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Tuesday, 13 December 2016 09:32

The Fake Campaign to Blame ‘the Russians’

By Dave Lindorff*

TheNew York TimesandWashington Post, the nation’s two top national newspapers, have been breathlessly reporting of late, with little sign of any appropriate journalistic skepticism, on a purported massive and successful Russian conspiracy to throw the US election to their “favored” candidate, Donald Trump. But theChicago Tribunehas weighed in with a more measured piece, suggesting that while the CIA, a particularly secretive and politically driven organization, may be making that claim, the FBI is not convinced.

While even theTribunesometimes ignores inserting the requisite “alleged” that should precede any reference to unproven claims that Russia is behind the hacking of the Democratic Party’s (and the Republican Party’s) email server, the paper does also note that Democrats in particular are “frustrated” by the “murky nature” of the FBI’s analysis, with outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), calling on FBI Director James Comey to resign.

The reason for the Democrats’ frustration is also made clear. As theTribune reports:


With so much of the evidence about Russia’s alleged role in the election shrouded in secrecy because of strict classification rules, Democrats and Republicans in Washington who have access to the underlying intelligence say they have struggled to make their respective cases, leaving an already deeply divided public convinced that both sides are shading their conclusions to help the candidate they backed on Election Day.

The reality is that the CIA has presented no hard evidence that Russia is behind the hacking of the DNC’s or or Clinton’s private home server. The excuse is given that the Agency doesn’t want to disclose any of its sources, so the reader is left with the pathetic plea, from both the Agency and the White House: “Trust us.”

But why would anyone trust the CIA or the White House on anything? We’re talking about an agency and a Executive Branch that between them are known to have lied (during the GW Bush years) about anthrax labs in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, lied about what were aluminum tubes imported to make irrigation equipment being evidence of missile-building, lied about Ira’s links to Al Qaeda, and (during the Obama years) lied about Syria’s government using Sarin gas on its own people in Damascus, lied about the details of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, lied about the role of a murderous CIA agent captured by Pakistani police while posing as a US consular employee, lied about the extent of National Security Agency Spying both at home and abroad, and lied about Russia invading Ukraine and shooting down a civilian Malaysian jumbo jet.

If one were to take a moment and think about what is being alleged here by Democrats — that a national presidential election was successfully subverted by the releasing of hacked emails showing major corruption and malfeasance by the Democratic Party leadership in undermining the fairness of the party’s presidential primary to benefit one candidate — Hillary Clinton — and to destroy the candidacy of her opponent Bernie Sanders — it should lead to one of two alternative conclusions.

Either the Russians did Americans a favor, by exposing the epic corruption of one of their two major parties and one of the candidates seeking to become president — something that a more independent and aggressive domestic media would have and should have done on their own, if not by hacking then by paying attention to, instead of ignoring and blacking out, what frustrated insiders like DNC Vice Chair Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii who quit in disgust saying the DNC was undermining the primaries on behalf of Clinton’s campaign. Or alternatively, we’re being told that our 240-year-old democracy is so shriveled and weak that an outside government can easily undermine it and manipulate the outcome as if we were some corrupt and fragile banana republic.

Either conclusion is rather pathetic and depressing to contemplate.

Meanwhile, the media feeding frenzy over unsubstantiated claims over Russian subversion of our last election ignores the reality that this kind of thing is something the US has been doing abroad at least since the end of World War II and the onset of the Cold War. Not content to just undermine elections through dirty tricks, fake news and secret payments in Europe, Latin America, later in Eastern Europe and Russia, and in Asia, the US has also fomented countless coups to overthrow or attempt to overthrow existing elected governments, most recently in Honduras, Ukraine, Venezuela and Brazil, and so has no grounds to complain by claiming that the Russians were allegedly doing the same thing here.

On the other hand, if the Democratic Party leadership had kept its hand off the scale during the primaries, and had not made such heavy-handed efforts to get major news organizations like theTimes, MSNBC, theDaily News,Postand others to help it undermine Bernie Sanders, Sanders would have won both the party’s nomination and the presidency, and probably the Congress also into the bargain, and we wouldn’t be looking at a looming Trump presidency and Republican Congress.

Not only that, but with a genuinely popular candidate running for president in both parties (like it or not Trump was wildly popular among a significant segment of the population), no Russian propaganda campaign would have had a prayer of impacting voter opinion or the results of the voting.

