Monthly Archives: July 2016

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

A Perfect Couple: Sanders and Clinton

Much to the surprise of absolutely no one but his most ardent fans, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has sold his soul and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Only time will tell what he received in return: a position in a Clinton Cabinet, or perhaps a prestigious assignment in the senate. One hopes he held out for more than a meaningless plank in the Democratic Party platform which, when combined with all the other meaningless planks, makes for a meaningless platform. More on that later. But this is all business as usual when the kingmakers are hard at work, plying their craft.

There was talk in the last several days about overtures the Green Party had made to Mr. Sanders, with the gross exaggeration that likely Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had offered to step aside to enable him to head the ticket. Dr. Stein herself issued a clarification, saying that while the party had reached out to the senator, there were a variety of issues that would need to have been discussed if there was any partnership to be established. She also said that, unlike the Democratic Party, the delegates to the Green Party convention would determine the nominee; it wasn’t hers to give away.

Mr. Sanders’ statement endorsing his former opponent is puzzling indeed. The constraints of time and space prevent a thorough analysis, but we will look at a few key points, and attempt to make sense of them.

“Together, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution continues.”

I think not. Certainly, many people jumped on the Sanders bandwagon, hoping for such changes as a higher minimum wage and an end to astronomical student debt. But, while these are certainly desirable, they do not a revolution make. A good place to start a revolution might be to end war and international militarism, but the good senator had no intention of doing any such thing.

“Together, we continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent….”

Senator Sanders would have us believe that Mrs. Clinton, a woman with an estimated fortune of $45 million, is going to fight for the 99%. This is a woman who never met a corporate lobby she didn’t love. Perhaps Mr. Sanders thinks that his devoted followers will buy whatever it is he chooses to sell, so he decided to bring out the snake oil.

“It is easy to forget where we were seven and a half years ago when President Obama came into office. As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

Curiouser and Curiouser! Does Mr. Sanders forget that the woman whose praises he is now singing earned nearly $700,000 for three, yes three, speeches to Goldman Sachs? Does he expect anyone to believe that she will oppose corporate advantages in order to fight for the common worker? Favors, in the amount of fees and campaign donations, have been granted, and will certainly be called in during a Hillary Clinton administration.

Mrs. Clinton “…knows that it is absurd that middle-class Americans are paying an effective tax rate higher than hedge fund millionaires, and that there are corporations in this country making billions in profit while they pay no federal income taxes in a given year because of loopholes their lobbyists created.”

Please see comment, above.

During this puzzling speech, Mr. Sanders referred to the Democratic Platform, and said this: “… we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.” ‘Progressive’ is such an appealing term to pass around and make liberals feel good. And while this writer risks boring the reader with endless bullet points, he reviewed a draft of the platform, and would like to point out just two of the ‘progressive’ aspects of it:

“Democrats will also address the detrimental role Iran plays in the region and will robustly enforce and, if necessary, strengthen non-nuclear sanctions. Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It violates the human rights of its population, denies the Holocaust, vows to eliminate Israel, and has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East.”

Iran is not the ‘leading state sponsor of terrorism; by any and all accounts, that dubious distinction belongs to the United States, which ‘has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East’.

“We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

“Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity.”

Now, this paragraph deserves our close attention, so the writer will dissect it, like a scientist in a lab.

“We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The U.S. has been unsuccessful in this endeavor or generations, and will continue to be as long as the government is bought and paid for by Israeli lobbies. And it is likely that the U.S. has no interest in ending this ‘conflict’.

“…negotiated directly by the parties…”

As this writer has pointed out previously,  negotiations can only take place between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, and that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes what it wants from Palestine with complete impunity. There can be no negotiations.

Additionally, does the Democratic Party have no respect for international law? Israel is in violation of that law by its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and blockade of Gaza. Why would anyone suggest negotiations?

Such negotiations are supposed to “…guarantee Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provide the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.” Shouldn’t any plan also guarantee Palestine’s future as a ‘secure and democratic state with recognized borders’?

“Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity”

Do not Palestinians deserve ‘security, recognition and a normal life free from terror and incitement’?

So much for Mr. Sanders’ ‘progressive’ platform.

Difficult as it is to say anything positive about the Republican Party, at least its voters thought ‘outside of the box’ this year. There was no decent candidate running, so rather than choosing some tired career politician, they selected a billionaire racist, homophobic, Islamophopic misogynist. The Democrats played by their rigged rulebook, and are about to nominate the quintessential Washington insider.

Is there a lesser evil between these two? Hardly! Each, in his or her own way, will cause untold suffering at home and abroad; do nothing to assist those who are struggling; enrich their friends and associates, and leave a trail of blood and carnage in their wake.

On July 12, this writer had the opportunity of interviewing Gloria La Riva, the presidential nominee of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. He strongly encourages the reader to review her policy recommendations, which, unlike the Democratic Party platform, are filled with practical, common sense solutions to the complex problems facing the country and the world.

Never has the time been better than now to vote third party.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Fighting Back in Dallas

This past week, the nation witnessed, not once, but twice, the apparently unjustified killing of two Black men by white police officers. This no longer shocks anyone; young, usually unarmed Black men serve as target practice for the mainly white police force, so the fact that two more officers were simply practicing their shooting skills is hardly even news.

Dont shoot

Then, on Friday, we all awoke to the national uproar over the killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas. This writer heard some news about it when at the fitness center in the morning; forgetting to bring his mobile device, he had no music to listen to as he used the stepper, and watched that well-known entertainment station, CTV-News, report its version of the news.

