Ralph Nader and John Nichols and Bill Curry autopsy the Presidential election

clinton-trumpRalph Nader Radio Hour Episode 139

David Feldman, Ralph Nader, Bill Curry, John Nichols

David Feldman: Welcome to the Radio Nader Hour. My name is David Feldman. Steve Skrovan is shopping for property in Canada this week, and we’re here with the man of the hour Ralph Nader. Hi Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello, what a program we have today, post election.

David Feldman: Yes. We’re going to devote the full hour to election analysis with two of the most astute political commentators on the scene today. And we’re going to do that in a round table format. Joining us is returning guest Bill Curry who writes for Salon. Mr. Curry was a White House counselor to President Clinton and a two time Democratic Nominee for Governor of Connecticut. He’s at work on a book on President Obama and the politics of populism, welcome back Bill Curry.

Bill Curry: Thank you.

David Feldman: We’re also joined today for the very first time by the National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation Magazine, John Nichols. Mr. Nichols is also a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times. He’s also the associate editor of The Capitol Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, John Nichols.

John Nichols: It’s an honor to be with all of you.

David Feldman: Ralph?

Ralph Nader: Thank you again Bill and John. I want to get started with a comment you made this morning, John Nichols, on Democracy Now! This is the second Presidential election in sixteen years where the Democrats won the national popular vote for President and lost the Electoral College. When do you think the Democrats are going to take a stand against the Electoral College and support the ongoing interstate compact that has been led by Steve Silberstein in San Francisco that has now enough states to 165 electoral votes on the way to 270?

John Nichols: I would hope that one of the play outs of this election cycle would be a rapid and impassioned embrace of that change. Look, there are many proposals for how to get rid of the Electoral College. We should have done it a century ago, long, long ago, longer. But now, we are faced with a fundamental reality that I don’t think has yet dawned on most Americans, most journalist who are looking at this race. We have a lousy election system in this country. We don’t count ballots well or quickly. and the weeks go on. As we count all the ballots, all the provisional ballots just slowly recounted and reconciled out, we’re going to find out that Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote by a wider margin I believe than any “loser” in a presidential race in American history. It could well get toward a million votes. And if that happens, we should really recognize that if we were just like most other countries in the world, Donald Trump wouldn’t be president.

Ralph Nader: Let’s get to this next point of accountability. In parliamentary countries, when the ruling party loses, the head of the party often resigns his or her seat, as David Cameron did after the Brexit vote. Bill Curry, let me put this question to you. Who should resign in the Congress, in the leadership in the Congress or in the Democratic Party apparatus after this colossal disaster to someone who had a high untrustworthy poll, very high in the 60s and sometimes like 60% Donald Trump. And who was a hypocrite against most of the accusations he made about others, he was the target of his own accusations. Nancy Pelosi, let’s start with her, four time loser.

Bill Curry: First of all, the entire geriatric leadership of the Democratic Party in the House should have gone a long time ago. And if there even a bit of either a spine or self-respect to the House Democrats, they’ll finally do it. The Republicans have turned over their entire leadership team I believe – their entire team – three times while these same Democrats have been in control. The average age of Republican leaders are almost twenty years younger than that of a Democratic leader. They’re all out of touch. The politics that most of them have embraced has been now thoroughly discredited, not only to the base, but to almost anyone who pauses to think about it. So they should all go. The whole crowd the Clintons accumulated – of the Terry McAuliffes and Rahm Emanuels and Debbie Wasserman Schultzes and Doug Band – all of these people have hardly been performing public service and/or service to their party. But let me just point out one other thing. These people all did the wrong thing and they continue to, but it’s not why Bernie lost in the primary. For sure, without unions representing more than 70% of all members, Hillary Clinton never would have come close enough in Iowa to have pretended to win it. She never would have won Illinois without ASFME. She never would have won Massachusetts without the teachers or Nevada without the culinary workers. Our own progressive base did more to consolidate her nomination than this decrepit, feeble party had the ability to do. The housecleaning here isn’t just among the most obvious targets. I think it extends a bit further. And if housecleaning can’t happen, then just think of it just movement building. We need to rebuild the progressive, independent and stronger progressive movement that is no longer colonized by the Democratic Party. When we do, both the parties and movement would be better off.

Ralph Nader: Okay. Before we get to that, I want to talk about what kind of community mobilization, hopefully on left/right issues of gravity, after the election is over, working on both Republican and Democrat members of the Congress. Before we talk about that, let me put forward this thesis. The victory of Donald Trump – unheralded by most polls and most pundits – was a revolt of white America, a cultural revolt, an economic revolt, and a racial revolt. What’s your reaction to that thesis, John Nichols?

John Nichols: I think it’s more than that. And I think that we have to very careful about being cavalier in how we describe what has happened. But, what you are talking about is a component of what has happened. Now, the way to understand the circumstance we are in is that we’re now forty years into deindustrialization. We’re thirty years into radical globalization or twenty years into a digital revolution that has changed virtually everything about how we communicate, how we interact with one another. We’re about ten years or less into an automation revolution that’s going to change everything about how we work. In this country, you had a substantial number of working class people, not just white folks, you also have African Americans, Latinos and others who at one time had some assurance, especially if they were in a union job in an industrial setting of reasonably good work. Work that would pay them a decent salary, benefits and some sort of hope for a retirement and maybe also would provide employment for their kids and grandkids. That’s being blown apart. Because Donald Trump’s appeal was so frequently racist, xenophobic, cruel, sexist – you just run down the list of terms – some working class communities said, “We’re not going to go near that. We’re not going to vote for that guy.” Some white working class communities, especially in more rural areas and smaller cities said – even though I think many of them may have had genuine objections to how Trump communicated – said “We’re going to vote for an oligarch. We’re going to vote for a billionaire populist, because we think that maybe that’s going to help us get through this jarring moment that we can’t wrap our heads around.” And so, I think we need to understand all the factors that underpinned what has happened. And we also have to understand coming out of what Bill just said. We have to understand, this campaign never addressed anything, if almost nothing, of what I was just talking about with deindustrialization, globalization, digital revolution, automation. This was a backward looking campaign that offered people no vision for where we’re headed. And that’s on the Democratic Party.

Ralph Nader: Well, some people think that Donald Trump – using his own inimitable language – hijacked the progressive view of politics, apart from his bigoted and racial and misogynistic remarks. I want to play his last national TV ad. Remember, he was outspent at least four to one on national TV. He had no celebrities going around for him as Hillary Clinton did. He had no ground game to get out the vote. He was actually opposed by most CEOs and most media editorial positions. And he still prevailed in the Electoral College. Now take away the section in his ad on immigration, and I want you to react to this two-minute ad that was his final message to America. And one of his memorable phrases was, “This is our last chance.” And of course you know how many people have thought they knew who “our” was and “this is ‘our’ last chance.” Jimmy let’s play this two minute ad.

Donald Trump: “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people. The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind. The political establishment that is trying to stop us is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration, and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry. The political establishment has brought about the destruction of our factories and our jobs as they flee to Mexico, China, and other countries all around the world. It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities. The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you. The only force strong enough to save our country is us. The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people. I am doing this for the people and for the movement. And we will take back this country for you. And we will make America great again. I’m Donald Trump, and I approve this message.”

Ralph Nader: Okay John Nichols, Bill Curry, what’s your reaction to this? Did he hijack the progressive message? Why didn’t he have competition? And what do you think of the two minute finale that you just heard? Let’s start John Nichols.

John Nichols: Look, I heard that. And I heard actually the speeches in which he incorporated some of that language. This was a core theme. Of course, he hijacked language. I mean this is a guy talking about “our” movement. This is a guy talking about economic elites, about corporations. I mean, I know a guy on this call who ran for President once and talked about movements and economic elites and corporations, Ralph – and did so from a progressive populist position. Trump has clearly taken a great deal of the language. And it’s an interesting thing, too. He took something very much from the left, where he presented himself as part of the movement. He didn’t even say, “I’m your strong man, I’m your – you know – savior, I’m going to see you through this thing,” he said “our” movement. This is very smart language. His language is certainly informed by historic progressive messages and contemporary ideals, I think, in many cases. Until you ask the exact question, “How did the billionaire populist…” Right? That’s the phrase for this guy. “How did a billionaire populist, who is really more ‘billionaire’ than ‘populist’ and always will be abscond with so much of the language?” A: he’s not a politician. He assessed the circumstance, and he figured out what was needed, what would work, that was smart. He did that in the Republican primaries, and then he did it in the general election. But this is the heart of it. Democrats had a chance with Bernie Sanders to provide a deeper, clearer, much more effective articulation of these ideas, these concerns and a way out. They didn’t just reject Bernie Sanders, a lot of people in power in the Democratic Party, who said, “Oh no this guy, he would be a disaster. He would be, you know he would lose, you got to trust it to the tried and true people who’ve have been running this thing for a very long time.” If you read some of the e-mails that went back and forth between these top Democrats, they were pushing away, not just Bernie Sanders but Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio and anybody who came to them and said, “Look, this stuff is at the heart of what’s going on. We’ve got to embrace it. We’ve got to become, you know, better at talking about it.” So yes, Trump assessed the situation, figured out a language that was highly effective. It was a language Democrats could have embraced, could have made central to their campaign. They never comfortably did so, and they lost not just the presidency, but frankly because we’re evolving toward a parliamentary style system – not in reality but in the way that voting occurs – they also lost a lot of Senate races and House races, where people who were doing a better job of articulating that message were cut off, didn’t get to succeed because the Presidential candidate was so weak.

Ralph Nader: Bill, what’s your take on it? And bring in Bernie Sanders. What’s your take on this ad?

Bill Curry: First of all, I’d just make one small semantic quibble. And that is that Trump didn’t hijack the populism, the Democratic Party made a gift of it to him. And he simply accepted it. The second thing I would just say — and let me just sign on to everything that John has said – that that elite, as he alluded to, made a decision that in the midst of a global insurrection against political corruption and economic oligarchy that Hillary Clinton’s “pay to play” politics in global finance capitalism would somehow play better than Bernie Sanders Democratic Socialism. And every ideology thinks it’s scientific. And the hardest ideology to expose is centrist ideology, because they do the best job at pretending to be empirical. But the fact of the matter is, they ignored every poll they had, all the data they had, and even all the anecdotes they could possibly have accumulated in order to reach the conclusion that Hillary was a stronger candidate than Bernie. The Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the United States and maybe even the planet have all been changed in ways no rational person could welcome. And I remain certain that if anyone other than Clinton – and certainly if you accept for just one moment that when all the polls said the right things by such wide margins for so long they might be right – Bernie Sanders could have won this had he been the nominee, like Roosevelt took out Landon. And if she’d simply put him on the ticket, she probably could have brought Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And I see no reason to doubt the thesis. The Democratic Party – again as I said this morning, “Never underestimate the capacity of an entire social order to commit suicide.” And they did that. The last thing I want to add though, and just a sentence: and that is, I also strongly agree with what John said earlier. The worse mistake we could make isn’t – some Clinton people will blame the Bernie people. Somehow, I’m sure that will happen. I used to worry about it. But what I most worry about is that they’re going to blame the people. They’re going to blame the voters. They’re going to say that all the voters are just like Trump. As with all human change, the first road to growth starts with taking responsibility. The Democratic Party did this to itself. And while there are millions of voters who were no doubt racially motivated, there were millions of voters who’ve lost their pensions and the equity in their homes and their dreams of their children’s college education, who’ve become addicted and suicidal, whose mortality rates have diminished. And it’s been years since they heard anybody call their name. All that happened yesterday is that they got a chance – it was just one chance anybody had given them to say, “no.”

