Why Hillary Clinton Really Lost

Exclusive: An insider book on Campaign 2016 reveals a paranoid Hillary Clinton who spied on staff emails after losing in 2008 and carried her political dysfunction into her loss to Donald Trump, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

An early insider account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, entitled Shattered, reveals a paranoid presidential candidate who couldn’t articulate why she wanted to be President and who oversaw an overconfident and dysfunctional operation that failed to project a positive message or appeal to key voting groups.

Okay, I realize that people who have been watching Rachel Maddow and other MSNBC programs – as well as reading The New York Times and The Washington Post for the past four months – “know” that Clinton ran a brilliant campaign that was only derailed because of “Russian meddling.” But this insider account from reporters Jonathan Allen and Annie Parnes describes something else.

As The Wall Street Journal review notes, the book “narrates the petty bickering, foolish reasoning and sheer arrogance of a campaign that was never the sure thing that its leader and top staffers assumed. … Mr. Allen and Ms. Parnes stress two essential failures of the campaign, the first structural, the second political. The campaign’s structure, the authors write, was an ‘unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, and no sense of greater purpose.’”

The book portrays Hillary Clinton as distant from her campaign staff, accessible primarily through her close aide, Huma Abedin, and thus creating warring factions within her bloated operation.

According to the Journal’s review by Barton Swaim, the book’s authors suggest that this chaos resulted from “the fact that Mrs. Clinton didn’t know why she wanted to be president. At one point no fewer than 10 senior aides were working on her campaign announcement speech, not one had a clear understanding of why Americans should cast their vote for Mrs. Clinton and not someone else. The speech, when she finally delivered it, was a flop – aimless, boring, devoid of much beyond bromides.”

The book cites a second reason for Clinton’s dismal performance – her team’s reliance on analytics rather than on reaching out to real voters and their concerns.

There is also an interesting tidbit regarding Clinton’s attitude toward the privacy of her staff’s emails. “After losing to Mr. Obama in the protracted 2008 primary,” the Journal’s review says, Clinton “was convinced that she had lost because some staffers – she wasn’t sure who – had been disloyal. So she ‘instructed a trusted aide to access the campaign’s server and download the [email] messages sent and received by top staffers.’”

Nixonian Paranoia

In other words, Clinton – in some Nixonian fit of paranoia – violated the privacy of her senior advisers in her own mole hunt, a revelation that reflects on her own self-described “mistake” to funnel her emails as Secretary of State through a private server rather than a government one. As the Journal’s review puts it: “she didn’t want anyone reading her emails the way she was reading those of her 2008 staffers.”

But there is even a greater irony in this revelation because of the current complaint from Clinton and her die-hard supporters that Russia sabotaged her campaign by releasing emails via WikiLeaks from the DNC, which described how party leaders had torpedoed the campaign of Clinton’s rival for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other emails from her campaign chairman John Podesta, revealing the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street banks and some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

WikiLeaks has denied that it received the emails from Russia – and President Obama’s outgoing intelligence chiefs presented no real evidence to support the allegations – but the conspiracy theory of the Trump campaign somehow colluding with the Russians to sink Clinton has become a groupthink among many Democrats as well as the mainstream U.S. media.

So, rather than conducting a serious autopsy on how Clinton and the national Democratic Party kicked away a winnable election against the buffoonish Donald Trump, national Democrats have created a Zombie explanation for their failures, blaming their stunning defeat on the Russians.

This hysteria over Russia-gate has consumed the first several months of the Trump presidency – badgering the Trump administration into a more belligerent posture toward nuclear-armed Russia – but leaving little incentive for the Democrats to assess what they need to do to appeal to working-class voters who chose Trump’s empty-headed populism over Clinton’s cold-hearted calculations.

The current conventional wisdom among the mainstream media, many Democrats and even some progressives is that the only way to explain the victory by pussy-grabbing Trump is to complain about an intervention by the evil Russians. Maybe Maddow and the other Russia-did-it conspiracy theorists will now denounce Shattered as just one more example of “Russian disinformation.”

The Times’ View

The New York Times’ review by Michiko Kakutani also notes how Shattered details Clinton’s dysfunction, but the newspaper inserted a phrase about “Russian meddling,” presumably to avoid a head-exploding cognitive dissonance among its readers who have been inundated over the past four months by the Times’ obsession on Russia! Russia! Russia!