If indeed there really was a Russian effort to swing this recent election, it could only have succeeded in a situation where the electorate was disgusted by its choices and was voting negatively for a lesser evil. And that situation only could arise where the two major parties were so corrupted that they were trying desperately to keep genuinely popular candidates from winning the nomination.

In fact that is what happened. The Republican leadership tried mightily to keep Donald Trump, a loose cannon who has disavowed many basic and long-held Republican principles, such as backing US empire and Israel, supporting any and all trade agreements, and viewing Russia as an existential enemy, from winning their party’s nomination. They failed, but not for lack of trying. The Democratic leadership tried everything, too, to prevent insurgent self-described “socialist” candidate Sanders from winning the nomination, and thanks to underhanded manipulation of the primaries, corrupt meddling in media coverage of Sanders, an anti-democratic voting block of locked-in “super delegates,” committed to backing Clinton whatever the result of the primaries, and some crooked efforts to depress voting in key primary states including New York and California, they succeeded in throwing the nomination to Clinton. She of course was doomed, by their very ham-handed interference in the primaries, to go on to lose the general election.

That corrupt fiasco has left Democratic Party leadership hacks and their backers in thecorporate media with nothing to do but find a scapegoat for their disastrous performance, hence the fake “Russia-did-it” claims.

It’s a sad commentary on the pathetic decline of democracy in the United States, but is also a clarion call for a rebirth of grassroots democratic resurgence.

If there’s a bright spot in the new situation, it’s that progressives, socialists, radicals and disaffected citizens of all kinds now should have a clear understanding of how corrupt the Democratic Party really is.

One of two things must happen. That party must be completely swept clean of the hacks, frauds, crooks, compromisers and charlatans who populate its leadership and who hold most of the elected posts remaining in Democratic hands in Congress. Alternatively, the Democratic Party must be abandoned as unsalvageable, with progressive forces, from labor organizations, advocates of the poor and elderly, environmental activists, human rights and peace groups, women’s rights and minority rights organizations, civil libertarians and others rallying both to create something new to replace it, and organizing in the street to resist the new Trump government.

Any new left party needs to abandon the fraudulent tactics of so-called “identity politics,” in which a basically pro-corporate Democratic Party has sought to appease and cajole support for its corporatist candidates and agenda by catering to individual issues of various groups leaning its way by default. Instead, the really big issues need to be tackled head on: expanding Social Security, making Medicare universal for everyone of all ages, restoring genuine progressive taxation on the wealthy, ending foreign wars, closing overseas bases and slashing the military, obeying international law (including treaties with sovereign Native American nations), making public college free to all, nationalizing support for primary and secondary education so that all communities have well-funded, quality public schools, declaring a national mobilization to quickly end reliance upon fossil fuels to combat climate change, and creating jobs for everyone through a massive public spending program on job training and infrastructure repair and modernization.

These and other ideas are things that most Americans can and would get behind, not simply efforts to pander to various specific interest groups.

Do this and the Russians — assuming they even have been trying to manipulate our elections — wouldn’t have a chance of influencing anyone.

*Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

www.counterpunch.org

Published in Global

 by Saib Bilaval

Since the results of the US Presidential election were announced, media focus has been on how Donald Trump won, rather than how Hillary lost. In the two days after the results, most of the media concluded (finally, and too late!) that Bernie Sanders would have been a better candidate against Trump even though he had been beating the President-elect by double digits in the polls since September 2015. The concern should have been about how the primary was rigged through election fraud and disfranchisement.

Voter turnout on both sides was lower than in 2008 and 2012. While the white vote has been blamed for the election of Trump, one must keep in mind that nearly as many white women and half as many white men voted for Hillary – the extremely low turnout among African Americans, whether in the North or the South, ultimately throwing the election to Trump. Interestingly, Trump’s bigotry was expected to enable a higher turnout among African Americans for Hillary Clinton, who had apparently “decimated” Sanders in the same demographic.

Much of the voter disenchantment with Democrats has to do with Hillary Clinton’s truly terrible favorability and trustworthy ratings. In the era of the informed voter, whistleblowers and internet at one’s fingertips – a Clinton is a toxic candidate. The media, the political elite and the pundits all marveled aloud at Hillary’s defeat, their complicity in the Clinton machine and long-term insider status in “politics as usual” blinding them to the fact the Clintons are not, in fact, just any corrupt politicians, or symptoms of the larger problem of money in politics. This essay seeks to list out ways in which the Clintons have over the years been crucial components in the construction of the modern oligarchy we see today, as well as the refiners and abusers of the most modern forms of legalized and grey area corruption in unprecedented ways – making them some of the most corrupt-seeming politicians in American history – a rather unique position.

