On Clinton

Michelle Alexander wrote a scathing article in The Nation entitled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.”

The author of The New Jim Crow writes Bill Clinton’s crime bill and welfare reform, which Hillary Clinton enthusiastically supported, “decimated black America.”

Bill Clinton took Reagan’s war on crime and drugs and “escalated it beyond what many conservatives had imagined possible,” bringing the American incarceration rate to the highest in the world.

“He supported the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine,” which willfully targeted black drug users, as well as other policies that contributed to the massively disproportionate imprisonment of blacks:

Human Rights Watch reported that in seven states, African Americans constituted 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they were no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs. Prison admissions for drug offenses reached a level in 2000 for African Americans more than 26 times the level in 1983.      

Alexander argues that in her support for the 1994 crime bill, Hillary Clinton

…used racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals. “They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”

She also writes Hillary Clinton “ardently supported then and characterized as a success as recently as 2008” Bill Clinton’s welfare “reform,” which eliminated the federal safety net, placed strict limitations on state welfare programs, and slashed billions from public welfare spending. This increased American poverty, doubling extreme poverty.

In addition, financial aid to college students with drug convictions, and to inmates working on a degree in prison, ended. The Clinton administration enacted “a lifetime ban on welfare and food stamps for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense.”

Perhaps most alarming, [Bill] Clinton also made it easier for public-housing agencies to deny shelter to anyone with any sort of criminal history (even an arrest without conviction) and championed the “one strike and you’re out” initiative, which meant that families could be evicted from public housing because one member (or a guest) had committed even a minor offense. People released from prison with no money, no job, and nowhere to go could no longer return home to their loved ones living in federally assisted housing without placing the entire family at risk of eviction.

This is why Hillary Clinton not only does not deserve the black vote, she does not deserve the vote of any person helping decide the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

Saying “this was Bill Clinton’s doing, not Hillary’s” is thoughtless, a standard never applied to others: do you not condemn a Republican who supports discriminatory legislation even if he or she was not the one to propose, write, vote on, or sign it?

Adding to Alexander’s condemnation is far from difficult. In terms of race, during the 2008 campaign against Barack Obama, Clinton attempted to lock in the white vote by portraying Obama as un-American and flirting with racial stereotypes, as James Rucker documents. She also currently accepts money from private prison lobbyists, which profit off mass incarceration, while promising to end mass incarceration.

Regarding gay rights issues, a liberal should denounce Clinton’s support for anti-gay rights legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the 1990s, and her opposition to gay marriage until 2013.

Then there’s her ties to Wall Street and corporate power. She spent 6 years on the Walmart board of directors, where she went along with union busting to protect the corporation. Jacobin Magazine writes that

as Clinton left her secretary post in January 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek commented that “Clinton turned the State Department into a machine for promoting U.S. business.” She sought “to install herself as the government’s highest-ranking business lobbyist,” directly negotiating lucrative overseas contracts for US corporations like Boeing, Lockheed, and General Electric. Not surprisingly, “Clinton’s corporate cheerleading has won praise from business groups.”

Indeed, “her State Department collaborated with subcontractors for Hanes, Levi’s, and Fruit of the Loom to oppose a minimum-wage increase for Haitian workers.”

Clinton is mainly funded today by Wall Street banks and corporations:

Clinton’s top 10 cumulative donors between between 1999 and 2016 were, in descending order, Citigroup ($782,327), Goldman Sachs ($711,490), DLA Piper ($628,030), JPMorgan Chase ($620,919), EMILY’s List ($605,174) Morgan Stanley ($543,065), Time Warner ($411,296), Skadden Arps ($406,640), Lehman Brothers ($362,853) and Cablevision Systems ($336,288).

In a recent debate, Clinton promised to take on this entities, and challenged anyone to “name one” time Wall Street and corporations influenced her political positions. Yet this is something U.S. senators talked about openly while Clinton was a senator.

Elizabeth Warren said in a 2004 interview that Clinton, as first lady, helped her defeat a bill that would tighten bankruptcy laws that would “disproportionately hurt single mothers.” But after receiving money from interest groups that supported similar legislation, Clinton, as a senator, also supported it.

