Category Archives: U.S. Politics

Tulsi Gabbard: the New Democratic ‘Savior’

The grossly misnamed Democratic Party has a brand new savior. Yes, with former Senator Hillary Clinton having been vanquished, and her ardent cheerleader, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, being ‘old news’, one Tulsi Gabbard, Representative from the state of Hawaii, has ridden in on her white stallion to save the day.

Ms. Gabbard gained the attention of the Democrats when she dared criticize President Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria, saying that without hard evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was, indeed, responsible for the alleged chemical attack that killed several Syrian citizens, there should be no retaliation. It is puzzling that Ms. Gabbard seemed to be almost alone in this assertion, since it would seem to be common sense that before punishing anyone for anything, it should be known that that person was responsible for whatever deed is being punished for. And why U.S. government officials feel the need to punish any international entity for anything is a topic for a different essay.

But this position has launched Ms. Gabbard’s new career in what passes for the progressive wing of the party, as a leader in the Democratic Party, and a potential contender for the White House.

Sadly, like many Democrats, Ms. Gabbard is ‘PEP’: Progressive except for Palestine. She has said that she believes Palestine and Israel must negotiate the terms of peace, and supports an independent, demitiliarized Palestine. A few quotations from her official website are instructive:

“I know how important our enduring alliance with Israel is. My vote upholds my commitment to maintaining and strengthening this alliance, as well as my long-held position that the most viable path to peace between Israel and Palestine can be found through both sides negotiating a two-state solution.

“Ultimately, a negotiated solution must come from Israelis and Palestinians themselves, and can only happen when both parties are committed to peace, where they alone determine the terms of the settlement.  I co-sponsored H.Res.23 which reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Israel, and a negotiated settlement leading to a sustainable two-state solution that re-affirms Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state and establishes a demilitarized democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to support bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine in order to bring an end to this enduring conflict.”

As we dissect these few sentences, we must remember that between November, 2014 and November, 2016, the illustrious Ms. Gabbard received $21,975 from pro-Israeli lobbies. This is a mere pittance when compared to the contributions of some of her colleagues, with Illinois Representative Bradley Scott Schneider being the big winner, with a windfall of $300,932 during that same time period. But that grand prize is one that Ms. Gabbard, if she plays her Zionist cards right, can obtain, or even exceed.

+ “I know how important our enduring alliance with Israel is.” Ms. Gabbard may know it, but would someone, anyone, please enlighten this writer? Why should the U.S. have any alliance with an apartheid state, one that spits in its eye and then demands, and receives, billions of dollars in aid?

+ “…the most viable path to peace between Israel and Palestine can be found through both sides negotiating a two-state solution.” Again, this writer needs to be enlightened. If I am in ‘negotiations’ with another party, and I am able to take from that party whatever I want, whenever I want, and give nothing in return, what would be the advantage to me in negotiating? Oh, I might proclaim to whatever idiotic entity is encouraging negotiations that I am willing to sit down with the other party, without preconditions (meaning I can continue taking whatever I want as we ‘negotiate’), and then actually do so, but it will have no meaning. I will never honestly negotiate, since doing so won’t be in my best interest.

+ Gabbard reaffirms “Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state.” That is a two-pronged sword, and we will try to prevent being stabbed by either one.

Like most Democrats, Ms. Gabbard does not seem to understand the root words from which the term originates. Basically, it means ‘citizen rule’, and implies equality. In a democracy, there are not separate rules for different ethnic and religious groups, as there are in Israel. Yet she is willing to spout the happy mantras that have served the party for so long, despite the fact that they have long since their luster among the populace.

She further affirms Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Again, the meaning of that term is unclear. The only reasonable definition contradicts the idea of a democracy. If Israel is to be a Jewish state, than non-Jews living there will not have the same rights, as is true today.

The concept of a ‘Jewish, democratic state’ is a contradiction in terms. For generations, the U.S. was, in effect, a ‘White European, democratic state’, meaning that all laws favored the predominately white population, and everyone else was a second-class citizen. Democracy? This writer thinks not.

+ Gabbard further wants to “establish a demilitarized democratic Palestinian state”. How is it possible for anyone to utter those words with a straight face? Set aside for a moment the fact that an independent Palestine will have a mortal enemy at its border, one that has been actively working on its destruction for decades. Leave out for just a minute the fact that that enemy has an extremely powerful military, and is backed by the strongest and most violent nation on the planet. Even without those considerations, why should any country be prevented by any other country from having the means to defend its land and citizens?

All of this indicates that Ms. Gabbard is either ignorant of international law, or cares nothing for it. International law states clearly, and this has been reiterated by numerous United Nations resolutions, that the occupation of Palestine by Israel is illegal. This, apparently, means nothing to Ms. Gabbard.

It’s also worth noting, that the celebrated Representative from Hawaii also condemns the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement.

And this is the new savior; this is the ‘new breed’ of ‘progressive’ Democrat who will carry the mantle of the war-mongering former President Barack Obama; former standard-bearer, the war-mongering Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the war-mongering Democrats.

This is what ‘progressive’ has come to mean in Democratic Party circles. The party has long been nothing but a cosmetically-different version of the Republican Party, with opposition to Republican policies only on display when the GOP is in power; the same policies, with few exceptions, are promoted when the Democrats are in power, and one constant is the bowing at the Israeli altar and the accompanying complete disdain for the human rights struggles of the Palestinian people. And with that, of course, is an equal disregard for international law.

As long as the government and the corporate-owned media are able to maintain their stranglehold on what passes for the two-party system in the U.S., nothing will change. Politicians will do the bidding of the lobbies that support them, ignoring the will of the people. Suffering in the U.S. and globally will be ignored, as long as the U.S.’s elected officials are able to keep their low-challenging, high-paying jobs.

To say that a third party movement, a real one not beholden to any outside interests but with the good of the people in mind, is long overdue, is a classic understatement.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Kerry, Netanyahu and the Settlements

Following the recent double-whammy against Israel, the first being the United Nations resolution condemning and demanding a stop to all settlement activity, and the second being United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech slamming Israeli policy, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu seems beside himself in fury.  Mr. Kerry, he lamented shortly after the secretary’s speech, “obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. He then made this incredible statement: “No one wants peace more than the people of Israel”. Well, there you are.

Has it really come to this? Has reality really disappeared from the international radar? The leader of a wealthy, prominent nation, one that receives more foreign aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined, actually spouts such nonsense, and is not be laughed off the international stage. Well, since Donald Trump is president-elect of the U.S., this writer supposes he has answered his own questions.

Mr. Netanyahu also said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to condemning what he called Palestinian terrorism, and accused the secretary of “attacking the only democracy in the Middle East”.

The speech contained other pearls of twisted wisdom, but time and space prevent a thorough study of each of them. But let’s do our own fact-checking on the few mentioned herein, and see what we might be able to learn.

  • “No one want peace more than the people of Israel”.  Let’s see now. Israelis evict Palestinians from their homes for a variety of reasons: to live in them themselves; to destroy them to make room for Israeli-only ‘communities’ (a new word being bandied about to sanitize illegal settlements); to create roads that non-Israelis can’t even cross over, let alone drive on; to extend the apartheid wall. Israeli settlers commit crimes, including murder, against Palestinians, with nearly complete impunity, often protected by Israeli soldiers, who themselves commit unspeakable crimes against Palestinians, again with nearly complete impunity.

Israelis are free to carry deadly weapons with them wherever they go; non-Israelis are not.

Somehow, this does not sound to this writer to be the actions of people who want peace as badly as the Prime Murderer would have us all believe.

  • Netanyahu said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to Palestinian terrorism. The fact that the secretary said anything about so-called ‘terrorism’ committed by the Palestinians was just an appeasement to Israel. Mr. Kerry should know that, under international law, an occupied people have the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. He should also know that the so-called ‘rockets’ that Hamas occasionally fires into Gaza are, in the words of scholar Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel, nothing more than enhanced fireworks. These ‘rockets’ hardly compare to the deadly weapons the U.S. provides Israel to kill Palestinian men, women and children. And let’s be reminded that, in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more and far more deadly rockets into the Gaza Strip than Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

Mr. Netanyahu seems to have a very unusual definition of terrorism. One wonders if he would consider it terrorism if Palestinian soldiers routinely broke into the homes of Israelis in the middle of the night, ransacked the homes and arrested all the males in them over the age of 10. This writer feels that he would. Yet Israeli soldiers commit these crimes on a daily basis against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Would the Israeli Prime Murderer think it an act of terrorism, if Palestinians drove bulldozers up to the home of an Israeli family, and advised them to leave immediately, because their house was going to be demolished? Israel does this to Palestinians hundreds of times a year.

