News Release Archive - US Elections

Israel Lobby Helped Shontel Brown Defeat Nina Turner

MICHAEL BROWN, michael@electronicintifada.net@intifada
Brown just wrote the piece “Israel lobby helps Shontel Brown defeat Nina Turner” for the Electronic Intifada.

Kirk A. Bado notes that Democratic Majority for Israel “has spent more opposing Nina Turner than nearly all other outside spending combined.”

Brown notes that in March Shontel Brown “tweeted her thanks to the pro-Israel organization for its endorsement, noting that ‘the US and Israel have a solid and unbreakable bond with shared democratic values and common interests.’ …

“Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have stated this year that Israel commits the crime of apartheid in all the territories it controls.

“Mark Mellman, the CEO of Democratic Majority for Israel, said just before the primary that Turner is an ‘implacable foe of Israel and a potential leader of the anti-Israel movement.’

“His PAC — political action committee — raised well over $1 million for Brown.

“DMFI board member Archie Gottesman received considerable criticism earlier this year when a genocide-promoting tweet of hers calling to ‘burn’ all of Gaza came to light. She retained her board seat with an unconvincing apology.”

See from The Intercept in July by Matthew Cunningham-Cook: “Oil and Gas Heir Funding Super PAC Attacking Nina Turner” which reported that “Samson Energy’s chair has donated $1.25 million to the Democratic Majority for Israel super PAC, which endorsed Turner’s opponent Shontel Brown.”

Mike Gravel’s Challenge to Militarism and Push for Real Democracy

Sen. Mike Gravel, best known for having risked censure and expulsion from the Senate by reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record exactly 50 years ago on Tuesday, died on Saturday at the age of 91.

Gravel twice sought the presidency. In 2008, he challenged the other candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, from the debate stage: “They frighten me. When you have mainline candidates that turn around and say that there’s ‘nothing off the table’ with respect to Iran — that’s code for using nukes.” He then told then-candidate Biden: “You have a certain arrogance. You want to tell the Iraqis how to run their country.” President Biden bombed Iraq and Syria on Sunday.

The DNC kept Gravel off the debate stage in 2020 to his protests, but his campaign gave rise to the Gravel Institute, which is powered by a group of young people, has become a force on Twitter and produces short educational videos.

On Sunday, Daniel Ellsberg, who disclosed the Pentagon Papers, a massive top-secret government study that documented its own deceit of the public during the Vietnam War, appeared with Gravel’s daughter, Lynne Mosier, on the Katie Halper Show.

Ellsberg lauded Gravel’s courage for entering the top-secret documents into the Congressional Record — saying he helped assert a “precedent that no one else has taken advantage of in 50 years” — meaning virtually no other Senator has used the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution to expose classified information that should be made public.

In 1971, the New York Times and other papers were enjoined by the courts against publishing further material from the Pentagon Papers. Gravel obtained a copy from Ellsberg who was then underground, and read from them in Congress. He said on the night of June 29, 1971: “People are dying, arms and legs are severed and metal crashes through human bodies because of policy decisions conceived in secret and kept from the American people. Free and informed public debate is the source of our strength. Remove it and our democratic institutions become a sham.” And then he wept.

The following day, June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court ruled against the Nixon administration.

Gravel sought to get a book publisher to publish the Pentagon Papers, but no commercial or university press would do so. Finally, Beacon Press, an arm of the Unitarian Universalist Association, published the “Gravel Edition” of the Pentagon Papers and was targeted for years afterwards by the Nixon administration and the FBI. See talk by Ellsberg, Gravel and Robert West, who was the president of the UUA.

Consortium News — see their obituary of Gravel — is currently publishing excerpts from his memoirA Political Odyssey The Rise of American Militarism and One Man’s Fight to Stop It, for the anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, co-authored with Joe Lauria.

In 2010, Gravel told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Whenever something comes up that [Senate minority leader] Mitch McConnell is opposed to … he just threatens a filibuster.” Then, the Democrats “back down and pundit after pundit says you need 60 votes to pass it. Baloney. You need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but a filibuster is a really costly thing to do.

“I used the filibuster for five months to end the [military] draft in 1971. I succeeded. I’m proud of what I did. I helped end the war in Vietnam. But I paid a price politically and among my colleagues for using the filibuster.”

Much of Gravel’s final years were focused on constitutional solutions to the public effectively being left out of the governing process. He founded the group The National Citizens Initiative for Democracy and wrote the book The Failure of Representative Government and the Solution: A Legislature of the Peoplearguing for the creation of a fourth branch of government which manifests a form of direct democracy.

