With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies. Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices.
A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process. These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power. With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites. We will conclude by posing an alternative to the ‘propaganda of choice’, which has so far resulted in broken pre-election promises and political debacles.
Language and Pseudo-Concepts: Subterfuges for Manipulated Choices
The usual suspects in the business of mass-manipulation describe their political leaders in the same folksy or pseudo-serious terms that they attribute to themselves: Experts/ intuitive improvisers/ trial and error ‘muddlers’. The ‘experts’ often mean wrong-headed policymakers and advisers whose decisions usually reflect the demands of their current paymasters. Their stated or unstated assumptions are rarely questioned and almost never placed in the context of the contemporary power structures. The experts determine the future trajectory for their political choices. In this way, the views expressed by ‘experts’ are primarily ideological and not some disembodied scholarly entity floating in an indeterminate space and time.
Pundits often promote ‘experience’ in describing the ‘experienced’ leader, adviser or cabinet member. They denigrate the opposition candidate adversary as ‘lacking experience’. The obvious questions to this platitude should be: ‘What kind of experience? What were the political results of this experience? Who did this experience serve?
We know that Secretaries of Defense William Gates and Donald Rumsfeld and their leading assistants, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were appointed to their high positions and praised for their ‘experience’. This ‘experience’ drove the country into repeated disastrous military engagements, political debacles and unending wars. It would be better to reject officials who are highly ‘experienced’ in creating disasters and appoint those officials experienced in conciliation and reconciliation. Unfortunately the ‘experts’ never discuss these matters in any historical context.
Many political choices are adorned with ‘titles’, such as ‘successful entrepreneur’ and/or ‘prize winning journalist’. This ignores the fact that those ‘bestowing titles’ come from a narrow band of inbred organizations with financial, military or ideological interests looking for near-future rewards from their now titled, prize winning political choice.
Highly certified candidates, we are told, are those eminently qualified to lead, whether they are university academics with prestigious degrees, or doctors, lawyers, or investors who work for leading groups. The most highly vetted officials coming from Harvard University have implemented economic policies leading to the worst crises in the shortest time in world history.
Lawrence Summers, PhD and Harvard University President-turned Treasury Secretary participated in the pillage of Russia in the 1990s and then brought his talent for sowing international chaos home by joining Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. These two ‘experts’ promoted enormous financial swindles, which led to the worst economic crash in the US in seven decades.
Money laundering by the big banks flourished under Princeton Summa Cum Laude and US Treasury ‘Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence’, Stuart Levey. Levey concentrated on implementing brutal economic sanctions against Iran shutting US businesses out of multi-billion-dollar oil deals with Tehran, promoting a huge annual $4 billion-dollar giveaway to Israel and a granting a uniquely privileged trade status for the Jewish state – which cost the US taxpayers additional billions.
Receiving ‘prestigious awards’ does not predict a successful policymaker in contemporary US politics. The underlying ideological commitments and political allegiances determine the appointment of these ‘prize-winning’ leaders. From an objective perspective, any obscure college economics graduate, eager to increase high tech US exports and sign profitable trade agreements with Iran, would have been far more successful political choice as Secretary of Treasury.
Frequently ‘identity’ colors the choice of appointees, especially favoring an ‘oppressed’ minority, even if their field of competence and their political allegiances run counter to the real interests and political needs of the vast majority of American citizens. Some ‘ethnic’ groups wear their identity on their shirt sleeves as a point of entry into lucrative or influential appointments: “Hello, I’m a Jewish graduate of Yale Law school, which makes me the best choice for an appointment to the Supreme Court … where there are already three Jews out of the ten Justices… and only an anti-Semite would consider a fourth to be an ‘over-representation’ of our tiny national minority… whereas the total absence of any WASPs (white Anglo-Protestants) on ‘The Court’ only confirms their historical degeneracy…” Who could object to that?
‘Identity’ appointees are not reluctant to employ scare tactics, including citing old historical grievances and claiming special suffering unique to their heritage, to justify their appointment to privileged, lucrative positions. Their identity also seems to insulate them from any fall-out from their policy catastrophes such as disastrous wars and economic crises, as well as providing impunity for their personal involvement in financial mega-swindles.
Race and claims of victimization often serves as a justification for being a political ‘chosen one’. We are told repeatedly that some appointee, even with a tangential link to skin color, must have suffered past indignities and is therefore uniquely qualified to represent the aspirations of an entire group, promising to eliminate all inequality, right injustices and promote peace and prosperity. Racial identity never prevented three of the worst Caribbean tyrants from robbing and torturing their people: The two Haitian dictators, ‘Papa Doc’ and ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier murdered tens of thousands Haitians, especially among mixed race educated elites. Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had to slaughter hundreds of Afro-Caribbean sugar workers in Santiago de Cuba before he could enter the exclusive ‘whites only’ Havana Golf and Country Club.
In the United States, it was a ‘man of color’, General Colin Powell, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, who bombed and invaded black African Somalia and implemented the policy of invading and destroying Iraq and Afghanistan. The carefully groomed ‘First Black President-To-Be’ Barack Obama, was the protégé of a Chicago-based millionaire lobby led by the fanatical ‘Israel-First’ mob, to bring ‘identity’ to its highest level. This charade culminated in the ‘First Black President’ and promoter of seven devastating wars against the poorest people of the world receiving the Nobel Peace Prize from the he Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of the King of Norway and a committee composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament). Such is the power of identity. It was of little comfort to the hundreds of thousands of Libyans and South Sahara Africans murdered, pillaged, raped and forced to flee in rotting boats to Europe, that the NATO bombs destroying their country had been sent by the ‘Historic Black US President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner’. When the wounded, captive President of Libya, Muammar Gadaffi, the greatest proponent of Pan-African integration, was brutalized and slaughtered, was he aware that his tormentors were armed and supported by ‘America’s First Black President’? A video of Gadaffi’s gruesome end became a source of gleeful entertainment for the ‘Feminist’ US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who would go on to cite her ‘victory’ over the Libyan President in her bid to become ‘The First Female President of the US”.
The question is not about one’s race or identity, but whose interests are served by the Afro-American leader in question. US President Barack Obama served Wall Street and the Pentagon, whereas Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had a long and arduous history of leading peoples’ movements. MLK joined the striking Afro-American garbage workers in Memphis and the autoworkers in Detroit. Malcolm X organized and spoke for the Harlem community – while inspiring millions.
Gender labels covered the fact that a politically chosen woman ruled on behalf of a family-led tyranny, as in the case of Indira Gandhi in India. The financial lords of the City of London financiers, and the mining and factory bosses in Great Britain chose the very female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who launched multiple wars abroad and smashed trade unions at home. Madame Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who promoted seven wars resulting in the deaths, injuries, displacement and rape of 5 million African and Middle Eastern women and destruction of their families, had the unconditional support of the top 20 Wall Street banks when she ran to become the ‘First Woman President of the United States’.
In other words, political appointments chosen for their ‘gender identity’ bring no special qualities or experience that would recommend them as progressive. When political and business elites choose a female for a high political office, they do so because it serves their interests to put a progressive political gloss on their reactionary policies. The ‘gender emphasis’ is most effective on liberals and the advocates of ‘identity over class politics’. In reality it is a vacuous symbol rather than real power and highlights elite upward mobility.
Often media moguls, publicists and corporate leaders laud the ‘social background’ of a candidate. They use such criteria to groom and co-opt upwardly mobile workers, trade union officials and community militants. ‘Chosen leaders’ from minority or oppressed backgrounds are put in charge of discipline, work-place speed-ups and lay-offs. They sometimes adopt ‘workers’ language, splicing rough anti-establishment curses with their abuses as they fire workers and cut wages. One’s past social background is a far less useful criterion than current social commitments. As Karl Marx long ago noted, the ruling class is not a closed caste: It is always open to co-opting bright and influential new members among upwardly mobile labor leaders and activists.
Labor leaders receive ‘special favors’, including invitations to political inaugurations and corporate meetings with all the travel and luxury accommodations paid. Elites frequently transform past militant leaders into corporate policemen, ready to identify, exclude and expel any genuine emerging local and shop floor militants. Public and private labor relations experts frequently describe a labor militant’s ascent to the elite as an ‘up by his own bootstraps operation’ – putting a virtuous gloss on the ‘self-made worker’ ready to serve the interests of the corporate elite! The primary feature that characterizes these ‘boot-strappers’ is how their sense of ‘solidarity’ turns upward and forward toward the bosses, and not backward and downward toward the working masses, as they transform into ‘boot-lickers’.
Many examples of these ‘upward and forward’-looking political choices are found among entertainment celebrities, sports heroes, media figures and pop musicians. Rap singers become ghetto millionaires. And ‘working-class hero’ rock musicians, the well-wrinkled as well as the young, charge hundreds of dollars a seat for their rasping and grasping performances while refusing to play on behalf of striking workers.
The popular music, promoted by the elite, contain country and working class lyrics, sung with phony regional twangs to entertain mass audiences even as the successful performers flaunt their Presidential awards, luxury mansions and limos. The political and corporate elite frequently choose phony working class or ethnic identity celebrities to endorse their products, as the gullible public is encouraged to purchase useless commodities, electronic gadgets and gimmicks, and to support reactionary politicians and politics. There are a few celebrities who protest or maintain real mass solidarity but they are blacklisted, ostracized or past their peak earning power. Most celebrities prefer to shake their backsides, mouth raunchy language, snort or smoke dope and slum a bit with their bodyguards, but the political elite have chosen them to distract and depoliticize the young and discontented. They are paid well for their services.
The concepts, symbols and signs of the ruling class determine who will be the political ‘choices’ for leaders and officials. Political elites co-opt upwardly mobile ‘identities’, among minorities and workers, carefully assessing which of their qualities will contribute to the desired elite outcomes. This is how working class and community-based electorates are seduced into voting against their real class, national, community, gender and racial economic interests.
Renegades, demagogues, soothsayers and other charlatans of many races, ethnicities, genders and proclivities run for office and win on that basis.
The elite pay a relatively small fee for procuring the services of prestigious, certified, titled and diversified candidates to elect or appoint as leaders.
Elite power only partially depends on the mass media, money and power. It also needs the services of the concept and language masters, identity promoters and propagandists of the embellished deed.
Stripping away the phony veneer of the ‘chosen’ politicians requires a forceful critique of the signs and symbols that cloak the real identity of the makers and breakers of these leaders. And it requires that they be exposed for their proven failures and disasters, especially their role in leading America into an unending series of political, military and economic debacles.
The trappings of science can be decoupled from the actual rigor of science.