If Palestinians went to Israeli reservoirs, on which Israeli families relied for drinking water, and contaminated them with dead chickens and human feces, would the Prime Murderer feel that was an act of terrorism? Would he feel so if Palestinians simply destroyed those reservoirs? Israelis do this to Palestinians on a regular basis.

If Palestinians, in specially-equipped trucks, drove to a neighborhood elementary school, and sprayed sewage all over the school, adjacent residential buildings, and any people who couldn’t run out of the way quickly enough, would he object to that as terrorism? Palestinians suffer under this treatment from Israelis.

So, perhaps, in the twisted little mind of Mr. Netanyahu, it is only Israelis who can be victimized; after all, he will readily tell you, remember the Holocaust! Never again! Oh, that means ‘never again’ to Israelis; such crimes against others are just fine.

  • Kerry, according to the Prime Murderer, attacked “the only democracy in the Middle East”. One key element of democracy is this: “Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.” We have already mentioned roads that only Israelis can drive on. Also, non-Israelis in the judicial system have a separate set of rules. For people living under occupation, this includes arrest without charge; indefinite detention; no access to lawyers or family; lack of medical treatment, among others. Israelis, of course, cannot be arrested without charge, or held indefinitely. They have immediate and unfettered access to lawyers and family, and any medical needs they may have are fulfilled.

Another key element is freedom of speech and press. Israel glories in this freedom, as long as no one says anything critical of the state.

Democracy, indeed!

We have, perhaps, saved the best for last. Mr. Netanyahu said that Mr, Kerry:

  • “Obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. The Prime Murderer sounds like the bratty child in the school yard who, when asked why he struck another child, says “because he hit me back”. Palestine, with no army, navy or air force is occupied and oppressed by one of the most powerful nations in the world, back by the most powerful. Mr. Netanyahu says that Palestine refuses to recognize the Jewish state of Israel (how that concept squares with the idea of democracy has never been adequately explained to this writer), and that is key to the conflict. Yet Israel is slowly, although with increasing speed, annexing all of Palestine, with the ultimate goal of annihilating it, wiping it from existence, and replacing it with Israel.

With the election of the clown-like Mr. Trump as president of the U.S., there will no longer be any pretense that the U.S. is a neutral peace broker in the Middle East. Mr. Trump has said that Israel can build all the settlements it wants, and his political appointees are all in favor of destroying Palestine, as demanded by the wealthy and generous Israeli lobbies, AIPAC (Apartheid Israeli Political Affairs Committee) chief among them. Yet the recent vote in the U.N. Security Council shows international support for Palestine. Perhaps, just perhaps, with Mr. Trump as president, the rest of the world will recognize that it must act for the Palestinian people. Mr. Trump’s election, although an overall disaster for the world, may have a silver lining, if it motivates the global community to act for justice in Palestine.

Originally published on Counterpunch on January 6, 2017

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Trump and ‘Locker room talk’

As a United States citizen who fled the country for Canada after the 2004 presidential election, this writer looks with awe and horror at what is happening there now. He watched as the Democratic Party leaders arrogantly proclaimed their lack of interest in the will of the people, and anointed Hillary Clinton as their candidate for president, a highly flawed choice, one dragging tons of baggage from her long political career, who is disliked by large swaths of the public.

The Republicans, never a party to stray too far from the 1%, selected Donald Trump, an obnoxious billionaire businessman with no government experience, one whose record of so-called family values that the Party once held dear, is more than a bit shoddy. He, too, had a very low approval rating among voters, but it must have been somewhat higher that Secretary Clinton’s, since he was, sort of, victorious. Although he lost the popular vote, he won enough electoral college votes to be elected, and will assume office in January.

Weeks before the election, a taped conversation that Mr. Trump had with a television host by the name of Billy Bush, was made public. The now-President-elect discussed women somewhat extensively during this chat, and his words were shocking and crude, even for him.

Let’s look at a few of his statements.

  • Regarding groping women: “when you’re a star, they let you do it,”
  • Regarding an unnamed woman: “I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it, I did try and f— her. She was married. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
  • In reference to actress Arianne Zucker, who was there to escort Mr. Trump and Mr. Bush onto the set. “I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” “And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
  • “Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

The backlash to this was swift, with several prominent Republicans condemning such statements, and withdrawing their endorsement of Mr. Trump. His spokeswoman, however, dismissed the controversy. Said she: “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago”.

Other defenders of Mr. Trump have echoed the same sentiment. Retired surgeon, former candidate wannabe and darling of the Christian right, Ben Carson, in a CNN interview with Brianna Keilar, defended Mr. Trump’s comments as ‘normal banter between men’. This has been repeated, in one form or another, by his adoring, sexist fans, both men and women, in a variety of interviews.

This writer begs to differ. This is not ‘normal banter between men’. It is sexist in the extreme. Decent white men, in private, wouldn’t refer to Blacks using the ‘n’ word; nor would they make comical references to slavery, or the current trend of white police officers shooting unarmed Black men. Honorable straight men wouldn’t joke about the Matthew Shepard murder; respectable Christian men wouldn’t use derogatory terms to describe Muslims.  And principled men wouldn’t speak in such a way about women

But Mr. Trump isn’t decent, honorable, respectable or principled; he is the antithesis of these virtues, as he has repeatedly demonstrated.

So why does he get a free pass for his comments about women?

This says as much about half of the U.S. voting public as it does about Mr. Trump himself. Granted, many people who voted for him would do anything to keep Mrs. Clinton out of the White House, but choosing one awful candidate to prevent the election of one equally as awful has just gotten the U.S., and the world, in the mess it is now in. But there are some things that decent people simply can’t overlook, and Mr. Trump’s dismaying comments about women fall into that category.

Perhaps, although how escapes the comprehension of this writer, some people can overlook those comments. One supposes that if that is the case, one can also ignore his comments about Mexicans, including this gem: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

And, as long as one can ignore that, it’s not a stretch to say one could also ignore his statements that he would ‘absolutely’ require all Muslims to register in a national database.

It is more than troubling that enough people found those statements sufficiently easy to ignore that they were willing to cast their vote for Mr. Trump on election day.

Between November 9, the day after Mr. Trump’s election, and November 16, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported a total of 701 incidents of what it describes as “hateful harassment” against  people of color, women, LGBT individuals, Muslims and other groups. Is this a coincidence? Shortly after the election, the KKK in North Carolina announced a parade in Mr. Trump’s honor. With that organization celebrating, the drastic increase in crimes against various minorities since the election cannot be seen as mere coincidence. His supporters have achieved what they wanted: a racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic candidate elected president of the United States.

What is to be done? With a compliant Congress that will provide no check on his worst impulses at home or abroad, and a government non-responsive to the will of the people, the options for those of us who do not share Mr. Trump’s narrow, twisted views are limited. But there are a few:

  • Defend victims. In whatever situation we see them, those who are being harassed due to their sex, nationality, religion or sexual orientation should have defenders outnumbering harassers. Whether in a restaurant, store, walking down a street or anywhere else, we need to speak up for those who, as of November 8, became far more vulnerable.
  • Put down hate speech. When among any acquaintances, if people demean women, gays, or any other minority,  they need to know that we will not tolerate such conversation. We will not listen to ‘locker room talk’, as defined by Mr. Trump’s supporters, or any demeaning conversation about anyone.
  • Contact Congress. This isn’t a one-time event. When any policy is introduced that would marginalize any group, such as the shocking, hateful idea of registering all Muslims, our elected so-called representatives must hear from us immediately, and in the strongest terms. As mentioned previously, the U.S. government isn’t responsive to the wishes of the citizenry, but if Congress members think some policy they support will cost them a significant number of votes in the next election, they will change. This, of course, is not due to integrity, but to the Congressional need for self-preservation.