Greenpeace, criticizing the millions the fossil fuel industry poured into Super PACs backing Clinton, lists examples of Clinton’s cozy relationship with corporate America, such as:

3 Enbridge lobbyists contributed to HRC’s campaign. While she was Secretary of State, Clinton signed off on the Enbridge pipeline.

Hess lobbyists from Forbes-Tate (Daniel Tate, Jeffrey Forbes, George Cooper and Rachel Miller) all gave maximum allowable contributions to HRC’s campaign. The firm lobbied on behalf of the Hess Corporation, on crude by rail and crude exports. Hess owns rail cars that came off the tracks and caught fire after a BNSF train derailed in North Dakota in early May, 2015. Hess is the third largest oil producer in North Dakota. Lynn Helms, a former Hess executive served as ND’s top oil and gas regulator at the Department of Mineral Resources between 2005 and 2013. When Clinton came out in opposition to KXL she started talking about how fixing train tracks would create jobs.

Fracking company and gas industry trade association lobbyists have also contributed to Clinton’s campaign, including Former Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX), who lobbied for the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, and Martin Durbin of the American Natural Gas Association (now merged and part of the American Petroleum Institute – API), the nephew of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).  Another donor is Elizabeth Gore, a lobbyist for WPX energy (fracking).  A lobbyist for FTI Consulting, creator of an industry front group called Energy In Depth, also contributed to Clinton;s campaign. Although Clinton has said she would require FERC to consider climate change before granting any new gas pipeline permits, she recently told activists she would not ban fracking as president, and has a pro-fracking track record which has been well-documented by numerous groups, including pro-Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record.

Greenpeace also wondered if Clinton could fully support an investigation into Exxon while taking money from their lobbyists:

Although Clinton has said she supports an investigation into Exxon’s early concealment of what it knew about the risks of climate change and subsequent financing of climate denier front groups, her campaign has taken contributions from at least 7 lobbyists working for Exxon, including one in-house lobbyist – Theresa Fariello – who has bundled and additional $21,200 for the campaign.

The Huffington Post in July 2015 ran a piece entitled, “Hillary Clinton’s Biggest Campaign Contributors Are Fossil Fuel Lobbyists.”

Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon lobbied the State Department and donated millions to the Clinton Foundation in the year before a decision was made on the Alberta Clipper pipeline. The State Department, to no one’s surprise, approved a permit for it. Clinton supported fracking around the globe.

As Secretary of State, Clinton also supported government policies that benefited pharmaceutical, energy, and telecommunication companies, who later contributed huge sums to the Clinton Foundation. See for example “Hillary Clinton Acted on Concerns of Bill Clinton’s Foundation Donors.”

After Secretary Clinton helped sign over 20% of uranium production capacity in the U.S. to Russia by approving the Russian takeover of the company Uranium One, the company donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, as reported by The New York Times. The Foundation did not disclose these donations–like many others. But as the Huffington Post reports, “According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public and foundation disclosures, at least sixty companies that lobbied the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation.”

An International Business Times investigation found that:

Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation…nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration.

After her efforts at health care reform were defeated in the 1990s, Clinton sunk deep into the pockets of the health insurance giants, including those she previously stood against. In the 2005-2006 election cycle, Clinton received over $854,000 from the healthcare industry, more than any other political candidate save one. Much of the money came from the same firms that once battled her. See The New York Times’ “Once an Enemy, Health Industry Warms to Clinton.”

In the first 3 months of 2007, she earned nearly $849,000 from the healthcare industry, more than any other candidate. For backing off health care reform, Clinton was rewarded, and praised by her former corporate enemies as “extremely knowledgeable” and a “leader” on the health care issue.

In 2015, Clinton took a stand for insurance companies when she condemned single-payer health care, a system in which taxes cover citizen medical costs, cutting out the need for insurance giants.

Then there’s Clinton’s disastrous foreign policy positions.

She strongly supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, led the charge for military intervention in Libya, pledged to expand the U.S. military presence surrounding Iran, supported increased American involvement in Afghanistan and Syria, called for more arms to Israel, supported Obama’s brutal drone warfare in the Middle East and Africa that kills far more innocent people than terror suspects, vowed to expand the war against ISIS, and refused to pressure the Honduran military to restore the country’s democratically-elected president to power after a coup (which led to domestic terrorism, widespread poverty, drug trafficking, and a right-wing dictatorship, which she later supported).

