February 8, 2013
By Rob Kall
the second half of the transcript of my hour+ interview with Dennis Kucinich
Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio
Dennis Kucinich Interview, 1-30-12
This is the second half of the transcript of my interview. Here's the link to the first half: Dennis Kucinich Interview Transcript 1/30/2013 Part 1
First, here's a reminder of where the interview left off, in italics, indented:
Rob Kall: I'm going to interrupt because I had a different question in mind. I know that Congress, the House, is obsessed with Benghazi, but I was really more talking about, in general, how Hillary did. She brought the war, like you said, to Libya. Overall, as the Secretary of State, what was your impression of the job she did?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, she didn't work independently of Barack Obama. The fact of the matter is that the United States has extended aggression into many countries: into Pakistan, into Libya, into Somalia and other countries; and that's through the cooperation of the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the CIA. Do I, Did I support that policy? No! Absolutely not. But this is a policy that's set by the Obama administration, together with the State Department, the Central Intelligence, and the Department of Defense.
Rob Kall: (interjects) So...
Dennis Kucinich: I want to point something out Rob. (continues) And in some cases, if you take Libya for example, DoD, through Secretary Gates, opposed it. He opposed it. So, the policy is still going to be set by the White House and the Secretary of State is going to carry it out. She doesn't work independently, but she did have great influence. No question about it.
Rob Kall: So basically, when people say, "She's been an incredible Secretary of State," she's basically been graded following Obama's war orders, and what have you.
Dennis Kucinich: That's what a cabinet member does!
Rob Kall: Yeah, yeah.
Dennis Kucinich by Rob Kall
Here is where the second half of the transcript begins
Dennis Kucinich: They don't carry out their own program. When President Obama congratulates Secretary Clinton, he's congratulating himself.
Rob Kall: Yes. So let's talk then about the policy that she implemented. It sounds like you weren't that happy with them.
Dennis Kucinich: Well, look. As a member of Congress, I was the foremost spokesperson in challenging U.S. Aggression abroad. I believe that it unfortunately helped to facilitate strengthening al Qaeda in some places instead of weakening it. Do you know, that when we knocked off the government of Libya, arms poured into areas south of Libya? And actually, it's well known that some of those arms helped al Qaeda in the Maghreb attempt to overthrow the Malian government.
And so, we have to look at where the policies took us. They expanded the United States' footprint internationally, with arms, with drones; and have continued to, unfortunately, strengthen the position of radical elements, wittingly or unwittingly. And I have a problem with that. And I said so in the Congress of the United States, over, and over, and over. And I was able to get votes called so that Congress had at least an opportunity to weigh in, whether they had a desire or not to change the policies of the administration. This is nothing new when I say that I broadly opposed the policies of the Obama administration when it came to international matters.
Rob Kall: OK. So let's talk about peace, because this is something that you've put so much of your life and heart into. My impression is that, under an Obama administration, the Peace Movement has been, in many ways, gutted and eviscerated, and made impotent.
Dennis Kucinich: Well, it needed to be visible, and it hasn't been. In March of 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, I joined over a million people in New York City winding down 1st and 2nd avenue, and, I suppose, beyond. Tremendous crowds opposing the United States' entry into the war. I participated in one peace march after another; this was almost ten years ago now. But once the war started, the public opinion and momentum swung in favor of the war, really as a function of the fact that people had sons and daughters in the military. People would say "Well, we support our troops." But the American people were dragged into the war based on lies! Which is what I [signal lapse - "said?"] back in October 2002. I cited chapter and verse the reasons why we shouldn't go to war. Anybody goes to the internet today, Google "Kucinich Iraq Report October 2002" and you'll see I that I had it cold. I knew exactly what was happening.
But you know what? We got pulled into a war. And the Peace Movement, to the extent that there was one, which was maybe not organized in terms of membership, but I will tell you this: the American people do not want to go to war. But we got dragged into it. So, Iraq begat Afghanistan, begat a whole series of incursions into Pakistan and expanded our regional involvement. The Peace Movement was eclipsed; and it needs to be reawakened, and it needs to be visible, and it needs to be called forward with a new mission: truth and reconciliation. The American people deserve to know the truth about what took us into Iraq. They deserve to know the truth about Hamid Karzai, and the kind of theft that occurred of US tax dollars in connection with the enterprise in Afghanistan. They deserve to know how US tax dollars ended up helping those who we claim we oppose.
I think that if we are able to move forward with a process of truth and reconciliation, that it can move us towards uniting the Country again. But, as long as we don't know the truth, as long as we're in the fog as to how things happen and why they happen, we're going to continue to stumble along with these debates about "Woulda, coulda, shoulda," instead of standing on the firm ground of truth to rebuild our relationship the world and with each other.