The trigger for this post is a recent article in the Atlantic, entitled How Will Trump Use Science to Further His Political Agenda? The article provides some important insights, that are worth discussing in context of the climate debate and the politicization of climate science. Excerpts:
Of all the memorable lines from this year’s election, the one I keep returning to months later is from Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. “And I believe in science,” she said, as she pivoted to climate change. She giggled. The crowd roared. Isn’t it absurd she had to say she believed in science? And most smug of all: Hillary, science is not a belief.
Clinton’s appeal to science as a partisan rallying cry . . . was clearly in response to the mockery of Trump and his supporters as “anti-science.” But “anti-science” is a dangerously simplistic label.
The trappings of science can be decoupled from the actual rigor of science. Stephen Colbert, who famously coined “truthiness,” less famously also came up with “factiness.” If “truthiness” is a feeling of truth with a disregard for the facts, then “factiness” is using actual facts to paint a misleading truth.
Factiness is the taste for the feel and aesthetic of “facts,” often at the expense of missing the truth. From silly self-help-y TED talks to wrapping ourselves in the misleading scientism of Fivethirtyeight statistics, factiness is obsessing over and covering ourselves in fact after fact while still missing bigger truths.
I’ll suggest that factiness doesn’t actually cleave neatly across the left and the right. It’s an outgrowth of our cognitive biases. We often make decisions emotionally, sometimes based on tribal affiliations; then we marshall the facts that prove us right while discarding the ones that prove us wrong. As such, throwing more facts at climate deniers hasn’t convinced them.
Factiness is why using the veneer of science to rationalize an idea is dangerous, making the idea appear more justified than it really is. It is pro-science in appearance, but anti-science in spirit.
In theory, science provides an objective framework for finding truths about the world. But in practice, science is conducted by humans with biases, often blind to them. To ignore how the practice of science is intertwined with politics is to be blind, in turn, to the coming changes. As a President Trump pulls the discourse in his direction, the ground will shift slowly but surely shift underneath our feet. It’s harder to recognize in the very beginning, when the ground has only shifted ever so slightly.
[read the Atlantic article for a fascinating and disturbing example of how science was used to support the Bush administration’s torture program in the early 2000s.]
I’ve previously used the concept of ‘truthiness’ in discussing why climate modelers believe their climate models [link]. But before delving into truthiness and factiness in the climate debate, a digression is needed to provide a context for understand what science is, and what a ‘fact’ is.
I’ve written many previous posts on Scientific method and Sociology of science. Why so many posts on these topics? Because these are exceedingly complex issues, especially in context of the huge scientific complexity of global climate change.
As per the Wikipedia (which has good summary on this topic):
A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is, whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience.
Fact is sometimes used synonymously with truth, as distinct from opinions, falsehoods, or matters of taste. Fact may also indicate findings derived through a process of evaluation, including review of testimony, direct observation, or otherwise; as distinguishable from matters of inference or speculation. Facts may be checked by reason, experiment, personal experience, or may be argued from authority.
In science, a fact is a repeatable careful observation or measurement (by experimentation or other means), also called empirical evidence. Facts are central to building scientific theories. Various forms of observation and measurement lead to fundamental questions about the scientific method, and the scope and validity of scientific reasoning.
In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.
Scholars and clinical researchers in both the social and natural sciences have written about numerous questions and theories that arise in the attempt to clarify the fundamental nature of scientific fact. Pertinent issues raised by this inquiry include: the process by which “established fact” becomes recognized and accepted as such; whether and to what extent “fact” and “theoretic explanation” can be considered truly independent and separable from one another; to what extent “facts” are influenced by the mere act of observation; and to what extent factual conclusions are influenced by history and consensus, rather than a strictly systematic methodology.
What are the facts in the climate science debate?
- Average global surface temperatures have overall increased for the past 100+ years
- Carbon dioxide has an infrared emission spectra
- Humans have been adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
That is pretty much it, in terms of verifiable, generally agreed upon scientific facts surrounding the major elements of climate change debate.
Human caused global warming is a theory. The assertion that human caused global warming is dangerous is an hypothesis. The assertion that nearly all or most of the warming since 1950 has been caused by humans is disputed by many scientists, in spite of the highly confident consensus statement by the IPCC. The issue of ‘dangerous’ climate change is wrapped up in values, and science has next to nothing to say about this.
Truthiness and factiness abounds in the climate science debate, and the greatest proponents of truthiness and factiness are the climate ‘alarmed’ – their opponents are mostly calling b.s. on their truthiness and factiness. In slinging around terms like denier, anti-science etc, the defense of climate alarmism in terms of ‘science’ and ‘facts’ starts to become more anti-science than what they are accusing their opponents of.
From the Rational Wiki:
The term “antiscience” refers to persons or organizations that promote their ideology over scientifically-verified evidence, usually either by denying said evidence and/or creating their own. Antiscience positions are promoted especially when political ideology and/or religious dogma conflict with actual science.
The most glaring ‘factiness’ and anti-science strategy is the linking of extreme weather events to human caused climate change. Roger Pielke Jr has an eloquent op-ed in the WSJ (unfortunately behind paywall, which I will have more to say about in another post next week).
So . . . who fits the definition of ‘anti-science’? Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Ignoring science (Trump) does not qualify him for ‘anti-science’. Science does not prescribe public policy. The political dogma of Obama, Clinton and Pope Francis surrounding climate change seems like more of a recipe for ‘anti-science.’
Next month, Donald J. Trump, with hand on Bible, will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Or will he? The recent talk about recounting votes and ‘faithless electors’ suggests this highly contentious power struggle is far from over.
In fact, it may be just beginning.
Anybody who believes Hillary Rodham Clinton has been sent to the political graveyard by a Manhattan real estate developer has forgotten the cruel surprises of recent history (Remember the Greek referendum? Brexit anyone?). Democratic due process has devolved into something like ‘The Hunger Games’ for the rich – a sensational televised spectacle to entertain the elite every four years, while keeping the people believing they can effect real change.
Although it may seem implausible to some, Donald J. Trump may be denied the presidency due to a democratic system that has been corrupted to the bone by excessive wealth, power and collusion at the highest levels.
Countdown to disaster?
As the world media continues to eulogize Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the neocon-liberal establishment is quietly positioning their chess pieces for a power grab of epic proportions. As far as I can tell, there are three stages of this silent coup presently being carried out on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
The first step in the process was to perpetuate the news that although Donald Trump won the Electoral College (306-232), he failed to win the popular vote – reportedly by 2.5 million votes, at last count.
Clinton’s alleged victory in the popular vote count, which continued for three weeks after Nov.9 (keep in mind that most of the vote monitors had already went home as these votes were being quietly tallied), could present serious complications for Trump and his chances of entering the White House, as will become clear a bit later.
Meanwhile, the blatantly anti-Trump media is conducting “thought experiments” to show how Clinton would have, could have, should have won the Electoral College if only the Electoral map had been spliced and diced here and there across the nation. The implicit media message behind all of this tomfoolery, of course, is that Wall Street-approved Clinton deserves her coronation, because, well, that is what the elite want, democratic procedure be damned.
This ongoing campaign on behalf of Clinton is much more than just sour grapes; in fact, it is a war of attrition designed to exert undue pressure on the Electoral College, the rickety institution that got Trump elected in the first place. And although it has never robbed an election from a candidate who has gained the majority of Electoral College votes, there is a possibility – and a very high one in this particular battle – of so-called “faithless electors” tipping this contest in Clinton’s favor.
This represents the second stage of Clinton’s attempt at reversing the results of the presidential election in her favor.
Will the Electoral College go rogue?
The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on December 19 to perform what, under normal circumstances, would be a mere formality of voting for either Clinton or Trump, according to the will of their constituents.
Needless to say, we are not dealing with “normal circumstances.”
The 2016 presidential campaign represents an epic power struggle that will determine the trajectory of US domestic and foreign policy like no other contest in recent history. No surprise, then, that neo-liberal lobbying groups have been exerting immense pressure on these electors to ignore the will of the people and “vote their conscience.”
You’d be very wrong to think this couldn’t work. If 37 Republican electors vote against Trump, it will block him from winning the presidency. The Democrat’s team of lawyers and political consultants are now working around the clock to make this happen.
Micheal Baca, a Denver Democrat and a member of the state’s Electoral College delegation, is one of the individuals working to persuade Republican electors to discard the will of the people and vote for anybody but Trump.
Baca makes no secret about his intentions to override the Constitution and go rogue.
“This is not about Hillary,” he said. “This is about trying to stop Donald Trump.”
Let’s take a moment and perform our own “thought experiment” and consider the repercussions if Hillary Clinton is inaugurated as President instead of Trump. If the country is not completely overwhelmed by coast-to-coast riots and protests, and there is somehow a peaceful transition of power, then Clinton can expect to face four years of the most hostile, uncooperative (Republican) Congress in American history (although given the number of neocons who openly support Clinton and her hawkish tendencies, there could be points of agreement).
In a best-case scenario, it would be a four-year-long government shutdown, aside from performing the necessary task of maintaining ‘law and order’ at home while continuing on a war footing abroad. America would get its first real taste of what martial law feels like.
The American Conservative painted the following picture as to what would happen if Trump’s Electoral College victory were rescinded: “Constitutional government would have broken down, and we would be facing something like a Latin American presidential dictatorship. For several years, Washington’s political debate would be reduced to something like a Hobbesian war of all against all.”
Is that something we really need? Apparently it is for some folks, and not least of all Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein.
And this brings us to the final stage of a possible Clinton coup.
Civil War, anyone?
It is generally assumed that it was Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate who masterminded the call for a recount of votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. That’s not quite right.
New York magazine reported that on November 17 Hillary Clinton was “urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump… The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.”
Just one day after the above article appeared (Nov. 22), Jill Stein, who came in dead last with about 3 million votes less than Gary ‘What is Aleppo?’ Johnson, announced she would be collecting money to recount votes in the swing states. By the way, one of the odd things about Stein’s choice of swing states is that these are the same places where Trump emerged victorious. Coincidence or conspiracy theory, that alone should have set off some alarms.
In any case, the reason Stein and not Clinton is calling for the recount is evident: Throughout the campaign, the media hounded Trump with a single annoying question never asked of the future loser: Would he accept the results of the election in the event he lost? When Trump said he would take a “wait and see” approach, Clinton assumed a holier than thou position.
“Now make no mistake,” Clinton solemnly told supporters, “by doing that, he is threatening our democracy. The peaceful transition of power is one of the things that sets us apart. It’s how we hold our country together no matter who’s in charge.”
So now that the tables are turned, Stein is in the kitchen doing the dirty work. And the media suddenly can’t get enough of this woman who haunted the 2016 election like a phantom sighting.
Here’s how News Busters tallied her sudden stardom: “When Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for US president, the networks only gave her 36 seconds of coverage. However, as soon as she launched a campaign to contest the presidential election and demand a recount of ballots in several key states, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC managed to find 7 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage for her in just four days. That’s more than 12 times as much coverage as in the entire campaign.”
