Monday, March 09, 2015

Cruising the Web

Oh, the irony. The NYT contrasts Hillary's pose as a defender of women's rights with her foundation's acceptance of donations from countries that deny women rights.
And for someone who has so long been lampooned, and demonized on the right, as overly calculating, playing up her gender as a strength would also allow her to demonstrate her nurturing, maternal — and newly grandmotherly — side to voters whom she may have left cold in the past.

Even her most strident critics could not have predicted that Mrs. Clinton would prove vulnerable on the subject.

But the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has accepted tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Brunei — all of which the State Department has faulted over their records on sex discrimination and other human-rights issues.

The department’s 2011 human rights report on Saudi Arabia, the last such yearly review prepared during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure, tersely faulted the kingdom for “a lack of equal rights for women and children,” and said violence against women, human trafficking and gender discrimination, among other abuses, were all “common” there.

Saudi Arabia has been a particularly generous benefactor to the Clinton Foundation, giving at least $10 million since 2001, according to foundation disclosures. At least $1 million more was donated by Friends of Saudi Arabia, co-founded by a Saudi prince.

Clinton, Inc demonstrates the true corruption of American politics.
Here’s the bottom line of the latest HillaryWorld scandals: Clinton Inc. embodies what’s wrong with America.

It’s about getting stinking rich from the inside connections forged in a life of public service.

It’s about using your “charity” and your high government office as adjuncts of your political machine.

It’s about refusing to play by the rules even as you want to set the rules for everyone else.

Start with the latest shocker, the e-mail lunacy. You don’t get to keep your government work a secret from the government.

Anyone with a regular job gets it: Your work product belongs to the folks who sign your paycheck. How can that not be even more obvious when the signature is Uncle Sam’s?

That the question never occurred to Hillary is just one more sign of her overinflated sense of entitlement — as is the fact that she set the whole thing up right when she was taking the job.

And that none of her staff at State ever raised a question tells you what a pack of flunkies she gathered ’round herself.....What, indeed, to make of the entire nonstop flow of corporate and foreign money over all the years since her better half left office, when she’s plainly been the single person in America most likely to someday become president?

The Clinton Foundation doubtless does much good work — but it also serves to shield from public view the transfer of endless cash from around the world to the Clintons’ control.

Fine, plenty of politicians, especially here in New York, use nonprofits to advance their careers. But “legal” nonprofit abuse remains one of the great ongoing scandals of New York government.

And the Clinton Foundation reeks of the same insider dealing — operating on a global scale.

Take a stroll down memory lane for highlights from "Hillary's Horrible Past Two Years." Besides becoming a grandmother, what else has been a positive story for her?

Nancy Pelosi's disgust at Netanyahu's speech is in marked contrast to when she was sticking it in President Bush's eye by cozying up to Assad.
Mrs. Pelosi’s horror at an ally addressing Congress reminds us of her rather different reaction during her most significant foray into Mideast politics. Shortly after becoming House Speaker in 2007, Mrs. Pelosi led a Congressional delegation to meet Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. “We were very pleased with the assurances we received from [ Mr. Assad ] that he was ready to resume the peace process,” she reported after shaking hands with the dictator and adversary of America.

The visit was seen at the time as a rebuke to the Bush Administration, which was then trying to isolate Assad for the safe harbor he provided jihadists on their way to joining the insurgency in Iraq, his military support for Hezbollah, his depredations in Lebanon and his covert efforts to build a nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea.
Pelosi had less of a problem to say good things about a dictator supporting fighters who were killing Americans than in having the prime minister of our main ally in the region speak to Congress. Rather telling, isn't that?

Carl M. Cannon comes up with some statements by Democrats that are much more insulting to Americans' intelligence than anything that Netanyahu said before Congress.

That was some rather suspect picture editing by the New York Times.

The Clintonistas must be furious to see Politico have an article from leftist writer Todd Purdum comparing Hillary to Nixon.
There is, of course, a bitter paradox in the fact that Clinton, as a young staffer on the House Judiciary Committee, actually worked on Nixon’s impeachment. Yet to Clinton’s critics, comparisons between the two flow — easily. Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.), a member of the select committee on Benghazi, issued a statement declaring, “The last time we saw a high government official seeking to edit their responses was President Nixon,” adding – with dubious historical accuracy – “and at least then he enjoyed the benefit of executive privilege.”

