[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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
People from outside the major parties who are pursuing elected office are exercising their First Amendment rights, and calling them spoilers is an act of “political bigotry” that should never be tolerated by the American people, civil rights champion and four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader told “Democracy Now!”
Nader’s comments come one week before the 2016 nominees’ first presidential debates, which the Commission on Presidential Debates—a private corporation owned and controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties—announced Friday will exclude both Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.
“If we had proportional representation, instant runoff voting, all this spoiler stuff wouldn’t be around,” Nader continued. “Everyone has an equal right to run for office. Everyone is going to get votes from one another. So they’re either spoilers of one another or none of them are spoilers.”
“You should never tell anybody to shut up,” Nader added. “And when you run for office, it’s free speech, petition and assembly. It’s the consummate use of the First Amendment. But here—it’s a scapegoating. The Democrats could never get over how they couldn’t beat this bumbling governor from Texas, who couldn’t put a paragraph together and has a horrible record.”
In the clips below, Nader and “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman discuss the system that decides who gets to enter presidential debates—how it formed and how it operates today—and how the “huge, wonderful effort” that Sen. Bernie Sanders launched during the 2016 presidential primary “is now aborted,” as Nader said.
“Sanders hasn’t returned a call from me in 18 years,” Nader stated. “He is a lone ranger. He doesn’t like to be pushed into more progressive action than he is willing to adhere to. As a result, millions of his voters now are in disarray. They don’t know where to go.”
At length, Nader spelled out what he thinks Sanders should do:
“It is the time for Senator Sanders to mobilize, as he can, all his supporters around the country with mass rallies to put the heat on both candidates. Is anything wrong with that? He should have a mass rally in the Mall and then spread it all over the country, so you have civic pressure, citizen pressure, coming in on all the candidates to further the just pathways of our society. Why doesn’t he do that? …
It isn’t a matter of either/or; it’s a matter of him cutting out from the accolades to Hillary, which he doesn’t like to do—he doesn’t like to be a robot or run around the country that way—and mobilize the citizenry, which will transcend the election and start something effective after the election.”
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: An Afghanistan born American sought in connection with a series of bombings that wounded 29 people in the New York City area over the weekend is in custody after a gun battle with police on Monday. Ahmad Khan Rahami in Elizabeth, New Jersey was captured after firing at police officers in Lyndon, New Jersey. In addition to the two incidents, officials are probing a backpack containing bombs found in a New Jersey train station on Sunday. Well now joining us to discuss this is Chris Hedges. He?s a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a columnist at Truth Dig, he was a former Middle East Bureau Chief for the New York Times and has reported extensively from the occupied Palestinian territories. Thanks so much for joining us.
CHRIS HEDGES: Sure.
NOOR: So Chris let?s start off by getting your own connection to Elizabeth, New Jersey. Talk about that and the community there.
HEDGES: Well I first went to Elizabeth in the early 1990?s to do an investigative piece on police corruption where a kabul of police known as the family were planting drugs on young African American men and sending them to jail with a conviction rate of about 98%. Broke that story. Several of those police including a lieutenant were fired from the police force. Although none of the cases themselves were investigated. So a lot of those men are still sitting in jail. And then for the last few years, I?ve been teaching in prisons in New Jersey and working out of the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, basing that work there and have done things like run groups for ex-felons at that church site which is about 3 or 4 blocks from the Broad Street Station where those bombs were uncovered in Elizabeth this morning.
NOOR: And so Rahami was not listed on US terrorism bases. 3 US officials told Reuters. I want to talk about the response of the two major presidential candidates. But before we get there is this the type of attack that we can stop, that we can prevent. What should their response be?
HEDGES: Well their response should be the end of the occupation in the Middle East and the succession of saturation bombing by drones and military aircrafts and missiles in parts of Iraq and Syria and Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia. I?m actually surprised it took this long.
NOOR: So the major presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton traded jabs over who would be tougher on terrorism and who?s presidency ISIS would prefer. This is a clip of Hillary Clinton accusing Donald Trump of helping the Islamic State militants recruit more fighters.
HILLARY CLINTON: We know that a lot of the rhetoric we?ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorist. In particular ISIS. They want to use that to recruit more fighters to their cause by turning it into a religious conflict.
NOOR: So Chris what?s your response to Hillary Clinton?s statements today?
HEDGES: Well the Clintons along with Barack Obama, along with George W. Bush are the people who created this process of endless war in the Middle East. Clinton was the chief lobbyist for the intervention in Libya itself. The rhetoric of a Trump, the rhetoric of a Clinton is largely irrelevant to ISIS. They don?t need it. People in cities like Raqqah are being attacked by sorties of US jets almost on a daily basis. Militarized drones are terrorizing people in whole parts of the Middle East. Cruise missiles launched primarily from ships onto Libya and other parts of Iraq and Syria. The rhetoric is the least of it. The kind of widespread killing that?s been going on now for 15 years has radicalized whole segments and is kind of the most potent recruiting weapon that the jihadist had. The rhetoric of a Trump or Clinton is I don?t think even a fact.
NOOR: So the suspect was born in Afghanistan, we just passed the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. We are approaching the anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan. What do you think that Americans should be reflecting on at this time when we?re trying to address the roots of terrorism?
HEDGES: Well the tragedy is that the media it?s partly because of their security situation. But also because of the collapse of the media in particular. The ability to carry out foreign coverage has very little idea of what?s happening in the Middle East. In countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the state terror that is triggering jihadist terror. It?s a big black hole. I think that we?re woefully unaware and it?s not our fault, it?s the fault of the press, of what?s been happening, what we?ve been doing, and why people would be pushed to this level of rage to strike back.
NOOR: And it seems like the resources the networks do have are used to endlessly have guests on that are just speculating without actually facts being known at the time or people that have no real knowledge of the issue. But another topic I wanted to ask you about is today it was announced that the major presidential debate at Hofstra University next week will exclude the third party candidate Jill Stein and Gary Johnson who are actually against US intervention and military occupation in the Middle East as you described it. Do you think that that?s something that people should be seizing on and demanding an increasing of this debate and a dialogue around these issues?
HEDGES: Well yes of course. The debate corporation is run by the two major political parties and intentional excludes any candidate it who critiques empire, critiques globalism, neoliberalism, austerity, all of those programs that have been carried out internally as an assault especially on the working class and the poor and increasingly the middle class. And also those people who would critique our military adventurism abroad. Those voices are just not heard. They?re not heard as you correctly pointed out by pundits, most of whom are on the payroll of companies like Raytheon or Haliburton or have financial vested interests of arm sales. I think it?s important to note that as with the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe, it makes no logical sense to continue these wars. We?ve lost the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban controls more territory now than when we went in. The Afghan army is as useless as the Iraqi army. But it doesn?t matter in a way because the profits which have quadrupled since the attacks of 9/11 on these arms companies Bowing and Lockheed Martin and everything else, it?s a good business. And just as the expansion of NATO has opened up new arms markets, these wars in the Middle East, a tomahawk cruise missile costs about 1.1 million dollars. We dropped about 130 of them in the first few days in Libya. That?s half a billion dollars. So that?s kind of what it?s been reduced to. And the two candidates both Trump and Clinton are not going to challenge this futile and wasteful and tragic military endless kind of military operation throughout the Muslim world. And those candidates that will raise those questions of course are silenced. They don?t have a voice and that?s completely intentional on the part of the two parties.