But it gets better. Stein has managed to accumulate a massive war chest to carry out the recount – $7 million at last count (or about seven times what she received during her entire presidential campaign). At one point, her recount drive was pulling in almost $5,000 every minute. Somehow that doesn’t sound like the average Joe Voter digging deep in his Levi’s. Even more mysteriously, when Stein first started passing the hat around, she said $2.5 million would be plenty, thank you very much. Yet every time she hit the target, a higher threshold was introduced. Just can’t keep up with inflation these days!
Is Stein’s campaign simply about collecting some easy money while giving the Green Party some much-needed attention? Or is Stein just trying to shed some much-needed light on the dry rot that is gnawing away at the foundation of US democracy? All that, however necessary, seems very unlikely. After all, the recount plan was initially floated to Hillary Clinton, not Jill Stein. Thus, we must assume this is all part of a major power push for Hillary Clinton to grab the White House from Donald Trump.
As Paul Joseph Watson elegantly put it: “Her entire campaign was backed by an establishment that wouldn’t hesitate to exploit a recount to carry out the vote fraud they thought they didn’t need on Election Day.”
And here is where we can fit the last piece into the puzzle to understand what is really going on here. If the recount effort alone won’t make much of a difference to either Clinton or Stein’s chances of overturning the massive edge that Trump now enjoys, then why are they bothering themselves? Hold onto your seats, folks, this gets interesting.
The answer boils down to simple arithmetic, as well as some monkey play in the system.
Presently, Michigan has already agreed to a recount, which will be carried out this weekend and require hand-counting of ballots in the regions. This process will take many days. Federal law requires the recount to be finished by Dec. 13 – just six days before the Electoral College is expected to cast its votes.
Wisconsin has already agreed to a recount, while Pennsylvania is dragging its feet. In other words, this process will probably take us right up to Dec. 19 – the date the Electoral College is supposed to cast their votes (Why the Electoral College vote isn’t valid without these voters, who could go rogue, is a question for another day).
Keep in mind that the total number of Electoral College Votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania equals 46. Now take Trump’s 306 Electoral votes and subtract that amount. This leaves you with 260, which is below the 270 required for a candidate to be automatically considered the winner of a presidential election. Do you see where this is going?
Now if this recount should start to point toward a Clinton victory in these three swing states, this will present Trump with a very serious quandary. Should he kick up a fuss and protest the recount on the grounds that he won the Electoral College, this could provoke some sort of “constitutional crisis” that prevents the recount from being completed by the Dec. 13 deadline.
Now, if the matter remains unsettled by Dec. 19 this could – technically speaking – give the Electoral College’s “faithless electors” yet more reason for not aligning themselves with their constituents. Or, on the other hand, the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania votes could be considered forfeited because they failed to resolve the issue by the Dec. 19 deadline.
So if it did come down to this, who do you think will be selected – possibly by the very Supreme Court that Trump hopes to disband once in office – to be the 45th president of the United States?
Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the candidate we have been told got 2.5 million more popular votes than Donald Trump (I would suggest Trump start a serious process to challenge those votes right now).
For those who still doubt this possibility, please consider the two latest failed grassroots movements of our times – Brexit and the Greek referendum – two examples of ‘democracy in action’ that the political elite has de facto canceled or put on hold indefinitely.
Such dramatic setbacks, which are becoming the rule rather than the exception, lend credence to Mark Twain’s famous observation that “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”
In other words, the elite will always get what they want, regardless how the votes goes.
Clinton seizing the White House through the backdoor would not be the strangest thing to happen in old Washington. Just ask George W. Bush how he got elected president in 2000 by the Supreme Court, not We the People.
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist based in Moscow, Russia. His articles have been featured in many publications, including Russia in Global Affairs, The Moscow Times, Lew Rockwell and Global Research. Bridge is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, which was released in 2013. email: email@example.com
Allegations that Russian hacking attacks aided the victory of Donald Trump are a myth, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Italian newspaper Corriere della sera. The interview also focused on sanctions against Moscow and NATO-Russia tensions.
In the immediate aftermath of the victory of Donald Trump at the US presidential elections, American and international media were quick to assume the alleged hacking of the camp of the Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by “Russian hackers” was to blame for the result.
Speaking to the Corriere della sera in an interview published late Wednesday, Lavrov stressed that the only ones who really “helped” Donald Trump to become the 45th US president were American citizens.
“It is symptomatic that the authors of such insinuations, who had inflated Russophobic hysteria in the United States on the eve of the vote, are now playing mum. No promised ‘evidence’ of interference in the electoral process has been presented neither to the American, nor to the international public,” Lavrov said.
In October, Washington officially accused Moscow of staging hacking assaults on US officials and institutions, though not delivering any facts or other information backing the serious statement. Kremlin rebuffed the accusations by the US as “nonsense.” The lack of proof has raised numerous questions as to what exact purposes the allegations might have actually served, Lavrov said.
“This confirms once again that the whole story is from the field of myth-making with a goal to solve the short-term political objectives,” the foreign minister added.
On November 29, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also weighed in, linking the recent hacking attacks on the country’s telecommunications group Deutsche Telecom to Moscow. However, the German leader admitted she did not know who exactly the attackers were.
‘Italy businesses dissatisfied with Russia sanctions’
When asked on how Russia is viewing relations with Italy, which is among the countries who imposed sanctions on Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis, Lavrov noted that both sides are suffering from the measures.
“Sanctions introduced by the EU against Russia, joined by Italy, and the Russian retaliatory steps had a negative impact on bilateral trade and economic cooperation,” Lavrov said. He also noted that Italy, which used to be the fourth-largest trading partner with Russia, now ranks sixth, while Washington has surpassed Rome and is now placed fifth.
“Thus, Washington, who became the initiator of a large part of the anti-Russian intentions, is not suffering any losses. Perhaps there is something our Italian and in general European partners have to think about,” Lavrov said. Russia, for its part, has already “adjusted” itself to the restrictions with the country’s economy solidly “standing on its feet.”
The Russian foreign minister also noted that “Italian political, business, public circles are increasingly expressing [their] dissatisfaction with the sanctions policies, advocate for the return” of the growing bilateral ties between the two states.
“A number of regions in Italy adopted a resolution calling for the removal of anti-Russian sanctions,” Lavrov said. He added Moscow hopes that Rome will build relations with Russia “based primarily on self-interest.”
“All the rich history of Russian-Italian relations, which are based on years of experience of fruitful cooperation, is an example that with joint efforts we managed to achieve significant results,” Lavrov said.
US officialdom and their media megaphones have systematically concocted narratives having less to do with political reality and more with their hallucinogenic world view. Pre-election and post-election reportage weaves a tapestry of fiction and fantasy.
We will discuss the most pernicious of these remarkable foibles and fables and their predictable failures.
1. The pundits, prestigious editorialists and ‘economists with gravitas’, have convinced themselves that the election of Donald Trump would ‘lead to the Collapse of Capitalism’. They cited his campaign attacks on globalization and trade agreements, as well as his ‘reckless’ swipes at speculators. In reality, Trump was criticizing a specific kind of capitalism. The pundits overlooked the variety of capitalisms that constitute the US economy. With their snouts deep in the trough, their own vision was limited; their curly tails blindly twirled meaningless formulae on blackboards; their ample backsides flapping away in place of their mouths. Thus occupied, they easily ignored Trump’s glorification of national capitalism.
Trump followed the legacy of protectionism in US policies established by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton and carried into the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and others. Capitalism comes in various forms and is promoted by different protagonists at different times in our history. Some leaders have championed such economic sectors as domestic energy production, manufacturing, mining and agriculture and depended largely on the local labor markets. Nevertheless, the pundits’ dream of a final collapse of capitalism with the rise of Trump turned into a real stock market bonanza, the ‘DOW’ boomed to record levels, and monopolists rubbed their hands in anticipation of larger and more lucrative merger and acquisitions.
The world’s largest billionaire bankers had bankrolled Secretary Hillary Clinton, the ‘million-dollar-a-speech’ War Goddess. Blankfein, Soros and the dirty dozen had bet heavily against the populist-nationalist Donald Trump and they lost. Their pre-paid political manifestos, addressed to the readers of the NY Times, flopped and sputtered: Most readers and investors in domestic markets had placed their bets on ‘The Donald’. Their domestic celebrations pumped up the market after the election. The unimaginable had happened: George Soros had bet and lost! The ‘deplorable’ electorate preferred the obnoxious nationalist to the obnoxious speculator. ‘Who’d a thunk it?’
2. From electoral losers to street putschists, the speculators and their whiny media mouthpieces strive to overthrow the election process. Against the tens of millions of free voters, the speculators bankrolled a few thousands demonstrators, drunk with their own delusions of starting a color-coded ‘Manhattan Spring’ to overthrow the elected President. Decked out in black ‘anarchist chic’, the window vandals and historically illiterate students were energized by George Soros’ promise to replicate the putsches in Kiev and Tbilisi. They took to the streets, cracked a few windows and signed thousands of ‘on-line petitions’ (while denouncing Trump as the ‘Second Coming of Kristalnacht’). The media magnified the theatrics as a sort of uprising to restore their loser-emancipator to the throne – the bleery-eyed Jean D’Arc of the Hedge Funds. The losers lost and Hillary will hopefully retire to count her millions. The stock market soared to record heights.
3. The four most influential financial newspapers, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the Financial Times (FT), the New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post (WP) had deeply mourned their ‘Paradise Lost’: Long-gone was the rotting vassal-state of Russia under Boris Yeltsin 1991 – 2000, source of so much Western pillage. Their bile turned to venom, directed at the new Nemesis: Putin. The election of Vladimir Putin led to a remarkable economic and social recovery for Russia. From a Western controlled gangster-capitalist ‘thug-ocracy’, Russia has become a modern global power asserting its own sovereignty and national interests.
Gone are the days when Harvard economists could sack Russia of millions through their various ‘democracy’ foundations and Wall Street bankers could launder billions from the criminal oligarchs. Pentagon planners had dismantled Russian bases throughout its previous Warsaw Pact neighbors and set up NATO bases on Russia’s borders. State Department functionaries had overthrown elected pro-Russian regimes in the Ukraine, Georgia and as far afield as Libya. These were the unfettered joys of the US unipolar rulers and their stable of prestigious press pimps and academics, until Putin arrived to spoil the party. And in the run-up to the US election, the Clintonites and their Democratic entourage in the media launched the most frenzied demonic attack accusing Vladimir Putin of financing Trump’s campaign, of hacking Clinton’s messy, unsecured e-mail messages to undermine elections, of bombing Syrian hospitals full of children, of preparing to invade Latvia and Poland etc., etc. If there is one sliver of truth in the vassal press, it is that the demonic changes made against Putin reflected the gory reality of Hillary Clinton’s well-documented policies.
