Who Cares About the Clinton Foundation?

By James Kwak

Imagine that while George W. Bush was governor of Texas and president of the United States, various people and companies decided to write him checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, just because they thought he was a great guy. Those people and companies, just coincidentally, happened to have interests that were affected by the policies of Texas and the United States. But when he thanked them for their money, Bush never promised to do anything in particular for them. You would be suspicious, right?

Now, that’s roughly what has been happening with the Clinton Foundation. Various people and companies have been writing checks for millions of dollars to the Foundation during the same time that Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and, following that, the most likely next president of the United States—a title she has held since the day Barack Obama’s second term began. (The Clintons finally decided to scale back the Foundation earlier this week.)

There are two main defenses for the Clintons’ actions. Both are distressingly naive.

One, made by Kevin Drum among others, is that Clinton didn’t actually do any favors for her Foundation donors. So even if people were trying to buy access and influence, they didn’t get any, and there’s nothing to see here.

First of all, there is evidence, some compiled by Jeff Stein, that Foundation donors were more likely to gain access to the secretary of state. On an individual basis, I’m sure that each of these meetings could be justified . But the same thing is true whenever a lobbyist arranges a meeting for a client with a member of Congress. The question is whether giving money increases your chances of getting through the door. We’ll probably never have the data you would need to answer that question.

More generally, what matters the impact that a donation has on the donee. Anyone who will want to raise money in the future naturally finds it difficult to take actions contrary to the interests of the people who are most likely to give that money. Donating to the Clinton Foundation is a great way to signal that you might donate more money in the future. And that means that, somewhere in the corner of her massive brain, Hillary knows that making a certain decision will reduce her foundation’s future revenues. That’s why we worry about campaign contributions, remember? If you want to argue that Hillary Clinton is so incorruptible that the standards we apply to other politicians shouldn’t apply to her—well, be my guest.

The second defense is: The Clinton Foundation is a charity, for God’s sake! It helps people! This is even more naive, for a simple reason that I don’t think has been emphasized enough.

The Clintons are vastly wealthy. Since 2007, they have earned more than $150 million. They have far more money than any family can reasonably consume in a lifetime. Bill and Hillary are getting on in years, they only have one child, and she is married to a hedge fund manager. When you have that much money, a dollar in your foundation is as good as a dollar in your bank account.

Once you have all your consumption needs covered, what do you need money for? If you’re a Clinton, you want to have an impact in the world, reward your friends, and burnish your legacy. A foundation is an excellent vehicle for all of those purposes, for obvious reasons.(That’s why it’s hardly a sacrifice for Mark Zuckerberg to donate the vast majority of his Facebook stock to a private company that he controls.) It is also an excellent way to transfer money to your daughter free of estate tax, since she can control it after you die. The fact that it may or may not do good things for the world is irrelevant. A $1 million donation to the foundation might as well be a $1 million donation to you, because, at the end of the day, your marginal $1 million is going to your foundation either way.

So the real question is this: Do you think it would be appropriate for people and companies affected by U.S. policy to be writing $1 million checks directly to the Clintons? If the answer is yes, then you should be against any campaign finance rules whatsoever. If the answer is no, you should be worried about the Clinton Foundation.

59 thoughts on “Who Cares About the Clinton Foundation?

  1. The question has to be, what campaign rules? Not that a few don’t exist, but are just our formalized corruption where appearances matter more than substance.

  2. 1. Your reasoning suggests that political figures should have only one strand of relationship to other people, i.e. that which corresponds to their public function, lest they find themselves calculating the effect of their actions in other strands of relationships and adjusting their behavior. But everybody does that because life, particularly a public life such as the Clintons have had, creates networks of relationships and strands (remember all that stuff about how important it is to “network?) that call for adjustments and sometimes place decisive weight on a single strand. Public figures become a part of a web of relationships whether they want to or not. The relationships are as much a part of fulfilling their public roles as of undermining them.

    I once heard an argument for not having anyone from the finance and economics world on a bank oversight committee because he or she would, presumably automatically, favor banking. The desire was for ignorance and purity over insight and experience. No thought was given to the utility of the many facets of such a person, consumer, expert, community member, he was seen as having only one dimension.

    2. Once again, in what way does their being in control of significant money vitiate the value of Clinton Foundation good works? For all the money they have, they are not in the “big leagues” of wealth but even if they were, the Foundation would be and is useful beyond its immediate value for the Clintons. Plenty of ex-presidents and their families have managed to prosper without setting up foundations and working their contacts for charitable purposes. (Note as well that WJC has to raise 40% of the money for the Clinton Library from private sources too.)

