The oligarchs and corporatocracy are hosting an election in the United States this year. They have chosen the candidates, the issues to be discussed, the methods of voting, the perimeters of the voting districts, and dictated what the media will say about the event. You, as a member of the “voting public”, are invited to attend the event or just watch from a distance. It hardly matters, since it is unlikely the outcome depends upon your participation.
This week-end, the media is exclusively talking about, in exhausting and tedious interviews with “the experts”, the potential results of the Iowa caucuses; the first in our series of caucuses or primary elections (depending on the state) that will decide the nominees for the Democrat and Republican parties. I wasn’t sure how a caucus worked as Maryland is a primary state, so I dug up some information on the subject. Turns out it is a fairly useless procedure which actually goes on for months in caucus states, although the pundits only pay attention to the first round of the affair. The fact that the way the public votes during this first of the series of caucuses may not be proportionally represented once the Dem. and Rep. delegates make it to the National Conventions to cast their vote for the nominee goes completely unremarked. Everyone eligible to vote during the general election can go to the caucuses, which are held in school auditoriums, churches, or even private homes. Well, assuming there is not a blizzard in Iowa that night, that you have a babysitter – these things take hours – that you aren’t sick and that you don’t have to work that evening. There are close to 1700 precincts in this first round of caucuses. Usually only about 20% of the voters show up, and Iowa is not one of our more populous states in any case; these facts do not deter the “experts” from declaring that the Iowa caucuses are really, really, really important.
So how do caucuses work? Here’s the quick and dirty. To start with, at the initial caucus, a delegate is chosen to represent the voting outcome at the next level of caucuses/conventions. After the precinct caucus, there are the county conventions, the district conventions, the state convention and then the DNC or RNC national convention. Are you beginning to get how silly it is to consider the first in this series of caucuses to be the most important? The national committees of each of the two major parties decide the caucus rules, so how they are run differs. The Republicans have a simple process. First they say the Pledge of Allegiance. Because, duh, they’re Republicans, and wherever two or more Republicans are gathered, there will be a flag and everyone will pledge to it. Close scrutiny is given as to whether all those present appear sincere during the Holy Recitation. [Aside: I always wondered about the idea of pledging to a flag rather than just the country, but that’s just me. It appears that we are the only country that routinely uses a pledge like this, and certainly the only country which has schoolchildren doing a pledge of any sort, with the exception of North Korea, where the kids start their day pledging allegiance to their Dear Leader. Originally, when Americans recited the pledge, people were expected to raise their right hands toward the sky while speaking, but after Hitler rose to prominence in Germany, that started to look, rather obviously, like the Heil Hitler salute, so the gesture was changed.] Anyway, after reciting the pledge, the caucus-goers are treated to some speeches from someone or another. Then they have a secret ballot where everyone writes down his/her choice for the nominee. Some places use ballots, some just scraps of paper. The votes are tallied and reported to the RNC. Everyone goes home, except for the chosen delegate of that precinct and some party leaders, who shoot the shit a while longer.
The Democrats have a much more complicated system. The voters arrive and are separated into groups depending on whom they support. Then the various factions scream campaign slogans at each other, trying to convince anyone who doesn’t support their candidate to switch sides. They throw water balloons at each other until a gong sounds, at which point, everyone scrambles for the limited number of seats available in the middle of the room. Well, okay, I made up the part about the water balloons and the musical chairs, but the rest is pretty much correct. After a designated time, people have to sort themselves out according to how they have decided to vote and a count is taken. If the guy your side supports has less than 15% of the votes, he’s out.
If your guy has been tagged out for the rest of the game, you will then be harangued to join someone else’s group. Eventually, someone calls a welcome end to this part of the process and a final tally is taken. There is no secret ballot here: all your neighbors can see which group you are standing with. The number of delegates to represent each candidate are chosen in proportion to the number of voters who chose him, and the delegates go on to the next round of caucuses at the county level, etc. The delegates can switch their votes around to some other candidate at the later levels of caucus, and some delegates to the Democratic national convention are simply assigned by the DNC, so it would appear that there is absolutely no meaning in any of this. For all I know, bags of money are left on doorsteps to convince the delegates to switch their votes later.
At both the Dem and the Rep caucuses, ties are sometimes settled by tossing a coin. Maybe they should just start with the coin toss from the get-go. If you want to read more about this stuff, you can go here:
For the rest of us, there are primary elections where people go into their polling place and cast a ballot. A number of states don’t allow Independents to vote in the primaries, since they are used to vote for the Dem and Rep nominees. Delegates to the Rep and Dem national conventions, where they will vote for the final candidate of each party, are supposed to be chosen in proportion with the voter’s choices, but here you run into the issue of the strange “electoral college” system we use. No-one knows how it works. It has appeared in past elections that the delegates can vote randomly or that their votes can be over-ridden by the national committees. In any case, after all that hoopla, everyone goes on to the national elections to vote for a president. At that point, you can vote for whomever you want, although there will be names on the ballot you don’t recognize because the media has never mentioned them. You can hope the voting machines aren’t rigged at either the primary or the general election level, but chances are about equal that they are.