However, the Times’ review still focuses on the book’s larger message: “In fact, the portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned ‘a winnable race’ into ‘another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.’

“It’s the story of a wildly dysfunctional and ‘spirit-crushing’ campaign that embraced a flawed strategy (based on flawed data) and that failed, repeatedly, to correct course. A passive-aggressive campaign that neglected to act on warning flares sent up by Democratic operatives on the ground in crucial swing states, and that ignored the advice of the candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and other Democratic Party elders, who argued that the campaign needed to work harder to persuade undecided and ambivalent voters (like working-class whites and millennials), instead of focusing so insistently on turning out core supporters.”

So, perhaps this new book about how Hillary Clinton really lost Campaign 2016 will enable national Democrats to finally start charting a course correction before the party slams another Titanic-style campaign into another iceberg.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).




Erdogan’s Neo-Fascist Turkish Allies

Exclusive: Turkish President Erdogan’s push toward nationalistic authoritarianism has an important ally in the political arm of the neo-fascist Grey Wolves, reports Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

All but one of Turkey’s major opposition parties denounced Sunday’s referendum to create an authoritarian new presidential system as marred by fraud and as a threat to the country’s political freedoms. The exception was the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), founded in 1969 to promote a neo-fascist, ultranationalist program. Its fortunes bear close watching as a clue to Turkey’s political direction.

The MHP and its paramilitary wing, the Grey Wolves, were among the leaders of Turkey’s death squad violence against leftist intellectuals, academics, and Kurdish activists in the 1970s and 1980s. In return, right-wing state security forces protected their organized criminal operations, including drug trafficking. One associate of the Grey Wolves, Mehmet Ali Agca, was convicted of trying to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

A New York Times reporter at that time described the MHP’s followers as a “xenophobic, fanatically nationalist, neofascist network steeped in violence.” The party’s U.S.-trained leader helped execute a successful military coup in 1960, and by 1980 was implicated in smuggling heroin into Western Europe.

Turkish Prime Minster (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke the back of that “deep state” alliance of secret intelligence, criminal, and right-wing forces through mass purges and indictments in 2008. Last year, however, he made up with many of these former opponents, making them allies of his own increasingly authoritarian government and his military adventures in Syria and Iraq.

One winner in that realignment was the MHP. Like the National Front in France, the MHP has shed many of its extremist positions in recent years to join the mainstream of respectable politics in Turkey.

Still, its racist roots were exposed to full public view in 2015, when Grey Wolves members attacked a South Korean tourist in Istanbul and hung banners saying “We crave Chinese blood” to protest Beijing’s crackdown on Turkic separatists. The MHP’s leader, Devlet Bahceli, defended his street supporters, saying “how are you going to differentiate between Korean and Chinese? They both have slanted eyes. Does it really matter?”

As an advocate of ethnic Turkish supremacy, moreover, the MHP remains violently opposed to making any concessions to Kurdish separatists, and denounced Erdogan for starting peace talks with them in 2013.

Allies Against the Kurds

Two years later, Erdogan reversed course and began waging total war against the Kurds, both at home and in Syria. That set the stage for a tacit alliance between his ruling party, the AKP, and the MHP.

Grey Wolves thugs attacked offices of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, which supports the rights of Kurds and other political minorities. Senior MHP officials, along with members of their youth organization, also joined the fighting in Syria to support ethnic Turks against the Assad government and Syrian Kurds. Remarked one Turkish journalist, “The ultranationalists are the most fertile pool for secret operations.”

Even with his opponents cowering or imprisoned under a state of emergency declared after a failed military coup last year, Erdogan needed the MHP, which holds 36 seats in the 550-member parliament, to win approval of the constitutional amendments at issue in Sunday’s referendum. MHP officials reportedly hope to earn seats in the president’s new cabinet.

MHP leader Bahceli hailed Sunday’s vote to grant President Erdogan immense new powers as “a very significant achievement” and the “final word” for the future of “the great Turkish nation.” The head of the Grey Wolves vowed that his followers would “take up our arms and fight if necessary” to defend the outcome.

Fighting may indeed become inevitable if opponents, backed by foreign election observers, continue to contest the referendum vote.

“Even if they are demoralized in their defeat, Erdogan’s project will arouse significant resistance among the various ‘No’ camps,” comments Steven Cook, a Mideast expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The predictable result will be the continuation of the purge that has been going on since even before last July’s failed coup including more arrests and the additional delegitimization of Erdogan’s parliamentary opposition. All of this will further destabilize Turkish politics.”