Ralph Nader: If you look at the map it’s amazing how the Democrat states are West Coast and East Coast above North Carolina. And in the middle country, everything in between, is very heavily Republican. It’s like they were ignored. They felt ignored. They were very resentful. They had very, very daily examples of that resentment. And here you go where the insurance company jacking up rates under Obamacare at the worst opportune moments. Let’s back up in terms of electoral reforms, do you think there should be universal voting, voting as a duty like in Australia and some other countries, together with a binding “none of the above” to deal with the civil liberties issue and instant run off voting. What do you think of those three, John Nichols?

John Nichols: Yes, yes, yes. Look, you pointed out that, when we look at that map, we have East Coast and West Coast states supporting Clinton, the Democrats. More of the center of the country, rejecting. At this point, we – because I think as you taught me, Ralph – must always look at the structural realities. The structural realities in America are that in a host of states since 2010, when Republican governors have come in, they’ve made it harder to vote with voter ID laws, with limits on early voting, with a host of interventions that, that just simply make it more difficult for working class people to cast a ballot. On the other hand, in Oregon they’re leading on some of the registration reforms you talk about. State of Maine looks like it’s headed toward an embrace of instant run-off voting. And we’ll see how the final results come there. We have communities across this country that have moved to reforms that you’re talking about. And they work. We’re not talking about some sort of fantasy here. We are talking about simple, political realities that are structural. And if they are implemented, they produce different results. One thing to remember about all this: our goal should be maximized turnout elections, high turnout elections in which great masses of people participate. In Iceland the other day, they had an election about a week ago where almost 80% of the people turned out. I don’t think we’ll get to 60% in America and potentially a good deal less than that. This is a big deal. Iceland, it looks like, may have a relatively conservative government. And yet their conservative government, because of that high turnout, will be environmentally sensitive, sensitive to women, supportive of the social welfare state, you know conservatism – so called conservatism in much of the rest of the world – is much more – not always – but often much more good management rather than some sort of alternative vision where you would really reject all these things because when you have high turnout, you can’t reject these basics. America is defined by our low turnout elections, by the difficulty of voting. And so Democrats, progressives, anybody who isn’t satisfied with Donald Trump should be immediately going to these structural responses and looking for ways to implement them at every level from the community to the state to ultimately the federal.

Ralph Nader: Bill, you’ve observed very closely Bernie Sanders’ movement. What do you think he should do right now, both in terms of mass rallies, perhaps before the end of the year? How does he bring his followers together, who are going in all directions despairing, some voted for Hillary, some voted for Trump, some stayed home, a few might have voted for the Greens? What would you recommend to Bernie Sanders? Because he has the only operating asset electorally left in the Democratic Party on the national scene.

Bill Curry: First of all, I would say that we woke up this morning with Bernie Sanders as the de facto leader of the Democratic Party in America. Now, that may not be true in a week or a month or a year, but it’s true this morning. The first question is the one you just posed. What will he do with that? Will he know what to do with it? There’s some things his people haven’t proven very good at so far, and that is knowing what to do organizationally. But to be fair, it’s a very complex question. The first thing he can do is make a decision to disempower himself in the following way: to find a way for the actual assets of this campaign to become the property of the people who built it. This is what a Democratic Socialist would want to do you, would think. It’s the opposite of what Obama did. Obama, you know, in 2008 built the largest grassroots, electoral political movement certainly in the nation’s history and then took it private and put it under the aegis of a couple of his corporate donors, quite literally, put them in charge of it. And they never had another meeting. And they just did what so much of the left has done which is, turn a grassroots movement into a Washington-based Pac with a grassroots mailing list. The challenge here is for Bernie and for the left to find out a way not to do that. Two of the glaring defects of left or shortcomings, I think, have been exposed in this campaign and recently. One is that – unlike progressive movements in other countries – we don’t have a public integrity movement that is strong. And we also don’t have a peace movement …

Ralph Nader: Bill, you’re talking about public corruption right, when you talk about public integrity?

Bill Curry: Uh huh.

Ralph Nader: Okay, you want to elaborate that?

Bill Curry: Yes, that’s right. We don’t have an anti-corruption movement in this country. Common Cause, I appreciate what they do. But there hasn’t been a strong – again we don’t have a strong independent progressive movement. And it would strengthen the Democrats, I’m almost sure, and the progressives for certain, if they became more independent and resume a kind of more arms length relationship with the Party. They have to do some building. The two areas that strike me as the areas in which we’re weakest are, one: public corruption; and two: peace. And we’ve had strong peace movements before. We don’t have one now. Other areas, we have a lot of other building to do. So it’s not just up to Bernie. That piece of it – it’s up to an awful lot of people. Define ways in which organizations as diverse as churches, non-profits and pacs can find a way to work together. And Bernie’s job is to go out there, I think, and continue to provide some spiritual leadership to this thing and to help frame the message, and to be very much a part of that. It’s not true that the country is just waiting for someone to run on exactly what progressives think. We have to do some retooling of our own. Our message isn’t quite ready, and we need to go through a policy process. I’ll just finish by saying, a mantra I’ve repeated in many articles and speeches over the last year: “policy precedes message.” First, you figure out what you believe, and then how to tell people about it. If you find the right concrete, compelling and specific idea, it will do your fundraising and your organizing for you. That’s how The (Nuclear) Freeze, that’s how your movement, that’s how every great progressive movement operated.

Ralph Nader: Bill, you know there is a sort of subliminal consensus on the militarization of foreign policy, interventionism, empire by both parties in this election, and they evidence that by hardly talking about it. And Bernie didn’t talk much about the militarization of foreign policy.

Bill Curry: Not his strong suit.

Ralph Nader: All empires devour themselves. And the diversion of massive portions of our public budget into the Pentagon budget, into the war making machine has bled dry the potential of renovating and refurbishing our massive public works that are crumbling all over the country, creating good paying jobs that can’t be exploited. What do you think should happen in terms of amplifying whatever movement Bernie had? By the way, for the first time, this progressive movement can raise good money. The same people that raised 235 million in small denominations for Bernie are still active. They’re ready to go. That means that there’s money for full time organizers in every Congressional district if Bernie is something other than a Lone Ranger.

John Nichols: Yeah, I think either of us would say similar things. But here is a way to back up and look at this. We know the military industrial complex about which Eisenhower warned is both a budgetary challenge, it’s also a structural challenge for our society. This is big deal stuff. But we also know that we have to figure out how to talk about all this. The answer to how we talk about this is to borrow a page from the past. When the nonpartisan leaders, the farmer laborites and the progressives of the Upper Midwest created independent third parties – all which by the way ultimately sort of evolved into the modern Democratic Party in those states at a time when those price are quite viable – they always put out these wonderful documents. I’ve got some of the historic ones. They’re full budgets. They would put out their whole budget and mass produce it and give it to activists across the state. They’d say, “Here’s how much we want to tax. Here is where we want to allocate the money. Here’s where we might open some things up for debate. But if we’re elected this is our budget, this is our plan and so we show you what we can do and how to do it.” If the Democratic Party was a progressive political party – or even progressive movements within it – were to simply do that on a regular basis, I think Americans would as justifiably be shocked by the disproportionality of our defense spending that by the corporate welfare, by all of the things that are run through a budget. This doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s that transparency, it’s that willingness to bring people into the process, that’s the only way to change it. You don’t change it by having some grand vision from above. You show people the reality and then you invite them to be a part of making that change.

Ralph Nader: Just to add to your point, John. Over 90% of the people want the Pentagon budget to be audited. Who wouldn’t? And the Pentagon budget is un-auditable. It’s violating Federal Law since 1992. The Congress knows that. It’s the only agency in government that does not provide audited material for the Government Accountability Office, the GAO arm of the US Congress. And there’s not one person working full time reflecting this massive left/right consensus that of course the bloated ways for redundant, corrupt contracting budget of the Pentagon should be audited. And that fits right in with the point you just made on the people’s budget being part of a grass root effort. Bill, you were going to say?

Bill Curry: I just wanted to say, but first of all that I – again I want to agree with John on that historical note, and there are thousand such examples – that the concreteness and specificity by their nature are radical, especially to now more than ever and they’re so important to any kind of successful movement building, public education. And it will almost always show that another really sort of key point which is that, you can either make the change or write the check. One of the reasons people end up liking so many Socialists who run for office is that they are also frugal and ethical, and that they demonstrate in their platforms that by embracing systemic reform, we save money in the end. And the government does become more accountable. That’s really the way to get to the kind of better-managed and more honest government people want. The transparency thing that you’ve talked about Ralph is so critical to this. One of the reasons they’re not going to get the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) is that they – unlike every European country in the European Trade Agreement – they refused to disclose the details to the public for years. And if they had, maybe they would have found out some of its gross defects. And maybe they would have been able to cobble together an agreement that in fact worked better for working people. But, you know, as it is that didn’t happen. It goes to the core of what we, of the pressure we bring on Trump. Trump did steal, more than anything, the public corruption agenda. And we have to hold his feet to the fire on it. Those are all important.

Ralph Nader: Okay, let me just get to third parties here. Before I want to provoke your imagination – we’re talking with John Nichols who writes for the Nation and the Capitol Times in Wisconsin. We’re talking with Bill Curry, who was the Councilor for President Clinton for a number of years, and who has written brilliant articles for Salon and now for The Daily Beast. Third Parties: here’s how they did yesterday. Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party, former Governor of New Mexico came in about 3%. You’ve got 4 million and 24,000 votes. He didn’t quite get to 5% for federal funding on the next round. Jill Stein, Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, she got about 1%, 1.2 million votes. Now, third parties have had a glorious history in the United States, even though they’ve never won a national election. They put on the table, they put on the ballot first, the abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, the protection of farmers by regulating railroads and banks in the late 19th Century, the organization of labor, the unions, fair labor standards in the 20th Century. Third parties first put on the ballot progressive taxation, a number of electoral reforms, Social Security, Medicare, consumer protection, unemployment compensation and on and on. They do provide a valuable push on the two party tyranny, on the two party duopoly. Now at what point would you, John Nichols or Bill Curry, reach a breaking point with the major party of your choice, which I assume is the Democratic Party? At what point in any quadrennial election do you say, “Now is the time?” Because for people who keep telling me, “Now is not the time to vote for a third party. We got a terrible Republican. And even though the Democrats are not good, they’re not as bad as a Republican.” Please can you tell us, who have worked in the third party vineyards, when is the time? And make any other brief comments on third parties.