One ‘expert’, the name of whom this writer didn’t notice, since said ‘expert’ was already speaking as this writer was setting the adjustments on the stepper he was to use, said mournfully that this shocking event had cast a pall over the entire country.

Now, this writer is sorry for any murder victim, whether that person has been killed by a drone strike in Yemen, a bomb in Syria, an Israeli terrorist in Palestine, a police officer in Baton Rouge or a sniper in Dallas. He feels for the grieving survivors, and sympathizes with their anger at the perpetrator. Yet he feels it is unfair, at the very least, and criminal at the very worst, to classify the killing of five police officers in Dallas as any more tragic than the killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge or Philando Castile in Minneapolis. If a pall has been cast over the nation, it is the pall of blatant, unchecked racism.

And while there is nothing surprising about the constant murders of unarmed Black men by the police, there should be little surprise that, finally, people are fighting back. This does not excuse the murders of these officers, but one must consider that, sooner or later, with no recourse from the courts or the government, victimized people would, eventually, strike back.

After the shootings, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said this:”We don’t feel much support most days. Let’s not make today most days. Please, we need your support to be able to protect you from men like these, who carried out this tragic, tragic event.” Well, who,one might reasonably ask, is going to protect members of the Black community from the police? When the police shoot unarmed Black men, internal investigations almost always find the killing justified. No wonder many police departments “don’t feel much support most days”.

As of this writing, a suspect in the Dallas shootings has been identified. Needless to say, he has also been killed. Micah Xavier Johnson is said to have acted alone, unlike the white police officers who routinely kill Black men; they usually have partners and extensive back up, as they approach and shoot their victims.

Had Mr. Johnson not been killed, he, unlike the murderers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the many others shot by police, would have felt the full effects of the law. Snipers, unlike police officers, cannot kill innocent people with complete impunity.

Let us return for a moment to this writer’s brief exposure to CTV-’News’. In the past, he has seen how the corporate-owned media tells the vapid-minded viewer what to think. For example, when four Israelis were killed in a Tel Aviv cafe, this event was widely broadcast. But when two unarmed Palestinian teenagers, observing but not participating in a demonstration against Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine, were shot by IDF (Israeli Defense Forces. Read: terrorists), in a crime taped by a security camera mounted outside a nearby store, there was no CTV ‘expert’ decrying this horrendous crime, no interviews with the survivors, and, therefore, no instructions to the viewers that they should be angry, sorrowful, etc. A teenage girl, intentionally hit and seriously injured by car driven by an illegal Israeli settler, and then shot by that settler, is not, in the minds of the corporations who own CTV, worthy of being reported. There is, in this view, no reason to shed any tears for her.

With a name like Micah Xavier Johnson, it will be difficult for the media to associate Mr. Johnson with Islam, to which it is almost mandatory for the corporate-owned shills that pass as news outlets to tie to any violent crime. We must all remember, when anyone proclaiming to be Muslim commits a crime, he is a radical jihadist, representative of the entire 1.8 billion people who are Muslims, and who, by definition, are all terrorists. If a Black man commits a crime, it is simply representative of the criminal element that is inherent in the race. If a white man commits a crime, he is mentally unstable, acting alone and, if not shot and killed by police, deserving of the best psychiatric help there is, so he can be rehabilitated, and live the productive, peaceful, law-abiding life typical of all whites.

When the funerals are held for these police officers, we will see thousands of other police officers in attendance. That the police forces in the United States are a ‘brotherhood’ bordering on a cult can hardly be disputed. One episode is telling:

This writer lived for many years in New Jersey. While there, a police officer’s estranged wife obtained a restraining order against her husband, due to domestic violence. He was forbidden from contacting her, or coming to her home. While this order was in effect, she began living with another man. One day, when she was at work, the police officer, her estranged husband, broke into her home. He found her boyfriend naked, sleeping in the bed. He confronted him and shot and killed him. He was subsequently arrested for murder.

As soon as he was arrested, several of his ‘fellow-officers’ mortgaged their homes to pay his bail. He was tried and acquitted of all charges.

Let’s remember that the officer was illegally in his estranged wife’s home. The man he shot had just awakened from sleep, and could hardly have been concealing a weapon; he was wearing nothing to conceal it with. Yet other police officers rushed to his defense, and maintained their belief that he was innocent, despite clear evidence to the contrary. Or perhaps the matter of innocence or guilt didn’t enter their minds: he was a police office, and therefore anything he did, even killing an unarmed, defenseless man, wasn’t wrong..

Mr. Eric Garner, mentioned above, begged for his life as police officers choked him to death. Mr. Brown’s bullet-riddled body lay in the street for hours, before police officers allowed him to be removed, so he could find some dignity in his brutal, untimely and unjustified death.

Numerous stories have been relayed about Black parents warning their teenage sons how to behave if confronted by a police officer, but such guidance is probably given in vain. Mr. Castile informed the police officers that he had a legally-obtained and registered gun in one pocket, and would retrieve his wallet from the other. That was insufficient to save his life.

Can anyone truly say and believe that racism is not rampant in the United States? Can they not say that separate laws exist, if not officially on the books, but certainly in practice, for people of color, and whites?

Violence is seldom justified (note that this writer will not say it’s never justified), but in the current situation, it should not be a surprise. In any racist oligarchy, where power is consolidated among the wealthy few, and the rest are second class citizens, with people of color being in the lowest tier of that lower category, the status quo cannot be expected to be maintained forever. Today’s violence in Dallas will be met with increased violence towards Blacks by the white establishment, which can only increase the cycle of violence. Where this will all end is anyone’s guess, but it will leave a trail of blood and sorrow in its wake.

Originally published by TheTruther.

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