-- On the evening of January 31, Washington’s political and business elite met under the aegis of the annual dinner of the Alfalfa Club, billed by the Washington corporate media as one of the nation’s capital’s most secretive and elite groups.
Ever since 1913, the Alfalfa Club, called such because the alfalfa plant in known as to have a voracious appetite for a “drink,” has met for their annual dinner the last Saturday of January. However, the club, which meets to celebrate the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, is much more than a drinking club. The beginning of the presidency of the segregationist Woodrow Wilson that year was seen as a further impetus for the racist policies of the “Jim Crow” South. And the Alfalfa Club was an important element in keeping the traditions of the antebellum South alive.
It was in 1913 that some of the well-heeled members of the Alfalfa Club helped kick in the funds for the groundbreaking for the Confederate Memorial project at Arlington National Cemetery sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
In fact, the Alfalfa Club did not admit African Americans as members until the 1970s and women until 1994.
Among the Alfalfa Club’s most active members are George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Other members have included Henry Kissinger, Spiro Agnew, Madeleine Albright, Katharine Graham (of the Washington Post), Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, Newt Gingrich, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Richard Helms, Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Ross Perot, and Harry Truman.
At the January 31 dinner, Barack Obama saw Missouri’s retiring Republican Senator Kit Bond assume the mantle as president of the Alfalfa Club, a distinction that previously was bestowed on Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and World Bank President James Wolfensohn. Missouri politicians are no strangers to the neo-Confederate cause. Former Missouri Senator and Attorney General John Ashcroft was once a contributing writer to the southern secessionist “Southern Partisan” magazine.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was also present with Obama at the Alfalfa Club dinner, has supported the secessionist aims of the Alaska Independence Party, a political ally of the secessionist Southern Party.
Obama quipped at the dinner that if Robert E. Lee “were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old . . . And very confused.” Perhaps not.
Lee might have understood that Obama’s powerful chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, whose use of profanity was the butt of Obama’s jokes at the dinner, would not have permitted Obama to involve himself with a group with a segregationist and Confederate past if there were not a political benefit for Emanuel, Obama’s version of Karl Rove.
Lee’s immediate boss in the Confederacy was Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin, formerly a slave-owning U.S. senator from Louisiana. Anti-slavery Senator Benjamin Wade (R-OH) said of Benjamin in a Senate debate, “[He is an] Israelite in Egyptian clothing,” a reference to the fact that Benjamin’s Jewish ancestors were held as slaves by the Egyptians, yet he also held slaves. Benjamin replied to Wade’s comments, “[It] is true that I am a Jew, and when my ancestors were receiving their Ten Commandments from the immediate Deity, amidst the thundering and lightnings of Mt. Sinai, the ancestors of my opponent were herding swine in the forests of Great Britain.”
Benjamin’s comments, while crude for their time, are in keeping with the more crass comments of Emanuel, a latter-day Judah P. Benjamin. As the Confederate secretary of state, Benjamin attempted to get Great Britain to enter the U.S. Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. Benjamin’s interlocutors in London included the powerful Rothschild banking family.
Obama’s appearance at the Alfalfa Club dinner was yet another example of how he is being controlled by Emanuel. A week and a half ago, Emanuel was, according to a New York Times report, cracking his knuckles at a meeting in the Cabinet Room attended by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Cabinet officials, and senior White House staff. Obama asked Emanuel to stop, finding the practice annoying, whereupon Emanuel cracked his knuckle in Obama’s ear. The incident, far from a joke, was a message to all those present, especially Pelosi, as to who is in charge at the White House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has, since she has been speaker, authorized a group of neo-Confederate members of the Sons of the Confederacy and United Daughters of the Confederacy to hold an annual celebration of Lee’s birthday at the base of his statue in Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building. However, this past Inaugural luncheon for Obama was also held in Statuary Hall. Pelosi, perhaps fearing a protocol breach, had the architect of the Capitol move Lee’s statue to the basement where the overflow of each state’s two authorized “native son” statues are maintained. In return, Pelosi is permitting the neo-Confederates, many with close ties to the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups, to hold their annual Lee commemorative affair on February 7, “out of sight and out of mind,” in the basement statuary “crypt” of the U.S. Capitol.
The question remains why, if Pelosi was so concerned about Lee’s statue being present at the Inauguration luncheon for America’ first African American president, was not Obama, himself, concerned about the message sent by attending a club dinner founded by a group of recalcitrant Confederates and segregationists?
Emanuel is, every day, steering Obama to the right and the Republican Party. Obama has now assured Republicans that New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor John Lynch will appoint a Republican to succeed incumbent Republican Senator Judd Gregg if Obama appoints him as Commerce Secretary. Such a move would prevent Lynch from naming a Democrat to the Senate and, if Al Franken is sworn in as Minnesota’s senator as the 59th Democrat in the Senate, prevent the Democrats from achieving a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority.
Obama condemned Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for allowing alleged outside interests to be involved in the now-impeached governor’s selection of Obama’s U.S. Senate replacement. Yet, Obama now has no problem pressuring Lynch on Gregg’s replacement.
There is now word that Obama will maintain the CIA’s kidnapping policy known as “extraordinary rendition.” The policy was introduced by the neocons in the George W. Bush administration and is an offshoot of the Israeli Mossad kidnapping operations that were used to kidnap Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann from Argentina; Umaru Dikko, the Nigerian political opponent of Nigerian dictator Mohammad Buhari, from London; and Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu from Italy.
Obama’s turn to the right is not surprising to one African American Democrat who spoke to us. The long-time politician observed, “With Obama, now you will see fascism with a black face.”