I mentioned that the caucuses use paper ballots or simply a head count, so you might think that those votes can’t be rigged; however, this year both parties have been given a free app from Microsoft so that party leaders can calculate the totals instantly and send them in to the press. Thank you, Bill Fucking Gates! You just never sleep, do ya? Bernie Sanders, no dummy, is a mite suspicious about the motivation behind this free Gates swag offered to the process, and his team has built its own reporting system to verify the results.
The 2016 election, no matter who “wins”, will have the intended effect of shooting the hostages. Those hostages would be us; the workers slaving away to the rules written by the oligarchs and corporate cartels and never able to catch up, the people unlucky enough to be living in oil- and resource-rich countries (including the US – we just haven’t glommed onto the fact yet that our resources are vastly more important to the elites than we are; a truth that we will only dimly perceive and that, way too late), and those who try to protest the alarming rise of Monsanto, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, et al, and protest their enablers in the various houses of governments around the planet. The protesters will be silenced by any means the cartels deem necessary. These huge corporations and the bankers are in control of not only our human activities, but the natural world as well, and whomever wins the presidential election is unlikely to stand up for us. At the congressional level, it is certain that a mere handful of “our elected representatives” gives a damn about the “voters”. They will sell us down the river, as they have done for a long time now. No matter which nominal candidate wins, the cartels and warmongers will be the actual winners. This is the final Great Taking, and they will have it all – the money, the assets, the lands, the resources – and we are expendable.
The situation is far simpler than the media pundits and self-proclaimed experts would have you believe. We are in the middle of a class war. The rich versus all. There is a secondary class war; that of the middle class versus the poor, which has been strategically engineered by the elites for decades. The middle classes are narrowing and are, on the one hand, being taught to believe that the poor are the enemy and are to be despised as lazy and useless; and on the other hand, convinced that one day, they too will make it to financial success. Liberals want to pretend the class war between the middle class and the poor doesn’t exist, or that it all about race. Conservatives push the narrative that there is no class war at all, that we can all be rich if we just work hard enough. We could have had a national discussion about our poverty crisis, but Obama was probably the last chance we had at seeing that happen. And he doesn’t seem to notice, much less care about the issue. The Democrats in Congress have agreed to all the austerity measures put to a vote, and finished off 2015 by nodding to the virtual end the food stamps for the elderly and the disabled and lowering these benefits drastically for the poor; the Republicans never wanted anyone to have food stamps or such in the first place.
The statistics on food poverty in the US are really staggering. We currently have the highest level of food insecurity since the 1970s. We had almost entirely eradicated hunger in our country back then. Right now, one in six Americans is going hungry every day, while 30% of Americans are described as “food insecure” – meaning they can’t guarantee they have a way to put food on the table.
The low interest rates imposed by our economic policies (decided by a bunch of former big bank executives in cooperation with the private Fed) has resulted in zero interest income for Americans who try to save some money, and the same zero interest is realized on the skimpy retirement funds older people may have set aside. Congress has basically done away with the annual cost of living increases given to those living on social security by using fake numbers for the rate of inflation.
Only two of the candidates, Sanders and strangely, Trump, talk about unemployment. The real unemployment rate, if it were to be accounted for accurately, would be around 25%, not the 5% currently claimed by the Labor Department. Wages have been stagnant for decades, and according to the last Oxfam report, “the 62 richest billionaires now own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.” Just wait until the TPP trade agreement and the wonders of automation, technology, and robotics strips what’s left of the jobs right out from under our feet. As economist Michael Whitney said:
[…] Obama and the Republican-led Congress have done everything in their power to keep things just the way they are by slashing government spending to make sure the economy stays weak as possible, so inflation is suppressed, the Fed isn’t forced to raise rates, and the cheap money continues to flow to Wall Street. That’s the whole scam in a nutshell: Starve the workerbees while providing more welfare to the slobs at the big investment banks and brokerage houses. It’s a system that policymakers have nearly perfected as a new Oxfam report shows. […]
Wealth like that, “ain’t no accident”, brother. It’s the policy.
Want to know how much the average person in the US earns? The candidates won’t talk about it, but I will.
The Social Security Administration has released its data for 2014. Their chart shows actual W-2 earnings in the US as given by the IRS records based on tax returns for 2014.
