Clinton Lies (Again)

The relatively small number who watched the previous Democratic debate will recall that much of the subsequent discussion revolved around who won: whether the on line polls indicating a massive Sanders victory should be taken as decisive, or whether the verdict of the large majority of pundits that Clinton acquitted herself impressively was a better guide to the likely outcome.

This, as I argued, was a red herring. Focusing on the horse race elided what should have been the main story which is not whether Clinton won but how.  For if she did, Clinton won by stacking the deck.  That is, by lying-repeatedly, shamelessly and with utter certainty that she would not be called out on her lies.

It hardly needs mentioning that the usual suspects in the corporate media said nothing about this.  But in this instance, unfortunately, the left media didn’t do as good a job as it should have in checking the facts.

Consequently, the left lost an opportunity to push what should be its main line of attack against the preferred candidate of the plutocratic class which is that given her long history of lying, obscuring and/or avoiding the truth, everything which comes out of Clinton’s mouth should be greeted with extreme skepticism.

Or, in two words, Hillary Lies.

Once this basic fact is established, her and her supporters’ claims deployed to head off the Sanders threat, e.g that she is “a strong progressive“,  that she will “rein in” Wall Street” and is “an enemy of the pharmaceutical industries” etc.  will be greeted with nothing other than ridicule.  The question will not be whether she is telling the truth but how she manages to keep a straight face while doing so.

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Getting us to this point requires that Clinton lies are carefully documented, something which I attempted to do previously and will do so again below.

But before itemizing these, it’s worth mentioning that Clinton lied at all on Saturday was somewhat surprising.  That’s because the Clinton surrogates posing as debate moderators focussed almost exclusively on “national security” in the wake of what they referred to (fraudulently, as we now know) as a “foreign” attack in San Bernardino.  This framing played to Hillary’s supposed strong suit, her hawkish foreign policy views,  putting Clinton’s main opponent Sanders “on the defensive” as the NYTimes claimed.

It is revealing that even under the most favorable circumstances, Clinton still believed (possibly correctly) that she was required to assert the following string of falsehoods in order to shore up her position as the frontrunner.

The quotations are compiled from the transcript of the debate here with refutations of Clinton’s claims following in parentheses.

Lie # 1:”(For) a single payer system for health,  . . . it’s been estimated were looking at 18 to $20 trillion, about 40 percent in the federal budget.”

(According to Salon’s Eliza Webb, the $18 trillion figure originated in a now discredited Wall Street Journal piece whose main source, UMass Amherst’s Gerald Friedman wrote the journal to protest the misrepresentation of his work. Single payer, according to Friedman would save rather than cost trillions of dollars, contrary to what Clinton asserts.  Related to this: The centrist politifact has rated Sanders claims as to the U.S. system costing three times that of the single payer U.K. as “true”. )

Lie #2: “Secondly, I think it’s important to point out that about 3 percent of my donations come from people in the finance and investment world. You can go to opensecrets.org and check that. I have more donations from students and teachers than I do from people associated with Wall Street.”

(Andrew Perez  puts the most charitable accounting of Clinton’s Wall Street donations at 6.7 percent of her donations-more than double what she claims.  A much more realistic figure, he suggests, is 9.3 percent, and that does not take into account donations to the Clinton foundation and enormous speaking fees acquired by her in recent years which would put the figure higher still.  Hillary, as she herself noted in the previous debate, is proud to represent Wall Street and their funding of her is entirely consistent with her priorities.)

Lie #3:”I think it’s fair to say, Assad has killed, by last count, about 250,000 Syrians.”

(As PBS, a reliable booster of the Clinton brand observed,
this was a misstatement: the 250,000 figure applied to casualties on all sides, only some of which can be blamed on Assad.  Not among Hillary’s most significant lies but revealing of her tendency to invent a reality conforming to her preconceptions.)

Lie #4: “ISIS are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”

(Again, even the centrist politifact recognized this as an invention with no basis in fact, registering it as “false” on their truthometer.  As with Assad, Hillary appears to assume that lies are justified if they serve the function of discrediting an enemy.)

Half Truth/Lie By Omission #1: “Social Security, which Republicans call a Ponzi scheme, may face privatization.”

