National Security Adviser John Bolton made waves Aug. 19 with his statement that there is “sufficient national security concern about Chinese meddling, Iranian meddling, and North Korean meddling” in U.S. elections.
The remarks came one day after President Trump tweeted similar warnings about China:
Bolton declined to give specifics on his charges and Trump did not amplify his comments but Breitbart.com revealed a rather flimsy effort by the Chinese government to get involved in the midterm elections by releasing an anti-tariff animation video featuring a talking almond.
The video, aimed at California farmers, says “Midwestern farmers are not happy with the [Trump administration financial] relief, wanting trade instead. At least they have aid, unlike me,” Breitbart reports.
While a communist talking almond surely poses no threat to our democracy, the video showcases one of the chief goals that the Chinese government would hope to achieve by meddling in our elections: “free trade” policies by the U.S. government in regards to China and an end to Trump’s protectionist policies.
How China Operates
But while Russia is rather ludicrously being accused of running deceptive online campaigns that fooled American voters into supporting Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, actual Chinese election meddling, based on past and recent evidence, will involve money to influence – or purchase – our politicians and elected officials and infiltration of U.S. institutions of influence.
Australian senator Sam Dastyari resigned in disgrace in December 2017 due to a scandal involving his accepting money from Chinese-government-linked companies and then supporting pro-Chinese positions in office.
Australia allowed foreign donations to politicians at the time of Dastyari’s actions.
Ah, lucky we don’t allow that here in the U.S., you may say. Think again.
While it is true that foreigners cannot directly donate to our politicians, the era of global capitalism and the 210 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling have enabled corporate trade associations “to spend as much as they want directly advocating for or against candidates for office ‘so long as that is not [their] primary activity,’ the IRS says,” The Intercept’s Lee Fang reports.
“This in turn made such organizations an ideal conduit for foreign money to influence U.S. races,” Fang states.
Inside the Lobby
Fang details how Wanhua Chemical, a “$10 billion chemical company controlled by the Chinese government,” has become a member of the American Chemistry Council, a powerful lobbying organization that spent a staggering $308,731 in a failed attempt to help House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stave off defeat in his primary battle with upstart Dave Brat in 2014.
Cantor, of course, was an enthusiastic supporter of free trade, as is the American Chemistry Council, which, like China, just happens to think U.S. tariffs are a horrible thing.
Fang notes that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which famously earmarked $50 million to destroy the Tea Party movement in 2013, and the American Petroleum Institute, which staunchly advocates for free trade, also have foreign members as part of their trade associations.
And then, of course, there is powerful Democrat senator Diane Feinstein, who had a Chinese spy on her personal staff for 20 years while her husband was doing lucrative business with China.
Feinstein was an enthusiastic supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has encouraged free trade with China throughout her Senate tenure.
President Trump’s trade war means that 90 percent of California’s leading nut and fruit exports are hit with retaliatory tariffs. The president’s misguided actions are already causing real harm to our agricultural community, and additional tariffs could bring even more damage. pic.twitter.com/cwtdzkXAnr
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) April 12, 2018
The Intercept also ran a series of articles detailing how a company owned by Chinese nationals was able to donate $1.3 million to Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise USA Super PAC in 2015 when the former Florida governor was attempting to become the third member of his family to become president of the United States.
Bush, of course, is a rabid proponent of free trade.
Perhaps the reason we hear so much in our corporate-controlled 24-hour-news-cycle media about alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections and so little about Chinese efforts is that Russian influence supposedly whipped up naïve American voters into supporting the “wrong” candidate.
Chinese dark money funding to support America’s champions of unfettered global trade, no matter how much that trade hurts U.S. workers, will never be shown in the same light because it is helping what the corporate media consider to be all the right people.
If you doubt this, ask yourself a simple question:
How much media attention has the Trump-Russia probe gotten today, and how much have you heard about Dianne Feinstein’s spy?