Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Fahrenheit 11/9 ****

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 22nd October, 2018

Fahrenheit 11 9Michael Moore has carved out a special place for himself in contemporary US film-making: as an intrusive, progressive Democrat who cares passionately about environmental issues, the abuse of power and the sad state of American society. So no-one is going to go to his new documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 expecting that the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, is going to be given a smooth ride. The parallels Moore draws between Trump and Adolf Hitler and the way that the American public is being softened up to accept demagoguery and dictatorship, as happened in 1930s Germany, are hardly subtle, yet no less effective for that. Moore rightly likens the Trump tactics of holding mass rallies, whipping up crowd fervour against blacks/Hispanics/lesbians or whichever particular minority he is taking a pot-shot at, or the mainstream media, to those of the Fuehrer. Perhaps the most shocking thing to emerge from the film, for a traditional liberal such as myself, is to realise that far from being stupid (as we liberals tend to think) Trump has been very clever in the way he has reached out to the poor white working class, those who treasure the right to bear arms and self-identifying patriots. He knows how to manipulate and resonate, and hopes to be in there for the long haul.

Trump in Fahrenheit 11 9 The overarching message about how the fuck Trump got there (to quote Moore directly) and where the hell this is all heading, is nonetheless somewhat diluted by two very different sub-stories or plots in the film. One is the awful tale of the predominantly black Michigan town of Flint, whose people were poisoned by a water supply contaminated with lead because of the state governor’s switching of the pipes from the Great Lakes to the filthy local river to win favour from contractors. But even Barack Obama gets a big slap in the face over that, as he flew to Flint, to be greeted like a hero, only to dash local residents’ hopes by drinking a glass of the water to show them it was actually OK. That’s one reason many people in the area did not turn out to vote for Hillary Clinton in November 2016. Sure, she lost because of the antiquated Electoral College system, which meant that Trump won although she had a majority of the popular vote overall. But Ms Clinton also comes over as a poor candidate, badly prepared and in hock to big business, in contrast to Bernie Sanders, who obviously does rock Michael Moore’s boat. So too — indeed, much more so — the youngsters from Florida who reacted to yet another mass school shooting by standing up and speaking out against guns and then, through social media, organising big rallies across the country. When dealing with them, Michael Moore abandons his usual satirical bent, which makes things a little uncomfortable. But towards the end, the movie swings back to Trump and Hitler and the rise of the alt-Right. So there is an awful lot thrown together in this film, which makes it more uneven than some of his earlier work. But there are enough “oh my God” moments, as well as dark humour and the director’s trade-mark sloppy bear act, to make it fairly gripping throughout.

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Bernie Sanders’ Fatal Flaw

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 31st January, 2016

Bernie SandersI am not an American citizen and never will be, so I will never have the chance to vote in a US presidential election. But that does not stop me — like so much of the British political class — following US presidential contests with fascination. Or fascinated horror, might be more truthful. The horror is partly because of the obscene amount of money spent in these quadrennial campaigns; I see nothing to celebrate in the fact that 2016 will probably see the first US$2 billion dollar contest. Even worse is the quality of the rival candidates and their political discourse. Not surprisingly, I lean towards the Democrats rather than towards the Republicans (though northern liberal Democrats, rather than die-hard southern ones, I should stress). Nothing in the world would persuade me to back that chump Trump, or indeed any of his rivals for the Republican nomination. But the Democrats’ choice this year fails to inspire me. I was quite taken with Bernie Sanders and have loved the way that he has blown apart age-related prejudice. He’s radical on many issues and quite international in many ways. But he is so American, and so very, very wrong (in my view) when it comes to gun control, which he reportedly largely opposes. Poor President Obama has done his best to awaken the US public to the inherent dangers of adhering to the constitutional right to bear arms, but with as little success as a drugs counselor trying to get a heroin addict off his fixes. Sanders isn’t even trying. Which I suppose makes Hillary Clinton a preferable choice, though her pledge to be an even greater friend to the State of Israel, despite its egregious violation of human rights and international law in Occupied Palestine, makes her pretty hard to stomach, too. So, in short I probably couldn’t vote for either of them. And I’m just glad that as a European, I don’t need to. Some say that because of globalisation, everyone around the world is becoming the same. But I feel that on the contrary, the Atlantic divide between the United States and Europe is getting ever wider, and it’s probably best that it stays that way.

