A Last Chance for Resistance

Posted on Mar 19, 2017

By Chris Hedges

  President Trump exits Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday, following a weekend trip to Florida. (Jose Luis Magana / AP)

The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power. Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is unassailable.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in “The Gulag Archipelago” noted that the consolidation of Soviet tyranny “was stretched out over many years because it was of primary importance that it be stealthy and unnoticed.” He called the process “a grandiose silent game of solitaire, whose rules were totally incomprehensible to its contemporaries, and whose outlines we can appreciate only now.”

Czeslaw Milosz in “The Captive Mind” also chronicles the incremental expansion of tyranny, noting that it steadily progresses until intellectuals are not only forced to repeat the regime’s self-praising slogans but to advance its absurdist dogmas. Few ever see the tyranny coming. Those who do and speak out are treated by the authorities, and often the wider society, as alarmists or traitors.

The current administration’s budget proposes to give the war industry, the domestic policing agencies, the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, billionaires and the national security and surveillance agencies more than they could have imagined possible before the election. These forces, as in all fascist states, will be the pillars of the Trump regime. They will tolerate Donald Trump’s idiocy, ineptitude and unbridled narcissism in exchange for increased profits and power. Despots are often buffoons. Appealing to their vanity and ego is an effective form of manipulation. Skilled sycophants can play despots like musical instruments for personal advancement.

Trump, like all despots, has no real ideology. His crusade against Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs, and the billionaire class during the presidential election campaign vanished the moment he took office. He has appointed five former Goldman Sachs employees to high posts in his administration. His budget will bleed the poor, the working class and the middle class and swell the bank accounts of the oligarchs. He is calling for abolishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts and the cutting of programs that provide legal service to low-income people and grants to libraries and museums. If Trump’s budget is approved by Congress, there will not even be a pretense of civil society. Trump and his family will profit from his presidency. Corporations will profit from his presidency. Wall Street will profit from his presidency. And the people will be made to pay.

Despots demand absolute loyalty. This is why they place family members in the inner circles. The Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, whose vanity rivaled that of Trump, and Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein filled their governments with their children, siblings, nephews, nieces and in-laws and rounded out their inner courts with racists, opportunists and thugs of the kind that now populate the White House.

“President Trump’s point man on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a longtime Trump Organization lawyer with no government or diplomatic experience,” reads the opening paragraph of a New York Times article headlined “Prerequisite for Key White House Posts: Loyalty, Not Experience.” “His liaison to African-American leaders is a former reality-TV villain with a penchant for résumé inflation. And his Oval Office gatekeeper is a bullet-headed former New York City cop best known for smacking a protester on the head.”

Despots distrust diplomats. Diplomats, often multilingual and conversant with other cultures and societies, deal in nuances and ambiguities that are beyond the grasp of the despot. Diplomats understand that other nations have legitimate national interests that inevitably clash with the interests of one’s own country. They do not embrace force as the primary language of communication. They are trained to carry out negotiations, even with the enemy, and engage in compromise. Despots, however, live in a binary universe of their own creation. They rapidly dismantle the diplomatic corps when they take power for the same reason they attack intellectuals and artists.

Trump’s proposed cut of nearly 29 percent to the State Department’s budget, potentially eliminating thousands of jobs, is part of the shift away from diplomacy to an exclusive reliance on violence or the threat of violence. The militarization of the diplomatic corps, with the Central Intelligence Agency and military intelligence operatives often taking over embassies, especially in conflict zones, began long before Trump took office. But Trump will deal the coup de grâce to the diplomatic corps. Despots replace diplomats with sycophants with no diplomatic experience, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who promise to impose the despot’s will on the rest of the world.

The dismantling of a diplomatic corps has dangerous consequences. It leaves a country blind and prone to wars and conflicts that could be avoided. Leon Trotsky called Josef Stalin’s foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, who negotiated the disastrous 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact that left the Soviet Union unprepared for German invasion, “mediocrity personified.” The other signatory of the pact, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was a former champagne salesman. Ribbentrop, as Molotov did with Stalin, parroted back to Adolf Hitler the leader’s conspiratorial worldview. Ribbentrop, again like Molotov with Stalin, knew that Hitler always favored the most extreme option. Molotov and Ribbentrop unfailingly advocated radical and violent solutions to any problem, endearing themselves to their bosses as men of unflinching resolve. This is what makes Steve Bannon so appealing to Trump—he will always call for Armageddon.

There are three institutions tasked in a functioning democracy with protecting the truth and keeping national discourse rooted in verifiable fact—the courts, the press and universities. Despots must control these three to prevent them from exposing their lies and restricting their power. Trump has not only attacked the courts but has also begun purges of the judiciary with his mass firing of U.S. attorneys. The Trump White House plans to fill 124 judgeships—including 19 vacancies on federal appeals courts—with corporatist lawyers such as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch who are endorsed by the reactionary Federalist Society. By the time Trump’s four-year term is up, Federalist Society judges could be in as many as half of the country’s appellate seats.

Trump has continued to attempt to discredit the press. During his rally in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, he told the crowd, “Some of the fake news said I don’t think Donald Trump wants to build the wall. Can you imagine if I said we’re not going to build a wall? Fake news. Fake, fake news. Fake news, folks. A lot of fake.” He went on to say in an apparent reference to the reporters covering the rally, “They’re bad people.”

The attacks on universities, which will be accelerated, are on display in the budget proposal. The Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs all give grants and research money to universities. Colorado State University, for example, gets about 70 percent, or $232 million, of its research budget from federal sources. In February, Trump suggested he might attempt to cut federal funding for universities such as UC Berkeley. His comment was made after a riot at the California school forced the cancellation of a speech there by the far-right ideologue Milo Yiannopoulos, who has called Trump “Daddy.” A university will of course be able to get corporate funding for research if it casts doubt on the importance of climate change or does research that can be used to swell corporate profits or promote other business interests. Scientific study into our ecocide and the dangers from chemicals, toxins and pollutants released by corporations into the atmosphere will be thwarted. And the withering of humanities programs, already suffering in many universities, will worsen.

