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Ocasio-Cortez to Constituents on Bolivian Coup: Drop Dead

By Jacob Levich | CounterPunch | February 14, 2020

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the celebrity who moonlights as my Congressional representative, has repeatedly claimed to speak for “ordinary people,” but she refuses listen to them,  even if they are constituents.

In late November, shortly after the US-backed military coup that unseated the legitimate president of Bolivia, I together with my life companion requested a meeting with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, whose local offices are located just a short walk from our Jackson Heights apartment building. Working on behalf of a group of anti-imperialists opposing the fascist junta, we hoped to persuade her of the need to act quickly to thwart the coup and defend the lives and rights of the Bolivian people.

Although we never got past the reception desk, we were permitted to present a petition signed by leading academics and anti-imperialist organizers on behalf of the people of Bolivia. We provided all personal data and contact info requested by the office. We were promised that we would be contacted promptly to discuss scheduling a meeting.

We were not contacted. For weeks. After pressing the issue, always taking care to remain courteous and respectful of process, we were subjected to a galling and contemptuous bureaucratic runaround that sometimes felt like applying to – and being rejected by – an exclusive private school.

This three-month process involved repeated visits to her office, where our reception ranged from chilly to downright intimidating, endless emails and telephone calls, bureaucratic excuses and dissimulations, and eventually, after much persistence on our part, a half-hour vetting via conference call by a Washington staffer.

The result? As we say in Queens, bubkes.

By contrast, a group of imperialist sympathizers who had been promoting the coup for months were granted instant access. On November 16, four days after the military coup that destroyed Bolivian democracy, Ocasio-Cortez met with a group of pro-Áñez, pro-Camacho activists led by one Ana Carola Traverso. Traverso’s connections to the Bolivian coup plotters have been extensively documented online.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez symbolically embraced the coup by posing for a photo with this group as they brandished the tricolor Bolivian flag, which during that period had become a signal of support for the golpistas (as opposed to the Wiphala flag, which symbolized popular resistance to the takeover). She told them that she supports their “democratic grassroots movement” and offered them “direct lines of communication.”

In sum, a gang of coup supporters, not constituents, were granted instant access, a photo op and promises of ongoing support. Actual constituents, opposing the coup, were shown the door.

Our reception by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was radically different from that I received from her predecessor, Joe Crowley. When, in 2004, I requested a meeting on behalf of the Queens Antiwar Coalition, we were granted prompt and respectful access to the Congressman. We did not have high hopes of changing his vote on the Iraq war, but we felt it was important that he hear from his constituents.

So, apparently, did he. We were greeted warmly in his rather funky local office – a striking contrast with AOC’s soulless corporate-style digs, where underlings refer to her as “the Boss”  – and were encouraged to speak our piece. Crowley never pretended to be an opponent of US imperialism, but he gave us a respectful hearing, stated his position, and engaged in what felt like meaningful discussion of the war. At a minimum, as Twitter’s bluecheck pundits would say, we felt “seen.”

AOC, by contrast, has no time for people who cannot help her to burnish her brand as she prepares to run for higher office. As a local staffer (who declined to introduce himself) proudly informed us: “She refuses 99 percent of meeting requests from constituents.”

Meanwhile, she happily clears her schedule for interviews about her makeup routine, canned videos in which she postures as a fearless progressive, and closed-door meetings with regime-change sympathizers.

But she will not make time for residents of her district. So much for “ordinary people.”

February 21, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Make Mark Zuckerberg America’s Political Truth Czar

By Thomas L. Knapp – The Garrison Center – October 29, 2019

Politicians lie.

Not all of them. Not every time. But most of them, from both “major” political parties, lie. A lot.

It’s not always easy to tell when they’re lying. It’s not always easy to prove they’re lying. Often, it’s not even easy to tell if they’re just lying to us or to themselves as well.

Some politicians want Facebook to stop politicians from lying. They phrase that desire as a request for Facebook to “fact check” content posted by politicians, especially political advertising.

Perhaps I’m too cynical, but I’m not sure it’s  coincidence that the examples politicians offer tend to be drawn from content posted by their political opponents.