It remains to be seen how the Trump administration will deal with Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian regime and aggressive foreign policy. President Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, took more than half a million dollars from a pro-Erdogan Turkish businessman to promote Ankara’s interests. Flynn was also joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes for a private meeting at Trump Hotel in Washington with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu on Jan. 18.

More important than secret lobbying activity, however, is the strategic importance of U.S. access to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, from which U.S. warplanes launch attacks in Syria. The base also houses some 50 hydrogen bombs for NATO, giving Washington all the more reason to stay friendly with the Turkish government.

But if Erdogan and his new allies among Turkey’s ultranationalist right continue to make new enemies at home and abroad, the Trump administration will need to rethink the viability of continuing to rely on Ankara to make possible continued military intervention in the Middle East.

Jonathan Marshall is author of “Turkey’s Revival of a Dirty ‘Deep State’”, “Turkey’s Nukes: A Sum of All Fears,” and “Coups Inside NATO: A Disturbing History.”




Farm Workers Resist Trump’s Policies

President Trump is touting his aggressive approach toward removing undocumented workers from the U.S. as one of his first-100-days achievements, but resistance is growing, too, reports Dennis J Bernstein.
By Dennis J Bernstein

President Trump’s promised purge of undocumented people from the United States is facing resistance from the United Farm Workers (UFW) and other groups in California that reject this rollback of civil rights and workers’ rights.

On March 31, the birthday of the late founder of the UFW, Cesar Chavez, the union kicked off a month-long series of activities to fight back against Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, which many analysts believe is designed to make life so miserable and difficult in the U.S. that people begin to “self-deport in” in large numbers.

I spoke to Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farm Workers, on March 31 about Cesar Chavez’s contributions to the Farm Labor Movement and the effects of ICE raids on communities in California and around the country.

Dennis Bernstein: We know that there’s a great deal of work ahead of you. We are in the age of Trump. And this possesses interesting and multiple challenges. And I know that the farmworkers are up for that and there are many plans being made. But I really would like to take a moment for you to remind us about Cesar Chavez. Tell us about who the man was, and the significance of the work, because obviously it’s going to continue to resonate. And we’re going to talk about that in a moment. But, please let’s remember him, for the moment.

Arturo Rodriguez: Cesar Chavez, he was like anyone else, he was determined, he devoted his whole life towards working on behalf of the poorest of the poor of the farmworkers. He, himself, his family, they all were a part of the migrant farmworkers stream throughout the state of California, and other areas as well, the state of Oregon, and so forth.

He realized at a very young age that he did not want to continue to see people mistreated, and abused, and exploited, and have to go through what his family did, and what his mom and dad did, and his brothers and sisters. So he made a decision early on in his life that someday he wanted to tackle that, and to do the best that he could do and make a contribution towards bettering the life and the respect and dignity for the women and the men that harvest our fruits and vegetables, Dennis.

DB: And so, here it is, 2017, Trump is clearly… he is like the classical white supremacist. Not only is he that in theory, but […] when it comes to imposing the kind of policies that reflect his racism, he hasn’t wasted any time. So, could you just talk a little bit about what’s been happening in the trenches with the United Farm Workers? How you all have been acting, preparing, planning, and fighting back?

AR: Well, Dennis, it’s a very good question, and we’re extremely disappointed, in terms of what the Trump administration has done, and the decisions that they’ve been making, and the way that they call out immigrants in this country and make them feel like they’re not here to make a contribution, which is just the opposite. We would not be the nation we are today without the hard work, and the sacrifice, and the contribution that immigrant workers make to our nation.

And so, we have been, along with all of our sister organizations, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the UFW Foundation and other organizations, have been doing everything we can to, first of all, ensure and educate workers, farmworkers, throughout various states, what their rights are as immigrants, what their opportunities are, how they can defend themselves.

And we’ve set up a special organization, the UFW Foundation, which has a number of offices throughout the state of California, right now, and Arizona, to go out and to be available, to have representatives that are certified by the federal government, in order to deal with issues around immigration. And we’ve been working with networks of attorneys throughout all the various rural communities, to ensure that, in the event that farmworkers are picked up, or anyone, any immigrant is picked up in the rural communities, that they can immediately contact us, and we can get in touch with attorneys to be able to assist them. And to provide them the guidance that they need, and the reassurance. And get in touch with their families and help them go through the process. And, hopefully, avoid them being sent across the border. And so, that’s been a major part of our work these last few months.