Rob Kall: Well, when you're talking about truth, you know, there is a group who talks about 9/11 Truth, that 9/11 was not covered adequately in it's investigations. What's your take on that whole way that 9/11 was used by the Bush Administration and covered up, really, afterward?
Dennis Kucinich: Rob, there's a couple of elements here. There is no question that 9/11 was used to drag us into a war against Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. That's another reason for the need for truth and reconciliation. Another thing in post 9/11 America: we've seen a sharp decline in trust in government. So the people then don't believe what the government says, what they describe as happening. That has led people of good will and intelligence to raise questions about what happened on 9/11. Look. I've heard from people on all sides of this, and I could not get much support at all in the Congress for an inquiry beyond what the commission did. I think that there's always going to be elements in the narrative of 9/11 that people will be able to point to and say "Well, that doesn't fit." But I would say that the larger question right now is "How can we as a nation try to repair the tear in the fabric of society and the tearing of trust which happened at 9/11?" On September 10th 2001, there was an America that existed that was a little bit more sunny, a little bit more forward-looking, a little less fearful; we need to remember who we were. We need to shake this funereal pall that dropped over this country on September 11, 2001, and reclaim a deeper truth of who we are as Americans! And in a way, in order to do that, Rob, we're going to have to go back to the town hall, and to talk to each other again about what we think happened, and why it happened, and how does America go forward? How can we reclaim what's best about this country, and how can we reunite with the World? Because 9/11 was used to separate us from the world at a time when we could have responded in a way that would have captured the sympathy and love of the world (which is there for all of America), we chose a path of aggression which separated us from the rest of the world.
Rob Kall: I need to take a station ID real quick, and then we'll get back to talking about that.
This is the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM, sponsored by Opednews.com . You don't need to remember Opednews.com , just Google "Liberal News," or "Progressive Opinion," and Opednews usually comes up number one or two, so check us out online.
I'm speaking with Dennis Kucinich. He's left the Congress, he's moving on to some exciting new projects; and Dennis, you just said that at 9/11, we separated ourselves from the world. I want to hear about that, but I also want to make sure that we've covered how my listeners and readers can help and support you in your future and current endeavors? What can we do to help you? We love you!
Dennis Kucinich: Well, the love is returned, and I feel the abundance of support over a period of sixteen years in the House of Representatives. I never take that for granted. I'm very humbled by the opportunity, not just to be on this show and talking to you Rob, but the fact that people care, and they pay attention, and they love America. Kucinichaction.com is a website where people can participate in our political efforts, and if you could sign up there it would be great. In a couple weeks, I'll be announcing a slightly new endeavor to people who have signed up, and they'll be able to learn about that. I will continue to reach out to people and give them a point of view that maybe they're not getting from other places.
I guess it's back to this: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." So I'm always interested in where I can continue to make a contribution. I'm not a member of Congress right now, and I'm OK with that. I'm not OK with how redistricting worked. (laughs) But I'm ready for a new chapter in my life, and to continue to make a contribution.
The one point I want to make before we're at the end of this show, and I want to thank you for your generosity of time, is that my own spiritual explorations of not just my existence, but the world, and the world that I move in, and the people I deal with - I think that we are at the threshold of an era, if we can break through the thinking that basically encapsulates our world right now. We're at the threshold of an era where people all over are going to come together, where the impulse toward human unity will actually be realized. The technological infrastructure is already there: The internet is there, the ability to travel anywhere, the cellular technology (pick up the phone and call anywhere in the world). We have the technical infrastructure for unity, but we haven't really seen our political systems develop in that direction, our policies develop in that direction.
But it really starts, not from the government, it starts from our own hearts. And I see the willingness of people to try to grow past the partisanship and the ideological differences to try to find those things that unite us, and emphasize that, not just as a nation, but as the human race. So I'm very hopeful that, with our continued efforts, that we can chart a course toward a more peaceful world. But the only way that we can do that, I believe, is to understand the inner equality of all people; to understand that we in fact are all one; that the world is interdependent, and it is interconnected with a latticework that is so fine, that events that happen anywhere in the globe can be felt all over the globe. And because of that, it's time for us to summon the power of our own hearts to continue to try to create love in the world, and to try to replace the hatred that's out there with sentiments of love for our fellow human beings.
This goes way beyond politics. It goes way beyond positionality, to contemplating the power of the human spirit to be able to create new conditions, to be able to evolve, to go beyond where we are in terms of this particular experience in this time and space in the United States of America.