Clinton’s model for a democratic Russia was the drunken President Yeltsin, bankrolled by thugs as they gorged themselves on the corpse of the USSR. But Vladimir Putin was elected repeatedly by huge majorities and his governance has been far more representative of the Russian electorate than those of the recidivist loser, Hillary Clinton. Russia didn’t ‘invade’ the Ukraine or Crimea. It was the ‘potty-mouthed’ Victoria Nuland, US Undersecretary of State for European Affairs, who boasted of having tossed a mere 5 billion dollars into neo-fascist-kleptocratic putsch that took over Ukraine and who famously dismissed the concerns of the European Union… with her secretly recorded ‘F— the EU’ comment to the US Ambassador!
At some point, reality has to bubble up through the slime: Putin never financed Trump – the billionaire financed his own campaign. On the other hand, Clinton was bankrolled by Saudi despots, Zionist billionaires and Wall Street bankers. The mass media, the WSJ, FT, NYT and the WP, dutifully served the same stale, old sexist gossip about Trump in support of the sweet and sour, wide-eyed Madam Strangelove, who never hesitated to rip the lives out of thousands of Muslim women in their own countries. The media celebrated Madame Clinton’s nuclear option for Syria (the ‘No-Fly Zone’) while it ridiculed Trump’s proposal to negotiate a settlement with Putin.
The media accused Trump of being a sexist, racist, anti-immigrant villain, all the while ignoring Secretary of State Clinton’s blood-soaked history of bombs and destruction, of killing of tens of thousands women in the Middle East and Africa and driving hundreds of thousands among the two million sub-Sahara Africans formerly employed in Libya under Gadhafi’s rule onto rotting ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Who in Madame’s media count the millions of people dispossessed or the 300,000 killed by the US-promoted mercenary invasion of Syria? Where were the feminists, who now dredge up Trump’s crude ‘crotch talk’, when millions of women and children of color were killed, injured, raped and dispossessed by Madame Clinton’s seven wars? Given the choice, most women would prefer to defend themselves from the stupid words of a vulgar misogynist over the threat of a Clinton-Obama predator drone ripping their families to shreds. Nasty, juvenile words do not compare with a history of bloody war crimes.
It is much easier to denounce Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump than to analyze the consequences of Madame Candidate Clinton’s policies. The mass media, subservient to Clinton, wave the flag of ‘worker struggles’ and highlight ‘capitalist exploitation’ when they describe China, Russia and the businesses of US President-Elect Trump. But their perspective is that of the ‘Uni-Polar Empire’. They cite non-unionized worker protests in Chinese factories and peasants fighting the rapacious developers. They cite corrupt oil sales in Russia. They find cheap immigrant labor employed on Trump’s building projects. The media describe and defend Hong Kong separatists. They heap praise on the Uighar, Chechen and Tibetan terrorists as “freedom fighters” and “liberators”. They fail to acknowledge that, as bad as worker exploitation is in these examples, it is far less horrific than the suffering experienced by millions of local and immigrant peasants and workers who have been injured, killed and rendered jobless and homeless by US bombing campaigns in Libya and US invasion-destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. The imperial media’s phony ‘anti-capitalist-exploiter stories’ against Trump, Putin and the Chinese are mere propaganda rhetoric designed to entice leftists, influence liberals and reinforce conservatives by playing on workers’ plight inflicted by national adversaries instead of imperial conquests and egregious crimes against humanity.
These financial scribes are very selective in their critique of economic exploitation: They denounce political adversaries while churning out vapid cultural stories and reports on the ‘eclectic tastes’ of the elite. Their weekend cultural pages may occasionally contain a critique of some predatory financiers next to a special feature on an unusual sculptor or successful upwardly mobile immigrant writer. Day after day, the same financial media publishes predictable ‘bootlickeries’ masquerading as reports on vulture capitalists, warmongers and imperial warlords. They court and offer advice to Wall Street, the City of London and Gulf State sheikdoms. They write in blubbering awe at the bold multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions, which eliminate competitive prices and establish effective monopolies. Then they deftly turn to rant against President-Elect Donald Trump’s pronouncements on workers’ rights – he is ‘the demagogue threatening free-market . . . capitalism’.
The fear and loathing of the ‘Wildman’ Trump, so evident in the four most prestigious English language newspapers, is nowhere to be found in reference to Secretary Clinton’s pathological glee over the gruesome torture-murder of the injured President Gadhafi by her allied jihadi tribesmen. The global and domestic implications of the US Secretary of State expressing glee and high pitched squeals on viewing the filmed torture and final ‘coup de grace’ on the wounded head of the Libyan President was never analyzed in the respectable press. Instead, the press superficially covers the plight of millions of immigrants and refugees who would never have left their jobs and homes were it not for the US destruction of the Middle East and North Africa. The respectable media defend the US officials directly responsible for the plight of these migrants flooding and threatening to destabilize Europe.
The same newspapers defend the ‘human rights’ of Chinese workers in local and US-owned factories who out-competed domestic American factories, but ignore the plight of millions of unemployed and destitute workers trying to survive in the US war zones and Israeli-occupied territories.
The Presidential elections made millions of American voters starkly aware of the mendacity of the mass media and the corruption of the Clinton political elite.
The media and the Clinton-elite denounced the Trump voters as ‘deplorables’ and totally mischaracterized them. They were not overwhelmingly unemployed, bitter former industrial workers or minimum wage, uneducated racists from the gutted ‘heartland’. ‘Angry white male workers’ constituted only a fraction of the Trump electorate. Trump received the vote of large sections of suburban middle class professionals, managers and local business people; joined by downwardly mobile Main Street shopkeepers, garage owners and construction contractors. A majority of white women voted for Trump. City household residents, still trying to recover from the Obama-Clinton era mortgage foreclosures, formed an important segment of the Trump majority, as did underpaid university and community college graduates – despairing of ever finding long-term stable employment. In short, low-paid, exploited and precarious business owners and service sector employees formed a larger section of the Trump majority than the stereotyped ‘deplorable angry white racists’ embedded in the media and Clinton-Sanders propaganda.
Post-election media has magnified the political significance and size of the anti-Trump demonstrations. Altogether the demonstrators barely surpassed a hundred thousand in a country of 100 million voters. Most have been white students, Democratic Party activists and Soros-financed NGOs. Their demonstrations have been far smaller than the huge pro-Trump public rallies during the campaign. The pro-Clinton media, which consistently ignored the size of Trump’s rallies, doesn’t bother to make any comparison. They have focused exclusively on the post-election protest, completely papering over the outrageous manipulation by which the Democratic National Committee under ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz cheated Clinton’s wildly popular left-wing rival, Bernie Sanders, during the primaries.
Instead, the media has been featuring Clintonesque ‘feminist’ professionals and ‘identity’ political activists, ignoring the fact that a majority of working women voted for Trump for economic reasons. Many politically conscious African-American and Latino women knew that Clinton was deeply involved in policies that deported 2 million immigrant workers and family members between 2009 – 2014 and destroyed the lives of millions of women of color in North and Central Africa because of her war against the government of Libya. For millions of female and male workers, as well as immigrants – there was a ‘lesser evil’ – Trump. For them, the Donald’s nasty remarks about women and Mexicans were less disturbing than the real history of Hillary Clinton’s brutal wars destroying women of color in Africa and the Middle East and her savage policies against immigrants.
The more bizarre (but transient) aspect of the anti-Trump smear campaign came from an hysterical section of the pro-Hillary ‘Zionist Power Configuration’ (ZPC) and ‘Israel-First’ crackpots who accused him and some of his appointees of anti-Semitism. These venomous propagandists slapped the Manhattan real-estate mogul Trump with an odd assortment of labels: ‘fascist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘anti-Israel’, Ku Klux Klan apologist and White Nationalist. The Minnesota Senator and former comedian Al Franken described Trump’s critique against Wall Street Bankers and finance capital as ‘dog whistles’ for anti-Semites, labeling the candidate as a 21st century disseminator of the ‘Protocols of Zion’. Senator Franken darkly hinted that ‘rogue’ (anti-Semitic) agents had infiltrated the FBI and were working to undermine Israel’s favorite, Clinton. He even promised to initiate a post-election purge of the FBI… upon Clinton’s victory… Needless to say, the Senator’s own rant, published (and quickly buried) two days before the election in the Guardian, did not help Madame Hillary with the security apparatus in the United States. History has never been a strong point with the Comedian Senator Al Franken, who should have know better than to threaten the deep security state: his Mid-West predecessor Senator Joseph McCarthy quickly deflated after he threatened the generals.
The accusations of anti-Semitism against Trump were baseless and desperate: The Trump campaign team has prominently included Jews and Israel-Firsters and secured a minority of Jewish votes, especially among smaller business people supporting greater protectionism. Secondly, Trump condemned anti-Semitic acts and language and did not appeal to any of the extremist groups – let alone ‘cite the Protocols of Zion’.
Thirdly (and predictably) the Zionist Anti-Defamation League (ADL) slapped an anti-Semitic ‘guilt by association’ label on Donald Trump because of his consistent criticism of US wars and occupations in the Middle East, which Trump had correctly pointed out cost the US over two trillion dollars – money that would have totally rebuilt the failing US infrastructure and created millions of domestic jobs. For the loony ADL, the US wars in the Middle East have enhanced Israel’s security and thus any opposition to these wars is anti-Semitic or ‘guilt by association’.
The ADL directors, who have raked in over $3 million dollar salaries over the past 5 years ‘protecting’ US Jews, objected to Trump because Hillary Clinton was the darling of the pro-war Israel-First lobbies and Obama-Clinton appointees.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka (a convert to Judaism) is married into a prominent Orthodox Jewish family with strong ties to Israel; the Trump clan is close to elements among the Israeli elite, including the uber-racist Netanyahu. These hysterical slanders against ‘Trump the Anti-Semite’ reflect the fact that the most prominent domestic Jewish power bloc, ‘the 52 Presidents of American Jewish Organization’ had invested heavily in Hillary Clinton. No matter what the cost, no matter what the land grab, no matter how many Palestinians were ‘killed or maimed by Jewish settler-vigilantes’; the State of Israel could always count on Clinton’s unconditional support. The Lobby would not need to ‘petition’ their ‘First Woman’ President; Madame Hillary would have anticipated Israel’s every desire and even embellished their rhetoric.
In the end, Senator Al Franken’s rabid anti- Trump rant went too far . . . vanishing from the Guardian website in less than one day. Influential Zionist organizations turned their backs on the Senator Comedian; the Zionist Organization of America reprimanded the ADL for its intemperate slanders – sensing that Clinton could lose.