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is a notable exception. She asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg if Facebook would let her target Republican politicians by running ads falsely accusing them of voting for her “Green New Deal” proposal (Zuckerberg said he couldn’t answer “off the top of his head”).

On the other hand, AOC’s own take seems  a bit naive.  “So you will take down lies or you won’t take down lies?” she asked Zuckerberg.  “I think this is a pretty simple yes or no.”

It isn’t.

Let’s use the Green New Deal as an example.

If a Facebook employee has to “fact check” an ad asserting that the proposal would “tank the American economy,” how should that employee evaluate the truth or falsehood of the claim?

What criteria should that employee use for deciding what “tank” means? Is slow economic growth “tanking?” Or would it take a recession or depression to meet the threshold?

Should that employee rely on analyses from the Heritage Foundation? Or perhaps from People for the American Way? Or the Congressional Budget Office? Or the Office of Management and Budget? Four sources, likely four wildly conflicting sets of claims and projections.

For a conflicting ad claiming the Green New Deal would “boost the American economy,” should that employee “fact check” the ad using the same sources as for the original ad, or different sources? Would 1% growth of GDP constitute a boost? If not, what number, applied to what metric, would?

What if both ads fail the “fact check?” Should the public just flip a coin and vote accordingly, since the two sides are forbidden to offer us their takes to  evaluate and decide between for ourselves?

Politics consists of conflicting narratives. No two opposing narratives can both be true. In fact, both could be false (Spoiler: Both are probably at least partially false, intentionally or not; personal biases affect politicians’ beliefs, and ours, at least as much as facts do).

The question is not whether politicians’ claims should be fact checked. The question is who should do the checking.

In an even remotely free society, the only answer is “all of us.”

Yes, some of us will  fail to accurately distinguish truth from falsehood. Some of us will get things wrong.

That’s better than one centralized “fact checking” operation getting them wrong for all of us.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

October 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

Politics in bad faith: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigns in Michigan

By Andre Damon | WSWS | July 31, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, visited Southeast Michigan this past weekend. Her primary victory last month over New York Congressman Joe Crowley has made her, virtually overnight, a leading spokesperson for the Democratic Party.

Ocasio-Cortez appeared at rallies in Detroit, Flint and Ypsilanti, as part of a statewide tour in support of Abdul El-Sayed, a former Detroit health department official running for governor of Michigan.

Ocasio-Cortez speaks at Wayne State University in Detroit

Ocasio-Cortez has been lionized in the press as the leader of a radical wave sweeping over the Democratic Party. Given the location of her events—including Detroit, the poorest large city in America, and Flint, which has been devastated by a lead water crisis—anyone taking her and the DSA’s pretenses to “socialism” seriously might have expected to hear bold proposals for tackling America’s rampant social inequality.

But when it came time for her to speak, what followed was a torrent of evasive and dishonest platitudes. She began her remarks at Wayne State University in Detroit:

My fingers are tingling right now because I know that this room is not just a rally, not just an audience, or even just a community; this is movement. Movement cannot be stopped, movement is like a wave; that energy cannot be contained, and Abdul, like many others, is just the crest, is just the foam at the tip of that wave. This is a movement so much bigger than just one person, there is no one person that is the future, there is a people that is the future.

To see such statements in print is to confirm the impression they produce on the listener: So much hot air.

America needs a “salt of the earth government,” Ocasio-Cortez went on, because, “We know that what is right in one place is what is right in all places.” And so on and so forth.

Like Barack Obama, whom she acknowledges as an inspiration, Ocasio-Cortez revels in seemingly profound motivational statements that are, upon the slightest examination, shown to be devoid of content. Her speeches are a variant of Obama’s slogan: “Yes we can.” She makes no effort to explain why Obama’s “Yes we can” was turned into eight years of “No we can’t.”

She continued, “The future of this nation and the future of this party is working class, the future of this party is working people, the future of this party is the marginalized, it is women, it is gender-extended people, it is people of color, it is the affirmation of justice, that is the future of this party.”

This invocation of the working class, mixed with appeals to other “identities,” is in bad faith, because the entire purpose of her campaign, and of the existence of the DSA, is to promote the Democratic Party, which, along with the Republicans, is a party of the corporate and financial oligarchy.