NOOR: Alright Chris Hedges thanks so much for joining us.
HEDGES: Thank you.
NOOR: Thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, this is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Our guest for the hour is Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, four-time presidential candidate. In July, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders formally endorsed Hillary Clinton. He has consistently argued against voting for a third-party candidate. In an interview with The Washington Post last week, Sanders said, quote, “This is not the time for a protest vote, in terms of a presidential campaign. I ran as a third-party candidate,” he said. “I’m the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress.” He said, “I know more about third-party politics than anyone else in [the] Congress.” In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Senator Sanders explained his opposition to a protest vote.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: All right, you disagree with Hillary Clinton on this or that, you may not like her on every respect, but look at the real issues that impact your lives, your children’s lives, the future of this country, and you will end up concluding that right now is not the time to be supporting a protest vote. Right now we have to make sure that Trump does not become president.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Senator Sanders. Ralph Nader, your response?
RALPH NADER: Well, it is the time for Senator Sanders to mobilize, as he can, all his supporters around the country with mass rallies to put the heat on both candidates. Is anything wrong with that? He should have a mass rally in the Mall and then spread it all over the country, so you have civic pressure, citizen pressure, coming in on all the candidates to further the just pathways of our society. Why doesn’t he do that? Because, you know, Bernie Sanders hasn’t returned a call from me in 18 years. He’s a lone ranger. He doesn’t like to be pushed into more progressive action than he is willing to adhere to. As a result, millions of his voters now are in disarray. They don’t know where to go. They’re cynical. Some will go Democrat. Some will support Libertarian, Green. Some will stay home. And so this huge, wonderful effort that he launched is now aborted. It’s dissipating. So, it isn’t a matter of either/or; it’s a matter of him cutting out from the accolades to Hillary, which he doesn’t like to do—he doesn’t like to be a robot or run around the country that way—and mobilize the citizenry, which will transcend the election and start something effective after the election.
Steve Skrovan: From the KPFK studios in Southern California it’s the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan and along with the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. Hello Ralph, how you doing today?
Ralph Nader: Very good. We have a great program coming up with the Green Party candidate for President.
Steve Skrovan: That’s correct. And if recent activity on our Facebook page is any indication, this is a very anticipated show in what we hope will be a series of interviews with Presidential candidates before election day. We have sent invitations to all of the Presidential candidates whose names are on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance to win the Presidency. That includes, of course, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson.
The first to accept our offer to engage with Ralph is Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein. Dr. Stein is a physician who graduated from Harvard Medical School and practiced internal medicine for 25 years in Massachusetts. In the nineteen nineties, Dr. Stein became increasingly concerned about the links between illness and environmental toxins, especially exposures to lead and mercury and dioxin contamination that comes from the burning of wastes. She helped lead the fight to clean up coal plants in Massachusetts, then known as the “filthy five.” This ended up setting an example for how other states should raise the standards for their own coal plants.
Her first foray into electoral politics was in 2002 when she was recruited by Green Rainbow Party activists to run for Governor of Massachusetts against Mitt Romney. She’s the co-author of two widely praised reports, “In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging. She was the Green Party candidate for President in 2012 and again here in 2016. She joins us just before a rally at the University of Maine. Welcome to Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Dr. Jill Stein.
Jill Stein: Thank you so much. Thank you, Ralph. It’s really an honor to be with you.
Ralph Nader: Well, I can say that you’re my successor on the Green Party ticket so I know a little bit about what you’re going through and I’m sure listeners are eager to hear you out. You don’t have to engage in soundbites here as you may have experienced with some of the mass media.
Let’s start with a little background here. The Green Party is going to be on how many state ballots, Jill Stein.
Jill Stein: It will be approximately 48. So we’re currently on, I believe, 46 and I think we expect two more.
Ralph Nader: That’s very good. That could be a high water mark for the Green Party in its history. What two states, I can only guess, aren’t you going to be on because of horrendous obstacles to getting on the ballot.
Jill Stein: I believe it’s Oklahoma and South Dakota, and we’re on as a write-in in North Dakota in Georgia and Indiana. So, you know, it’s the states which are, you know, just having insurmountable hurdles. We spent money, you know, to augment our volunteer effort but we are still largely a people-powered campaign so we don’t have whatever it is, I think, it was like 30 million dollars the Libertarians talk about that it cost them to get on the ballot. We don’t have 30 million dollars. We’re a people powered campaign.
So where the states are dead set on suppressing political opposition, it’s very hard to overcome that.
Ralph Nader: Right. Well, you’re on the ballot for the states where our listeners are overwhelmingly. Let’s get to the next point, which is your platform. As I read it, and I’m going to summarize it, either it has majoritarian support in this country or very close to majoritarian support.
For example, you want a public works program dealing with public transit; sustainable agriculture conservation; renewable energy?—I think most people would like that: probably comes in about ninety percent. They see their public works crumbling, services inadequate, they have libraries and schools and bridges and highways that have not been repaired.
You also believe in a full employment policy that was the majority Democratic Party policy in 1946. They actually passed a law to that effect. You want to end poverty and when people see how relatively easy it is to end poverty. And one way is to increase the minimum wage: catch up; it’s been frozen for so many years. Fifteen dollars an hour minimum wage. That was one of the reasons why so many people flocked to Bernie Sanders candidacy.
Full Medicare-for-all, free choice of doctor and hospital: that comes in sixty to seventy percent without even further explanation. And if you ever explained it, given all the trouble people are having qualifying and not qualifying for all these healthcare so-called insurance plans, it would go up even higher.
You want to do something about student debt. And that affects conservative and liberal students. That’s going to be a majoritarian position.
You want a global treaty to halt climate change that adds teeth and ends destructive energy extraction.
Ending police brutality and mass incarceration. There is a growing left-right support for criminal justice reform.
I suppose the Green Party doesn’t care for the anti-civil libertarian provisions of the notoriously named Patriot Act, invading privacy, and being able to search your home, and not tell you for 72 hours.
I think most Americans are against illegal surveillance of their emails and telephone calls by the government.
And I think most Americans are ready for waging peace and not just brutalizing our foreign policy which is boomeranging against us.
And you want to abolish corporate personhood. I think the more people learn that corporations are not people that have all the equal rights and even more privileges and immunities than we have.
So here we start out, Dr. Stein, with a majoritarian platform. We live in a two-party tyranny that doesn’t believe in competition, can enforce it with penalties and obstructions, and they’re getting closer and closer to being both one corporate party with two heads having different labels. So how do you explain to the American people why they don’t vote their conscience enough and why they don’t vote for majoritarian issues that you represent and which mostly are off the table by the Republican-Democratic Party. Off the table. Undiscussable.
Jill Stein: Absolutely. You know, I think we’re at a really unique moment right now because the American people are waking up to the fact that it is a race to the bottom between these two corporate parties that are sending jobs overseas, putting downward pressure on wages, starving people out of healthcare, locking an entire generation into unpayable predatory student loan debt.
So, you know, we don’t have to convince people how screwed they are. In my experience what I’m hearing from people now is that they’re just desperate to hear about something else. The two majority candidates right now, the Democratic and Republican candidates, Trump and Clinton, are the most disliked and untrusted Presidential candidates in our history with more than majority disapproval. At the same time you have seventy-six percent of voters saying they want to open up the debates. They want to be able to hear about something else.
