How (Bad) History Repeats Itself As We Suspend Our Common Sense
This election from hell is breaking the bounds of the bizarre and is now traversing fast across the expanse that is our mad political reality.
If it wasn’t crazy enough that the GOP would end up producing the reality TV equivalent of The Ugly American, Candidate Trump and his minions have gone past the bounds of our collective imaginations, when it comes to outdoing the already impossibly insane. Trump’s idea of making policy doesn’t go beyond saying anything he does will be worlds better than the opposition. Just trust him. On the few occasions he does offer details, take his views on policing and taking Stop and Frisk nationwide or further cutting taxes on the rich to promote growth and jobs, his minions are ecstatic, even though they shunned their politically-experienced establishment candidates, presumably, because those very policies have not yielded the desired result. If what made Trump an attractive candidate was his business acumen, the last few months’ vetting in the media should have taken the bloom off the rose. It didn’t. But here we are, when faced with a shameless candidate who won’t go away, even in the face of reality TV video footage of his own abhorrently aberrant sexual predation, there are those voices who caution against wishing for his departure from the political scene before the last vote is cast. Why? Whereas it is thought Donald J. Trump doesn’t stand a chance, his running mate could, for example. But such talk was short-lived. Just a couple of days after Republicans in Congress disavowed him in droves, they are re-endorsing him.
Meanwhile, on the other side, a curious game of ostrich is being played. Just as troves of leaked emails are being publicized, the liberal hordes are ensconcing their heads deeper in the sand. Faced with uncontested proof that Candidate Clinton’s Wall Street speeches contained all the things we suspected they did, the heads bow down lower as the cacophony of David Brock’s minions gets louder. They say, in unison, that the emails were stolen by Russians and, therefore, they’re no good! It doesn’t matter that their candidate confirmed on Sunday, during the debate, that the emails were authentic. It doesn’t matter that none of those who were outed for various indiscretions have not said that the emails were doctored. The only thing of import is who we imagine stole them.
But is the source, real or imagined, of more import than content? Imagine, just as an intellectual exercise, the following scenario:
Mom went missing while traveling. Then, as a part of a trove of hacked emails, comes proof that mom passed away while on travel. Do we pretend mom’s just fine and she’ll turn up one day, or do we examine the emails and follow leads?
The point of the matter is that no matter who hacked the accounts, no one is able to dispute their authenticity. The documents, the texts of the emails, all are genuine and all have implications. Refusing to face the implications – BEFORE Candidate Clinton is elected – is as nutty as refusing to believe that mom died, simply because the news came from a possible Russian source.
If Secretary Clinton’s actual policy positions are the exact opposite of what the platform she’s been running on, isn’t now the time to force her to publicly disavow all the things she told Wall Street bankers behind closed doors and promise she will act faithfully on her campaign promises? Isn’t it time, now, to push those Republican candidates who are sure to retain their congressional and Senate seats to publicly renounce the campaign promises Trump has been making? Isn’t now the time to make them promise, publicly, that they will rein in a President Trump? Isn’t now the time to accost one’s candidates for Congress and put them on the spot about all of the positions Candidate Clinton adopted during the Democratic Primary and exact from them the solemn oath that they will not stray from voters’ wishes and propose and vote only for matching legislation? Isn’t now the time to send a clear message to Candidate Clinton that her mandate, should she be elected, is exactly what she promised during her campaign and nothing less?
Whether or not Russian hackers obtained DNC, Clinton staffer and Clinton Foundation emails, and WikiLeaks, in turn, received them from Russian government operatives doesn’t make those emails any less who they were written by and responded to. Whether or not the Russian plot to interfere with a U.S. election is real or imagined, there were no Russian operatives holding guns to Democratic officials’ heads, dictating emails that would later turn out to be embarrassing. Regardless of Mr. Putin’s role in this election, we can be reasonably certain that he had nothing to do with either Mrs. Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street banks or the summaries her campaign staff wrote about them over the past year. In “Hacked 80-page roundup of paid speeches shows Clinton ‘praising Wall Street,'” Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports:
“While Clinton warns against the excesses of Wall Street and openly talks about closing the carried-interest loophole that benefits many bankers, her language in front of financial firms ranging from Goldman Sachs to Fidelity could prove problematic, and includes flattering overtures about the contributions bankers have made to the social good.
