Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Do you wonder how American politics has gotten so crazy in the last five decades? As someone who has lived through them as an adult I have often been amazed by our evolving political scene. This week the PBS documentary series “The American Experience” focused on the life and the two terms of Bill Clinton. It was a typical PBS historical documentary in that it made sure to present all sides of the issues and of course it dealt with “Whitewater”, Monica Lewinsky and the Impeachment proceedings. While we all lived through this bizarre political period in the 90’s, time and personal matters no doubt has dimmed its memory for most of us who were not directly involved. What fascinated me about this four hour documentary was that even in its non-partisan fairness, it delved into the massive effort made to discredit Bill Clinton begun from even before the inception of his first term. Though he won his election fairly, Republican’s and Conservatives never accepted his legitimacy as a duly elected President. It was this perceived “illegitimacy” that undermined his efforts as President and was the focus of constant attacks from his enemies. I’m not writing this as someone who felt that Bill Clinton was a great President and there were many concessions he made like “Welfare Reform” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that I still hold against him. My question is that given his legitimate electoral mandate, did he ever get a chance to actually put his programs into effect and be President?
Bill Clinton entered his Presidency at the end of the first Iraq War. His inaugural speech talked of healing and bi-partisanship, as he would work together with Republicans to create a bridge to the Twenty First Century. The country was in a recession, partly caused by the excesses of military overspending by Reagan and G.H.W. Bush and by their tax cuts for the wealthy. There was a shrinking middle class due to the outsourcing of our manufacturing base and also because the Reagan Social Security “Reform” was actually a massive, regressive tax raise on those of middle income. The Reagan and G.H.W. Bush years burdened the Country with massive budget deficits and in Clinton’s first years the clamoring of the Republicans, Wall Street and the “Chattering Classes” for “Deficit Reduction” was at a fever pitch. We had also seen an illegal involvement in trying to topple the government of Nicaragua, despite a strong Congressional ban and its’ direct perpetrators falling on their swords to protect President Reagan and Vice President Bush. The din of budget deficits was so loud, with predictions so dire, that this newly elected President, with no Washington experience, was forced to accept the specious merits of this argument. Forgotten of course was that it was these selfsame groups, had blithely ignored rising deficits during the twelve years past of Republican governance. Perhaps, in my re-visiting what you already probably knew, a sense of Deja’ Vu might be occurring when thinking of American politics and political issues today?
Direct parallels can be drawn between the treatment of Barack Obama in office, the specific problems he faced and Bill Clinton’s Presidency, I’m not writing this as a paean to our current President, since I believe he traveled down the same road Bill Clinton did. It was the wrong road of trying to appease, the unappeasable, based on an overestimation of his personal powers of persuasion and overlooking the fact that his “reaching out” was viewed as weakness by both the Republicans and the country. What got lost in the process for both men were the supposed principles that they ran on, which obviously had resonated enough with the public to get them elected in the first place.
The point I’m trying to make is that our current democratic system is irreparably broken as it stands and until some change is made, the interests of the general public will be of no account. Why is this so? In early January I did a blog entitled “America’s Transcendent Issue”. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/07/americas-transcendent-issue/ . My point was that money controlled our election process and until we dealt with the money issue none of America’s other problems could be solved, nor could we have a democratic electoral process. I still think this was a correct analysis, but it didn’t deal fully with the other factors that allow the 1% to control the 99% and lead directly to the inequality of resources among our citizenry.
How is it that Ronald Reagan and George Bush could on the day of their inauguration welcome home the Iran Embassy Hostages that probably got them elected in the first place? Had some backdoor negotiation gone on that may have delayed the “Hostage Crisis” past election day, in order to ensure
a Republican victory? We know that the hated Iranian’s received some missiles to sweeten their part of the deal. Surely there should have been wide media speculation on how this fortuitous happenstance occurred? Yet there wasn’t. From the outset of his term Ronald Reagan received generally adoring attention from the entire mainstream media and although some few raised objections and questions, these were drowned out by the indulgent, supposedly, “left wing” media.