The United States and the world are in for a difficult several years. Even if Mr. Trump leaves office in four years, significant damage will already have been done; the era of the 1950s, when a woman’s place was in the home, Blacks were still in the back of the bus, and being publicly gay was a death sentence, will have returned. And there is little hope that a Democratic president will do much to resolve these issues, partly because these attitudes will quickly become well-entrenched, and partly because no known Democrat has an ounce of integrity anyway.

But in our own spheres, we can, and must, make a difference.

 

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Advice for the Democrats, That They Won’t Take

Yes, impossible as it sounds, Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States. He of the multiple wives and revenge-fueled actions; misogynist, homophobic, Islamophobic attitudes; an originator of the birther movement and xenophobe extraordinaire will soon inhabit the White House. That is a frightening thought, but add to that the fact that with both houses of Congress in Republican hands, there is no reasonable check on Mr. Trump’s impulses. And since many members of Congress disparaged, insulted and refused to support him during the campaign, they will be crawling on glass as penance as they approach him to regain favor, and will not want to thwart anything he may propose.

And what will this mean? Well, he has vowed to abolish the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, thus depriving at least 20 million people of basic health care. He said he will nullify the Iran nuclear deal, destroying the trust of European allies in the word of the U.S, and bringing the world closer to nuclear disaster. He will prevent any Muslims from entering the country, provide greater impunity (if that is even possible) to the nation’s racist police, put an end to same-sex marriage, and, in many ways, bring the nation back to the era of the 1950s. For those who don’t remember those days, segregation was the law of the land, a woman’s place was in the home, anyone suspected of any communist leanings was publicly persecuted, and the Cold War was in full swing. Ah, yes! The good old days!

Predictions of the demise of the Republican Party were certainly premature; it is now the Democrats who need to take a careful look in the mirror. The fact that they probably won’t is neither here nor there.  But, on the off chance that someone in the Party thinks doing so is a good idea, we will provide them with a bit of guidance, to send them on their way.

First, they might want to rethink this whole ‘super delegate’ thing. Yes, it seemed to them that Hillary Clinton somehow ‘deserved’ the nomination, and why let the people decide such a thing? What do they know? And while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proved himself to be nothing more than a common politician, with no more integrity than that implies, this wasn’t necessarily common knowledge during the primary campaign. But, the Democratic Party, in a most undemocratic way, set about to torpedo his chances, and install Hillary Clinton as their chosen one.

We must ask: why did they think this was a good idea? What was it about Mrs. Clinton that made the powers-that-be in the Party think she was their savior? She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have enriched themselves through their ‘service’ to the nation. She carried along the campaign more baggage than a freight train. She was disliked and distrusted by large swaths of the population.  Yet this was the candidate who was going to break the glass ceiling, proving to all young girls that there were no gender-based limits. It would be she who would carry on President Obama’s legacy of healthcare for Americans, women’s’ rights, marriage equality, and other, less savory policies, like murder by drone, oppression of the Palestinians, etc., etc.

But. alas, the little people had other ideas about all this, and decided that a racist, misogynist, inexperienced blowhard was a better choice. We all know that, to hear the Democrats and their fawning minions tell it, the GOP is the Party of the rich, and the Democrats, of the working man and woman. Too bad those decision-makers have such an obstructed view from their ivory towers, and can’t quite see that, Republican or Democrat, they are different iterations of the same tired programs.

Second, the Democrats might try differentiating themselves from the Republicans in some significant ways. For example, both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, and a variety of other candidates, bowed and scraped before their Israeli masters at the annual AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) convention in March; Mr. Sanders skipped that event, and instead sent a letter, criticizing Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. This did nothing to sink his candidacy; the internal workings of the Democratic Party did that to him. So, including as part of the platform, perhaps, some statement about making further financial assistance to Israel contingent upon that country adhering to international law and improving its dismal human rights record, might have been attractive to many voters. Mirroring the Republican policy doesn’t provide much choice.

Third, going back at least to the era of the 1960s and ‘70’s, as the Vietnam War raged, the Democratic Party eventually began to embrace the controversial concept of peace. Now, this, of course, was never fully adapted; who in their right mind wants peace over war? Whoever heard of such a thing? The U.S., we all know, must flex its military muscle almost constantly, in order to keep the arms manufacturers happy. But the idea of ending barbaric drone warfare, not interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and perhaps even dismantling some of the U.S’. nuclear arsenal might have had more appeal than the tired, pro-war policies of Hillary Clinton.

Following the defeat of the odious Mitt Romney by Mr. Obama in 2012, there was much talk about the need for the Republican Party to redefine itself, to, perhaps, even, become more inclusive. Nothing ever came of that high-sounding rhetoric, and remaining as it was seems now to have been a formula for success. So, perhaps the Democrats will do the same; look for someone to blame for this electoral disaster, talk about how to prevent it in the future, and then carry on with business as usual.

Politics in the U.S. isn’t about governing; it’s about keeping high-paying, low-responsibility jobs. After all, for most of us, there are a certain number of days required for us to attend our jobs; we may have a few weeks of paid vacation, but other than that, we are expected to be working. Not so for elected officials. Also, most of us have certain deliverables we need to produce: lesson plans, software programs, various products, etc. Again, elected officials have no such responsibilities. And if the wealthy individuals and organizations that donate to politicians’ election campaigns are happy, what else matters?

The next couple of months will prove interesting, and will provide us with a view of the next few years. From where this writer sits, it isn’t looking pretty. But the view of U.S. governance has never been very pleasant, since an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy can never conceal its true nature. And with the wild card called Donald Trump due to move into the White House, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Originally published by TheTruther.US.

 

 

 

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The Democrats’ Great Mistake

Donald Trump is president-elect. It is still difficult for this writer to string those words together. He watched the unfolding disaster on election night, knowing, when he sat down to his computer screen, that, regardless of who won, it would be a disaster. He had not, however, anticipated this particular one.

Democrat Hillary Clinton appears as of this writing to have won the popular vote, but Mr. Trump prevailed in the archaic, outdated and counterproductive electoral college. One hopes he doesn’t see his win as a mandate, but this is Donald Trump we are talking about, so we might as well forget that idea.

But how did this happen? How did an obnoxious, egotistical blowhard like Mr. Trump manage to be elected president of the United States? He discusses women in the most repulsive, derogatory manner. He has insulted Mexicans and wants to ban Muslims from entering the country. He has vowed to remove health care from at least 20 million U.S. citizens. He has wondered aloud why the country has nuclear weapons if it isn’t going to use them. The frightening list goes on.

Yet how this came to pass isn’t really a secret; self-deluding Democrats may wonder about it, but the evidence is clear: the Democratic Party offered a deeply flawed candidate.

Let’s go back even earlier than the primary season, to find the source of this crucial error. The Democrats created the ‘super delegate’ model, providing all Democratic members of Congress, party bigwigs and insiders with nominating votes that had no accountability to rank-and-file party members. As a result, Hillary Clinton entered the primary season with hundreds of pledged delegates. Then, regardless of the outcome in state primaries and caucuses, these delegates were not obligated to vote for the candidate who won; they were free to vote for anyone they chose, and nearly all of them were committed to Hillary Clinton.

This causes at least two problems: 1) a candidate who doesn’t have widespread support (Mrs. Clinton) can be nominated, and 2), if that happens, Democrats who voted for the opponent (Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders) for the nomination feel cheated, and, rather than falling into line like good little soldiers, seek out a third-party alternative, or just opt to stay home on election day.

Now, let’s look at the candidate herself. Hillary Clinton has a long and storied history in U.S. politics and governance. She was twice First Lady of Arkansas during her husband’s two, non-consecutive terms as governor there, and then was First Lady of the U.S. for eight years. She was twice elected to the senate, representing New York State, resigning midway through her second term to become Secretary of State, a role she held for four years.

Each of these roles deserve some consideration.