It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe. Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it is shut. This is a race against time. The forces of despotism seek to keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment, or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism or war to grasp what is happening. The victims cannot believe that the descent into barbarity is real, that the relative security and sanity of the past are about to be obliterated. They fail to see that once rights become privileges, once any segment of a society is excluded from the law, rights can instantly be revoked for everyone.

There is a hierarchy to oppression. It begins with the most vulnerable—undocumented workers, Muslims, poor people of color. It works upward. It is a long row of candles that one by one are extinguished. If we wait to resist, as the poet C.P. Cavafy wrote, the “dark line gets longer” and “the snuffed-out candles proliferate.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_last_chance_for_resistance_20170319

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Did Companies and Countries Buy State Department Access by Donating to Clinton Foundation?

ELECTION 2016
Newly released emails include exchanges between members of the Clinton Foundation and State Department advisers.

NEW YORK, USA – APRIL 13, 2016: Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the National Action Network convention on their 25th year anniversary.
Photo Credit: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal, who has covered the Clinton Foundation for years, looks at the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and what it would be if she became president. Newly released State Department emails include exchanges between top members of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s top State Department advisers, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. The FBI reportedly wanted to investigate the Clinton Foundation earlier this year, but US Attorney General Loretta Lynch pushed back.

http://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2016/8/12/did_companies_countries_buy_state_deptTRANSCRIPT

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Newly released State Department emails are raising questions about the close ties between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state. The 44 emails include exchanges between top members of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s top State Department advisers, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. CNN reports that the FBI wanted to investigate the Clinton Foundation earlier this year, but US Attorney General Loretta Lynch pushed back. On Thursday, State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau denied any improper communication between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

ELIZABETH TRUDEAU: The department’s actions under Secretary Clinton were taken to advance administration policy as set by the president and in the interests of American foreign policy. The State Department is not aware of any actions that were influenced by the Clinton Foundation.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the newly released email exchanges is about billionaire Nigerian-Lebanese developer Gilbert Chagoury, who contributed between $1 [million] and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. The emails show a top Clinton Foundation executive writing to Abedin and Mills, asking for help putting Chagoury in touch with the US ambassador to Lebanon. Abedin responds, “I’ll talk to jeff,” referring to then-US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman. On Wednesday, Gilbert Chagoury’s spokesman said Chagoury, quote, “was simply passing along his observations and insights about the dire political situation in Lebanon at the time,” unquote.

For more, we go to Santa Barbara, where we’re joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Grimaldi. He’s a senior writer at The Wall Street Journal and has covered the Clinton Foundation since 2014.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, James. You’ve been covering the Clinton Foundation for years. Can you talk about what this latest group of emails suggests, and how significant it is, about the relationship between the Clinton Foundation under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and — between the State Department under Clinton and the Clinton Foundation?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, I think this confirms what we sort of knew. There are obvious ties and relationships. The key tie here would be Douglas Band, who was a top aide to Bill Clinton. He helped Bill Clinton create the Clinton Foundation, and sort of devised how he would spend his days in retirement. He was very close, of course, to Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin. At one point he was employing, as a contractor, Huma Abedin, as Huma was working at the State Department. And during this time of the Lebanese elections, Mr. Band sent an email, as you described just now, regarding one of their greatest benefactors, Mr. Chagoury, and suggested that the State Department have the person who was a lead — the ambassador to Lebanon speak to Mr. Chagoury.

It shows how donations to the Clinton Foundation win access to, you know, state diplomatic — State Department diplomatic officials. It sort of begs the question, if he hadn’t given that money to the Clinton Foundation, whether he would have had that kind of easy access. I would say it would probably be unlikely. It certainly would not happen as swiftly. Possibly, that State Department ambassador might have consulted with this person regarding that issue, but it sure shows or seems to create an appearance of a conflict of interest, that perhaps he bought access by making those donations to the Clinton Foundation.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, speaking of that issue of conflict of interest, you’ve noted that during her confirmation hearings as secretary of state, Secretary Clinton specifically said that she would take, quote, “extraordinary steps … to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” How well do you think she has followed through on that, on that promise?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, over the past year, we have looked at that issue. And what I did was I went into the lobbying records to see which companies and other entities were lobbying the State Department, and also looking to see how many of them had given to the Clinton Foundation. And one of our findings was that at least 60 companies had lobbied the State Department, had given as much as $26 million, and many of those companies, 44 of those 60, had participated in what they call commitments, or philanthropic projects, that were valued by the Clinton Foundation at $3.2 billion.

So then we went to look and see if Mrs. Clinton had done anything for these companies at the time that they were making these gifts. And we looked at several companies — UBS, Boeing, General Electric and Microsoft and others, Wal-Mart — who seemed to have been getting favors from Mrs. Clinton, perhaps for good reason — promoting American companies and American jobs — but also coming at the same time that there were donations going to the Clinton Foundation.

AMY GOODMAN: You wrote an extensive piece, James, last year about Clinton’s complicated connection with UBS. Can you talk about that, just as an example?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. That’s one of our deeper dives into one of the banks that was involved. And we know that Mrs. Clinton is very close to a lot of the Wall Street banks. In this case with UBS, they were in a bind. A whistleblower had come forward, an American who was helping UBS find Americans who wanted to dodge taxes in Switzerland, literally recruiting them to open accounts in Switzerland that would be then hidden from the Internal Revenue Service. He blew the whistle on that.

