Anatomy of Modern Corruption: The Clinton Foundation and the Superdelegates

What Hillary Clinton Really Represents

Empire Files (2016)

Film Review

This early 2016 documentary is a virtual encyclopedia of Clinton family corruption. Based entirely on publicly verifiable information, it reveals how Hillary, especially, has based her political career on supporting legislation that specifically benefits her corporate and foreign donors. It also explores the identity of some of the 700 Democratic “superdelegates” who helped deny Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination – despite overwhelming support he received from voters.

The Clinton Foundation was founded in 1997 with the alleged purpose of providing humanitarian relief after international disasters. Its real purpose, however, was to engage in “crisis capitalism,” a term coined by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine. Following a disasters, such as the 2001 earthquake in India, the Clinton Foundation would waltz in and create a variety of for-profit projects enabling further exploitation of third world resources and labor by Clinton Foundation donors.

Major donors to the Clinton foundation included Exxon, Walmart, Pfizer, Dow, Monsanto, General Electric (GE), Fox News, the Soros Foundation, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. As senator, Clinton rewarded the latter two donors by supporting deregulation that would lead to their bankruptcy in 2008 and a massive taxpayer bailout.

As Secretary of State, Clinton would grant similar favors to Boeing and GE by facilitating overseas sales of their military hardware and to Exxon by heavily promoting the spread of fracking throughout the world.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Republic and Qatar were also big donors to the Clinton Foundation. In all 181 Clinton Foundation donors lobbied Clinton as Secretary of State and most were successful in getting the policies they advocated enacted.

Many of the 700 superdelegates appointed by the Democratic National Committee (to help ensure their hand picked candidates won the Democratic primary) were also corporate lobbyists hoping to benefit financially from a Clinton presidency: among others, the corporate lobbies represented included the Excel pipeline, the private prison industry, Big Pharma and the four main Wall Street banks (City Group, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase).

Deja Vu All Over Again

With the US, Britain, France and Russia rapidly escalating military aggression against Syria, I thought it would be useful to look back at this Al Jazeera documentary from 2004. Al Jazeera analysts were the first to predict (2003) that the US and their allies would lose the war in Iraq.

The Control Room – Propaganda of the Iraq War

Directed by Jehane Noujaim (2004)

Film Review

The Control Room is about the Qatar TV network Al Jazeera and their coverage of the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. It alternates between footage of the Doha control room and the US Central Command media center. Highlights include vignettes of US officials condemning Al Jazeera for showing footage of civilian casualties and dead and captured Americans.

Because of the Pentagon’s tight control over US media, Al Jazeera was the only mainstream outlet to address the issue of civilian or GI deaths.

Al Jazeera was first launched in 1996 and several Arab countries banned it for criticizing their regimes. In 2003, they would broadcast coverage of the US invasion to 40 million Arab viewers, eventually becoming the most popular Arab TV station.

Their analysts would also be the first to predict (in 2003) that the US had “miscalculated” by invading Iraq – that the Iraqi resistance would eventually defeat the occupation.

The commentary by Al Jazeera senior producer Samir Khader is definitely the high point of the film, especially his discussion of the importance of propaganda in war. I was really surprised by his strenuous efforts to balance pro-US and pro-Iraqi propaganda.

I was astounded by his comment that he would take a job at Fox News if they offered it to him – to “trade the Arab nightmare for the American dream.” He speaks openly about his plans to send his children to the US to study.

The most heart-wrenching part of the film involves the deliberate assassination (via a US missile) of Al Jazeera reporter Tarek Ayyoub as he was broadcasting from the roof of the Al Jazeera building in Baghdad. His death would result the first of many anti-occupation protest marches.

Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

Robert Greenwald (2004)

Film Review

Outfoxed makes the case that media mogul Rupert Murdoch is first and foremost a politician – that he uses Fox News and his vast media monopoly* to promote conservative politicians who protect his financial interests. As evidence, it provides dozens of Fox News broadcast clips, samples of Roger Ailes’ daily editorial memos, and interviews with former Fox producers, reporters and commentators.

Murdoch used 21st Century Fox and the six TV stations owned by Metromedia he acquired in 1986 to form the Fox Broadcasting Company. In 1996, he entered the cable news market, hiring Roger Ailes to set up and run the Fox News Channel, a 24-hour cable news stations.