Following Governor Bill Clinton’s defeat for governor after his first term, it was Mrs. Clinton who engineered his comeback. This certainly indicates an ambitious and politically savvy woman, both traits needed for elective office. Yet during his time in office, it was more than subtly suggested that he directed lucrative government contracts to the law firm that employed her. There was never any proof; neither of them was charged with any wrongdoing, but this was just the first of the shadows of impropriety, bordering on illegality, that would haunt her through the 2016 election.

Additionally, during the time of Mr. Clinton’s tenure as governor, Mrs. Clinton invested the modest sum of $1,000.00 in cattle futures. At the end of ten months, when she decided to stop trading, without having any training or experience in this area, she had turned that amount into $100,000.00.

Now, that could be considered luck, or simply being a ‘quick study’. No one has ever accused Mrs. Clinton of being stupid.

At one period during this ten-month stretch of time, Mrs. Clinton was in debt for over $100,000 to a financial services firm. Typically, in such a circumstance, the financial services firm would require the investor to pay the funds, or offer some collateral against the debt. This, however, was not done in this case. What, one might have asked at the time, might the firm have received in return for its generosity towards the governor’s wife?  The shadow, therefore, lengthened.

As First Lady of the United States, she didn’t fulfill the traditional role. She was considered a close advisor for her husband, and was appointed by him to develop a healthcare plan. This also caused deep resentment against her; she had no official position in office, but was given a major responsibility.

During these years, she was accused of orchestrating the dismissal of the White House travel staff, so that her own friends and those of her husband could replace them. Although questioned, she was never charged, but the prosecutor said that, while many of her statements were ‘factually false’, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

In June of 1996, Mrs. Clinton was implicated in what became known as ‘Filegate’. Craig Livingstone, director of the White House’s Office of Personnel Security, had requested and received from the FBI information about a large number of individuals, mainly advisors from previous, Republican administrations. Mrs. Clinton was accused of requesting, or authorizing the request of, these files, for political purposes. She and the president were eventually exonerated.

During Mr. Clinton’s re-election campaign, Mrs. Clinton was implicated in a scheme to obtain donations to the Democratic National Committee from China, in violation of U.S. law.

In 1996, Mrs. Clinton became the first, and to date, only, First Lady to testify before a Federal grand jury. This was in the investigation into possible obstruction of justice at the White House regarding an inquiry into her former Arkansas law firm.

On the day before Mr. Clinton left office, he pardoned 450 people convicted of various crimes. Included in this number were two people who each paid Mrs. Clinton’s brother, Hugh Rodman, $200,000.00 to represent their cases for clemency. One can imagine that Mr. Rodman may have had an ‘in’ to the president, that not every lawyer had.

When Mrs. Clinton decided to run for senate from New York, she had to make a change in her life: she had to establish residency in a state in which she had never lived. Despite the fact that she was the first and, thus far, only First Lady to run for elective office after her husband’s term as president ended, being a senator from Arkansas, where she lived for many years, apparently was not as potent a springboard to her further ambitions as being senator from NY would be. So, she and Mr. Clinton bought a house in New York, she announced her candidacy, and won.

Before she threw her hat into the ring, the most likely person to run was Representative Nita Lowey. However, as soon as Mrs. Clinton expressed an interest in running, Ms. Lowey stepped aside. This brought about more than a little criticism; Ms. Lowey had been a member of the House for ten years, and Mrs. Clinton had held no elective office.

It is interesting to note Ms. Lowey’s sentiments during the most recent primary season. She, of course, was a ‘super-delegate’, who had pledged to vote to nominate Mrs. Clinton. When her spokesperson was asked if she would switch her vote, should Mr. Sanders win the NY primary, this was the response: “Absolutely not… Hillary Clinton is Congresswoman Lowey’s friend, colleague and her constituent, and she is behind her 100%.” This ‘loyalty’, which disregards the will of the people does nothing to endear Mrs. Clinton to the average voter.

When Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received millions of dollars in donations, not only from huge, multinational corporations, but also from foreign governments. The appearance of conflicts of interest in this situation is too strong to be overlooked.

More recently, her use of a private server for highly-confidential emails, and the resulting FBI investigations, further cast doubt on her integrity, and added to the general consensus that she sees herself above the law.

The millions of people who despise Mrs. Clinton will say that no one can be under so many different clouds of suspicion, and be completely innocent. Her countless fawning minions will say that, despite all attempts to besmirch her good name, she has never been charged with anything.

Let’s look now at some of her policies that may have been troubling for the U.S. voter.

It is said that Mrs. Clinton was the mastermind of the decision to overthrow the government of Libya, which has caused untold suffering in that nation. No one believes that Muammar Gaddafi was a choir boy, but the death toll since his overthrow far exceeds the numbers that died during his reign. And Mrs. Clinton’s flippant attitude about his death also repels many people.

After the September 11 attacks on the United States, Mrs. Clinton voted to authorize the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. This invasion killed at least a million people, sent millions more into refugee camps, spawned a civil war, and left Iraqis in dire situations.

She fully supports Israel, despite its ongoing violations of numerous international laws, and ignores the legitimate claims to basic human rights of the Palestinian people. She says nothing in opposition of the draconian, apartheid laws of Israel, or the brutal killings of unarmed, innocent, Palestinian men, women and children by Israeli soldiers and settlers. She is silent about the illegal Israeli settlements.

Mrs. Clinton supports the foreign fighters opposing the government of Syria. She has accused Russia of crimes in Syria, ignoring the greater crimes of the U.S. in that country. She says nothing about the barbaric human rights record of Saudi Arabia, with which the U.S. has full diplomatic relations.

Now, there are many factors that impact the result of an election. The popularity of the incumbent; the state of the economy; the personality of the candidates, etc., all play into the decision-making process of the voters. This year, the Democrats offered a candidate:

  • Who is the quintessential Washington insider;
  • With a long history of activities that apparently were just short of illegal;
  • That had the demonstrated support of party bosses, but not of the rank-and-file voter;
  • Who supported a war that much of the world opposed, that was built on transparent lies, and
  • With a long record of supporting war.

This shouldn’t imply that the Republicans nominated an angel; seldom, if ever, has a more unsuitable candidate been elected president. But the voting public wasn’t interested in more Clinton: eight years of Bill, and Hillary being in the public eye for decades, was simply more than enough. She could not be seen as a ‘change agent’; no one perceives her as being able to ‘shake things up’.

Although Mr. Sanders showed his true colors when he gave Mrs. Clinton a glowing endorsement at the Democratic convention, after the nomination had been stolen from him, and after he’d said she was unfit to be president, he was by far the stronger candidate than she. But the strength of the ultimate U.S. ‘power couple’ far outweighed logical considerations. Mrs. Clinton had been waiting in the wings for years, the curtain was soon to rise, and she wasn’t going to miss her cue. She and the Democratic Party didn’t realize that the audience had already departed.

 

 

 

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The First Woman President: We Can Do Better than This

Well, with just a few weeks to the 2016 presidential election, the voters seem to be hesitantly lining up behind (‘rallying around’ denotes some level of enthusiasm, and is really too strong a term to use here) what many consider to be the less loathsome of two loathsome choices. These are people who overlook the blood, carnage and death that Hillary Clinton left in her wake from her time in the U.S. senate, and as Secretary of State. They focus, instead, on Donald Trump’s repugnant misogyny, his leaked comments about women, and the many women who have come forward to accuse him.

So, it does appear that the U.S. will follow-up on the history-making election of an African-American, with the history-making election of a woman. But does it have to be her? Surely, in a nation with hundreds of millions of people, there are women more qualified than one so wealthy, self-centered, and out of touch with the common man and woman, owned by corporate lobbyists, beholden to every individual or corporation whoever wrote her a check in excess of $50,000, who disdains human rights and international law. Somewhere, there must be a woman qualified to lead the United States out of the current corrupt, war-mongering mess it has gotten itself into.

Well, this writer wouldn’t bring up such a serious problem, unless he had an answer to it.  A woman who is the antithesis of Hillary Clinton is, in fact, running for president, not as a Republican or Democrat, two sides of the same ugly coin, but representing the Party for Socialism and Liberation. He refers, of course, to Gloria La Riva.

gloria_la_riva

He first learned of Ms. La Riva when looking for a third-party candidate for whom to vote, being ready to fling himself off a bridge before voting for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump. He subsequently had the opportunity of interviewing her, after studying her platform. Recently, she was interviewed by Abby Martin on ‘The Empire Files’, and once again demonstrated that she is an intelligent, articulate woman who is able to describe realistic solutions to the complex problems the U.S. has brought onto itself and the world.

