My guest today is Mark Karlin, editor of Buzzflash at TruthOut. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Mark.
Joan Brunwasser: Let's discuss your recent piece: Hillary Clinton Hints Her Husband, Ardent Advocate of Trade Pacts, Might Be Her Jobs Czar [5.6.16]. Why is this a bad idea? Shouldn't we be taking advantage of the fact that Hillary's significant other is a former president himself and has so much experience to bring to the table?
Mark Karlin: In this particular case, the irony is that she wants to appoint a person, Bill Clinton, who signed NAFTA and championed free trade. By the time he left office, the closing of factories in the US and hemorrhaging of jobs to lower-cost overseas settings was just beginning. Bill and Hillary both were strong advocates of the free trade agreements enacted under President George W. Bush that accelerated the flight of US manufacturing overseas.
It's kind of like suggesting that the person who opened up the barn door and let all the horses out - arguing that it would be good for the farm - is supremely qualified to round them up and return them to the barn after they have already fled to distant lands.
JB: Speaking of bad ideas, what're your thoughts regarding Hillary's pushing of TPP as Secretary of State vs. her born again anti-TPP stance? Is she sincere?
MK: In politics, there are elections and then there is governing. The first is geared toward winning elections, and the latter is geared toward ruling. Only should Hillary Clinton become president will we learn whether there is a gap between her newfound progressive promises in many areas, including opposition to the TPP, and her actual convictions. However, there is reason to be skeptical, such as the tone-deaf notion idea concerning her husband as jobs czar. It shows that while she has taking (TAKEN?) positions necessary for barely beating Bernie Sanders, she hasn't shown that she understands the reasons for many of the positions she claims to be taking, including her current opposition to the TPP. Sanders, for instance, can reel off a lengthy list of reasons that mega-trade deals are structured by and for corporations and not workers -- and the other reasons that they are not in the best interests of the United States workers. Clinton has not. She just states her alleged turnaround on TPP. Remember, she voted for all of Bushes mega-trade agreements, enthusiastically pushed for the TPP as secretary of state and supported her husband's signing of NAFTA.
JB: Do you think that tone-deafness has affected her showing in the primaries? I read somewhere that in the recent West Virginia primary, she didn't win a single county. Is that true? Didn't she win the 2008 West Virginia primary against candidate Obama with well over 60% of the vote? That's quite a turnabout from then to now.
MK: The West Virginia primary had more to do with a statement she made some time back that was actually positive about the environment. She basically said coal is going to be phased out. That didn't sit well with economically besieged miners. Her strong showing in 2008 may have, in part, may have been due to racism against Obama. It's also clear that she is a bit more out of touch with working class voters this year.
JB: How about the brouhaha about Clinton's email? Do you think it's a big deal or just another case of Hillary-bashing? And do you think that anything will blow up on that front, either before or after the Democratic convention in July?
MK: What will happen with that investigation by the FBI is unknown. The head of the FBI, James Comey, was a Republican assistant attorney general under John Ashcroft. He has been very vocal and public about proceeding with the investigation. Just the other day, he announced that he would not be pressured (BY?) the presidential campaign schedule. Just as a matter of clarification, I think the mainstream media gets what is the key issue for the FBI wrong. It is not so much whether or not certain emails were classified as it is the issue of the private server in Chappaqua, New York, through which her State Department email was routed.
The FBI has given immunity to the man who set up the servers and then served as a State Department information technology employee. I believe that the FBI is trying to establish is there is prosecutable intent to evade government guidelines on transparency, more easily erase emails, avoid FOIA, and make government emails more vulnerable to hacking through a relatively weak firewall. The servers, I believe, are the issue being most seriously investigated and was there clear intent to evade the law in order to make Clinton's government emails, in essence, private property.
JB: President Obama is on the record several times essentially pooh-poohing the seriousness of the issue, prior to whatever the FBI and State Department investigations reveal. How does that figure into the mix? His ability to oversee, supervise, control what went on doesn't make him look so good, either. Could that be why the investigations are dragging on? And if there is no official indictment, does that mean that the issue will miraculously go away or should it? Isn't there the whole matter of carelessness and negligence?
MK: I am not an attorney, first of all. Second of all, this is a very specialized inside the beltway area of law in relationship to government positions. My personal opinion is that Hillary Clinton did this with the full intention of being better able to erase potentially embarrassing emails at the end of her term as Secretary of State, to avoid FOIA requests that she didn't want in the public domain, and to protect herself politically. If that's the case, then there's the question of whether that is illegal. I don't know the answer to that.
It is curious that in addition to the IT specialist who set the system up for the private server and then was hired by Hillary Clinton to serve her IT needs at the State Department also appears to have no record of emails at the State Department. That's what the State Department announced this week in what seems like a footnote to all of this speculation, but in reality is rather quite astonishing. Why are the emails of the guy who advised Hillary Clinton on how she could erase a large number or her emails (he was the one who actually wiped the 30,000 emails from the Chappaqua server) missing from the State Department when he worked there for four years?
As for Obama, as an attorney and as president overseeing the Department of Justice, he did Hillary Clinton a favor by focusing on the classification issue and saying it was nothing serious. He knows that he should not be weighing in when the Department of Justice and FBI ultimately report to him. It was hardly his finest moment.
JB: Astonishing, indeed. Would you care to speculate whether the ongoing revelations trickling out will have any effect on the primaries or the general election?
MK: Only an indictment of either a Hillary Clinton staffer or the candidate herself would have an impact. And I personally think that is only going to happen if the IT consultant/staffer given immunity by the Department of Justice can personally show that Hillary Clinton or a staffer instructed him to take actions in programming the private server and deleting emails that violated the law. Will that occur? I have no idea.
JB: Fascinating to conjecture, isn't it? Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
MK: I think just about everyone is exhausted with this election. We started with 21 candidates between the two parties (remember O'Malley and Chafee on the Democratic side?). It looks like we will end up with two major party candidates with the highest disapproval ratings among the 21 who started. This is definitely going to be an election where the majority of votes will be cast in opposition to either candidate rather than for either candidate.
JB: Could be. Thanks for talking with me again, Mark. It's always a pleasure.
Past interviews with Mark:
Perusing the News with Editor, Mark Karlin 9.7.2015