The former reporters and producers featured in the documentary talk at length about Ailes’ daily memos about topics they were required to cover (and avoid) and the spin he expected. Murdoch has a special hatred for the Kennedys, Bill Clinton, anti-war movie stars and Jesse Jackson and Fox employees were expected to invent opportunities to demonize them. The memos they received also heavily emphasized terrorism, fear of terrorism and divisive wedge issues, such as abortion, gay rights and religion, especially in election years. The intention was to distract US voters from issues, like the economy, that were problematic for Republicans.

Reporters and producers who failed to follow Ailes’ directives would be chewed out, demoted or fired. Commentators who failed to follow Murdoch’s party line would have their contracts canceled.

Election and War Coverage

Outfoxed devotes special attention to the biased coverage of the 2000 and 2004 election campaigns and the War in Iraq. In their vicious demonization of John Kerry in 2004, Fox News engaged in a deliberate attack campaign more typical of a political party.

The Fox Effect

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald also examines the effect Fox News has on other TV networks when they feel pressured to report Fox-initiated propaganda as news. The rumor that John Kerry looked and acted French – a pure Fox News invention – is a case in point. Likewise in 2000, ABC, NBC and CBS all declared Bush the winner at 2 am on election night, immediately after the Fox analyst (Bush’s first cousin) did so. Only Associated Press reported, correctly, that the Florida race was too close to call.

The Internet Effect

Produced ten years ago, the film’s call to action – lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – is totally obsolete. Greenwald had no way of predicted the social media revolution or its negative effect on traditional media. Young people no longer rely on TV for news and information. Young Americans (age 25-54) particularly avoid Fox News – there’s no way a network catering to an older male Republican base can possibly address the issues that concern them. This is reflected in a steady decline in Fox News ratings over the last five years.


*In addition to Fox Networks, Rupert Murdoch owns Harper Collins, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the British Sun, Times and Sky Television, five regional US newspapers and more than 100 national and regional Australian newspapers.

Obama Gives Republicans (and Israel) the Finger

Khamenei

 “The F***s Up Everything”

There’s an article on the Fox News site this morning entitled “Source Says Reported Letter from Obama to Ayatollah F***s Up Everything.”

It quotes a pre-election article from the Wall Street Journal that Obama secretly wrote Ayatollah Khameni in mid-October stressing that any cooperation on dealing with the Islamic State, or ISIS, was tied to Iran striking a deal over its nuclear program. The U.S., Iran and other negotiators are facing a Nov. 24 deadline for such a deal.

The congressional source told Fox News that the letter would upset the inroads they’ve tried to make with “the Sunni league,” noting that the president should have informed Congress of this back-channel if it was in fact going on.

“This f***s up everything,” the source said.

Just to clarify “the Sunni league” refers to the despotic dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Qatar that stone people for blasphemy and behead even more people than ISIS. And which have been the primary funders and arms suppliers for ISIS and the jihadist mercenaries attempting to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement Thursday night saying it was “outrageous that, while the cries of moderate Syrian forces for greater U.S. assistance fall on deaf ears in the White House, President Obama is apparently urging Ayatollah Khamenei to join the fight against ISIS.”

The move will also anger AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israeli lobby group. Israel seems really keen on provoking an all-out war between the US and Iran.

It’s gratifying to see the President show some backbone. The move, in my view, is long overdue.

Read more here:  Reportedly letter fs up everything

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Also posted at Veterans Today

Deer Hunting with Jesus

deer hunting with jesus

Deer Hunting with Jesus

by Joe Bageant

Book Review

Deer Hunting With Jesus is a graphic account of the abandonment of the white working class by the American left. And how this left the door wide open for right wing fundamentalists to claim their allegiance.

The book’s format is largely autobiographical, as the (now deceased) college-educated journalist Bageant describes his return to his working class roots in Winchester Virginia. He’s dismayed by the deterioration of living standards. The people he grew up with in the fifties and sixties no longer have any job security, nor input into their pay or working conditions, nor employer-sponsored health or workers compensation benefits. Yet instead of being angry with the factory that exploits and demeans them on the daily basis, his former schoolmates have been conditioned to deflect this anger onto educated liberals.

According to Bageant, class warfare is very real in the US. Unfortunately it isn’t between workers and the employers who exploit and demean them. It’s between the educated and uneducated. The goal of Deer Hunting With Jesus is to examine exactly how the white working poor of the rural south and Texas have come to internalize key values of the gangster capitalist class. For example

  • Labor unions are bad because they have priced Americans out of jobs.
  • Entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, food stamps) are handouts that encourage laziness.
  • The rest of the world envies us (these are people who are one paycheck away from the street) and wants to steal our freedom.
  • Wars are good because countries get out of line and need to be put in their place.
  • Wall Street should take over Social Security because they’re better at managing money than bureaucrats.