In a speech before a Goldman Sachs Symposium in October 2013, Clinton talks about the rampant blame that Wall Street faced after the crisis, saying, “And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening?”
In the same speech, she talked about the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill as something that needed to pass “for political reasons.”
She also talked before a San Diego securities law firm in September 2014 and talked about being a New York senator representing Wall Street who “did all I could to make sure they continued to prosper.”
And she joked at a Goldman conference in June 2013 about the bankers being “the smartest people.”
As certain as we are of Candidate Clinton’s expertise on matters related to foreign policy and her greater wisdom on these matters over an opponent who is said to be infatuated with Vladimir Putin, voters would be wise to familiarize themselves with private citizen Clinton’s actual view of the world:
“The excerpts also show Clinton making frank assessments of the foreign leaders she dealt with as secretary of state — particularly Putin, whom she described as “engaging” and a “very interesting conversationalist.” And while she said his actions in Crimea were reminiscent of those of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, she dismissed the idea that Russian missiles posed a threat to the United States and said she would “love it if we could continue to build a more positive relationship with Russia” — but Putin often stood in the way. Still, Clinton said the Kremlin strongman was “someone who you have to deal with” and the U.S. couldn’t “just wish he could go away.”
In an October 2013 luncheon with a Jewish group in Chicago, Clinton told an anecdote about bonding with Putin at his dacha outside Moscow over, of all things, tigers. “I said, ‘You know, Mr. Prime Minister, we actually have some things in common. We both want to protect wildlife, and I know how committed you are to protecting the tiger,’” she relayed. “I mean, all of a sudden, he sat up straight and his eyes got big and he goes, ‘You care about the tiger?” Putin, she said, took him back to his “through a heavily armed door” to his “private inner sanctum” and “starts talking to me about, you know, the habitat of the tigers and the habitat of the seals and the whales.””
The fact remains that, on the issues, private Hillary Clinton’s position clashes with public Candidate Clinton’s campaign promises. Insisting on “keeping in 100” and insisting on focusing on the truths inherent in the reality these hacks present us with neither make one Pro-Trump, nor a traitor to the Democratic cause. What such insistence does, however, is keep our eyes open, our minds focused, not only on November 8th, but well-beyond.
As head of the Democratic Party, President Hillary Clinton will have complete control of the DNC and will shape it for years to come. For 45% of progressives who voted for Senator Sanders, the concessions he obtained from the DNC Platform Committee were supposed to be meaningful steps toward reform. But we now learn that what seemed something of a victory is most likely a smokescreen:
If one believes Candidate Clinton truly had a short list of diverse potential running mates, then it will be somewhat disappointing to learn that her milquetoast decision was made early on:
For those among us for whom social justice, law enforcement, criminal justice and incarceration are, quite literally, matters of life and death, then the public statements of certain Democrats, along with leaked documents should give one pause:
If one is somehow reassured by Candidate Clinton’s repeated references to Abraham Lincoln, then one should remember that it is Honest Abe who said “I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.” Neoconservatives and neoliberals have in common a dogmatic view of the place and meaning of what our founders left us. These mighty words from Professor Caroline Winterer’s essay in Aeon should give those Americans among us who “treat its bold revolution as a reliquary” quite some pause:
“While the Fable of Founder Certainty makes for good rhetoric, it’s bad history
As the Fable unfolds, Enlightenment ideas spread west to Britain’s North American colonies. There, they found a people reduced to quasi-slavery by Britain’s onerous taxation schemes. Invigorated by Enlightenment ideas, these bold underdogs rose up and overthrew the world’s mightiest empire. They declared self-evident truths about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Victorious, the American patriots established the modern world’s first kingless republic, the US, with perfect self-assurance. They drafted the Constitution, the blueprint of a federal republic upon whose truths Americans rest their nation today, in perfect confidence.