Again, she apologized for mistakes like Iraq. Yet how many people have to die before a person who supported deadly policies is disqualified from the White House? Clinton wishes to continue the endless war that has killed over a million people since 2001 and only worked to breed new terror groups and hugely increase terror attacks worldwide. Ralph Nader rightly called Clinton “a corporatist and a militarist.”

Finally, Clinton’s scandals speak of either her utter incompetence or a startling willingness to lie.

Leave aside controversies such as the young woman in 2008 who claimed Clinton’s campaign forced her into offering a planted question at an event, or the Whitewater Scandal of old (Clinton and her husband were part owners of a sketchy real estate development firm that saw its other owners, including a couple judges and a governor, jailed for fraud and taking bribes; accusations of the same against the Clintons went nowhere).

Focus on what we know of Clinton, and don’t reject these concerns because Republicans and conservatives also raise them. Do you believe there’s never been a corrupt Democratic politician? You haven’t read enough American history.  

It is known that the State Department edited CIA reports by deleting mentions of warnings of terrorist threats to Benghazi. Clinton, the head of the State Department, denied knowledge of the warnings.

Clinton also denied knowing of the State Department order for U.S. diplomats to spy on U.N. officials in 2010.

Clinton claimed there was “no classified material” on her private email server, a claim almost surely a lie. She claims top secret information was only labeled as such after she handled it; the FBI is investigating. Clinton also destroyed tens of thousands of “personal” emails before they could be brought to light through investigations, while at the same time saying she was trying to be as “transparent” as possible.   

When Clinton was senator of New York, according to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, two veterans were “subjected to illegal drug experimentation by employees of the Stratton Veterans Affairs Center in Albany” and Clinton’s “personal knowledge did not translate into action…she did nothing about the systematic abuse and murder of veterans…” This was Clinton’s “pattern of studious avoidance of principled action in the face of serious government misconduct.”

These things indicate either Clinton cannot effectively oversee the governmental bodies she is supposed to, or isn’t afraid to deceive the citizenry. Scott Pelley of CBS asked Clinton, “Have you always told the truth?” She replied, “I’ve always tried to. Always.”

Clinton frequently changes her position on important issues like immigration, gay marriage, NAFTA, the TPP, mass incarceration, gun control, oil drilling, and so on, allegedly based on new information. Yet, as a Politico correspondent wondered, “What was the new information?” He rightly mocks the notion these issues were turned on their heads by “shocking new findings,” noting opponents of Clinton’s (conservative-leaning) stances had the information available to them, so why wouldn’t someone with “some of the best researchers at her disposal—a private staff, a campaign staff, the wizards at the State Department staff, a senatorial staff, the busy beavers from the Congressional Research Service and the White House staff.” In literally the same breath Clinton speaks of absorbing new knowledge and changing her view accordingly, she insists she has “been very consistent” and “held to the same values and principles” her “entire life,” a blatant contradiction.

Clinton even called herself a “moderate and center” politician, both before and after calling herself a “progressive.”  

A liberal–or even a moderate–has little business voting for a candidate such as this.

[Update, 11/2/2017: According to Donna Brazile, Democratic National Committee chair, Clinton loaned a broke DNC millions in exchange for “control” over it almost a year before her nomination (the DNC is supposed to be neutral until after the nomination). According to Brazile, Clinton had control over DNC strategy, money, staff, communications, mailing, and so forth. This would have allowed Clinton to avoid donation limits to campaigns (instead fundraising through the party and then laundering it to her campaign, just as the Sanders campaign said) and influence the DNC’s work in each state in a way that favored her and hurt Sanders. This would explain DNC efforts to elevate Clinton over her rival. Brazile is actually the one who leaked debate questions to Clinton during the campaign. 

The next day, NBC News published the agreement Brazile referred to, supporting her claim while adding some clarifications. “The arrangement pertained to only the general election, not the primary season, and it left open the possibility that it would sign similar agreements with other candidates. Still, it clearly allowed the Clinton campaign to influence DNC decisions made during an active primary, even if intended for preparations later [for the general election].” During the primary season, the Clinton campaign appeared to have “oversight over how its money was spent” (“joint authority,” to quote the agreement), and the DNC agreed to find a communications director “acceptable to HFA [Hillary For America]” by September 2015, long before Clinton was nominated.]

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