The Franken-Zionist power structure’s last-ditch efforts to attack Trump must have provoked a very negative response within the US ‘deep state’. There can be no doubt that the entire intelligence, military and security elites struck back and put their organizational ‘thumb on the scale’.
The FBI’s release of damaging documents related to Secretary Clinton undermined the ADL’s candidate in the run-up to the election and hinted at an interesting power struggle behind the curtains. The confidential documents, likely including epistles from Chappaqua to and from Tel Aviv, linked tangentially to the pedophilic crimes of the disgraced Congressman (and former Clinton ally) Anthony Weiner was a heavy blow.
The Netanyahu Cabinet put distance between themselves and their favorites, probably telling AIPAC leaders to muzzle Al Franken and pretend his threats to purge the FBI had never been launched. They were clearly worried that their lunatic attack dogs could set the entire US Security State on a hostile track against Israel.
The Franken-ADL trial balloon fizzled and disappeared. The intelligence establishment pounded the final nail into the coffin of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential aspirations. She even briefly accused the FBI of ruining her candidacy – hinting at some partial but oversimplified truth. A Zionist darling to the end, Hillary would never dare to identify and castigate the crazy and incompetent Zionist provocateurs that had helped to turn the Deep State against Madame Secretary.
A last note: Once Clinton lost and Trump took ‘the prize’, the Zionist Power Structure deftly switched sides: the former ‘Anti-Semite’ candidate Trump became ‘Israel’s Best Friend in the White House’. None of the 52 leading Zionist organizations would join the street protests. Only vulture-speculator George Soros (who had bet heavily on the wrong horse) would finance the motley group of goys marching in the streets and collecting on-line petitions for ‘democracy’.
The foibles, fables and failure of the financial press and their keepers lost the election but are back, hard at work, remaking President-Elect Trump into a global free marketer.
Donald Trump was the only presidential candidate who highlighted that the Clinton-backed earthquake recovery project in Haiti was an absolute disgrace, Dr. Dady Chery, a Haitian-born journalist, told Sputnik, adding that she believes that Haitian-Americans are not the only ones who voted for Trump to see the Clintons brought to justice.
Donald Trump won’t appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, as he promised back in October, the US President-elect’s aide signaled Tuesday.
“I think when the President-elect, who’s also the head of your party, tells you before he’s even inaugurated that he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager, told MSNBC as quoted by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The question then arises, whether controversial episodes such as, for example, the Clintons’ role in the recovery project in Haiti back in 2010, will be simply swept under the rug.
The Clintons-Backed Earthquake Recovery Project in Haiti After Wikileaks released Hillary Clinton’s personal emails it became clear that the US response to Haiti earthquake back in 2010 was hardly a “success story.”
“People were still in mourning, about three weeks after the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, when the US Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, wrote a situation paper for the State Department, and he cheerfully titled a section of it ‘The Gold Rush is on!’ Thanks to a Wikileaks cable from February 1, 2010, we know that the State Department was privately cheering Haiti’s misfortune while Secretary Hillary Clinton was publicly acting like she was heartbroken about Haiti,” Dr. Dady Chery, a Haitian-born journalist and News Junkie Post Co-Editor in Chief told Sputnik.
“The gold rush meant an avalanche of Haitian contracts to private businesses. It also meant many grants and contracts from USAID to politically connected contractors from the Washington DC area. Most of them were ‘Friends of Bill,’ or ‘FOBs,’ who had made donations to the Clinton Foundation, as we also learned from an ABC News investigation and Freedom of Information Act documents,” Chery continued.
The journalist recalled that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) gave out about $1.5 billion of grants and contracts for the Caribbean country in 2010 but only 35 percent of the sum was spent by 2012.
What is more embarrassing is that there were no financial reviews and virtually no accounting of the expenditures, the journalist stressed.
“Immediately after the earthquake, the Clintons also collected about $30 million for Haiti through the Clinton Foundation. From the foundation’s taxes, we know that only about 10 percent of funds were spent on charity, so only about $3 million were spent on Haiti, and it is unclear how. There were also about $54 million from the Bush-Clinton Fund, but most of that money was spent on mortgages, microfinance, and on refurbishing and building luxury hotels,” Chery told Sputnik. However, that is half the story.
The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), chaired by Bill Clinton, literally took over the reins of the Caribbean country in April 2010, after Haiti’s President, Rene Preval, was pressured into declaring a state of emergency.
“In what was essentially a coup, President Preval was stripped of his power and allowed only a symbolic veto,” Chery underscored.
“Right after the IHRC was formed, Haiti’s legislators organized massive nationwide protests that went on for months. Throughout Haiti, people called the state of emergency, a ‘coup d’etat d’urgence,'” she pointed out.
The only way the Clintons could sustain power over Haiti was to push Preval to organize presidential elections, Chery noted. Citing an interview of Ricardo Seitenfus, then Special Representative of the OAS (Organization of the American States), the journalist highlighted that the elections were rigged and Clinton-backed Michel Martelly won the presidency.
“With Martelly in place, the Clintons did whatever they wanted. By July 2011, three months before the IHRC’s 18-month mandate was over, they had collected $3.2 billion and spent only $84 million doing only five out of 75 projects they had planned,” the Haitian journalist stressed.
“In a meeting on August 11, 2011, the Chair of the Senate Public Works Committee accused the IHRC of taking credit for projects that had been funded before it even existed. The IHRC was not renewed by Haiti’s parliament, but the Clintons kept right on raising money. By 2012, the IHRC had collected $5.9 billion out of a total of $9.5 billion of pledged donations,” she underscored.
Chery emphasized that Donald Trump was the only presidential candidate to mention Haiti as being a disgrace for Hillary Clinton.
“New emails revealed today by ABC News show that during the deadly earthquake in Haiti, which killed over 150,000 people, the Clintons couldn’t stop cashing in,” Trump’s campaign website said.
“In their biggest project, the Clintons used $400 million in aid and US taxpayer funds to build what amounted to a sweatshop,” the website read, referring to yet another controversial project kicked off by the Clintons in Haiti — the Caracol Industrial Park.
How can the US under Trump help Haiti to recover from the disaster caused by the Clinton’s policies against the Caribbean country?
Chery called attention to the fact that “Haiti needs justice and fairness from the US much more than it needs foreign aid.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Washington.
“Many aspects of Clinton’s dictatorship continue today. First, there is the fact that more than 96 percent of Haiti’s reconstruction funds have disappeared. If the Clintons are tried under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and found guilty, some of this money could be recovered, at the least by confiscating their properties,” the Haitian journalist suggested.
“Another Clinton policy that continues to damage Haiti is the sale of subsidized rice to the country, mostly from Arkansas,” she added, “This is bad for Haitian agriculture, which cannot compete against subsidized goods.” But what it more important, Chery pointed out, “a Trump government could adopt and enforce a policy of noninterference in Haiti’s political affairs.”
Alas, the story of the Clintons’ involvement in Haiti is far from being over, the journalist remarked, assuming that Bill and Hillary Clinton may still use their UN connections to “keep their hooks” in the small Caribbean country.
“After all, they have a financial interest in Haiti’s gold mines through Hillary’s brother, Tony Rodham,” she noted.
“I don’t think Haitian-Americans are the only ones who voted for Trump mainly because they wanted to see the Clintons brought to justice. There are many Americans who object to their government being peddled like a stolen watch on a street corner,” Chery concluded.
Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0
Carthage, Tunisia – No one knows what the future will bring. Yet, many observers have been quick to announce the decline of American interventionism and the revival of isolationism–the end of an era and the beginning of another.
Rightly or wrongly, Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump fuels this prediction, which depresses some and delights other. The conflicted responses to Trump’s victory, based on ideological interests and values, register even within families. However, the most dramatic split reactions to Trump’s victory are exemplified by the left’s reception—liberal or socialist—in the global North versus the global South. If the North reacted to Trump’s victory with suffocated apprehension, the South experienced it as a breath of fresh air, not out of sympathy for Trump but as a rejection of Clinton.
The global South associates the name of Clinton—Bill or Hillary—with the heralds of humanitarian intervention. If the discourse of humanitarianism seduced the North, it has not been so in the South, even less in the Near and Middle East, which no longer believe in it. The patent humanitarian disasters in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have disillusioned them.
It is in this sense that Trump’s victory is felt as a release, a hope for change, and a rupture from the policy of Clinton, Bush, and Obama. This policy, in the name of edifying nations (“nation building”), has destroyed some of the oldest nations and civilizations on earth; in the name of delivering well-being, it has delivered misery; in the name of liberal values, it has galvanized religious zeal; in the name of democracy and human rights, it has installed autocracies and Sharia law.
Who is to blame?
Did the United States not know that intervening in “the lands of Islam” would act as a catalyst for Jihad? Was it by chance that the United States intervened only in secular states, turning them into manholes of religious extremism? Is it a coincidence that these interventions were and are often supported by regimes that sponsor political Islam? Conspiracy theory, you say? No, these are historical facts.
Can the United States not learn from history, or does it just doom itself to repeat it? Does it not pose itself the question of how al-Qaeda and Daesh originated? How did they organize themselves? Who trained them? What is their mobilizing discourse? (1) Why is the US their target? None of this seems to matter to the US: all it cares about is projecting its own idealism. (2)
The death of thousands of people in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya or Syria, has it contributed to the well being of these peoples? Or does the United States perhaps respond to this question in the manner of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, who regretted the death of five-hundred-thousand Iraqi children, deprived of medications by the American embargo, to conclude with the infamous sentence, “[But] it was worth it “?
Was it worth it that people came to perceive humanitarian intervention as the new crusades? Was it worth it that they now perceive democracy as a pagan, pre-Islamic model, abjured by their belief? Was it worth it that they now perceive modernity as deviating believers from the “true” path? Was it worth that they now perceive human rights as human standards as contrary to the divine will? Was it worth it that people now perceive secularism as atheism whose defenders are punishable by beheading?
Have universal values become a problem rather than a solution? What then to think of making war in their name? Has humanitarian intervention become punishment rather than help?
The South has understood where the North has not: the selective nature of humanitarian interventions reflects their punitive nature; sanctions go to non-client regimes; interventions seem to be a new excuse for the hegemonic ambitions of the United States and its allies; they are a new rationale for NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union; they are a way to suppress Russia and deprive it of its zones of influence. (3)
What a far-sighted motion was that of the coalition of the countries of the Third World (G77) at the Havana Summit in 2000! It declared its rejection of any intervention, including humanitarian, which did not respect the sovereignty of the states concerned. (4) This was nothing other than a rejection of the Clinton Doctrine, announced in 1999, in the wake of the war of Kosovo, which made “humanitarian intervention” the new bedrock, or perhaps the new facade, of the foreign policy of the United States. It was the same policy followed and developed by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state. (5)
The end of interventionism?
