Category: Corruption

Ideas on how to move forward

| November 10, 2016 | Reply

This article by Jon Schwarz of The Intercept has an ominous beginning, but in the end, it offers some positive suggestions for dealing with the current nightmare. Here’s an excerpt:

The people who run America have constructed a political system that’s like a glitchy killer robot, one even they can’t control anymore. Working as designed it murders African Americans and pregnant women and opioid addicts. The Iraq War was a minor hiccup that caused it to obliterate a country, several thousand Americans, and hundreds of thousands of people all around the world. The housing bubble was a more serious bug that liquidated hundreds of thousands more from the poorer half of the rich world. But with Donald Trump, for perhaps the first time, the robot totally ignored the commands of its creators and now has everyone in its crosshairs. If there’s anything to learn from history, it’s that elites don’t dismantle their beloved killer robots on their own. Either regular people — including you reading this right now — will deactivate this one, or it will never happen at all. Not a single person knows exactly how to pull this off. But one thing’s for sure: Trump’s rise proves that whatever it is we’ve been doing isn’t working.

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Glenn Greenwald asks whether Democrats will seriously deal with their inner corruption?

| November 10, 2016 | Reply

At the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald refers to the election of Donald Trump as turbo-charged version of Brexit.

THE PARALLELS BETWEEN the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’ even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president last night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals — constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop — were certain of victory. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.

The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.

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Matt Taibbi comments on the phenomenon of Trump

| October 15, 2016 | Reply

Matt Taibbi writes at Rolling Stone:

Shackled! Only in America can a man martyr himself on a cross of pussy.

There’s an old Slavic saying about corruption: One thief sits atop another thief, using a third thief for a whip. The campaign trail is similarly a stack of deceptions, with each implicit lie of the horse race driving the next.

Lie No. 1 is that there are only two political ideas in the world, Republican and Democrat. Lie No. 2 is that the parties are violent ideological opposites, and that during campaign season we can only speak about the areas where they differ (abortion, guns, etc.) and never the areas where there’s typically consensus (defense spending, surveillance, torture, trade, and so on). Lie No. 3, a corollary to No. 2, is that all problems are the fault of one party or the other, and never both. Assuming you watch the right channels, everything is always someone else’s fault. Lie No. 4, the reason America in campaign seasons looks like a place where everyone has great teeth and $1,000 haircuts, is that elections are about political personalities, not voters.

[More . . . ]

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Questions about moral equivalence by Chris Hedges

| September 12, 2016 | Reply

I do wish I could disagree with Chris Hedges, because the world view he paints brings me way down. Here are some of his questions, from a recent article at Truthdig called “Fooled Again”:

Is the Goldman Sachs commodity trader, who hoards futures of rice, wheat, corn, sugar and livestock to jack up prices on the global market, leaving poor people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America to starve, any less morally repugnant than the drug trafficker? Are F-16 pilots who incinerate families in Raqqa morally distinct from jihadists who burn a captured Jordanian pilot in a cage? Is torture in one of our black sites or offshore penal colonies any less barbaric than torture at the hands of Islamic State? Are the decapitations of children by military drones any more defensible than decapitations of Egyptian laborers on a beach in Libya by self-described holy warriors? Is Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, who raised the price of the lifesaving EpiPen by 400 percent or more and whose compensation since 2007 has risen by 600 percent to above $18 million a year, any less venal than a human trafficker who sends an overloaded boat and its occupants to their doom on the coast of Libya?

What is the endgame?

History has amply demonstrated where this will end up. The continued exploitation by an unchecked elite, and the rising levels of poverty and insecurity, will unleash a legitimate rage among the desperate. They will see through the lies and propaganda of the elites. They will demand retribution. They will turn to those who express the hatred they feel for the powerful and the institutions, now shams, that were designed to give them a voice. They will seek not reform but destruction of a system that has betrayed them.

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Hillary Clinton’s Role in Honduras Coup

| August 30, 2016 | Reply

Here is another troubling story about Hillary Clinton’s willingness to interfere with other governments to serve the interests of U.S. corporations, at the expense of ordinary people. Clinton has eagerly embraced Henry Kissinger as her role model for Secretary of State.

The story was told by Dana Frank at Democracy Now, interviewed by Amy Goodman.

