Ron Paul on Tiananmen Resolution: Let’s Tend to Our Own House

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) delivered this on the House floor this afternoon:

I rise to oppose this unnecessary and counter-productive resolution regarding the 20th anniversary of the incident in China’s Tiananmen Square. In addition to my concerns over the content of this legislation, I strongly object to the manner in which it was brought to the floor for a vote. While the resolution was being debated on the House floor, I instructed my staff to obtain a copy so that I could read it before the vote. My staff was told by no less than four relevant bodies within the House of Representatives that the text was not available for review and would not be available for another 24 hours. It is unacceptable for Members of the House of Representatives to be asked to vote on legislation that is not available for them to read!

As to the substance of the resolution, I find it disturbing that the House is going out of its way to meddle in China’s domestic politics, which is none of our business, while ignoring the many pressing issues in our own country that definitely are our business.

This resolution “calls on the People’s Republic of China to invite full and independent investigations into the Tiananmen Square crackdown, assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross…” Where do we get the authority for such a demand? I wonder how the US government would respond if China demanded that the United Nations conduct a full and independent investigation into the treatment of detainees at the US-operated Guantanamo facility?

The resolution “calls on the legal authorities of People’s Republic of China to review immediately the cases of those still imprisoned for participating in the 1989 protests for compliance with internationally recognized standards of fairness and due process in judicial proceedings.” In light of US government’s extraordinary renditions of possibly hundreds of individuals into numerous secret prisons abroad where they are held indefinitely without charge or trial, one wonders what the rest of the world makes of such US demands. It is hard to exercise credible moral authority in the world when our motto toward foreign governments seems to be “do as we say, not as we do.”

While we certainly do not condone government suppression of individual rights and liberties wherever they may occur, why are we not investigating these abuses closer to home and within our jurisdiction? It seems the House is not interested in investigating allegations that US government officials and employees approved and practiced torture against detainees. Where is the Congressional investigation of the US-operated “secret prisons” overseas? What about the administration’s assertion of the right to detain individuals indefinitely without trial? It may be easier to point out the abuses and shortcomings of governments overseas than to address government abuses here at home, but we have the constitutional obligation to exercise our oversight authority in such matters. I strongly believe that addressing these current issues would be a better use of our time than once again condemning China for an event that took place some 20 years ago.

Media Elite Fall Down Again, and Again and …

For all of their gasbaggery about the virtue and necessity of the Fourth Estate, the glittering mainstream media elite (big names, big money, very little gumshoe) is simply allergic to breaking news, and intelligently reporting about anything that implicates the power structure beyond the isolated criminal doings of one man or woman, i.e, senators and congressmen who terrorize airport bathrooms and congressional pages, or cheesy Midwest governors with small mind/big hair complexes. Those stories are safe, and therefore deserve the exhaustion of every pitiful analysis and resource.

But when it comes to serious stuff — preemptive war, torture, spying on Americans without warrant, the upending of the U.S constitution — these mainstream mavens (who are ever-so-fond of waxing nostalgic about their weaning during the Woodward & Bernstein glory years of the 70’s)  quickly “close ranks” and reframe the context of these stories to ensure the teeniest impact possible on the status quo. This typically means protecting their establishment friends in government, not rattling the corporate sponsors, and skittering off  to perceivably more ratings-grabbing news, like what really happened to Anna Nicole Smith, and what are the ladies on The View dishing about today? This is all done of course, in that gratingly condescending way (think and picture Chris Matthews)  that has all the subtle effect of nails filing down on a chalkboard.

The worst is when they completely ignore stories that put their “profession” in the most garish of lights, those little slivers of truth that peek out from time to time thanks to real reporters in the business. David Barstow won a Pulitzer Prize this week for his expose on the media using generals planted by the Pentagon to sell the war , but I bet most Americans haven’t heard of “message force multipliers” and wouldn’t know why they should care, since the story never made it to the nightly news.

