Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Why do they pillory Hillary?

Reporter Jonathan Allen has written a surprisingly candid piece on the Clinton Rules. Why do the Clintons (unlike, say, the Bushes) remain continually pestered by pseudojournalists who love to whip up pseudoscandals? Allen himself once wrote a book about Hillary -- a book which I have not read. He admits that if money were his sole motivator, his volume would have taken a harsher tone...
I wanted to sell books, of course. But the easier way to do that — proven over time — is to write as though the Clintons are the purest form of evil. The same holds for daily reporting. Want to drive traffic to a website? Write something nasty about a Clinton, particularly Hillary.
This is not always true, at least not on my low and disreputable level of the blogosphere. My humble blog's traffic remained pretty high throughout 2008, when I took a strongly anti-Obama stance, and thus became a de facto Hillary supporter. But my feelings toward her changed during her tenure as Secretary of State. In recent times, quite a few posts critical of Hillary have appeared in these cyber-pages -- and to be honest, those posts have alienated many readers.

(That'd be something to worry about if this blog were monetized, which it isn't.)

My point is this: Allen is right -- but only to a point. An anti-Hillary article will fetch eyeballs if and only if you criticize her for bullshit reasons.

But if you critique her embrace of neoconservatism, no "respectable" source will link to your words. No-one will quote you. No-one will have anything pleasant to say about you.

Why? Because both the right and the left are united in their admiration for the neoconservative paradigm, even though only a few are willing to embrace the actual term "neoconservative." Maybe admiration is the wrong word: For mainstream writers, neoconservatism has become part of the very air they breathe. To them, anyone who seeks a different atmosphere must be a creature from another planet.

You certainly can never expect a mainstream writer like Allen to question the dominant paradigm. That task is left to alien freaks like yours truly.

So here are the Clinton Rules, as codified by Jonathan Allen, an apparently-repentant former follower of those rules (and thanks to Digby for the distillation):
1) Everything, no matter how ludicrous-sounding, is worthy of a full investigation by federal agencies, Congress, the "vast right-wing conspiracy," and mainstream media outlets

2) Every allegation, no matter how ludicrous, is believable until it can be proven completely and utterly false. And even then, it keeps a life of its own in the conservative media world.

3) The media assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there's hard evidence otherwise.

4) Everything is newsworthy because the Clintons are the equivalent of America's royal family.

5) Everything she does is fake and calculated for maximum political benefit.
Two responses:

First, at no point does Allen make a serious attempt to answer his own question: Why did these rules come into being, and why do so many follow them? The real answer, I feel certain, involves dollar signs. Allen hints at this reality (in the bit I have quoted above), but I think that the financial carrots and sticks are even more blatant than he lets on.

Second, how should Hillary critics of my persuasion respond to all of this?

I always have defended the Clintons whenever they were subjected to ludicrous, partisan attacks based on nonsense. (Did you know that the right is now claiming that Hillary plans to wage a war on Christianity?) And I will continue to do so.

But I remain infuriated by Hillary's "Friends of Syria" meetings, which set the stage for the current civil war in that country. (That civil war, in turn, created ISIS and empowered Al Qaeda). Her embrace of the Kagan clan makes me want to vomit.  The money she takes from Haim Saban worries the hell out of me.

When it comes to Syria, to Libya, to the entire neocon hijacking of the Arab Spring, Hillary is on the wrong side of history. Something similar could be said of her attitude toward TPP and other dangerous trade agreements.

Her performance as Secretary of State was nothing short of disastrous. Yet many of the charges leveled against her have been nothing short of bizarre.

As I see it, the only valid response is two-fold: We must be forthright in our condemnation of the bullshit accusations against the Clintons -- while at the same time, we must be unafraid to discuss the real problems with Hillary. We must talk about the things that neither the Limbaugh-listening rightwingers nor the NYT-reading "Whole Foods liberals" want to talk about it.

This bifurcated stance will not be popular.

Most people who follow politics want to root for one side in a game of shirts-vs-skins. Some of you who hate Hillary's Syria policy get angry when I defend her against the latest bullshit pseudoscandals trumped up by the right-wing propaganda machine. Conversely, some of you who enjoy reading posts which shred those trumped-up charges can't understand why I find Hillary's stance on Syria to be so appalling.

A writer who receives fire from multiple directions is standing in the correct place.
You know who was another writer who received fire from both sides? Hitler! Okay, technically Rudolf Hess. So no, you're not necessarily right just because you're controversial.
When I learned of the conspiracy theory about the Mena, Arkansas drug flights I assumed it was all a fantasy on the part of right-wing nut jobs. I was therefore quite surprised to learn about Barry Seal and his lawyer Richard Ben-Veniste.