John Nichols: I’ll just begin, because Bill then can bring the brilliance at the next stage. Let me offer this insight. We just had a classic example of the importance of third parties. The danger as regards to third parties is to always assume that the only measure of their success – and I know you don’t Ralph and I don’t expect you do either Bill – that the measure of their success is in votes. That it is electoral. It can also be in framing the debate. And what Jill Stein did at Standing Rock, where she went and stood in solidarity with Native Americans seeking to halt a pipeline was incredibly critical. When she went out there – I don’t know if everybody remembers this – she went there before most of the other folks, who have since been arrested, who brought more and more attention to this. And here she was, using her status as a third party candidate, maybe hoping, yes also to get attention to her candidacy, but using her status as a third party candidate, engaging in civil disobedience, participating in those protests. That goes back to Norman Thomas. That goes back to Eugene Victor Debs. This is a huge part of what a third party is about, what it can do. And we saw a good example of it. So we should celebrate that and embrace it. We also have to – as you’ve said so many times Ralph – break the corruption of the so-called “bipartisan” Commission on Debates. That’s the answer to your core question. When do we break? Some of us have already broken. And our break is to say that we have to make it possible for third parties to be heard at the start of the process in those first debates, because once you do that, then you get the deeper answer to your question. Because the deeper answer to your question from tens of millions of Americans is, that they will make the break when the third party is viable, when they see the possibility that their vote might not win but at least it can move the ball. And getting into the debates is absolutely critical to that, because suddenly you can have a candidate, who is very much on the margins, brought into the center of the discourse. I really strongly emphasize this: that we should all make the first break and be radically, passionately committed to multi-party debates. And I’ll tell you something else. A multi-party debate would have been bad for Donald Trump. Bottom line is, he was helped by one-on-one debates in which it was just him going back and forth. And everybody thought – a lot of people thought – Hillary Clinton won the debates. And I happen to be one of them. But the fact of the matter is, he stood alone on the stage with her as the only alternative. And so, people – Democrats – ought to really think about that.

Ralph Nader: Bill, in your most recent article, you say, “The most consequential election of our lives may end in a photo finish. Many progressives who back Bernie Sanders support Jill Stein or plan on staying home, I write to implore them to vote for Hillary Clinton, for our country and for our planet’s sake. And because for progressives, it’s a smart move.” Now, what do you think about the third party – the exclusionary debates, the harassment of third parties, ballot access obstacles – do they have a future in America?

Bill Curry: Okay first of all, on all the questions of ballot access and harassment and debate access, I agree with you. And I have long said – what John just said about this year. I believe that if Jill Stein had been allowed to participate in the debates this year, Hillary Clinton would have won. I believe – and I have said for sixteen years now – that if they’d let you into the debates in 2000, Gore would have won. Because you would have done a much better – I feel more certain of you than I do with Jill Stein – but you would have framed the issues that Gore didn’t. And it would have actually helped him. But they were too afraid. I’m in the group though – and you and I have had this argument between us for decades now – I think it’s the single thing that we most consistently disagree on – close to the only one – and that is this: that I still believe that we are in much more in need of a second party than a third party. And I’ve been on this hobbyhorse for thirty years now. That the Green Party – I disagree with John on this – I don’t think the Green Party made any difference at all in this election, except as a kind of a distraction. And progressives should ponder hard the fact that millennials overwhelmingly chose Libertarian over Green. And that ought to be part of our policy discussion. And I would also say that even though I lost the job I worked hardest for, the governorship of Connecticut, because a third party candidate bled a few votes – and it would have been the most progressive administration in the modern history of the country on a state level – I don’t denigrate third party movements, because I recognize their contribution. But I also recognize that it’s the movements that produce the ideas that you didn’t have to be in an election and then it’s harder now. And this is something you and I talked about a lot. It’s so much harder to educate now in an election. The debate doesn’t begin until the day after the election. It’s what’s insidiously wrong with where we are now. And so, I really wish that the left would just finally take a hard look at what the right has done. The Tea Party is six years old, it now runs the House, the Senate, the White House, the Supreme Court and is the most important influence in State Houses across the country. And it represents a tiny minority of American opinion. Progressives are closely aligned not only with our best values but the majority opinions of the broad middle class. And we’ve never been worse off. I would like us to just finally take that lesson to heart and do – not what the Greens do – but with the Working Families Party model has – at least banner – is moving toward. You primary the worst ones. You endorse the best ones. And you run independents where it makes tactical sense for your movement and for your cause.

Ralph Nader: All right.

Bill Curry: Protest politics isn’t enough. We have to learn to vie for power. That’s what I think.

Ralph Nader: Okay, now I want to move you to an area where you have to imagine in order to envision real possibilities. An enlightened mega billionaire comes to you, John Nichols, and to Bill Curry – and I want to see what your respective answers are. The billionaire says, “I’m going to give you $5 billion, and I want a plan what you would do with it to turn politics around in our country, from the bottom up and from the top down in a reasonable period of time, say thirty-six months crossing an election, or 48 months.” John Nichols, what would you do with that $5 billion, how would you use it?

John Nichols: $5 billion?

Ralph Nader: 5 billion with a B.

John Nichols: Okay. I would use the existing and rapidly developing digital platforms in which to create a national movement for a simple tax check off or tax benefit that would allow citizens to give $200 a year, tax free. They would get the money back to pay for nonprofit, independent media. I would use the 5 billion not to create independent media, but to create a mechanism by which citizens could support independent media that they approve of. It could be on the left, it can be on the right but the bottom line is, it has to be journalistic. It has to actually have at least some model where it goes out and reports on the news and gets information into this process. I’ll tell you what, give you an example of what that could do. If you had a million people who had their $200 and they all gave it to Amy Goodman, Ralph, you and I last night might well have been talking to the great majority of Americans.

Ralph Nader: Okay, now keep, keep going John, keep adding to the list. Yeah keep adding what else would you use, because you got a lot of money left over. Go ahead.

John Nichols: If I win that fight quick, right?

Ralph Nader: Yeah, okay.

John Nichols: And I really get that popularized and make that a left/right model. Then fight number two is: fight number two is for – and it’s just going to put me at odds with Bill here – it’s for every structural model that allows for multiparty democracy. And the reason I want multiparty democracy is – and obviously I think that relates to instant run-off voting or proportional representation or models of that sort is that – I want at the local state and national levels options for people to come into the process that they don’t feel they’re wasting their vote. When I talk about multiparty democracy, I’m literally talking about having three or four parties on the ballot and having them have some model, where they can get places in every race. And to make that the core of that – and how I might when I said “multiple avenues” and might get us there – the core of that is eliminating gerrymandering. The vast majority of Americans cast their ballots in the vast majority of races for candidates who they know are going to win or lose before they cast that ballot. What was remarkable about last night was we got a surprise out of it, right? That’s incredibly rare in American politics. Rob Richie over at FairVote and others, they usually predict the vast majority of Congressional races before they begin and so …

Bill Curry: Poor outcome, but yes.

John Nichols: … I know…

Ralph Nader: Okay.

John Nichols: … and I’ve been a passionate supporter for years of, of getting money out of politics and all sorts of other things …

Ralph Nader: Okay.

John Nichols: … but I think the biggest barrier is gerrymandering the limits on multiparty democracy.

Ralph Nader: Okay, Bill how would you use these billions of dollars in terms of organizing communities and Congressional and Legislative districts for action?

Bill Curry: First of all, I just want to say that I actually agree with John on most of what he just said. If we have instant run-off voting across America I’d be for third parties …

John Nichols: We’d also be identifying you as the former Governor of Connecticut.

Bill Curry: Yes, we would be, but it’s not just for that one selfish reason. Yes, yes my objection to third party systems is the system’s own intolerance of them and that I can’t find a way around it, unless we were to do what you said, that I’d want to have the instant runoff ballots before I committed to the party. But in the answer to Ralph’s question, I would in fact thank the donor for his generosity and then give him back the money, because that’s not my model. And this isn’t really about money. And that’s been one of the nice lessons of this election. You cannot draw a statistical correlation anywhere, primary or general, between money spent and outcome. It’s been true for a long time. I’ve argued since at least 1996, when I analyzed the Clinton race on it. And it’s the great untold secret of our politics that the money isn’t as important. What we need – and secondly because that I really agree with what John said about our need for a new and independent nonprofit media. I believe strongly in that – But what I believe most – I just have to go back is the problem here is intellectual. I just want to give one example from the The (Nuclear) Freeze, and I’ll …

Ralph Nader: Yeah very quickly, very quickly because I want to challenge you on this. So very quickly because we’re running out of time.

Bill Curry: … in the nuclear freeze movement, it was the concreteness and the specificity and the fact that the movement had a deal breaker, “If you weren’t with us, we weren’t for you.” The left doesn’t have any more deal breakers, apparently. The concreteness and specificity and power, the idea was, “bilateral, verifiable freeze on the development, production, deployment of nuclear weapons.” And the country heard the specific idea and bought it. And secondly, ala Saul Alinsky, the movement wasn’t conveyed by any kind of technological media. It was a person-to- person, face-to-face, producing the kinds of chemical reactions of change that I believe only human connection can do. And so, that’s my model. And that’s sort of the vision I have. And whether it’s entirely true or not, I want to push more of it.

Ralph Nader: All right let me challenge you, Bill. Historically, there haven’t been many successful mass movements without full time organizers in the field. Think the Labor Movement, think the Civil Rights Movement. If we are going to change this country, the way our system is calibrated, we have to focus, have the attention on Congress and state legislatures. That’s the way the Constitutions have opened the paths. If we’re going to transform this country, we have to have organizers in the field. We have to have people mobilizing, volunteer inputs and full time staffs and full time offices. Why wouldn’t you want to use some of this $5 billion to put full time Congress watchdog groups, deploying citizen summons in town meetings to the Senators and Representatives in every Congressional district? Full time offices backed by hundreds of engaged volunteer citizens, invoking left/right consensus. Why wouldn’t you want to recognize that without field organizers, you can’t make democracy work? And that takes money.

Bill Curry: I do recognize it …

Ralph Nader: That takes money.

Bill Curry: I do recognize this, let me just say Ralph, number: one your own movement to Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the rest of the Environmental Movement, the Peace Movement, they all had tens of thousands of organizers, who weren’t paid. One of the questions here is why we have given up on that idea. And why that’s disappeared. The story of the implosion of the left in the last forty years is every bit as important as the rise of the right. But it’s gotten a lot less attention, and I think that we should look at that. I also believe that money always comes with strings, even if they’re invisible. And I also believe it’s not top down. And I believe that this election is ultimately the greatest refutation. Think of the Democrats vaunted ground game, and all the fortune spent on it. You know what? A grassroots organizing campaign, it’s like wiring a house for electricity. You can put all the wiring and the outlets and the appliances all in, but if there’s no juice in the system, when you pull the switch the lights don’t go on. And “the juice” are the values and the convictions and the ideas that drive the movement. If we took $5 billion before we took a hard look at ourselves as to what it is we’re about to sell, we’d be making a mistake. And if we figure that out well enough, just like the Consumer Movement, just like The Freeze, just like the Women’s Movement, just like the Civil Rights Movement, we’ll win.

