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The DNC As Criminal Enterprise

The Editor rails against the Democratic National Committee and says, in despair, that there is no ‘left’ in the US. I know what he means and feel the same, but we’re both wrong. There’s always a left, because the word simply describes a position in relation to the center. The US has a left and its voice is Amy Goodman. What we don’t have is a party with a sensible program. 

The terms ‘left’ and ‘right,’ Wikipedia reminds us, “appeared during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president’s right and supporters of the revolution to his left.” Those on the left took power and “abolished feudalism and other privileges held by the nobility, notably exemption from tax. Other decrees included equality before the law, opening public office to all, freedom of worship, and cancellation of special privileges held by provinces and towns.” (In other words, Democracy Now.)

Rappaport’s “Dictionary of Socialism” doesn’t define “left,” but in its place, literally, there’s an entry for ”Levelers — an English political party formed as a result of the revolution of 1848. The Levelers demanded the abolition of royalty and aristocracy, and the foundation of a republic of equals, under the name of Christian society, with community of goods. The Levelers were powerful for some time, but were dispersed by Cromwell, who put their principal leaders to death.” Left, indeed. And truly Christian. (Only in a republic of equals can you do unto others as you would have others do unto you. In a rich/poor system it would be suicide.) 

The Levelers wanted to go directly to small-c communism, which seems like the farthest left you can go. US Americans are just on the spectrum.

I agree with the editor that the DNC is a vile operation. A few years ago I asked Hendrik Hertzberg. a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, why the DNC wouldn’t let Bernie Sanders be the candidate when the polls showed he had the best chance of beating Donald Trump. Why were they foisting Hillary Clinton on us? He said, “You forget that the Democratic Party has its own institutional interests.” I didn’t know exactly what he meant but the phrase stuck in my mind…

And it came back to mind this week when the Times ran a piece about capitalists drooling over Ukraine. “Companies from around the world are jockeying for advantage in what could be a multibillion-dollar effort,” the subhed explained. “Some estimates put the cost of rebuilding Ukraine’s physical infrastructure as high as $750 billion.”

Kudos to the Times for this flash of honesty. A couple of wars ago they downplayed the plutocrats’ ghoulish glee with respect to the war-torn Balkans. They had the perfect occasion to expose the scale of the racket when the plane carrying Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, and some 30 corporate executives who were there to divvy up the spoils, crashed over Bosnia. The Times’s coverage of the crash did not name the execs and the companies they represented. “Names of the corporate executives aboard were not made public by the Government,” was the newspaper’s lame excuse on April 4, 1996.

In the days that followed, coverage of the plane crash segued from Brown’s mission -- the awarding of franchises to US companies -- to the possibility of sabotage and anecdotes about lucky invitees who hadn’t made the trip. “One was Alfred A. Checchi, co-chairman of Northwest Airlines, who elected instead to attend a White House state dinner on Tuesday night.”

A saccharine Times editorial described Brown leading “a mission of faith and hope. This journey into dangerous and disputed territory reflected the highest tradition of American public service. Mr. Brown was carrying the vital message that the United States would not duck the challenge of promoting stability and prosperity in a place racked by four years of war... As President Clinton remarked in eloquent tribute to Mr. Brown, he has been one of the Administration’s most energetic advocates of expanding markets overseas for American exports… 

“The prospect of having lost so many talented men and women,” the editorial went on (try not to puke), “makes this a time of reflection about the fragility of life and the importance of the work that took each passenger on Mr. Brown’s plane into a troubled region. In this case, worry about the final outcome and grief for those already known to be lost are tempered by an awareness of their honorable efforts for peace.” 

Sources other than “the paper of record” were more informative. CNN reported that the trip by Brown “started in France with a meeting of the G-7, involving trade ministers from the seven top industrialized nations. He was accompanied by a group of chief executive officers of major U.S. companies who agreed to help restore Bosnia’s buildings, its water and energy systems, its tourism, and even it banking system.

“ ‘The secretary was over there to look at the new civilian implementation possibilities that we (U.S.) are committed to through the Dayton agreement,’ said spokeswoman Jill Schukar with the National Security Council.

“Aides at the Commerce Department say the secretary planned to help get up to $5 billion in contracts for American companies from a special international fund created by the Dayton peace accords.”

A summary of Brown’s career was provided by PBS’s Frontline. ”Brown was a civil rights activist before he became one of Washington’s best-paid and most well-known lawyer/lobbyists... In 1981, he joined the Washington law firm of Patton, Boggs & Blow as one of its first black partners. The firm has long been a political powerhouse, especially within the Democratic Party. Name partner Tommy Boggs, for instance, is one of the capitol’s premier lobbyists and is personally close to President Clinton.

“At Patton, Boggs & Blow, Brown got used to six-figure paychecks and became known for his effectiveness as a lobbyist and his somewhat flamboyant style -- he favors, for instance, custom-tailored suits and is rarely seen in public without a monogrammed shirt and a collar pin…

“In 1982, Brown was named deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee. That same year, he began lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of the brutal Duvalier regime which was then in power in Haiti. Over the next four years, Brown earned $630,000 helping to persuade the Administration to continue aid to the government of dictator Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier. Brown refused to drop the Duvaliers despite being criticized for representing such unsavory clients.

“In 1989, Brown became chairman of the Democratic National Committee, putting his formidable fund-raising and organizational skills to work… After President Clinton’s election in 1992, Brown was named Secretary of Commerce.

“Brown’s Commerce Department was staffed at its senior levels with former DNC officials. Critics, chief among them Republican Congressman William Clinger, charged those people used their government positions to solicit campaign contributions to the Democratic Party and to reward the party’s business friends with special favors. While it is not unusual for incoming agency heads to carry over their personal staff from their former jobs, Frontline identified 15 DNC veterans who went with Brown to key positions at Commerce, most of them from party fund-raising, finance, and business outreach operations…

“An aspect of Brown’s tenure at Commerce that drew the most fire was the matter of which business executives were selected to accompany Brown on international trade missions like the one he took to China and Hong Kong in August and September 1994. Twenty five executives flew with Brown on a modified 707 which once served as Air Force One. Frontline determined that over 70 percent of the business delegates on the China trip were donors to Clinton and the Democrats, among them Ray Smith of Bell Atlantic whose firm gave $236,625, and Robert Denham of Solomon Brothers, down for $109,722, not including a $50,000 gift to President Clinton’s inauguration…”

It’s no comfort that the Republicans are worse. Frederick Engels called the two-party system, “two wings on the bird of prey.”

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