On October 25, Ms. La Riva will be one of three (thus far) candidates scheduled for a presidential debate sponsored by ‘Free and Equal’, in Boulder, Colorado. She, of course, is not allowed into the three-ring circus known as the Republican and Democratic presidential debates. No, only the two aforementioned clowns can perform there, because Ms. La Riva, Dr. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson don’t qualify with a large enough standing in the polls. Of course, those rules are set by the Democrats and Republicans. One might think that some independent organization would sponsor debates to which all potentially-viable candidates were invited. Oh, wait; an organization has done so. It’s known as ‘Free and Equal’. Unfortunately, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are too busy with their own program to guest-star on another one. After all, aren’t three debates enough for the little people? What do they expect? Transparency? Choice? Ha!

So, does this writer think that, if the stars align just right, Ms. La Riva will be elected president? He is many things, but naïve is not one of them. Yet with the major parties offering repulsive candidates, a vote for Ms. La Riva and her sensible platform is the only vote that makes sense to him.

If we want to look for a glimmer of hope for the United States, perhaps we should look to the youth. In California, several high schools recently held a mock election (a good term for the farce that approaches on November 8). Of the nearly 190,000 votes cast, Ms. La Riva received about 7%, or approximately 13,000 votes. It is noteworthy that, despite the media blackout on all third parties except for Dr. Stein and Mr. Johnson, and media coverage of them being limited at best, fully 7% would vote for the Socialist Party candidate. As Ms. La Riva said: “Students are increasingly aware of the problems in their society. They know when their family is struggling to get by, or doesn’t have stable housing or enough food to live on. Students experience the pain and insecurity of capitalism.” The social media generation, which relies less on the corporate-owned media for news, may be what saves the U.S., if it isn’t simply too late to do so.

trump-and-clintonWhen this writer announces to friends and associates his intention to vote for Ms. La Riva, he hears the same tired objections to third-party voting that he himself made in previous years: you are throwing away your vote; you are drawing a vote from the lesser terrible candidate, thus ensuring the election of the more terrible one, etc., etc. You need to vote for Hillary Clinton, he is told, otherwise a racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, homophobic blowhard will be elected president, with his finger on the nuclear button! Or, you must vote for Donald Trump, otherwise a corrupt, war-mongering, hypocritical liar will be elected president, with her finger on the nuclear button! Blah, blah, blah.

Well, please allow this writer to repent and apologize; he sees clearly now that to which he was previously blind. Or, just perhaps, there was some semblance of choice in previous elections, but he will leave his justifications for another time.

Voting for either of the 1% candidates to which we are subjected by the so-called major parties only entrenches them further, and enables them to keep their monopoly on elections.

By voting for Gloria La Riva, this writer is endorsing significant change, and indicating to the powers that be that their crimes will no longer be universally overlooked. He is helping to lay the groundwork for a new party, not just something established or propped up by the Democrats to appear to offer the voters a choice, as the Republican Party self-destructs. With his vote for Ms. La Riva, he hopes to motivate others to look at alternatives, and not just for a more ‘liberal’ Democrat (does such a creature even exist today?), but someone who offers real change, who respects domestic and international law, and recognizes the basic human rights of every man, woman and child on the planet. This is not something we see among the Democrats or Republicans; they may be a somewhat distorted mirror image of each other, but they are a mirror image nonetheless.

Gloria La Riva proposes smashing that mirror, and establishing a United States based on justice for all, an end to the oligarchy, and making the country a responsible global citizen, rather than the frightening global thug it is today.

Throwing away his vote? Not at all. He is pleased to cast it for Ms. La Riva.

 

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Socialist Presidential Candidate Gloria La Riva: ‘We Live Under The Dictatorship Of Big Capital’

SAN FRANCISCO — The two major parties have nominated deeply unpopular candidates, and third-party candidates are drawing nearly unprecedented amounts of attention this election season.

Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who is running on the Libertarian ticket, and Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein are leading the pack of third-party candidates in the polls, but they’re certainly not the only alternative candidates to throw their hats in the ring.

Gloria La Riva, a labor, community, and anti-war activist based in San Francisco, is running for president under the Party for Socialism and Liberation. This isn’t her first bid for public office; she ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1983, finishing third overall, and she was the Peace & Freedom Party’s candidate for governor of California in the 1994 and 1998 elections.

She has also been a key organizer of many mass demonstrations opposing war and occupation in Central America, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, and the former Yugoslavia, among many others.

In addition to her decades of work to defend Cuba’s sovereignty against U.S. oppression, including her support for the Cuban 5, she has traveled to Venezuela multiple times since Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1998, including a trip in 2014, three years after Chavez’s death.

Gloria La Riva meets with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Gloria La Riva meets with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

La Riva is also an accomplished filmmaker. In 1998, she produced and directed “Genocide by Sanctions: The Case of Iraq,” a short film documenting the effects of the U.S./NATO blockade on Iraq. She accompanied former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark to Yugoslavia at the height of the U.S./NATO bombing of that country the following year, which led her to produce the video “NATO Targets.”

Her work, however, doesn’t just look beyond U.S. borders. A long-time supporter of LGBT rights, she has alsoorganized support for the Black Firefighters Association in their struggle against racism and sexism in the San Francisco Fire Department in the 1980s. Following a disastrous citrus freeze in California that left tens of thousands of agricultural workers with no income, she initiated the Farmworkers Emergency Relief Committee in 1991. Within a week of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, La Riva traveled to New Orleans, documenting injustices she encountered in the short film “Heroes Not Looters.”

She traveled to Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, and just last month she traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to show her support for the city’s residents as they protested systemic racism following the death of Alton Sterling, who was also killed by police. While filming a peaceful demonstration and police actions, La Riva was one of the hundreds of people arrested amid demonstrations in Baton Rouge.

Gloria La Riva, third party candidate, among 100 arrested in Baton Rouge police attack.

Gloria La Riva, third party candidate, among 100 arrested in Baton Rouge police attack.

She spoke to Robert Fantina about the two major parties and their candidates and her party’s foreign and domestic agendas.

 

MintPress News (MPN): How would you summarize the difference between the platform of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and those of the Republicans and Democrats?

Gloria La Riva (GLR): We couldn’t be more different!

Republican politicians continuously push legislation to attack women and immigrant’s rights. They are a right-wing conservative party; they were almost uniformly against marriage equality and were the ones behind the recent anti-trans laws in North Carolina.

The Democratic Party presents itself as a more liberal and friendly option for people, but it was the Democratic Party who put through free trade policies like NAFTA which destroyed thousands of jobs in the U.S. and ripped apart the Mexican economy, causing mass impoverishment there.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) stands for the things that people need. We would make jobs, free healthcare, free education and affordable housing constitutional rights.

But the fundamental difference is that the Republicans and Democrats are capitalist parties, and we are a socialist party. Capitalist parties are beholden to Wall Street and the monopoly banks and the giant multinational corporations who possess extreme wealth and influence. Our party is at its core diametrically different because we are a working class party, beholden only to the greater good of all workers and oppressed peoples here and around the world.

 

MPN: In your view, how has it come about that the two ‘major’ parties have nominated candidates that are so greatly disliked?

GLR: Donald Trump is using racist and sexist populist rhetoric to mobilize his base of support. He is taking advantage of the people who have suffered an economic downturn in recent years. In 2008 we suffered the biggest economic recession since the 1930s. The housing industry collapsed due to bank speculation and capitalist overproduction, causing millions to lose their jobs. The value of homes plummeted and many people were forced into homelessness. Today 93 percent of all U.S. counties have failed to fully recover from this crisis. Trump’s message to these people is misleading. He does not point out that it was the banks and Wall Street which caused this crisis.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, was the Democratic Party machine’s solution to suppress the progressive Bernie Sanders movement. Millions of people voted for [Bernie] Sanders against Wall Street, but this goes against the core values of that party. Clinton was their only answer to the extreme right-wing threat, but Clinton is considered untrustworthy amongst the people. Her support for so many foreign wars, her close ties to Wall Street, her promoting of racist mass incarceration laws, and her general flip-flopping on issues throughout her career have made her extremely unpopular.