(Clinton fails to mention that the closest we have come to Social Security privatization came under a Democratic administration, in which the Secretary herself served.  The moderate US News lays out the basics of the deal here. )

Half Truth/Lie By Omission #2: “Now, the whole region has been rendered unstable, in part because of the aftermath of the Arab Spring, in part because of the very effective outreach and propagandizing that ISIS and other terrorist groups do.”

(No mention of the invasion of Iraq, the subsequent bombings and drone strikes, or her longstanding support of her “good friend” Mubarak in Egypt in “rendering the whole region . . .  unstable”. )

Half Truth/Lie By Omission #3: “We saw what happened in Egypt. I cautioned about a quick overthrow of Mubarak, and we now are back with basically an army dictatorship.”

(Again, Clinton did more than “caution(ing) . . .  about overthrow(ing) Mubarak” she supported him to the very end.)

Half Truth/Lie By Omission #4: “This is a part of the world where the United States has tried to play two different approaches. One, work with the tough men, the dictators, for our own benefit and promote democracy. That’s a hard road to walk. But I think it’s the right road for us to try to travel.”

(Clinton cites no instance of when she, or U.S. foreign policy has worked to “promote democracy”-likely because such instances are few and far between if not altogether non-existent.  There are, however, documented instances of her working to undermine democracy, most notably in her support of the coup against a constitutionally elected government in Honduras.)

Questionable Statement #1: “(W)e have tens of thousands of volunteers . . .  to reach as many voters as possible.”

In june, Time put the number of Clinton volunteers at around 12,000.  Have the ranks of these doubled or tripled since?  While possible, it seems unlikely given the distinct lack of enthusiasm for the Clinton brand among the activist base. If I were in position to have my queries responded to by the Clinton campaign, I would request confirmation.

Questionable Statement #2: “(A)ll over New Hampshire, I met grandmothers who are raising children because they lost the father or the mother to an overdose. I met young people who are desperately trying to get clean and have nowhere to go, because there are not enough facilities.”

(Who were these grandmothers and young people she claims to have talked to? Quite likely it was at most a small number serving as a props for a staged photo op.)

Lunatic Statement #1: “To dismantle (ISIS’s) global network of terrorism . . .  we’ve got to go after everything from North Africa to South Asia and beyond.”

(In her militarized frenzies, Hillary seems to be channelling General Curtis Le May, a.k.a. General Jack D. Ripper, here.  Do her supporters have any idea of her close connections to Bush administration neocons such as Robert Kagan, and the likelihood that they would calling the foreign policy shots in a Clinton II administration?)

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In assessing this pattern of dishonesty, it is tempting to look for psychological explanations. Those looking for them are directed to Doug Henwood’s My Turn which connects some of the less attractive features of Clinton’s personality with her “long history of being economical with the truth”.    But while granting agency to individual actors, it’s important not to exaggerate this at the expense of recognizing the institutional forces and interests which dominate the world in which Clinton has chosen to operate and played a major role in creating.

In particular, it is important to recognize that the neoliberalism of which the Clintons have been the foremost avatars has dishonesty at its very core.

Its hallmark policies-international trade agreements, financial deregulation, cuts to public spending, continuing massive subsidies to the private sector via trillion dollar defense budgets-were all greeted with skepticism. The role of Ivy League technocrats like the Clintons was to market these goods, based on the assumption that we needed to defer to their expertise rejecting the uninformed, unsophisticated opinions of an untrustworthy, emotional and irrational public.

We now know that these policies were an inside job. They were  never intended to do anything other than enrich the class which bankrolled the academics and the think tanks and the position papers.  Most crucially cut into the action were the politicians who passed the new laws while tearing up the old laws which had partially reigned in their worst excesses.

The Clintons have for three political generations been at the center of this scam.  The unexpectedly strong showing of Sanders who has based his campaign on exposing the fraudulence at the core of the neoliberal project has clearly shaken them, requiring the marketing of a new product line of falsehoods portraying Clinton as the exact opposite of the neoliberal she has always been.

It is our job to make sure that it is seen for the snake oil that it is.