Arguably the worst crisis of the Reagan terms was “Contra-Gate”, or the “Iran-Contra Scandal”. Nine high ranking members of the Reagan Administration were adjudged to have taken part in this illegal activity, yet they were all either pardoned, or in Ollie North’s case, “mistakenly” granted immunity for his testimony before the Senate where he admitted breaking the law. The following high officials’ guilt was established:
- Caspar Weinberger (R) Secretary of Defense, was indicted on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice on June 16, 1992. Weinberger received a pardon from George H. W. Bush on December 24, 1992 before he was tried.
- William Casey (R) Head of the CIA. Thought to have conceived the plan, was stricken ill hours before he would testify. Reporter Bob Woodward records that Casey knew of and approved the plan.
- Robert C. McFarlane (R) National Security Adviser, convicted of withholding evidence, but after a plea bargain was given only 2 years probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
- Elliott Abrams (R) Assistant Secretary of State, convicted of withholding evidence, but after a plea bargain was given only 2 years probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
- Alan D. Fiers Chief of the CIA‘s Central American Task Force, convicted of withholding evidence and sentenced to one year probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
- Clair George Chief of Covert Ops-CIA, convicted on 2 charges of perjury, but pardoned by President George H. W. Bush before sentencing.
- Oliver North (R) member of the National Security Council convicted of accepting an illegal gratuity, obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and destruction of documents, but the ruling was overturned since he had been granted immunity.
- John Poindexter National Security Advisor (R) convicted of 5 counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence. The Supreme Court overturned this ruling.
- Richard V. Secord Ex-major general in the Air Force who organized the Iran arms sales and Contra aid. He pleaded guilty in November 1989 to making false statements to Congress. Sentenced to two years of probation.
Bill Clinton was brought within seventeen votes of impeachment because of receiving oral sex from an intern and lying about it. The Supreme Court speciously ruled that a sitting President must take part in a minor civil lawsuit and from there Clinton made the mistake of lying about a legal act. Yet Ronald Reagan and G.H.W. Bush were allowed to be deposed at their convenience about Iran-Contra and stated they didn’t remember giving any order mobilizing it. The Secretary of Defense, Director of the CIA and National Security Advisor were in on this illegal plan and two were pardoned by G.H.W. Bush. There was never a hint of a call for impeachment and the press in its coverage was curiously deferential in their dealings with both the President and his Vice-President.
In the early 1980’s there were fifty corporations that controlled most mainstream media, today there are only six corporations. These corporations are decidedly Republican/Conservative in management. I do believe that freedom of the press still hangs on by a fraying thread in this country due to the Internet. However, that “freedom” is limned by its’ corporate ownership. If a particular reporter, commentator or newscaster wants to keep their jobs they must perform within written and/or unwritten parameters.
MSNBC, for instance, got rid of Phil Donahue, Keith Obermann and Cenk Ungyar for perhaps straying outside of corporate political parameters. Of course MSNBC is perceived as the country’s most left leaning news source, even though their morning show is hosted by conservatives and they are controlled by a major corporation not known for its’ “liberalism”. NBC Universal is owned by Comcast and GE, which is America’s premier defense contractor. FOXNews and CNN are both right of center, with FOX of course veering off into radical territory. Media watchdogs have proven that male Republicans represent more than two thirds of the guests on the previously prestigious Sunday Morning news shows. Talk radio is predominantly owned by “Clear Channel”, which is a decidedly conservative corporation that presents overwhelmingly conservative talk show hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, with ties to the Bush Family constellation, presenting overwhelmingly conservative talk show hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck.
My belief, backed factually below, is that part of the reason democracy is failing in this country is that the people are being kept seriously misinformed. Television has still been shown to be the place where most Americans get their news and television commentators and reporters help set our national agendas and priorities. In a Pew Poll referenced below 66% of Americans prefer TV as their news source, but 41% now prefer the Internet and that preference is ascending. This is why there are so many efforts being made to rein in the Internet so that corporate control of information can be solidified.
In my opinion neither Bill Clinton, nor Barack Obama were able to comprehend exactly what was facing them as they tried to govern. They were convinced through prior successes, that with their personal charisma, if they just kept repeating the old formulas of reaching out and making compromises they could achieve the goals of greatness each had set for himself. They were both unprepared for having the agenda-setting torn from their hands and instead having to deal with firestorms of made up controversy. They are to be blamed for their naivete/narcissism, but we citizens too must assume some of that blame. When 9/11 occurred we Americans allowed ourselves to be stampeded into two wars, costing many innocent lives and much money that could have been used for better purposes. There are ways, hard as they may be, to take money out of the political system, but what do we do to re-establish a free press that can give Americans the access to the information necessary to democratically govern ourselves? To answer my original question, “what’s going on” is that our media has become as phony as Pravda and Tass were to the people of the Soviet Union. The difference is that most Soviet citizens knew they were being lied to, while most Americans are only dimly aware of this truth and believe that it can’t happen here.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger.