LYNNE MOSIER, lynne@mosier.name
Mosier, (pronounced Moe Z A) is Gravel’s daughter. She just wrote an obituary of her father which encompasses these issues and others, including his opposition of nuclear power, his embrace of renewables, his early backing of drug legalization, and his backing in the 1970s of the Trans Alaska Pipeline: “Gravel was instrumental in lifting Alaska from one of the poorest and most unequal states in the U.S. in the 1970 Census to one of the richest and most equal by the 2000 Census. The state’s Native population moved from poverty to the middle class and from a subsistence economy to a mixed subsistence/cash economy with educated young Native leaders managing multi-billion dollar corporations in one generation. He was a leading proponent and one of the key congressional players in settling the indigenous land claims of Alaskan Natives. The settlement created 12 Alaska Native regional corporations and over 200 village corporations that have helped transform Alaska’s economy.”

New Look at Why the Democrats Did So Poorly in the Congressional Races: Their Highly Touted Fundraising Advantage Turned Out to Be a Fable

THOMAS FERGUSON, thomas.ferguson@umb.edu
PAUL JORGENSEN, pdj78@me.com
Ferguson is professor emeritus, University of Massachusetts Boston and director of research, Institute for New Economic Thinking. His books include Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems.

Jorgensen is associate professor and director of environmental studies at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley.

With Jie Chen, they just co-wrote the piece “Big Money Drove the Congressional Elections — Again” which is a comprehensive analysis of campaign spending in the 2020 congressional elections.

They commented that “We were very skeptical about the strong pre-election claims of a huge Democratic fundraising advantage in Congressional races. Those doubts turned out to be well founded. Two thousand twenty looks very much like the last 40 years of Congressional election results: the outcome shows strong straight line relationships between money and votes. In American politics you get mostly what affluent people pay for — which goes a long way toward explaining why stimulus programs for ordinary people, but not Wall Street, are so controversial.”

Biden Continuing Trump’s Targeting of Venezuela

Reuters reports: “Biden will recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader, top diplomat says.”

AP reports: “Carlos Vecchio, [Trump-backed opposition leader Juan] Guaidó’s envoy in Washington who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, tweeted photos of himself at Biden’s inauguration. The invitation to attend was touted by Venezuela’s opposition as evidence the Biden administration will continue its strong support and resist entreaties by Maduro for dialogue that the U.S. has strenuously rejected until now.”

STEVE ELLNER, sellner74@gmail.com
Ellner is an associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives. He is the editor of the recently published book Latin American Extractivism: Dependency, Resource Nationalism and Resistance in Broad Perspectives

He said today: “In spite of claims to the contrary, the Biden foreign policy team is not breaking with the Trump administration in its policy toward Venezuela. … The Biden people claim that their plans to enlist the support of allies is an innovation in that it corrects Trump’s go-it-alone approach toward Venezuela. In fact, Trump did seek and attain the support of over 50 nations (hardly a majority in the UN’s General Assembly) by taking advantage of the fact that much of Europe and Latin America was in the hands of conservative and right-wing leaders.

“In addition,” said Ellner, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken has indicated that “the Biden administration will provide Venezuela with much-needed humanitarian assistance. The Trump administration, however, also extended Venezuela humanitarian aid. But it was channeled through the parallel government of Juan Guaidó resulting in multiple denunciations of misuse of funds — not to say blatant acts of corruption — by members of his team who resigned in protest.

“Blinken also claims Biden will embark on a new course in that it will ‘more effectively target’ sanctions. Exactly what this means is unclear, but decades of the use of sanctions throughout the world demonstrate that, regardless of intent, the real victims of sanctions are the entire population. Even the Trump administration announced that the supply of medicine and food would not be affected but in fact it was. Everyone in the global commercial chain feared reprisals if they had any interaction at all with Venezuelan companies, both private and state-owned.

“Far from regime change, the starting point of U.S. policy toward Venezuela has to be recognizing Nicolás Maduro as the nation’s legitimate president. There may have been some irregularities in the Venezuelan presidential elections of 2018, as there have been in U.S. electoral contests, but there was no credible evidence of the votes not getting counted correctly, that is, electoral fraud. The commercial media’s uncritical employment of the term ‘authoritarian’ and ‘dictator’ to refer to Maduro is nothing short of deceptive and it ignores context, namely the multiple violent attempts to remove him, even physically.

“Maduro has clearly indicated his interest in negotiations with the U.S. and of late has expressed willingness to make concessions specifically regarding the release of several jailed U.S. citizens. He has also recently indicated his openness to concessions on the economic front.”

