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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/19/17

Oh For Godsake, Leave Jill Stein Alone

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I've known Jill Stein for years. I knew weeks ago that the Senate "Intelligence" Committee was coming after her. I set up this petition to put reasonable limits on Russiagate. But I've not heard from Jill, nor had any secret communication from my good friend Vladimir, nor any such nonsense. I criticize the Russian and U.S. governments as they deserve it. Nearly three years ago, Russia tried to secretly hire me to spread its propaganda, and I said no and blogged about it. Although this happened right on Capitol Hill, no Congressional Committee gave a rat's rear about it. It wasn't part of their agenda. When I go on Russian media I say the same thing as on U.S. media, though sometimes with a particular focus on criticizing Russia -- a nation I've never been paid a dime by or worked for as a volunteer.

Why is the U.S. Congress going after Jill Stein? Because no law-enforcement agency could do so, since no probable cause exists to believe she has committed any crime. Neither is there probable cause to believe she engaged in the non-criminal action of shaping her policy platform based on anything she learned from anyone Russian. She went to a Russian media event, something I've always refused to do because of people's fear of just this sort of witch hunt. But she paid her own way. She didn't take a dime from the Russian government. She didn't even demand that the Russian government help block a UN resolution on illegal Israeli settlements, as President-elect Donald Trump's campaign did in order to undermine the position of the U.S. President -- something the U.S. Congress seems unconcerned by. Nor did she cut any sort of deal with the Russian government whatsoever. She just attended a public event with a bunch of people who didn't even speak the same language as each other.

Jill Stein ran the same sort of campaign with the same sort of platform that she had run in previous years, and that other Green Party candidates had run in years prior. She didn't oppose bombing various countries or subsidizing fossil fuels or leaving people without health coverage because someone in Russia asked her to. She'd had the same positions for years. She didn't oppose lesser evilism and believe the wisest electoral path to consist of running a better platform and voting your conscience because Putin gave her the idea. She's thought that way for years.

The reason Jill Stein matters to Russiagate is that it has gone on for a year without finding any solid way to blame Hillary Clinton's campaign on Donald Trump. The original goal had been to distract the media from the Democrats' rigging of their primary, and to claim that Russia had stolen and leaked documents to WikiLeaks. Those documents should have been public, as they revealed major abuses of the U.S. electoral system. But there's no evidence they decided the election, and -- even after a year of digging -- no evidence that Russia leaked them. And at this point, there's not much chance such evidence will ever be found. So, what's needed is a change of subject, a new way in which Russia -- not Hillary! -- is to blame for a U.S. electoral system corrupt in dozens of ways from the start and contentedly staying that way.

Lesser-evilists who blame "spoilers" would be all too happy to add "Russian collusion" to the rap sheet for Jill Stein, if only to finally justify having taught their kids the word "collusion." But the idea is patently absurd, and zero evidence exists. However, Congress can harass anyone it chooses. Probably cause is not required.

The reason Jill Stein should matter, and what we should be telling the millions of people who will now hear of her for the first time, is that she entered the U.S. presidential race with a decent and humane policy platform, by no means perfect, but light years ahead of those of the two least popular duopolistic political parties since the invention of polling. In a system with open debates and ballot access and a ban on bribery, fair funding and air time, automatic registration, verifiable counting, election-day holiday, ranked-choice voting, etc., etc., a candidate with a decent platform could run and win. Jill Stein ran in part, I think, so that people would simply hear about such a platform. Hers was a platform dramatically superior to that even of Senator Bernie Sanders.

If you think free college is popular, you should see what young people think of free college and erasing all existing student debt.

If single-payer healthcare with raised taxes (but net savings, if you make it to that fine print) excites voters, how do you think they'd respond to single-payer healthcare with no raised taxes?

If fewer wars and asking Saudi Arabia to do more of the funding and fighting sounds promising, what would you say to no more wars, a 50 percent cut in the $1 trillion/year military spending, no more weapons sales to Saudi Arabia which is doing more than enough killing, thank you, no more free weapons for Israel either, and investment of some of the savings in a massive green energy jobs campaign producing a sustainable energy policy and a full-employment economy?

Senator Bernie Sanders' domestic proposals got millions excited, but the (unfair and misleading) criticism that he would raise taxes may have been a tragic flaw, and it's one he opened himself up to by refusing to say that he'd cut the military. Stein proposed to cut at least half of the single biggest item in the discretionary budget, an item that takes up at least half of that budget: military spending. She'd have cut fossil fuel subsidies, as well, and expected savings to come from healthcare, including as a result of cutting pollution and improving food quality. But the big immediate item was the military. Cutting it is popular with voters, but not with Democratic or Republican presidential candidates. Sanders was labeled the Tax Man by the corporate media, while Jill Stein would have had to be attacked in a different way if she ever got mentioned.

"Cutting the military budget is something that we can do right now," Stein told me back during the campaign, "but we want to be clear that we are putting an end to wars for oil -- period. And that is part of our core policy of a Green New Deal which creates an emergency program, establishing twenty million living wage jobs, full-time jobs, to green the economy, our energy, food, and transportation systems, building critical infrastructure, restoring ecosystems, etc. This is an emergency program that will get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. So this is a war-time-level mobilization in order to completely detoxify our energy system, and that means both nuclear and fossil fuel. In doing that, we deprive the empire of this major justification for wars and bases all around the world. So we want to be clear that that emphasis is gone, and goading the American public into war so as to feed our fossil fuel energy system -- that ends and makes all the more essential and possible the major cutting of the military budget."

Which 50 percent of the military would Stein cut? Two places she named that she would start with (there would have to be much more) are foreign bases (she'd close them) and the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Would she unilaterally scrap U.S. nukes? I asked.

"We don't even need to do it unilaterally," Stein said, "because the Russians have been begging to revive the process of nuclear disarmament, which the U.S., in its wisdom, undercut. " The Russians have been persistently trying to restore those nuclear talks for the purpose of disarmament. And that would be step one -- is to make major reductions between the U.S. and Russia and then to convene a world forum to put an end to nuclear weapons altogether."

Those Russian positions were public, not secret.

The "war on terror," Stein pointed out, has only created more terror, while costing each U.S. household $75,000. "That's not going to make people terribly enthusiastic for it, particularly when you point out that all this has done is create failed states, worse terrorist threat, whether you look at the Taliban, the globalization of al-Qaeda, the creation of ISIS. This has been an utter, unmitigated disaster, and the massive refugee crisis which is threatening to tear apart the European Union. This is absolutely unsustainable by any count."

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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