But are Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession to power sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism?
Donald Trump is a nationalist, whose rise has been the result of a coalition of anti-interventionists within the Republican Party. They profess a foreign policy that Trump has summarized in these words: “We will use military force only in cases of vital necessity to the national security of the United States. We will put an end to attempts of imposing democracy and overthrowing regimes abroad, as well as involving ourselves in situations in which we have no right to intervene.” (6)
But drawing conclusions about the foreign policy of the United States from unofficial statements seems simplistic. At the moment of this writing, any speculation as to the policy choices of Trump’s foreign policy is premature. One can’t predict his policy with regard to the Near and Middle East, since he has not yet even formed his cabinet. Moreover, presidents in office can change their tune in the course of their tenure. The case of George W. Bush provides an excellent example.
Like Donald Trump, George W. Bush was a conservative Republican non-interventionist. He advocated “America First,” called for a more subdued foreign policy and adopted Colin Powell’s realism “to attend without stress” (7) with regard to the Near and Middle East. But his policy shifted to become the most aggressive and most brutal in the history of the United States. Many international observers argue that this shift came as a response to the September 11 attacks, but they fail to note that the aggressive germs already existed within Bush’s cabinet and advisers: the neo-conservatives occupied key functions in his administration. (8)
Up until now, Trump’s links with the neo-cons remain unclear. The best-known neo-cons, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, and Robert Kagan, appear to have lost their bet by supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But others, less prominent or influential, seem to have won it by supporting Trump: Dick Cheney, Norman Podhoretz, and James Woolsey, his adviser and one of the architects of the wars in the Middle East.
These indices show that nothing seems to have been gained by the South, still less by the Near and Middle East. There appears to be no guarantee that the situation will improve.
The non-interventionism promised by Trump may not necessarily equate to a policy of isolationism. A non-interventionist policy does not automatically mean that the United States will stop protecting their interests abroad, strategic or otherwise. Rather, it could mean that the United States will not intervene abroad except to defend their own interests, unilaterally–and perhaps even more aggressively. Such a potential is implied in Trump’s promise to increase the budget for the army and the military-industrial complex. Thus, it is more realistic to suppose that as long as the United States has interests in the countries of the South and the Near and Middle East, so long it will not hesitate to intervene.
In this context, Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession are not sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism—the end of an era and the beginning of another. The political reality is too complex to be reduced to statements by a presidential candidate campaigning for election, by an elected president, or even by a president in the course of performing his office.
No one knows what the future will bring.
Marwen Bouassida is a researcher in international law at North African-European relations, University of Carthage, Tunisia. He regularly contributes to the online magazine Kapitalis.
(Translated from the French by Luciana Bohne)
1 The Declaration of 77 South Summit, Havana – Cuba, 10 – 14 April 2000: http://www.g77.org/summit/Declaration_G77Summit.htm
2 See : Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos : The misadventure of Hillary Clinton, CounterPunch, 2015.
3 Actualité : « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il est élu », Suptniknews (Novembre 04, 2016) En ligne : http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ
4 Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard, 2004, p.90.
5 Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy: What will he really do?” The National Interest (Novembre 12, 2016) Online: http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/donald-trumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-really-do-18378
6 Sputniknews, « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il est élu », Novembre 04, 2016. http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ (last seen: November 17, 2016)
7 Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard, 2004, p.90
8 Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy: What will he really do?”, The National Interest, Novembre 12, 2016 http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/donald-trumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-really-do-18378 (last seen: Novembre 17, 2016)
The Oxford Dictionaries have named ‘post-truth’ as the word of the year. ‘Fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ politics have been blamed for both the Brexit vote in the UK and the victory of Donald Trump in America.
It seems the uneducated plebs are falling for ’fake news’ they read in ’new media’ and the lies of dreadful rabble-rousing populist politicians who are relying on people’s emotions, instead of ’objective facts,’ to get votes. It’s all terribly worrying and poses a dire threat to Western civilization as we know it.
Well, forgive me for laughing out loud. For this establishment ‘fake news’/’post-truth politics’ concern is the funniest thing I’ve come across in politics since Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, the very grand Chancellor of the University of Oxford, repeatedly called distinguished Sheldonian guest Mikhail Gorbachev, “Mr. Brezhnev.”
Why is it so hilarious? Because the people and the outlets warning of the dangers of ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth politics’ have been the biggest peddlers of ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth politics’ out there. It’s like receiving lectures on the immorality of bootlegging from Al Capone or being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Without a doubt the best, or rather the worst example of ‘fake news’ in the last 25 years or so, was the neocon lie that Iraq had WMDs in 2002/3. That wasn’t peddled by ‘obscure bloggers’ and ‘new media,’ but by mainstream Western politicians, from ‘mainstream’ political parties, establishment-approved ‘experts’ on the BBC/ITV/CNN, etc., and Op-ed columnists in ‘serious’ and ‘respectable’ media outlets.
There was absolutely no evidence that Saddam possessed WMDs. The story was complete and utter BS. Yet this fake news dominated the headlines for months in 2002/3 and led to an illegal invasion in which many people lost their lives. Unlike today’s manufactured ‘fake news’ hysteria the Iraq war was no joke. An entire country was destroyed.
And guess what? Those who pushed the ‘Iraq has WMDs line’ are now coming on television to express their concern over ‘fake news’!
John Hilley notes “The BBC even had Alastair Campbell (Tony Blair’s spin doctor), in the studio defending the term ‘post-truth’ as a way of exposing the ‘dangers’ of ‘fake news.'”
Campbell stated: “It’s acknowledging that politics, which has always been rough, has moved to a different phase where politicians who lie now appear to get rewarded for it.” (BBC2 Jeremy Vine Show, 16/11/2016).
What might Orwell have said about Campbell, master spinner and Blairite warmonger, sitting inside the BBC being rewarded for his thoughts on ‘post-truth and ‘fake news?’ Hilley asks.
Once again, I’m sure old George is spinning in his grave in Sutton Courtenay.
Then there’s that serial warmonger Bernard-Henri Levy. The Sunday Telegraph today told us in its headlines: ‘Leading French philosopher: Marine Le Pen may win election as people have lost interest in whether politicians tell the truth.’
Oh, the irony!
Because if the French people really have ‘lost interest in whether politicians tell the truth,’ Henri-Levy and his fellow liberal interventionist ‘regime changers’ have got a lot to do with it.
Think back to the war against Libya, which the ‘leading French philosopher’ lobbied hard for. To sell the war to the Western public, we were told that Muammar Gaddafi was about to commit a ‘Srebrenica-style’ massacre in Benghazi. Media Lens noted the claims that were made at the time.
But again it was a load of ‘rollocks.’ Five years after Libya, like Iraq before it, had been destroyed by Western ‘interventionists,’ a report of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons declared: “the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”
It wasn’t the only claim made about Libya by Western politicians that was ‘not supported by the available evidence.’ In February 2011, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted that he had seen ‘information’ which suggested that Gaddafi was on his way to Venezuela. An unnamed ‘diplomat’ said that this was ‘credible information.’ But it wasn’t. It was the same old fake news that we get every time the Western elites are trying to achieve ‘regime change.’
In April 2011 we heard that the devilish Gaddafi (who had not, after all, fled to Caracas), was supplying his troops with Viagra “to encourage mass rape.”
“Gaddafi’s security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms,” declared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose supporters are now complaining about ‘post-truth politics.
Again, no evidence was put forward for the Viagra/mass rape claim and, surprise, surprise, none was ever found.
A clear pattern can be discerned. To get public support for its illegal regime change wars, the Western establishment energetically promotes a number of ‘fake news’ stories. These stories are usually reported unquestioningly in ‘respectable’ outlets and are regularly cited by neocon/liberal interventionist commentators as a reason for taking action against the target state. ‘Anonymous’ sources feature heavily in these stories, which like MI6’s ‘Operation Mass Appeal’ are often planted by the security services.
Meanwhile, people’s emotions are shamelessly played upon by the ‘something must be done’ brigade of ‘liberal’ laptop bombardiers, the same crowd, note well, who accuse ‘populist’ politicians of ignoring ‘objective facts’ and playing on people’s emotions.
The fake news continues while the regime change operation is ongoing. After its over, we’re all meant to forget about the false stories we were fed and focus on the next ’New Hitler’ who needs to be dealt with. In 2011, it was the despicable Gaddafi, now it’s the despicable Assad and the despicable Putin who we’re told: “have to be stopped.”
The term ‘post-truth’ politics implies there was a time when politics was truthful. I doubt if that ever was the case, but certainly in the last 25 years, thanks to the influence of neocons and ‘liberal interventionists’, the lies have been off the scale. Remember the Niger uranium forgeries? And Saddam’s horrific ‘People Shredder‘?
And before the Iraq war, we had the ‘humanitarian’ NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, where again fake news dominated. US Defense Secretary William Cohen claimed “about 100,000 military-aged” Kosovan Albanians were missing… “they may have been murdered.”
As John Pilger reminded us, “Kosovo, the site of a genocide that never was, is now a violent “free market” in drugs and prostitution.”
It wasn’t the only lurid claim that was made to sell the war. But again the ‘genocide’ and hundreds of thousands killed stories were false, as a UN court itself ruled in 2001.
Fake news also featured heavily in the neocon campaign to get Iran sanctioned for an entirely unproven nuclear weapons program. It’s dominated the coverage of recent events in Ukraine, with Russia’s non-existent ‘invasion of Ukraine’ routinely referred to as a fact. The conflict in Syria too has been marked by ‘fake news,’ and theories being reported as if they’re 100 percent proven. How many times have you read that “Assad gassed his own people” at Ghouta in 2013, even though we still don’t know for sure who carried out the attack?
If it’s ‘official enemies’ we’re talking about ‘fact-checking’ and citing sources isn’t all that important for those who pounce on a mere typo if it’s an anti-war writer who’s making a claim.
Now, the same people who have disseminated fake news for so long and who are still, even after Iraq and Libya, embedded in the West’s political and media establishments, are lashing out because they no longer control the narrative as they used to. The public is getting their news from a much wider variety of sources and voting for ‘populist,’ i.e., non-neocon/liberal interventionist-anointed candidates/parties at elections.
Instead of admitting that it’s their ’fake news’ and ‘post-truth politics’ which has caused people to switch off from establishment media and to stop voting for status quo candidates, the endless war lobby has the effrontery to accuse others of the things they have been guilty of.
Concern over ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth politics’ from the West’s endless war propagandists?
It’s hard to think of a better example of what psychologists call ‘projection.’