You know, it’s rather remarkable Donald Trump has had over four billion dollars of free primetime media, Hillary’s had over two billion worth, my campaign has had essentially zip, yet we are still pushing up around five percent in the polls, which is unprecedented for a non-corporate party without the big money to get the word out. We’re getting out there simply by word-of-mouth, by networking among desperate people. The largest bloc of voters now has divorced the Democratic and Republican parties, which are now minority parties and the plurality of voters now are independent. They’re looking for something else.
So, you know, it’s no surprise that the corporate media, and many of the nonprofits that are dependent on the big money, they are not allowing our campaign the real alternative to see the light of day.
So the key here in my view is not having to change people’s minds, it’s just allowing them to know. In fact I was in a debate, Ralph, I don’t know if I ever mentioned it to you, back in 2002 we fought our way into a governor’s debate in Massachusetts where, you know, this was televised and I articulated our usual agenda: cut the military, put the dollars into true security here at home, provide healthcare as a human right, raise wages which needed to be living wages, green our energy system, equal marriage?—we were the only ones talking about it back in 2002. That agenda went over like a lead balloon inside of the little TV studio, which is just candidates and moderator, but when we walked out, I was mobbed by the press, who told me I had won the debate on the instant online viewer poll. You know, just in the course of an hour, people didn’t need to be persuaded. They just needed to hear, oh my god, there is another plan here which is about the public interest.
So for me that was like the lights went on. You know, that was like the moment of revelation for me that in fact we are not the lunatic fringe. We really are, we represent, the core of basic American community values. And the name of the game is getting the word out, you know, and they are quaking in their boots, which, of course, is why they will not pass ranked choice voting. We could solve this problem of a divided vote, or an unintended consequence of your vote, to a voting system which uses your name, where I am right now, they’ve got it on the ballot for a statewide referendum which enables people to
Ralph Nader: Explain that.
Jill Stein: Ok, you go into the voting booths and you can rank your choices. So your first choice is an underdog that might not win, you know, that your choice number two, which might be your lesser evil, your safety choice, your vote is automatically reassigned from your first choice to your second choice if your first choice losses and there’s not a majority winner. So it essentially eliminates, splitting it, eliminates having to vote your fear instead of your values. It allows us to actually bring a moral compass to our democracy. Democracy cannot function just on who do we fear the most, you know, or who do we hate the most; we need an affirmative agenda.
The fact that the Democrats will not allow this to be passed and, in fact, my campaign filed the bill back in 2002 in the Democratic legislature, 85% Democratic, they could have prevented any possibility of a split vote. And, you know, it was a close vote and the votes for me, you know, might have made that difference. But it turned out they didn’t. The gap was bigger than the votes that I got. But in any event they could have pre-empted any possibility of bypassing rank votes. They refused. That they refused is very revealing. It tells you they rely on intimidation and fear in order to gain your vote and the fact that they rely on fear tells you they are not your friend and do not deserve your vote!
Ralph Nader: Worse than that. worse than relying on fear, is there excluding you from the seat at the table. One of the ways they exclude you is what you just said: instant runoff voting, they always talk about spoilers, a political bigoted word that should be called that. It’s only aimed at third party candidates, never any other with the major parties. And they got an opportunity to deal with that instant runoff voting ,and they don’t.
Let’s run through the various ways they’re trying to marginalize the Green Party and even the Libertarian Party. One way is to keep you off the mass media. In 2004 Professor Stephen Farnsworth, when I report saying that I got about five minutes on all the networks after Labor Day to election day: only five minutes even though I, like you, were representing majoritarian issues.
Okay, so have you gotten any time on the following: the National CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox News?
Jill Stein: Media Research Center just put out a report like last week and what they showed that I’ve gotten three seconds worth of coverage on major media evening news, Gary Johnson have had eleven seconds, and Donald Trump has had approximately 35,000 times as much coverage, Hillary Clinton about 20,000 times as much coverage.
Ralph Nader: And these networks are using public properties, the public airwaves.
Alright the next question is how about the cable shows. Let’s talk about the so-called liberal MSNBC. Have you been on any of those shows: Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Larry O’Donnell, any of these shows and others on MSNBC?
Jill Stein: None of the major shows.
Ralph Nader: Ok let’s go to the radio now. Have you been on NPR?
Jill Stein: Briefly yes. I was on Tom Ashbrook. I did have one hour, Tom Ashbrook, and that was really about it.
Ralph Nader: Okay, have you had any C-Span coverage?
Jill Stein: Yes. C-Span covered our, you know, major events; they covered the convention our news conference.
Ralph Nader: Yes, they were very good in Presidential campaigns. That’s why they are trusted.
How about the following shows: Charlie Rose on PBS, Diane Rehm radio NPR, Terry Gross NPR and have you been on those shows?
Jill Stein: Well I had approximately a ten-minute segment on Diane Rehm’s, that’s all.
Ralph Nader: Well that’s more than I got. The point here, Jill Stein, is–and I’ll make it in a personal way–over eighty percent of the people when I ran for President knew about me but then I realized that when I was running, eighty percent of the people didn’t even know I was running. So you see that gap is exactly how they can marginalize and exclude people from giving the voters more voices and choices
Alright, the third way they block competition and continue the two-party duopoly is with the phony name called the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is a nonprofit corporation created by the Republican and Democratic parties that, you know, in 1987 to get rid of the League of Women Voters supervision of debates. And it is funded by corporations. The debates are greased by companies like Ford Motor Company, AT&T and Anheuser Busch, and except for letting Ross Perot on in 1992, they haven’t let anybody on.
And they get the cooperation of these networks who make money from the ratings to keep everybody off. Now have there been any polls asking the American people whether they want you, the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, or Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, on those debates? In 2000 the majority of people wanted me and Buchanan on the debates in two thousand. And me on the debates in 2004. have there been any polls?
Jill Stein: Yes, and the numbers have gone up from where they were when you were running. It is now seventy-six percent of the American public that says they want Gary Johnson and myself included in these debates.
Ralph Nader: So there you are. What’s happening is that the will of the people, the declared opinion of the people, who want more agendas, more ideas, more sensible redirections reforms in our country, are being thwarted by the mechanism of keeping third-party candidates, who are on more than enough States theoretically to get an electoral vote majority, to keep them off the mass media, the commercial media, to keep them off the debates. Now unless you have billions of dollars, it’s impossible to reach tens of millions of American people no matter how hard you campaign. And you’ve been campaigning non-stop, Jill Stein. So if you’re kept off the debates, you can’t reach more two percent of people even if you campaign every state and fill the big conventions like Madison Square Garden. So it is basically a strategy to destroy the essence of democracy, which is the competitiveness and choices of candidates on the ballot.
Now you have been on Democracy Now haven’t you?
Jill Stein: Yes, we have good coverage and you know let me just add to what you said about the Commission, that fake Commission, a very public and official sounding name, that the League of Women Voters quit after the two corporate parties took over this Commission. And they quit saying that this is a fraud being perpetrated on the American voter. There’s the pretense that this is official when it’s actually the two parties who are colluding in order to silence political opposition. This is true to party tyranny and it locks people in, especially outrageous at this time that people feel like they are being thrown under the bus by these two political parties and are demanding, you know, other options in large numbers.