Will Biden Continue Bombings?

As thousands of troops were deployed to Washington, D.C. during Joe Biden’s inauguration, Rev. Silvester Beaman gave the benediction, saying: “We will make friends of our enemies. We will make friends of our enemies. People, your people, should no longer raise up weapons against each other. We will rather use our resources for the national good and become a beacon of life and goodwill to the world. And neither shall we learn hatred anymore. We will lie down in peace and not make our neighbors afraid.”

As of a few days ago, the U.S. government has now been bombing Iraq for 30 years.

Chris Wood of airwars.org just tweeted: “Amid discussions about what Biden’s foreign policy might look like, it’s worth noting that he’ll be inheriting U.S. military actions at a post-9/11 low. The U.S. declared around 1,000 strikes last year across four theatres — down from 13,000 under Obama in 2016. … Given this low level of U.S. military engagement there’s clearly an opportunity for the incoming Biden administration radically to rethink overseas actions.”

See Sen. Rand Paul’s questioning of Biden Secretary of State nominee Anthony Blinken about the U.S. government’s wars in Libya, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Mali and numerous other countries.

KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com, @voiceinwild
Kelly is a peace activist and author working to end U.S. military and economic wars. She just wrote the piece “About Suffering: A Massacre of the Innocents in Yemen” which states: ” Yemeni children are not ‘starving children;’ they are being starved by warring parties whose blockades and bomb attacks have decimated the country. The United States is supplying devastating weaponry and diplomatic support to the Saudi-led coalition, while additionally launching its own ‘selective’ aerial attacks against suspected terrorists and all the civilians in those suspects’ vicinity.” AFP reports that Blinken stated yesterday, regarding support for Saudi Arabia’s attacks: “our support should end.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson@gmail.com@davidcnswanson
Swanson is executive director of World Beyond War and campaign coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was just on an accuracy.org news release on Blinken.

Leading Big Tech Lawyer May Head Biden Antitrust

The Intercept and The American Prospect are reporting “Renata Hesse, who has worked for Google and Amazon, is the leading candidate to run the Justice Department’s antitrust division.”

MAX MORAN, moran@cepr.net@revolvingdoorDC

Moran is a researcher at the Revolving Door Project and said today: “In 2010, Renata Hesse worked alongside Ted Cruz to persuade the Texas Attorney General not to sue to break up Google’s monopoly over the online search market. As recently as 2018, Hesse publicly stated that she thinks people mostly use Google Search ‘because they like it better’ (not because of its fiercely-defended priority status in most internet browsers) and that it would be wrong to punish Google ‘because they did a great job.’

   “And yet if appointed assistant attorney general for antitrust, Hesse would inherit a DOJ case joined by almost every attorney general nationwide to break up her former client. Moreover, Hesse’s deputies might find themselves arguing against their boss’ spouse: her husband, Joshua Soven, is a fellow antitrust lawyer representing Google and employed by its go-to law firm Wilson Sonsini.

   “Just as concerning is that in 2017, Hesse assisted Amazon in its acquisition of Whole Foods. While the federal government has not yet announced plans to sue to break up Amazon, activist coalitions have called for antitrust action against the firm. Under Amazon, moreover, Whole Foods has engaged in unprecedented mass surveillance of employees to deter unionization.

“Notably, when Hesse served at the DOJ in 2005, she protected TurboTax-creator Intuit from the threat of a competitor offering free tax filing to all taxpayers, by deploying a tortured reading of antitrust law. If not for Hesse, Americans might not need to pay to file their taxes this year.

   “Hesse’s past work defending Google and enabling Amazon’s acquisitions create irresolvable conflicts of interest that must disqualify her from serving in a Biden administration’s DOJ antitrust division or Federal Trade Commission.”

See past accuracy.org news releases on Biden’s cabinet.

Threats of Impeachment, Wagging the Dog as Pompeo and Facebook Join in Targeting Iran

Journalist Dan Cohen tweets that today’s Facebook “ban on PressTV comes hours before [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo’s speech to lie the U.S. into war with Iran and shortly after Pompeo’s dinner with Israel’s top spy. This isn’t a coincidence.” (See 2018 accuracy.org news release: “Following Assassination Attempt, Facebook Pulled Venezuela Content.” and 2019 “Israel Bombs Palestinians as Twitter Censors Them.”)

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s piece “Donald Trump’s parting gift to the world? It may be war with Iran” was just published in The Guardian.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor of law at the University of Illinois. Since the storming of the Capitol, he has been calling for the immediate impeachment and conviction of Trump. See his interview with Dennis Bernstein on Flashpoints the day after the Capitol riot: “Professor Francis Boyle on Why Trump Must Be Removed NOW.