    Should the board chairman of a big charity organization in your city, say the Zoo or Opera, not give his own money and time to raise more money because, in his board role, he continues to control the (deductible) gift he makes as well as the gifts of others to the project? If he meets resistance from a prospective donor, do you think he will just cave in on some important issue to get a gift?

    Given the malleable character of perceptions and of reasons we all bring to the many things that affect our choices, it is the specifics, not the appearances, that have to govern a judgement of whether or not we act rightly in a situation. And likely, we will get it wrong sometimes and get it right other times.

    I’m tired of formulaic propositions set out to protect us from the flaws we see in others and exhibit ourselves.

  3. Since 2007 the Clinton’s have earned $150 million, but the charity spent $196.6 million on programs in 2013 alone. Pretty sure that a couple making $150 million over 8 years cannot afford to spend $196 million a year…let me check my math…still nope.

    Honestly, this sounds like yet another attack from a point of privilege. 9 million plus people helped by their downward pressure on Aid’s/HIV related anti-virals alone doesn’t sound like an excuse for the Clinton’s to just amass more money (and a 12.5% rate of spending on administrative costs is among the best.)

    The Zuckerberg thing is just a distraction because he still controls the company, so he really controls the charity. Gates does this with his stock as well. Please explain how that works with the Clintons? Donations fund the Foundation which spends money on a host of issues. This isn’t the Clinton’s controlling a stock through a charity donation.

    Honestly, are you sure you aren’t confusing the Trump Foundation and the Clinton Foundation?

  4. Wrong. The REAL question is, why was there never a brouhaha over George H.W. Bush taking big money from the Carlyle Group and running around to various world leaders after Dubya stole the White House, asking for their business, and not even having to speak the words, “I have a bit of influence with the President of the United States.”

    The Bush family business is PROFITING from their prominence. The Clinton family business is benefiting themselves AND OTHERS by way of their prominence.

    I prefer the latter intentions in my elected officials.

  5. “The Zuckerberg thing is just a distraction because he still controls the company, so he really controls the charity. Gates does this with his stock as well. Please explain how that works with the Clintons?”

    Well this is easy, the Clinton foundation only spends money on issues of it’s choosing, right or wrong, prolly more of the latter except they don’t want to talk about the potential wrongness of where the money is being spent. The other two are committed to raising the cost of living while the Clintons spend with reckless abandon cause they don’t care how much it’s costs, they are doing for their so called “good of the people.”

    And Caro, papa Bush was a war hero, his plane was shot down and landed short of the carrier, he was then plucked out of the water to saftey,(it’s all on film by the way) so I don’t think he had to much family business prominence activity to have been so deeply involved with the war.
    Afterwords they just made money as a family, the best they knew how, (Barbara wore the pants in that family by the way.)

    The Clintons on the other hand were spoon fed their riches for political favors, that is their deep history and legacy from one of the most corrupt states in the union, one of the other major corrupt states dating back to the early 1800’s, Illinois, go figure.

  6. just wondering if we are really concerned about the clinton foundation, why arent we more worried about Trump University., after all, one of them has been linked to fraud, the other hasnt. one even got kicked out Texas, which is really hard to if your a business

  7. course to just address the optics (politics is more about that than anything else), they should decide to merge it with the Gates foundation

  8. I disagree whole heartedly with this post. The clinton foundation is a big deal,because its proof positive that America was founded on Money laundering, the elite that run this country make and made their money through money laundering; and no one wants that in the White House. Thats ok for the rest of America sociery, but not the government where peoples lives hang on the balance through every speech, law and policy that is conducted on capitol hill. The Clintons destroyed Libya, Honduras, Haiti through their money laundering scheme called the clinton foundation. Theres no justification for that.

  9. Trump thinks very highly of Reagan, but very lowly of Mexicans, so if Trump were to win I suspect he will secretly sell some of our nukes, this finally giving him the financial boost needed to overtake Carlos Slim on the list of the world’s richest men. This ‘deal of deals’ then also harkens back to another historical ‘deal’ (Iran/Contra), and of course Reagan, while simultaneously eliminating Trump’s deepest regret which is that of being bested by a Mexican. This being the real reason that he decided to run in the first place.

    Probably though, HRC will win. The problem there being that all of the scrutiny that she has been receiving for so long, coupled with Bills’ infidelities, and other various setbacks and slights, have left her very angry and bitter. Combining this seething hatred of all humans, especially men, with the fact that there has never been a women president to look up to, HRC’s only influence is a secretary who worked for Woodrow Wilson by the name of Mildred Jingowitz, or Ms. Jingo as she was called. Ms. Jingo stands out for HRC because she actually wrote the Espionage Act of 1917 and the the Sedition Act of 1918. Those combining to “cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds.”
    “The Sedition Act of 1918 stated that people or countries cannot say negative things about the government or the war.”
    “It forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt.” Most importantly though, these acts gave the Government the legal right to prosecute draft dodgers, and …these could bring an end to at least some of the scrutiny that has plagued HRC for so long just so long as we remain at war.
    So, if you are wondering what any of this has to do with the Clinton Foundation, well, HRC used the Foundation to facilitate at least one very large arms deal with at least one Royal Gulfie. But it matters little whether she used the foundation or not, HRC used her tenure at Foggy Bottom to arrange a record number of weapons deals, and of course she is mad as hell and determined to prove just how tough women can be (and there is of course one man who she respects, H. Kissinger).

    Anyway, it doesn’t take a historian specializing in the build-up leading to the two World Wars to figure out the rest. BOOM!!!

  10. Dear James,

    I’m a long-time reader. I admire what you and Simon have done educating us about the financial crisis and its aftermath, and I agree with most of your political positions, especially related to the corrupting influence of money in politics. I have seen this first hand over my years in politics and government, and I believe it is the single most important issue we face because progress on all others depends on it.

    But in taking yet another hack at Hillary Clinton in this post, you’ve contradicted yourself in a way that unravels your argument, while engaging in false equivalencies and blowing a key fact out of proportion. First, the internal contradiction:

    “Bill and Hillary are getting on in years, they only have one child, and she is married to a hedge fund manager. When you have that much money, a dollar in your foundation is as good as a dollar in your bank account. Once you have all your consumption needs covered, what do you need money for?”

    You imply, here, that the Clintons’ wealth and Marc Mezvinsky’s hedge fund income have made the marginal value of another dollar in income de minimis for the Clintons’ personal finances. Then you write, paraphrasing, that a dollar donated to the Foundation is as good as a dollar deposited in their personal bank account; therefore, you imply, money that goes to their foundation is as corrupting as money that goes into their personal accounts.

    You see the problem in claiming that a contribution to the Clinton Foundation is a powerful incentive for HRC to tilt her foreign policy positions, right? You just made the case for why a donation to the Foundation has little personal value to the Clintons:

    MV of $ to bank account = 0.
    MV of $ to Foundation = MV of $ to bank account.
    But you don’t proceed to: Therefore, MV of $ to Foundation = 0. So, according to your logic, there can be no corrupting influence.

    You follow this, writing:

    “If you’re a Clinton, you want to have an impact in the world, reward your friends, and burnish your legacy. A foundation is an excellent vehicle for all of those purposes, for obvious reasons. It is also an excellent way to transfer money to your daughter free of estate tax, since she can control it after you die.”

    Your imply that the Clintons give equal weight to their desires to reward their friends, burnish their legacy, and have an impact on the world. What evidence do you have of this? Also, you implicitly denigrate their charitable motives by describing them as a desire “to have an impact on the world” without a nod to their clear intent to have an impact that is profoundly constructive. You also speculate, without providing any support, that the Foundation is a tax avoidance scheme to enrich their daughter. I think you’ve crossed a line here.

    Now for the false equivalencies:

    “Imagine that while George W. Bush was governor of Texas and president of the United States, various people and companies decided to write him checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, just because they thought he was a great guy. Those people and companies, just coincidentally, happened to have interests that were affected by the policies of Texas and the United States. But when he thanked them for their money, Bush never promised to do anything in particular for them. You would be suspicious, right?”

    Why imagine? We have the real-world case of the Saudis bailing out George W’s Harken Energy while his father was president. Of course, this is only one example of how the lucrative Bush-Saudi relationship generated income that went straight into the Bush “coffers”.