The Democrats are currently in the midst of a ferociously right-wing campaign centered on denunciations of Trump for “betraying” the country to Russia. In the midterm elections, the Democrats are fielding an unprecedented number of former members of the CIA and the military, which reflects their position as the preferred party of dominant sections of the military-intelligence apparatus.

Ocasio-Cortez’s inability to say anything genuinely oppositional, let alone radical, is bound up with her political role. She has quickly been absorbed into the Democratic Party establishment, and her rhetoric conforms to its politics. In promoting a right-wing party, her “left-wing” gloss is reduced to empty slogans.

Only a few sentences of her speech touched on actual policy. “The future of this party is improved and expanded Medicare for all,” she declared. For Abdul El-Sayed, “Medicare for all” means a statewide health care system paid for by workers from their own paychecks, one which his website boasts will exempt a substantial number of businesses from health care contributions.

Abdul El-Sayed

Such campaign promises are meaningless anyway. Obama declared himself a “proponent of a single payer universal health care program” in 2003, before going on to implement the “Affordable Care Act,” a reactionary attack on health care that shifts the burden from corporations and the state to workers by requiring individuals to purchase private insurance. This was cynically packaged as a major social “reform.”

Of particular note in the rallies to which Ocasio-Cortez spoke was the absence of any reference to foreign policy or the slightest hint of opposition to war. In fact, it was as if the rest of the world did not exist.

When a WSWS reporter asked the candidates at the post-rally press briefing in Detroit, “Do both of you support withdrawing all US troops from the Middle East and Africa?” El-Sayed gave an evasive non-answer: “We’ve got to make sure that we are focused on a foreign policy that articulates what we all can do when we come together around a more peaceful world.”

A staffer immediately attempted to conclude the briefing. When the reporter restated the question, “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, are you anti-war? Do you support withdrawing all US troops from the Middle East?”

She replied, “I’m sorry, I’m here to support Abdul.”

The press conference immediately concluded, and the candidates were whisked away. (The next day, another WSWS reporter asked Ocasio-Cortez the same question at a rally in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She gave the same rehearsed answer.)

After the conclusion of the press conference, a WSWS reporter asked a high-level Ocasio-Cortez staffer, “What does she think the tax rate on the top income bracket should be?” He said he could not answer that question, because “She’s just focused on getting candidates with a similar program elected right now.”

In other words, Ocasio-Cortez can’t even commit to an explicit policy of raising taxes on the wealthiest section of society. In the spectrum of traditional American politics, this places her “democratic socialism” somewhere on the left wing of the 1960s-era Republican Party. Her inability to make any statement in opposition to war likewise put her to the right of both major Democratic nominees in the 1968 presidential primaries, who ran on an anti-war program.

The events make clear the political function of the Democratic Socialists of America. Far from creating a politically independent socialist movement, the DSA functions as an adjunct of the Democratic Party, providing candidates whose programs are largely indistinguishable from the rest of the party and are compatible with the agenda of the “CIA Democrats.”

The political role of Ocasio-Cortez and a slew of similar, DSA-backed candidates is to put a “left-wing,” “progressive,” youth-oriented, and multicultural gloss on a right-wing, pro-war party.

August 2, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Ocasio-Cortez “Evolves” Her Position on Palestine to Please Zionist Democratic Mega-Donors

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | July 16, 2018

NEW YORK – During a recent interview with PBS and just two weeks after her historic upset victory against 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemed already to be walking back from at least some of her more “radical” positions voiced prior to her Democratic primary win.

While her primary victory has certainly made the young New Yorker a new “rising star” in the Democratic Party, all the new attention seems to have come at a price, particularly as she now aims to court major Democratic Party donors as the general election approaches. Many of those donors, such as the Zionist entertainment billionaire Haim Saban, are unlikely to be supportive of her past positions on key issues, particularly her prior statements on Israel and Palestine.

Appearing on PBS’ Firing Line on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez surprised many of her supporters as she toned down statements she had made earlier this year regarding Israel, particularly Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its brutal crackdown on demonstrators in the Gaza Strip. That crackdown saw over 6,000 unarmed protesters shot by Israeli Defense Forces and hundreds killed, resulting in international condemnation.