Ralph Nader: Well, you make an interesting point. John Nichols, let me ask you this in conclusion. What do you think should be done, given the fact that 2018 is going to help the Republicans take more control of the Senate, because I think three times more Democrats are up. It doesn’t look good for the Democrats to take back Congress anytime soon. What do you think should be done in terms of progressive politics at the grassroots, beyond exhortation? How do we organize people, whether they’re volunteers, whether they are helped by full time organizers? That to me is the essential question today, because I just finished writing a little paperback called, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think, and a lot of the examples echo Bill’s optimism here. But what would you do on the ground?

John Nichols: Go to the states. Look, you’re right about taking back the House and the Senate. There are real challenges there, and that’s just cycles of politics. Although, I think it may be a little easier than than we think, because I think there will be a reaction to President Trump. But if there is that reaction to President Trump, one of the best places for it to play out is in the states. You have a number of governors and a lot of state legislators, who are in positions of power because we have moved into a counter cyclical pattern in our politics: whatever president is in the White House, in the states you often have in off year elections a reaction to that, a push back against it. In Wisconsin when George W. Bush was in the White House, you had Democrats win the 2002 and 2006 elections in Wisconsin. When you had Barrack Obama in the White House, you had Republicans win the 2010, 2014 elections. I think there’s a lot of genuine political opportunity in the states in 2018. I would put a lot of energy there. And that has a payback on the federal level, because the governors and legislators elected in 2018 will have the ability to do redistricting in a manner that might undo a tremendous amount of the damage done as regards to competitive congressional districts. Just massive commitment to the states.

Ralph Nader: Okay, one quick question to John, and then one question to both of you. Your home state of Wisconsin, how in the world did Russ Feingold lose to Senator Johnson?

John Nichols: Sure. The answer to that is very, very simple. I kind of referenced it earlier. We are moving toward a parliamentary system in our elections, not in our governance, it’s different. We still have obviously separation of powers, three branches of government et cetera. But the fact of the matter is, if you look around the country and you see how our politics played out, it is simply that people don’t split their tickets anymore at the level that they once did. Russ Feingold, as recently as 2004 against a very viable wealthy candidate, spending a lot of money, got well over a hundred – some people say even to the range of 200,000 – votes from people that voted for George W. Bush for President. Now in 2004, Russ Feingold is running as a guy who would had opposed the Patriot Act, opposed the War in Iraq, oppose so many of Bush’s initiatives, but people are willing to split their tickets because they respected Feingold. Even some conservatives voted for him because they liked his civil liberties. We’ve really lost that. I can’t emphasize, Ralph and then Bill, how real that reality is. You show me a State where Trump wins by in large – not always – but by in large, I’ll show you a state where the Republican won the competitive Senate race and vice versa. We’re losing a lot of ground there.

Ralph Nader: Okay, last quick question. I want to sense your temperament here. Do you think after four straight Congressional loses in the House of Representatives that Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer should step down from the leadership and open up a contest for new leadership of the Democrats in the House?

Bill Curry: I’ll go first, because this is the rare issue in which I beat you to the punch. I wrote a piece on this. My last piece on this was a year ago. And the one before that was three years ago. Absolutely. And if they don’t, someone in the House caucus should rise up. That Chuck Schumer would be Wall Street’s biggest friend in the United States Senate and become the minority leader on a voice vote, and that this failed leadership in the House, right across the board remains in power, its failures. It’s just tells you how little respect they have.

Ralph Nader: You’re talking about Senator Chuck Schumer in the Senate becoming a minority leader.

Bill Curry: I’m talking about Senator Chuck Schumer in the Senate, and I’m talking about the House. And for Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and all the – I’ve called many times for them to resign or be ousted – and again I have nothing against any of them. They’re all fine. But they’ve done a terrible job of figuring out what the right policy is.

Ralph Nader: Okay.

Bill Curry: We had thirty districts uncontested this year. There’s so many things about them that have failed. If the Democrats don’t bring a new leadership now, it’s clear they’re not committed to reforming their own party or bringing it back.

Ralph Nader: Okay. John, what’s your view?

John Nichols: It’s my turn to agree with Bill very passionately.

Bill Curry: Oh, good.

John Nichols: This has nothing to do with personalities. It’s a much simpler equation than that. Parties that lose replace their leaders, right? I mean this is very, very common. Sometimes, you will give a leader a couple of tries. They let Tom Dewey try twice for President, and it just didn’t work. They let Adlai Stevenson as well. But the Democratic Party is in total crisis. Understand this. They just lost to Donald Trump, okay? You don’t have to really talk about it beyond that. They also lost all six Senate races to unbelievably ridiculous and awful candidates. And so at this most fundamental level, you just pause and you say, “Okay, we’re not very good at this. And let’s get good at this, because that’s the nature of the game.” The first thing you do is you bring in a new group of people, but you also listen to something Bernie Sanders has said. This is a very big deal. Bernie Sanders says that they’ve got to just open that Party up to young people. Everybody
says, “How are we going to get the young people engaged? How are we going to diversify our politics, open it up?” Well, Bernie Sanders was bringing tens of millions – well I should say – he was bringing millions adding up to a vote that was well over ten million. But, millions of young people entered the process. Some of these states who was getting over 80% of the votes from the people under the age of thirty. And as Sanders has said, you know it wasn’t like when he got done. The Party said, “We love your people. We want to bring them in? No, there was a fear – now Sanders doesn’t say this – I say it. But I think there was a fear of his base, because it didn’t just arrive and say, “We want to fit in.” It arrived saying, “We want a revolution.”

Ralph Nader: We’re out of time.

John Nichols: This is a constant struggle.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, we’re out of time. This has been a very invigorating conversation. Hopefully, we can continue it in the future. Thank you very much to John Nichols, regular contributor to The Nation magazine, The Capitol Times and to Bill Curry, a contributor to Salon, former councilor to President Clinton and now writes for The Daily Beast. Thank you very much, gentlemen.

Bill Curry: Thank you both, John, Ralph it’s been an honor. I really, really appreciate it. Thank you.

John Nichols: I couldn’t think of a better thing to be doing on the day after yesterday.

Billy Curry: And I feel a little better.


Ralph Nader: I hope we set the stage for some analytic introspection here. That’s very good, I really appreciate your coming on, yeah, I hope we can do it again. Thanks a lot, John.

Billy Curry: All right guys.

Ralph Nader: Okay bye-bye now.

Billy Curry: Thank you, bye-bye.

John Nichols: Take good care.

David Feldman: Ralph, I echo everything they said. What about joining the Republican Party? It seems like that’s the only vigorous debate that’s going on. What if you’re a liberal, a progressive and you just go in and just join the Republican Party? Is that the same?

Ralph Nader: You need your own standup comedy act.

David Feldman: That’s our show, I want to thank our guests today Bill Curry from Salon and John Nichols from The Nation. A transcript of this episode will be posted on ralphnaderradiohour.com. For Ralph’s weekly blog, go to nader.org. Russell Mohkiber, we didn’t have time for him today but for more of him go to corporatecrimereporter.com. Remember to visit the country’s only law museum, the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut. Go to tortmuseum.org. The producers of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and Matthew Marran. Our executive producer is Alan Minsky. Our theme music “Stand Up! Rise Up!” was written and performed by Kemp Harris. Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Talk to you then, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much David and Jimmy. What we need to do now is start organizing our communities on Congress and state legislatures after this upheaval of November 8th, 2016, where once again the winner of the popular vote lost the election to the winner of the Electoral College.

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Full Interview of Julian Assange by John Pilger on the State of the Union 2016


[Interview published November 5, 2016 with transcript]

John Pilger:
What’s the significance of the FBI’s intervention in these last days of the U.S. election campaign, in the case against Hillary Clinton?

Julian Assange:
If you look at the history of the FBI, it has become effectively America’s political police. The FBI demonstrated this by taking down the former head of the CIA [General David Petraeus] over classified information given to his mistress. Almost no-one is untouchable. The FBI is always trying to demonstrate that no-one can resist us. But Hillary Clinton very conspicuously resisted the FBI’s investigation, so there’s anger within the FBI because it made the FBI look weak. We’ve published about 33,000 of Clinton’s emails when she was Secretary of State. They come from a batch of just over 60,000 emails, [of which] Clinton has kept about half – 30,000 — to herself, and we’ve published about half.

Then there are the Podesta emails we’ve been publishing. [John] Podesta is Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign manager, so there’s a thread that runs through all these emails; there are quite a lot of pay-for-play, as they call it, giving access in exchange for money to states, individuals and corporations. [These emails are] combined with the cover up of the Hillary Clinton emails when she was Secretary of State, [which] has led to an environment where the pressure on the FBI increases.

John Pilger:
The Clinton campaign has said that Russia is behind all of this, that Russia has manipulated the campaign and is the source for WikiLeaks and its emails.

Julian Assange:
The Clinton camp has been able to project that kind of neo-McCarthy hysteria: that Russia is responsible for everything. Hilary Clinton stated multiple times, falsely, that seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That is false; we can say that the Russian government is not the source.

WikiLeaks has been publishing for ten years, and in those ten years, we have published ten million documents, several thousand individual publications, several thousand different sources, and we have never got it wrong.

John Pilger:
The emails that give evidence of access for money and how Hillary Clinton herself benefited from this and how she is benefitting politically, are quite extraordinary. I’m thinking of when the Qatari representative was given five minutes with Bill Clinton for a million dollar cheque.

Julian Assange:
And twelve million dollars from Morocco …

John Pilger:
Twelve million from Morocco yeah.

Julian Assange:
For Hillary Clinton to attend [a party].

John Pilger:
In terms of the foreign policy of the United States, that’s where the emails are most revealing, where they show the direct connection between Hillary Clinton and the foundation of jihadism, of ISIL, in the Middle East. Can you talk about how the emails demonstrate the connection between those who are meant to be fighting the jihadists of ISIL, are actually those who have helped create it.

Julian Assange:
There’s an early 2014 email from Hillary Clinton, not so long after she left the State Department, to her campaign manager John Podesta that states ISIL is funded by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now this is the most significant email in the whole collection, and perhaps because Saudi and Qatari money is spread all over the Clinton Foundation. Even the U.S. government agrees that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIL, or ISIS. But the dodge has always been that, well it’s just some rogue Princes, using their cut of the oil money to do whatever they like, but actually the government disapproves.

But that email says that no, it is the governments of Saudi and Qatar that have been funding ISIS.

John Pilger:
The Saudis, the Qataris, the Moroccans, the Bahrainis, particularly the Saudis and the Qataris, are giving all this money to the Clinton Foundation while Hilary Clinton is Secretary of State and the State Department is approving massive arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia.

Julian Assange:
Under Hillary Clinton, the world’s largest ever arms deal was made with Saudi Arabia, [worth] more than $80 billion. In fact, during her tenure as Secretary of State, total arms exports from the United States in terms of the dollar value, doubled.

John Pilger:
Of course the consequence of that is that the notorious terrorist group called ISIl or ISIS is created largely with money from the very people who are giving money to the Clinton Foundation.

Julian Assange:

John Pilger:
That’s extraordinary.