The government, IRS and DOJ, wanted 50,000 accounts that they knew about in which Americans were hiding taxes — hiding their income in the UBS Swiss bank accounts so they wouldn’t be taxed. In the end, UBS did not want to provide those names, because there was a law in Switzerland that said they couldn’t reveal that kind of confidential information. In the end, they only gave about 5,000 of those 50,000 names. And we saw the donations from UBS to the Clinton Foundation increase from a little under $60,000 to $600,000, plus they participated in a $30 million inner-city loan program and then hired Bill Clinton to do speeches around the country for $1.5 million.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Of course, UBS was not only closely tied with the Clintons. As I recall, Robert Wolf, the head of UBS Americas, was one of the big fundraisers for President Obama — in fact, famously was playing golf with President Obama when the Justice Department announced its deferred prosecution agreement with UBS on this issue of the accounts. So, there seems to have been a — you also raised the issue of whether other foreign policy objectives of the government were not included in the negotiated deal to eventually get Switzerland to give up at least some of those bank accounts?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. Well, that’s how Hillary Clinton got involved. And we know this, thankfully, to WikiLeaks. The cables that were obtained under WikiLeaks happened to be that snapshot in time when these discussions were going underway. And what we saw was that when the Swiss foreign minister came to Hillary Clinton and said, “We really would like to take care of this UBS problem,” Hillary said, “Well, we have a few things we would like, as well.” And this was the time that the Clinton administration — I’m sorry, the Obama administration was eager to close Guantánamo Bay. And Mrs. Clinton was pressuring Switzerland to take some of the less dangerous detainees, in particular, some Chinese Uyghurs who were deemed to be not particularly dangerous, which they eventually agreed to do. That seemed to be part of the overall deal that was made between the United States and Switzerland regarding UBS.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain the evolution of the Clinton Foundation. I mean, not long before Hillary Clinton announced for president, didn’t they rename the Clinton Foundation the “Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation”?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. And she became very, very involved in the fundraising between the time that she left the State Department and when she announced her run for the presidency. She helped raise as much as $250 million from many of these same corporations in order to bulk up the endowment to keep the Clinton Foundation running in the future. In addition, she was giving a lot of speeches, as was Bill Clinton giving speeches, that were being paid, as, famously, we know Bernie Sanders brought up the fact that she was taking money from Wall Street and banks regarding speeches, up to $250,000 a pop. We may hear a little bit more about that today or in the coming days, because we understand that the Clinton campaign is getting ready to release their most latest tax returns. We already know some of this from her personal financial disclosure form, but we might see additional information coming out of her tax returns today.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about the public-private partnerships that Clinton established while she was secretary of state with some major corporations, and the relations of those corporations to the Clinton Foundation?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, exactly. You know, there’s usually never a stop in what you can do in terms of contributions you can make to the various Clinton pots. You know, you’ve got money that you can donate to the foundation. You can partner — at the State Department there are these partnerships between the Clinton Foundation and corporations. Some of that went into building an Expo in China for the Chinese world fair that they held there. And the Clinton Foundation — Mrs. Clinton, at the State Department, was very eager to see those being built, because, apparently, under the Bush administration, it really had kind of had a — reached a point where they hadn’t raised enough money to even have a pavilion there. But then you could see that there are money coming from corporations to their own personal wallet, their purses, campaign contributions. It just seems as if there are many, many places that you can make a contribution and you can partner with either Mrs. Clinton at the State Department or get involved at the Clinton Foundation.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip of Hillary Clinton on CNN back in June. Anderson Cooper asked her about the lack of transparency of donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign countries.

HILLARY CLINTON: We had absolutely overwhelming disclosure. Were there, you know, one or two instances that slipped through the cracks? Yes. But was the overwhelming amount of anything that anybody gave the foundation disclosed? Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: So there you have Hillary Clinton saying this. James Grimaldi, can you talk about what happened when President Obama tapped her to be secretary of state? And what were the rules around what would happen with the Clinton Foundation?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, let me also respond to the clip. I would say the disclosure is underwhelming. Yes, they have disclosed more than they’re required to under internal revenue law, but when they disclose it, they don’t tell you the date, they don’t tell you the amount. The disclosure is very skimpy. Someone could make a donation; the only way you know is if they’ve increased in one category, from, say, $1 [million] to $5 million, to $5 [million] to $10 million, and then there’s an asterisk that’s placed next to the name of a donor, that’s released either quarterly or annually. It’s very opaque, I think, in terms of what’s disclosed. Disclosure was required by the Obama administration when she came in, but they were very vague about what those rules would be. And I think they went to the least amount of effort that they could.

Also, for any fundraising that was to be done, they were supposed to consult with the ethics officers at the State Department. But so far, we’ve only found a handful of examples where they ever said no. And in those cases, they were really in sort of the extreme. Bill Clinton wanted to give a speech in North Korea. And I think there may have been some efforts where he wanted to raise some money in China, as well. So, we’ve obtained many of those disclosure requests. And, in fact, there have been some others that are still coming out through some of these emails. But like I said, it doesn’t look like the State Department pushed back very often.

AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t there a rule? Didn’t they change — didn’t they change a rule around countries, that countries — the Clinton Foundation would not accept contributions from countries —

JAMES GRIMALDI: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN:  — during that time, but then that changed?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. So, what they — what they did was they said, “We really don’t want you raising money from foreign governments,” because she’s going to be, obviously, dealing with foreign governments. So they stopped doing that. And then, what we realized, when they did, they were very quiet. They didn’t announce it. They posted on their website the 2014 — I guess, in 2015, for the previous year, we saw that, immediately, the Clintons had gone back to many of these Middle Eastern countries — the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and others, Qatar — that would have raised some questions. So, in other words, in this interregnum in between when she was at the State Department and when she ran for — announced her run for president, they ended up going back to the very countries that some people had raised a lot of questions about. And there are many who have raised questions about raising money from these governments and many of these sheikhs in Saudi Arabia and others in countries that have very questionable human rights and certainly don’t have equal rights for women.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And to your knowledge, this issue of foreign governments donating to an American charitable philanthropy, is there any other philanthropy in the United States that has comparable donations from foreign governments as the Clinton Foundation?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, probably not at this scale. But I do know that there are certain government entities that make contributions, sort of like we do with USAID. I know that Switzerland, you know, will — has, I think, a lottery that donates. Canada — it was interesting, the Canadian State Department was making contributions, coming from the same agency that was lobbying the Clinton — I’m sorry, lobbying the State Department regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Obviously, Canada wanted that pipeline to come through. It was eventually stopped. But there were donations from that same Canadian State Department that went to the Clinton Foundation around the time that — that’s is one that slipped through, in terms of a government donation, around the same time that they were lobbying Hillary Clinton to accept the Keystone XL pipeline.

