The choice this year is easy

Why No Leftist, Progressive or Liberal Should Vote for Hillary Clinton

With one week to go in this year’s presidential election — an astonishing and depressing contest in which the two least-liked and least-trusted candidates in history are the two choices put up by our two main political parties — it’s time to look at why left and liberal people should not vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Obviously, nobody on the left or center left is going to vote for Donald Trump, but all too many are falling for the Clinton campaign’s main argument, which boils down to: You probably don’t like her, don’t trust her, and realize that she’s a greedy, entitled rich person, but she’s still better than Trump.

Honestly, is that a good reason to vote for our nation’s president?

I suppose, if we lived in a peaceful world, if the US were a peace-loving country instead of one that is wasting 55% of our federal taxes on military spending, much of it to terrorize or actually blow up people in other parts of the world — usually places where people are living in abject poverty even before they are bombed and invaded — if we weren’t facing an existential crisis of accelerating climate change that could wipe out most of the human race if something urgent isn’t done, and if there weren’t already 45 million people, or roughly 15% of the US population, stuck below the poverty line, perhaps such an argument would make sense. But the reality is that Hillary Clinton won’t change any of that, any more than President Obama did. In fact, she is likely to make these situations worse, if elected — in some cases perhaps worse than even Trump would do.

My biggest concern about Clinton has to do with war and increased military spending.

Clinton is, to put it gently, a confirmed and unapologetic “hawk.” She calls for what is euphemistically in the US called a “muscular” foreign policy. Muscular is a term of art in US government circles that means using the US’s outsized military might to pressure or even terrorize other countries into backing US foreign policy (think Philippines, Pakistan, Spain, etc.), and to invade or subvert those that do not go along (think Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.).

Clinton has made it clear, including in her third national debate against Donald Trump, that she intends to try and impose a “no-fly” zone over Syria if elected. Now recall that Syria is a nation with an internationally recognized government, and that its government, headed by Basher al Assad, while clearly a dictatorship, did what embattled governments do, and invited Russia to send air support to protect it from a terrorist insurgency known as ISIS, funded and trained by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries. A US air campaign to try and bar Syrian aircraft and the aircraft of their Russian ally from conducting military actions against ISIS and other elements like Al Nusra (the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda) fighting to overthrow it, would be an illegal act of war — a supreme war crime. It would also, in the view of top American generals, mean war with Russia.

Hillary Clinton and top aide Huma Abedin, whose emails from Clinton could upend the presidential raceHillary Clinton and top aide Huma Abedin, whose emails from Clinton could upend the presidential race

War with Russia! We haven’t talked about that nightmare possibility since the Cuban Missile Crisis, when we now know the world was saved from a nuclear war only by the cool-headedness of a Russian submarine captain who refused his government’s orders to fire a nuclear torpedo at a US aircraft carrier if US ships continued their attempt to sink him or force his sub to surface and be boarded. Instead, he surfaced his sub and defused the crisis.

Nor is Syria the only flashpoint where Clinton appears willing — even anxious — to try and push Russia to see if President Vladimir Putin (whom she has compared to Hitler) can be forced to choose between a humiliating back-down or all-out war. Another is Ukraine — a country where, as Secretary of State, she helped an opposition led by fascists to topple the government of a Russian ally by funding and fomenting a coup — a coup which ultimately ousted the elected pro-Russian president and led to the installation of a US handpicked junta leadership which sparked the current civil war there. Clinton wants to push Ukraine deeper in that bloody civil conflict by supporting efforts by Kiev to reclaim the eastern, ethnically Russian part of the country which has effectively seceded. She may hope Russia won’t feel compelled to move in with troops and air support, but what if it does?

What’s scary there is that if Russia did decide to directly fight Ukrainian forces, and to occupy part or all of Ukraine — something that even US experts say its military could easily accomplish — how would Clinton respond? She has already pushed the Obama administration to move aggressively to place offensive weapons, including nuclear-tipped missiles, nuclear-capable fighter bombers and Abrams tanks, along Russia’s western border, in the Baltic nations, in Poland and, if we count British military forces, which act in accordance with US directives as part of NATO, Rumania. Would those forces and weapons be used to threaten the defensive forces facing them across the border if Russia moved on Ukraine?

Who knows? These kinds of things develop a life of their own, like Frankenstein’s monster, once lit up by conflict.

At least Trump, who has said some bizarre things in this campaign, has stuck to one wise position, which is that “the US should not be viewing Russia as an enemy.” In his view, the US should be working with Russia on mutual problems like ISIS, and should be doing business with Russia. He’s right. The same goes for China, where Clinton claims authorship of the aggressive “Asian pivot” policy of the Obama administration, which now has the US confronting Chinese forces in the South China Sea, at exactly the opposite side of the world from this country.