Rob Kall: Beautiful! You know, I call my show the Bottom Up Radio Show because I really believe we're in a transition from a top down world that started with the creation of cities and civilization, to a time when we go back to many of the bottom up principles that people lived with for hundreds of thousand of years in tribes. It sounds like what you're describing is a way of reconnecting.
Dennis Kucinich: There is, Rob. And it starts with ourselves, and our homes, and our families: those things and people that we hold dear. The thing about being involved in politics everyday (and I'm not now, because I'm out of Congress; I care about what happens, but I'm in a different world for myself) is that because I'm not there, I'm not getting pulled into every single dispute everywhere, so I get a chance to kind of step back. There's a Yiddish proverb that says "To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish." And if you're focused on turmoil and violence all the time, you may think that's the way the whole world exists, but it doesn't exist that way!
There are people who are trying their best to live out life with a quiet simplicity. But, it's true, the world will intrude. It will intrude in the violence that's in our streets, it will intrude in the violence that's conducted in nation against nation, which is one of the reasons why I brought forth a proposal to create a cabinet level Department of Peace, now Barbara Lee's bill carrying it forward with peace building. Because we need to build more peaceful communities, more peaceful neighborhoods, more peaceful homes, and we have the capacity to do that.
I'm gifted now with an opportunity to be able to look at the same things that I've worked on over the years with a slightly different perspective; from being an outsider looking in, to being an insider looking out. And I'll tell you (laughs), it's OK to take a break from holding elective office; because it gives me a chance to have a renewed perspective, a sharper perspective, to get in tune with those slower rhythm of life that actually do more to inform about the way the real world is, than the rapid-fire accelerated pace that happens inside the Beltway.
Rob Kall: Can you talk about that, those "Slower rhythms that inform you?"
Dennis Kucinich: Yeah, I mean, to actually have time to just sit down and think things through. I'm doing some writing right now, and to be able to just slow everything down. You don't have that chance in Congress! And I'm sure the President doesn't have that chance. Everything is happening very quickly. And there's a sense in which the world of events is illusory. Things are happening, yes, they're real, they have real effects, but there's another reality that we sometimes get pulled away from by getting caught up in the tempo of events.
I've experienced this myself, in a career that goes back to 1967. It's almost like a narcotic, you can be involved in everything, OK. But then you may not really have that much of an effect on anything! And you may overlook those things that might be the most important things in your life, but not be aware of it. That's the problem with thinking that somehow you have the ability to change the course of human events from a single public office. Our history will show us that our lives have been changed often by people who never held a public office.
But, we need not minimize how important it is to have individuals who serve this country who have a sense of perspective, and who don't forget what it's like to be just an ordinary human being who is just trying to make ends meet, support his or her family, and live out their lives in peace and security. It's not bad being away from Congress. It's been three full weeks and more, and it's OK. I will be just as involved and perhaps, in slowing things down, be able to go a little bit deeper in my analysis of what's happening.
Rob Kall: Do you have any organizations or people who you want to give a shout out to, who you think are doing a good job? Who you want to support, at all?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, before I leave here, the one thing I want to talk about is: now that I'm out of Congress, I have a chance to work a little more closely on a range of matters with my wife, Elizabeth. And I am so fortunate, because she is so bright, and has been so committed to an entire range of matters relating to agricultural policy and diet, nutrition, animal rights, she's with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And I hope to be helping her out as well, because we're a partnership, we're going to be working together on some things, and I'm grateful for her council. We have a chance to actually spend more time together, which is great (laughs), because the demands of holding a public office, as anyone who has ever served knows, it can take you away from friends and family, and so it's nice to be back home.
Rob Kall: When you were running for President, I spent a day driving, and it boggles my mind, the stamina that you had to have, what it involves day to day, and I know it's not just running for President, the same thing is like that in Congress so, God, it's got to be a nice break. And I've met Elizabeth and she's an extraordinary lady. It's nice that you have time.
Dennis Kucinich: She is. And we're using it to continue our commitment to the world. This opportunity to have an in-depth discussion with you is very helpful, because it helps me to recall in this conversation what it is that animates my involvement. That, I really do care about the world and about individuals, and I see the potential for things being dramatically different than they are now. But we have to have an awareness of America, our country, our history, our position in the world, and be able to look a the world anew every day with a set of fresh eyes; not being hampered by old thinking which is either partisan or ideological, but one which can contemplate the possibility of a world that's awesome.