AMY GOODMAN: How does Saudi Arabia fit into this picture, James?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Saudi Arabia, there are sheikhs and others who have made donations. They’re very big supporters, as is Abu Dhabi. Interesting, we had a story last year that talked about Abu Dhabi also donating around the time that their airline, their upstart airline, wanted to receive a US Customs facility in their airport. It was like a very — frankly, not a very common route, and it was sort of a plum get for them to get this preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi for their airline.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you write that Bill Clinton received $1 million for two appearances sponsored by the Abu Dhabi government, the United Arab Emirates, that were arranged while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

JAMES GRIMALDI: That’s right. Those were — those came through agencies, the tourism agency, the tourism agency obviously being run by Abu Dhabi, but one of the also big sponsors or participants in that agency was the very airline that wanted this special facility, the preclearance facility, at their airport.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You’ve also written about Clinton’s relationship to the Energy Pioneer Solutions. Could you talk about that company and what it was seeking?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Yeah, that’s a very interesting company. Energy Pioneer Solutions was founded by Scott Kleeb, who was a candidate for Congress in Nebraska. His wife happens — Jane Kleeb happens to be one of the big opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, so very well known in Nebraska. But interesting, this company, which weatherized homes and put in insulation, had as its co-owners the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, Mark Weiner, a Rhode Island official very close to Bill and Hillary Clinton going back to the ’70s and to their ’92 campaign. He recently passed away during the Democratic National Convention, and Bill Clinton mentioned him in his speech at the convention. And Bill and Hillary both went to his funeral. He was a co-owner, as was a woman who lives about three miles from Bill and Hillary’s house in Chappaqua, New York. This company received a $2 million commitment that was arranged by the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. And Bill Clinton called the energy secretary, Steven Chu, in order to get them an $840,000 grant. That’s raised some questions about whether the Clinton Foundation is being used to sort of feather the nests of many of their friends.

AMY GOODMAN: This is a for-profit company.

JAMES GRIMALDI: It is a for-profit company. Very unusual for a for-profit company to get a federal grant from the Department of Energy. And the company isn’t doing too well. As I understand it, they’re reconfiguring their business plan. And it has not worked out, I think, as they had expected. But I think it may still be incorporated in Nebraska.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, a big issue that’s been raised is, you know, the relationship of the close advisers to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, Cheryl Mills, in particular, who goes back to being Bill Clinton’s attorney during — defending him during the impeachment hearings in Congress, then now the right-hand person of Hillary Clinton. And one of the issues raised in this email — in the emails is that she went to New York on her own dime, they are now saying, took a train up, to help choose the new head of the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as, you know, top State Department official. Any issues here with that, James?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, she’s at the center of everything involving Hillary Clinton at the State Department. She’s basically Hillary’s consigliere at the State Department. And she is the keeper of all the Clinton secrets. And she also would be the enforcer, at times, when Bill Clinton might have been pushing too hard for some of these questionable donations. But there’s no question she was sort of in the middle of every major decision that’s ever been made by the Clintons, a very, very close adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and very close to Hillary, and, in fact, had an official position in the State Department.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, could the Clinton Foundation exist as it is now if Hillary Clinton is president?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, Bill Clinton was asked that question. He hasn’t really answered it. He said he doesn’t want to count his chickens before they’re hatched. But I think all of the people around Bill Clinton, including people in the Clinton campaign, say there’s really no way it could continue to operate. And I think that Bill is pushing back on that, from what we understand, that he wants to continue to do some of the good work that they do — for example, helping to negotiate AIDS drugs in Africa at better prices. The Clinton Health Initiative, I think, really wants to continue to raise money. Many of these foreign donations are actually going to the Clinton Health Initiative — Health Access Initiative, as it’s known, or CHAI.

And so, I think there’s this — there’s a tension between the Clinton campaign for president and the Clinton Foundation about what exactly will happen. Those negotiations are well undercover. They’re not transparent. We don’t know what they are. We don’t know what will happen. And I don’t foreclose the possibility that the Clinton Foundation will continue to operate and that they will raise money from some of the same places. And I think that, really, these questions need to be asked of the Clinton campaign: If she plans — if she plans to continue — you know, whether Bill plans to continue to run the Clinton Foundation as it is, what form it will take, what it will look like and how it will raise money.

AMY GOODMAN: James Grimaldi, thanks for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist —

JAMES GRIMALDI: Thanks for inviting me.

AMY GOODMAN:  — senior writer at The Wall Street Journal, has covered the Clinton Foundation for a number of years. This is Democracy Now! We’ll link to his articles at democracynow.org.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

 

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/did-companies-and-countries-buy-state-department-access-donating-clinton-foundation?akid=14533.265072.CaaLF8&rd=1&src=newsletter1061867&t=10

New emails shed further light on Hillary Clinton’s corruption as secretary of state

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her PDA upon her departure in a military C-17 plane from Malta bound for Tripoli,  Libya October 18, 2011.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2ST4W

By Evan Blake
11 August 2016

On Tuesday, the conservative legal group Judicial Watch released 296 pages of State Department records spanning Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. These records include 44 email exchanges that were deliberately withheld from the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton gave the State Department for their investigation into her use of a private email server.

The newly released emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, implicate Clinton in incriminating conflict-of-interest deals, in which Clinton’s aides worked to hire a Clinton Foundation associate and provided political connections for at least one of the Foundation’s wealthy donors. Another email directly connects the finance giant and Clinton backer Morgan Stanley to her diplomatic maneuvers in China.

Upon being appointed secretary of state by Obama in 2009, Clinton sent a letter to State Department Designated Agency Ethics Official James H. Thessin that read in part, “For the duration of my appointment as secretary if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party.”

The most recent email leak exposes this as a complete lie, as Clinton continually did the bidding of her Wall Street donors, while her office secured prestigious positions for those connected to the Clinton Foundation.

The most damning email exchange revealed Tuesday took place in February 2009, between Hillary Clinton and Stephen Roach, then chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.

Shortly before Clinton began her first diplomatic tour in Asia, Roach sent her a copy of his upcoming testimony before Congress, requesting a meeting with her in person and saying, “Best regards and good luck on this important and timely trip.” Clinton then instructed one of her top aides, Huma Abedin, to set up a meeting between herself and Roach in Beijing, where Roach traveled on February 19 and 20.

