Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org gives a talk at Left Forum in NYC (May 22, 2016) to answer the question of whether the “progressive cycle” is over in Latin America. Draitser argues that political observers and leftists should separate the leftist governments of Latin America from the ideological orientation of the masses of working and poor people in the region. He provides examples of how Wall Street and neoliberal finance capital have reasserted their control over Latin America, but are unable to divorce the people from their commitment to socialism and anti-imperialism. Lots of information and analysis presented in this roughly 20 minute presentation.
The corporate media is inundated with news stories about how Hillary Clinton has actually fallen behind Donald Trump in polls anticipating the general election in November. And while this fact is not in itself particularly interesting, the response from Clinton and her media sycophants is certainly provocative, if unsurprising. These Democratic party apparatchiks and their media partners have already begun an offensive against Bernie Sanders, and left-progressives generally, blaming them for Clinton’s drop in the polls because of their refusal to unite behind Clinton.
But while these continued attacks on Sanders and progressive democrats have done nothing to motivate the progressive base to back Hillary – if anything they have served to radicalize them against Clinton – they are only part of a much larger problem facing the Democratic Party: a crisis of legitimacy.
Indeed, the one thing that is guaranteed is that this primary season has utterly exposed the transparently corrupt Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee (DNC), and its leadership, including DNC Chairwoman and Clinton-backer Debbie Wasserman Schultz. From allegations of voter fraud and illegal purging of registration rolls, to media bias and deviation from electoral norms, millions of progressives now correctly view the Democratic Party as being a wholly owned subsidiary of Clinton Inc. This accounts for the proliferation of the #NeverHillary phenomenon on social media, and the continued decline of Clinton in the polls.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has come under fire for her obvious pro-Hillary bias, so much so that Democratic Party insiders are seriously considering removing her from her post in advance of what could be a contentious convention in Philadelphia this summer. According to The Hill, one pro-Clinton democratic senator said that, “There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on… I don’t see how she can continue to the election. How can she open the convention? Sanders supporters would go nuts.”
The fact is that Sanders supporters would have every right to go nuts as Wasserman Schultz is universally recognized as one of the Hillary loyalists whose career is tied directly to Clinton. It should be remembered that Wasserman Schultz was the Co-Chair of Clinton’s presidential bid in 2008. Many now view her as having been the de facto Chair for Hillary this time around, only in a much more influential role as the DNC Chairwoman.
As only one of many examples, Wasserman Schultz wields an undue amount of influence over the infamous superdelegates which have, in no small part, all but guaranteed Clinton the nomination irrespective of voters’ wishes. Indeed, the majority of the superdelegates are in fact DNC members, with Wasserman Schultz at the head. As the New York Times put it, the superdelegates are “party bigwigs—712 Democratic leaders, legislators, governors, and the like.”
But of course it’s not simply Wasserman Schultz alone, but rather the interconnected web of Clinton cronies and assorted shills in powerful positions all over the country who have, through their bias (and in some cases, criminality) done the most to delegitimize the party itself. There was of course the primary debacle in Arizona where even the Secretary of State admitted that fraud had taken place on a large scale in her state.
Most recently in Kentucky, a hotly contested state where Sanders allegedly lost by slimmest of margins, we saw the Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, for whom Hillary Clinton campaigned in 2014, recently derisively say on national television that there would be “no revolution here for Sanders.” And oh, by the way, as Secretary of State, Grimes was responsible for vote counting in a state where irregularities and a very slim margin of victory cast doubt on the validity of the results.
And then of course, there’s the now infamous incidents at the Nevada Democratic Party convention where Sanders delegates were stripped of their standing, normal convention procedures ignored, and a pre-ordained outcome – Clinton’s victory – was effected masterfully. Never mind the fact that the party refused to allow 64 Sanders delegates entry to the convention where all of a sudden Clinton had a 31 delegate lead over Sanders. Never mind the fact that Roberta Lange, chairing the convention, railroaded through a voice vote to disregard the results of the second tier of Nevada’s three-tier process which Bernie Sanders won, and that the voice vote was held before all the delegates were even present. Never mind that suddenly the rules under which the primary had been conducted were inexplicably changed to give Clinton a path to victory. All this points to an obvious attempt by party bosses to manufacture victories for Clinton.
One could point to a number of other examples such as the bizarre, and thoroughly unbelievable, coin toss results in Iowa where Hillary Clinton won 6 straight coin tosses to hand her the victory. Or how about the highly irregular decision by the major television networks to cancel plans for exit polls for primaries in New Jersey and California, among other states? Considering the fact that exit polls have proved to be an important barometer in measuring potential voter fraud, it seems highly irresponsible, if not downright suspicious, that a primary as rich in delegates as California, where Sanders has been doing rather well, would not have exit polling. One could be forgiven for assuming that this is yet another ploy by the Clinton machine and its partners in the corporate media to steal yet another primary.
And of course one would be remiss for not mentioning the blatantly unethical, and likely illegal, donations from foreign governments that Clinton has received via her foundation-cum-money laundering operation the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and its Clinton Global Initiative. Couple that with the exorbitant speaking fees pocketed from her pandering speeches to Goldman Sachs and the other lords of finance capital on Wall Street, and one is left with a picture of obvious corruption and criminality that should give anyone pause when considering a potential Clinton presidency.
And I haven’t even mentioned the email scandal which just entered a new phase as the State Department’s Inspector General report has revealed that “Clinton’s use of private email for public business was ‘not an appropriate method’ of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed.”
