This just in today from former lead BBC Mideast correspondent Alan Hart, who will join me on the radio today, Monday 1/9/12, 3 to 4 pm Central. Listen live at http://www.AmericanFreedomRadio.com.
By Alan Hart
The first headline I thought of for this article was The Zionization of American democracy and how it could be terminated, but then I said to myself: “Don’t be silly, Alan, there’s no democracy in the ‘Land of the Free.’”
Leaving aside the fact that any American can now be arrested and detained without due process, there’s no mystery about why.
There’s much more to democracy than voting every few years for the lesser of two or three evils or in America’s case naked political whores (with the exception among the would-be Republican presidents of Ron Paul).
A truth is that for democracy to exist, the voters have to be informed enough about critical issues in order to participate in, or at least follow, debate about policy options and choices and call and hold their politicians to account, between elections if necessary. On that basis I know of no country in the world where democracy exists.
In the so-called democratic or what used to be called the “Free World” we have the framework for democracy but not the substance. When I joined ITN as a very young reporter very many years ago, its great editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Cox, gave me the mission statement in one short sentence. “Our job is to help keep democracy alive.” Today I charge the mainstream media with betraying democracy. So I say thanks for the internet, warts and all. (The jury is still out on how far it will be allowed to propel Arab demands for democracy but it might assist Russians to prevent a return to Stalinism under Mr Putin and his state Mafia).
A truth about America is that what passes for democracy there is for sale to the highest lobby bidders, not only (I must emphasize) the Zionist lobby in all of its manifestations.
On 9 December, quoting the latest findings of Public Campaign, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to “sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics,” International Business Times reported this amazing fact. “By employing a plethora of tax-dodging techniques, 30 multi-million dollar American corporations expended more money lobbying Congress than they paid in federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010, ultimately spending approximately $400,000 every day – including weekends – during that three-year period to lobby lawmakers and influence political elections.”
But that’s not all. Citizens for Tax Justice, the sister organization to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, reported that 68 of the 265 most consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies did not pay a state corporate income tax during at least one year between 2008 and 2010, while 20 of them paid no taxes at all during that period.
Apart from the occupant of the White House and those who advise him, probably nobody really knows which are the most influential lobbies in America, but a list of the top ten as compiled by the Business Pundit web site made a lot of sense to me. The following are the ten, not necessarily in order of actual influence wielded.
“The Defense Industry” or, as named by President Eisenhower when he warned his fellow Americans to be on their guard and not let it call the policy shots to secure a disproportionate amount of taxpayers’ money, the Military Industrial Complex. It needs conflict and war in order to be able to quench its thirst for taxpayers’ dollars and sustain its position as the biggest creator of jobs and wealth. (According to a recent report in The Economist, the U.S. Department of Defense is the biggest employer in the world with 3.2 million on its payroll, ahead of China’s army with 2.3 million). The heaviest hitters in the defense industry are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics.
“Big Oil” which is said to spend more on lobbying than any other single special interest group – nearly $150 million in 2010.
“The Financial Lobby” which in its various manifestations – banks and other financial institutions – is by far the biggest spender on Capitol Hill, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to campaigns and political parties. (In return, and as noted by Business Pundit, financial institutions are allowed free reign with other people’s money. A senate committee on the financial crisis of the late 2000’s found that, “The crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.”)
“Big Pharma”. Along with the financial lobbies, the pharmaceutical and health products industries have historically been one of the biggest and most powerful lobbies in Washington. Drug companies enjoy more power and influence in America than with any other government in the world.
“The Agribusiness Industry” which represents a diverse collection of special interest groups including large food manufacturers like Kraft and Uniliver, huge agricultural companies like Monsanto, tobacco companies such as Phillip Morris, biofuel producers like UNICA, and logging companies like International Paper and Weyerhauser. These companies spend upwards of $150 million each year, funding campaigns and pushing legislation through Congress or blocking it.
“The Tech Lobby” which includes the economic fire power of Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.
“The Mining Industry”. This lobby, particularly the coal industry, has had its fingers in American politics for a long time. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was responsible for some of the most dramatic labor uprisings in history. In the last three years, in the face skepticism on the part of environmental advocacy groups, it spent nearly $100 million on seeking to persuade politicians that “clean coal” really will make a major contribution to averting an energy supply crisis.
“The NRA” (National Rifle Association). It has been one of the most consistently influential political lobbies in American politics for the past 30 years. Its power is less in money and more its ability to mobilize its members. It puts major effort into opposing candidates who advocate gun control. (Al Gore, for example, lost the 2000 election in his own home state of Tennessee primarily because of his pro gun-control stance).
“The AARP” (American Association of Retired Persons). It is an NGO and special interest group for people aged 50 and over and one of the largest lobbying groups in Washington.
“The Pro-Israel Lobby” which is more accurately described as the Zionist Lobby. As my regular readers know, I insist that it’s wrong to call this lobby pro-Israel because to do so implies that it speaks for all Israeli Jews and it does not. Headed by AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) which speaks for not more than about 25% of Jewish Americans, it has been called the NRA of foreign policy lobbies because of its ability to make or break politicians including presidents.