 

MPN: Do you see any advantages of Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, or vice versa?

GLR: The capitalist propaganda says that in an election, there is no alternative but to vote for the “lesser evil,” which in this election means Hillary Clinton. This line of thinking has never been more disastrous. As bad as Donald Trump is, Clinton is just as bad in different ways — in many cases, worse. It was under Clinton’s leadership that the United States sponsored a coup in Honduras, leading to the destabilization of that country and making it the murder capital of the world. When children fled repression for the U.S.A., it was Clinton and the Obama administration that turned them away, adding to a record 2.5 million undocumented people deported — the most in U.S. history. She boasts that she was responsible for the United States taking military action against Libya — another state destroyed and thousands of people killed. Clinton has called for direct bombing to eliminate the elected [Bashar] Assad government [in Syria].

Clinton and her appointees supported the right-wing coup in Ukraine and confrontation with Russia, with potentially lethal consequences for the world. It was Hillary Clinton, who as “First Lady,” called Black youth “super predators” and championed the 1994 crime bill which led to the massive expansion of the racist prison-industrial complex. Both Trump and Clinton represent the same capitalist 1%. We call for people not to vote for the “lesser evil,” but to join us and build an independent movement and workers party.

 

MPN: Can you summarize how you, as president, would adjust the United States’ foreign policy?

GLR: Our foreign policy would be one based on solidarity and respect for the peoples of the world and the planet’s sustainability. We would treat other countries like sister countries, not as competitors. We would shut down all U.S. military bases abroad and bring all the troops, planes, and ships home. U.S. foreign policy uses the pretext of national security to enforce the imperialist interests of the biggest banks and corporations. We would use the $1 trillion military budget instead to provide for people’s needs.

We would begin the immediate dismantling of nuclear weapons and stop U.S. aid to Israel, as just the first step in concretely supporting the Palestinian people’s fight for self-determination, including the right to return to their homeland. We would immediately end the criminal U.S. blockade of Cuba, return Guantánamo territory and return the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico to the Puerto Rican people, while also providing for cancellation of its debt and for reparations. We would immediately end all covert operations around the world, as well as those agencies responsible: the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. We would stop immediately the U.S. attempts to isolate, destabilize, or destroy governments such as Syria, Russia, China, and would lift sanctions that are imposed on Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

 

MPN: What significant domestic policy changes would you make as president?

GLR: The capitalist politicians often lament that they are powerless to affect legislative or executive action that would benefit the people, but the reality is, their fundamental interest lies in promoting the corporations and banks. Even in the current political system, a president has a lot of power, the main one being to rally the masses to effect change — if he or she wanted to, but they don’t. My first act would be to pardon political prisoners Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mutulu Shakur, Oscar López Rivera, Chelsea Manning, and so many others wrongly imprisoned, and to release hundreds of thousands of prisoners, victims of the system who need true rehabilitation, jobs, and assistance to become productive members of society.

I would decree an economic emergency and declare a nationwide moratorium on evictions, use those emergency powers to declare eminent domain over millions of empty housing units to provide immediate housing for all who need. Instead, these days we see whole neighborhoods bulldozed because too many homes were built to make a profit for developers. The DOJ would take on the bankers and use all the massive evidence of their illegal, profiteering acts to try them for crimes against the people. We would use the “bully pulpit” of the White House to speak the truth: that all the workers of this country, citizen, resident and immigrant, create all the wealth, not the owners of capital. We would use all means to reach the people of the United States to declare that free health care, free education at all levels, decent truly affordable housing, guaranteed incomes for the poor and seniors — all these and more should be constitutional rights, and that it is all entirely possible, if together we unite for these changes.

I would rally the people to fill the streets of Washington and surround Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, surround Wall Street, encircle the Pentagon, and refuse to leave until immediate measures are adopted to provide immediate relief for all.

That is only a start. But helping empower the people, exposing the crimes of capitalism, and providing a vision of what is possible when the people are in power, these are the most important steps. No politician can effect change alone; to say otherwise is a deception. That is why our campaign as revolutionary socialists also uses the electoral platform to explain that the people [who have] organized have always been the real agents of change.

How can a president and party, such as Obama and the Democrats, lament that they are unable to pass legislation to legalize immigrants, and then deport more than 2.5 million? We would halt all detentions, family separations and deportations. The failure of the Democrats to act when they had majority control of the House and Senate as well as the presidency, provided the groundwork for the rise of anti-immigrant actions nationally and statewide. As the daughter of a Mexican immigrant — my mother — I know too well the difficulties that our communities experience every day. My presidency would encourage the labor unions, immigrant, and community organizations to mobilize by the millions and call for nationwide strikes, much like [what] took place on May Day 2006, and show who has the real power: the workers, including the 11 million undocumented workers and 15 million permanent residents.

I would act to defend and empower the Native American communities against the rapacious oil and mining corporations, bringing the full weight of prosecution and preventive protection against corporate polluters, whether in the Gold King mine spill in the Animas and San Juan rivers, or by forcing the overturning of the Army Corp of Engineers’ approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a disastrous project for the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal communities. The bottom line is the need for full respect of Native sovereignty, including the restoration and return of many Native lands, a massive increase in funding for housing, healthcare, education, social services, infrastructure, and jobs.

We would vigorously oppose the attacks on unions’ collective bargaining and work for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. We would fight for the immediate increase of the minimum wage to $20 an hour with annual cost of living increases. In most U.S. states, workers can be fired based on their sexual orientation. We would stop this state-sanctioned discriminatory practice, guarantee full rights for all LGBTQ people, and fight anti-LGBTQ violence.

Women still earn 22 percent less than men, and the gap is even more severe for black and Latina women. We would enforce full equality for women, close the wage gap, and end the gender division of labor. Women must have the fundamental right to choose and control their own bodies.

 

MPN: The Middle East is exploding, mainly because of U.S. interference. How would a La Riva presidency address this situation?

GLR: First of all, we would pull all of the tens of thousands of troops and planes and ships and military infrastructure out of the Middle East. We would cancel the $40 billion extra-aid package to Israel and use this money to pay reparations to all the victims of war in Iraq and Syria and Libya and in Iran. We would end all the covert operations in the Middle East and everywhere, lift the sanctions against Iran and all countries, overturn the sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba, and end all intervention. This is the only real road to peace.

 

MPN: Unarmed Blacks in the U.S. are routinely killed by the police, with nearly complete impunity. Why is this, and how would you address this problem?

GLR: First of all, we must hold all these murderous, racist cops accountable for their crimes. No politician, including President Obama or candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, dares speak out against the police. That is one of the biggest problems.

As president, I would direct the Department of Justice to prosecute police who gun the people down. It is an absolute outrage that politicians call for investigations instead of prosecution, and fail to act to protect black and brown youth and all working class people. I would use every power of the office to force prosecution, and immediately condemn the daily murders — almost three per day this year alone. I would demand the return of all military hardware, including tanks, from city departments.

I would order the DOJ and attorney general — a new AG who defends the people’s rights — to implement nationwide policy that prohibits the use of firearms against the population. The killers of Michael Brown, James Boyd, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mario Woods, Andy López, and the more than 1,300 people killed by the police every year, must not be allowed to remain free. Look at Erick Gelhaus, who gunned down 13-year-old Andy López. He was just promoted to sergeant, his reward for murdering a young teen. We would abolish the so-called “Police Officers Bill of Rights,” which enshrines their impunity in law, implement true community control over police departments, including the power to prosecute.

But to truly end the epidemic of racist police violence we would have to fundamentally change the nature of the system and the police. We fight for a socialist revolution which would abolish the police force as we know it and create a whole new one to serve the people, not the rich and corporations.

 

MPN: U.S. banks operate above the law, to the detriment of millions of people. How would you, as president, address this problem?