The numbers are pretty abysmal. The median wage was under $29,000, meaning that half of American workers earned under that amount. The “average wage” is higher than that at $44,569, but is so skewed by the few on the highest income bracket that it is not a really meaningful number, in my opinion. (The 134 people who earned over $50 mm last year can really alter that average; even taking that into account, 67% earned under the $44,569 “average wage” in 2014.) In 2014:
-38 % of all American workers made less than $20,000
-51 % of all American workers made less than $30,000
-62 % of all American workers made less than $40,000
-71 % of all American workers made less than $50,000
Since the SSA and the IRS reports are based on each “wage-earner’s” tax-return total earnings rather than counting each and every W-2 turned in to the IRS as a discrete “wage”, this means that the data does not give any information on what the average job might pay and one should not make the mistake of coming to any conclusions about that. In other words, a “wage-earner” may have earned $30,000 in 2014, but might have had to work two or three jobs to earn that amount. The SSA charts are easy to read, and there is a tool you can click on to look at charts from previous years.
This time around, the oligarchy has trotted out some of the most repugnant, bizarre, and downright ignorant candidates to which we have ever been treated. Their motto for 2016 is: “2016 – the year we won’t give you any lesser evils to choose from.” But this is the end result of the capitalist system on display, and we are a capitalist country on its down trajectory; at this point, Americans will buy dog shit if it is packaged properly and advertised heavily.
None of the candidates will cut any of the Pentagon’s budget, nor will any of them consider the possibility that we ought to end the crusades against foreign nations, none of which actually threaten us and with none of whom we are legally at war. Last year, we dropped an estimated total of over 23,000 bombs in six countries. This breeds terrorism, for the obvious reasons. ISIS was a creation of the US; of our policies and actions, if not a direct creation of the CIA and secret ops in conjunction with mercenaries. Yet according to the people running for president, what we need is more bombs, more American forces killing people abroad, and more help in the fight from “allies” like Saudi Arabia and Turkey. There could be another way to fight terrorism, as one might note that in socially balanced societies, terrorism does not thrive, but we seem incapable of considering an alternative to bloodshed. We are addicted to it now.
This has resulted in a flood of refugees and/or terrorists to the EU which did not exist prior to the destruction of law and order in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria – before the “strong men” who ruled and did not tolerate bombings and mayhem by religious zealots were murdered by the US. Now we are bent on some ridiculous quest to further “contain the Middle East” and kill those who are determined to avenge their loved ones. As always, the innocent on both sides get fried, while the war machine enjoys the profits.
Even Sanders thinks the [illegal] drone-bombing should continue; I wonder if he will feel okay about carrying out the “Terror Tuesday” duties should he become president? Will he be surprised to find that he is just as adept and casual at ordering the murders of strangers across the planet as Obama has been?
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday that if elected president he would not end the U.S.’s controversial drone program in the Middle East.
Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos ” that he would continue with the targeted killing campaign but suggested he would somehow reform the program so that drones don’t kill innocent people abroad.
“I think we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively. That has not always been the case,” Sanders said. […]
We are going back in to Libya, as if we hadn’t already destroyed that once thriving country and created a failed state. See “Pentagon prepares another war in Libya”:
We have never left Afghanistan and have re-entered Iraq. We are the main drivers behind the destabilization and bloodshed in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Ukraine. We are aiming for Russia, Iran, and China. Oh, Jesus, forget it; I can’t even begin to list all the countries we are bombing, invading, attempting to destabilize, ruin economically, or instigate coups in now.
Why do Americans approve of drone-bombing, ignore the CIA-instigated terrorism around the globe, seemingly enjoy being at war against countries that don’t threaten us, see the warrior class as superior and deserving of accolades and perqs despite the fact that they are engaged in killing people while we are legally at war with no nation, and scream with approval when some political demagogue talks about “keeping us safe” and nuking the rest of the world into submission? Why is the public satisfied with the selection offered us in presidential candidates in which even the nominally Democratic “front-runner” is a woman who wants to invade yet another country and do away with their elected leader and who constantly threatens a multitude of other countries? Why do none of the “candidates” talk about reducing the Pentagon’s budget, getting rid of the Fed, overturning the Patriot Act, or – at the least, for God’s sake – dislodging the most egregiously unconstitutional clauses in the NDAA? Why do our “Christian” ministers approve of the “war on terror”? Why do the pundits and the politicians promote violence against everyone and why does the public apparently agree with this as though it were reasonable and of some necessity?