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In resigning from the Obama administration Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted that US Intelligence Agencies do not know how or when Wikileaks received emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton during her campaign.
One more lie has been exposed as Fake news involving a Hillary Clinton lie that was supposedly fact checked and then echoed throughout the corporate media echo chamber.
It’s part of a year long pattern of media lies which has resulted in corporate media news outlets losing nearly all of the public’s trust.
Just a few weeks ago, Hillary and the democrats were running around blaming everything on the Russians and in the Presidential Debate she lied to the public stating the WikiLeaks emails shouldn’t be trusted because they were hacked by Russia.
Doubling down on the that lie, she cited 17 US Intelligence agencies as the basis for her claim.
Well, there were only two and the first walked away from the claim not longer after the debate leaving the other 16, which is actually only one, headed by James Clapper, still validating the claim.
Clapper submitted his resignation today as the President-elect is set to take office in January and in doing so he made the stunning revelation that has been buried as a one-liner in media reports.
Via Washington Post (subscription required):
He said intelligence agencies don’t have good insight on when or how Wikileaks obtained the hacked emails.
The recent electoral victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton has led to a massive spewing of theatrics on social media whereby public “mourning” which verges on the sycophantic has given rise to a larger public momentum of mass neoliberal outrage as the surrogate for political activity. Even within feminist circles are the myriad Facebook groups devoted to discussing how Clinton was the arch-victim of misogyny, no mention of class politics or Clinton’s having turned her back on the mere mention of class. Now with the recent movement to utilise safety pins as a means to “indicate that the person wearing the pin is a safe person for those who might feel in danger, whether that’s due to their religion, nationality or other status,” we have fully entered into the age of absurdist politics whereby “safety” is demarcated through cheap political gimmickry and the real analysis of political failure is fobbed off by feminists as the inability of people to recognise the necessity of women’s political self-determination—or whatever that has come to mean nowadays.
Sarah Ditum in her recent piece, “Donald Trump has grabbed America by the pussy, and it’s women who will suffer,” writes, “Women do not “vote with our vaginas”, as a rule. Maybe it’s time we looked into that.” Likewise, Cosmopolitan has announced that the election result “is such a deeply felt insult to women across the United States,” and numerous other publications have insinuated the same: that Clinton’s loss somehow represents an “erasure” of women, with zero analysis as to how Clinton’s campaign failed to address class issues or, more poignantly, how class is directly related to issues of sex. Indeed, one must wonder if Ditum et al have even considered for a moment how women in Honduras, Haiti, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine have been affected by her policies which lead to the murder and rapes of women throughout these regions after political instability was ensured by Clinton’s actions. Not negligible in this timeline is how Clinton utilised false claims of rape to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi or how Clinton refuses to address the coup in Honduras, instead naming it a “crisis” while assisting in the deposition of former Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, which resulted in myriad documented rapes throughout the country.
If women must “vote with our vaginas” then, it would seem that the choice between two candidates where one grabs pussies while the other leaves them exposed to poverty, death, and rape, resulted in what would appear to be the least overtly violent figure. That is if you are not a white woman living outside the neoliberal dream of 401k or hedge fund accounts. To think that Trump could possibly have been the more class-conscious and feminist choice of the two might seem surreal to many, but the Realpolitik of this election demonstrates that Hillary Clinton was unable to mobilise support from the working class or women. As Lorna Garano notes: “One problem with the Bernie Bro myth: He had massive support from women. That’s because things like healthcare, education, and a liveable wage are women’s issues. You can’t eat symbolism.” Certainly, if the choice is down to women being targeted because of their vaginas and the assumption that they are unable to think beyond their anatomical parts, then women are truly, in all senses of the word, fucked. What seems to be missing from recent “feminist” analyses of political power is how class issues are most definitely women’s issues and it would seem that American women know this far better than liberal pundits. The larger question is how feminist analysis today might learn from this election rather than refract pussy politics onto all those “mindless, blondes” who voted for Trump.
Yet in spite of her extensive political record, not to mention her repeated choice to stand by Bill in the face of sexual assault allegations, Hillary Rodham Clinton was constructed by a vocal subset of liberal feminists as a quasi-divine figure incapable of (serious) wrongdoing, whose election as President would in an instant vindicate the struggles of our mothers and grandmothers, delegitimize all misogynist representations, liberate women from the lack of confidence we have accumulated over the course of our lives, and, to top it off, would smash the ultimate glass ceiling. A woman, leading the free world!
If this iteration of the culturally-overplayed narrative of fulfilling every girl’s dream of a female president seems too good to be true, it probably is. But dreams themselves are ultimately anchored to material situations – those who allocute the needs of females via mainstream media outlets are often blindsided by their own history, socialisation, and material wealth, universalising their particular interests in projecting them onto all women. Not coincidentally, the persistence, enunciated by many feminists today, that Clinton represents the best interests of females is driven by a uniquely Western perspective whereby these interests adopt a myopic aperture, relegating all that is important to female lives as restricted within a very narrow set of political and economic paradigms. Namely the needs of a neoliberal class of women for whom pussy politics is a luxury because money has allowed this brand of feminism to advance in an eerily similar trajectory to the Clintonian mandate whereby class is elided in favour of a happy feminism where those pesky, depressing issues of paying rent, bus fare, and groceries need not be on the table. Glass ceilings sound far more appealing and empowering by comparison.
But what would a Clinton presidency concretely offer women? This question was answered with the supercilious assumption that the “benefits” to women – whatever they were – would trickle down to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, in a fashion reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s economic plan for the masses. That if we let the privileged women at the top chase money and power, they, grateful for the opportunity, would commence giving a hand up to all women below. Given the US’s position as imperialist superpower, this was imagined to take place on a global scale. Aside from being dangerously close to essentialism, this assumption relies on a notion of there existing an organic feminist consciousness arising crudely and simply out of the fact of being a woman, able to manifest itself irrespective of pre-existing political commitments, policies or party lines. It ultimately condescends to all women by downplaying their intelligence and political acumen whilst inviting them to participate in a political arena curtailed by a predetermined narrative and naked class interests, telling them that the only way they could make a real impact on the world is, in fact, by voting with their vagina.
This sort of feminist politics is not new and is reminiscent of an earlier moralisation where the feminist movement was largely composed of middle and lower-class women who coalesced their power within the temperance movement, seeking political gains at the ends of moralist and pragmatic interventions. Where these first wave feminists advocated the development of moral integrity and exemplarity, Clinton’s politics represent anything but.
Feminist history, in particular the suffragist movement of the first wave and the image of hunger-striking suffragettes sacrificing for future generations of women, was cleverly utilised by the Clinton campaign to coalesce sentiment around the idea that Hillary was a direct successor of this tradition and that her presidency would represent an achievement of the same nature, a sort of capstone on the suffragist achievement. And the vote our foremothers gave us would have made it all possible. The campaign’s manifest ignorance of the political history of the first wave, in advancing a warmonger as representative of a staunch anti-war tradition, is embarrassing at best. First wave feminists emphasised the cultivation of female responsibility and the importance of moral character development via engagement with the wider world denied them, in opposition to the prevailing Victorian cultural worship of the “angel in the house” curtailed by her inferior feminine, childlike capacities, foreclosed from the ethical and political dimensions of truly-human experience and left to exercise her feminine wiles to procure anything she needed. How Clinton herself signified continuity with this tradition remains a mystery; if one is to go about the business of idealising a human figure, one would think that this process would first of all entail that they, at the very least, embody some noteworthy ethical characteristics or political principles. The cognitive dissonance in deifying a war criminal did not seem to diminish but further strengthened the desperate exhortation to women to simply believe (in Her). The Hillary campaign’s conviction that the suffragists’ work, ceaselessly campaigning throughout three generations for voting rights and just barely scraping forth that achievement for themselves, was ultimately carried out in order to execute a neoliberal program entirely antithetical to their values and aims, displays a deep hubris which verges on betrayal.
Alternatively, if those first wave principles so happen to trouble you by obstructing Hillary worship, you can reassure yourself in shooting the whole thing down. Sarah Churchwell devotes space in a recent Guardian article to the cultural examination of the female-president fantasy, in which she writes off the fundamental values of the first wave as a naive belief that “idealised women should cleanse American politics with their purity.” Purity, in the first wave lexicon, didn’t signify what we now come to know as moral puritanism, let alone the sexist double standard. A simple assessment of the meaning of the colours of the suffragist flag tells us the following: white symbolised “purity in public as well as private life, purple for dignity and self-respect and green for hope and new life”. A crucial conceptual distinction is made here that severs dignity and sexual “honour” from female ethical conduct in such a fashion that posits women, for the first time in history, as political beings to be judged by their principles. As for the crusade to clean up politics with the mop of feminine values, it is useful to remember that in campaigning for their en masse entry into political life by winning the vote, women had to put forth a pressing reason why their political contribution would be valuable, and strategically made use of the reasons for their exclusion – pacifism, maternal qualities – by transforming them into arguments for inclusion. You can only fight with what you’ve got, after all. It is similarly mistaken to directly equate negative representations of a female president in American literature with antipathy toward the idea as such; judging by the passages Churchwell has quoted it is apparent that a female presidency was used as a narrative device to make a general statement about women. Tales of women leaving the presidency behind for (grand)motherhood, displaying the monstrous, “masculine” characteristics of a human subject while in office, or admitting they fundamentally need men under the guise of mating with the last man alive, reflect misogynist male anxieties toward women in general. Churchwell nevertheless maintains that it is Americans’ deeply seated cultural fear of a female president that pushed a Trump victory. But if this line of argument fails to convince as to why Hillary Clinton was cheated out of the presidency she deserved, you can always cry conspiracy.
The amount of feminist energies poured into the Clinton campaign raises further questions on what the vote still means today for feminism. The idea that the vote empowered American women to definitively “choose” their liberation, as if an either-or dilemma, at the ballot box in 2016 seems fatuous. The narrative upheld by Hillary supporters with regard to the vote’s place as the lever that would lift her into the presidency, is surrounded by the politics of affect and the vote’s importance to feminism has been elevated to such an extreme level that it may not ultimately deserve. Again they neglect to take feminist history into account. The late Shulamith Firestone, author of The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (1970) and founding figure of second wave Anglo-American feminism, evaluated the trajectory of the first wave as a foundation upon which to rebuild a movement for women’s liberation. She was not prone to nostalgic idealism about the vote, which she saw as a political failure, not a victory, in the long run. In The Dialectic of Sex she writes:
The granting of the vote to the suffrage movement killed the W.R.M. [Women’s Rights Movement]. Though the anti-feminist forces appeared to give in, they did so in name only. They never lost. By the time the vote was granted, the long channeling of feminist energies into the limited goal of suffrage – seen initially as only one step to political power – had thoroughly depleted the W.R.M. The monster Ballot had swallowed everything else … The women who later joined the feminist movement to work for the single issue of the vote had never had time to develop a broader consciousness: by then they had forgotten what the vote was for. The opposition had had its way (22).