74 thoughts on “Hypocrisy Democracy: What’s Going On?”
Great blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays.
I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!
Wikileaks Pairs with Anonymous to Publish Intelligence Firm’s Dirty Laundry
By Quinn Norton
February 26, 2012 |
In an unprecedented collaboration between Anonymous and WikiLeaks, the secret spilling site began leaking Sunday night portions of a massive trove of e-mails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor that Anonymous obtained by hacking the company in December.
WikiLeaks did not mention the source of the reported five gigabytes of e-mails in its press release, but did say it has been working for months with 25 media outlets from around the world to analyze the documents.
The first batch of leaked e-mails purport to show that Stratfor monitored the political prankster group known as The Yes Men on behalf of Dow Chemical, which has been targeted by The Yes Men over the company’s handling of the Bhopal disaster. The e-mails also purport to show Stratfor’s attempt to set up an investment fund with a Goldman Sachs director to trade on the intelligence Stratfor collects, as well as give insight into how the private intelligence firm acquires, and sometimes pays for, information.
Stratfor, Stratfor, which bills itself as a private intelligence organization, sells its analyses of global politics to major corporations and government agencies.
Members of Anonymous with direct knowledge of the hack and transfer of data to WikiLeaks told Wired that the group decided to turn the information over to WikiLeaks because the site was more capable of analyzing and spreading the leaked information than Anonymous would be.
“WikiLeaks has great means to publish and disclose,” the anon told Wired. “Also, they work together with media in a way we don’t.”
“Basically, WL is the ideal partner for such stuff,” the anon continued. “Antisec acquires the shit, WL gets it released in a proper manner.” Antisec is the arm of Anonymous that is known for hacking into servers.
According to Antisec participants, Stratfor was targeted not just for its poor security, but also because of its client list, which includes major companies and government entities.
“We believe police and employees who work for the most significant fortune 500 companies are the most responsible for perpetuating the machinery of capitalism and the state,” said one Antisec participant in December, “That there will be repercussions for when you choose to betray the people and side with the rich ruling classes.”
Anons also told Wired that future collaborations with WikiLeaks could involve a series of hacks that will be announced, one after another, every Friday for the foreseeable future. If that happens, the Stratfor e-mail release could be the first sign of a new, powerful alliance between the two groups, each of which has vexed and angered the world’s most powerful governments and corporations.
When WikiLeaks received the documents on a server it controlled, it acknowledged the successful transfer with a coded, public Tweet, according to an anon with direct knowledge of the collaboration.
A document provided to Wired that could not be authenticated indicated that the media partners of WikiLeaks agreed to parcel out stories on the leaks over the coming week and a half. Those media partners do not include previous partners such as the Guardian and U.S. partners The New York Times and the Washington Post.
According to the document, e-mails about WikiLeaks and Anonymous will be disclosed Wednesday, followed by separate disclosures on Italy, the Middle East and then Asian countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, among others. The project, code-named Rock Guitar, is officially named “The Global Intelligence Files.”
Stratfor had been aware that the e-mails would likely be published in some form by Anonymous, but said in January that the e-mails should not embarrass the company.
The collaboration between WikiLeaks and Anonymous is an odd couple pairing. WikiLeaks has largely crumbled over the last 18 months, due to internal disagreements over the management style and legal problems of its outspoken leader Julian Assange. By contrast, Anonymous is an amorphous group with no leadership structure.
If Anonymous continues feeding WikiLeaks with documents, the secret spilling site could return to a prominence that seemed lost due to technical difficulties, legal troubles, in-fighting and public fallings out with media partners in the wake of the site’s publication of a massive trove of U.S. documents in 2010 and 2011.
WikiLeaks’s alleged source for those documents, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is facing a U.S. army court martial and a possible sentence of life imprisonment.
As for how the collaboration between the two groups went, an anon with direct knowledge of it indicated that the new relationship had some tough moments.