Because in this country we have been taught that greed and theft are virtues, that bullying is the sum total of diplomacy, that other cultures are inherently dangerous and to even examine and consider their viewpoints is subversive. We have been taught that every country on the planet is inferior to our own. The corporate oligarchs and their courtiers in Congress love ignorance, racism, and herd mentality and have worked very hard to see that Americans are poorly educated and even more poorly informed.
But we sure got Iraq’s gold. And Libya’s. And Ukraine’s. Wanted their oil, too, but it is proving to be a little more difficult to wrest complete control over the oil fields, because we created ISIS (in the case of Iraq and Libya), who are interfering in the process (which may be on purpose to hurt the Dread Russians, under the rather abstruse economic theory that harming Russia’s economy is worth the cost of harming ours) and because we created Nuland’s Nazis Civil War (in the case of Ukraine), which has so far blocked completion of the Biden Bid for Oil Takeover of Eastern Ukraine.
Even so-called “liberal” writers add their voices to the propaganda in support of more war, although they do it a little more subtly than the conservative pundits. This is from the “liberal media” at Salon, reprinted by the “liberal media” compiler at Alternet, in an article ostensibly about the one of the GOP debates:
[…] Oh, the candidates know that Bashar al-Assad is on one side and ISIS is on the other and that Vladimir Putin is being a dick, all of which is probably more understanding than the typical Republican voter has regarding the whole thing. But memorizing these little factoids is hardly relevant when you still think the solution to an intricate civil war that mostly isn’t about us at all is to stand around declaring how tough you are. […]
Uh-huh. Those aren’t “factoids”; they’re bullshit. While the rest of the article about the GOP debate that night is probably true and is certainly funny, this bit is typical blase media propaganda stupidity and why I quit reading Salon, which supposedly offers the liberal viewpoint of things. Facts: al-Assad is on one side. ISIS, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the CIA, and the weapons’ manufacturers are on the other. Putin is not being a dick; Russia is the only country that is helping the legitimate government in Syria legally right now. Let’s say that again: Russia is there legally. The rest of the countries currently bombing Syria to hell and gone are not. Russia and al-Assad are trying to get the US-created and US-armed terrorists out of there.
Apparently, Sanders and O’Malley are the only two amongst the candidates who think that we should uphold the nuclear deal with Iran (which was not trying to develop nuclear weapons anyway), while even our former Sec. of State is of the opinion that we ought to show the Iranians just what dickhead liars we are and sanction them again; retroactively, mind you, since the ballistic missile test that has caused the uproar was carried out prior to our agreement with them. The missiles tested by Iran were incapable of carrying a nuclear payload and so wouldn’t have broken the agreement no matter when it was signed at any rate. Nonetheless, as soon as Clinton called for further sanctions, Obama signed an executive order to do just that.
US Treasury imposes new ballistic missile sanctions on Iran:
Once again we have shown that we cannot keep our “agreements”, “treaties”, or “deals” for more than one second after the ink dries. The only reason any country even “negotiates” with us any more is that they are aware that if they don’t, we will invade their country and bomb the fuck out of it. As a nation, we have no morals, no rigorous intellect, and no diplomatic abilities. As a nation, we are liars, thieves, and murderers, completely bereft of the normal human empathy, the ability to compromise, and the honest self-assessment required to interact in a mutually beneficial way with other societies.
How long before some other nation says, “basta!” and drops a Fat Man on our asses?
All the candidates swear undying support for Israel, none more vociferously than Clinton, as though this were some purity test they have to undergo, and sadly, many Americans see it just that way. America is exceptional in this way: its politicians place allegiance to a foreign country above loyalty to their own, and the only promises they keep are the ones they make to that foreign country. And sometimes that oath to serve the interests of the other country above their own nation is the tipping point to get them elected.
What this says about the political system, the politicians, and the electorate in the US is appalling and embarrassing.
So we are being offered for our viewing pleasure an assortment of motley con men and corporate stooges. Sanders may be the exception to some extent and the fact that the media and the other candidates are busy red-baiting him and regularly try to dismiss his positions out of hand bolsters my belief in his sincerity in some measure. As I said, however, he isn’t going to dismantle the war machine, and that is a large part of all the other problems this country has.
Then you have the narcissistic Trump, billionaire and game-show host, who has picked up on the unrest out in the flyover zones and plays to it with gusto. It’s hard to tell what he would do if elected, since he can barely keep his proposals and ideas straight in his own head. His speeches frequently contradict things he has said before, but it is hard for people to get through all his verbiage to pick up on that. He’s so loquacious you’d think he was being paid by the word. He was recently endorsed by our other great orator, Sarah Palin, who left off tending her miscreant brood to offer up this bit of gloss: “Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows how to lead the charge.” You just know the two of them spent their time while waiting in the green room before the great endorsement speech fighting over who was hogging the mirror. But Trump himself is one of the rich elite who has made his jack off the capitalist system; he isn’t going to gore that ox. On the other hand, he probably wouldn’t start a hot war with Russia, so there’s that.