Boyle argues for impeachment as an immediate remedy to address “the seditious storming of the Capitol” as well as to prevent Trump from “further illegal activities, like attacking Iran.” The Trump administration just designated the Cuban government as a state sponsor of terrorism and Yemen’s Ansar Allah as terrorists, prompting the International Rescue Committee to warn the latter puts “24 million Yemenis at catastrophic humanitarian risk.” Said Boyle: “These designations are horrible as it is, but we cannot put anything past Trump, including the possibility of a wag the dog scenario by attacking Iran.”

Boyle stresses that the Democratic leadership should have immediately moved to impeach Trump last week, but instead, “they have been engaging in Kabuki theater.” He adds that any new “terrorism” law would simply be a pretext to have further reductions in civil liberties — “like George W. Bush did with the Patriot Act after 9/11.”
Thirty years ago, as George H. W. Bush began the 1991 attack on Iraq, Boyle drafted the impeachment resolution that Rep. Henry B. González introduced at the time against Bush. George H. W. Bush would later state in his memoirs that impeachment was a concern, writing that if the war “drags out, not only will I take the blame, but I will probably have impeachment proceedings filed against me,” indicating that the threat of impeachment may have averted a ground war at the time. The Obama administration was also concerned about impeachment over attacking Syria.

Abolish the Electoral College?

Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties is introducing a bill Monday to abolish the Electoral College.

STEVEN MULROY, smulroy@memphis.edu
Mulroy is Bredesen professor of law at the University of Memphis and author of Rethinking U.S. Election Law.

He said today: “Fair elections should have all votes count the same, avoid encouraging officials to play favorites, and never let someone with fewer votes beat someone with more votes. The Electoral College fails all three of these basic tests. It is an outmoded relic. While abolishing outright would be great and valuable to debate in Congress, a constitutional amendment will be challenging to win. That’s why the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is so crucial. We are 70 percent of the way toward making the Compact effective.”

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would “guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

Can We Make the Electoral College Representative? Two Proposals

PATRICK ROSENSTIEL, pat@ainsleyshea.com, @NatlPopularVote
Rosenstiel is with NationalPopularVote.com, which advocates for “The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact” which would “guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Compact ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. The Compact is a state-based approach that preserves the Electoral College, state control of elections, and the power of the states to control how the President is elected.”

The group states: “Because of these state winner-take-all laws, presidential candidates only pay attention to the concerns of voters in closely divided battleground states. In 2020, 2016, and 2012, a dozen battleground states received 96 percent, 94 percent, and 100 percent of all of the general-election campaign events, respectively. In these three elections, 25 states did not receive even one campaign event, and six additional states received only one. The politically irrelevant spectator states included almost all of the small states, rural states, agricultural states, Southern states, Western states, and Northeastern states.”

JABARI ZAKIYA, jzakiya@gmail.com@jzakiya
Zakiya wrote the piece “The Case for Proportional Allocation of Presidential Electors,” which states: “Currently there are 538 electors distributed among the 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.). To become President, the U.S. Constitution requires a candidate must receive the Electoral College vote of a majority of electors (270), but it doesn’t specify, or mandate, the manner in which electors shall be allocated by the states to candidates. The practice has become to allocate electors on a winner-take-all basis to whichever candidate merely wins a plurality (not even a majority) of the popular vote in each state.” Zakiya presents a proposal for all states to proportionally allocate electors from each state. Currently Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that don’t use winner-take-all to allocate their electors.

Public Citizen Demands to Biden

ROBERT WEISSMAN, Derrick Robinson, drobinson@citizen.org, @Public_Citizen
Weissman is president of Public Citizen. See their recently unveiled detailed resource: “Public Citizen Delivers Robust Transition Agenda Demands to President-Elect Joe Biden.”

The group highlights a series of actions Biden could take, for example swiftly rescinding old executive orders and issuing new ones. Many of these demands would have far-reaching effects on people’s lives and do not require any approval from the Senate. Just a few of the agenda items:

* Complete Wall Street systemic risk reform

* Reform corporate misconduct prosecution

* Reversal of Trump investor protection deregulation

* Address corruption, conflicts of interest, and the revolving door

* Publish ethics documents and Whtie House and agency visitor logs

* Fully staff and resource Freedom of Information Act offices across the executive branch

* Direct the General Services Administration and other government contracting officials to make CEO/worker pay ratio an element in bidding criteria