GLR: We would seize the banks and jail Wall Street criminals. Power and wealth must be taken out of the hands of the super-rich. The banks’ vast wealth came from the people’s labor and the massive bank bailouts and other government subsidies. Capitalist banking is a form of organized crime, rewarding greed and fraud with obscene bonuses. These billionaires looted and destroyed the economy. It is time to seize their assets and use those resources in the interests of the vast majority. We would use the money seized to fund a massive overhaul and create job and other socially necessary programs across the country. We would nationalize all the economic resources in this country for the good of the all the people and the poor not just for a few rich people to exploit.

 

MPN: What do you see as the fundamental issue facing the United States today?

GLR: While we are constantly propagandized that we live in the “greatest democracy ever,” the reality is that we live under the dictatorship of big capital. Real power is in the hands of the banks, monopoly corporations, and the military-industrial complex. Fundamental change requires taking that power out of their hands and putting it in the hands of the people. That is why, while we fight for every reform that benefits the working class and the population as a whole, we know that what is ultimately needed is revolutionary change and the reorganization of the economy and society on a socialist basis.

Originally published in MintPressNews.

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Black is White in the United States

It seems that United States society, somewhat like poor Alice, has eaten some kind of mushroom that is distorting reality. At first, this peculiar mushroom was a side dish, and those consuming it were considered the more bizarre elements of society. Today, however, it is the main course, greedily eaten whenever the opportunity presents itself.

And why does this writer think such a thing has happened? Let us look at what is, today, criticized, and what is embraced. The reader can then determine if a better explanation than the taking of some hallucinogenic exists.

  • Education: There was a time when it was thought beneficial to be educated. This would not only, it was said, get_a_brain_morans - resizedassure a better job, but would also make the educated person more well-rounded. While one may have focused on, say, accounting in college, required courses probably included world history, literature, a foreign language and other subjects not pertinent to balancing ledgers. Yet such a person could converse easily with a variety of people from different backgrounds; would have insights into different opinions, and would, it was thought, be open to new ideas.

Not so, say today’s politicians. Education is associated with ‘elitism’, an ‘I’m-better-than-you’ attitude that has no place in our society. After all, what good is ‘book learning’, when one can quote, out of context, a few passages of the Bible, and not need to think beyond that?

  • Tolerance: Many people can remember something referred to as ‘The Golden Rule’. This, simply stated, is: ‘Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you’. This is the foundation of most religious beliefs in the world today.

But in twenty-first century, U.S. society, why do we need such a thing as tolerance? What has it ever gotten us? Well, for one thing, it has gotten us foreigners! Yes, people who don’t speak English; people whose houses of worship don’t mosque - resizedhave crosses atop them; women so unenlightened as to want to keep their bodies covered, if one can imagine anything so backward!

And if that’s not bad enough, closets everywhere are opening, and gay people are coming out of them! Trying, by their very existence, to indoctrinate impressionable children into their way of life! Some of them even marry each other!

No, this tolerance thing has no place in U.S. society.

  • Respect: A general admiration for someone or something is usually thought of as a positive trait. One may disagree with a person, but still respect the thoughtful consideration of their position that has led them to draw the conclusions that they have. Respect is demonstrated by such things as not interrupting people; being able to disagree without criticizing, and treating them as one would like to be treated oneself (please see reference to ‘The Golden Rule’, above).

Today, who needs such old-fashioned things like respect? Much better to let one’s true feelings be known by referring to Hillary Clinton as ‘Crooked Hillary’ (this writer is not disputing that she is, indeed, crooked, but thinks there are better ways of getting that point across), or chanting ‘Dump Trump’. Clever, indeed, but not too respectful, but then again, like tolerance, respect is simply an outdated concept with no place in modern U.S. society.

  • Human rights: It is generally understood that certain rights, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence (remember that old thing?), are basic to every human being on the planet. The Declaration of Independence describes them broadly as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Now, human rights are all well and good for some, but let’s not go around giving them to everyone. What do human rights and young black men wearing hoodies have to do with each other? Nothing! And while we’re on the topic, who do any unarmed black men think they are that they should have human rights? If police officers want to shoot them, stop murder by police - resizedthey can and should be able to do so. How else are they going to improve their shooting skills, in case they are called to a real crime scene, if they don’t have innocent blacks to practice on?

Related to this is the privilege of health care. Now, one may believe, naively, that all people are entitled to medical care, that it, too, is a human right. Not so, say today’s talking heads. Candidates actually run for office with a pledge to reduce the number of people who get health care! This seems to this writer to be a most bizarre campaign promise.

  • Religion: For centuries, people have looked to a higher power, for comfort and guidance, in good times and bad. The various interpretations of sacred books such as the Bible and the Quran have resulted in multiple sects, most of them following the Golden Rule as well as they can. These religions taught tolerance and respect, so we can all see where they belong today.

But they are, actually, still around, and for most of those who choose to follow them, tolerance and respect are part of their daily lives. But others have chosen to use religion as a weapon with which to bludgeon anyone who disagrees with their position. This perversion has actually been used to pass anti-bullying laws that have exceptions for  ‘religious oriented bullying’. Now, this concept is most puzzling to this writer. He is a Christian, active in the religion he embraced in his twenties. His familiarity with scripture makes the entire concept of ‘religious oriented bullying’  one that gives him a headache. Are there actually people walking the streets of our towns and cities who believe Jesus Christ was intolerant? Do they truly think he would endorse any kind of bullying? Alas, such people exist, and are in positions of influence, in the government, and the corporate-owned media.

So, let’s review the new ‘virtues’ of U.S. society: ignorance, intolerance, disrespect, selective human rights, and religion as a weapon. This is the ‘great melting pot’ of the United States, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’.

These attitudes are the very reason the U.S. is faced with two of the worst candidates in history in this year’s presidential election.  For example, Mrs. Clinton relies on the ignorance of the people to foster the idea that Palestine is a threat to Israel, when the reverse is clearly true. Intolerance for and disrespect of Muslims allow her to threaten Iran and oppress Palestine, and deny Palestinians their basic human rights.

Mr. Trump appealed to the basest instincts of an ignorant, intolerant population to propel himself to the GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) nomination, and will continue this method as he attempts to gain the White House.

Can this be reversed? Although the situation has become dire, and the country seems to be at the brink of disaster, there is hope, and that hope resides in third party candidacies.  There are dozens of parties running candidates for president this year, and this writer encourages the reader to explore them. Of particular note is Gloria La Riva, of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). The 10-Point Program of the PSL is a treatise of practical, common sense
solutions to the many problems plaguing the 99% in the U.S. today, problems that benefit the powerful, governing 1%, thus removing from them any incentive to resolve them.

In an election year where there is clearly no lesser of two evils, a vote for either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton is a throwaway vote; it doesn’t really matter which of the two is victorious. But a vote for a third-party candidate is significant, as it sends a message, one that will grow with time, that the status quo, the nomination of members of the established oligarchy, will no longer be accepted as a fait accompli.

Change does not happen overnight, but with the current situation in the U.S., it must not be delayed.

Originally published in TheTruther.US.

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Filed under Palestine, Political Musings, U.S. Politics

The Time for Third Parties is Now!

The coronation of Hillary Clinton has now been completed. The farce of the primaries, in which millions of people voted for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, only to be told that they don’t know what’s best, and that the super-delegates would select the nominee, is behind us, and even Mr. Sanders has gotten into line like the good little corporate soldier that he is.  On opening night of the Democratic convention, he gave a shining endorsement of Mrs. Clinton, who stands for all the things that his ‘revolution’ seeks to destroy. But, what is any of that, when the need to keep a Democrat in the White House is so important, despite the fact that, in substance, there is little difference between the major policies of the two parties?

We keep hearing about the most ‘progressive’ Democratic platform in history, without any mention that it is completely non-binding, and is basically just the recycled blathering we’ve been hearing for months: more money for the military; more oppression of the Palestinians; less concern about the environment, etc. Oh yes, progressive indeed!

It is long past time for the United States to join the rest of the nations that purport to have some semblance of democracy (the fact that the U.S. simply doesn’t is a topic for another essay), and expand to more than two parties. The Libertarian Party traditionally wins the most votes, after the Republicans and Democrats. But with dozens of third parties fielding candidates for president, why on earth would any thinking person vote for either Mrs. Clinton, the epitome of elitism, corruption, arrogance and entitlement, or the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, a loud-mouthed windbag who appeals to the basest instincts of the most ignorant citizens? Why would anyone in the 99% vote for either of these charter members of the 1%?