  • Hillary Clinton was the first person under FBI investigation to attempt running as a presidential candidate – in addition to being the only First Lady to ever be under FBI investigation – while the press paraded her as the most “qualified and electable” candidate. This sets a dangerous precedent – legitimate scandals would cease to cause political damage.

  • The DNC and Podesta Wikileaks showed us that the White House was involved and knew about Clinton's server, interfered in the FBI investigation, corroborated with Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the private email server, and lied to media outlets. In addition, we discovered that Obama directly emailed Hillary Clinton on the private server.

  • The Clintons were also the first Presidential couple to rent out the Lincoln bedroom, pawn the White House as a motel for donors, and use meetings for paid photo-ops.

  • The signing of the Telecommunications Act in 1996 by Bill Clinton enabled the huge media monopoly that can be seen today, with six corporations controlling over 90% of news space. This concentration of projection of vested interests allowed corporate lobbies to stamp out stories that affect company profits (whether the parent company or the media offspring). TPP, Keystone Pipeline. NDAPL – as well as make or break a political candidate with coverage or lack thereof.

  • Hillary Clinton’s SuperPACs buy actual news sites to skew public objectivity through journalistic manipulation. The main front organization that carries out the influencing is Correct The Record, headed by former Republican political hitman David Brock, that often spent up to $3 million a month to pay individuals to counter the activism of Sanders supporters online. The parent company of the Daily Beast has Chelsea Clinton on its board. Correct the Record went on to buy Democratic websites such as Blue Nation Review in an attempt to discredit Sanders.

  • Further, in 2016, Hillary Clinton has clearly been the highest recipient of donations from all elite groups: Wall Street banks, private prison corps, Monsanto, fossil fuel companies, pharma companies, the arms lobby, and billionaires in general – more than all the Republican candidates combined. This qualified her to be the plutocracy’s stooge-in-chief.

  • Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with whom one is uncertain whether her campaign chair is her boss or her employee. John Podesta, the person in question, has multiple firms listed in the Panama Papers and is a major donor and a lobbyist. Heather Podesta, his former sister-in-law owns a major law firm and is also a megadonor and bundler to Hillary Clinton. Her ex-husband,Tony Podesta, is another major contributor and the biggest lobbyist in Washington. A list of suggestions for federal appointments up to cabinet level was emailed to John Podesta when Obama became President-elect, which he promised to send over. Over 90% of those suggestions turned into actual appointments. In the light of the Podesta leaks, he has become the face of the shadow government – the billionaires and the corporations.

  • The billionaire George Soros, who owns several media houses globally and has played a role in bringing down foreign governments and rigging elections in East Europe is Hillary’s biggest donor and owns voting machines in 16 states and owns snopes.com, a “myth debunking” website that was frequently used to “fact check” (read: attack) Sanders and deflect blame from Hillary Clinton over her numerous scandals.

  • The Wikileaks Podesta emails revealed that Hillary, unlike any Democrat other than Obama (who had earlier backed out) planned to gut social security.

  • The Clintons are most responsible for the rightward turn the Democrats took, that had started with the fiscal policies of Jimmy Carter and matured in the Reagan era. They along with other current top Democrats, were the top office bearers of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)/ Third Way movement that demolished the working and middle-class roots of the Democratic Party while sweeping aside the Rainbow Coalition.

  • The rise of the Clintons is very closely parallel and congruent to the rise of Goldman Sachs, and Walmart. Goldman Sachs was just another Wall Street firm until the late 1980s, when their head, Robert Rubin, allied with Clinton to become his treasury secretary. After having Clinton repeal Glass-Steagall, Rubin became the top man at the newly merged Citigroup. Goldman Sachs went on to over-speculate, causing the dot com bubble and then crisis of the early 2000s, and became a major culprit in the 2007-08 Wall Street crash, despite the fact that chairs of the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretaries since Rubin were, like him, all Goldman Sachs alumni. Goldman Sachs now has a singular grip on the world economy. Walmart was an Arkansas-level firm and a major campaign donor of then-Governor Clinton. Once the latter became President, his benefactors rose with him - Walmart replaced GM and GE as the largest private employer in the US, and the largest enabler and disabler of the minimum wage, and the largest recipient of corporate welfare, whose employees are the largest recipients of food stamps. Hillary Clinton even served on the Board of directors at WalMart, and did nothing to address issues regarding higher wages, unionization, and racism/diversity.