Ralph Nader: Let’s get back to the debates. The first debate which you are excluded from, Dr. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson as well, is September 26, it’s coming up fast at Hofstra College in Long Island and then they have two more debates at the Presidential level and one at the Vice-Presidential level. I wonder why they’re rationing debates. You want to talk about people wanting more debates at this stage the election: probably 95%.
What are you going to do about the Hofstra debate? Are you going to go there?
Jill Stein: Yes, I’m going there. We now have over a hundred thousand people who are signed up on our campaign and our petition to open up the debate, and we’re encouraging people to come and to join us and to insist that we need to be included. So exactly what the plans are at Hofstra, we will be advising people as the time gets closer. But we are not just going to go quietly into the dark night.
In this election. we are not just deciding what kind of a world we will be, but arguably whether we will have a world or not going forward. If my campaign is not in the debate, we will not have a real discussion of the emergency of climate change and why in fact we need a Green New Deal type national mobilization at the scale of a wartime mobilization in order to address this emergency.
If my campaign is not in the debate, we will not be talking about how we really fix this problem of endless and expanding war, why we need to cut the military budget by 50%, why we need to bring back our troops scattered overseas, the police force of the world, in over a hundred countries, something like eight hundred bases, but who’s counting, why we need to basically bring those troops home and why we need to stop this policy of regime change, these wars on terror, which only create more terror. This needs to be debated.
And a third issue, Ralph, that is potentially putting us all in the target hairs now is the reactivation of a new nuclear arms race. This arms race and this cold war is potentially hotter than it’s been at any time in my lifetime. And we have two thousand nuclear weapons on the trigger alert right now and Hillary Clinton wants to start an air war with Russia, a nuclear-armed power, over Syria as the means of addressing ISIS and the crisis in Syria. This kind of stuff, nuclear weapons, needs to be on the table and it won’t be if I’m not in the debate.
Ralph Nader: That’s true because both Trump and Hillary want bigger military budgets and Hillary supports President Obama’s one trillion dollar expenditure to so-called upgrade nuclear weapons. President Eisenhower warned us, five star general, he said watch out for the military-industrial complex. That’s a threat to our freedom, to our economy, and what we have now is a gigantic taxpayer draining empire that is devouring itself, which, as you say, it’s creating more resistance, more fighting, against us oversees. The threats are coming to this country, which will, of course, increase the massive industry known as the anti-terrorism industry, and crush our civil liberties and civil rights, And it’s devouring our priorities here in communities all over the country which are in such disrepair and are so neglected in terms of public works and public services.
In the meantime the big corporations are fleeing America for tax havens and places like Ireland, Luxembourg and the Grand Cayman Islands; the rich are finding more tax loopholes to expect; so when are the people going to basically roll up their sleeves and say, we’ve had enough, we’re going to recapture Congress.
As you know, Jill, a lot of progressives, they have great agendas and they have great solutions, but they don’t pay enough attention to recapturing Congress. And recapturing Congress, 535 men and women who put their shoes on every day like you and I, is the key to begin turning this whole process around.
And I hear people who are worried about climate change tell me, oh, Congress that’s gridlock, that’s not where the action is. Hello, that’s where the action is. When I go up there, I see coal lobbyists, oil lobbyists, natural gas lobbyists, nuclear power lobbyists, somehow they think that’s where the action is in Congress.
So I want to ask you this question: how do you read the Bernie movement, the Bernie Sanders movement before and after he endorsed Hillary Clinton without qualifications, I might add, and how is it going to help you? So how do you read before, after, and how’s it going to help you?
Jill Stein: Well let me just say that on the day that Bernie endorsed Hillary, the floodgates opened into our campaign. Our fundraising went up about a thousand percent and that’s largely been sustained. Our Facebook went off the charts and volunteers poured into our campaigns and actually helped us achieve the ballot access status that we have now on the ballot in just about 48 states and this has continued.
So Bernie, the team player, he made it known from the very start that he would be supporting the Democratic nominee, presumably Hillary Clinton, and what we learned in the course of Bernie’s campaign is that you cannot have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party. The party pulled out its kill switch against Bernie and sabotaged him. As we saw from the emails revealed, showing the collusion between the Democratic National Committee, Hillary’s campaign, and members of the corporate media.
And it wasn’t the first time. This happened to Dennis Kucinich. It happened to Jesse Jackson. They did it even to Howard Dean, creating the Dean scream. This is how they work. And it’s been a huge wake-up moment. And Bernie’s campaign was very principled in most regards, I think, you know, he certainly didn’t go far enough in questioning the military policy, the military-industrial complex, and so on, but you know I think that’s the price you pay for being in the Democratic Party. And Bernie has to pay that price. If he were liberated from the Democratic Party, it might be a whole new ballgame.
You know, as he said himself, it’s a movement, not a man. And that movement continues to move into our campaign. It’s going strong. I think it’s a marriage made in heaven. The Green Party provides the infrastructure, kind of the culture of watchdogging the electoral bureaucracy, and how you participate, how you get on the ballot, stuff like that which is very difficult to do unless you have billions of dollars. So with the passion and the vision of the Berners coming into the Greens–we call it berning green–and the events that I’m going to that are being created around the country right now, it’s the Bernie folks who are showing up in huge numbers along with the traditional Green. It’s very powerful.
There’s one other element I just want to be sure to mention here: that is that there are 43 million young people who are locked into predatory student loan debt for whom there is no way out in the foreseeable future given the economy that we have: this predatory Wall Street driven financialized low-wage service industry economy. The jobs that have come back have been extremely insecure low-wage benefit poor temporary jobs. Young people are screwed. They don’t have a way to pay off their debt. And when they discover that they could come out and vote Green to cancel that debt, that I am the one candidate who will bail out the students like we bailed out the crooks on Wall Street, then it becomes an irresistible motivation to actually come out and vote Green.
And I just want to note that 43 million young people in debt is enough to win a three-way Presidential race. So when they tell us that resistance is futile, just remember that is the toxic kool-aid, that is the propaganda, that they’re trying to use to keep people from self mobilizing. If ever there was a mobilizing energy, it is the millennial generation. So we have the power to turn out and even to win this race. Not to split the vote but to flip the vote.
Ralph Nader: You know, we’re trying to convey how much easier it is than most people think, especially young people, to turn the country around if they focus on the levers, if they focus on Congress, and state legislatures. If a hundred people in each congressional district started a Congress watchdog club with a letterhead and a summons to the members of Congress to come to town meetings, even just a hundred people out of 690,000 people in each congressional district, they will begin to feel their power and feel how they go to 200, 500, 700, how they can challenge these corporations that control the majority of the members of Congress even though they don’t have any vote. We’re the ones that have the vote.
So we have to convey the sense that in American history it’s always been a few people that started movements against slavery, women’s right to vote, the farmer Labor revolutions in the late 19th century, always third parties have been first–Jill Stein as you say to your own audiences–have been first with the great issues way before the two major parties. They were first to recommend a social security program, a Medicare program, the first to push for a 40 hour week, for progressive taxation.
And that’s one reason why they are discriminated against and repressed. It’s because they want to shift power from the few to the many. So why don’t you give the website. I’m sure our listeners are saying, how do we get in touch, how do we become part of this justice movement.