To be fair, Clinton’s motives remain unclear. Her only comment about the matter so far has been a Tweet saying she wants the State Department to release the emails. But it’s worth noting that the laws and rules governing the permanent retention of executive branch records were put in place 40 years ago precisely because Nixon tried to take his with him, then waged a decades-long battle over who owned his papers.
And it now seems clear that the State Department sought the missing emails, and Clinton only surrendered them, in response to legal and congressional inquiries — not upon leaving office, as would have been standard practice. The manner of her producing the documents leaves no way of proving the completeness of the archive, but depends on her good faith.

What Clinton does share with Nixon is that she, too, is “a serial collector of resentments,” as Nixon chronicler Rick Perlstein described the 37th president in his 2008 book, “Nixonland.” Whether complaining as the wife of the Arkansas governor that her family couldn’t have a swimming pool like “normal people,” or saying last summer that she and her husband were “broke” with legal bills when they left the White House, she has come by her grievances the hard way, and worn them on her sleeve.

Her declaration in “Hard Choices,” her memoir of her State Department years, that her 2008 defeat at Obama’s hands showed her that “I no longer cared so much about what the critics said about me,” rings hollow, given the well-established propensity of all in her orbit to push back fiercely at enemies, real or perceived. After all, it was she herself who named the 1992 Clinton command center the “War Room,” and she, too, who initially insisted on closing the passage to the West Wing’s “Upper Press Office,” so as to keep reportorial eyes away from the corridors just outside the Oval Office.

In his memoir, “All Too Human,” George Stephanopoulos sarcastically recounted how he wanted to answer reporters who complained to him about the press office door. “I’m not your problem,” he wrote. “Hillary is. She and [campaign aide] Susan Thomases cooked up this plan to move you to the Old Executive Office Building so we could reopen the indoor pool that used to be right below your feet before Nixon made this the press room.”

The real damage from the email controversy may lie less in any specific embarrassing revelations (though if history is any guide, there are bound to be some) than in the seeming proof that the aspect of Clinton’s personality that is suspicious, defensive, contemptuous of the press and scornful of political adversaries will never change. Such traits have hurt her repeatedly in the past, and could well do so again, despite the protestations of her staff-in-formation that she has learned her lessons and will approach her next campaign differently than her last one.

CNN interviewed the former ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, who was forced to resign partly because he used a personal email account for official business. He's not impressed with the double standard applied to him and Hillary Clinton. Add in his dismissal as a question that Hillary needs to answer.

Josh Kraushaar warns us that, if you think things are bad for Hillary Clinton now, just wait until she declares her candidacy. It will become a lot more difficult for her to avoid journalists and questions. And those questions are piling up.
Meanwhile, Clinton has been able to dodge questions over her positions on issues at a time when there are growing divides within her party. She headed the State Department during its Keystone XL review, but has diligently avoided commenting on the merits of the pipeline's construction. She hasn't been pressed to take sides on liberal icon Elizabeth Warren's pet initiatives—higher taxes on the wealthy, tighter banking regulations on Wall Street, and opposition to global trade deals.

Most significantly, she's been mercurial about her position on an emerging nuclear deal with Iran that many of her party's rank-and-file members are struggling to support. She hasn't yet responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress, which warned of the dangers of the president's diplomacy. She'll eventually have to take sides, but she has the luxury of time in devising her position.

"Most likely, she'll be muted. She'll wait and see what happens with the negotiations. I don't think you'll hear her say something substantive for now, one way or another," said one pro-Israel official with ties to Clinton.

For a sign of how difficult the issue is for Clinton, just look at the contradictory responses she gave when asked about the American response to Iran's nuclear program. In an August 2014 interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton said, "I've always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment." But, as Goldberg wrote this week, the reported proposal being discussed is one that would "legitimate Iran's right to enrich uranium" as a principle. After Obama pitched the benefits of his administration's Iranian diplomacy in his State of the Union, Clinton announced her support to the president's approach in Canada: "Why do we want to be the catalyst for the collapse of negotiations?" One month earlier, she told one of her top donors, Haim Saban, at the Brookings Institution that "no deal is better than a bad deal." What gives?

....On Iran, she's hinted at so many different positions, it makes your head spin faster than a centrifuge, but she's escaped the political blowback—at least for now. Her decision not to comment on the Keystone XL pipeline—in Canada, no less!—didn't draw the wall-to-wall coverage that Scott Walker's similar dodge on evolution drew. Reporters aren't able to press her for specifics, given that she's not an official candidate. That could cost her in the long term, but it's protecting her from unfavorable coverage now.

Ron Fournier advises us to follow the money.
"Follow the money." That apocryphal phrase, attributed to Watergate whistle-blower "Deep Throat," explains why the biggest threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential dreams is not her emails. It's her family foundation. That's where the money is: corporate money, foreign money, gobs of money sloshing around a vanity charity that could be renamed "Clinton Conflicts of Interest Foundation."

What about the emails? Hillary Clinton's secret communications cache is a bombshell deserving of full disclosure because of her assault on government transparency and electronic security. But its greatest relevancy is what the emails might reveal about any nexus between Clinton's work at State and donations to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from U.S. corporations and foreign nations.

Under fire, Bill Clinton said his namesake charity has "done a lot more good than harm"—hardly a ringing endorsement. One of his longest-serving advisers, a person who had worked directly for the foundation, told me the "longtime whispers of pay-to-play are going to become shouts."

This person, a Clinton loyalist and credible source, has no evidence of wrongdoing but said the media's suspicions are warranted. "The emails are a related but secondary scandal," the source said. "Follow the foundation money."

Is the foundation clean? Is it corrupt? Or is the truth in the muddy middle, where we so often find the Clintons? Due to the fact that Hillary Clinton chose to skirt federal regulations and house her State Department emails on an off-the-books server, even the most loyal Democrat can't honestly answer those questions without an independent vetting of her electronic correspondence.

Meanwhile, SNL happily ridicules Hillary.
Well done. Probably, the only people beside rabid Clintonistas who want Hillary to win in 2016 are comedy writers.

Carmen Pelaez, a Cuban-American filmmaker and writer, expresses what she thought about Conan O'Brien filming an episode of his show in Cuba.
The Cuban regime, like all dictatorships, depends heavily on propaganda and learning it would take center stage on a late night show filled me with dread. Conan promised that his goal in Cuba was to make people laugh, that he wouldn’t touch the complicated politics of the situation. Ay Conan, if it were only that easy....

You can’t go to Cuba and be apolitical. Traveling there is a political act alone. The brands he joked about at the grocery store were all companies that were appropriated by the Cuban government. That cigar factory he visited was taken from a Cuban family of cigar makers. Cubans cannot afford to eat at paladares because the average Cuban only makes $20 a month, creating an unofficial tourist apartheid where foreigners enjoy Cuba while Cubans endure the regime. The “ruins” that took Conan’s breath away are dilapidated buildings that thousands of people have to live in because they are not free to move out of them without government permission.

Did I expect Conan to go deep? No. That would be unfair of me. He wasn’t there to interview Tania Brugera, a performance artist under house arrest for wanting to place an open mic at the Plaza de la Revolucion for Cuban citizens to express their opinion freely. He wasn’t going to visit artist and performer El Sexto in one of Cuba’s most brutal jails. Also arrested for an intended but not executed performance art piece. He was there to connect with the people. But he was only connecting with the people that work in tourism — which any Cuban will tell you are a small and distinct sector of the population. Even acknowledging that would have been nice, but instead Conan lamented that in a few years there will probably be American stores in colonial Havana. That’s when he lost me.