The statement that best sums up for me the consequences of all this financial fire power on America’s political system was the one made by the man I would like to see as America’s next president – Rocky Anderson. Who is he?
On Monday 19 December, at a press conference in Washington D.C., he announced the creation of a new third party, the Justice Party, and his intention to run for the presidency under its banner.
Just turned 60, Rocky Anderson, a former two-term mayor of Utah’s Salt Lake City, has an impressive record of service to what could be called the public good on many fronts. For reasons of space I have to ask readers who want to know more about him to take a look at his Wikipedia entry.
On 11 August last year he denounced the Democratic Party and resigned his membership of it. In his letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he said: “Until the Democratic Party shows some spine and draws a line in the sand – that an end to the tax breaks for the wealthy needs to be part of any debt/budget bill – please take my name off your list… I’m done with the Democratic Party. As I said on Amy Goodman’s show a couple years ago, I’ve put my proud Democrat coffee mug in storage. I think now I’ll just throw it in the garbage and have done with it… The Constitution has been eviscerated while Democrats have stood by with nary a whimper. It is a gutless, unprincipled party, bought and paid for by the same interests that buy and pay for the Republican Party.”
I was inspired by Amy Goodman’s interview with Anderson for Open Democracy very shortly after his announcement of the formation of the Justice Party.
The great thing about television is that it gives viewers the opportunity not only to listen to what speakers are saying but also to study their body language as they are speaking and listening to the questions. In other words, television gives viewers the opportunity to ask and answer an important question – Do I believe this guy or gal? With Tony Blair, for example, my answer was always “No”. And I regret to say it has become “No” when I listen to President Obama and watch his body language. Anderson’s body language told me he is a man I can believe and that makes what he had to say more than important – even though he has no chance of becoming president in 2013. (After that…?)
Here is what he said in answer to one of Goodman’s questions.
“We launched the Justice Party because the entire system is so corrupt. It’s so diseased. We know that the public interest is not being served by anyone in the system right now, particularly the two dominant parties who have sustained this corrupt system and who are sustained by it… Obama received more money from Wall Street than any presidential candidate ever. And they got a great return on their investment… We need people in public office who are pledged not to just represent the people’s interest in the same system, but to change the system and get the corrupting influence of corporate and other concentrated wealth out of our electoral system and out of our system of governance.”
Common sense says that the only way to end the financial corruption of American politics is by the people, the voters, demanding that it be ended.
A real clean-up would require legislation giving effect to the proposition that all elections will be funded by only one source – public money raised from taxation, with the revenue ring-fenced so that it could only be used for elections. There are about 100 million voters in America and ten dollars added each year to their tax bill would provide enough money for all election funding. Ten dollars a year is surely a very small price for each voter to pay for something approaching real democracy.
Given that Congress’s approval rating is closer to 10 percent than 20 percent according to the latest polls, organizing a rolling and rising tide of people power to demand the necessary constitutional amendment or amendments to get the corrupting influence of lobby funding out of the electoral system ought not to be a mission impossible.
In other words, if enough American voters were aware of how corrupt their political system actually is, and if then they cared enough, they could cause the corruption to be terminated. What a demonstration of real democracy in action that would be!
In an opinion piece for The Electronic Intifada on 27 December, Ilan Pappe wrote the following.
“If we had a wish list for 2012 as Palestinians and friends of Palestine, one of the top items ought to be our hope that we can translate the dramatic shift in recent years in world public opinion into political action against Israeli policies on the ground… We know why this has not yet materialized: the political, intellectual and cultural elites of the West cower (crouch or cringe in fear) whenever they even contemplate acting according to their own consciences as well as the wishes of their societies. This last year was particularly illuminating for me in that respect. I encountered that timidity at every station in the many trips I took for the cause I believe in. And these personal experiences were accentuated by the more general examples of how governments and institutions caved in under intimidation from Israel and pro-Zionist Jewish organizations.”
In America Zionist intimidation which causes the “caving in” manifests itself in two ways.
One is funding for election campaigns and the threat, actually the promise, not only to deny funding to candidates who won’t commit to toeing Zionism’s line but to fund their opponents.
The other is delivery of Zionist lobby organized Jewish votes in close election races. (In a few states that are home to large Jewish populations – New York, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida – the Jewish vote can be decisive).
Once upon a time, when most Jewish Americans voted for Democratic Party candidates, Republicans running for office did not bother to grovel for Jewish campaign funds and votes. An indicator of how times are changing is that in the current race for the White House, and with the exception of Ron Paul, Republican candidates are grovelling for Jewish campaign funds and votes as much if not more than Obama. In that context it can be said that the Zionization of American politics has been completed.
Can it ever be ended? Yes if enough Americans insist that their politicians be accountable to those who elect them and not the big money special interest lobbies.
At the time of writing the signs are that Obama will get a second term by default, this because no Republican challenger is credible to enough Americans. If that is the outcome of November’s election, probably a majority of Americans will be very far from happy with the way their electoral system operates; and that discontent might just be enough to cause them to demand an end to the corruption of the lobby system.
My hope for 2013 and beyond is that they will. (Could it be that Rocky Anderson’s time will come?)