One little-known provision requested by President George W. Bush in the recently vetoed Iraq funding bill is that Iraq privatize its oil or the U.S. will pull out the troops and not send in any peace keepers, said Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio U.S. Congressman and presidential candidate.
Kucinich was the keynote speaker at an event on Saturday, May 5th, held by the West L.A. Democratic Club at the Venice Center for Peace with Justice and the Arts in Venice.
Kucinich said that six weeks ago he told Democratic colleagues about this provision, asking if they had read the bill because many were shocked to learn about it, and admitted they had not read much of the bill, which prompted Kucinich to remark, ‘Just like the Patriot Act.’
Just before the president’s veto of the Iraq funding bill, Kucinich said he attempted for the third time to remove the ‘privatization of oil’ bill portion and that some Democrats ‘screamed at him that he was ‘not a loyal party member’.’
‘Democrats took the House of Representatives on war issues in the election, but this is ‘bait and switch’ because people wanted change, not the Democratic version of the war instead of the Republican war,’ Kucinich said.
The congressman told the audience of over 200 people, ‘You’re the ones who decide who the next president will be. Come together, take steps to change the country, talk about the America we want to see, where the president and the vice president support the Constitution of the United States with honor and America rejects war as an instrumental policy.’
America understands when any country’s leader says, ‘All options are on the table,’ (as the U.S. did with Iran) it means the possibility of war, said Kucinich.
Kucinich said he wants to be a healing president, end the occupation of Iraq, and restate America’s position in the world.
Congress has the power of the purse and can pass legislation simply telling the president they won’t pass any money to fund the war. Democrats should have told the president, ‘No more money for Iraq,’ Kucinich said.
It isn’t a matter of more legislation, said Kucinich, ‘Because when you say you’re going to decertify the war and then a guy passes funding to authorize the war, you’re authorizing the war all over again. Who’s getting fooled?’ he asked.
On nuclear weapons, he said that it’s not for the U.S. to pick who should or shouldn’t have nuclear power, asking, ‘Do we want the threat of extinction for our children and grandchildren?’
Kucinich advocates getting rid of all nuclear weapons, referring to the non-proliferation treaty that provides for all nuclear weapons to be abolished.
On abortion, Kucinich said that the ruling on partial-birth abortion by the Supreme Court ‘was very destructive, and that Roe v. Wade has to be protected to protect women’s rights to privacy and the right to decide, working with their doctor.’
America needs a culture that affirms life and heals, providing for pre-natal and post-natal care, a living wage, economic opportunities and giving people the right to make choices, he said.
Regarding immigration, Kucinich said, ‘It’s a great shame that slave labor is allowed to exist and that system needs to be stopped.’
‘No fines should be paid (by immigrants), no one should be made to go back, and we should stop scapegoating immigrants,’ said Kucinich.
The U.S. has the right to regulate traffic (of individuals coming into the country), but it must look at the causes, enforce labor laws, OSHA (U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration) laws and workers’ rights, Kucinich said.
Regarding NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), Mexican wages went down, not up as promised, said Kucinich, and he claims NAFTA should be abolished and new relations should be worked out with the Mexican government and conditions improved there.
The congressman supports an end to oil reliance and says that the U.S. has a responsibility to the world to sign the Kyoto Treaty ‘ which commits industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, by around five percent below their 1990 levels over the next decade ‘ and introduce energy conservation, invest in a new technology and reverse global warming climate change.
The education system is becoming dangerous, creating a two-class society, and education has become a privilege rather than a right, said Kucinich.
On the subject of student loans and tuition, the question is always, ‘Where will we get the money?’ said Kucinich.
No one asked, ‘Where will we get the money when we went to war in Iraq and borrowed money from China to fight,’ Kucinich said.
Education is the basic right of every young person, he said, telling the audience that he was the first in his family to go to college and worked two jobs, 80 hours a week, to do so.
In understanding the suffering of the Palestinians and recognizing Israel’s fears, assuring the survival of both, we can create a new world, said Kucinich. The only way to be a healing hand is to be even-handed, he said.
Audience members asked if Kucinich would still reintroduce the paper ballot for voting, to which Kucinich said yes, adding that election integrity is a big issue in correctly counting votes.
‘We will bring the Diebold (electronic voting machine manufacturer) people before Congress before the end of the year,’ Kucinich said.
On oil companies, he said that the challenge is price gouging, noting the ‘winter/summer gas switch’ in California, and that the U.S. must move to alternative fuels.
Another audience member asked if the candidate is still supporting a ‘Department of Peace’ to look at society’s issues ‘ domestic violence with spousal and child abuse, school violence, gangs, guns, racial violence, anti-gay violence and police clashes with citizens ‘ and Kucinich said he had proposed a bill and that 62 members of Congress already support the idea.
Supporting campaign financing laws, and calling for public financing and an end to private campaign financing, Kucinich said, ‘Washington is like an auction and the presidency should not be sold to the highest bidder.’
On the subject of his Democratic opponents running for president, Kucinich said he was the only candidate at the Democratic National Convention in San Diego who held up his hand when the question was asked if they supported impeaching Vice President Cheney.
He said his concern is that none of the other candidates have spoken about the alleged abuse of office and lying by the administration, and he would ask them what their standards are and if it is okay to lie, attack other nations or create a pretext to attack.
All of the other candidates must be held accountable, he said. Kucinich asked why the other candidates didn’t speak up and defend our Constitution.
Kucinich was elected to Cleveland, Ohio’s City Council at age 23, and he was elected mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31.
He was elected to Congress in 1996 and has advocated for workers’ rights, civil rights and human rights.
Kucinich was introduced by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl ‘ who represents the 11th District, which includes the Venice area ‘ and who endorsed Kucinich for president at the meeting.
Rosendahl also announced that he will run for reelection when his term as councilman is finished, and that he plans to put the living wage issue on the February 2008 ballot.
The councilman said he has ‘been wooed’ by Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, and he reflected on what he should do and on what matters.
Rosendahl said he began in politics and knew Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. The councilman worked for Kennedy’s campaign and was present at the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was shot.
When Rosendahl left politics, he went to cable TV and started a public affairs show bringing ‘everybody and anybody’ on, and hosting over 300 election specials.
‘Broadcasters have a license to rip us all off,’ said Rosendahl, who urged taking media back for the people.
Rosendahl referred to President Bush as, ‘The guy in the White House who should be impeached for invading Iraq,’ and as, ‘That crackpot who is our president.’
There were no WMDs (weapons of mass destruction), they knew there were no WMDs, and there is a moral and political wrongness, said Rosendahl.
Rosendahl touched on a variety of topics, such as the lack of health insurance as well as the high costs.
‘Get rid of the damn insurance companies,’ he said.
Regarding gay rights, Rosendahl praised Kucinich for supporting gay rights and said, ‘I’m gay, and I was made this way. God makes no mistakes,’ Rosendahl said. ‘Shouldn’t we be treated like everyone else?’
Rosendahl said that Kucinich believes that gays should have the same rights, but his message is not given because the media merely mentions Kucinich as ‘also being there’ at candidate events.
In reference to the war on drugs in America, Rosendahl stated that the ‘war on drugs is a war on people and that bad laws need repeal.’
On the subject of people using drugs, the councilman said drug dependence should be treated as a health issue.
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