While the Fable of Founder Certainty makes for good rhetoric, it’s bad history. It’s not just bad history because it’s objectively incorrect, but also because it robs its heroes of their full humanity. It denies them the range of human imagination that everyone experiences. It closes the skating rink. The American revolutionaries wondered about things. They didn’t know the answers. They freely admitted it. Americans today, however, are often so committed to an infallible founding era, a founding as a repository of timeless sacred truths, that they actually cannot really see, or hear, their country’s founders.”
If the positions Candidate Clinton was pushed into adopting during the 2016 Democratic primary reflect the will of Democratic voters, then there has been no time during which the American public received as much warning as it has this political season. There has been no greater opportunity for the American people to effect a course change before it is too late. There has been no time in which the American public has had so much information at its disposal. There is absolutely no excuse for Candidate Clinton to be elected under false campaign promises without so much as a whimper from the public. The fear of Trump and its associated hysteria should not translate into the capitulation of Democrats.
As citizens await their turn at the voting booth, they would be well-served to remember the late Shirley Chisolm’s admonition in the PBS documentary, Unbossed and Unbought:
“I was well on the way to forming my present attitude toward politics as it is practiced in the United States; it is a beautiful fraud that has been imposed on the people for years, whose practitioners exchange gelded promises for the most valuable thing their victims own: their votes. And who benefits the most? The lawyers.”
There is absolutely no excuse for voters not to hand the conditional mandate to the victor: respect our wishes or else…
“… Of the three strategies, the second seems more imaginative. Going beyond the traditional dialectic of confirm-or-deny, Fallon hopes to totally delegitimize the emails by branding them as the dark fruits of a scurrilous foreign power. The subtext of Fallon’s protest is that no matter what reporters dig out in the voluminous Podesta emails, their stories will be polluted by the motives and methods behind their acquisition.
Fallon is floating a very large crock here. Real reporters don’t treat Freedom of Information Act requests the way he implies. That is, reporters don’t FOIA the government for a stack of documents and then, upon receiving them, blindly publish the stack or their gleanings and call it a work of journalism. No document obtained via the FOIA process is automatically a reliable source upon which a sound story can be built. Its contents must be tested, verified, cross-examined and blended with other information before it has any business being placed in a news story. The same goes for court proceedings, corporate documents, scientific papers, and audio and video recordings, only double.”
By Glenn Greenwald
October 11, 2016
“DONALD TRUMP, FOR reasons I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is an extremist, despicable, and dangerous candidate, and his almost-certain humiliating defeat is less than a month away. So I realize there is little appetite in certain circles for critiques of any of the tawdry and sometimes fraudulent journalistic claims and tactics being deployed to further that goal. In the face of an abusive, misogynistic, bigoted, scary, lawless authoritarian, what’s a little journalistic fraud or constant fearmongering about subversive Kremlin agents between friends if it helps to stop him?
But come January, Democrats will continue to be the dominant political faction in the U.S. — more so than ever — and the tactics they are now embracing will endure past the election, making them worthy of scrutiny. Those tactics now most prominently include dismissing away any facts or documents that reflect negatively on their leaders as fake, and strongly insinuating that anyone who questions or opposes those leaders is a stooge or agent of the Kremlin, tasked with a subversive and dangerously un-American mission on behalf of hostile actors in Moscow.
To see how extreme and damaging this behavior has become, let’s just quickly examine two utterly false claims that Democrats over the past four days — led by party-loyal journalists — have disseminated and induced thousands of people, if not more, to believe.”