this either. Both Democrats and Republicans have gone in for voter suppression, and the Tories in this country are following the Americans in introducing legislation to stop the poor, students and ethnic minorities from voting under the pretext of stopping voter fraud. And the Tories over here are also talking about redrawing constituency boundaries, just like they redrew them under Thatcher to stop Labour getting a bigger percentage of the vote.

The Israel lobby has to be opposed and fought. But there’s also a strong argument for getting corporate money out of politics, so politicians return to serving their constituents rather than donors. And also for uniting Black and White – seeing that the Republicans and Conservatives in America and Britain are using racial prejudice to divide working people and keeping them down.

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Gabriel Rockhill on the Myth of American Democracy

March 2, 2018

A few months ago, the Franco-American philosopher Gabriel Rockhill published a very interesting piece in Counterpunch arguing that, contrary to how the country sees itself, America isn’t and has never been a democracy. He notes that the British imperialists, who founded the Thirteen Colonies, weren’t interested in spreading rights or democracy, and that the Founding Fathers were also anti-democratic. They were like most of the other Enlightenment thinkers in that they were keen to defend to property from the mass of the propertyless, whom they associated with misrule and the mob. He points out that at the time the suffrage only extended to men of property, and excluded the poor, women, First Nations and slaves. The notion that the country was a democracy first appeared with Andrew Jackson, who styled himself as a democrat purely as an electoral pose without doing anything to extend the franchise. He writes

Second, when the elite colonial ruling class decided to sever ties from their homeland and establish an independent state for themselves, they did not found it as a democracy. On the contrary, they were fervently and explicitly opposed to democracy, like the vast majority of European Enlightenment thinkers. They understood it to be a dangerous and chaotic form of uneducated mob rule. For the so-called “founding fathers,” the masses were not only incapable of ruling, but they were considered a threat to the hierarchical social structures purportedly necessary for good governance. In the words of John Adams, to take but one telling example, if the majority were given real power, they would redistribute wealth and dissolve the “subordination” so necessary for politics. When the eminent members of the landowning class met in 1787 to draw up a constitution, they regularly insisted in their debates on the need to establish a republic that kept at bay vile democracy, which was judged worse than “the filth of the common sewers” by the pro-Federalist editor William Cobbett. The new constitution provided for popular elections only in the House of Representatives, but in most states the right to vote was based on being a property owner, and women, the indigenous and slaves—meaning the overwhelming majority of the population—were simply excluded from the franchise. Senators were elected by state legislators, the President by electors chosen by the state legislators, and the Supreme Court was appointed by the President. It is in this context that Patrick Henry flatly proclaimed the most lucid of judgments: “it is not a democracy.” George Mason further clarified the situation by describing the newly independent country as “a despotic aristocracy.”

When the American republic slowly came to be relabeled as a “democracy,” there were no significant institutional modifications to justify the change in name. In other words, and this is the third point, the use of the term “democracy” to refer to an oligarchic republic simply meant that a different word was being used to describe the same basic phenomenon. This began around the time of “Indian killer” Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign in the 1830s. Presenting himself as a ‘democrat,’ he put forth an image of himself as an average man of the people who was going to put a halt to the long reign of patricians from Virginia and Massachusetts. Slowly but surely, the term “democracy” came to be used as a public relations term to re-brand a plutocratic oligarchy as an electoral regime that serves the interest of the people or demos. Meanwhile, the American holocaust continued unabated, along with chattel slavery, colonial expansion and top-down class warfare.

He then goes to argue that America today is also not a democracy. It has elections, but in fact the American people aren’t governing themselves, but merely choosing which members of a plutocratic ruling class they want to govern them. And his last point is that the anti-democratic nature of American politics is shown very clearly in how often America has interfered in the elections of foreign nations – either through manipulation, or by invasion – when those countries haven’t elected the leaders America wants.

The article’s well worth reading, and is at https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/13/the-u-s-is-not-a-democracy-it-never-was/

Douglas Adams made a similar point in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On one of the fictional worlds described by the Guide, there are two races. The planet’s society is stratified, so that one of the races is the ruling class, and the other their subordinates. But it is a democracy. Ever so often, elections are held, in which the subordinate race goes off to vote for whichever members of the dominant race they want in power. But the position of the dominant race and their right to rule is never questioned.

I don’t know whether this is one of the other Hitchhiker books, or if it was just in the radio series. But it’s a good satirical description of the way western class politics works. It’s probably more true now than it was in Adams’ time, as the Blairites and the Tories come from the same middle class, and promote the same free market, neoliberal policies, which the rest of us are expected to support uncritically. It’s time to break this class monopoly on power.

The Death Toll from Italian Colonialism: Why Johnson’s Comments about Libyan Corpses Is Not Funny

October 7, 2017

Mike yesterday and today has put up two pieces, reporting and commenting on condemnations of Boris Johnson’s remarks about British investors turning Sirte in Libya into ‘the next’ Dubai, as soon as they’ve cleared the bodies away’. Mike reported yesterday that a member of the Libyan House of Representatives, Saleh Suhbi, criticized the remark, saying

“It is cruel and unacceptable that the head of British diplomacy speaks and behaves in such a manner.

“Is this is a reflection of the British Government’s current views on Libya? Because this is not the UK that I know.”

