Lewis, Johnson Split on Iraq; McKinney Thinks Green; AJC in Backwards Land


(APN) ATLANTA — US Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Hank Johnson (D-GA)–Georgia’s two most leftist Congresspersons–split sharply today on the US Occupation in Iraq, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Lewis joined 7 other Democratic US Representatives and one Republican in what has been called a courageous stand against the Occupation funding bill. Johnson, on the other hand, supported the funding bill.

Unfortunately, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper (AJC) reported that Lewis and Johnson had the complete opposite positions as they actually did.

Former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney told Atlanta Progressive News she would never have supported the funding bill, and said if she’d been in Congress instead of Johnson, the Democrats would have had “one more arm to twist.”

“The bill passed with exactly the 218 votes required. Almost all of the Republicans and six Democrats voted No for the wrong reasons. One Democrat voted “Present.” But eight Democrats voted No because they oppose further funding of this war,” national impeachment activist, David Swanson, wrote in a commentary.

“These eight are the beginning of a movement for peace, and the first indication that some Democrats, even under the most intense pressure not to, will be willing to oppose Speaker Pelosi when she takes the wrong stance. This will be required if a movement for impeachment is ever to take hold in Congress,” Swanson said.

The eight US Representatives who voted No for the “right reasons”–because the exit target date wasn’t soon enough–were US Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), John Lewis (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Mike McNulty (D-NY), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Diane Watson (D-CA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). One Republican of Libertarian persuasion, Ron Paul (R-TX), also voted no for similar reasons.

US Rep. Lewis, who used to work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said on the House floor, “If he could speak today, he would say this Nation needs a revolution of values that exposes the truth that war does not work. If he could speak today, he would say that war is obsolete as a tool of our foreign policy.”

“Tonight I must make it plain and clear that as a human being, as a citizen of the world, as a citizen of America, as a Member of Congress, as an individual committed to a world at peace with itself, I will not and I cannot in good conscience vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war,” Lewis said.

Former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney spoke at a recent March on the Pentagon in Washington, DC, to oppose the official four year anniversary of the US Invasion of Iraq [although it should be noted the US began bombing Iraq months before the official Invasion began].

“We are shocked the Democratic Majority in Congress chose war over us as we say Bring our troops home now! The answer is clear: Our country has been hijacked,” McKinney said in her speech.

“Our beloved America is dividing again into two Americas. Our struggle is for nothing less than the soul of our country. As an American of conscience, I hereby declare my independence from every bomb dropped, every threat leveled, every civil liberties rollback, every child killed, every veteran maimed, every man tortured. And I sadly declare my independence from the leaders who let it happen. We will not stop. We will win. We will take our country back!” McKinney said.

Meanwhile, online readers of the AJC were led to believe that Lewis and Johnson had the complete opposite positions as they actually had.

“US Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta) is part of the whip effort to keep Democrats in line,” Tom Baxter and Jim Galloway wrote on the AJC’s Political Insider blog. In fact, Lewis was part of the anti-whip effort to keep Democrats out of line, not in it.

The juxtaposition of this statement about Lewis with his quote, “I’m not prepared to vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war. It is time to bring our young men and our young women home,” misleads readers into believing that ending the war funding was the Democratic Party’s leading position, while the opposite is true.

Johnson, who was reported as saying, “Politically, the reality is that you just can’t yank the troops off the streets. You just can’t leave them without the funding they need in order to wind this process down,” was characterized by the article as being in the “middle,” when in fact, Johnson was keeping with the Pelosi party line. The AJC reported Johnson was “unsure about the effort.”

The AJC is currently restructuring itself to promote online content.

As reported previously in APN, US Rep. Lewis declined to endorse McKinney in her Run-off with Mr. Johnson, despite his legislative position similarities with McKinney. At the time, it was unclear what positions Johnson would take if elected, as he ran on largely a vague, anti-McKinney platform.

This is one of the first major indications of the consequences of Johnson’s purported victory [the so-called election “results” were based on an election without paper ballots and riddled with vote flipping] in terms of how Georgia citizens from the 4th District will be represented for the next two years.

To be sure, the House vote is a major development as it does include a 2008 target date for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, the first such target date of its kind. Prospects for the legislation in the US Senate are less clear, and President Bush has vowed to veto the bill anyway.

US Rep. Woolsey had offered an alternative bill to Pelosi’s, which would bring troops home within six months of enactment. That bill has 50 total co-sponsors. US Sen. Feingold’s similar bill in the US Senate had 4 total co-sponsors.

Former US Rep. McKinney continues to keep her options open for the future. It is unclear whether she will run for her US House seat in Georgia’s 4th District again, or whether she will run in another district, or for another Office. Several Internet sites are abuzz with the possibility McKinney may defect to the Green Party. A close look at her recent statements in DC would seem to corroborate such a possibility.

McKinney has been speaking at Green Party functions, particularly on the West Coast, and multiple sources close to APN say she is being wooed by the Greens to consider numerous possibilities, including a 2008 Presidential nomination. It was widely reported McKinney considered a Green run in 2004, but she decided at that time to run again as a Democrat for Georgia’s 4th Congressional seat.

Asked if there’s any basis to the innuendo of a Green candidate McKinney in the future, “The Dems certainly didn’t bolster their case today, did they?” McKinney told Atlanta Progressive News.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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