  • Emerging forms of labor exploitation and public perception, embodied in corporations such as Google, Facebook, AirBnB and Uber had fallen in line behind Clinton, seeing her as the best candidate for their profits.

  • Bill Clinton was the first Democrat President since Woodrow Wilson to cut welfare as part of his Welfare Reform bill. At the same time, Hillary Clinton’s “superpredators” comment was the nastiest slur publicly used by a major politician since the struggle for the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s. Bill and Hillary Clinton were prone to display a dark side of the Democrats that certain generations had not seen.

  • Glass-Steagall was the regulatory law Bill Clinton repealed which had kept commercial and investment banking apart. With the floodgates open, soon enough came the Wall Street crash due to financial fraud. Boosted by the repeal, not only did ordinary taxpayers lose their savings, but the taxpayer had to bail out the banks too. The crux of the matter is, the Clintons did a lot to endanger the American economy in a long term, irreversible (unless legislatively overturned) manner.

  • The Clinton Foundation is a money laundering scheme like no other before it. It makes use of all possible tax loopholes, accepts money from foreign donors and governments, spends a tiny amount of its finances on grants (the bulk on paid speeches for the Clinton family or individuals they want to enrich, and travel).

  • The Clinton Foundation, as a post-Presidential exclusion to the boundaries of the law, was a product of many earlier deals. There is the matter of Indonesian money from the Riady family to Hillary, Bill (while he was President), and to Hillary’s former law partners – an impeachable offence. Greg Palast details out a deal cut between Republicans and Democrats – where the former dropped a real opportunity to successfully impeach the President, while the Democrats agreed to not investigate the Koch brothers for campaign finance breaches. The Republicans then settled on sticking to Clinton’s sex scandals instead:
     

Investigators with the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee located bank records linking the children's "charity" and other political front groups to Triad Management, an operation funded by the Kochs. Democratic senators threatened to subpoena Koch Industries' chiefs to question whether they funded Triad and manipulated its related groups. Democrats could drag the tycoons before the same public tribunal on campaign finances skewering Clinton.

A key Senate insider, who must remain anonymous, says Republicans then offered a straightforward trade: "A truce-you don't do Triad, we don't do Clinton." Other sources inside the committee confirm that the Republicans, under the direction of Senators Trent Lott and Don Nickles, rather than risk exposure of the Kochs' web of mega-dollar funding operations, agreed to shut down the money probe and let Clinton off the hook.

The true, unreported reason for the collapse of the inquiry most threatening to Clinton was the Indonesia money chain, which could have knocked him out of office and reveals the ultimate measure of Koch influence: that Republicans sacrificed their case against the president to keep their secret benefactors under wraps.

  • Hillary and Bill Clinton are the highest recipients of money through paid speeches in the country – no politician or celebrity matches the total income accumulated this way, or their per speech rate.

  • Regarding the Indo-US Nuclear deal – not only were the Clintons bribed by foreign businessmen, politicians, and diaspora to enable India’s nuclear reactors and weapons research – the deal was a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It isn’t a matter of selling out national interest, whether American or Indian – Hillary Clinton became a supporter of a potential domino effect in terms of NPT violations, and was ready to sell out world peace despite being an informed member of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, as well as while sitting on the Armed Services Committee in Senate.

  • Further, there is the fact that Hillary Clinton also happens to be the most bloodthirsty Democrat, in terms of foreign policy, In decades.

  • The economic legacy of the Clintons sums up to this: If Reagan was the lackey of big business and a union buster, Clinton was the second biggest job outsourcer and the main hand of finance capital. The latter form of capital is both more exploitative and more dangerous to the economy.

  • To explain Hillary’s general election loss, it is worth pointing out yet again that maybe, just maybe Trump won the election because he had actually won his primary, unlike Hillary Clinton. The 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary displayed the highest amount of scale-tipping the party had seen since 1968. In the interim period, rigging usually has occurred against certain Democratic candidates - Jesse Jackson, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich - and usually through arranged media bias or endorsements. This time – white people were disenfranchised, blatant media talking points supplied directly by the Clinton campaign were used, and there were cases of electoral fraud (voting machines were rigged) never seen before in the history of the party.

The Clintons were not just the greatest candidates the establishment ever had, they were the makers of the system that fed and directed them.

The author is a research scholar in modern and contemporary history at Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

 www.realprogressivesusa.com

Published in Global