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/06/pm-reporters-litany-of-idiocy-shows-why-boris-johnson-shouldnt-be-in-politics-let-alone-the-cabinet/

Today Mike’s reported that the Libyan House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has demanded a clarification from the government and an apology for Johnson’s remarks, stating that they are a violation of the sovereignty of the Libyan people.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/07/theresa-mays-failure-to-sack-boris-johnson-is-risking-an-international-incident/

Mike makes the point in the title and text of his article that by her refusal to sack Johnson, May is risking an international incident.

Clearly she is. And Mike’s article also has another great Tweet about Johnson’s crass remark from Owen Jones, and Johnson’s audience having a good guffaw at his ‘joke’. Or rather cavalier disregard for mass death.

The Libyans, whose country is still torn apart by civil war six years after Gaddafy was overthrown, don’t think Johnson’s comments about a battle with Islamists in which hundreds of police officers and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire died. I dare say that Johnson probably thinks this is another case of ‘foreign johnnies’ or whatever other disrespectful term he has for citizens of another country being touchy or oversensitive.

They aren’t. And if we had their history, we’d be exactly the same.

From the late 19th century until the 1950s, Libya was ruled by Italy, including the period of Fascist rule from 1921-1942 or so. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the exact dates. During this period, the country lost 1/3 of its people in resisting the Italians. The Italians, especially under Fascism, used the full arsenal of modern warfare on them, including poison gas. They also sterilized some of those they considered particularly dangerous, though Roman Catholic morality prevented them from carrying out this policy to the same extent as the Nazis in Germany.

I was also told at school by a former member of my old school, who had gone to work over there in the oil industry, that while Gaddafy was a brutal dictator, he had given his country independence and prosperity. The oil companies could extract the oil, but they had to pay for it. Thus the country had schools and proper roads, which it had lacked previously, when the country had been exploited by the oil industry, and kept desperately poor. Other things I’ve read recently have said that in Libya, schooling and healthcare were free.

Libya and its people under Gaddafy therefore had self-respect, something like a welfare state and prosperity. They were also a major power in African politics, and while the Mad Dog of the Middle East was quite prepared to use Islamist terror groups to assassinate his African and Arab enemies, they were firmly kept out of the country itself.

Now, with the country still mired in a bloody civil war, the last thing its people need is a return of European imperialism. And the last thing its democratic politicians need is to be seen to be collaborators with another set of European imperialists, who find the deaths of their citizens nothing more than a joke.

Johnson’s comment was never funny. It was crass and insensitive. But when you find out a little about the way the country’s people were maltreated under Italian imperialism, and the colossal death toll this took, it becomes deadly serious.

Johnson isn’t a lovable oaf. He’s a right-wing thug, who cares only for the bloated prosperity of his own class, and is entirely indifferent about the sufferings of the poor and marginalized in Britain, and the feelings of the peoples of foreign nations. His comments in Myanmar show he’s so obsessed with his rosy Kiplingesque view of empire, that he’s incapable of understanding that the peoples of former colonized countries may find them insulting and offensive.

This insensitivity is actively harming British interests abroad. They may have very serious consequences as this country tries to build business and trading relationships after Brexit. May has to sack him. Now.

Secular Talk: Pressure Your Congressman and Sign Petition to Support Medicare For All

April 3, 2017

This was put up on the 27th March on the Secular Talk YouTube channel, so I don’t know if this is still going through Congress. In this clip, Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski reports that not all Democrats in Congress are complete sell-outs, and some have responded the proper way to the failure of TrumpCare: they’re now pressing for Medicare for All. John Conyers has proposed it in the House of Representatives, and the awesome Bernie Sanders is proposing it in Senate. 72 Democrats have backed it, but this is less than the total 192 Democrats in the House.

The bill also has the backing of National Nurses United, Brand New Congress, and the Justice Democrats group of progressive Democrats.

Kulinski recommends that his viewers should get on to their congressman, if he’s a Democrat, and urge him to vote for this bill. He also urges them to make it clear that if he does not, then they will vote against him in the next election. He gives the example of a comment from a politico that what really gets things going at Congress is when the phones start ringing.

There is also a petition up at the Justice Democrats’ website supporting the bill, which Kulinski also urges his viewers to sign.

Kulinski states that now is the time to introduce this bill, as they have the support of 55 per cent of the country. One of the leading Democrats, who does not support it is Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi wants to lead the Democrats, but believes that giving everyone proper access to medical care is a step too far. Kulinski also states that those Democrats, who don’t want to support Medicare For All, but maintain that they should just stick to supporting Obamacare are sell-outs. He makes it clear that Obamacare is a great step forward, but it is at heart a right-wing solution. It was proposed by Newt Gingrich way back in the 1990s, and various forms of it have also been backed by Richard Nixon and the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s. It’s an improvement, but still has very severe drawbacks.

Kulinski goes on to urge his viewers to point out to their Democratic representative that they can even rub the Republicans’ noses in it by citing Trump back at them. Trump said in a speech that he believed in Medicare For All. Quote: ‘If a nation can’t look after its sick people, then it’s over. I believe in Medicare For All’.

He makes it very clear that this reform is needed. There are 53 million people, who cannot afford medical insurance in America. Every other developed country has some form of free medical care. It is also bizarre and iniquitous that the country can find billions to fund the war in Syria, and give massive corporate bail-outs and subsidies to the banks and big business, but then states that Medicare For All is too expensive, and the existing Medicare budget needs to be cut.