But, in addition to that, we know, at the same time we need to bring people together, Dennis. And, we need to continue to demonstrate to the federal government, to demonstrate to the Trump administration, that we are continuing the fight, to make sure that farmworkers, that immigrants are protected in this nation. And so, we decided to celebrate the anniversary of Cesar Chavez’s birthday with a series of events.

And we’re […] coordinating activities in seven different states: Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. To get people engaged, to get people participating, and making sure that, again, everybody is aware what their rights are, but demonstrate the unity that exists with us.

And we’re bringing together our sisters and brothers from the Muslim community, and many of the other immigrant communities, so that we can all act united, especially throughout these rural communities which, oftentimes, they’re not taken into account because of all the activities that take place in our urban centers. But it’s very, very important for us to do that.

[…]

We want to send a strong message to Donald Trump that we are here to stay. That we make a contribution to America, and that’s why we came here to begin with, as immigrants, as farmworkers, to be able to ensure that we have a viable agricultural industry that continues to dominate the world in the production of fruits and vegetables, throughout our nation, and throughout our state.

DB: Now, it’s really important that we come to you to make sure we keep a human face on this story. And we know in your position as head, President of the United Farm Workers a lot of stories are coming through your desk. And can you just share a couple of stories that can help the people who aren’t experiencing this understand how dangerous it feels now? And the kinds of pressures–it’s sort of this pressure, it’s this policy of “brutalize them so much, hit them so hard, come at them from so many different directions, that they will, as they like to say ‘self deport’.” You want to just keep that human face on it, for a moment?

AR: Sure, of course, Dennis. I think about, right now, in terms of what happened in McFarland, California, it’s about three weeks ago now. Where workers were going to work, early in the morning, and they noticed that there was a car that was parked along the side. And it wasn’t marked. And the next thing they know that they were being stopped and it turned out to be ICE agents. And there was four individuals there in the car. And, as a result, the ICE agents asked them all for their papers, and whether they had legal status here in the country or not. And immediately, obviously the workers… no
matter how much you try to share with them the importance of not saying anything, it’s a difficult situation when somebody approaches you with a gun, and you don’t know exactly what to do. And you feel the intimidation and the coercion, and a sense of fear there. And so, they were very honest and upfront with the ICE agents.

And, as a result of that, before we knew it, within 24 hours, two of them had already been deported to Nogales, Mexico. And so we never got a chance to really help those individuals, but we were successful in helping two other folks.

And we’ve set up in Kern County, the third largest agricultural county in the United States today. And that’s where Bakersfield is at, Dennis, and McFarland, and Delano, and many of the other rural communities are, and Lamont and so forth. And so, we’re working there with a network of attorneys, and they have a group of about twenty attorneys that are there helping and assisting anybody that needs legal help. And they’re going out and doing these information sessions across the county, to really remind people, in terms of what’s happening. But, again, that was an incident that just recently happened.

We have another situation in Delano, California, where a worker was taking his daughter to school one morning and, again, an ICE agent stopped him on the way and asked him for his papers and so, immediately, he had to call someone to pick up his daughter, because they were going to take him in. And as a result, again, we had to step in and assist that particular worker in regards to the situation he was confronted with there, with the ICE agents.

DB: How old was his daughter?

AR: She was in the elementary school, so about nine, ten, at that age.

DB: There’s an experience, right?

AR: It’s a very, very scary situation. And we constantly hear people telling us, “Look, we don’t want to go out. We’re fearful about going any place other [than] work.” And so, folks are making other arrangements, for their children to be picked up from school, or from babysitters. They’re not going shopping like they used to anymore. There are a lot of things that they are staying away from, Dennis, because of the fact that there’s that fear there right now that exists. And, the life in these communities, especially in these rural areas where farmworkers live and work at, it’s just completely different from what it used to be, prior to the Donald Trump administration.

DB: Now, in terms of the formal actions, what is the California Legislature doing? I know there’s a number of actions happening, in terms of legal representation for undocumented folks, all kinds of things around standing up against any kind of registry. Have you weighed-in on some of this stuff? Do you think there needs to be expanded legal support for the workers that you represent, and for the undocumented folks who are facing this head on, now?