And in Notes from the First Year, published by New York Radical Women in 1969:
For what is the vote worth finally if the voter is manipulated? Every husband knows he’s not losing a vote, but gaining one. Today, some 50 years later, women still vote as wives, just as they govern as wives.
Despite the major flaw in her feminist analysis, of adducing women’s oppression solely on the basis of a fundamental biological capacity for childbirth, Firestone came from a strong left tradition which informed her feminism. Unlike her more liberal contemporaries such as Kate Millett, economic class was woven into the very fabric of her radical feminist analysis. In the chapter of The Dialectic of Sex on childhood, Firestone notes that bourgeois women and children possessed an economic patronage which partially offset their oppression. Theirs was a “privileged slavery”. This is a far cry from contemporary intersectional analyses which displace class not only as a separate axis from other oppressions (which suddenly becomes relevant when we have poor people to feel sorry for), but as a concept itself that would inform theoretical understandings of oppression and remove the need for a problem-solving legal theory concerned with the topography of the individual.
What intersectional feminism does for the bourgeois female subject today, Reaganomics did for the economic elite of the 1980s who were made to believe that by paying virtually no taxes, they were helping the poor. And such tactics work as long as everyone is complicit in keeping the fantasy alive. The recent Twitter storms and Facebook debates rage on as alleged feminists have, over the past week, made the claim that by disagreeing with Clinton’s policies one is necessarily giving a tacit nod to Trump, or that in critiquing the use of safety pins as meaningful political resistance one is “mock[ing] people who are scared.” The reality on the ground is that all Trump’s victory has accomplished, thus far, is that white liberals—both male and female—are living out a theatre of “fright” which speaks more to their own inability to read public sentiment about the economy and the reality of pre-existing and current racial politics in the United States. Meanwhile, the most cogent critique of both the Trump victory and white neoliberal reactions to the election was beautifully presented by David Chappelle and Chris Rock on Saturday Night Live as they made fun of this demographic’s shock over their “nightmare scenario,” Clinton’s “power grab” of three electoral votes in Vermont, and finally, the enunciation which causes both men to burst out into laughter: “This is the most shameful thing America has ever done!”
So, when the likes of J.K. Rowling can boast so gleefully about their social position and wealth, it is clear that feminism is heading towards an impasse where its own aversion to class politics will be its own undoing. Just as many feminists have bravely fought against the onslaught of identity politics demanding a historical materialist analysis of of the political landscape, feminism risks forming a new niche of identity politics given its inability to recognise class as central to contemporary life and its concomitant nexus to race and sex.
The 2016 presidential election has indeed been historic. If all the Hillary campaign was capable of offering the masses at the end of the day was symbolic value, it was therefore necessary to reconfigure the election as a contest of symbols, each candidate representing a set of values. Yet these values were anchored in identity divorced from political economy, which turned the Hillary campaign’s omission into the Trump campaign’s relevance. The discourse of this election demonstrates that, under late capitalism, representative democracy is in crisis: when “politics” is administrative assent to a neoliberal end-of-history consensus, identity becomes the primary ground of contestation, substantially transforming the previous meaning of political representation.
Ultimately, the election result has demonstrated that the majority of women have found the liberal feminist program of self-empowerment wanting. Lesser-evilism won the day, not positive support. We were sold a fabricated choice: between the Clinton campaign’s individualist ethos and false political narrative that warned of the horror show of trauma that would befall women if they didn’t vote for her, and the Trump campaign that catalysed the masses through misogynist and racist rhetoric—while also paying some attention to working class concerns. Criticism is forbidden. Left-liberal rhetoric instead implores us to trust the science of intersections stating that the white female establishment politician knows best and any opposition are just unenlightened pussy-grabbing fascists. The feminist fight for liberation has been sidelined into pussy politics.
Julian Vigo is a scholar, film-maker and human rights consultant. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jasmine Curcio is a materialist feminist writer and activist living in Melbourne, Australia.
The emptiness of defeat
Obama’s legacy is in tatters, and that is good news. Donald Trump’s victory was not just a win over Hillary Clinton, but against Democratic Party policies that silenced the rank and file. For years Democrats became convinced that the only means of keeping Republicans at bay was to go along with their party leadership without complaint. If they wanted to expand trade deals that stole workers’ jobs, so be it. The people who marched against the invasion of Iraq folded their tents when Democrats became the party of endless war. When Obama promoted austerity and “grand bargains” with Republicans not a word was uttered. Even Black Lives Matter refused to point out that the Obama Justice Department left killer cops unpunished.
Barack Obama is nothing if not consistent. While Democrats take to the streets in protest against president elect Trump, Obama declares that the man he once called unfit is not an ideologue, but a “pragmatist.” No one should be surprised about the conciliatory tone. Obama never had a problem with Republicans. They may have obstructed him, but he was always happy to assist them because he wasn’t really opposed to their policies.
The most obvious example of Obama’s lack of substance was his relationship with black Americans. His disdain and contempt for the people who loved him the most was clear to anyone who paid attention. Jokes about “cousin Pookie” and parents serving fried chicken for breakfast should have been seen as the racist screeds they clearly were. But the desire to see a black face in a prominent place endures to our detriment.
Obama won by making himself palatable to white people while also taking advantage of undeserved black pride. Hillary Clinton would be the president elect if the new voters who emerged in 2008 had remained committed to the Democratic Party. But their loyalty was to the imagery of Barack Obama as president. Their joy was confined to seeing him meet the queen of England alongside his first lady or disembarking from Air Force One with his signature swagger. The sight of Barack and Michelle hosting a state dinner was enough to make black hearts swoon. Policy initiatives need not intrude upon the love fest.
The end result of this unrequited and superficial love was six million fewer votes cast for Hillary Clinton in 2016 than for Obama in 2012. The apocryphal cousin Pookie stayed home and no one should be surprised. There is no secret to keeping voters engaged. They are engaged if their needs are met. Deliver for voters and they deliver in the voting booth.
Even the unpopular and shady Hillary Clinton could have won Michigan if the people of Flint had received the federal help they needed so badly. Not only did the Obama environmental protection agency allow the beleaguered city to be given contaminated water, but he showed up for a photo opportunity and did nothing else as residents suffered. He drank a glass of water, posed for the cameras and returned to Washington. The people of Flint are still living under conditions Americans think of as being “Third World.”
The response to Trump’s victory should mean more than protesting policies the Democrats now have little ability to fight. This moment presents an opportunity for much needed introspection and mea culpas. Millions of people did more than just accept Democratic Party policy. They supported actions they would have rejected if carried out by a Republican or a white Democrat. They supported Muammar Gaddafi when Republicans were president but averted their eyes to his murder when committed by a Democrat. They even voted for the person who bragged about the killing. Democratic voters must ask themselves why they said nothing when their party promoted trade deals that were against their interests. Ultimately that acquiescence led to defeat at Trump’s hands.
The Obama team’s propaganda skills were legendary but the day of reckoning revealed the emptiness of what they produced. The corporate media acted like scribes under White House direction and declared that Russia was an enemy state and its president a 21st century Hitler. Now it is Donald Trump, the self-promoting reality television star, who declares his willingness to talk to his Russian counterpart. It is the sort of behavior that Democrats once valued.
Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton began the tradition of getting Democrats to support what they didn’t like. Obama perfected the art, which ultimately led to the debacle. He will certainly not be the last to tempt the party faithful but in 2016 Democrats sold their souls and ended up with nothing. Defeat creates the most hollow feelings of all.
Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
The anti-Trump protesters must be honest with themselves about the true intentions of their protest. And here’s why.
The protests against Donald Trump that happened directly after his election victory appear to be petering out. They were never very large, and were always going to end given the indisputable fact – which the protests can’t change – that Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States.
The protests have, however, attracted a great deal of attention and in view of that, and because I know of some people who have taken part in them, I feel that I should offer my views of them.
Firstly, people have a right to protest provided they do so in a lawful and peaceful way.
Secondly, whilst they have a right to protest against Donald Trump, they need to be clear what they are protesting against. If by protesting they are trying to stop Donald Trump from becoming President of the United States, then since Trump has been elected legally and constitutionally, they are taking a revolutionary position.
That is true even if, as some of them have said, the purpose of the protests is to persuade some of the electors on the Electoral College to switch support to Hillary Clinton from Donald Trump, defying the voters of their states.
If the purpose of the protests is indeed revolutionary – intended to overthrow or set aside the result of an election carried out in accordance with the established legal and constitutional processes of the United States – then the protesters need to be honest with themselves about it, and cannot in that case avoid scrutiny of some of the organisations which appear to be involved in organising the protests, or to hearing questions about them.
Alternatively, if the protests are against Trump’s policies or what the protesters think Trump’s policies will be, then they are a legitimate form of political activity carried out within the established norms of US politics, provided they are carried out in a lawful and peaceful way. Though, since coming in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election victory, they inevitably provoke comments about the protesters being sore losers.
I make these points because in the second case I would offer the view that, over time, protests may lead to be a positive development in US politics.
No one looking at the US political situation objectively before Trump’s election victory could be satisfied with the state of the US political system. Virtually everyone agrees that it has become calcified, corrupt and increasingly detached from the people of America.
Hillary Clinton’s victory would simply have perpetuated for a further four years this failing and discredited system. It is a system where democratic politics has ceased to function in any meaningful way, so that countries like Libya, Iraq and Syria can be destroyed, and democratically elected governments can be overthrown in Honduras and Ukraine, without anyone protesting or even properly knowing about it.
As I have discussed previously, the situation has now become so bad that just a month ago the US found itself in a dangerous military stand-off with the Russians in Syria, and with the American people left in complete ignorance of it.
And this is not even touching on the way in which US domestic politics has been captured by powerful organised lobbies so that social inequalities have been allowed to grow with more and more people left behind.
In 1936 Franklin Roosevelt spoke of how “government by organised money was as dangerous as government by organised mob”. Who can deny that that is the situation the US has had up to now? How else could someone like Hillary Clinton have been nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate for President?
Donald Trump’s election offers an opportunity to break with this system. If the protests that followed his election were the beginning of some sort of return to real politics – as opposed to the virtual reality post-modern politics we have had up to now – that could turn out over time to be a good thing.
However, the protesters must in that case ask themselves what it is exactly that they are protesting for, not just what they are protesting against. Are they protesting for Hillary Clinton and for a return to the unloved and unsatisfactory pre-Trump status quo? If so then the protests will be no more than a spasm of a discredited dying system, rather than the promise of something positive and new.