Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Clinton Cash Story from the Left


Someone who thinks voters want a candidate "prepared take on the billionaire class" (you can help him here)

by Gaius Publius

I want to do a "just the facts, ma'am" piece with this information, because there are so many angles to it. But first an introduction, for context.

We all know that there's a book out on Clinton cash (no link, but the google will show it to you) that looks for all the world like a right-wing hit job, and a clumsy one at that. According to many reviewers, the writer doesn't have his facts straight, doesn't document his assertions, and by his own admission, doesn't connect quid to quo except by implication. The assertions have all the left defenders understandably rushing to Hillary Clinton's defense.

This has the effect of muddying the Clinton water on the right — this season's version of the "swift boat" attacks on John Kerry in 2004. It also has the effect, unintended I'm sure, of inoculating Clinton against any similar attack from the left. (Given the latter effect, I'd have paid the guy to write that book if I were the Clinton campaign, just as long as he did it badly.)

But the Clintons, the whole family (all of whom are adult principals of their eponymous foundation), live in the world of money. They float on money, receive it in various ways, dole it out in various ways, declare it, don't declare it, redeclare it, rub elbows with people who have it to spare — think Davos, but also events like the Yalta European Strategy conference — fly on expensive jets owned by people who own expensive jets, and generally are very good friends of people who are very good friends of money. From wherever they started, this is now their world.

The World of Money Can Be Corrupt and Corrupting

Not everyone with money does bad things with it — consider FDR, for example. But many people with money are very bad people indeed.

David Koch, a very bad person
with too much money

And people who wheel and deal with big money people can become quite changed as a result. So as you read the following, consider: We're dealing with the world of money. Does that increase the odds of some kind of fire behind the smoke?

And while you're asking yourself questions, ask this: If we were discussing a Bush brother, what possibilities would you now be open to considering?

The Clinton Cash Story from the Left

As I said, the right-wing book, by all accounts, is garbage, a paid op, a hit. Does that mean that the story itself is garbage? Here are David Sirota, Andrew Perez, and Matthew Cunningham-Cook writing in Business Insider, asking us to consider otherwise (my emphasis):
Firms Paid Bill Clinton Millions As They Lobbied Hillary Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton accepted more than $2.5 million in speaking fees from 13 major corporations and trade associations that lobbied the U.S. State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, an International Business Times investigation has found. The fees were paid directly to the former president, and not directed to his philanthropic foundation.

Many of the companies that paid Bill Clinton for these speeches -- a roster of global giants that includes Microsoft, Oracle and Dell -- engaged him within the same three-month period in which they were also lobbying the State Department in pursuit of their policy aims, federal disclosure documents show. Several companies received millions of dollars in State Department contracts while Hillary Clinton led the institution.

The disclosure that President Clinton received personal payments for speeches from the same corporate interests that were actively seeking to secure favorable policies from a federal department overseen by his wife underscores the vexing issue now confronting her presidential aspirations: The Clinton family is at the center of public suspicions over the extent of insider dealing in Washington, emblematic of concerns that corporate interests are able to influence government action by creatively funneling money to people in power.

“The dynamic is insidious and endemic to this system,” said Meredith McGhee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign finance watchdog group in Washington. "The fact is that the wealthiest .01 percent on the outside of government believes -- fervently -- that by paying speaking fees, or making campaign contributions, that it can gain access and influence."
You can read the rest at the link.

What Are the Issues?

First, note again that this isn't a connection of quids and quos. But it's the appearance of connection. Do public officials have the obligation, legal or otherwise, to avoid that appearance?

Next, this doesn't have to be about Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Any of the three Clintons, but certainly Bill and Hillary, are and will be in position to do favors for the favors they receive. One of those favors could be advocating for policies that give friends-of-money even more money.

Bill Clinton telling friends-of-money why your Social
Security benefits should be cut (2011; source)

Or consider that list of companies in the Business Insider story — Microsoft, Oracle, Dell. Do they have an interest in getting the TPP "jobs-to-Asia" trade agreement signed? Would Hillary Clinton be in a position to initiate and promote corporate-friendly "free trade" agreements in her next job? Depends on what her next job is.

Third, as progressives we say to each other, over and over, "That damn world of money; it owns us, dammit. Let's put an end to the power of people with money." Well, here is that world of money, staring right at us. Note that the progressive indictment isn't against individuals, but a class of people, the very very rich — and a second class, the large pool of politicians who serve their interests, over and over again.

Lastly, there is a candidate who is running specifically and credibly against the world of money. That's him in the video above. Just thought I'd throw that in. (If you like, you can help out here.)

Bottom Line

The Clinton cash story is an ugly, badly executed smear job on the right. But the world of free-floating cash and what it buys is a story on the left as well, and a huge concern. There may be nothing here with respect to the Clintons. Or there may be quite a lot. My suggestion — let the story play out. If there's nothing but smoke and a Breitbart blowing it, you'll be glad you let them prove themselves wrong.

But if there's a raging fire beneath the swirl of implications ... you'd want to know that, right?


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At 11:27 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Look at the lawyerly "what-the-meaning-of-'is'-is" parsing in this statement by Bill: "“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy.” For actual public servants, the appearance of a possibility of conflict of interest will suffice to prevent such behavior. Nobody needs to prove a quid pro a quo. Not so with these people.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The story ALREADY has played out. I don't care about the Clinton Foundation, or any 'quid pro quos.'

The author of Clinton Cash is a notorious liar.

But Bill Clinton has made over a hundred million in speaking fees since he was President. These didn't come from the Little Sisters of the Poor, or labor unions...they came from huge multinational corporations that he served by moving the Democratic party to the right.

Barack Obama has followed in those same footsteps, which is why he is now trying to the noxious TPP passed with the help of people like Paul Ryan.

It's appalling.

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Exit 135 said...

The Clinton's and especially their Foundation receive money from Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF's). SWF's in many cases have agendas which are contrary to the interests of the United States.

What bothers me, is that money at this level transcends borders.

In many respects, the Clinton's are global actors, not State actors. I nor anyone else know where their true intentions are.

This ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© is why I care about the Foundation and why any Clinton is disqualified from holding office again.

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more inclined to believe what Nomi Prins writes about Hillary's Wall St connections than I am anything either major party delivers as "news".

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, history portends here. One need not see whether there be a smolder or a conflagration under the smoke.

Consider Hillary's corporate-serving attempt at obamneycare before obamination's corporate-written ACA. Consider Bill's advocacy, activism and ultimate signing of such odious bills as CFMA, GLBA, xxFTAs, telecom dereg and so very many more.

You don't need to SEE what's causing the smoke here. Even if this particular one is only one of Monica's cigars, there **IS** a conflagration that shall be... sooner or later.

If TPP and/or TTIP doesn't go through now... it **SHALL** during the Reagan 10 admin... whether the Clinton or bush dynasties are in charge.


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