Rob Kall: I love the idea, but the other side of it is: we're facing a situation, we've got a world where a handful of billionaires have incredible power and wealth. Some of those billionaires have power that has roots going back a hundred or more years, and we've got systems in place that seem unbreakable. We should be breaking up the Too Big To Fail banks. I've been talking with Thom Hartmann and Greg Palast about the idea of getting rid of billionaires, making it so that it's against the law. What do you think about that? And this whole challenge of this massive banking system?
Dennis Kucinich: I've got a slightly different take on that, and here it is. I think there are people with great wealth who have become politically active out of fear, not out of a desire for a better world; and fear can be a very pernicious motivator. They may not actually be acting in their own long term interest by the kinds of backlashes that are being created about the attempts to upend the rights of workers at state levels, or to try to literally buy elections.
We need to teach wealth creation in America, not just make it available to one class. We need to make sure that everyone has an economic opportunity in this country; we haven't done that. We absolutely need to have a public financing system for our elections, so that no one individual will be able to have extraordinary influence over the Democratic Process, and then everyone can have an equal influence through a public financing system that makes the decisive factor our nation and not our money.
A Progressive tax system is fine. But we need to have more tax payers! (laughs) You know, we have at least ten million people out of work, and we have maybe another twelve million people [who] are underemployed. Get America back to work, rebuild America! Our emphasis, I think, is wrong right now. We're talking too much about austerity and not about the potential for prosperity, in a world where there should be unlimited potential. And the other thing is, Wall Street? Look. There's a major problem, that there was the bailout, that I opposed vigorously, but also that Wall Street was able to continue to make huge profits after the bailouts, to avoid jail - you know, it's like "Banks to Big to Fail, and People to Big to Jail" - and get bonuses, while the Treasury department looks the other way, really shows you that there's an unfortunate decoupling of monied interest from the national interest, and there needs to be some reconciliation there as well.
Rob Kall: One more question. We're just getting to time to wrap up. The other day, Chuck Todd spoke to a group of (I think) Secretaries of State, the people who run the voting in States, and he mocked the election integrity field -- people who have concerns about electronic voting, and the trustworthiness of elections. What's your take on these?
Dennis Kucinich: I imagine Al Gore wasn't in that audience.
Rob Kall: (laughs) Yeah! What's you take on the current safety of a " go ahead.
Dennis Kucinich: Look. Everyone knows that there's a battlefield over the right to vote. That there have been decided efforts to try to undermine people's ability to be able to vote, to try to limit voting hours, to limit access, to limit eligibility, and you would think that in a society that depends on the franchise for the legitimization of the government that there would be universal agreement on universal access to the voting booth. But there isn't.
And through the constitutional history, where people were denied a chance to vote because they didn't own property, or because they were women, or because they were slaves, or because they were black, or a number of different reasons - we still see that pernicious conduct which tries to rig the voting system to deny people an opportunity to feel the full expression of power of their vote. That must remain a major concern of all Americans who love their country, and of all people in those states where Secretaries of State have moved to frustrate the voting rights of people, not to facilitate them.
Rob Kall: And what about electronic voting?
Dennis Kucinich: You know, Call me old-fashioned, but I kind of like the paper ballots. Now, you can cheat an election with paper ballots, that's true; but with the countermeasures that can happen with electronics and databases and hacking - I don't know; I mean, there's people who know more about this than I do, but I will tell you that I'm always skeptical about how you can find ways of changing election results if you have access specific codes and to the tabulators. I'll tell you, I'm a skeptic on that one, Rob.
Rob Kall: OK. So, we've got to wrap now. This is the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM. I've been speaking to Dennis Kucinich. Dennis, do you want to wrap up, say anything?
Dennis Kucinich: Just to let everyone know that your support has absolutely been imperative, and that I'm going to continue not just to speak out, but to act to help all of those that want America to go in a direction of peace, of truth, of reconciliation, of building peaceful communities, of creating jobs for all and healthcare for all through a single-payer system, of standing up for the worker's right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, the right to decent wages and benefits, the right to a secure retirement. Working to make sure that we pay attention to this planet, which as Thomas Berry said, should be "The great work of our" life, reconciling ourselves with the natural world. And so there's plenty to do.
And, at the same time, I'm going to enjoy life. I'm not a member of Congress anymore. I'm able to be a little more expansive in my involvement in the world, not necessarily in the world of events, but in that world that everyone else experiences, just a world of friends and family, and of being able to go out and meet people all over the world who have been waiting for an opportunity to connect with. So, it's' just great to have this chance to be with you, Rob, and your listeners, and I look forward to another opportunity down the road where we can talk again.
Rob Kall: All right. Thank you so much. Bye.
Dennis Kucinich: Thank you.
Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com
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