Stupid? Yes. Scary? For sure. Good for the arms industry? Yes indeed.

Again (and I’m not suggesting one should vote for Trump), it needs to be said that he has gone against the long-standing position of his own party in calling for a US pullback from NATO, an organization that since 1990 has lost its raison d’être and is now fighting in places as remote from the North Atlantic as Afghanistan. His explanation — that the European nations aren’t paying their fair share for the “defense of Europe” — may be inadequate, but his point that neither NATO nor the US should be engaging in regime-change military actions around the globe is correct.

Clinton, for her part, has said she wants increased military spending.

Why? US military spending — a staggering $1.6 trillion in 2015 — represents 37% of all global military spending and exceeds the amount spent by the next seven largest military nations of the world, only two of which (China and Russia) can even be remotely considered military rivals (the others — Saudi Arabia, the UK, India, France and Japan — are not only friendly with the US but are major buyers of US military hardware!).

How can one vote for such a war-monger as Clinton? Especially when, for all his faults, Trump is far less belligerent, and appears if anything to be more of an isolationist in his foreign and military policies.

But enough on foreign policy and war-mongering.

Clinton does not deserve our vote too because she is at least as much a narcisist as her opponent Trump and at least as greedy. The Clintons have amassed some $231 million in personal wealth since Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001. That’s over $16 million net per year over a 15-year period. Clinton’s released tax returns show they “earned” this money primarily by giving speeches to wealthy corporations, at more than $250,000 per speech. If we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that these outlandish fees were not paid because of the incredible words of wisdom offered by Hillary and Bill. Rather, they were backdoor “bribes” — a way of legally buying influence with two of the most powerful people in the Democratic party. Thanks to Wikileaks, which published the emails of Clinton campaign honcho John Podesta, we now know that the secret speeches Hillary Clinton was giving to Goldman Sachs and other big banking firms and other powerful corporate entities were simply fawning peans to those firms’ executives, and promises to do right by them if she were to become president. We also know, thanks to emails discussing an audit of the Clinton Foundation ordered by a worried Clinton daughter Chelsea, that Bill’s agent/fixer was actually hustling up major donations to the Clinton Family Foundation while simultaneously hustling personal bribes from those same companies to Bill in the form of more absurdly high-priced speaking engagements.

Hillary Clinton’s response to the news that she (and her husband) for the past 15 years have been little more than a pair of tawdry multi-million-dollar hustlers on the make has been to ignore the questions and to blame it all on the “Russians.” She is claiming on the basis of no hard evidence, that Russia was the source of the hacks, even when the veracity of those hacks has been admitted, and so nobody should pay attention to them.

Do we progressives really want to vote for such epic corruption?

And that’s not even mentioning Clinton’s casual willingness to violate basic federal security laws with regard to the protection of state secrets, not to mention the requirements of the federal Freedom of Information Act, by conducting all of her official communications during her six-years as Obama’s Secretary of State on a private server in her home. While she initially tried to play “dumb blonde” over that decision, it has become clear from reports on what those communications involved, that her real reason for not using a State Department server for State Department business was that she was basically selling access to herself as Secretary of State to both powerful US corporate interests like Goldman Sachs, Citicorp, Barclays Capital and Standard Chartered Bank, and to foreign government leaders, including those of a number of ugly totalitarian states like United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

Again, how can anyone choose to vote for someone who is selling off US interests to the highest bidder for personal gain? (And remember, Citicorp and Standard Chartered both accepted deals with the US Justice Department to pay huge fines for laundering vast sums of drug cartel cash, of course without having to admit guilt.)

Regarding the latest chapter in this ongoing scandal — the announcement by FBI Director James Comey that his agents had found as many as 650,000 Clinton emails saved on the hard-drive of the disgraced former Congressman Anthony Wiener (he of the penis instagrams), the now-separated spouse of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. While nobody knows at this point — perhaps even Comey himself — whether some or all of those 33,000 emails improperly erased by Clinton and her staff during the investigation of her private server are included in that huge cache, the odds are great that at least some of them are. After all, Comey knew he’d be taking tremendous heat for announcing this discovery days before the election, and that if Clinton, ahead in the polls, were to win the election, his days as FBI Director would be numbered. So he must believe that the contents of some of the emails are so damaging to Clinton that not reporting on their discovery before Election Day would have been even worse for him and his reputation.

If it were to turn out that those deleted emails were not just about “birthdays, weddings and other personal things” as insisted by Clinton, the impact upon a Clinton presidency would be catastrophic, surely leading to calls for her impeachment, and probably a long impeachment battle in Congress, almost from her swearing-in ceremony.

Already, news of the reopened FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails is cutting her lead in critical swing states, and perhaps worse, is putting Democratic control of the House, and perhaps the Senate too, out of reach. That is one huge cost of Clinton’s corrupt-from-the-outset candidacy.

This brings us to the final reason why no progressive voter should cast a ballot for Clinton: her obscene efforts, along with the Democratic National Committee which she had in her pocket from the outset of her campaign, to sabotage the primary campaign of the tremendously popular Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). This sabotage, we now know from leaked emails as well as from disenchanted party officials, like DNC vice chair Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who resigned her position, ranged from scheduling early debates between Clinton and Sanders for times when there would be fewer viewers, like during the Superbowl, to planting anti-Sanders hit pieces in major news media, including even the New York Times and Washington Post.

The leaderships of many labor unions, including for example the American Federation of Teachers, rammed through early endorsements of Clinton, in some cases months before the first primary was even held, often over the strenuous objections of the rank-and-file. The argument was always made that Sanders, while a good guy, “cannot win.”

How does that play now? Sanders, whose campaign signs dotted landscapes across America during the primary only to be replaced by signs for Trump after he lost to Clinton, would have been heading for a Democratic landslide today against Donald Trump. Instead we have two corrupt narcissists running neck-and-neck against each other, and the entire electorate is talking about holding its collective nose and voting…and then perhaps, Democrats and Republicans alike, puking in revulsion at what they’ve just done.

One last thought. The other desperate gambit of the sinking Clinton campaign is to point to the Supreme Court, currently, thanks to the untimely but fortuitous demise of the junketing Justice Antonin Scalia, evenly divided between conservative and liberal judges, and to warn of the opportunity a President Trump would have to appoint new Scalia clones over his four-year term as President.

First of all, let’s recall that it’s not at all certain that Trump would be replacing liberal jurists. Scalia’s acolyte, Justice Clarence Thomas, who is famous for doing whatever Scalia did, while only 68, is at least as unhealthy looking as was the late Scalia and is a good candidate for following in Scalia’s footsteps healthwise. Reagan appointee Justice Anthony Kennedy, the least conservative of the four right-leaning jurists on the bench, is 80, the court’s second oldest member, and could easily decide it’s time to retire sometime over the next four years. Chief Justice John Roberts, while only 61 and seemingly healthy looking, is prone to serious epileptic seizures, which points to a certain vulnerability, particularly to falls.

On the liberal side of the court, the oldest member is Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, who at 83 is a cancer survivor. That is worrisome, but she seems to be a tough and committed woman, who could well beat the actuarial odds out of sheer intransigence and dedication. The other three liberals — Elena Kagan, 55, Sonia Sotomayor, 60, and Stephen Breyer, 78 — are all seemingly healthy, and should be able to hang tough through a Trump presidency.

So really the question is what happens to that Scalia vacancy.

Republicans are already talking about how they would handle that issue in the event of a Clinton presidency: As Sen. John McCain recommends, they’ll just refuse to confirm any Clinton nominee and will leave the court stymied at 4-4. Democrats, even if they narrowly lose the Senate thanks to Clinton’s corruption and lack-of-trust issues, should decide to do the same if Trump wins. They should also pick up another Republicans tactic and start blocking most or all federal judicial appointments to lower courts unless Trump were to offer up a genuine, non-ideological nominee with a record they could support.

So there you have it. The answer to being presented by the two major parties with a choice between two genuine evils is not to vote for the lesser of those evils, but to reject them both. And if you’re on the left like me, that means enthusiastically voting for Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein.

Sure Stein has no hope of winning this election, but if she were to get 5% of the vote, that would mean next time around the Greens would receive federal matching funds from the get-go. In many states, that level of support would also mean easy access to a ballot line, obviating the need to devote massive amounts of volunteer time and scarce resources next campaign season to gathering signatures and then fighting to get those signatures accepted just to get on the ballot.

I don’t find this choice agonizing or hard at all. If principles matter at all, and they must, then no one claiming to live by principles can vote for a candidate as ethically flawed as Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, if your friends complain that by not backing her you’re handing the election to Donald Trump, just tell them, “No, it’s the corrupt Democratic National Committee and the corrupted union leaders and some of the corrupted minority leaders who orchestrated the outcome of the Democratic primary campaign, falsely maligning the character and the political history of Clinton’s opponent Bernie Sanders, and offering us instead this fatally flawed candidate.