Though she had tweeted on May 14 that the Israeli crackdown in Gaza was a “massacre,” and expressed hope that her “peers have the moral courage to call it such,” Ocasio-Cortez distanced herself from that statement during her recent PBS interview, asserting that she had made that statement as an “activist” and not as a congressional candidate for the Democratic Party.

That statement alone suggests that other positions voiced by Ocasio-Cortez prior to her primary win could also be subject to revision over the next few months in the lead-up to the midterm elections in November.

Ocasio-Cortez went on to distance herself from other past statements she had made regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, including having used the term “occupation” when referring to Israel’s military rule over Palestine’s West Bank. For instance, when asked to expand on what she had meant by “the occupation of Palestine,” Ocasio-Cortez only referred to the fact that “[Israeli] settlements … are increasing in some of these areas.” When prodded further, she stated that she was “not the expert on geo-politics on this issue” and that she may not always “use the right words” when discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The 28-year-old candidate, whom PBS had introduced as “the vanguard of the American progressive movement,” also expressed during the interview that she believes “absolutely in Israel’s right to exist” and called herself a “proponent of the two-state solution.” However, given Israel’s aggressive policies aimed towards annexation of the West Bank and the U.S. government’s current support for such measures, Ocasio-Cortez’s support for the two-state solution reflects either a lack of knowledge on the subject or an unwillingness to face the fact that a two-state solution is largely impossible. Given her past statements on Palestine while still an “activist,” the latter seems to be more likely.

Indeed, prior to the PBS interview, Ocasio-Cortez had been promoted as a “pro-Palestine socialist” and had been praised by leftist pundits like Glenn Greenwald for her “moral courage” in standing up for the “human dignity” of Palestinians. Given the amount of attention her past pro-Palestine comments had received, her decision to walk back those positions just a few weeks after her primary win is particularly jarring.

Also eye-opening was the fact that Ocasio-Cortez concluded her statements on the topic by saying that she was willing to “learn and evolve on this issue.” In other words, she essentially rejected her past “activist” positions on Palestine in favor of allowing her position on the issue to “evolve” into one more acceptable to the Democratic centrists and the powerful pro-Israel elements that hold considerable sway within the Democratic party. Indeed, the pro-Israel lobby has already given over $5 million to the Democratic Party over the past year.

It remains to be seen whether Ocasio-Cortez is equally willing to renege, or rather “evolve,” on other progressive issues as the general election approaches. Yet, given that she is already walking back on her past rhetoric just a few weeks after her victory, it seems likely that Ocasio-Cortez of November could be very different in terms of policy from the Ocasio-Cortez of today.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Why It Matters That Peace Is Gone from Ocasio-Cortez Website

By David Swanson | American Herald Tribune | June 30, 2018

Newly popular Democratic politician hero and nominee for a seat in the U.S. Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used to have these words on her website:

A Peace Economy

“Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States has entangled itself in war and occupation throughout the Middle East and North Africa. As of 2018, we are currently involved in military action in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. According to the Constitution, the right to declare war belongs to the Legislative body, not the President. Yet, most of these acts of aggression have never once been voted on by Congress. Alex believes that we must end the forever war by bringing our troops home and ending the air strikes and bombings that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism and occupation throughout the world.”

Now they’re gone. Asked about it on Twitter, she replied:

“Hey! Looking into this. Nothing malicious! Site is supporter-run so things happen -we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

A lot of people have been publicly encouraging her to proceed with getting to the bottom of it. One person has even designed a logo for her to use with the above text to match the logos she’s used with other “Issues” sections of her website. Tech-pro volunteers stand ready to help with the task of re-adding the words to the website at a moment’s notice.

Why does this matter? It’s just five pretty vague, non-committal sentences. It gives no indication even within, say, $300 billion what the nominee would like where in the federal budget, what steps she might take to end which wars, or what wars, if any, she considers impeachable offenses, or what initiatives she might undertake to advance peace, diplomacy, the rule of law, or conversion to a peace economy. What’s the big deal?