Julian Assange:
I actually feel quite sorry for Hillary Clinton as a person because I see someone who is eaten alive by their ambitions, tormented literally to the point where they become sick; they faint as a result of [the reaction] to their ambitions. She represents a whole network of people and a network of relationships with particular states. The question is how does Hilary Clinton fit in this broader network? She’s a centralising cog. You’ve got a lot of different gears in operation from the big banks like Goldman Sachs and major elements of Wall Street, and Intelligence and people in the State Department and the Saudis.

She’s the centraliser that inter-connects all these different cogs. She’s the smooth central representation of all that, and ‘all that’ is more or less what is in power now in the United States. It’s what we call the establishment or the DC consensus. One of the more significant Podesta emails that we released was about how the Obama cabinet was formed and how half the Obama cabinet was basically nominated by a representative from City Bank. This is quite amazing.

John Pilger:
Didn’t Citybank supply a list …. ?

Julian Assange:

John Pilger:
… which turned out to be most of the Obama cabinet.

Julian Assange:

John Pilger:
So Wall Street decides the cabinet of the President of the United States?

Julian Assange:
If you were following the Obama campaign back then, closely, you could see it had become very close to banking interests.

Julian Assange:
So I think you can’t properly understand Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy without understanding Saudi Arabia. The connections with Saudi Arabia are so intimate.

John Pilger:
Why was she so demonstrably enthusiastic about the destruction of Libya? Can you talk a little about just what the emails have told us, told you about what happened there, because Libya is such a source for so much of the mayhem now in Syria, the ISIL jihadism and so on, and it was almost Hillary Clinton’s invasion. What do the emails tell us about that?

Julian Assange:
Libya, more than anyone else’s war, was Hillary Clinton’s war. Barak Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person championing it? Hillary Clinton. That’s documented throughout her emails. She had put her favoured agent, Sidney Blumenthal, on to that; there’s more than 1700 emails out of the thirty three thousand Hillary Clinton emails that we’ve published, just about Libya. It’s not that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state — something that she would use in her run-up to the general election for President.

So in late 2011 there is an internal document called the Libya Tick Tock that was produced for Hillary Clinton, and it’s the chronological description of how she was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state, which resulted in around 40,000 deaths within Libya; jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in, leading to the European refugee and migrant crisis.

Not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people fleeing Syria, the destabilisation of other African countries as a result of arms flows, but the Libyan state itself err was no longer able to control the movement of people through it. Libya faces along to the Mediterranean and had been effectively the cork in the bottle of Africa. So all problems, economic problems and civil war in Africa — previously people fleeing those problems didn’t end up in Europe because Libya policed the Mediterranean. That was said explicitly at the time, back in early 2011 by Gaddafi: ‘What do these Europeans think they’re doing, trying to bomb and destroy the Libyan State? There’s going to be floods of migrants out of Africa and jihadists into Europe, and this is exactly what happened.

John Pilger:
You get complaints from people saying, ‘What is WikiLeaks doing? Are they trying to put Trump in the Whitehouse?’

Julian Assange:
My answer is that Trump would not be permitted to win. Why do I say that? Because he’s had every establishment off side; Trump doesn’t have one establishment, maybe with the exception of the Evangelicals, if you can call them an establishment, but banks, intelligence [agencies], arms companies… big foreign money … are all united behind Hillary Clinton, and the media as well, media owners and even journalists themselves.

John Pilger:
There is the accusation that WikiLeaks is in league with the Russians. Some people say, ‘Well, why doesn’t WikiLeaks investigate and publish emails on Russia?’

Julian Assange:
We have published about 800,000 documents of various kinds that relate to Russia. Most of those are critical; and a great many books have come out of our publications about Russia, most of which are critical. Our [Russia]documents have gone on to be used in quite a number of court cases: refugee cases of people fleeing some kind of claimed political persecution in Russia, which they use our documents to back up.

John Pilger:
Do you yourself take a view of the U.S. election? Do you have a preference for Clinton or Trump?

Julian Assange:
[Let’s talk about] Donald Trump. What does he represent in the American mind and in the European mind? He represents American white trash, [which Hillary Clinton called] ‘deplorable and irredeemable’. It means from an establishment or educated cosmopolitan, urbane perspective, these people are like the red necks, and you can never deal with them. Because he so clearly — through his words and actions and the type of people that turn up at his rallies — represents people who are not the middle, not the upper middle educated class, there is a fear of seeming to be associated in any way with them, a social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of somehow assisting Trump in any way, including any criticism of Hillary Clinton. If you look at how the middle class gains its economic and social power, that makes absolute sense.

John Pilger:
I’d like to talk about Ecuador, the small country that has given you refuge and [political asylum] in this embassy in London. Now Ecuador has cut off the internet from here where we’re doing this interview, in the Embassy, for the clearly obvious reason that they are concerned about appearing to intervene in the U.S. election campaign. Can you talk about why they would take that action and your own views on Ecuador’s support for you?

Julian Assange:
Let’s let go back four years. I made an asylum application to Ecuador in this embassy, because of the U.S. extradition case, and the result was that after a month, I was successful in my asylum application. The embassy since then has been surrounded by police: quite an expensive police operation which the British government admits to spending more than £12.6 million. They admitted that over a year ago. Now there’s undercover police and there are robot surveillance cameras of various kinds — so that there has been quite a serious conflict right here in the heart of London between Ecuador, a country of sixteen million people, and the United Kingdom, and the Americans who have been helping on the side. So that was a brave and principled thing for Ecuador to do. Now we have the U.S. election [campaign], the Ecuadorian election is in February next year, and you have the White House feeling the political heat as a result of the true information that we have been publishing.

WikiLeaks does not publish from the jurisdiction of Ecuador, from this embassy or in the territory of Ecuador; we publish from France, we publish from, from Germany, we publish from The Netherlands and from a number of other countries, so that the attempted squeeze on WikiLeaks is through my refugee status; and this is, this is really intolerable. [It means] that [they] are trying to get at a publishing organisation; [they] try and prevent it from publishing true information that is of intense interest to the American people and others about an election.

John Pilger:
Tell us what would happen if you walked out of this embassy.

Julian Assange:
I would be immediately arrested by the British police and I would then be extradited either immediately to the United States or to Sweden. In Sweden I am not charged, I have already been previously cleared [by the Senior Stockholm Prosecutor Eva Finne]. We were not certain exactly what would happen there, but then we know that the Swedish government has refused to say that they will not extradite me to the United States we know they have extradited 100 per cent of people whom the U.S. has requested since at least 2000. So over the last fifteen years, every single person the U.S. has tried to extradite from Sweden has been extradited, and they refuse to provide a guarantee [that won’t happen].

John Pilger:
People often ask me how you cope with the isolation in here.

Julian Assange:
Look, one of the best attributes of human beings is that they’re adaptable; one of the worst attributes of human beings is they are adaptable. They adapt and start to tolerate abuses, they adapt to being involved themselves in abuses, they adapt to adversity and they continue on. So in my situation, frankly, I’m a bit institutionalised — this [the embassy] is the world .. it’s visually the world [for me].

John Pilger:
It’s the world without sunlight, for one thing, isn’t it?

Julian Assange:
It’s the world without sunlight, but I haven’t seen sunlight in so long, I don’t remember it.

John Pilger:

Julian Assange:
So , yes, you adapt. The one real irritant is that my young children — they also adapt. They adapt to being without their father. That’s a hard, hard adaption which they didn’t ask for.

John Pilger:
Do you worry about them?

Julian Assange:
Yes, I worry about them; I worry about their mother.

John Pilger:
Some people would say, ‘Well, why don’t you end it and simply walk out the door and allow yourself to be extradited to Sweden?’

Julian Assange:
The U.N. [the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention] has looked into this whole situation. They spent eighteen months in formal, adversarial litigation. [So it’s] me and the U.N. verses Sweden and the U.K. Who’s right? The U.N. made a conclusion that I am being arbitrarily detained illegally, deprived of my freedom and that what has occurred has not occurred within the laws that the United Kingdom and Sweden, and that [those countries] must obey. It is an illegal abuse. It is the United Nations formally asking, ‘What’s going on here? What is your legal explanation for this? [Assange] says that you should recognise his asylum.’ [And here is]

Sweden formally writing back to the United Nations to say, ‘No, we’re not going to [recognise the UN ruling], so leaving open their ability to extradite.

I just find it absolutely amazing that the narrative about this situation is not put out publically in the press, because it doesn’t suit the Western establishment narrative — that yes, the West has political prisoners, it’s a reality, it’s not just me, there’s a bunch of other people as well. The West has political prisoners. Of course, no state accepts [that it should call] the people it is imprisoning or detaining for political reasons, political prisoners. They don’t call them political prisoners in China, they don’t call them political prisoners in Azerbaijan and they don’t call them political prisoners in the United States, U.K. or Sweden; it is absolutely intolerable to have that kind of self-perception.

Julian Assange:
Here we have a case, the Swedish case, where I have never been charged with a crime, where I have already been cleared [by the Stockholm prosecutor] and found to be innocent, where the woman herself said that the police made it up, where the United Nations formally said the whole thing is illegal, where the State of Ecuador also investigated and found that I should be given asylum. Those are the facts, but what is the rhetoric?

John Pilger:
Yes, it’s different.

Julian Assange:
The rhetoric is pretending, constantly pretending that I have been charged with a crime, and never mentioning that I have been already previously cleared, never mentioning that the woman herself says that the police made it up.

[The rhetoric] is trying to avoid [the truth that ] the U.N. formally found that the whole thing is illegal, never even mentioning that Ecuador made a formal assessment through its formal processes and found that yes, I am subject to persecution by the United States.

To support Julian Assange, go to: https://justice4assange.com/donate.html

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Jill Stein is right about our foreign policy and Hillary Clinton is all wrong!


In an interview with Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks TYT show on October, 21, 2016, Jill Stein was asked what would she do to ensure the protection of Estonia from an invasion from Russia. I found her response to be very rational, unlike what I have heard from Hillary Clinton regarding her posture toward Russia.

She questioned the need for our financing of NATO, the need for 800 US military bases around the world, the threat that such imposes to neighboring countries, and the cost to American households.

Jill Stein asked, how would we feel if Russia had installed nuclear missiles along our Canadian and Mexican borders. She observes that in NATO that is precisely what the United States has done in Europe along Russia’s borders. We have surrounded Russia with thousands of nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert.

Moreover, Jill Stein quoted a Harvard research study concluding that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us thus far $6 trillion. That means these wars have cost each United States’s household $50,000. Are you pleased that our government has spent $50,000 of your money on these two wars alone thus far?

Hillary Clinton will only continue these endless military interventionist wars and funding, costing each American household thousands of more dollars and risking the lives of everyone on our planet. One million casualties have already resulted from her three interventionist wars in the Middle East.

How many more millions of people need to die, and how many trillions of our tax dollars need to be spent, before Americans stop electing candidates owned by the military-industrial complex and Wall Street?