In short, Clinton and the Democratic Party have been shown to be what many of us on the left have long since known: a corporate party dominated by a small clique of politically influential Clinton cronies whose loyalties are to the Clintons and their paymasters on Wall Street, not to Democratic voters or the American people.
And while Sanders has likely been cheated out of a potential nomination, his campaign has made at least one lasting impact: it has exposed Clinton and her criminal gang to a whole new generation of young progressives. What will they do with this knowledge? One must look to Philadelphia this summer for what might become a convention remembered less for what happens inside than the direct action and protest outside.
But in the longer term, the Democrats may have scored a pyrrhic victory in all this. Because even once progressives no longer #FeelTheBern, the Democratic Party tent may still be on fire.
Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (May 20, 2016) on the latest poll numbers showing Donald Trump with a slight lead against Hillary Clinton in the general election. Draitser explains that the numbers reflect not a growth in respect for Trump, but rather the predictable decline of Hillary Clinton’s popularity which continues to plummet. He notes that Clinton’s worst enemy is herself and her record of economic devastation through free trade, warmongering around the world, and her blatant criminality. Draitser argues that no matter which of the two jackals wins the election, it is the American people (and people around the world) who will lose.
Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org provides his analysis (May 20, 2016) of President Obama’s visit to Vietnam and decision to lift the decades-old arms embargo on the country. Draitser expalins that US strategy sees in Vietnam a potential lever to use against China, and that that perspective shapes US policy towards the country and the region. He further explains some of the geopolitical implications of the current situation, and how the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s “Asia Pivot” and other policy initiatives fit into the broader strategy.
President Obama heads to Japan this week for an historic visit to Hiroshima, site of the world’s first use of a nuclear weapon, and one of the United States’ most enduring shameful acts. The corporate media has hailed the visit as an important step in strengthening bilateral relations between the US and Japan. Indeed, it certainly is that as the US seeks to reassert its hegemony in an Asia-Pacific region increasingly being seen as the sphere of influence of China.
However, Obama’s arrival in Japan also highlights the deeply hypocritical and cynical attitudes of US policymakers, and President Obama himself, when it comes to the relevant issues. He is not expected to formally apologize for the needless slaughter of more than 200,000 Japanese citizens (mostly civilians), nor is he going to address the lingering policy-related effects of the war such as the highly unpopular US military occupation of Okinawa. In fact, it seems Obama is unlikely to touch on anything of substance. But there are indeed numerous subjects which merit close scrutiny.
First and foremost, one must consider the fact that for 70 years the United States has maintained a permanent military presence in Japan, one which is deeply reviled by the majority of the people of Japan, especially the citizens of Okinawa who regularly and continuously protest the US occupation. And while Obama and his counterpart, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will discuss the continued friendship and partnership between the two countries, the reality is that it remains a master-client relationship. There will likely be much discussion of past, present, and future, without any admission of guilt either on the side of the US for its horrific war crimes nor by Japan for its unrestrained aggression against China, Korea, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “So it goes.”
Interestingly, the question of nuclear weapons will likely also not be addressed in a substantive way. There may indeed be some discussion of the subject in general terms, but it will be veiled in the typically flowery, but utterly vacuous, Obama rhetoric. Given the opportunity, an intrepid reporter might venture to ask the President why, despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples [and] vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons,” he has presided over an administration that will spend more than $1 trillion upgrading, modernizing, and expanding the US nuclear arsenal.
Perhaps even more uncomfortable might be a question about why the allegedly anti-nuclear president who waxed poetic about disarmament as a student at Columbia University has spent two terms in office providing tens of billions in aid to nuclear-armed Israel, raising the amount of US aid to Tel Aviv to historic levels. In 2014, the Obama administration also enthusiastically signed a new nuclear deal with the UK which, according to Obama himself, “intends to continue to maintain viable nuclear forces into the foreseeable future… [America needed to aid Britain] in maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent.” So much for disarmament.
And while Obama and his coterie of spin doctors shape his anti-nuclear legacy with talk of a nuclear deal with Iran – a country that has no nuclear weapons – the cynicism is impossible to ignore. Obama has in fact done everything to promote nuclear proliferation including the absolutely insane new US missile “defense” system in Eastern Europe which, almost by definition, forces Russia to upgrade and expand its own arsenal, including its nuclear stockpile (still the largest in the world) as a countermeasure.
And then there’s the irradiated elephant in the room: Fukushima. The ongoing cover-up of what’s really happening in Fukushima lurks in the background of all discussion about nuclear issues and Japan. No one should hold their breath for even a whisper about this still unfolding environmental catastrophe which the Japanese government has gone to great lengths to dump down the memory hole.
Rather than formally apologizing to the Japanese people for the grave crimes of the US Government, Obama will instead frame his position as “looking forward, not backward,” a hollow platitude that calls to mind the utterly reprehensible decision by Obama not to investigate or prosecute the Bush administration criminals involved in torture. Rather than a heartfelt expression of regret, Obama offers the Trans-Pacific Partnership and an escalation of tensions with China. Rather than working for peace as one might expect of a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama instead will continue to champion his “pivot to Asia” strategy which has yielded little in terms of progress but much in terms of US military presence.
President Obama’s visit to Japan, like his allegedly great successes in Iran and Cuba, will change nothing. Obama will say a few words, then leave Japan. He’ll soon leave office with a still more dangerous world than when he entered: more nukes, more wars, more destruction. And this from our Peace Prize President.