In his statements before Congress, Roach condemned US efforts “to criticize Chinese monetary policy or enact trade barriers,” according to Judicial Watch.

Days later, evidently after meeting with Roach, Clinton pressured Beijing to continue its massive purchases of US Treasury notes, which by that time already exceeded $700 billion. As the WSWS wrote at the time, “On her first overseas trip since being tapped by President Barack Obama, […] Clinton assumed the role of an official high-pressure bond saleswoman.”

Over the course of her political career, Clinton has received over $550,000 from PACs affiliated with Morgan Stanley, as well as employees of the firm, making the firm her sixth biggest donor. In 2014, Morgan Stanley donated over $25 million to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation.

The other significant email exchanges involve Doug Band, a Clinton Foundation official and longtime personal advisor to former President Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton’s former top aides at the State Department, Abedin and Cheryl Mills.

While still working for the State Department in 2012, Abedin received a special designation that enabled her to hold positions at the Clinton Foundation and at Teneo, a global advisory firm founded by Band in 2011 with assistance from the Clintons. During her time with Teneo, she earned upwards of $15,000 per month as a consultant.

On April 22, 2009, three months after Hillary Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state, Band received an email from a source whose name was redacted by the State Department. The email, titled “A favor…” reads, “I really appreciated the opportunity to go on the Haiti trip; it was an eye-opening experience seeing both the depravity and the promise of that island.” The rest of the email was entirely redacted.

Ten minutes later, Band forwarded the email to Abedin and Mills, writing, “Important to take care of _____,” to which Abedin immediately replied, “We have all had him on our radar. Personnel has been sending him options.”

The Clintons and the Clinton Foundation have a long history in Haiti. During his time as president, Bill Clinton imposed three years of devastating economic sanctions against the country, in an effort to destabilize the military junta. With the failure of this policy, Clinton sent Marines to Haiti to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the presidency. During Aristide’s term, Clinton demanded Haiti’s adherence to brutal IMF austerity policies, while cracking down on Haitian migrants trying to flee the devastated country to the US.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, which killed upwards of 300,000 people, Clinton was dispatched as a UN special envoy and co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Committee to oversee the international aid and investment efforts in the country. Under his watch, there has been a continual looting of the country, with investment designed to exploit the country’s low-paid working class.

At the time that the email was sent, Band was a paid employee of the CGI, which he helped found in 2005. Clearly, the redacted associate of Band and the Clinton Foundation was sent to Haiti, and upon their return may have gotten a position within the Obama administration in a blatant conflict of interest. The State Department deleted details about the associate, including his name and the outcome of the job referral, when it turned over the emails to Judicial Watch.

Another incriminating email exchange released Tuesday was written on April 25, 2009, and is less heavily redacted. In this one, Band writes to Abedin and Mills, “We need Gilbert chagoury to speak to the substance person re lebanon. As you know, he’s key guy there and to us and is loved in lebanon. Very imp[ortant].”

Abedin replied, “Its jeff feltman. I’m sure he knows him. I’ll talk to jeff,” referring to Jeffrey Feltman, the American ambassador to Lebanon at the time. Band quickly responded, “Better if you call him. Now preferable. This is very important. ____________ He’s awake I’m sure.”

Gilbert Chagoury is a billionaire Nigerian-Lebanese construction magnate and friend of former President Bill Clinton who was closely connected to the military dictatorship of Sani Abacha in Nigeria during the mid-1990s. Chagoury was convicted of money laundering in Switzerland in 2000 and paid a $66 million fine in a plea deal. In 2009, his company pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative, and he has personally donated between $1 and $5 million, according to the Clinton Foundation’s website.

Seeking to curry favor with the Clintons, a broad swath of the international corporate and financial elite, including 168 individuals and organizations that have each given more than $1 million, donate to the Clinton Foundation. Some of the most influential donors include defense contractors such as Boeing and Booz Allen Hamilton, finance giants Barclays and Goldman Sachs, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Foreign governments, in particular the reactionary Persian Gulf monarchies, are some of the largest and most frequent donors to the Clinton Foundation. Last year, these included Saudi Arabia ($10 to $25 million), Kuwait, ($5 to $10 million), Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates ($1 to $5 million).

These favors were handsomely returned. The State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors while Clinton was at the helm.

The most recent Clinton email leaks—following those that detailed her numerous war crimes committed as secretary of state—reiterate Clinton’s thoroughgoing corruption and her political role as a lackey for Wall Street and the Pentagon.

The Clinton Foundation, which has raised roughly $2 billion since its inception 19 years ago, has been the vehicle through which the Clintons have amassed a vast fortune of over $111 million, placing them in the wealthiest 0.1 percent of society. If elected president in November, Hillary Clinton will continue to protect the interests of her fellow multimillionaires and billionaires.

WSWS

The dark side of American politics

hillary-clinton-winking-AP-640x480

29 July 2015

An “Editor’s Note” published on page two of Tuesday’s New York Times confirms that the supposed “newspaper of record” in the United States served as the instrument for a politically-motivated dirty trick directed at the presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Last Thursday’s online edition of the Times, and its Friday print edition, claimed that the inspectors general of the State Department and the intelligence agencies had requested a “criminal investigation” into whether Clinton “mishandled sensitive government information” in the private email account through which she carried out communications during her four years at the State Department.

The front-page report, under a three-column headline, touched off a media firestorm over the weekend, with suggestions that the launching of a criminal probe into Clinton’s email practices could doom her campaign. The issue dominated the Sunday talk shows on all the television networks and was virtually the sole topic of discussion on ultra-right talk radio and Fox News.

In the Tuesday “Editor’s Note,” the Times admitted that its account was false. There was no request for a “criminal investigation,” or for an inquiry into Clinton’s own conduct. Instead, the request was a “security referral” into “whether sensitive government information was mishandled” in a handful of emails that passed through Clinton’s mail server. There was no allegation of potentially criminal conduct and no specific reference to Clinton’s personal role.