Jill Stein: Great. So go to Jill2016.com, or on social media go to DrJillStein and that’s Dr no period. And join the team, because we’re here for the long haul. And you know in the words of Alice Walker, the biggest way people give up power is by not knowing we have it to start with. We have it: just to look at the power of fighting student debt or 25 million Latinos who learned that the Republicans are the party that hate and fear but Democrats are the party of people deportation and detention.
We have all the numbers we need to turn this system on its head. The anti-slavery parties were also called spoilers, including the Republican party that went on not just to abolish slavery but they actually take over the Presidency moving very quickly from third-party into the Presidency. At a time of great social upheaval, all things are possible. We must challenge, as Ralph was saying, you know, to fight at every level, including Congress and to make that challenge political and to organize as a political party is how we get traction.
In the words of Frederick Douglas, power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will. We must be that demand. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Don’t let them talk you out of your part.
Ralph Nader: So that’s your opening statement if you’re on the Presidential debates at Hofstra on September 26th. Let’s get your view on the two major candidates. Let’s start with a question that I have to you about Donald Trump. He has made every mistake possible, any one of which would have destroyed his candidacy if he was an ordinary candidate. He has been a bigot against Hispanic-Americans, Muslim-American, he wants to build the wall, he engages in repeated daily factual misstatements, where even people on Fox News have to follow up and correct his false statements again and again, and he never corrects them himself.
He’s cheated about everything and everybody he’s dealt with. He cheated against his workers, his consumers Trump University, that fraud, he’s cheated against his small business suppliers, he’s cheating against his investors with his bankruptcies, he’s cheating against his creditors, he even has boasted about cheating against his matrimony and he’s cheated against taxpayers by being a corporate welfare king and not paying any taxes, refuses to disclose his tax returns which would show all kinds of interrelations that might lead to his disapproval by people.
Now given all that and given the so-called conservative values of his supporters, why is he now surging on Hillary Clinton, the latest poll he’s five points ahead in Ohio, he’s almost tied in Florida when a few weeks ago he was 10 points or more behind, what does this say, first, about the voters who are supporting him and what does this say about the media that is replaying as you say billions of dollars of free propaganda by him? What does it say about the Trump movement?
Jill Stein: Well, you know, as Bernie Sanders himself said, you know, the Trump movement reflects the economic despair and misery that’s been inflicted not only on the American people but people around the world. And we have been subject to globalization and financialization and austerity and workers have been thrown under the bus while the one percent is rolling in dough. So, you know, the way that you address this right-wing extremism is actually by putting forward a truly progressive agenda. That’s the only solution here.
And the economic misery: who passed NAFTA? You know, Bill Clinton signed that with Hillary’s support. Who passed Wall Street deregulation that enabled the meltdown of Wall Street and the disappearance of nine million jobs, the theft of 5 million homes? You know we have Democratic centrists here to blame for the economic conditions driving this rightwing extremism. So the solution here, you know, is not Hillary Clinton and more of the Clintonism centrist, the centrist Clinton philosophy that is greeding this economic misery.
But let me put this another way. Polls show it’s a majority of Trump supporters don’t actually support Donald Trump, they actually dislike Hillary Clinton, they’re looking for something else. So what we need to do is to give them something else. And in terms of the role of the media, that is my candidacy which does provide that truly progressive agenda that gets to the heart of what is driving this right-wing extremism.
It’s not just Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is not going to be the solution here. She’s going to be more of what is driving this incredible economic insecurity and this shift to the right, The media, the factor, is summed up by the CEO of I think it was CBS who said Donald Trump may be bad for the country but he sure is good for our bottom line. And it reflects Ralph I think how important it is what you’ve said before, that it’s time to use the antitrust laws and to break up this conglomerate corporate media that has now poisoned our democracy to the point that our very survival is at risk for the kinds of monstrosities that are flourishing in our corporate media dominated discussion.
Ralph Nader: It’s amazing how the media is degrading itself to the level of the Republican primary, scurrilous back and forth, and the media, I keep telling people in the mass media you’ve got a privileged position in the First Amendment and you should have a higher estimate of your own significance and not just be ditto heads for political scum and political slander.
And in substantial presentations Hillary has been seen by the commentators as one of the reasons as you say, her weakness as a candidate, her duplicity her untrustworthiness, her more Wall Street, more war, you could have a button with a nice picture of Hillary in the middle and on the top is more war and on the bottom is more Wall Street and you be very prophetic. She just can’t disentangle herself from those two. She gave Bernie Sanders a few slogans in order to mimic him but she’s back again becoming more aggressive overseas and even Obama and she scares the generals.
So we’re in a very very serious point as you said around the country. Jill, in this country I know every four years they say serious point. but when you’ve got these two candidates, all of whom want more militarism and more corporate power and who knows what else Trump wants, he takes everything personally. I can see him attacking a country whose leader insulted him. He has no self-control. He has no impulse self-control. He has a very serious personality defect on that.
And so here we are, we have a few weeks left before the election and people have got to rally Hofstra: you want to go and rally Hofstra. A lot of people in New York city area on September 26, Monday September 26th, the first Presidential debate. The media is going to all be there. If there are twenty, fifty a hundred thousand people there, saying open up the debates for the third parties, I think that will begin getting the attention of the mass media. So I urge listeners in the greater New York City area to go to these peaceful rallies and with your placards and make your demands known because the press is all there. You go where the press is.
What do you say, Jill?
Jill Stein: Yes definitely. This is where the American people are. This is what we demand. Over three-quarters of the American people are saying it’s time to open up the debates. We have rejected these two candidates at the highest levels of disapproval in our history.
What’s wrong with this picture? You know, what’s wrong with this picture is that Americans not only have a right to vote, we have a right to know who we can vote for. It’s time to override this fraud being committed on the American voter of the two-party tyranny of this private corporation of the Commission on Presidential Debates. We the voters demand the right to be in charge here, to be informed, to be empowered.
And let me add that at this moment we are seeing before our very eyes a political realignment. We’ve seen the Republican Party come apart at the seam with Donald Trump taking the remnants over the cliff. We’ve seen the basic foundation of the Republican Party move into the Democratic Party inside of Hillary’s campaign.
And you have endorsements, everyone from Meg Whitman to the neocon John Negroponte and others who are all saying, you know, we’re with Hillary now. So we’ve got a big happy, one corporate family now uniting the corporate Democrats and the corporate Republicans. The people of integrity inside the Bernie campaign have split off and are unifying with the Green.
So this is actually a transformative political moment, that realignment,that has been in the works here for quite some time. It has to be.
Ralph Nader: As I was saying, half a democracy is showing up and people have got not only to agree with this agenda, some of these third parties listeners, they’ve got to show up. People have got to show up, showing up at meetings, rallies, marches, City Council, courtrooms. You’ve got to show up.
We have a Democratic Party that cannot defend the American people from the worst Republican Party in history because it’s a Democratic Party of war and Wall Street. And we have two parties who are basically hijacking our country for their corporate paymasters. And if we focus on 535 members of Congress, that’s not all that many, we’re going to see a fast turnaround. So focus all your concerns, all the information, the kind of agenda the Green Party has. Turn it right on your Senators and Representatives.
So I want to have, Steve, Steve, wants to ask a question Jill.
Steve Skrovan: Dr. Stein, talk a little bit about your vice Presidential running mate Ajamu Baraka. Who is he and how does he compliment you as a candidate?