For one thing, the bar is very low in these matters. I’m not aware of a single candidate for Congress who has so much as hinted at what the federal budget should look like or even been asked to do so. I searched Democratic Congressional campaign websites and found a grand total of eight that mentioned any sort of opposition to war at all. (Most don’t even mention the existence of foreign policy.) Of those eight statements, Ocasio-Cortez’s five sentences are (were) in some ways the strongest. She lists major current wars. She calls them acts of aggression. She says she wants to end the forever war, strongly implying that she wants to end each of the wars she named and any others like them. She says she wants to end bombings, not just troop deployment. And she notes that the bombings are counterproductive on their own terms.

While the obviousness with which these wars are in fact acts of aggression is staggering, it is not possible to hire a political consultant in the United States who would advise you to leave that on your website. Acts of aggression are indisputably illegal, as well as being something that very serious people only accuse non-U.S. governments of when trying to fuel the cycle of violence that Ocasio-Cortez opposes (opposed). If you run for Congress admitting that the U.S. government is engaged in a criminal enterprise, that in fact the majority of what the government does is what was characterized at Nuremberg as the supreme international crime, people should have the right to expect you to do something about it.

Now we’re getting to why this really matters. Some 60% of federal discretionary spending goes to militarism. Most candidates for Congress are only campaigning for 40% of a job. They’re saying literally nothing about foreign policy, and nobody is asking them. So, Ocasio-Cortez is (was) exceptional, but exceptional in even touching fleetingly on the majority of the job for which she is applying. She’s done so in a couple of instances that I’m aware of beyond the now-deleted five sentences. She tweeted opposition to an Israeli massacre of Palestinians, and she spoke in support of the same position in a video interview with Glenn Greenwald. She also tweeted in opposition to an AUMF, including these words:

“War doesn’t bring peace. Alleviating poverty does. Education does. Representative gov does.”

That’s not a Bernie Sanders candidate. That’s a better than Bernie Sanders candidate.

But why does it matter what she says on her website? I’ll tell you why. When people campaign on peace they tend to win, and that fact tends to be erased, either by silence or by the elected official turning toward war after the election. When someone wins a primary campaigning for peace, others need to learn of it. And when they win a general election campaigning for peace, others need to learn of it. This is how you get more candidates to support peace.

The notion that someone will secretly plan to work for peace while going silent or pretending to favor war until they are elected has very few examples to support it and thousands going against it. Very rare is Congressman Ro Khanna whose website is silent on peace but whose career actually works for it. Far more common is one of the other seven candidates with peace on their campaign websites, Pramila Jayapal, an incumbent who has yet to distinguish herself through actions.

While those who campaign on peace may do little for it, those who do anything for it tend to have campaigned on it.

A candidate who surrounds himself or herself with people who delete peace from a website is a candidate hearing bad advice, and a future official likely to go on hearing bad advice.

Now, of course, I’m hoping that Ocasio-Cortez does indeed replace her words on her website. I’m hoping that some of her passionate supporters who have baselessly claimed that she’s preparing a longer better statement on a peace economy turn out to be right. Nothing would please me more. And I would indeed immediately start promoting Ocasio-Cortez for Congress. She is, after all, excellent on many other issues, and her positions on other issues would actually make sense and be achievable with a peace economy.

I hope the new, better statement is on her website by the time I publish this. I hope all of her fans have a chance to call me a fool for mentioning such a thing at all. I hope they accept me as a fellow fan despite my lack of total blind loyalty.

But what’s been revealed during the time that the five sentences have been gone from the website has been quite disturbing, even if typical and predictable. People haven’t just invented excuses. Some have denounced any criticism or questioning as inappropriate. Others have claimed that Ocasio-Cortez should not be held responsible for her own website at all. Others have suggested that she shouldn’t have time to deal with a website until after she’s elected (and has less important work to do than campaigning?). Others have, of course, used the Argumentum Obamatum which proposes that any candidate you like is secretly for peace but wise to pretend otherwise while campaigning (and perhaps even while governing).

So, when I say that others need to hear that a candidate campaigned on peace and won, I don’t just mean other candidates, I mean other people in general. The main reason, bigger even than financial corruption and corporate media, that more candidates don’t win while campaigning for peace is that almost never do any of them try it.

June 30, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment