Tag: Hillary Rodham Clinton

Clinton Life

I must admit, I always had a soft spot for Chelsea Clinton. Not that I liked her or anything but that I felt bad for someone thrust into the national spotlight during the most awkward years of her life (Rush Limbaugh, on his TV show, famously said the Clinton White House had finally gotten a dog and then showed an unflattering picture of the then 13-year-old Chelsea). There was a story that circulated toward the end of the Clinton years about her drinking in Colorado and being a bit wild. And my reaction was, “Well, good for her.”

However, my sympathy does not extend to what looks to me like blatant corruption:

Chelsea Clinton has left her job as a special correspondent for NBC News, a position that she has held since November 2011, the network has confirmed. In a statement on the departure, NBC News senior vice president Alex Wallace said, “We are thankful for all of Chelsea’s contributions to NBC News over the past 3 years. Chelsea’s storytelling inspired people across the country and showcased the real power we have as individuals to make a difference in our communities. While she will be missed, we look forward to working with her in the future.”

Like me, you’re probably thinking: “what contributions?” Clinton did some occasional reporting for NBC but it amounted to maybe an hour total over the last three years. For that contributions, she was paid a nominal salary of … holy shit.

Those stories were neither sufficiently frequent nor momentous to earn Clinton the respect of her colleagues and the NBC News brain trust. Her standing within the network appeared to suffer a hit when Politico revealed earlier this year that she had been earning annual pay in the range of $600,000 — or nearly $27,000 for each minute of airtime. That was far above the pay level of an average network correspondent, even one with years of experience; Clinton was a rookie in the craft at the time of her first piece for NBC News in 2011.

Clinton is not the only scion of a political dynasty getting such a gig, although I’m dubious that the others are as lucrative. Jenna Bush and Meghan McCain also got commentary bits. But then again, neither of their dads is likely to President in the near future; Chelsea’s mom at least has a shot at it. The only thing remotely comparable I can think of in recent years was Bristol Palin’s six-figure gig promoting abstinence. But even that was a third of what Chelsea was making.

Is this bribery? It looks like it …. but … it’s actually not that unusual. The media-politics gravy train is absolutely loaded with this kind of bullshit. Politicians, their aides, their lawyers, their kids and their allies walk right out of the halls of power into well-paying commentary gigs and jobs. And then frequently walk right back into power. Many of them get five- and six-figure speaking fees, including Hillary Clinton. Many get massive salaries on corporate boards or university faculty. And, as I’ve noted before, no matter how wrong they’ve been, no matter how much they’ve fucked up, no matter what disastrous policy they’ve led this country into, the train of speaking fees, commentary gigs, board appointments and academic appointments never stops. If you’ve wrecked the country, that’s just proof that you need to be a Professor at Harvard with a column in the Washington Post.

We really do have a ruling class in this country. And Chelsea is just the latest iteration. The absurd level of the bribery — a per minute salary 30 times greater than that of Alex Rodriguez — rubs our noses in it. But the unusual thing about this is that it’s not that unusual.

Why Ten German Spies Died of Boredom Last Year

Awkward:

German secret agents intercepted one of Hillary Clinton’s phone calls while she was US secretary of state and also listened in to a call by John Kerry, her successor, it emerged this weekend, in an embarrassing reversal of the spying scandal that blew up when it was revealed last year that America bugged Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.

The Germans are claiming this happened by accident. That’s almost believable because no one in their right mind listen to John Kerry on purpose. But this is really not surprising or particularly enraging. Allies spy on each other. They have to because even the tightest of allies have different interests and needs from time to time and it is the duty of the intelligence agency of any country to pursue its own interests. I am sure that the Germans, not being known for their stupidity, have a lot of intelligence assets in this country. When the Merkel thing blew up, I said that the if the Germans weren’t spying on Obama, it was only because they couldn’t.

Still, it’s fun to see a little bit of egg on previously outrage teutonic faces.

Hillary 2016? Not So Fast

Is this the first bump in the road for Hillary Clinton’s inevitable inauguration? The blogosphere has been buzzing about Hillary successfully defending an accused child molester in one of her early cases as an attorney.

Hillary Clinton is known as a champion of women and girls, but one woman who says she was raped as a 12-year-old in Arkansas doesn’t think Hillary deserves that honor. This woman says Hillary smeared her and used dishonest tactics to successfully get her attacker off with a light sentence—even though, she claims, Clinton knew he was guilty.

This is not news. Lawyers have to defend people they know are guilty. And they are bound to defend those clients to the best of their ability within the law. That’s the way the system works. Our second President, John Adams, said one of the proudest achievements of his life was defending the soldiers who committed the Boston Massacre. Because though his heart was with the victims, he believed in the law. And frankly, I’m getting a bit tired of the “Politician A defended Slimeball B” accusations being used to disparage political opponents. This is their job. This is what lawyers do. Everyone has a right to a defense, even 42-year-old men who drug and molest 12-year-old girls.

In a long, emotional interview with The Daily Beast, she accused Clinton of intentionally lying about her in court documents, going to extraordinary lengths to discredit evidence of the rape, and later callously acknowledging and laughing about her attackers’ guilt on the recordings.

If Clinton was guilty of misconduct, that’s a story worth digging into. But if what she did was within the bounds of the law (the bounds on these cases much wider in 1975 than they are now), it’s not an issue. The recordings of Clinton laughing about it are disturbing but I don’t see an election turning on that.

(Speaking of laughter, the comments on these stories might provoke some gallows laughter if you care to sift through them. The Clinton supporters are saying that we shouldn’t care about this because it happened 40 years ago. I’m sympathetic to that but … you know … hell they know … that if Clinton were a Republican, this would be a HUGE scandal, something never to be forgiven, a sign of the GOP’s insensitivity to rape culture. This is exactly the kind of raw political partisanship that excused Bill Clinton’s womanizing, harassment and even rape accusations because he was “doing good things for women”.)

This story will doubtless be forgotten in two years. But I wanted to mention it for one big reason. Everyone is acting like Clinton’s victory in 2016 is inevitable. And certainly she would have to be the favorite right now, simply because no other candidate has as much prominence. I’m convinced she will win the Democratic nomination easily. But I don’t think her election is a done deal. Part of it is stuff like this. The Clintons have an enormous amount of baggage and the GOP has nearly a quarter century of research on them. When the skeletons are finally let out of the Clinton closet, it’s going to be like the Paths of the Dead scene in Lord of the Rings.

But the main reason I don’t think Hillary 2016 is inevitable is this: what the hell is Hillary’s campaign going to be about?

Seriously. What issues is she going to run on? She can’t run on Obama’s record since it isn’t that hot and Obama is unpopular. But she can’t run against it without splitting the party.

Healthcare? That used to be her issue but we have Obamacare and that’s quite enough, thank you. Foreign policy? The economy? None of those are winners for her. In the end, I suspect Hillary’s campaign will come down to “it’s my turn” and I just don’t see the voters jumping on that. They didn’t with McCain in 2008. Or Dole in 1996.

As I see it, she has two options. One is to hope that the economy is doing great, the world is settled down, the scandals blow over and Obamacare becomes popular. Then she can run on a campaign of continuing those policies. And also doing something about all the pigs flying through the air.

The other option … and I suspect that given the realities of Obama’s tenure, this is where she’ll go … is Republicans Be Crazy. She’ll attempt to portray them as deranged lunatics who want to end Medicare, take away your health insurance, crash the economy and start a war. She’ll rally the various parts of the Democratic coalition and try to isolate the Republicans to only representing old white Christian men. Such a campaign would be nasty and divisive but I strongly suspect this is the road she’ll take.

Because, that’s the other reminder in this story. The Clintons talk nice when they have nothing to gain or lose. But when it comes to something they want — be it a plea bargain or the White House — they will scorch the fucking Earth to get there.

That reset sure failed, and failed epicly..

Do you remember the heady days of the “Russian reset” where Hillary handed them a Staples “That was easy” button with Russian letters, only the spelling was wrong and instead of reset said overload? We had a good laugh at how these geniuses – at least that’s what they kept telling us all they were compared to that idiot cowboy they were replacing – couldn’t even spell and how their gimmick blew up in their face back when, but I think they get the last laugh. See, I now think Hillary and the Obama Administration really played us all for the fool, because that was not a misspelling, it was statement of fact. They had planned all along to really bomb, and bomb big, and make that cowboy and his mediocre people look like fucking geniuses. Way to hit us where it hurts y’all!

Here’s the lowdown from the Obama Admin:

“Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September. We value the achievements made with Russia in the President’s first term, including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. However, given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda. Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, August 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.

Pure genius! Of course, in typical fashion, the Obama Admin now blames everyone else, so the culprits are Russia, Putin, Snowden, and of course the cowboy. In the meantime, he was on Leno last night telling us all that we should stop believing our lying eyes and ears, because despite all the indisputable proof that the fact this administration has jacked up spying on citizens, they are not spying on citizens! Up is down, black is white, right is left, lies are truth, and they are not spying on us, just watching us all to keep us safe from the terrorists they had already defeated before the 2012 election (UBL is dead and Detroit is alive… or something), but that now seem to be Zombie-style back in business.

You cannot makeup the level of stupid of these people, and they are hard at work trying to get us to elect another one of these buffoons in 2016, one that played a key role in this big Russian fuckup, to boot. I guess I am a prophet too. I did tell people that the next democratic administration and the level of stupid & ineffective they would reach would be the reason history would remember a mediocre Boosh presidency as something far better than it was, and it looks like I will be proven right.

Portman v. Clinton

Last week, Senator Rob Portman announced that he now supports gay marriage. He said the impetus for this was when his son came out to him. According to him, it opened his eyes on the issue and he now believes that gays should have full marital rights. Portman has been criticized a bit from the Right but also from the Left. One of Sullivan’s readers claims that his switch shows a lack of empathy because he didn’t sympathize with gay people until he knew one. Sullivan (and I) disagree. These are difficult moral and legal issues. People’s feelings about them are complex. Sometimes something like your son coming out can make you re-examine your beliefs.

Today, Hillary Clinton came out in favor of gay marriage. And, by contrast, the Left are praising her conversion. Dan Savage:

And Hillary backed marriage equality today because it’s the right thing to do for all kids, not just for her kid.

Bullshit.

Hillary, like Obama, has always supported gay marriage or at least supported it for a very long time. Her announcement today was not because she did some soul searching. It was not because she wanted to take a bold political stance. It happened because she put her finger to the wind, realized things had changed and “came out” to what she has believed for a long time. Do you think it’s just a coincidence that this announcement came on the same day a new poll showed majority support for gay marriage?

That’s better than what Rob Portman did? Let’s think about this. For many years, Hillary has thrown her political allies, her personal friends and her supporters under the bus in order to run for office because she knew that supporting gay marriage was a political liability. She believed in gay marriage. She could have led the push. But instead, like her President, she cowered behind the polls (Bill Clinton has also tacked to the Left on this, penning an op-ed in opposition to the DOMA law he signed).

That’s “the right thing to do for all kids”? The cold political calculus that the Democrats engaged in for years is superior to Rob Portman expressing his honest opinion on the matter and the honest reasons why his opinion changed? Look, I know the politicians sometimes have to take views they oppose for political reasons. But let’s not pretend it’s anything but cynical.

Keep something in mind while you weigh this: coming out in favor of gay marriage is much more politically risky for Portman than it is for Clinton or Obama. In fact, it isn’t risky for Obama and Clinton at all: it’s required if they want to maintain support in the Democratic Party, where support for gay marriage is now a whopping 72%. Republican support for gay marriage is 34%. Portman is hurting himself by changing his opinion. Clinton isn’t. Portman is, in fact, showing the kind of political courage that Clinton and Obama never could. He could no longer look his kid in the eye and oppose gay marriage. For years, Clinton and Obama looked everyone’s kid in the eye and opposed gay marriage.

Alex touched on this in his post and it’s a point constantly worth repeating: Obama (and Clinton) are held to a much lower standard than everyone else. Rob Portman has taken on a big political risk because a family member made him rethink his position on a touchy issue. Obama and Clinton have stopped throwing their own supporters under the bus because they can now safely say what they thought all the time. Which of these is political courage and which of these is political cowardice? It’s pretty clear to me. But then I’m not afflicted with Obama Worship Syndrome.

Or the early stages of Clinton Worship Syndrome.

Hillary Testifies

Well, the conspiracy theorists were wrong again. As predicted, Hillary Clinton did indeed testify to Congress yesterday. There was plenty of grand-standing on both sides and yet more irrelevant focus on what Susan Rice said after the incident. To me, the most important part was this:

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, asked Clinton this afternoon why her office had not responded to a notification from Stevens about potential dangers in Libya.

“Congressman, that cable did not come to my attention,” Clinton calmly told the House Foreign Affairs Committee hours after her Senate testimony this morning. “I’m not aware of anyone within my office, within the secretary’s office having seen that cable.”

She added that “1.43 million cables come to my office. They’re all addressed to me.”

No one expects Hillary to read all 1.43 million cables that come into her office. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the State Department as a body to have a good read on the situation at our embassies. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that the State Department would know when one of its ambassadors is warning of a decaying security situation and in not unreasonable fear for his life. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to determine, as Rand Paul pointed out, which of those cables is unimportant and which of them is critical.

You remember how, after 9/11, the Democrats went nuts about all the little memos that hinted at what was to come? At the time, I said that the problem was that our security infrastructure was being overwhelmed with information. They had so many memos and reports and analyses coming in, there was clearly no way to pick out the most important stuff from the noise. The recent report on Benghazi and Hillary’s testimony makes it clear that, eleven years later, we still don’t have a way to pick out the signal from the noise. We had an ambassador in a volatile country warning us that the security situation was bad. Surely, that should have been prioritized. Surely, of the 1.43 million cables Hillary received, someone could have narrowed it down to a few hundred of the most important and “we’re in danger” would be one of those?

There’s no way to escape this being a failure of management, a failure to see a danger that loomed large in one of the most important regions of the world. No amount of excuse making about cables is going to change that.

Hillary Under Fire

I’ve been somewhat puzzled by the gleeful reaction to Hillary Clinton’s motorcade being pelted with shoes and tomatoes in Egypt. Is anti-Americanism a good thing now? I always hated it when the Left would get smug about anti-Bush protests. Clinton has been — and I hate to say this — a decent Secretary of State. She’s worked her ass off, done nothing to undermine the President and managed to smooth over their innumerable fuck-ups. That we are not at war with anyone after three years of these guys is remarkable and I think Clinton deserves the lion’s share of credit.

But yesterday, the New York Times dug into the story. Apparently, the protests were ignited because the Egyptians think we supported the Islamic Brotherhood in taking over Egypt. (My own opinion? The opposition failed to unite, leaving the Brotherhood as the only coherent political force. You’ll see similar patterns from history in the rise of bad regimes.)

But here’s the more incendiary allegation, one that’s been picked up by every Left Wing blog in existence:

Pressed by American reporters to explain where they got the idea that their new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, had been foisted on them through a U.S. plot, rather than the will of the majority, several Egyptians cited information gathered from American blogs or news sites.

An Egyptian-American Christian who met Mrs. Clinton on Sunday cited recent claims by Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican, “that the Obama Administration is pursuing a closeted pro-Muslim agenda,” in a conversation with Time magazine’s correspondent, Abigail Hauslohner.

In an online conversation on Monday, when Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal asked an Egyptian blogger named Sara Ahmed for proof that the Obama administration was “financing” the Muslim Brotherhood, she directed him to a blog post about American aid to Egypt by an ultra-conservative Canadian blogger, Judi McLeod. Ms. McLeod’s post was based on a news story posted on Lucianne.com, a site run by Lucianne Goldberg, an American conservative who played a central role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

As Mr. Bradley pointed out to Ms. Ahmed, though, Ms. McLeod had badly garbled the original news report, which simply said that the U.S. had decided to release $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt’s military in April. Ms. McLeod falsely reported that the money had been given instead to a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who visited Washington around the same time.

Other information came from rabid anti-Islamists like Frank Gaffney.

First things first: it is shameful that this kind of conspiracy mongering has not only been tolerated, but positively embraced by parts of the Right Wing. During the presidential primaries, three non-Romneys directly embraced conspiracy mongering. Bachmann is mentioned above. Cain said he would not hire Muslims or require a loyalty oath. And Gingrich spewed ignorant bullshit about history, religion and property values. Only Paul and Romney specifically rejected it. The GOP has, for far too long, played footsie with anti-Obama conspiracy theorists. And now it’s biting them again.

That having been said, however, this smells like garbage to me. If Egyptian conspiracy mongering is being influenced by American pundits, it is a minor factor. The reality is that the United States is, has been and always will be blamed for the ills of the world. Whenever any country is messed up, its leadership and its people will find a way to blame us. And if they can find support for that blame in the massive and free American media — where every viewpoint is tolerated — that’s a bonus. But these blog posts and statements are being cited as supporting evidence, not the origin. Anti-American conspiracy theories can cook up just fine on their own.

The real problem is that the reality about America’s role in the world is colliding with Obama hero worship. The Left insisted for years that it was only Bush’s incompetence which caused us to be hated. And once we had the Enlightened One, all that would change. I remember Sullivan saying that the simple fact that Obama’s middle name was Hussein was going to help. These hopes for Obama’s foreign policy were always delusional. And now that they have been dashed on the rocks of reality, the media is determined to sustain their messianic delusions by blaming the Right Wing for Obama’s failures. It’s pathetic, really.

(I mean … seriously? You guys have a Nobel Prize winner in office, Hillary as Secretary of State, a new vision for relations and you can’t overcome the rantings of a few bloggers?! What kind of crybaby bullshit is this?)

Finally … and I hate to keep going back to this point, but it keeps being relevant … where were these guys, oh, four to eight years ago? Where they worried that “no blood for oil!” would undermine Bush’s legitimacy? When entire wars were blamed on Haliburton’s lust for profits, did they wring their hands over how this would affect the Arab street? What about 9/11 conspiracy theories being promoted by members of Congress?

This is why I tire of politics. Everything is fine when our side does it but vile when the other side does. Everything is the other side’s fault, never our own. They behave like beasts who hate America; we behave like angels who rescue kittens.

Conspiracy mongering is a vile and disgusting practice. “Reporting” sensational stories without fact-checking is deliberate idiocy. But that’s true no matter who does it. It’s wrong whether it’s Michael Moore or Pamela Geller.

But none of this has anything to do with why we are blamed for the ills of the world. When things go wrong, we will get blamed. When we act, we will get blamed. When we don’t act, we will get blamed. And, in the end, people will invent facts out of whole cloth to blame us. That’s been true long before Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck.