Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Clinton Foundation

That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in their name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for President.

The claim that this is all just about trying to help people in need should not even pass a laugh test, let alone rational scrutiny.

  The Intercept
Glenn Greenwald explains.

P.S.
Another primary project of the Clinton Foundation is the elimination of wealth inequality, which “leads to significant economic disparities, both within and among countries, and prevents underserved populations from realizing their potential.” Who could possibly maintain that the reason the Qatari and Emirates regimes donated millions to the Clinton Foundation was their desire to eliminate such economic oppression?
Seriously, Glenn. Who could possibly maintain that the Clintons are themselves actually concerned with the elimination of wealth inequality?  That doesn't pass the laugh test, either.

He Has the Best Words*

If you've been hearing and thinking that Trump is "softening" his stance on immigration - disabuse yourself immediately.

Here's that wonderful "Obama is the Head Negro in Charge" spokeswoman of his to explain:



*

Who the heck is this woman anyway?

Ex-shop-lifter who "turned her life around" and founded a local Tea Party group in Garland, TX, then called for Texas to secede.  She was endorsed by Sarah Palin in a bid to represent Texas' 32nd district.  She formerly worked to support Ted Cruz, and then in late 2015, after having held "a variety of jobs", was hired to be Trump's national spokesperson.

Well, according to that great infallible source Wikipedia.

Oh, and, like Barack Obama, she was born in Kansas to a white mother and a black father.  You'd think she'd have some sympathetic leanings.   Oh, wait.  He was actually born in Kenya.

 Head Negro in Charge, indeed.  Do I detect some self-loathing?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

The Cold War Is Back

On Saturday’s episode of AM Joy with Joy Ann Reid, guest Malcolm Nance, a former Naval intelligence officer, summed up MSNBC’s Russia panic with this quote:
Joy Ann Reid: Because from what I’ve seen, the only people not with Hillary Clinton at this point…are people in the Jill Stein camp. Jill Stein was sitting at Putin’s table right with General Flynn.

Malcolm Nance: Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein doesn’t have a show at all, let alone on RT. She once attended a function hosted by RT, which, by our current standards of liberal discourse, makes her a Kremlin agent, but the fact that such a demonstrably false statement could be made on cable news to thousands of people without anyone bothering to correct it shows how easy Russia panic is to stoke.

  FAIR
Not to mention, how important it is to the pro-government press to denigrate Jill Stein (and any other third party candidate). After all these decades, calling someone a Commie in America still works. It's the second best slam after calling someone an Islamic State supporter.
Earlier in the segment, Nance made the claim that “someone” in Trump’s campaign “may” be an “agent of Russia,” citing a recent report in the Financial Times (8/19/16) alleging that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s former translator “may” have “links” to Russian intelligence.
You think Nance is shilling for Hillary?
Nance had a hot tip, offered in smarmy “insider” tones: “Here’s a bit of strategic intelligence for you. Russia is doing a military massing of forces in Crimea in what appears to be an ‘October Surprise.’” That’s correct, an MSNBC contributor is openly speculating Russia will invade Ukraine for the express purposes of influencing the US elections.
I smell a false flag.
[Former ambassador to Russia Michael] McFaul was Rachel Maddow’s source for her August 15 segment, “Trump Chairman’s Pro-Putin Past Remains Murky.” Maddow began the interview openly speculating that Trump presently employed Russian agents, asking McFaul if such an agreement were legal, despite the lack of evidence it was actually going on. The segment finished up with more idle speculation as to why Putin is backing Trump, with McFaul insisting Clinton represented the “opposite” of what the Russian president wanted.
The full court press is on to "elect" Hillary Clinton.

And here's the long-term effect (and perhaps immediate effect) of this new old Cold War Commie Panic:
How can the US negotiate the end of the Syrian conflict or the Ukrainian crisis if the public, even MSNBC-watching liberals, views Russia as irredeemably aggressive and incapable of ever being a US “friend”? In the interest of short-term partisan gain, pundits on America’s nominally liberal cable network are damaging the prospects of normalizing relations with Russia for years to come.
I don't think it's so much a case of the American public being hyped up into Russia-hatred, because the American public is like a torch mob that can be turned on a dime. But that last sentence is probably spot on.  And that seems extremely short-sighted, not to mention highly dangerous.  Unless they really are trying to expand the Middle-East wars to worldwide annihilation.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

The State Department Is "Deeply Concerned" by a "Situation" to Which It Is a Party

Where in the World Is Julian Assange?

Fox viewers, according to some studies, aren't the best informed people on the planet.  Maybe she figures they don't know.  Or, maybe it's just Fox being Fox: "Undisclosed location" -  we've got your big secret right here!  Or, a third possibility, I suppose, is that Megyn doesn't know where Julian is.



Is he trying to make up with Megyn?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bubble Wrapped

In the main, the Clinton campaign is probably correct in its belief that it can count down the clock to November without seriously addressing the twin controversies that continue to dog her candidacy: [her private email server and the Clinton Foundation].

[...]

Still, Clinton’s attitude towards what amount to a serious lapse in judgment in one case and a cesspit of conflicting interests in the other is baffling.

[...]
Close allies characterize her as frustrated by the ongoing focus on the issue of her email server because she still fundamentally believes she did nothing to bend the rules. She is also resentful that Trump is only trailing by single-digits in national polls when she thinks there is no comparison between her baggage and his and that a Clintonian double standard is at play.
  New Republic
Because these people truly live in bubbles and are perhaps, for the most part, true narcissists.
The use of the email server was a clear violation of State Department rules, and was plain stupid to boot. The Clinton Foundation was a problem you could see coming a mile away, back when the Times reported that Canadian mining magnates were plowing millions of dollars into the foundation even as they helped Rosatom purchase uranium interests in the United States.

[...]

The hilarious part is when allies like James Carville complain that the work of the Clinton Foundation is pure. “I will lay back and mourn for those who will die because they’re not going to get the vaccines they need,” he told Politico. Seems to me that if the crown prince of Bahrain really cared about those vaccines, he could find some way of funding them other than through the Clintons, right?
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

The Clinton Foundation

Check out this very interesting thread about the CF.  It appears that CF is essentially a money-maker for consultants and a fund-raiser.  Maybe a middle-man for actual charity donations, skimming off part of the money donated, with the Clintons themselves being paid out of that skim. Reminds me of - who's that group that bundles a bunch of charities and has annual drives where employers squeeze donations from employees?  The organization doesn't do any good at all themselves, but they pretend you're giving to charities when you pledge a certain amount of your pay to them, and your employer requires 100% participation, meaning you look like a skinflint who doesn't care about the needy if you return your ticket without agreeing to an automatic withdrawal from your pay.  You usually have to sit through a film about the charities on their list, and often, one of your co-workers who has benefited from one of those charities in the past will be manipulated into presenting the scam.  Don't know why their name escapes me now, because for years, I sat through those things, and never took the bait. It'll come to me.  Your charitable donations should go to charity, not administrators or bundlers.

Another bit of scrum I caught on the radio this morning was a bit about CF's promise that if Hillary is elected in November, CF will break up and move certain facets to other organizations, and Bill will resign his role on the board.  The piece ended with, "and then Chelsea Clinton will be the only Clinton on the Foundation board."  (I may have paraphrased.)  What I immediately thought was, so how's that make it all above-board?  It would be wrong for the president's husband to stay on the board, but not the president's daughter?

UPDATE 8/25:


FURTHER UPDATE:

Here's Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept on the subject.

Now Where Are the French-Bashing Jokes...

...when they actually deserve them?





Oh, and this one:
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, [a] mother of two said she was not wearing a burkini that day on Cannes-la-Bocca beach, just a headscarf and a normal dress:

"Someone must have called the police because three policemen headed directly toward us to inform me of the decree [from the mayor of Cannes on burkinis].”

She said police suggested she wear her headscarf as a “bandana”.

"I cannot wear my scarf as a bandana; I want to cover my neck. I do not see how this can bother anyone," Siham told the officers, before being asked to leave the beach.

"They told me clearly: 'You do not want to leave the beach? No? We will write you a fine.’”

  AA English
Last week, Nice became the latest French resort to ban the burkini. Using language similar to the bans imposed earlier at other locations, the city barred clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks”.

  Guardian
No. Not "a" religion. The Muslim religion. You can still wear a habit if you're a nun, and you can always wear cross or Jesus fish jewelry or insignia.  Also, a star of David, kolpik, payot, and tallit.

I heard on the radio (NPR) this morning that the second woman is suing.  I don't know what French law there may be that she might use, or if this is new territory. Hopefully, it will put an end to this disgraceful bullshit.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

The More Things Change...

[W]hile the establishment of the new group [established from Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign run], Our Revolution, has been eagerly awaited by many of his most ardent supporters, it has been met with criticism and controversy over its financing and management.

A principal concern among backers of Mr. Sanders, whose condemnation of the campaign finance system was a pillar of his presidential bid, is that the group can draw from the same pool of “dark money” that Mr. Sanders condemned for lacking transparency.

[...]

Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit political finance group, said that it was unusual for a federal lawmaker to set up such a fund-raising organization and that Mr. Sanders should have to follow the donation limits and disclosure requirements to be in compliance with the Federal Election Commission.

“There are definitely some red flags with respect to the formation of this group that are worth noting and keeping an eye on,” Mr. Ryan said. “We’re in a murky area.”

[...]

The announcement of the group, which will be livestreamed Wednesday night, also comes as the majority of its staff resigned after the appointment last Monday of Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders’s former campaign manager [whom they say mismanaged campaign funds and created a hostile work environment], to lead the organization.

Several people familiar with the organization said eight core staff members have stepped down. The group’s entire organizing department quit this week, along with people working in digital and data positions.

After the resignations, Mr. Sanders spoke to some who had quit and asked them to reconsider, but the staff members refused.

  NYT
A revolt within Our Revolution.

Periodically, and this is one of those times, I'm reminded of something I heard Jerry Brown say years ago when he made a stab at running for president (and I 'll have to paraphrase):  These other candidates want to go to Washington and tweak things when what we need to do is go in there with a crowbar.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Musn't Talk Bad About Billionaires

The second amendment is sacrosanct to Trump, but the first is problematic.
Less than 24 hours after Gawker.com was killed by billionaire Peter Thiel’s legal crusade against it, another billionaire couple – Donald and Melania Trump – is already using the same law firm Thiel did to threaten more media organizations into silence.

[...]

The Guardian reported late on Monday night that Melania Trump’s lawyers have sent threatening letters and are considering filing lawsuits against a variety of media organizations – including the Daily Mail, Politico and the Week – for reporting on rumors of Melania Trump’s past, including her alleged immigration status when she came to the United States.

This is the quintessential example of the disturbing precedent Peter Thiel has just set by creating a blueprint for billionaires to destroy news organizations they do not like. He has shown that all they need is a little persistence.

[...]

Trump has openly bragged about the fact that he sued a former New York Times reporter in the early aughts for the purpose of trying to hit the reporter involved financially. Trump did lose that lawsuit, but not until after litigation that undoubtedly cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for the winning party.

[...]

In yet another ominous example, Mother Jones, the liberal nonprofit magazine known for its investigative journalism, spent millions of dollars in legal fees when another billionaire, Frank VanderSloot, sued the company and its reporters over a critical story and some tweets from its editors. Mother Jones won the case last year, relatively early in the process, but still faced an existential financial crisis because of the enormous legal costs associated with the lawsuit.

  The Guardian
Then, when they do lose lawsuits like this, they should be required to pay all the defendant's costs, plus heavy penalties.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.