    So you implicitly compare HRC’s alleged conflict related to the family’s charity with the Bush family conflict related to their own personal bank accounts. While HW Bush, as president, made use of his long friendship with the Saudis for the family’s personal gain, HRC gave access to the likes of the crown prince of Bahrain and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus. Not equivalent. Not even close. I wonder how routine it is for a Secretary of State to meet with the crown prince of an oil-producing nation or a Nobel Prize winner versus how routine is it for foreign oligarchs friendly to a president to bailout his son.

    But at least the Saudis were allies of the US. Today, the GOP nominee has undisclosed but apparently significant business ties to close allies of the president of our greatest strategic adversary, and expresses his admiration for an autocrat who is seizing territory in Europe and terminating his opponents. I’ve missed your post on this one, though I’m sure there is one.

    One last point: This controversy involved some 85 meetings or telephone calls HRC granted to Foundation donors. The media have morphed this into 85 meetings, dropping the “and telephone calls,” and made this out to be a pretty big number. Naive readers and Hillary haters have accepted it as such. If fact, 85 meetings and telephone calls over four years are, well, de minimis.

    Many of these donors had standing sufficient to get them in the door whether they gave to the Foundation or not. But let’s say all of them gained access solely as a result of their donations. Over the four years HRC was Secretary of State, 85 meetings and telephone calls work out to 1.8 meetings/calls per month. Let’s make a guess that she met or talked on the phone with an average of 15 people a day. So, one of every 250 people HRC met or had a phone call with each month, or 21 out of 3000 each year, would have secured their contact with her by donating to the Foundation. 85 doesn’t look so big in context, especially since no one has presented any evidence of any quid pro quos.

  11. Philip,
    The 85 meetings occurred during about half of HRC’s term and I’ve not heard anyone else dilute things with “phone calls”.

    Plus, the Bahrainis were approved for a major arms deal after donating. The Prince tried to make an appointment with HRC privately, but was made to go through State Dept. channels before being allowed a meeting.

    HRC was also involved in the selling of more weapons in her term than all of those occurring during the Bush 43 terms combined.

  12. Philip.
    Also, there is this:
    “You had a situation, that The Wall Street Journal reported, where Hillary Clinton herself intervened in a case dealing with taxes with UBS, a Swiss bank, and then, suddenly, after that, UBS began donating big to the Clinton Foundation. So there are many examples of—I mean, there’s oil companies—that’s another one I should mention right now, which is that oil companies were giving big to the Clinton Foundation while lobbying the State Department—successfully—for the passage of the Alberta Clipper, the tar sands pipeline.”
    David Sarota, interview:http://www.democracynow.org/2016/8/25/weapons_pipelines_wall_st_did_clinton

  13. Other noteworthy donors to the Clinton Foundation:

    Carlos Slim
    Chairman & CEO of Telmex, largest New York Times shareholder

    James Murdoch
    Chief Operating Officer of 21st Century Fox

    Newsmax Media
    Florida-based conservative media network

    Thomson Reuters
    Owner of the Reuters news service



    News Corporation Foundation
    Philanthropic arm of former Fox News parent company


    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Richard Mellon Scaife
    Owner of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


    Abigail Disney
    Documentary filmmaker

    Bloomberg Philanthropies

    Howard Stringer
    Former CBS, CBS News and Sony executive

    Intermountain West Communications Company
    Local television affiliate owner (formerly Sunbelt Communications)


    Bloomberg L.P.

    Discovery Communications Inc.

    George Stephanopoulos
    ABC News chief anchor and chief political correspondent

    Mort Zuckerman
    Owner of New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report

    Time Warner Inc.
    Owner of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting




    Read more: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/05/clinton-foundation-donors-include-dozens-of-media-organizations-individuals-207228#ixzz4IRfGoJcr
    Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

  14. Hello Ray,

    First, I’d appreciate it if you could provide a cite supporting the statement that move arms sales occurred during HRC’s four years than during W’s eight years. I’d like to look under the cover of that one.

    Also, it’s important to note that a lot more people are involved in approving arms sales than the SoS, including Republicans on the Hill.

    Second, the AP touted its original story as being “meetings” but when you read the story itself you found it was “meetings and phone calls.” Subsequently, the media and commentariat referred to 85 meetings, dropping reference to phone calls.

    Now for the arms sales to Bahrain. This one is especially juicy because it’s an excellent example of how HRC is being tarred.

    The US has massive military assets in Bahrain, which hosts the largest US military outpost in the Gulf. We’ve been making massive arms sale to Bahrain for many years. So no surprise that we’d make some when HRC was SoS.