There is the skeevy and very creepy Ted Cruz, who was doubtless the Grand Inquisitor in Spain during his last incarnation on this earth. He is in a fight with the establishment Republicans and neocons, or so we are told to believe, although his ideas about carpet-bombing the Middle East and “lifting the rules of engagement” in the fight with ISIS suggest he fits right in with the PNAC crowd. He is talking here about illegal methods of warfare and getting rid of the Geneva Conventions, but that doesn’t bother too many of the people in charge, most of whom supported the same ideas when offered by George W. Bush. Cruz is like some crazed fundamentalist faith-healer who wants to pray the gays away and damn it all, get his chance to nuke some shit for Jesus. He responded to the Flint, Michigan water crisis by donating bottled water… teaming up with the anti-abortion group Flint Right to Life, with instructions that the water go exclusively to crisis pregnancy centers. These centers are anti-abortion organizations that try to manipulate women into keeping their pregnancies. Tough shit about those already-born children and adults who have been drinking toxins in Flint for the last few years. He, like all the Republicans, wants to cut taxes for corporations, get rid of all bank regulations, privatize everything that could possibly turn a profit for the corporate world, doesn’t support any minimum-wage increases, and has a tax plan that completely decimates the poor and middle class while ass-kissing the wealthy. He sort of forgot to report his Goldman Sachs campaign contributions to the FEC, and his wife works there; we have yet to see if anyone cares. Cruz appeals to a certain evangelical, but hawkish, subset of the American public. Despite their professed “Christian” faith, if Cruz and his base were given the choice between Jesus and that other guy, they’d be screaming, “Free Barabbas!” at the top of their lungs.
Marco Rubio sometimes rattles off sound-bytes like he’s on amphetamines, but he is not saying anything we haven’t heard from the farthest right of the right-wing; he’s just saying it hysterically. Lots of people think he is cute and endearing, but the dude is one rabid neocon. He loves the spy programs, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and torture, and hates the needy, the LGBT community, and Muslims. That’s his platform.
Chris Christie ruined his own home state and now wants to have a go at the rest of the country. He calls himself the “disaster governor” with pride (I put a different twist on the title than he does, I gather) while at the same time refusing to help the victims of the two disasters that have hit New Jersey since he’s been in office. We just had a huge blizzard here on the East Coast, and parts of NJ were inundated with flood waters along with the snow. He happily chirped that there was no “residual damage” because the flood had receded, although it’s quite obvious that buildings that have had 5 feet of water and icebergs wash through them are going to be left with damage, if not have to be outright condemned and torn down. Not to mention the other stuff that got majorly fucked up in the flood. We can guess what kind of relief he’s going to offer the affected cities. He’s said some other things on the campaign trail. I couldn’t say for sure what, though.
Carly Fiorina is just vicious as a wolverine with rabies, and Ben Carson thinks it would be okay to bomb children on general principles. When asked if he would order airstrikes that might kill innocent children by the thousands, he mentioned operating on kids with brain tumors and how they hated it but later on loved him, and finished his comments by saying,”and by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.” So in other words, Ben Carson thinks bombing civilians and children is somehow merciful because it finishes the job quickly. The crowd applauded the twisted fuck for his bedside manner.
Jeb Bush is running and may end up being the Republican nominee if the oligarchy can finesse the situation properly. This might not make him very happy, actually, as he seems most intent on making himself invisible. He’s like the chubby kid who tried out for the soccer team because his daddy made him.
O’Malley has some fine ideas about the economy and doesn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about continuing the efforts to take over the world, so he will be quickly taken off the scene. Poor guy barely made in on the scene, so eager are the Democrats to waylay one of their own.