Jill Stein: Great. So Ajamu Baraka is a human rights advocate and an international human rights advocate, who’s been defending racial justice, economic justice, worker justice, indigenous justice, and justice for black and brown people all over the world, and in the United States has been helping to lead the charge against the death penalty here, and is an extremely eloquent and empowering person. And one of the great things about running with him is that we speak to all of America.
He comes out of the tradition of the African-American intellectuals, the people who really been standing up for African-American rights and economic rights and workers rights. And because he speaks in the language of his community, and makes no bones about it, he really invites in a whole new demographic of voters who have been locked out?—African-American and black and brown people and indigenous people?— who have felt like this system has no place for them. And he is unapologetic about standing up for the rights of the oppressed people and against colonialism and against imperialism. And he’s very inspirational.
And it is so much fun to be out there on the campaign trail with him because who comes out is totally different from anything I have seen before in progressive campaigns because he is so empowering and inspiring.
Ralph Nader: When I have heard him, he talks in a very calm voice, too. He talks in a very steady, calm voice, full of facts.
Now as we close, Jill Stein, the Presidential candidate for the Green Party, tell our listeners how they can get to read your agenda, how they can get to your website. Say it slowly and twice.
Jill Stein: Ok, to get in the website, it’s Jill2016.com. That’s Jill2016.com. And our social media is DrJillStein and that’s Dr, no period, DrJill Stein: all one word. And you can see our media appearances as well as connect to Our Power to the People Agenda, Our Green New Deal, our plan to abolish student debt and our plan to actually create a whole new foreign policy based on international law and human rights.
That means we don’t supply a hundred billion dollars worth of weapons to the war criminals in Saudi Arabia nor do we supply eight million dollars a day to the Israeli army that is also violating international law and human rights. So there are real solutions right now for us if we stand up with the courage of our convictions.
There is no stopping us. So join the team. Come out to Hofstra again on September 26, and let’s begin to take our democracy back. We are in the target hairs in this election. We are all asking whether we are going to have a world at all or not going forward.
If we are going to save our hides, we need to start with democracy. Democracy needs to start with an open Presidential debate. So come on out and let’s take back the promise of our democracy.
Ralph Nader: And listeners, you can call your local newspaper, your local TV, radio station, say why aren’t they putting third-party candidates on. Call NPR, call PBS, why aren’t they putting third-party candidates on.
You had an experience recently with Judy Woodruff of PBS. Can you explain that to our listeners. It’s the Public Broadcasting System Judy Woodruff on the News Hour.
Jill Stein: That’s right. I had a taped interview which was approximately six or seven minutes long and it was actually posted, I think it was live-streamed in fact, on Facebook. And then it was played on the News Hour that night, and some of our astute watchdog supporters compared the two and they discovered that some of my most important statements critiquing Hillary Clinton and why she is not going to save our hides, whether it was her war policy or for shipping our jobs overseas with NAFTA, her history of dismantling the social safety net and supporting the destruction of aid to families with dependent children, putting millions more children and families in poverty, you know, I told some hard truths about Hillary Clinton and why the lesser evil is not okay, that apparently my discussion of Hillary Clinton was cut
out and also my discussion about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. and why it is an absolute betrayal of our democratic sovereignty and why it must be stopped, and why anybody supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership is essentially betraying the basic principles of democracy.
So those two discussions were cut out of the PBS broadcast, which essentially took the teeth out of it. So, yeah, I think PBS needs to have us on again for a longer segment in fact so that we can tell the whole truth.
Ralph Nader: What’s interesting is this election year has made the citizen groups off-limits. All these citizen groups?— local, state, national?—that really do things and improve the country, they’re never asked to be in these electoral campaign discussions. It’s all these pundits, all these consultants, and the candidates, as if they’re in a bubble leaving democracy off-limits.
Now you campaign around the country, Jill Stein, you connect with local issues, you connect with local citizen groups, don’t you?
Jill Stein: Oh absolutely. And you know we’re not out holding fundraisers in the Hamptons or in Beverly Hills. My running mate, Ajamu Baraka, was out camping out with the homeless in Baltimore last night. We were both recently at the Standing Rock Sioux encampment where in fact we are both now, a warrant is out for our arrest for participating in civil disobedience to support this very critical stand being taken on behalf of our water, on behalf of human rights, on behalf of our climate. We were out there with the people whose homes were flooded out in Southern Louisiana. We are out there on the front line with everyday people fighting the real frontline battle that real Americans are fighting.
And let me support what you just said, Ralph, about everyday Americans really having the power here. People may remember, or you may have heard if you weren’t there during the Nixon years, we had one of the worst Presidents ever on record but we the American people have the sense of our own power. We were in the driver’s seat. We forced Richard Nixon and the Congress who established, and thanks to your leadership, Ralph, we supported you and we got the Environmental Protection Act and Agency. We ended the war in Vietnam, and brought the troops home. We got OSHA established with your leadership. We got the Supreme Court, we pressured the Supreme Court into supporting women’s rights to choose.
So there should be just no end to what we can do when we operate with the courage of our convictions and we get out there in the street, in the voting booth, we assert our power and we take our democracy back.
And I’m getting the sign now from my campaign that we are about to run into our next event here at the University of Maine in Orono so I will have to bid you adieu, but it has been really wonderful and inspiring as always talking with you, Ralph, and you, Steve. And I just so greatly appreciate, in fact, I give you credit or perhaps the blame for my candidacy. From the very start you have been the inspiration to me to get involved with politics, someone who was not politically active for the first 50 years of my life. I think for the next 50 years I’m not going to be able to stop because of the light that you shine for me and so many millions of Americans. You may have been ahead of the curve but the curve is catching up to you, Ralph Nader, right now in a big way. Well we can’t thank you enough.
Ralph Nader: Well thank you very much, Dr. Jill Stein. We’ve been talking with the Green Party Presidential candidate. She is at Orono, Maine as we record this interview, and she’ll be at Hofstra on Monday, September 26 for the big first Presidential debate. And we’re looking for a huge peaceful protest when the eyes of the mass media are focused on that location. Thank you very much, Jill Stein.
Jill Stein: Thank you so much, Ralph. Take care, all the best.
Steve Skrovan: We have been speaking with Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein. For more information on her candidacy, go to Jill2016.com. We will also link to it on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website.
Did Companies & Countries Buy State Dept. Access by Donating to Clinton Foundation?
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal, who has covered the Clinton Foundation for years, looks at the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and what it would be if she became president. Newly released State Department emails include exchanges between top members of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s top State Department advisers, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. The FBI reportedly wanted to investigate the Clinton Foundation earlier this year, but U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch pushed back.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Newly released State Department emails are raising questions about the close ties between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state. The 44 emails include exchanges between top members of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s top State Department advisers, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. CNN reports that the FBI wanted to investigate the Clinton Foundation earlier this year, but U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch pushed back. On Thursday, State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau denied any improper communication between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
ELIZABETH TRUDEAU: The department’s actions under Secretary Clinton were taken to advance administration policy as set by the president and in the interests of American foreign policy. The State Department is not aware of any actions that were influenced by the Clinton Foundation.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the newly released email exchanges is about billionaire Nigerian-Lebanese developer Gilbert Chagoury, who contributed between $1 [million] and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. The emails show a top Clinton Foundation executive writing to Abedin and Mills, asking for help putting Chagoury in touch with the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon. Abedin responds, “I’ll talk to jeff,” referring to then-U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman. On Wednesday, Gilbert Chagoury’s spokesman said Chagoury, quote, “was simply passing along his observations and insights about the dire political situation in Lebanon at the time,” unquote.