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Michael Moore says middle class should vote for Trump to oppose elites, Corporate America, Wall Street, career politicians, media


Transcript of speech given by Michael Moore on October 24, 2016 in Ohio

I know a lot of people in Michigan who are planning to vote for Trump. And they don’t necessarily like him that much, and they don’t necessarily agree with him.

They’re not racist and rednecks. They’re actually pretty decent people. And so I wanted to, after talking to a number of them, I wanted to write this.

Donald Trump came to the Detroit Economic Club and stood there in front of the Ford Motor executives and said, if you close these factories as you’re planning to do in Detroit and build them in Mexico, I’m going to put a 35-percent tariff on those cars when you send them back, and nobody’s going to buy them.

It was an amazing thing to see. No politician, Republican or Democrat, had ever said anything like that to these executives, and it was music to the ears of people in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the “Brexit states”.

You live here in Ohio. You know what I’m talking about. Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting.

And that’s why every beaten-down nameless forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they’ve been waiting for, the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them.

And on November eight, election day, although they lost their jobs, although they’ve been foreclosed on by the bank, next came the divorce, and now the wife and kids are gone, the cars been reposed, they haven’t had a real vacation in years, they’re stuck with the shitty Obamacare Bronze Plan when you can’t even get a fucking percocet, they’ve essentially lost everything they have except one thing, the one thing that doesn’t cost them a cent and is guaranteed to them by the American Constitution: the right to vote.

They might be penniless. They might be homeless. They might be fucked over and fucked up. It doesn’t matter because it’s equalized on that day. A millionaire has the same number of votes as the person without a job: one. And there’s more of the former middle class than there are in the millionaire class.

So on November eight, the dispossessed will walk into the voting booth, be handed a ballot, close the curtain, and take that lever or felt pen or touch screen, and put a big fucking X in the box by the name of the man who has threatened to upend and overturn the very system that has ruined their lives: Donald J Trump.

They see that the elites who ruined their lives hate Trump. Corporate America hates Trump. Wall Street hates Trump. The career politicians hate Trump. The media hates Trump, after they loved him and created him and now hate him. Thank you, media.

The enemy of my enemy is who I’m voting for on November eight.

Yes, on November eight, you, Joe Blow, Steve Blow, Bob Blow, Billy Blow, Billy-Bob Blow, all the Blows get to blow up the whole goddamn system because it’s your right.

The Trump election is going to be the biggest fuck you ever recorded in human history.

And it will feel good.

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Jill Stein is right about our foreign policy and Hillary Clinton is all wrong!


In an interview with Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks TYT show on October, 21, 2016, Jill Stein was asked what would she do to ensure the protection of Estonia from an invasion from Russia. I found her response to be very rational, unlike what I have heard from Hillary Clinton regarding her posture toward Russia.

She questioned the need for our financing of NATO, the need for 800 US military bases around the world, the threat that such imposes to neighboring countries, and the cost to American households.

Jill Stein asked, how would we feel if Russia had installed nuclear missiles along our Canadian and Mexican borders. She observes that in NATO that is precisely what the United States has done in Europe along Russia’s borders. We have surrounded Russia with thousands of nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert.

Moreover, Jill Stein quoted a Harvard research study concluding that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us thus far $6 trillion. That means these wars have cost each United States’s household $50,000. Are you pleased that our government has spent $50,000 of your money on these two wars alone thus far?

Hillary Clinton will only continue these endless military interventionist wars and funding, costing each American household thousands of more dollars and risking the lives of everyone on our planet. One million casualties have already resulted from her three interventionist wars in the Middle East.

How many more millions of people need to die, and how many trillions of our tax dollars need to be spent, before Americans stop electing candidates owned by the military-industrial complex and Wall Street?

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The Brainwashing Of Hillary Voters Is Complete. Transcript of October 20 2016 The Jimmy Dore Show.


[Transcript of October 20, 2016 The Jimmy Dore Show]

So you know I like to keep them honest here as they say at CNN. We’re not playing the partisan game of rooting for one horrible candidate over another horrible candidate. In fact you know our theories about it?—that voting neoliberalism this election is worse than ever because right now the Republican Party is falling apart, crack fracturing, and we’ve talked all about this.

This is the year to start a progressive movement. But when I see stuff like this, ThinkProgress tweets out a Trump presidency is a clean-energy nightmare, and then they have an article about it, which I didn’t bother to read because Trump’s not going to be President. And ha-ha. And so would Hillary Clinton. I get it. Yes, I’m sure a Trump presidency would be a nightmare for climate change. So is Hillary Clinton’s.

I don’t think people realize how far past the tipping point?— we past the tipping point. You know the Copenhagen agreement. People said that was a travesty. And they wanted to keep it at 2 degrees Celsius climate increase.

And then the Paris one is even worse. They said three. It’s over already. It’s already over. Start to figure out how you’re going to die because climate change is here. And we have no rational response to it. Governments have no rational response.

So I just put that, “I want to defend fracking”, which is what she said in released WikiLeaks.  She said that in her speeches that got released through the WikiLeaks, right. So we know she said that, “I want to defend fracking”, and so I tweeted that.

And the reason why I’m bringing this up is to just show you how brainwashed regular people are.  Just how they just regurgitate talking points handed to them by the corporate duopoly that is now in control of our elections.  They just repeat it, and without thinking, they don’t go away.

Hey, this is the conventional group.  This is group think For instance,somebody right underneath that said, “dude, we know Hillary is bad. We’re voting for her because airplanes would fall from the sky with Trump.” So you’re just going to invent crazy things about trust.

What I said to that was, meanwhile we’re bombing Yemen. Our Democratic president is pushing the TPP.  And he’s jailing journalists.  But this seems rational.

So if you’re going to concoct a conspiracy to distract people from the most horrible shit in the world, you would create Donald Trump.  And maybe the Democrats got lucky that he just came along but they certainly helped.  What the WikiLeaks are also revealing that the Clintons knew Trump would help them and they pushed it.  And that’s exactly what’s happening.

All this horrible shit that’s happening and everybody’s talking about Trump.  Oh, did you see Michelle’s speech about Trump? Hey, did you know we’re poisoning kids and Flint with lead? You know, they’re already poisoned already? You know, your husband is now drone bombing weddings?

So I’m getting off the track a little bit.  This is to show you how mental regular people are. And we all know that the comedians and the pundits, who used to be considered lefty, who are now propping up a corporatist warmonger, who’s turned her back on the climate and her own country and workers, those people who are doing that, I don’t know how to look them in the eye anymore, eh.

But they’re going to keep doing this, this excusing horribleness.  Have they been manipulated or is there something wrong with their brains?  I don’t know.

But anybody who can defend Hillary Clinton, they’re either getting paid or they’re brainwashed.  And I’m going to say that guy’s brainwashed: oh, because with Trump airplanes would fall from the sky.  To me that actually sounds like maybe that guy is joking.  Like no we have to vote for Trump because planes would fall from the sky right? Isn’t that what everybody says, right?  That sounds to me maybe that’s what that guy was saying, Ramon.  Good for you, Ramon.  I’m going to turn it around: he was probably right.

And then right underneath Ramon, right underneath that, this is again, this is just showing what I’m talking about.  It is not random.  This is the same thread right underneath this, a woman says, “a third party vote goes nowhere,” and she somehow spaces out nowhere so it’s bigger.  A third party vote goes nowhere.

But what I said to that woman was, “two party vote goes to more war, more fracking, more Goldman Sachs deregulation, trillion-dollar bailouts, congrats.”  But a third party vote goes nowhere.

What if a lot of people voted third party, would it still go nowhere? Or does it go nowhere because people like you keep saying don’t vote third-party.  If everybody who said, don’t vote third party because it goes nowhere, voted third-party, we would probably win the election.

You know, more people consider themselves independent than they consider themselves Republican or Democrat, so if everybody voted their conscience this election, we can get rid of these two parties.  But people won’t do it.  Why?  Because you’re brainwashed, that’s why.  Because people don’t have a problem regurgitating corporate talking points handed to them by warmongers.  They don’t mind doing that.  That’s exactly what you’re doing.

John Oliver’s doing it.  Half the comedians, ninety percent of the comedians I know, are doing it.  You’re propping up the fucking thing that’s ruining everybody.

We are going to keep going.  And then this guy says?— by the way, this is the same thread?—this guy says “I think the irrational thing might be to think voting Stein has any effect on this machine.”

Ok, so here we go.  Here’s what I said back. “I can tell you for sure what doesn’t have any effect on the machine; pledging your vote and support to the machine.”  So this idea that people have?—you hear it from everywhere, you hear it from grownups who say, “no, I’m voting for Hillary and then, you know, and then we’re going to move her left.”

Which may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  Can you get her to go left before you vote for her? No. But you’re going to get her to go left after she doesn’t need your vote anymore?  Yeah.  That may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  That’s right up there with compassionate conservatism.  That’s right up there.  The way you get a politician to try to cotton to your ideas is to say, you’re not voting for him.

And then here’s another one.  “The only issue with me voting third party is that the candidates?—this is all in the same thing?—is that the candidates can’t tell me reasonable ways to follow through with policies.”  So I would vote third party but they don’t show me a reasonable way where they can follow through on their policies.  So instead what I’m going to do is I’m going to pledge my support to the person who knows how to follow through on the policies that I oppose.

What is wrong with people?  That didn’t take me a second to think of that.  So this is just people repeating corporate talking points handed down to you by the electoral duopoly. And you just say them; you just accept it.

The only thing Hillary Clinton and the corporatists have to offer you is fear.  This is what Chris Hedges says.  The only thing they have to offer you is fear.  You got to vote for them because where else you going to go.  Are you going to go to Trump? Ha-ha-ha!

As soon as you stop being afraid, that’s when they get afraid.  That’s what Chris has said.
And remember what George Orwell said: “a people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.  Think about that.  People that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims but they’re accomplices.  Accomplices.

And I would rather vote for somebody who reflected my ideals and lost than vote for somebody who doesn’t represent me and wins.  And that’s what Debs said.

It’s a sad state what’s happening in America to the mind of the American left voter.  They completely swallowed the corporate talking points handed to them by people whose interest it is in keeping a two-party duopoly.

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Jill Stein argues that Hillary Clinton is much scarier than Donald Trump


It’s now Hillary Clinton who wants to start an air war with Russian over Syria by calling for a no-fly zone. We have 2,000 nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert and Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Premier of the Soviet Union, is saying we are closer to a nuclear war than we have ever been. Under Hillary Clinton, we could slide into nuclear war very quickly from her declared policy in Syria.

So I don’t sleep well at night if Donald Trump is elected. But I sure won’t sleep well at night if Hillary Clinton is elected. Fortunately, we have another choice other than these two candidates who are both promoting lethal policies.

On the issue of war and nuclear weapons and the potential for nuclear war, it’s actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump who does not want to go to war with Russia. He wants to seek modes of working together, which is the route that we need to follow.

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Jimmy Dore says voting your conscience means not voting for Hillary Clinton but for Jill Stein


Jimmy Dore: So guess what: everybody’s coming down on me for wanting to vote my conscience. Right, because I don’t want to vote for a warmonger. Right, which is what Hillary Clinton is. She voted for the Iraq war, which to Democrats that used to be a disqualifier ever since Howard Dean. Was a disqualifier but now ignoring her vote on the Iraq war is the progressive thing to do. Which is ridiculous, right, because we’re still paying for that.