The Advantages of a Cheap, Unquestioning, Compliant Work Force

The conservative PR specialists who spawned Fox News and talk radio personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have been extremely skilled in exploiting the fear and ignorance of this demographic. An ignorance, according to Bageant, that Republicans have deliberately created by systematically dismantling the public education system. There’s nothing the corporate elite likes better than a cheap, unquestioning, compliant labor force that pays high rents and medical bills.

According to Bageant, approximately half of all Americans are illiterate, semi-literate or functionally literate. He breaks down the statistics as follows:

  • Approximately 30% of Americans can’t read at all.
  • Another 10% can’t read well enough to fill out a job application or understand food labels.
  • Another 12.5% can’t read well enough to understand a business contract.

Liberals Feel Uncomfortable Around the Working Class

Redirecting blue collar anger against liberals has been incredibly easy, as the working poor have far more contact with rich Republican business leaders and slum lords – in small town churches, taverns, and fraternal organizations like the Elks. Liberals feel uncomfortable around them and shun them socially.

Their only contact with liberals is when they go to a doctor, lawyer, social worker, or parent teacher conference. Where they are often talked down to and insulted. Unintentionally of course. Most educated people are unaware that they do this. Based on my own working class background, I can confirm how common this is.

The Scots-Irish Roots of Fundamentalism

The highlights of the book are the chapters in which Bageant discusses the Calvinist Scots-Irish heritage of what he describes as “Middle America” and the major blunder liberal Democrats made in leaping on the gun control wagon.

From the early 1700s, America has always fostered two parallel belief systems, the Yankee liberalism that characterized the New England colonies and the fundamentalist Calvinism that would come to characterize the southern colonies.

How Democrats Bungled the Gun Control Issue

Given my personal opposition to gun control, this chapter was my favorite. According to Bageant the only good call the Republicans every made was to side against the gun control lobby. Unlike the Democrats, they understand the deep reverence for guns and meat hunting that is passed down over generations in rural communities. While urban liberals with no experience with guns – and who never have to take the bus alone after a graveyard shift – typically decide they know what’s best for everyone.

This section includes detailed analysis of Congressional Budget Office research about the decline of gun violence and women’s use of firearms to protect themselves against sexual assault.

1968 Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey was totally mainstream and pro-Vietnam war. It’s really sad how radical his views on gun control sound in 2014:

“The right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”

Link to Bageant’s website for other great books and articles: http://www.joebageant.com/joe/

Britain’s Famous Anarchist Superhero

v for vendetta

I have spent the last few days enjoying the ten issue graphic novel whose superhero “V” wore a Guy Fawkes mask that Anonymous has adopted for their hactivist campaign against banks, defense contractors, the Pentagon, CIA and other US government sites, as well as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard for their close links to NSA and other intelligence entities (and their refusal to process Wikileaks donations after November 2010). Following the September 2011 launch of Occupy Wall Street, the stylized Guy Fawkes mask was widely adopted by the Occupy movement.

The V for Vendetta series, written between 1982 and 1985, was published in its entirety in 1988. The plot line is set in a future fascist state in the United Kingdom. A mysterious masked anarchist revolutionary superhero, who calls himself “V,” works to destroy the totalitarian government. Alan Moore, who is credited with coining the term “graphic novel” for sophisticated adult-oriented comics, is the author of V for Vendetta. David Lloyd is the illustrator responsible for the iconic image of their anarchist superhero.

Moore produced other critically acclaimed graphic novels. At least four were made into films From Hell (2001), The Watchmen (2009), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) and V for Vendetta (2005).

The film production of V for Vendetta involved many of the same filmmakers who worked on the Matrix trilogy. In addition to retelling the story of the original seventeenth century Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot (one of the first modern false flag operations), the film version includes many topical references to oppressive aspects of George W Bush’s presidency – including government surveillance, torture, media manipulation, corporate corruption and the so-called “war on terror.” It also features footage of both the war in Iraq and an anti-Iraq war demonstration, as well as references to a rabidly right wing TV network called BTN. This is believed to be a fictional version of Fox News.

It was the film version of V for Vendetta that popularized the stylized Guy Fawkes mask. According to the New York Times, it’s the number one bestselling mask on Amazon.

Although the rights to the mask belong to Time Warner, both Moore and Lloyd are pleased to see such wide use of the superhero they created in mass protests against tyranny (see Alan Moore Still Knows the Score! and V for Vendetta masks: Who).

Link to online version of V for Vendetta (the graphic novel): V for Vendetta