“There were some natural tensions as usually can happen inside partnership,” the anon said. ”I hope this was only the beginning of a beautiful relationship.” (end of article)
I am with Oro Lee…follow the money.
I don’t think I707 missed your point…. It just loves ad homenian attacks… You just seemed the logical obvious target…. Most who have studied US history… Would understand…. Those looking for a reason to be offensive don’t really need one except a target… You seemed obvious….
I understood.. Very well…
For those with the time, and Iran like it or not is timely now. try Robert Baers The enemy we know so well(?) which I’ve just started.
Published in 2008, it was prescient then, saying and showing how Iran has already won half the war with us already.
He also says that our taking down Iraq is the greatest strategic mistake in our history. And he shows why.
Iraq is essentially an ununifiable land, it was not and never will be a nation.
Saddam held together the Sunnis, the Shias, and the Kurds with terror.
BUT. again BUT, he was the armed bulwark that Iran could not defeat after 8 years war. He was the last defender of sunni power, something the Gulf Arabs and Saudi can not accomplish and are deathly fearful when he disappeared.
Let me close with two things: The iranians were there with their own and their own proxies in the government right after the 2 week americn victory parade. The other is, as Baer says, they think in terms of centurines, not next years budget or election.
Let me know what you think. Can describe the writer with one story, he was there with his CIA team in Iraq Kurd territory for some two years, before the 2003 war. And came away with many contacts which he uses now. He knows Iran since 25 years or so. So within the security classification limits you’ll get the real info from someone who was there on the ground and had contacts as high as NSC, although not always pleasant ones.
This dog is not as negative as some of the commenters here. I like this article and the comments very much. I am voting for Democrats and taking Democrats who cant drive or walk to the polls like I did in 2008.
Well, if I’m channeling you, it’s indeed an honor… 🙂
“Family of Secrets” has been on my list for awhile — I know that you mentioned it a week or so ago… Perhaps you mentioned it earlier and were the reason reason that I put it on my reading list in the first place… I’ll look forward to the Russ Baker article. In the meantime, I’ll check out the whowhatwhy site and get started on the book…
“Yellow Dog”? How many votes did you get? Remember, if YD wins by a landslide in November, you’ll have to take the job whether you like it or not. You have my endorsement.
….These folks seem to think that they’re helping themselves when they make these kinds of statements. Rather, they further reveal their agenda, if you will, IMO.”
Sure do. But really a threat to all who live under them in some way.
But I mean do we need any more threats to understand where we are?
I’m really not all that internet savvy so when I noticed this link appearing in the “trackback” section below the comments, I followed it. Must admit I never eve noticed “Trackbacks” before. Well it links to a rather flattering commentary on my article, that from my perspective in shorter, more elegant terms, describes exactly on what I was getting after. Thank you JP and Jim, I’m bookmarking your blog it looks like good stuff.
“Jim, this is another good take on the Clinton documentary (along with the Lanny Davis one I forwarded off blog), and widening to the Obama presidency and the media.The main point of it, which I agree with, I think is framed well and boils down a lot of what I say better than I have done. His main point, as I see it, is that our media is in large part to blame for the demise of our democracy (or at least our informed democracy) because no matter what the two parties say, the media will always treat it as simply two equal sides of the same coin. They see no objective truth or reality; they simply report he said/he said. So when one party goes completely off the rails and just makes stuff up, you’ll never know that from our (television) media, because they will simply continue to report the two sides as though both had equal validity, an equal claim to reality and objective fact. And since most Americans get their news (what little they may get) only from television, we end up where we are, with large parts of the country believing that, for example, Newt Gingrich really could magically make gasoline cost a mere two dollars a gallon as soon as he took office. Or that Obama has gone around apologizing for America. Or that there are death panels. Or that Obama really didn’t want to get Bin Laden. Or….well, you get the idea.”
In my state, with electronic voting, it’s pretty hard to write in a choice; even then, only those who have filed to be a write-in candidate are the only available choices in the machine!
Also in my state, republicans run unopposed in a lot of local elections.
In the last paper ballot election held in the state, I wrote “yellow dog” opposite every unopposed republican; otherwise, it was all democrat.
I am the only Yellow Dog Democrat — in both sentiment and deed — that I know of.
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