People like to go, we’re still paying for Ralph Nader because of George Bush’s mistakes. No, we’re still paying for Hillary Clinton’s mistakes because it wouldn’t have happened without Hillary Clinton. The Democrats went along with George Bush. That’s why we need a revolution.

So why is it she tweets this out: she said vote your conscience. So I’m going to vote my conscience because I can’t support a warmonger or someone who’s against helping climate change, which she is: she’s pro-fracking, which is worse, we’ve been told, than coal-burning because of the methane. And she doesn’t accept the science on fracking.

So again she’s just as bad as the people she’s trying to point the finger at. She is because she’s in bed with corporations. The Republicans are in bed with the fossil fuel industry, which is why they deny climate change. The Democrats are in bed with the fossil fuel industry, which is why they deny the damage from fracking. You see how it goes.

And then they get to say we accept science because we think about the other thing but this thing. So why is it if she says vote your conscience, and I vote my conscience, people are going to call me childish. People will call me a super dick head. They’ll call me uninformed. They’ll call me childish: did I already say that one?

Unidentified Speaker: Yeah.

Jimmy Dore: Petulant. They’ve called me reckless. I’ve been called everything. Also my character has been assaulted because I’m too lazy, I don’t have the character to do the work to get informed about Hillary Clinton.

The problem isn’t with people are uninformed about Hillary Clinton. Your problem, Hillary Clinton supporter, is the people who are informed about Hillary Clinton’s record: you duplicitous liar.

So it’s ok to vote your conscience. She says vote your conscience but only if you’re going to vote for her, not if you’re going to vote for Jill Stein. Then that’s bad. But only if… again, she’s entitled to your vote.

Unidentified Speaker: What Hillary Clinton’s people are asking you to do, and they must have come around to this, they’re asking you to overlook certain things about Hillary Clinton because the alternative is so dangerous.

Jimmy Dore: Then say that. Then say that: please let’s overlook her horribleness. I can’t believe we ended up here.

Unidentified Speaker: You just can’t put that on TV spot though. I mean, how is that going to go down?

Jimmy Dore: You don’t have to write articles calling Bernie sexist or calling me reckless. You don’t have to do stuff like that. You don’t have to go, boy, look, I feel bad that Jimmy Dore has been put in this position. He has to either support a warmonger whose pro-fracking and pro Wall Street. That’s his choice or he can vote his conscience and if he does that, I’m going to smear him as not having the character to get informed. I’m going to smear him. That’s what people do, like I’m a bagel.

Unidentified Speaker: Right, l you’re cute, you’re delicious and edible, I’m sure. But what I would say is that, of course, makes no sense. I understand the argument, which is, Jimmy, the viable vote, the vote that has a chance to carry the election, has to be cast for Hillary or Donald Trump. The Jill Stein protest vote is effective in the protest arena but it doesn’t actually affect the likely outcome, which will be one or the other. I get that. And so in that context, they’re saying, Jimmy, vote your conscience that way.

But all the other stuff they’re doing, which is keeping on the, you’re misinformed, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you haven’t seen the stuff, that’s, of course, it’s because you’re over informed that you can make these points. She isn’t a good choice. She’s a bad choice. But given the alternative, and the I believe the guy she’s running against his as mobbed up as you can be, I mean, really….

Jimmy Dore: He is in bed with Kissinger, oh, I’m sorry, with Hillary. Remember he is in bed with some guy who secretly bombed Cambodia for a few years. No?

Unidentified Speaker: I mean, you’re right. It’s awful. Mommy and daddy are both bad. I wish I could say one was good. They’re not.

Jimmy Dore: She has some more experience of our own: she took some sniper fire in Bosnia [laughter]. Trump is such a liar. Vote your conscience but only if your conscience tells you to vote for Hillary.

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Glenn Greenwald Asks “Why Did Saudi Regime & Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to Clinton Foundation?” Transcript and video.


Questions surrounding Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation continue to grow. On Sunday, Democratic National Committee interim chairperson Donna Brazile defended Clinton’s meetings as secretary of state with Clinton Foundation donors, saying, “When Republicans meet with their donors, with their supporters, their activists, they call it a meeting. When Democrats do that, they call it a conflict.” Donna Brazile’s comments come in response to an Associated Press investigation revealing that while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, more than half of the private citizens she met with during the reporting period had donated to the Clinton Foundation. The AP investigation comes after a three-year battle to gain access to State Department calendars. The analysis shows that at least 85 of 154 people Hillary Clinton had scheduled phone or in-person meetings with were foundation donors. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept. His most recent piece is headlined “Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As we continue our conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, we turn to the U.S. presidential elections and the growing questions surrounding Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. On Sunday, Democratic National Committee interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile defended Clinton’s meetings as secretary of state with Clinton Foundation donors on CBS’s Face the Nation.

DONNA BRAZILE: When Republicans meet with their donors, with their supporters, their activists, they call it a meeting. When Democrats do that, they call it a conflict. It’s not pay to play, unless somebody, you know, actually gave someone 50 cents to say, “I need a meeting.” No, in this great country of ours, when you meet with constituents, when you meet with heads of states, when you meet with people like Bono, who I love, you meet with them because they have a—they want to bring a matter to your attention. That’s not pay to play. It’s called that when Democrats do it; it’s not called that when Republicans do it.

AMY GOODMAN: Donna Brazile’s comments come in response to an Associated Press investigation revealing that while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, more than half of the private citizens she met with during the reporting period had donated to the Clinton Foundation. The AP investigation comes after a three-year battle to gain access to State Department calendars. The analysis shows that at least 85 of the 154 people Hillary Clinton had scheduled phone or in-person meetings with were foundation donors, not including meetings Clinton held with U.S. or foreign government workers or representatives, only private citizens. And these 85 donors contributed more than $150 million to the Clinton Foundation combined.

The AP investigation has faced criticism for excluding Clinton’s meetings with U.S. and foreign government officials, which some say present a skewed view of her activities while secretary of state. But in a statement, the Associated Press defended the investigation, writing, quote, “It focused on Mrs. Clinton’s meetings and calls involving people outside government who were not federal employees or foreign diplomats, because meeting with U.S. or foreign government officials would inherently have been part of her job as secretary of state,” unquote.

This all comes as a federal judge has ordered the State Department to set a timetable for the release of 15,000 additional emails the FBI has collected during the agency’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.

For more, we continue our conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept. He has been closely following the U.S. presidential elections. His recent piece, “Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?” So, Glenn, your response?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I mean, the problem here is that the context in which this is all taking place is that the Republicans have nominated this truly unstable, dangerous and often terrifying person who obviously should never get anywhere near the White House. And so, there seem to be a lot of people, including in journalism, who think that because that’s the case, the Democratic nominee, who has all kinds of flaws and vulnerabilities and ethical clouds surrounding her, should sort of get to waltz into the White House free of challenge or questioning, because somehow it’s our civic and moral duty to make sure that Donald Trump loses the election. And although I do think that Donald Trump getting anywhere near the White House is very dangerous, I also think it’s very dangerous to allow someone to gain extraordinary amounts of political power, even more than they already have, without being challenged or questioned by an adversarial media. The role of journalists should be to shine a light on both of them. And there’s a lot of light to be shined on what Bill and Hillary Clinton had been doing in terms of unifying private wealth and oligarchical financing and enormous amounts of political power in ways that blur every single conceivable ethical line.

And what Donna Brazile said in that video that you played is nothing short of laughable. It’s not questioned when Republicans do favors for their donors? Of course it is. In fact, it’s been a core, central critique of the Democratic Party, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for years, that Republicans are corrupt because they serve the interest of their big donors. One of the primary positions of the Democratic Party is that the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court has corrupted politics because it allows huge money to flow into the political process in a way that ensures, or at least creates the appearance, that people are doing favors for donors.

And so, here you have Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton having this Clinton Foundation, with billions of dollars pouring into it from some of the world’s worst tyrannies, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and other Gulf states, other people who have all kinds of vested interests in the policies of the United States government. And at the same time, in many cases, both Bill and Hillary Clinton are being personally enriched by those same people, doing speeches, for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, in front of them, at the same time that she’s running the State Department, getting ready to run for president, and soon will be running the executive branch. And so, the primary defense of Democrats, which is, “Look, there is no proof of a quid pro quo. Yes, Hillary Clinton did things that benefited these donors, but you can’t prove that the reason she did them is because she got—the Clinton Foundation got this money or her husband got this money,” this is an absurd standard. That has been the Republican argument for many years. Of course you can’t prove a quid pro quo, because you can’t get into the mind of somebody and show their motives. That was the argument of Antonin Scalia and John Roberts in Citizens United, and Anthony Kennedy. They said, “Look, you can’t prove that big money donations are corrupting. Maybe it creates an appearance of it, but you can’t prove it.”

And so, the problem here is that the Clintons have essentially become the pioneers of eliminating all of these lines, of amassing massive wealth from around the world, and using that to boost their own political power, and then using that political power to boost the interests of the people who are enriching them in all kinds of ways. And of course questions need to be asked, and suspicions are necessarily raised, because this kind of behavior is inherently suspicious. And it needs a lot of media scrutiny and a lot of attention, and I’m glad it’s getting that.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to Paul Glastris, who is the editor-in-chief of the Washington Monthly, and he was President Bill Clinton’s chief speechwriter from ’98 to 2001. I want to go to his comments.

PAUL GLASTRIS: The reason the Clinton State Department and the entire Obama administration was willing to give a lot of arms to the Saudis and the Bahrainis was that they were tubing the Saudis and the Bahrainis by trying to open negotiations with Iran. Everybody knows this. It’s not—we don’t need to kind of find some nefarious payoff in order to understand the policy. You can agree with the policy or disagree with the policy, but if you’re in favor of the opening of Iran, it’s hard to say they shouldn’t have sold these arms to the Sunnis. They were trying to keep a balance of power going in order to bring some kind of peace and resolution of these nuclear issues.

AMY GOODMAN: So that was Paul Glastris, when he had a debate at the time on Democracy Now! last week with David Sirota of International Business Times. But your response, Glenn?

GLENN GREENWALD: What an intellectually dishonest hack that guy is. Just think about what you just heard. So this is a former Democratic operative, who now is the editor-in-chief of a liberal magazine, the Washington Monthly, and what he is doing is he’s looking into the camera and speaking into his microphone and justifying selling arms to the worst regime, or one of the worst regimes, on the planet, which is the Saudi regime, because he needs to do that in order to defend the Clintons. That is what the Democratic Party has become. He is in the position of having to justify extraordinarily immoral behavior. The Saudis are currently using those arms, that were funneled to them by the United States government, approved by Hillary Clinton, to obliterate Yemeni children and Yemeni civilians for over two years now with the direct help of the United States government. And he is justifying that as some sort of magnanimous desire on the part of the Clintons to bring about world peace by forging a deal with Iran.