I wrote an entire post about the war-pig Hillary Clinton, who is currently busy trying to paint Sanders as a Commie, so I’ll try not to repeat all the same stuff here. She is so sure she will be the Democratic nominee, as are the pundits and mainstream media, that she hasn’t bothered to reciprocate to Sanders’ pledge to back the eventual nominee. I think the media and the talking heads totally fail to understand the rancor and pure loathing felt for her at the street level. If one reads the comment section on any article about the candidates, even articles supporting Mad Hillary, one sees the same thing over and over: people hate her. People do not trust her. People do not intend to vote for her even as “the lesser of two evils”; she is not seen as the lesser evil in any line-up. To the public, she is defective and never should have made it through quality control. Clinton is the least sincere candidate we have ever had running for office, and the people sense that. She will sign the TPP into law given the chance, and you can be sure that she would reneg on all her promises, except the ones where she promises to bomb other countries, as quick as shit through a goose should she be elected. She has a neocon’s view point toward the use of military power, which she and the media insist on referring to as “foreign affairs”, thus mistaking military policy with diplomacy and foreign policy, a viewpoint that made her such a bad and dangerous Sec. of State. She felt her job in the State Dept. was to threaten other countries and to work arms deals instead of promoting civil discourse between nations. She, in fact, gets “foreign policy guidance” from the same firm that advises Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. (Which may help explain why all the ideas Clinton and the Republicans have for dealing with terrorist issues are similar in that they are illegal by US law, in violation of international laws, and break numerous treaties and agreements.) The media that promotes her jabbers on about the “commander-in-chief” part of the president’s job because even they recognize in some part of their reptilian brains that Bernie Sanders’ domestic policies appeal to the voters more than hers do. They – and she – hope that by presenting her as a hard and tough predator, she will gain some popularity with the fearful. The constant talk about terrorism and terrorists, from all the candidates, serves to keep most of us focused away from the neglected and dismal state of things in our own country.
She may be running into trouble now. With any luck, and with the assumption that some agencies in the US are still willing to do their jobs, she may be facing criminal charges. God knows, she should have been jerked up short by the DoJ long before now. I was very interested to see that one of the major legal threats to her involves the use of her position at the State Dept. to garner donations to the Clinton Foundation, and that Haiti is specifically mentioned. I brought these things up in my last post about her.
Hillary Clinton’s Coming Legal Crisis
by Charles Lipson
January 13, 2016
The latest release of Hillary Clinton emails entails real risks for her, churning just beneath the surface of her successful primary campaign. True, Democratic voters have shown little interest, and the mainstream media only a bit more. Their focus, when they do look, is on the number of documents now considered classified, their foreign-policy revelations, and the political damage they might cause. These are vital issues, but Clinton faces a far bigger problem. She and her closest aides could be indicted criminally.
Secretary Clinton is exposed twice over. First, she used an unsecured, home-brew server to send and store reams of classified materials. Second, in her official capacity, she worked closely with major donors to the Clinton Foundation. Each poses legal risks, with potential ramifications for the Democratic frontrunner, her party, and the Obama administration.
To understand the gravity of these issues, it is important to recognize that this is not just an “email scandal.” It is an “email + server + foundation” scandal.” Secretary Clinton didn’t just send sensitive (and now-classified) emails over open lines, she stored them on private servers that didn’t meet the government’s cyber-security standards for sensitive documents. On its face, retaining classified materials in such vulnerable settings is a criminal violation. Senior intelligence officials have been charged for less – far less. Storing some 1,300 classified documents on a personal server, and doing it for years, poses a special problem because it shows the mishandling was not inadvertent. It was Clinton’s standard operating procedure.
The State Department has done everything it can to protect its former boss. When it finally received her documents, it flatly refused to comply with long-standing Freedom of Information Act requests by releasing them. It took several court orders for the agency to begin trickling out small batches with large sections blacked out. The redactions only underscore why the documents should never have been held on private, unsecured servers in the first place.
The latest document dump shows why the State Department is so skittish. One reveals the secretary of state telling a senior department official, Jake Sullivan, to strip all the security markings off one document and send it to her on an insecure connection. We don’t yet know if Sullivan actually complied, but, if he did, both he and Clinton face serious legal jeopardy.
Beside these national-security matters, the emails reveal obvious conflict-of-interest issues pertaining to the significant overlap between Clinton’s official duties and her family foundation’s operations.
Major donors to the foundation often had business before the State Department, and they sometimes received help. After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance, Bill Clinton was named co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the State Department began directing parties interested in competing for Haiti contracts to the Clinton Foundation.”
Not surprisingly, many contractors became foundation donors, or were already. The FBI now has to decide if any of this was a “pay to play” arrangement. Proving a quid pro quo is notoriously difficult, but Fox News reported Monday that public corruption is now a second track in the FBI investigation.
So far, Hillary has suffered only modest political damage from these scandals. Democratic primary voters are mostly indifferent; her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, says he’s tired of hearing about it; and, other than Fox News, no major media outlet has done serious investigations.
But that doesn’t mean these messy issues are dead — depending on what happens inside the Justice Department. Clinton is about to face the most serious crisis of her candidacy — a set of legal decisions by the FBI and then the Department of Justice. Those will either kill the issue or kill her chances.