For more, we go to Santa Barbara, where we’re joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Grimaldi. He’s a senior writer at The Wall Street Journal and has covered the Clinton Foundation since 2014.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, James. You’ve been covering the Clinton Foundation for years. Can you talk about what this latest group of emails suggests, and how significant it is, about the relationship between the Clinton Foundation under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and—between the State Department under Clinton and the Clinton Foundation?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, I think this confirms what we sort of knew. There are obvious ties and relationships. The key tie here would be Douglas Band, who was a top aide to Bill Clinton. He helped Bill Clinton create the Clinton Foundation, and sort of devised how he would spend his days in retirement. He was very close, of course, to Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin. At one point he was employing, as a contractor, Huma Abedin, as Huma was working at the State Department. And during this time of the Lebanese elections, Mr. Band sent an email, as you described just now, regarding one of their greatest benefactors, Mr. Chagoury, and suggested that the State Department have the person who was a lead—the ambassador to Lebanon speak to Mr. Chagoury.
It shows how donations to the Clinton Foundation win access to, you know, state diplomatic—State Department diplomatic officials. It sort of begs the question, if he hadn’t given that money to the Clinton Foundation, whether he would have had that kind of easy access. I would say it would probably be unlikely. It certainly would not happen as swiftly. Possibly, that State Department ambassador might have consulted with this person regarding that issue, but it sure shows or seems to create an appearance of a conflict of interest, that perhaps he bought access by making those donations to the Clinton Foundation.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, speaking of that issue of conflict of interest, you’ve noted that during her confirmation hearings as secretary of state, Secretary Clinton specifically said that she would take, quote, “extraordinary steps … to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” How well do you think she has followed through on that, on that promise?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, over the past year, we have looked at that issue. And what I did was I went into the lobbying records to see which companies and other entities were lobbying the State Department, and also looking to see how many of them had given to the Clinton Foundation. And one of our findings was that at least 60 companies had lobbied the State Department, had given as much as $26 million, and many of those companies, 44 of those 60, had participated in what they call commitments, or philanthropic projects, that were valued by the Clinton Foundation at $3.2 billion.
So then we went to look and see if Mrs. Clinton had done anything for these companies at the time that they were making these gifts. And we looked at several companies—UBS, Boeing, General Electric and Microsoft and others, Wal-Mart—who seemed to have been getting favors from Mrs. Clinton, perhaps for good reason—promoting American companies and American jobs—but also coming at the same time that there were donations going to the Clinton Foundation.
AMY GOODMAN: You wrote an extensive piece, James, last year about Clinton’s complicated connection with UBS. Can you talk about that, just as an example?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. That’s one of our deeper dives into one of the banks that was involved. And we know that Mrs. Clinton is very close to a lot of the Wall Street banks. In this case with UBS, they were in a bind. A whistleblower had come forward, an American who was helping UBS find Americans who wanted to dodge taxes in Switzerland, literally recruiting them to open accounts in Switzerland that would be then hidden from the Internal Revenue Service. He blew the whistle on that.
The government, IRS and DOJ, wanted 50,000 accounts that they knew about in which Americans were hiding taxes—hiding their income in the UBS Swiss bank accounts so they wouldn’t be taxed. In the end, UBS did not want to provide those names, because there was a law in Switzerland that said they couldn’t reveal that kind of confidential information. In the end, they only gave about 5,000 of those 50,000 names. And we saw the donations from UBS to the Clinton Foundation increase from a little under $60,000 to $600,000, plus they participated in a $30 million inner-city loan program and then hired Bill Clinton to do speeches around the country for $1.5 million.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Of course, UBS was not only closely tied with the Clintons. As I recall, Robert Wolf, the head of UBS Americas, was one of the big fundraisers for President Obama—in fact, famously was playing golf with President Obama when the Justice Department announced its deferred prosecution agreement with UBS on this issue of the accounts. So, there seems to have been a—you also raised the issue of whether other foreign policy objectives of the government were not included in the negotiated deal to eventually get Switzerland to give up at least some of those bank accounts?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. Well, that’s how Hillary Clinton got involved. And we know this, thankfully, to WikiLeaks. The cables that were obtained under WikiLeaks happened to be that snapshot in time when these discussions were going underway. And what we saw was that when the Swiss foreign minister came to Hillary Clinton and said, “We really would like to take care of this UBS problem,” Hillary said, “Well, we have a few things we would like, as well.” And this was the time that the Clinton administration—I’m sorry, the Obama administration was eager to close Guantánamo Bay. And Mrs. Clinton was pressuring Switzerland to take some of the less dangerous detainees, in particular, some Chinese Uyghurs who were deemed to be not particularly dangerous, which they eventually agreed to do. That seemed to be part of the overall deal that was made between the United States and Switzerland regarding UBS.
AMY GOODMAN: So, explain the evolution of the Clinton Foundation. I mean, not long before Hillary Clinton announced for president, didn’t they rename the Clinton Foundation the “Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation”?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. And she became very, very involved in the fundraising between the time that she left the State Department and when she announced her run for the presidency. She helped raise as much as $250 million from many of these same corporations in order to bulk up the endowment to keep the Clinton Foundation running in the future. In addition, she was giving a lot of speeches, as was Bill Clinton giving speeches, that were being paid, as, famously, we know Bernie Sanders brought up the fact that she was taking money from Wall Street and banks regarding speeches, up to $250,000 a pop. We may hear a little bit more about that today or in the coming days, because we understand that the Clinton campaign is getting ready to release their most latest tax returns. We already know some of this from her personal financial disclosure form, but we might see additional information coming out of her tax returns today.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about the public-private partnerships that Clinton established while she was secretary of state with some major corporations, and the relations of those corporations to the Clinton Foundation?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, exactly. You know, there’s usually never a stop in what you can do in terms of contributions you can make to the various Clinton pots. You know, you’ve got money that you can donate to the foundation. You can partner—at the State Department there are these partnerships between the Clinton Foundation and corporations. Some of that went into building an Expo in China for the Chinese world fair that they held there. And the Clinton Foundation—Mrs. Clinton, at the State Department, was very eager to see those being built, because, apparently, under the Bush administration, it really had kind of had a—reached a point where they hadn’t raised enough money to even have a pavilion there. But then you could see that there are money coming from corporations to their own personal wallet, their purses, campaign contributions. It just seems as if there are many, many places that you can make a contribution and you can partner with either Mrs. Clinton at the State Department or get involved at the Clinton Foundation.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip of Hillary Clinton on CNN back in June. Anderson Cooper asked her about the lack of transparency of donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign countries.