Why shouldn’t there be a Foot Locker or a Gap in Havana? If Paris can handle multiple Nike stores — I’m pretty sure Havana can too. The idea that commerce would ruin the “ruins” disregards the desperate need for things to change in Cuba. Why shouldn’t Cubans benefit from capitalism the same way Conan does without losing what makes them special? After all, every show clip I clicked on came with an embedded commercial. If Conan really loved the Cuban people as much as he seemed to, why wouldn’t he want the same opportunities for them that have given him such a wonderful platform?

I don’t doubt that Conan’s intentions were sincere. Cubans are awesome. We know how to have fun and have always had a natural kinship with Americans. But by the end of the show I felt I had watched a very friendly stranger go to a party on the third floor of my family’s house, while my family was being held captive in the basement, desperate to escape. I would have loved to have seen him connect with all the floors in that house and not just the ones approved by watchful, very political eyes.
Link via Jay Nordlinger, who writes,
nd I’d like to close with something that Vladimir Bukovsky said. I’ve cited him many times, over the years. The great Russian dissident once had some advice for Western policymakers — more like a plea. It might apply to celebrity tourists as well. He said (something like), “As you go about your business, pause once in a while to consider, ‘How will it look to the boys in the camps? How will my actions look to the zeks,’” the prisoners in the Gulag? Sure, go down to Cuba, live it up, film your shows. But ask, if only in the recesses of your conscience, “How is this looking to the men and women in the cells?” Often, they find out. For one thing, their guards and torturers tell them. Maybe the worst thing a celebrity can do is convey the impression that a country under dictatorship is normal. That’s the impression — the lie — the dictatorship wants to convey. It has always been true, and no doubt always will be.

If you think candidate Hillary Clinton is trying to keep secrets from the American people, don't expect that a President Hillary Clinton would behave any differently. Just look to how she behaved in her husband's administration. That was how she conducted her task force crafting the failure that became HillaryCare. And that was not all.
By the end of the Clintons' first year in Washington, the new White House became ensnared in the first of the scandals that would last through Bill Clinton's presidency. Hillary Clinton was deeply involved, sometimes in the original offense, like Travelgate, and sometimes in the legal and political pushback, like the Lewinsky scandal. The Clinton trademark was withholding information from investigators.

Given that, Clinton's email secrecy today sounds familiar to the investigators who spent the 1990s trying to pry information out of her office. "This sort of behavior is all fully consistent with what we dealt with a few years ago," says Jackie Bennett, a prosecutor who served in the independent counsel's office investigating the Clintons. "There was almost always a delay or some insufficient production of some document or discovery request."

For example, as part of the Whitewater investigation, a grand jury subpoenaed Clinton's billing records from her days in Arkansas. The White House insisted the records could not be found. Two years passed, with no documents. And then one day, the White House announced that -- surprise! -- the records had been found on a table in the White House residence, virtually in plain sight.

Mollie Hemingway decries the snow-shoveling gender gap.

I agree. It's time to get rid of Daylight Saving Time.

Dan Shaughnessy at the Boston Globe marvels that the University of Massachusetts is honoring the time that John Calipari coached that team. You know - that time when Calipari's victories were vacated by the NCAA.
Calipari is a man who stretches the rules, and wins. He won at UMass. He won at Memphis. He took both schools to the Final Four, but both appearances were “vacated.’’ They were erased. You know the drill. Ineligible players. Phony SAT tests. The usual. So, while Coach Cal and Pitino are the only coaches to take three schools to the Final Four, Cal’s also got more vacancies than a Days Inn in downtown Detroit. And our state university is going to honor him? Again?

....In case you missed it, Cal took UMass to the Final Four at the Meadowlands in the spring of 1996 (ironically, the Minutemen were eliminated by Pitino’s eventual national champs from Kentucky), but it turned out that star center Marcus Camby already had turned professional while he was still in school, and UMass’s appearance was officially erased by the NCAA.

Coach Cal got out of town before the posse arrived, lying to everyone on his way out the door as he took millions from the New Jersey Nets. After failing with the NBA, he returned to college ball, took Memphis to the Final Four, but again had the appearance redacted because of more violations.
So people might be getting their panties all in a twist about Jim Beoheim's presiding over systemic cheating at Syracuse in the same year when they're also celebrating Calipari's leadership at Kentucky.