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Palestine, UNESCO and the US

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 4th November, 2011

The vote to accord Palestine member status at UNESCO means that the Palestinians now have their foot in the door of the United Nations and this must now make it easier for them to obtain membership of UN specialised agencies such as the WHO. Of course, the impasse regarding Palestinian membership of the United Nations itself remains. Though it would have litle difficulty in achieving a majority in the UN General Assembly, Palestine still faces the threat of a US veto if the matter comes to a difinitive vote in the Security Council, where the matter is still being considered. The United States (and Israel, predictably) voted against Palestine’s UNESCO membership and Washington then compounded its folly by withdrawing some of its funding for UNESCO as punishment. One would have hoped that such stupid tactics had ended with the Reagan presidency, but alas the Obama administration seems as keen as its prededcessors to swear its loyalty to the government and priorities of Israel, even though it is Israel that is in violation of so many UN resolutions and aspects of International Law. Thus Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have hammered another nail into the coffin of US credibility across the Arab and Islamic world, as well as among many of the other  nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America. At least Britain did not vote against Palestine at UNESCO, though I am disappointed that it abstained. It is time for the UK to stop sitting on the fence and to actively back Palestine’s integration into the world community. London already has a full Palestinian Embassy, after all, so logically we should be recognising the territory as a state as well.

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Is WikiLeaks a Public Service

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 29th November, 2010

Hillary Clinton and the US State Department are in a state of shock this week, as more than 250,000 ‘secret’ US diplomatic communications provided to WikiLeaks — reportedly by a young American soldier working in Intelligence in Baghdad — are being systematically filleted and published in five leading Western newspapers, including the Guardian. Today’s crop provided a feast for anyone interested in the Middle East, the main revelation being just how (privately) anti-Iran several Gulf Arab rulers are — in fact, some suggested that military action against Tehran’s atomic aspirations might be a necessity. Other things revealed are much more mundane, even funny — though one suspects that some of the diplomats concerned, including in the vast (but soon to be evacuated) US Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square, lack a sense of humour. Indeed, having met some of them on my regular rounds of the capital’s diplomatic circuit, I know they do. Future instalments of the WikiLeaks State Department trove will touch on things closer to home, such as what the Americans make of Prince Andrew and of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, and perhaps most interestingly, Britain’s new Coalition government and its leaders. But the question has to be asked: is all this unauthorised public communication of material that was meant to be classified (abeit available to about three million Americans who have access to ‘secret’ missives) a harm or a benefit to the common good? Will it cost lives, as Washington states? Or has it enhanced democratic accountability and indeed brought the public closer to the realities of international wheeling and dealing? I agree with Timothy Garton Ash, who argued in the Guardian today that the information revealed will be a huge boon to historians. But it is to journalists and politicians,  too. So even while WikiLeak’s mastermind, the Australian Julian Assange, is being pursued by the Swedish courts over alleged sexual misdemeanours, I say hats off to him and to WikiLeaks. And also to the Guardian, which has got itself a (British) scoop most other major newspapers would (metaphorically) kill for.

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Petitioning for the Palestinians

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 4th March, 2009

jf-and-ajmal-masroor-at-fco     This afternoon I was at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with Ajmal Masroor, LibDem prospective parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, with a petition from Tower Hamlets residents calling on the British government to be more proactive in promoting peace and justice in the Middle East. If I had been able to bend Gordon Brown’s ear before he went off to Washington for his parley with Barack Obama, I would have urged him to try to get the US President to commit himself to work with the EU not only to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip but also to guarantee the creation of a viable Palestinian state and its security, just as Israel, within its proper boundaries, should have a guarantee of peace and security. For too long, the United States, with various European countries in its wake, has pursued a one-sided policy in the region, which far from helping the cause of peace, has actually hindered it. Even if Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair are not exactly the ideal sort of people I wuold have chosen to be handling the relevant dossiers, George Mitchell is a step in the right direction. And other players, such as the Arab league, need to be brought into the picture.

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Carter, Hamas and a ‘Supine’ EU

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 26th May, 2008

Former US President Jimmy Carter made good use of a waterlogged Bank Holiday weekend to address an appreciative throng at the Hay Literary Festival at Hay-on-Wye, focussing his remarks on the Middle East. In an interview with a Guardian journalist present, he berated what he called the supine European Union for backing US policy on Israel/Palestine and its ’embarrassing’ failure to criticise the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which he described as ‘one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth’. He also called on the EU to engage with Hamas, if Hamas agrees to a ceasefire.

Jimmy Carter has become quite a thorn in the side of the Bush administration and is in the somewhat enviable position of being able to say things that Barack Obama or indeed any other possible Democrat presidential candidate could not dare. At Hay, he spoke of his horror at American involvement in what he (and most Europeans) would consider torture. As a Democrat super-delegate, he’ll be quizzing both Obama and Hillary Clinton as to whether they will pledge not to permit such practices in future. He also hinted at the intriguing possiblity that even if George W Bush will be safe from prosecution in the United States after he completes his second term of office, he might not enjoy such immunity elsewhere.


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