As Hillary Clinton seeks to defend her role in the 2009 Honduras coup, we speak with Dana Frank, an expert on human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras. “This is breathtaking that she’d say these things. I think we’re all kind of reeling that she would both defend the coup and defend her own role in supporting its stabilization in the aftermath,” Frank says. “I want to make sure that the listeners understand how chilling it is that a leading presidential candidate in the United States would say this was not a coup. … She’s baldly lying when she says we never called it a coup.”

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Richard Nixon’s Act of Treason that extended the Vietnam War

| August 28, 2016 | Reply

Common Dreams documents the immense loss of human lives that resulted from Nixon’s treasonous act.

Johnson had it all but wrapped it. With a combination of gentle and iron-fisted persuasion, he forced the leaders of South Vietnam into an all-but-final agreement with the North. A cease-fire was imminent, and Humphrey’s election seemed assured.

But at the last minute, the South Vietnamese pulled out. LBJ suspected Nixon had intervened to stop them from signing a peace treaty. In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed. But in 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.

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Clinton Supporters Hoist the Impossible-to-Prove-Standard of Quid Pro Quo Corruption in Defending Despots’ Contributions to the Clinton Foundation’s

| August 27, 2016 | 1 Reply

At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald lays out some of the most important principles for which the Clinton charitable foundation ostensibly stands (e.g., women’s rights, LGBT rights and economic oppression). He then makes an overwhelming case that the Clinton principles are anathema to the despotic dictatorships “donating” to the Clinton Foundation.  Therefore, it follows (unless one believes that electing Hilary Clinton is so important that clear evidence that she is corrupt is irrelevant) that despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia are donating to the Clinton Foundation for reasons other than furthering the stated goals of the Foundation.

So why are the despots shoveling tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation?  Clinton apologists try to redirect the discussion at this point, arguing that the Clinton Foundation has done some excellent charitable work.  Glenn Greenwald responds:

That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in its name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for president.
. . . .

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Chris Hedges warns of the illusion of freedom

| August 14, 2016 | Reply

Chris Hedges sizes things up. I wish I could disagree with him.

No vote we cast will alter the configurations of the corporate state. The wars will go on. Our national resources will continue to be diverted to militarism. The corporate fleecing of the country will get worse. Poor people of color will still be gunned down by militarized police in our streets. The eradication of our civil liberties will accelerate. The economic misery inflicted on over half the population will expand. Our environment will be ruthlessly exploited by fossil fuel and animal agriculture corporations and we will careen toward ecological collapse. We are “free” only as long as we play our assigned parts. Once we call out power for what it is, once we assert our rights and resist, the chimera of freedom will vanish. The iron fist of the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history will assert itself with a terrifying fury.

The powerful web of interlocking corporate entities is beyond our control. Our priorities are not corporate priorities. The corporate state, whose sole aim is exploitation and imperial expansion for increased profit, sinks money into research and development of weapons and state surveillance systems while it starves technologies that address global warming and renewable energy. Universities are awash in defense money but cannot find funds for environmental studies. Our bridges, roads and levees are crumbling from neglect. Our schools are overcrowded, decaying and being transformed into for-profit vocational centers. Our elderly and poor are abandoned and impoverished. Young men and women are crippled by unemployment or underemployment and debt peonage. Our for-profit health care drives the sick into bankruptcy. Our wages are being suppressed and the power of government to regulate corporations is dramatically diminished by a triad of new trade agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement. Government utilities and services, with the implementation of the Trade in Services Agreement, will see whole departments and services, from education to the Postal Service, dismantled and privatized. Our manufacturing jobs, sent overseas, are not coming back. And a corporate media ignores the decay to perpetuate the fiction of a functioning democracy, a reviving economy and a glorious empire.

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John Oliver warns us that the death of newspapers makes us all far more vulnerable to political corruption

| August 9, 2016 | Reply

Here is yet another excellent video by John Oliver. This issue of the defunding of responsible newspaper reporting, and the lack of investigative journalism effects you and me every day. The answer, I believe is public funding of legitimate media, because it is a common good that can no longer sustain itself. Oliver’s ending video is a very sharp sword. We are living in dangerous times where no one is babysitting most of those in power at all levels of government. We can’t have a democracy without the Fourth Estate. We are rapidly approaching the time when we won’t have a Fourth Estate, merely a shell of what it used to be. This is an extremely complex and serious issue. Thank you, John Oliver for given it the spotlight. Please share.

For more on this loss of serious reporting, consider the writings of Robert McChesney and John Nichols, including Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

I spoke with John Nichols a few years ago about the loss of reporters:

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