Not having invested anything in the Clintons, I haven't bothered to investigate any of the other alleged scandals. Bill palling around with Poppy Bush around the tine of the vote-count controveries of 2004--2005 pretty well settled the issue for me.

This is conspira-crap, anon. "Palling around"? By what standard...? They appeared in some commercials to drum up support for natural disaster victims.

Years ago, I talked to Charles Black, the lead investigator in the Mena affair, and he did not implicate Clinton in anything, although he was plenty angry at the Bush Justice Department. I heard all sorts of wild stories about Bill Clinton and Mena in 1991 (not 1992) and most of them traced back to a disinformation agent falsely claiming to be connected to the Christic Institute. (At the time, he was not the only one to make the claim falsely.) They also traced back to Michael Riconosciuto, who was in jail spewing bullshit on all sorts of matters, and Terry Reed, another guy facing charges whose tale grew like topsy over the years. (When it was first told in Covert Action Information Bulletin, Clinton was barely mentioned; by the time he told the story to John Cummings, Clinton was the lead malefactor.)

And by the way: I never heard any of this stuff about Clinton and Mena from Daniel Hopsicker, who literally wrote THE book about Barry Seal.

Yes, there was a drug operation at Mena. And yes, Barry Seal was spooky as hell. But the stories of Clinton's involvement had nothing to back them up. Even Ken Starr didn't run with that nonsense.
Ken Starr didn't run with any of the really controversial stuff surrounding Clinton because his mandate was to damage Clinton's reputation, sully the Democrats in general, and divide the nation along partisan lines.

His mandate decidedly did NOT include exposing legitimate cross-party corruption which is what really keeps the ruling elite in power, anyway. If the deep state has allowed an individual to rise to the position of president, said person has long since been vetted by the real power behind the throne. Clinton, Obama, and GWB included.
More conspira-crap, James. Like most of the lower conspiracy buffs, you are guilty here of the logical fallacy of petitio principii. (Look it up.) There is no proof -- no real evidence of any kind -- for anything that you have said.

Example: "His mandate decidedly did NOT include..." How would you know this? Did you plant a bug in Starr's home? Are you his confidante? His secret lover? Are you Ken Starr himself writing under the name "James"?

There's a difference between speculation and proof, pal. Presumption is not evidence. A scenario is not true simply because it fits in with your preconceptions.
Rule #5, with a slight mod, is actually the truth:

5) Everything she does is...calculated for maximum political benefit.
I think even Hopsicker would agree about the "cross-party corruption" part. However, I think that is a different matter entirely, and certainly doesn't, by itself, suggest that the Clinton's were involved in anything shady in Mena. In any case, I agree with your take on Hillary........there is a lot of crap thrown at her that is untrue, while the true stuff that could be thrown at her gets mostly ignored. Which, IMO, leads us back to the "cross-party corruption" bit (or, at least, cross-media corruption).
I believe Greg Palast claimed that one of the Clinton scandals was hushed up by Starr in return for the Bushes being allowed to get away with something, I believe it was something to do with an Indonesian gold mine. I was mostly cut out of my copy, as the publisher had caved in to the libel lawyers.

My copy of Barry and the Boys is also missing the Steakhouse chapter for the same reason.
I have read your blog since way before the 2008 election. I never commented about Hillary V Barack back then or after he was elected and re-elected
because I see them both as political animals. Political animals will do whatever it takes to get elected and principals be damned. That does not mean that they have no convictions or soul. It just means that they can't afford to wear them on their sleeves.
You keep hoping that Hillary will come out and show her true self. I am not sure I want to see Hillary's true self anyway. I think she gave up any idealistic notions she may have had a long time ago. All she has left is an utterly pragmatic view of winning an election. The end game is power and legacy.
You need to stop expecting her to behave as anything other than a political animal. The political game is bloody and gruesome. She knows it and yet she keeps playing. She knows that she can get wounded and bloody and she will wound given the chance.
Let the animals play the bloody game to the end.
She is not a woman! She is a political animal!
She is, in fact, a woman, and if people are lifelong politicians - as are most of the current candidates - they're political animals. They didn't just wander into office.
Palling around

DALLAS (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton jokes that he’s become so close to the Bushes that he’s become “the black sheep son.”


NY Daily News 7-13-12

Neil Bush . . . dubbed the Democrat “a brother from another mother" . . . .

George W. Bush has said he and his predecessor are “buddies” while Jeb Bush declared that the family is very “fond” of him.


Bill even spend time as a guest at the Kennebunkport compound.

[W]hen Clinton visits the Bushes at the family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, the families do not talk politics. [Barbara Bush] said she read somewhere that people who want to criticize someone should keep their background in mind.

"Bill's father wasn't around," Bush said about Clinton. "And I think that he thinks of George a little bit like the father he didn't have, and he's very loving to him."


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