The FBI reportedly has assigned some 100 agents full time to the investigation and another 50 temporarily. The bureau would not commit such massive resources unless the initial investigation raised troubling questions of potential criminality. FBI Director James Comey is monitoring the case closely and coordinating with the intelligence agencies, which have to review the documents. Comey has a reputation for integrity, and it is his call whether to refer charges to the DOJ. Attorney General Loretta Lynch would then decide whether to indict.
Whatever Lynch decides, there will be a maelstrom if FBI agents found substantial evidence of criminal wrongdoing.[…]
Regardless of the attorney general’s decision, if the FBI does recommend criminal charges for Hillary Clinton or any of her associates, she will face two very pointed questions from the media, the electorate, and her Republican challenger.
“Secretary Clinton, if you are elected president, do you unequivocally promise to appoint an independent counsel to investigate these charges and, if warranted, prosecute them?”
“Do you promise you will not pardon anyone before these cases are fully adjudicated?”
She won’t be able to wave these questions off and say, “The attorney general decided all that.” It will look too much like a coverup by a Democratic administration for a Democratic Party leader.
To reach the White House, Hillary Clinton has to get past the coming legal crisis, and she will have to answer those hard questions.
You should really read the whole article; I left some paragraphs speculating about the potential effects this could have on the elections out of the blockquote due to space. Another interesting article is a brief one written by Glen Ford at blackagendareport regarding the Clintons’ interference into Haiti’s elections, and gives a bit of a rundown on their unwelcome and colonial-style relationship with Haiti. See, “The Clintons: We Came, We Stole, Haitians Died”:
I fail to understand how anyone can think we still have a democracy in this country. When you look at these candidates and take honest stock of what they are offering, how can you find any escape in some sad and outdated notion that this is a government of, by, and for the people? Hell, the Obama trade agreements, the first of which (the TPP) is quietly coming up for a vote soon if Congress bothers to follow its own legislation, suffice to render our national sovereignty and any pretense of a government “for the people” null and void if they are passed. I will allow some exception for Sanders in my condemnations, as I think he may actually mean at least some of what he says and is the only one who even affects to worry about how life is going for the average American. He ought to talk more about the TPP, since it has come out that this dangerous piece of crap posing as a “trade agreement” will probably do away with the UK’s health system and could prevent universal healthcare forever in the US. As to the rest, when any of those bought-and-paid-for bastards steps up to the podium and lies to the audience about how much he/she really, really cares about the working stiff and has our best interests at heart, I feel nothing but contempt and revulsion. The corruption at the top of this country is so widespread and so legalized that we cannot avoid another financial catastrophe and perhaps even another world war. These are the goals of the oligarchy so they can strip the US and the rest of the world of its remaining assets, and the dolts, criminals, grifters, and bullshit artists up there on the stage posing as “presidential material” are willing to lead us right into the pit.
No-one with enough neurons firing to keep breathing can take this election seriously. I doubt I will bother to take a chance on the voting machines myself. Seems pointless, unless by some weird happenstance Sanders is on the ballot. If it comes to a race between Clinton and Trump, that might also motivate me enough to haul my ass out of the chair to go vote for Trump, just to help save us from her.
What a wretched selection we have in front of us. Who shall we have? Caligula or Nero? Choices, choices.
I don’t blame those who think that perhaps it is time to join the dolphins and get the hell out of Dodge. If only there were a way to escape to some other planet entirely. A different country on this one may not be far enough – the Powers That Be have their clutches on all of them.
robin the shoal
February 1, 2016 at 6:55 pm
Thanks for another superb article, Teri. Best single sentence: “Nobody knows how it works.” True that.
Today is caucus day in IOU, er IOWa, and the Warpig Clinton (thank you thank you thank you, Teri, for the best Mad Hillary aka to date) has admitted it has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of paid, non-Iowan, and/or not-of-the-precinct, staffers stuffing the thousand plus caucus locations, including “Precinct Captains”. They explain that “Captain” is not a defined term in the Caucus Rules so they are free to use the title however they wish, including even for admittedly and obviously non-caucus eligible Warpig Staffers they’ve hired. They maintain that Captains and other paid staffers are “attending” but not “participating” in the various cauceye, (as if), which probably provides this repugnant deck stacking the minimal sheen of legality.
As we’ve seen countless times: with respect to the Clinton Warpig, a minimal sheen of legality is actually far more than the DNC would ever expect or require of her. The whole scam ought euphemistically be termed “White Noise Electioneering” or something. Anyway, a slew of paid staffer stuffers might actually have their desired impact in a room full of screaming electioneers, and writ large in a state full of such stuffy rooms, might just effect their only desired outcome. If not, if Sanders wins for instance, they (the Warpig Caucus Staffer Stuffers) might just knock over the blackboard, steal the ballot shoeboxes, and run off into the night whilst the DNC reps report Warpig Wins Here Too into their free iphone caucus counting apps.