Let’s look at just a few areas of concern:

+ Student debt: The average debt for a student who graduated in 2016 is $37,000. Seventy-one percent of students graduate with some debt, and the total student debt owed in the U.S. today exceeds $1 trillion. This cash cow for the government will continue under a Trump or Clinton presidency. However, the platform of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), headed this year by Gloria La Riva, calls for the cancelling of all student debt. The Green Party, with Jill Stein as its presidential nominee, also calls for abolishing student debt.

+ The Military: While at least a quarter of the children in the United States live in poverty, the government spends billions on the military. The PSL platform suggests redirecting that money “to provide for people’s needs here and around the world.” Hmm, what a novel idea! And from the Green Party: “cut military spending by at least 50%. “That amount of money over just a couple of years could wipe out poverty around the world.

+ Police Violence: Both the Green Party and the PSL support an end to the nearly absolute impunity that police officers have, regardless of their crimes.

+ Foreign Policy: Whenever politicians have an audience, if anything related to foreign policy arises, we hear about the great need to protect and defend Israel, a brutal, apartheid regime that has a powerful lobby in the U.S. The PSL’s 10-Point program clearly states the need to end all aid to that country.

+ Wall Street: Mrs. Clinton is the darling of the financial sector in the United States; its donations to her various campaigns total in the tens of millions; she received nearly $700,000 for three speeches to Goldman-Sachs. By endorsing her, Mr. Sanders has crawled into bed with them as well. Mr. Trump, like all good members of the 1%, also bows down at the Wall Street altar. The PSL considers capitalist banking “a form of organized crime, rewarding greed and fraud with obscene bonuses,” and calls for seizing these assets to be used for the good of the people. The Green Party seeks to break up the large banks. Both of these views are heretical to the two-headed Repubocratic Party.

 

This information provides the reader with a view of alternative candidates; in this case, two women of integrity and common sense. The platform of the Green Party, in the context of the Republicans and Democrats, is radical, but in terms of being reasonable, it is a moderate, workable plan.

The PSL, on the other hand, goes farther in demanding basic rights for all people, at home and abroad, in smashing the failed capitalistic model, and replacing it with one in which all people can prosper, possibly at different levels, but without the stark extremes that the U.S. now experiences, with the extremely, obscenely rich on one end, and the destitute poor on the other.

With Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the current major-party candidates to inhabit the White House and wreak international havoc for the next four years, could there be any better time to elect a president who would change the fundamentally flawed paradigm that the U.S. has operated under for two centuries? Is this not the time for a real revolution, not the artificial rhetoric, the ‘meet-the-new- boss-same-as-the-old-boss’, pretty sounding but empty words of the likes of Bernie Sanders?

It is unlikely that a third-party candidate will be elected president this year, although with both candidates highly disliked, and new embarrassments being forever revealed, anything is possible. But even lacking that, when faced with two awful candidates, and one shrinks in horror to consider candidates more awful that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, voting for a candidate who cares about people makes perfect sense.

Although this writer’s ballot will probably not be counted (absentee ballots are only counted if the vote in the state in which they are cast is sufficiently close that such ballots could impact the outcome), he will vote for Ms. La Riva. Much as he likes and respects Dr. Stein and the platform of the Green Party, he supports greater change than even the substantial change that they offer. And while he encourages the reader to vote for Ms. La Riva, he implores everyone to find a third party candidate, and vote accordingly. A vote for either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton will only bring more suffering around the world, more poverty, and more riches into the foreign bank accounts of the already super-rich. Third-party votes represent the voices of those who oppose the continuation of the repressive status-quo. It is high time we make our voices heard.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Filed under Militarism, U.S. Politics

The First Amendment, BDS and Third Party Candidates

It seems sometimes that, like Alice, we have all tumbled down a rabbit hole and entered a bizarre new universe. However, Mr. Carroll could never have invented anything as peculiar as what is seen in United States politics and governance.

For reasons that only politicians and the lobbies who own them can completely understand, Israel, that brutal, apartheid nation, comes first and foremost in what passes for the minds of elected officials. It is reported that New Jersey is the latest in a string of states that is passing anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) laws. This, of course, will require endless hours of effort by some unfortunate bureaucrat to compile lists of organizations that support the boycott of Israel. Was it so long ago that other bureaucrats compiled lists of Communist ‘sympathizers’? We all know how well that turned out.

But anyway, why should politicians who bask in the largess of Israeli lobbies care about the First Amendment? That old thing! Let’s take a look at what is says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The Supreme Court over the years has expanded this to include states; it isn’t just Congress that is so forbidden. In 1982, in the case of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) vs. Clairborne Hardware Co., the Court found that “the nonviolent elements of a boycott are entitled to the protection of the First Amendment”.

Now, what might the governing bodies of New Jersey, New York and nine other states that have passed anti-BDS legislation learn from this? The purpose of the BDS movement, as indicated on its webpage, is clear: in 2005, “Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law”. It would appear that all of these actions fall into the ‘non-violent’ category that the Supreme Court says is protected by the First Amendment.

During the long, drawn out, bitter campaign for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations, which was only a forerunner to what promises to be an unparalleled circus of a campaign between Tweedle-Dum (Republican Donald Trump) and Tweedle-Dee (Democrat Hillary Clinton), most of the candidates from both parties made the obligatory visit to the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) altar in Washington, D.C. in March of this year. There, they decried Palestinian resistance to the occupation, resistance that is sanctioned by the United Nations, and praised Israeli ‘restraint’, that only killed 500 innocent children in less than two months in the summer of 2014. They spoke of the strength of Israeli ‘democracy’, where there are separate laws for Jewish Israelis, and non-Jewish Israelis. They talked of Israel as the U.S.’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East, a friendship that the U.S. purchases with more foreign aid than is given to all other countries combined. Such groveling by men and women who would ‘lead’ the United States is nothing less than repulsive to watch.

Fortunately, the U.S. voter isn’t limited to the two representatives of the Republicratic Party. Choices abound, although the corporate-owned media (fascism, anyone?) would have us all believe otherwise. The candidacy of Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) has been mentioned by this writer previously, but is worth noting again, as she is one of the third-party candidates who does not feel compelled to kiss the unholy ring of Israel.

A few phrases from the PSL webpage are telling:

* The “campaign stands in full solidarity with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign…”

* “The BDS movement demands that Israel: End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Wall; recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.  It fights for an end to Israeli apartheid.”

We learn from this some important differences between Ms. La Riva and Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. First, unlike her rivals, Ms. La Riva respects human rights. Second, she recognizes and respects international law. She understands the role of boycotting in bringing about change. Unlike the Republican and Democratic candidates, she recognizes apartheid when she sees it. Finally, she supports worldwide efforts to bring justice to the Palestinians, after decades of oppression.

But Ms. La Riva doesn’t stop there; she fully exposes the elephant (or perhaps, the donkey) in the room:

“Both of the presumptive major capitalist party candidates, Trump and Clinton, have expressed full support for Israel, outrageously painting Israel as ‘victim’ and the Palestinians as ‘aggressor,’ in keeping with the Israeli narrative that is constantly regurgitated by the corporate media here.”

As Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi has said, “the Palestinians are the only people on earth required to guarantee the security of the occupier, while Israel is the only country that demands protection from its victims.” Ms. La Riva seems to recognize that odd fact, and is willing to do something about it.

It is unlikely that a third-party candidate will be victorious in the 2016 presidential election farce, where the major competitors are highly disliked by large swaths of the electorate, which will seek in vain to find the lesser of two evils. But this situation, where the 99% must choose between two members of the 1%, can begin to die this year, if increasing numbers of people decide to pull a lever for a candidate other than those of either the GOP or Democratic Party. If voters consider such things as human rights, international law, and justice, they will be unable to vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. There are excellent alternatives, and Ms. La Riva is one of them.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Militarism, Palestine, Palestine, U.S., U.S. Politics