AR: [California] Senate President Kevin de Leon, and so many of the other, good Latino legislators, and others as well, are very empathetic as to what is happening out here to immigrants. They’re fighting hard. They’re trying to do everything they can, within their power, within the state of California. As we all know, though, the unfortunate thing is that immigration is a federal issue, and so we can’t do anything to really deal with the core issue, and that’s bringing about immigration reform. But, certainly there’s a lot of efforts being made to enhance the amount of legal representation that’s available for immigrants in the event they’re picked up by ICE agents.

And, as you well know, Dennis, there’s a big fight against the federal government, against the Trump administration, regarding their action on sanctuary cities. And there’s at least discussion in terms of, why don’t we make the State of California a sanctuary state because of the large number of immigrants that are here, both in our rural and urban communities. And the importance they are for the economy of this state, especially within the agricultural industry, and the retail industry, the hotel industry, construction, yard maintenance, and things of that nature.

So we’re definitely working alongside legislators in any way we possibly can to bring testimony and bring, like you said, a living face to what’s happening out there to folks. And trying to ensure that people really do understand the importance of this. This is just not something we can, kind of, sweep under the rug, or something we can ignore because it impacts the lives of people that are very, very important to our society.

DB: And, will Trump’s policies, in terms of trade, and the border and his quest to hire American, is that already beginning to reverberate? How do you see that?

AR: Oh, definitely. I mean, there’s no doubt. The workers that go back to Mexico, for whatever reason, for family reasons, or whatever. They’re not coming back anymore, those workers that work in agriculture. And so, we see definitely that in the agricultural market that, because of that, growers are finally being forced to deal with some of the issues that they should have dealt with a long time ago. And that’s it. They’re having to raise wages, they’re having to provide some better opportunities for workers, in regards to the working conditions or regards to hours of work, or their wage rates, and things of that nature. I think, yes, it is having an impact.

And it’s having a very negative impact on the flow of immigrants here into the United States, which are definitely needed for our agricultural industry. That just no longer is occurring, Dennis. And I think it’s very much of a tragedy for the American consumer because we’ve found, time and again, no matter what we do, that very few Americans, if any, actually want to go to work in the fields, in the agricultural fields, and be a part of that. And they’re not professionals at it, they’re not skilled at it, and they’re not willing to tolerate the difficult conditions and make the necessary sacrifices, and so forth.

DB: Alright, well we really want to thank you, Arturo Rodriguez, for taking the time out, again, to speak with us, and celebrate Cesar Chavez’s life, his birthday. We miss him, it’s been 24 years since his passing, but I know that the United Farm Workers, as we talked about, is not going to forget about it. And people can go to the United Farm Workers web site […] to follow all these activities, to get involved.

AR: I do want to mention one story. This is happening in an urban community, right in your audience’s area, your listenership’s area, in San Jose. And there is a family there that, I won’t mention the names of them cause I don’t want to embarrass them, but it was so great to go on our apps today and look at, and see one of the stories on Facebook actually, that’s being shared by a family that has their children making sandwiches to take out to the farmworkers there in the field. And what a way to celebrate the day of Cesar Chavez, for children to be doing something like that. And I thought if we could just communicate that to children throughout the state, what a blessing that would be for farmworkers obviously because they’re getting food. But also it brings to light the importance, the role the farmworker plays in our society.

And I just thought that was such a heartwarming story. That the parents of the three children, cause I know the family, and they do this on their own. And they’re not looking for recognition, they’re not looking to be recognized in any particular way. But this is the way that they’re bringing up their children, so that their children really understand the contribution that farmworkers make to our society.

And that today is the day that we celebrate Cesar Chavez’s birthday, it’s a day to celebrate the work that farmworkers do in this state, in California, and throughout the country. And so, we want to really thank the family that really has that practice, and I just think it’s such a great example, for what all of us could be doing with our children on this day.

DB: And it’s poignant, of course, because we have heard too many stories of farmworkers who pick the foods that make the table so beautiful and appealing, and can’t even afford to buy them. So there’s a lot to think about there. Again, we thank you, Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farm Workers, for being with us on this celebration, this birthday of Cesar Chavez, March 31st. Thanks for being with us. Be careful. We’ll talk to you soon.

AR: Thank you very much. We appreciate the opportunity to be with you all and thank you for all the good work that you all do in terms of educating and informing your listeners and readers.. We very much appreciate it. Si se puede, and happy Cesar Chavez day.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.