Of course, as you rightly point out: it doesn’t even matter – the rules state that delegates are free to vote however they want in the later brackets so long as they were properly “electioneered” before they changed, er, revealed their minds, and the DNC simply appoints one out of every three delegates that appear at the national convention, which then chooses delegates to the Electoral College, which not only does “Nobody knows how it works”, but where they, the delegates, will once again be free to vote their conscience, er, wallet instead.
I have a theory: we were never ever intended to be an actual democracy at all. (By almost no educated opinion is true “democracy” what we actually have here.) Perhaps the closest and least inaccurate assessment might have us a “representative democracy” or “democratic republic”, as if either were even a thing.
The founding fathers were our original Mad (Madison Avenue) Men. Writing flowery shit like “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” even whilst drafting a Constitution and codifying laws that quash and repudiate each and every one of said “self-evident” truths. Meanwhile, the voting qualifications they established, combined with the opaque and impenetrable processes they drafted, formed an entertaining circus atmosphere so that, even today, the peoples are so betaken, amused, or bemused by the carnival that they pretty much fail to discern that nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in the process is the actual will of the people even determined much less imposed. And because “representatives”, including Congressmen and Senators and the President, are by no law, not of any state nor the federal government itself, required to uphold even the perceived “will” of their constituency, nor is there any mechanism requiring referendum on any issue; well, right from the jump in this so-called “democracy” we actually had a cake that was baked to yield total and perpetual control to rich elites. So, fuck Tommy Jefferson and the rest of that whole lying bunch of self-serving hypocritical capitalist greedheads. They could have should have been more honest, and informed we, the people, that they, the patriarchal elite, were establishing “for us” (meaning for themselves) a form of government called Zero Sum Monopolistic Capitalism. Assholes.
As for government “of the people, by the people, for the people”? When Lincoln prayed, as the conclusion of his Gettysburg Address, that such a government “shall not perish from the earth”; well, old Honest Abe must surely have known that such a government never existed in the first place, that it was a useful myth, and that he employed the idea of the idea just like the rest of the Mad Men used holographs of ideas to sell people into a promise of an idea they would never ever realize, only to later terrify them about its possible loss. So fuck him too i guess.
An old saying holds that “the last war will be fought by the generals”. Not true. The last war, the one we’re in, will be a war of genocide and extermination perpetrated by the victors on what remains of all the decimated former enemy armies and their countrymen everywhere. And because the war is now being fought not only with drones and endless american-sponsored, e.g. cia, military physical terrorism but also with institutions of financial armageddon, the war of extermination and subjugation is taking place not only everywhere in the world where there are resources to plunder, but also in every non-capitalist, idealist, country left. Even most countries in Central and South America, Burma, er, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India, etc i’m sure, are falling to capitalism, and realistically we can expect neither China, Russia, nor Brazil to put up much real resistance. Their oligarchs, the oligarchs everywhere, simply have too much money and therefore power.
“Fuck the People” should be the Americozion mantra, except that even the mere existence of the peoples they is fucking ain’t being acknowledged nor discussed. The only “people” these ones see are wrongly labeled as militants, terrorists, or disposably subhuman collateral. Like dogshit on the Warpig’s Jimmy Choos.
Who was it said “Less chatter, more guillotines”? Oh yeah, that was you, Teri49! Thanks again for another great post.
P.S. Honu Heart Dolphin.
February 2, 2016 at 3:41 am
Thank you for such a great and thought-provoking reply. Yes, to all of it!
This is the last war, and you have some interesting and valid points on that. I don’t see how any of this ends with society as we know it left anywhere on earth. These people – it’s hard to even think of these creatures as humans – are taking it all down, and the chaos, anger, and pain unleashed will change all.
I have become rather cynical over the years and don’t think we have any fit people in charge any more. You make a good point when you write that our representatives are under no obligation to represent “we, the people”. And so they don’t.
Didn’t know that about the Clinton campaign sending in ringers to the caucuses. (cauci, heh!) Of course. And of course. All quite legal and shit, too. Cruz is probably going her one better; he’s just as likely to be sending around some blackshirts to break legs. The whole system is set up to be rigged and damned if these assholes won’t take every opportunity.
Less chatter, more guillotines. Yeah, I should have ended my post with that. (Funny how people are shocked when I say that in a comment elsewhere. They watch the leaders of the free world send out drones and mercenaries and armies to slaughter endlessly, they see how the biggest banks and corporations radically alter life for the absolute worst in country after country, and yet people seem aghast at the idea that we ought to offer up some protest. Stunning.)
Best to you,