However, although the Times maintained that the July 23-July 24 article “was based on multiple high-level government sources,” the newspaper did not report which of these sources supplied the false information about Clinton. This is certainly a relevant and newsworthy issue: either key Obama aides, or top officials of the Justice Department, State Department or intelligence agencies, have leaked a report targeting the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. The two scenarios are not, of course, mutually exclusive, given Obama’s intimate ties with the intelligence apparatus.

If Obama loyalists were the source, that would suggest subterranean divisions within the Democratic Party wing of the political establishment. That this may be the case is reinforced by Obama’s public musing, during his ongoing trip to Africa, that if it were not for the constitutional prohibition, he could run for and win a third term in the White House, a clear suggestion that he finds the current Democratic presidential field lacking.

If Justice, State or CIA/NSA officials were the source of the leak, this would indicate significant opposition within the apparatus of the state itself either to Clinton’s campaign in particular, or to the prospect of any Democrat succeeding Obama in the White House. This would be even more important to report to the American people, since it would constitute a deliberate—and illegal—intervention into the US elections by agencies and officials who are accustomed to manipulating the political process in countries around the world.

The record of the Times over the last two decades reinforces the likelihood of the second scenario, in which Friday’s article was a deliberate provocation emanating from the intelligence agencies. Again and again, from the fabrications of Judith Miller about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to more recent charges of Syrian government gas attacks, Russian missiles shooting down a Malaysian jetliner and Chinese military hackers invading US government computer systems, the Times has been a conduit for entirely unsubstantiated claims, emanating from undisclosed sources, that promote the interests of sections of the military-intelligence apparatus.

The Times gives no accounting of the source of the attack on the Clinton campaign because it is not an independent publication in any genuine sense, but rather the house organ of factions within the US financial and political elite and military/intelligence establishment that use its pages to manipulate public opinion in support of their desired policies.

The bogus report of a Clinton “criminal referral” is only one of a series of incidents that suggest that the 2016 presidential campaign is becoming the focal point for an extraordinary escalation of political tensions within the US ruling elite.

In the past week alone, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, positioning himself as the most right-wing of the Republican presidential hopefuls, publicly denounced Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a liar. One of Cruz’s rivals for the Christian fundamentalist bloc, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, blasted the six-nation nuclear agreement with Iran, claiming that President Obama “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

These statements follow a series of increasingly provocative and bigoted comments by billionaire Donald Trump targeting the 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and many of Trump’s 2016 rivals. Trump currently leads opinion polls of likely Republican primary voters and has held the largest rallies of any of the Republican candidates.

What these episodes suggest is that the underlying social conflicts within the United States are beginning to overload a political system that is rotted through and through. The two officially recognized political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, are controlled by corporate interests and increasingly removed from the real concerns of the great mass of the American people.

There is mounting discontent over protracted economic slump, declining living standards and ever-deepening social inequality. Neither capitalist party has anything genuine to offer to working people. Both are seeking to divert and channel the rising social anger, the Democrats through the “left” demagogy of Bernie Sanders, the Republicans through increasingly vitriolic attacks on scapegoats such as immigrant workers.

It is impossible to predict, more than 15 months before Election Day, how the deepening crisis of American imperialism, and of world capitalism as a whole, will be reflected through the medium of the US presidential election campaign. Suffice it to say that there will be twists and turns and sudden political shocks, foreshadowing the entry of the American working class into mass struggles against the capitalist system.

Patrick Martin

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/07/29/pers-j29.html

The fall of Ramadi and the criminality of US imperialism

 ISIS-Captures-town-in-Rahmadi-AP-Photo-640x480

20 May 2015

Nearly a year after the debacle suffered by US imperialism and the regime it imposed during more than eight bloody years of war and occupation of Iraq—the fall of the country’s second largest city, Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—a similar collapse has unfolded in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province.

Attempts by the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon to dismiss the events in Ramadi as a minor setback are either disingenuous or delusional. As in Mosul, Iraq’s US-trained and armed regular army largely melted away in the face of an offensive by the Islamist guerrillas. And once again, it has left behind large stores of US-supplied weaponry, ranging from dozens of armored cars and tanks to artillery and other armaments and vast quantities of ammunition, all of it now in ISIS hands.

Just as with Mosul, the fall of Ramadi has unleashed a new humanitarian catastrophe on the war-ravaged people of Iraq, with hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians killed and tens of thousands turned into homeless refugees. Those who remain face the threat of violence at the hands of ISIS as well as sectarian reprisals from the Shiite militias that are massing for a bid to retake the city.

This latest debacle has unfolded nearly 10 months into the Obama administration’s “Operation Inherent Resolve,” the title given to Washington’s latest military intervention in the Middle East. It has provoked criticism within ruling circles of US strategy, which has consisted of US airstrikes against both Iraq and Syria, the deployment of nearly 5,000 US ground troops in Iraq and the launching of a $500 million program to train and arm so-called Syrian “rebels.”

There is a growing drumbeat for sending greater numbers of US ground forces more directly into the fighting. The Washington Post published an editorial Tuesday charging that “the US lacks a strategy to fulfill President Obama’s pledge to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’” ISIS. It demands that the administration commit US military units to “work with Iraqi forces on the ground.”

Similarly, the Wall Street Journal published a column urging “more ground operations by Special Operations forces” as well as the deployment of “Apache attack helicopters and transport planes,” along with an entire brigade “dedicated to improving operational command and intelligence support.”

It is no accident that amid this drive for the escalation of the ongoing US intervention another, thoroughly dishonest, debate has played out in the context of the 2016 presidential election campaign, over whether the launching of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq was a “mistake” or a justified response to what proved “faulty intelligence.”

The immediate impetus for this phony debate has been calls for Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush—and other Republicans—to account for the actions of the younger Bush’s brother, George W. The cynical aim of both the capitalist politicians and media, however, is to erase from the consciousness of the American people the bitter lessons of being dragged into a criminal war of aggression foisted upon them through scaremongering about “weapons of mass destruction” and ties between Baghdad and Al Qaeda. Both were fabrications employed to promote a war whose real aim was securing US hegemony over the energy-rich Middle East.

That there is a difference between “faulty intelligence” and lies is self-evident, just as a “mistake” is not the same thing as a premeditated war of aggression, the principal crime for which the Nazi leadership was tried at Nuremberg.

Jeb Bush’s response has consisted in large measure of the undeniable assertion that not only did he and his brother support the war in Iraq, but that so did the Democratic frontrunner, former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton, along with virtually the entire US ruling establishment. In short, there are no clean hands; everyone is implicated in a crime of historic proportions.

Nor, clearly, have these crimes stopped with either the end of the Bush administration or the 2011 withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The US-NATO war that destroyed Libya was launched on the pretext of “human rights.” It was necessary, the public was told, to protect the people of Benghazi from imminent massacre. Today, much of Benghazi—and the entire country—has been reduced to rubble by fighting between rival militias. The death toll mounts daily and millions of Libyans have become refugees.

The predatory aims of this imperialist intervention have been further exposed by the recent revelationthat Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, was promoting the Libya policy recommendations of former Bill Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, who was in turn working with a group of capitalist investors on schemes to exploit the oil-rich country’s wealth once its government was smashed and its leader, Muammar Gaddafi, murdered.

What incredible mayhem and destruction has been wrought upon the Middle East through the last dozen years of US military aggression! Promoted and defended by Democrats and Republicans alike, this criminal bloodletting has been carried out in the service of naked profit interests. Well over a million people have lost their lives, with millions more maimed or driven from their homes.

Entire countries have been destroyed. In the drive to overthrow and assassinate one secular Arab head of state after another—from Saddam Hussein to Gaddafi to Bashar al Assad—the Pentagon and the CIA have deliberately fomented sectarian tensions, pitting Sunnis against Shia in an even bloodier version of the old colonial strategy of divide and conquer. ISIS is the direct product of this process, spawned by the US intervention in Iraq and then strengthened by the proxy war for regime change in Syria, where it and similar Sunni Islamist militias were armed and funded by Washington’s regional allies, under the guiding hand of the CIA.

As one crime and debacle follows another, what is most remarkable is that no one is held accountable. Not only is no one involved fired from their posts—much less tried for war crimes—there are not even serious public hearings held to expose the decisions and policies that produced these disasters.

Every element of the ruling strata and every institution of American society are implicated, from the Bushes, Clintons and Obama to Congress, the profit-hungry corporations, the lying media and an overwhelmingly cowardly and self-satisfied academia.

The impunity they have all enjoyed after each criminal war only paves the way for even greater conflagrations. Preventing such global catastrophes is the task of the American and international working class, which alone can mount a genuine struggle against war and the capitalist system that produces it.

Bill Van Auken

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/05/20/pers-m20.html

Rightist mayor faces coup charges as Venezuela’s crisis deepens

w460

By Bill Van Auken
25 February 2015

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has faced widespread international condemnation, but only scattered and minor right-wing protests in the country itself, over the arrest last week of Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of metropolitan Caracas, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Joining the usual denunciations from the State Department in Washington or the right-wing governments of President Juan Manuel Santos in neighboring Colombia and President Mariano Rajoy in Spain, was, for example, the leader of the Spanish petty-bourgeois pseudo-left Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias.

The Obama administration has signaled its intentions to ratchet up pressure on the Maduro government. Last Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest, asked whether Washington was contemplating new sanctions against Venezuela, responded: “The Treasury Department and the State Department are closely monitoring the situation and are considering tools that may be available that can better steer the Venezuelan government in the direction that they believe they should be headed.”

On Tuesday, the New York Times published an editorial that largely echoed the assertions the day before by the State Department spokesperson that the charges that Ledezma was involved in a US-backed coup conspiracy were “ludicrous.”

The Times called the accusations a “fabricated pretext” and “outlandish,” dismissing talk of a coup as “Mr. Maduro’s conspiracy theories.”

One would hardly guess that the US backed an abortive coup by sections of Venezuela’s capitalist ruling establishment and the military against Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, as recently as 2002, or that the Timesitself enthusiastically supported the overthrow of the country’s elected president. It noted approvingly at the time that “the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader.” Within less than 48 hours, massive popular demonstrations sent the business leader, Pedro Carmona, packing and put Chavez back into the presidential palace.

Ledezma, one of the “dinosaurs” of the Venezuelan right, was an active supporter of the coup 13 years ago. He was also one of the principal figures of the country’s “hard right” who organized the so-called “ salida ” (exit) campaign last year aimed at bringing down Maduro—who won the election as president in April 2013—by means of street violence. These clashes claimed the lives of 43 people.

The corporate media is portraying Ledezma’s arrest on conspiracy charges as merely a response to his decision to sign an open letter calling for a “national agreement for a transition,” which advocates a renewed campaign for the extra-constitutional ouster of Maduro.

In fact, the Venezuelan government claims evidence identifying Ledezma as a key backer of fascist youth leader Lorent Saleh, who was extradited to Venezuela from Colombia to face charges of working with ultra-rightist Colombian mercenaries to organize terrorist attacks and assassinations in Venezuela. Saleh’s group, Operation Liberty, is funded through an NGO that, in turn, receives funding from the US Agency for International Development.

Also linked to plots to overthrow the government are several Venezuelan military officers, including three senior members of the air force arrested last year.

Maduro and his supporters in the ruling PUSV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) have made defiant statements countering international criticism and vowing to employ an “iron hand” against coup plotters.

This rhetoric, however, is belied by other actions and gestures that make clear the Maduro government is attempting to accommodate itself to the main forces that pose the threat of a coup—the Venezuelan financial elite, US imperialism and the military—while attempting to shift the burden of the country’s deepening economic crisis onto the backs of the working class.

Among the more extraordinary examples of this duplicity came in a speech delivered by Maduro Monday, in which he called upon Barack Obama to “rectify” his administration’s policy toward Venezuela and said the problem was that the US president had been misled “by evil and deceitful advisors.”

Meanwhile, the government has strengthened the powers of the military, which constitutes a central pillar of the so-called Bolivarian Revolution. Fully 11 out of 32 governorships and eight federal ministries are headed by active or retired military officers. Reports of defections and dissension within the top ranks of the armed forces pose the greatest threat of a coup, but these forces already control much of the state apparatus. To the extent that Maduro is seen as no longer effective in defending their interests and containing popular unrest, the military command could move against him.

Then there is the commanding strata of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie. Recently released figures indicate that these layers are continuing to enrich themselves under conditions in which the vast majority of the population confronts declining living standards and mounting layoffs.

Venezuela’s national financial system recorded profits amounting to $1.3 billion in January of this year, a 55.23 percent increase over the same period a year ago, maintaining the country’s status as one of the most profitable for the global banks.

Venezuela’s real economy, however, is in sharp decline, driven by the halving of the price of oil, which accounts for 96 percent of the country’s exports. The country’s reserves for imports have been slashed to $29 billion this year, one third of what they were two years ago.

Financial analysts estimate that the government is confronting a $14 billion budget gap that could nearly double if oil prices remain at their current levels for the rest of this year. There is growing speculation that the government could be forced into a default on its debt obligations if these conditions persist.

With inflation approaching 70 percent, the government has eased currency controls and allowed price increases on basic necessities, including beef and chicken. Shortages and lines of those seeking basic commodities remain ubiquitous. A rise in gasoline prices, which are heavily subsidized, is expected imminently. It was such an increase in fuel costs that triggered the eruption of the Caraczo, the 1989 mass rebellion that led to the deaths of as many as 3,000 people.

The Venezuelan right, representing sections of the ruling capitalists who see their interests better served through a closer semi-colonial relation with US capital and a brutal crackdown on the working class, is seeking to exploit the economic crisis to further its drive to oust the Maduro government. For its part, the Maduro government, which represents a layer of wealthy state officials, the military command and the so-called boliburguesia, which has enriched itself off of oil revenues and financial speculation, is exploiting these reactionary maneuvers to divert attention from its own turn toward austerity policies aimed against the working class and to seek to rally support on the basis of nationalism.

This has gone hand-in-hand with the suppression of independent struggles of the Venezuelan workers, including the jailing of workers who have organized strikes, protests and worker assemblies independent of the unions affiliated to the ruling party.

Venezuelan workers cannot advance their interests or defend themselves against the very real threat of a militarized crackdown by lining up behind either of these feuding factions of the ruling establishment. The working class can find a progressive way out of the present crisis only by establishing its political independence from the government and the ruling PSUV and fighting for a workers’ government and a genuine socialist transformation of Venezuelan society as part of a unified struggle of the working class throughout the Americas.

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/02/25/vene-f25.html

Stop calling the Keystone pipeline a job creator! It will create 35 jobs.

Keystone will not create tens of thousands of jobs. The actual number? 35

 

The Keystone myth that refuses to die: Stop calling the pipeline a job creator!

(Credit: MSNBC)

Of all the reasons one might have to support the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (like, say, a last-minute gambit to save one’s Senate seat), arguing that it’s going to create jobs is the least sensical — because, as the State Department itself determined, it will create only 35 permanent jobs.

Even with the 15 other, temporary jobs the project will create, for inspections and maintenance, that’s still not enough even to employ the 60 senators Mary Landrieu, D-La., needs to pass through approval of the pipeline when it comes to a vote Tuesday evening.

And yet the argument that Keystone will lead to jobs upon jobs upon jobs is perhaps the most pervasive, and fundamentally incorrect, myth surrounding the pipeline controversy.

Only an extremely skewed reading of the job projections could lead Fox News Host Anna Kooiman, for example, to claim that “there would be tens of thousands of jobs created” if the president approved of the pipeline, a claim that Politifact rounded down to “mostly false.” While it’s true that the State Department estimates that 42,100 jobs — many only tangentially related to the pipeline — will be created during its two years of construction, they’re almost all temporary, and include 10,400 seasonal positions that will only last for four to eight months. When you look at that over the course of two years, Politifact explains, that only comes out to 3,900 “average annual” jobs. Most of the construction jobs in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, through which the pipeline will pass, will rely on specialists brought in from out of state.

TransCanada’s CEO, Russ Girling, further stretched the truth into an outright lie on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning, claiming that the State Department called those 42,000 jobs “ongoing” and “enduring.” Again, Politifact corrects the record, explaining that, for the reasons above, those adjectives only apply if you have an incredibly short-sighted definition of “ongoing and enduring” (read: two years or less).



But if you really want to get an idea of how hard the jobs myth is to squash, look no further than lefty news channel MSNBC, where host Joe Scarborough propagated that same false narrative. Questioning a potential decision to delay the pipeline, he laughed: “Their own State Department says it’s going to create 50,000 new jobs.”

Again: not.

You know what already did create tens of thousands of jobs, in nearly every state? Renewable energy, which according to a report from Environmental Entrepreneurs created almost 80,000 of them in 2013 alone. The main thing holding back future growth, that same report found, is “ongoing regulatory uncertainty,” most notably with wind energy tax credits. It’s worth checking out, especially if you happen to be a politician who’s legitimately looking for a way to grow the economy.

Those other persuasive arguments for approving the pipeline, for the record, don’t hold up much better: The part of the State Department review finding that Keystone would have a negligible impact on the environment, for one, is made extremely suspect by the multiple conflicts of interest surrounding it. The local impacts of leaks and the global impacts of emitting any more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere would suggest otherwise; another study evaluating the State Department’s analysis concluded that the report downplays the pipeline’s environmental significance.

Studies have established that the pipeline isn’t going to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. And over at the Washington Post, Philip Bump has the ultimate explainer for why it isn’t going to lower gas prices in any straightforward way — it some regions, in fact, it could even raise them. What he boils it all down to: “The most direct beneficiaries of Keystone XL won’t be consumers.”

Here’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on CNN, trying to wrap his mind around the idea that approving the pipeline would make any kind of sense whatsoever:

Oh, and one other job pushing the pipeline won’t be able to ensure? Sen. Landrieu’s, as voters don’t seem to have been swayed by her pro-Keystone rhetoric. Although, as Salon writers Luke Brinker and Joan Walsh have both pointed out, we can expect to see a brand-new position with the oil lobby created just for her once this is all over.

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.