The reality is, is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have been funding the Saudis for decades, long before that nonsensical excuse was even available about trying to facilitate the Iran deal, and at the very same time, the Saudis are feeding millions and millions and millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, enriching and empowering the Clintons in all kinds of ways. It’s a case of the Clintons and the world’s worst despots scratching each other’s back and doing favors for each other, while Democratic propagandists, like the one we just heard from, justify it as some sort of magnanimous gesture.

And this has really become the problem, which is, you have—there was all this talk over the last two weeks about the dangers of letting the media merge with a political campaign, when Donald Trump hired the chairman of Breitbart. And yet what you have is huge numbers of media outlets that are liberal media outlets, that are—exist for no reason but to serve the Democratic Party and their political leaders. They justify every single thing they do. They defend them from every single criticism that exists, without any kind of scruples or even pretense of independence. And overwhelmingly, the American media is completely on the side of the Clintons and Hillary Clinton in this campaign, and the liberals in the U.S. media are more propagandistic in defending Hillary Clinton than even her own campaign spokespeople are. And that clip proves that so, so potently.

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Chris Hedges argues that corporate commodification of our natural resources and human capital will continue unabated. Transcript and video.


[Unofficial transcript provided by William Brighenti.  Please advise of any errors or omissions.  Thank you.]

Lee Camp: Welcome to Redacted Tonight VIP. I’m Lee Camp. On the show today I talk with Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author who also hosts the show On Contact here on RT America. His latest book, Wages of Rebellion, explains why revolt is a moral imperative. He doesn’t just write about these tough topics, he also walks the walk.

You filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in 2012 challenging the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows our government to indefinitely detain people without a trial or charges, including journalists. I talked with Chris earlier today while we did each other’s nails.

And in the second half of the show, I want to address the complaint that I don’t criticize Donald Trump enough. It’s a harsh and hurtful critique and that’s why I want to respond to it.

But first here’s my talk earlier today with Chris Hedges.

Hi Chris, thanks for joining me.

Chris Hedges: Sure.

Lee Camp: I have a lot of questions but most of them revolve around Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie’s divorce. I hope that’s okay.

Chris Hedges: Yeah, that’s the primary focus of my work.

Lee Camp: Yeah, I know that. No, actually first I’d like to ask you, you’ve talked before about Sheldon Wolin’s idea that we live in corporate totalitarianism ruled by the anonymous corporate state. With the case of the recent Dakota access pipeline protest, you know, there was the private security firm alongside the militarized police using dogs and pepper spray to protect basically the investment of the big banks. The big banks are our funding the pipeline. Is it fair to view those dogs as kind of the teeth of the corporate state while the actual rulers, the decision-makers, the ones calling those shots, they’re nowhere to be seen. There probably not even in the Dakotas.

Chris Hedges: Yeah, that’s very much, I think, what Wolin elucidates in his last book, Democracy Incorporated and he argues that we live in, he calls it, inverted totalitarianism. And by that he means it’s not classical totalitarianism?—it doesn’t find its expression through a demagogue or a charismatic leader?—but through the anonymity of the corporate state.

So you’re right. It’s a faceless kind of entity. And so you have a corporate system that purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the iconography and language of American patriotism, and yet internally has seized all of the levers of power to render the citizen impotent. And you’re exactly right. So the actual figures or entities that are pulling the strings are nowhere near North Dakota.

Lee Camp: Right, and what do you make of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now being charged with trespassing for simply reporting on it?

Chris Hedges: Well, they’ve been doing that up-and-down pipelines. They were doing that when they were building the southern leg of the XL. People would actually be invited onto private land, and I think one of the things that’s most frightening, and we saw this with North Dakota, this fusion of State Security with these amorphous private mercenaries or security outfits.

I was arrested during the Occupy movement with several activists in front of Goldman Sachs but the people who actually came out and were involved in our removal weren’t NYPD. They were, they may have used former NYPD or FBI, but they were all the internal security of Goldman Sachs itself. We know that corporations have privatized the gathering of intelligence, that there is a fusion down near Wall Street of these corporate and public policing entities. Seventy percent of US intelligence of our 16 intelligence agencies is actually carried out by companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, where Snowden worked. 99 percent of it. So that that’s very frightening when you essentially are with?—and there’s no discussion of this among the public?—you are powering these subterranean unseen private security entities and giving them in essence police power and yet, they are never identified. People don’t know. What we saw with Katrina, you know, with the then black water appearing on the streets of New Orleans.

Lee Camp: Right, and in fact the police around the pipeline mysteriously disappeared when the dogs came out because I take it cops are not allowed to release dogs on protesters but private security, it’s a different scenario.

You mentioned the corporate state kind of pretends to obey electoral politics but it seems to largely be a distraction. And it seems like, I mean maybe it’s always been rigged, but it seems like we’re seeing an increasing level of rigging of these elections. We saw in the primaries how Bernie Sanders campaign was undermined every step. We’ve seen the reality of the rigging through the leaked DNC emails and the hundred thousand voters knocked off the rolls in Brooklyn, that was just Brooklyn, New York alone. And when that was happening, we were told by our mainstream media that our election system is completely just, it’s right, it can never be manipulated. Anyone saying otherwise is a conspiracy theorist.

Yet all of a sudden this weird thing has happened after the primaries where the corporate media seems to have suddenly had a change of heart. They report regularly on how the elections could be hacked, they could be rigged. CBS News did a report recently on how someone could hack an electronic voting machine with a fifteen-dollar device that is sold online. What do you make of the sudden change in the media.

Chris Hedges: Well there were many obstacles that were placed by the Democratic National Committee against the Sanders campaign. One of the biggest was that in many states they banned independents from voting in the Democratic primaries, which of course constituted most of Bernie Sanders base. Now the taxpayers pay for the primaries and yet it is the party that sets the rules and games the system with super-delegates. They stole Nevada. Well I think that at the moment the people, or let’s say the power elites, have to create a level of trust and confidence in the system even though they may know it’s rigged. And so after the fact, after it’s too late, one can go back and do a post-mortem when it can’t affect anything. But during the process itself, you’re right, anybody who questioned the legitimacy of the system, let’s call it over the corporate airwaves, was kind of dismissed as a wacko.

Lee Camp: Yeah and I want to ask one more question about the election before I move on to something else. I saw some my cousins this weekend, and they want, I think, a lot of the same things that you or I want: they want more equality in our country; they want less racism; they want more privacy and less war. And they, like many Americans, say if you want those things, you have no choice but to hold your nose and vote for Hillary Clinton. What’s wrong with that logic?

Chris Hedges: Well, because it’s neoliberal policies, globalization, which has created the phenomena of Trump and enraged disenfranchised supporters, primarily white, and if Clinton wins the election and continues these policies, we are going to get somebody worse than Trump. Trump as a figure may disappear from the political landscape but until we halt the assault of neoliberalism, the programs of austerity, the corporate assault?—I mean, you go to cities like Scranton, Pennsylvania, everything, they just sold their sewer system, everything is privatized, they sold their parking authority, they’ve already sold their water system. Rates are going through the roof. This kind of constant gradual gouging of the underclass?—and half of the country lives in poverty or, you know, relative poverty?—will create a backlash.

Trump is not the phenomenon; he’s responding to the phenomena, and unless we break that phenomena, then we are headed the way all societies that essentially seize up and refuse to respond to legitimate grievances of citizens are headed towards: whether that’s by Weimar Germany which ended in the Nazis or Yugoslavia which I covered which ended with the rise of ethnic religious nationalists like Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karavich and Franjo Tudjman and others.

And you know, we have to stop looking beyond this election cycle and see that this corporate driven ideology, you know, this commodification of the culture, this constant extracting of blood from us as citizens to pay what in essence were private debts of the banks which engaged in casino capitalism, has political consequences. History has taught us that. And Hillary Clinton is only going to further that process.

Lee Camp: Yeah, absolutely. You started to jump ahead to my next question. You touched on it. You were a war correspondent in many countries. You saw the devastation and the chaos, and you saw what led up to it. And in your book, Wages of Rebellion, you see the same things in America now. Can you speak to what it is you saw that mirrors other countries? What you see now that mirrors other countries?

Chris Hedges: Yeah, well, what mirrors is that there is in this case a corporate cabal, a tiny group of the power elite, that has seized the machinery of government to serve their own interests at the expense of the vast majority. So this creates what I would call political paralysis because the normal functions of the state, the common good, you know, we’re seeing it with hedge funds taking over school systems, through charter schools, which is because they want the 600 some billion dollars they spend. You know, it’s not about teaching disadvantaged children to read or write. There’s a cannibalization, actually Karl Marx wrote about this as the final stage of capitalism and I have watched countries that have whether it’s a kind of proto-fascist or, you know, an ethnic nationalist cabal, seize power to serve their own interest.

I’ve watched the explosion that takes place, and we are no different from them. We’re really playing now with potentially deep unrest especially with the proliferation of weapons in this country and political breakdown. That’s the game we’re playing. And I think history has amply illustrated that.

Lee Camp: Yeah I mean it’s kind of inevitable when you have a corporate state that will just exploit everything, exploit the resources and the people, to the breaking point, that eventually there will be a response.

Many believe that in a capitalist society the corporate entities will always ultimately take over the levers of the state and they will use the state to further their ends. We talked some about that earlier with the Dakota pipeline and really with bailing out the banks in 2008. So does that mean capitalism is fatally flawed and if so what type of system do you think people should be pushing for?

Chris Hedges: I lost the last part, could you repeat the question?

Lee Camp: Yeah the question was is capitalism fatally flawed in that way and if so what type of system should people be pushing for?

Chris Hedges: Right. Well I think we have to differentiate between different types of capitalism. There’s the penny capitalism that took place in the farm community where I grew up where farmers came in and sold their produce. There’s regional capitalism, that is, a business owner owns a small factory and sits on the school board, invests in the community. And then there’s something else which is global corporate capitalism, which essentially eviscerates national borders, pushing through trade agreements like NAFTA and the TPP, driving down, doing what capitalism always does, which is maximize profit and drive down labor costs.

So that the protections that workers had garnered in the industrialized world, now only about six percent of the private sector is unionized, is destroyed because we can use sweatshop workers in Bangladesh who make 22 cents an hour. So I’m not actually anti-capitalist but capitalism, and again this is something Marx understood, has to be heavily controlled. And to break up monopolies, to break up of as we see with the banks, these institutions that are “too big to fail” and that are global?—that have no loyalty to the national state?—and unfortunately these corporate capitalists have taken over the system so the government now accelerates this assault, as you correctly pointed out, not only on working men and women, the poor, and now the middle class, but of course we can’t forget the ecosystem itself.

Lee Camp: Right. I think part of that heavy regulation is to make sure that capitalism doesn’t put a price on everything, such as air, water….

Chris Hedges: That’s what it has done. That’s what it has done. It’s the commodification of everything and they will do what they do, which is that they will exploit, whether it’s the natural world or whether it’s human capital, until exhaustion or collapse. And now there are no impediments left.

Lee Camp: Chris, I can’t thank you enough. I hope you’ll come back sometime, and keep fighting.

Chris Hedges: Thank you.

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