As for the current torture scandal, of which we have hardly heard the full extent, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent analysis on his site today regarding the corporate media’s complicity in playing down the story throughout the Bush years and its ongoing attempts to frame it in the most self-serving way possible. A taste:

For years, media stars ignored the fact that our Government was chronically breaking the law and systematically torturing detainees (look at this extremely detailed exposé by The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest and Barton Gellman from December, 2002 to get a sense for how much we’ve known about all of this and for how long we’ve known it).  Now that the sheer criminality of this conduct, really for the first time, has exploded into mainstream political debates as a result of the OLC memos, media stars are forced to address it.  Exactly as one would expect, they are closing ranks, demanding (as always) that their big powerful political-official-friends and their elite institutions not be subject to the dirty instruments that are meant only for the masses — things like the rule of law, investigations, prosecutions, and accountability when they abuse their power.

Read more here. Enemy of the State

Earlier this week, our webmaster reported on the now infamous State of Missouri Information Analysis Center missive, “The Modern Militia Movement.” Less jaded political activists reacted with the expected righteous indignation while others subtly exploited the report with the intent to whip supporters of causes as benign as medical marijuana and homeschooling into a frenzy.

Alas, you can’t fool KMOV St. Louis, Channel 4. They know an enemy of the state when they see one; one of the bumper stickers they prominently featured marking an American citizen as some sort of potential terrorist was from… Yes, no one is as dangerous to the state as an advocate for peace.

Obama: Agent of Change? Well, Agent of Somethin’

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says — and he should know — there is no difference between the policy of “absolute support” for Israel between Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Obama’s own spokesman Robert Gibbs affirmed that, as under Bush, “all options remain on the table” with regard to Iran.

A recent executive order from the new president allows the CIA to continue to operate its “safe houses” — possibly a torture loophole.

Even President Obama’s massive stimulus plan continues the print-and-spend insanity preferred by the former administration.

And depending on whom you ask, Obama might want to ramp up military activity in Afghanistan — one area where Bush’s policy wasn’t quite forceful enough for the new president.

Don’t forget Obama’s new Homeland Security appointment of a “cybercrimes expert” as general counsel. You know, instead of abolishing Bush’s gargantuan Homeland Security bureaucracy altogether.

So aside from closing Guantánamo Bay in an extremely literal sense — after all, many of the detainees will remain such — what “change” have we witnessed thus far?

Say What You Will About Cynthia McKinney…

But no matter what one thinks of Ms. McKinney, she backs her convictions not just with her own money but her very skin: she went as a human rights advocate aboard a Gaza relief boat. And this morning, that boat was rammed three times by an Israeli patrol vessel, leaving it damaged and forcing it to take a detour in Tyre, Lebanon.

Sometimes former US Rep. and recent Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney comes across a little…ah…wild-eyed. I do happen to agree with most of her foreign policy positions, and she even seems to prefer a hands-off approach to Zimbabwe and, surprisingly, liberal cause célèbre Darfur. I do find her positions on trade to be poorly informed but this isn’t kookery — most politicians hold similarly dirigiste views.

But no matter what one thinks of Ms. McKinney, she backs her convictions not just with her own money but her very skin: she went as a human rights advocate aboard a Gaza relief boat. And this morning, that boat was rammed three times by an Israeli patrol vessel, leaving it damaged and forcing it to take a detour in Tyre, Lebanon.

“I would call it ramming. Let’s just call it as it is,” McKinney said. “Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front and once on the side.

“Our mission was a peaceful mission, but our mission was thwarted by the Israelis, the aggressiveness of the Israeli military.”

No other current or former US Congressperson has done something similar, as far as I know. Dennis Kucinich is calling for a United nations inquiry, and I suppose that’s a nice gesture. But Ms. McKinney got herself on board a ship to steward relief supplies to the suffering civilians of a war zone beseiged by weapons her own country financed. Maybe it takes a little wackiness to get us some real activism.