HILLARY CLINTON: We had absolutely overwhelming disclosure. Were there, you know, one or two instances that slipped through the cracks? Yes. But was the overwhelming amount of anything that anybody gave the foundation disclosed? Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: So there you have Hillary Clinton saying this. James Grimaldi, can you talk about what happened when President Obama tapped her to be secretary of state? And what were the rules around what would happen with the Clinton Foundation?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, let me also respond to the clip. I would say the disclosure is underwhelming. Yes, they have disclosed more than they’re required to under internal revenue law, but when they disclose it, they don’t tell you the date, they don’t tell you the amount. The disclosure is very skimpy. Someone could make a donation; the only way you know is if they’ve increased in one category, from, say, $1 [million] to $5 million, to $5 [million] to $10 million, and then there’s an asterisk that’s placed next to the name of a donor, that’s released either quarterly or annually. It’s very opaque, I think, in terms of what’s disclosed. Disclosure was required by the Obama administration when she came in, but they were very vague about what those rules would be. And I think they went to the least amount of effort that they could.
Also, for any fundraising that was to be done, they were supposed to consult with the ethics officers at the State Department. But so far, we’ve only found a handful of examples where they ever said no. And in those cases, they were really in sort of the extreme. Bill Clinton wanted to give a speech in North Korea. And I think there may have been some efforts where he wanted to raise some money in China, as well. So, we’ve obtained many of those disclosure requests. And, in fact, there have been some others that are still coming out through some of these emails. But like I said, it doesn’t look like the State Department pushed back very often.
AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t there a rule? Didn’t they change—didn’t they change a rule around countries, that countries—the Clinton Foundation would not accept contributions from countries—
JAMES GRIMALDI: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —during that time, but then that changed?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Right. So, what they—what they did was they said, “We really don’t want you raising money from foreign governments,” because she’s going to be, obviously, dealing with foreign governments. So they stopped doing that. And then, what we realized, when they did, they were very quiet. They didn’t announce it. They posted on their website the 2014—I guess, in 2015, for the previous year, we saw that, immediately, the Clintons had gone back to many of these Middle Eastern countries—the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and others, Qatar—that would have raised some questions. So, in other words, in this interregnum in between when she was at the State Department and when she ran for—announced her run for president, they ended up going back to the very countries that some people had raised a lot of questions about. And there are many who have raised questions about raising money from these governments and many of these sheikhs in Saudi Arabia and others in countries that have very questionable human rights and certainly don’t have equal rights for women.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And to your knowledge, this issue of foreign governments donating to an American charitable philanthropy, is there any other philanthropy in the United States that has comparable donations from foreign governments as the Clinton Foundation?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, probably not at this scale. But I do know that there are certain government entities that make contributions, sort of like we do with USAID. I know that Switzerland, you know, will—has, I think, a lottery that donates. Canada—it was interesting, the Canadian State Department was making contributions, coming from the same agency that was lobbying the Clinton—I’m sorry, lobbying the State Department regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Obviously, Canada wanted that pipeline to come through. It was eventually stopped. But there were donations from that same Canadian State Department that went to the Clinton Foundation around the time that—that’s is one that slipped through, in terms of a government donation, around the same time that they were lobbying Hillary Clinton to accept the Keystone XL pipeline.
AMY GOODMAN: How does Saudi Arabia fit into this picture, James?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Saudi Arabia, there are sheikhs and others who have made donations. They’re very big supporters, as is Abu Dhabi. Interesting, we had a story last year that talked about Abu Dhabi also donating around the time that their airline, their upstart airline, wanted to receive a U.S. Customs facility in their airport. It was like a very—frankly, not a very common route, and it was sort of a plum get for them to get this preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi for their airline.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, you write that Bill Clinton received $1 million for two appearances sponsored by the Abu Dhabi government, the United Arab Emirates, that were arranged while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
JAMES GRIMALDI: That’s right. Those were—those came through agencies, the tourism agency, the tourism agency obviously being run by Abu Dhabi, but one of the also big sponsors or participants in that agency was the very airline that wanted this special facility, the preclearance facility, at their airport.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You’ve also written about Clinton’s relationship to the Energy Pioneer Solutions. Could you talk about that company and what it was seeking?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Yeah, that’s a very interesting company. Energy Pioneer Solutions was founded by Scott Kleeb, who was a candidate for Congress in Nebraska. His wife happens—Jane Kleeb happens to be one of the big opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, so very well known in Nebraska. But interesting, this company, which weatherized homes and put in insulation, had as its co-owners the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, Mark Weiner, a Rhode Island official very close to Bill and Hillary Clinton going back to the ’70s and to their ’92 campaign. He recently passed away during the Democratic National Convention, and Bill Clinton mentioned him in his speech at the convention. And Bill and Hillary both went to his funeral. He was a co-owner, as was a woman who lives about three miles from Bill and Hillary’s house in Chappaqua, New York. This company received a $2 million commitment that was arranged by the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. And Bill Clinton called the energy secretary, Steven Chu, in order to get them an $840,000 grant. That’s raised some questions about whether the Clinton Foundation is being used to sort of feather the nests of many of their friends.
AMY GOODMAN: This is a for-profit company.
JAMES GRIMALDI: It is a for-profit company. Very unusual for a for-profit company to get a federal grant from the Department of Energy. And the company isn’t doing too well. As I understand it, they’re reconfiguring their business plan. And it has not worked out, I think, as they had expected. But I think it may still be incorporated in Nebraska.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, a big issue that’s been raised is, you know, the relationship of the close advisers to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, Cheryl Mills, in particular, who goes back to being Bill Clinton’s attorney during—defending him during the impeachment hearings in Congress, then now the right-hand person of Hillary Clinton. And one of the issues raised in this email—in the emails is that she went to New York on her own dime, they are now saying, took a train up, to help choose the new head of the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as, you know, top State Department official. Any issues here with that, James?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, she’s at the center of everything involving Hillary Clinton at the State Department. She’s basically Hillary’s consigliere at the State Department. And she is the keeper of all the Clinton secrets. And she also would be the enforcer, at times, when Bill Clinton might have been pushing too hard for some of these questionable donations. But there’s no question she was sort of in the middle of every major decision that’s ever been made by the Clintons, a very, very close adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and very close to Hillary, and, in fact, had an official position in the State Department.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, could the Clinton Foundation exist as it is now if Hillary Clinton is president?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, Bill Clinton was asked that question. He hasn’t really answered it. He said he doesn’t want to count his chickens before they’re hatched. But I think all of the people around Bill Clinton, including people in the Clinton campaign, say there’s really no way it could continue to operate. And I think that Bill is pushing back on that, from what we understand, that he wants to continue to do some of the good work that they do—for example, helping to negotiate AIDS drugs in Africa at better prices. The Clinton Health Initiative, I think, really wants to continue to raise money. Many of these foreign donations are actually going to the Clinton Health Initiative—Health Access Initiative, as it’s known, or CHAI.
And so, I think there’s this—there’s a tension between the Clinton campaign for president and the Clinton Foundation about what exactly will happen. Those negotiations are well undercover. They’re not transparent. We don’t know what they are. We don’t know what will happen. And I don’t foreclose the possibility that the Clinton Foundation will continue to operate and that they will raise money from some of the same places. And I think that, really, these questions need to be asked of the Clinton campaign: If she plans—if she plans to continue—you know, whether Bill plans to continue to run the Clinton Foundation as it is, what form it will take, what it will look like and how it will raise money.
AMY GOODMAN: James Grimaldi, thanks for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist—
JAMES GRIMALDI: Thanks for inviting me.
AMY GOODMAN: —senior writer at The Wall Street Journal, has covered the Clinton Foundation for a number of years. This is Democracy Now! We’ll link to his articles at democracynow.org.
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