    And considering the strategic importance of Bahrain, there’s no surprise in HRC meeting with the crown prince. The surprise would be if she declined to do so.

    Now, if memory serves, and I encourage you to check me on this, the US suspended arms sales to Bahrain while HRC was SoS in response to the Bahrain’s suppression of dissent among its Shia minority. Later, we partially lifted the suspension to allow sales of arms Related to protecting our huge naval base in Bahrain. I think this decision also came while HRC was SoS.

    So, the arm sales to Bahrain illustrates my objections to the facile claims that contributions to the CF suggest that HRC is corrupt. These claims bring one sliver of information to the discussion: so and so donated money to the CF and then talked to HRC on the phone (or got a meeting). No evidence is produced that there’s a causal relationship between the two much less a quid pro quo in which the donation and meeting led HRC to act in an official capacity to benefit the contributor.

    All of the examples I’ve seen so far, the oil companies, UBS, etc. are like this. No context, no evidence of a quid pro quo, all inuendo.

  15. I consider some of these contributors to be unsavory, and I wish they’d give the Clinton Foundation a lot more money so they’d have less to sink into GOP House and Senate races.

  16. Quick point: I can’t remember where I saw it yesterday but I did read that the crown prince’s gifts to the Clinton Foundation began in 2006.

  17. In today’s news, somewhere, a black man will probably be shot while robbing a bank or while simply shooting at someone so the Black Lives Matter activists may be mobilizing today. Complications with retrieving their luggage upon returning from Milwaukee due to that luggage being sent to the Bureau of Land Management has caused a delay however.

    Clinton campaign translators have been busy working on ‘dog-whistle’ interpretations to fit the proposed Trump Statement: “Blacks should not be allowed in banks or near children”. This has proved to be a difficult task however because there is no record of Trump using the words ‘black’, ‘bank’, and ‘children’ in the same statement, although the word ‘children’ is not believed to be entirely necessary. Also… the complications at the BLM by the other BLM has allowed some extra time for the translation team.

    Rent was adjusted for inflation again today at the Trump Campaign headquarters. Three upper level staff personal were fired while others from a running Craigslist ad were being interviewed.

    Mr Trump is expected to release his new food-stamp plan today that includes free and unlimited hand-outs of watermelons, fried chicken, rice, beans, any chicken, all soft-drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup, corn, and any breakfast cereal containing more than 12% of corn or corn by-products. Polling in the ‘corn belt’ should rise and especially in Iowa and Indiana.

    Mr. Trump is also considering a staff proposal to change the name of the SNAP program in order to remove the word ‘Supplemental’ and thereby create the NAP program. All but the most ambitious Republicans are expected to withdraw their support of the campaign. It has been rumored that the most recent firing of staff was due to their not including undocumented workers as eligible for NAP.

  18. Ray LaPan-Love: You left out this quote from the interview with David Sirota. Context matters.

    ‘DAVID SIROTA: Well, my reaction to it is that I think that if you look at some of these individual examples, I think Paul is right that it’s hard to argue that their donations to the foundation got them access. They are — a lot of these people in the AP story are people who knew her.”

  19. Sorry Phillip, but gee whiz, am I to assume that nobody else has any ‘context’ on a story that is difficult to miss. Where does one draw such lines? And the spin you are hoping for is somewhat unwound by David using the phrase “hard to argue”. That could be interpreted to simply mean that the CF is good at obfuscating. And as someone who has worked in politics and even for a large NPO, I can atably assure you

  20. ….!!!!!! my cursor got stuck on the previous comment as I tried to use spell-check.
    Anyway, I was trying to comfratably assure you that these organizations are commonly structured to allow for deceptive practices. The Sierra Club for example has affiliates that collect donations and then those funds are used to pay the overhead of the affiliate ‘before’ any money is donated to the Sierra Club. Thus, the Sierra club’s solicitation costs are not reflected in the percentage of funds used toward whatever cause. This is not of course very subtle, and a Foundation such the CF could not likely get away something this obvious, but…schemes such those exposed by the Panama Papers should make us all hesitant to assume anything.

  21. Dear James —

    I’m a long-time fan of your smart writing and the important work that you (and Simon) do. But what’s with this constant Clinton Derangement Syndrome? Why look so hard to find some morsel of “scandal” with the Clintons when there’s an entire herd of elephants in the room with the Republican candidate??

    As a wealth manager of many years, I must disagree with your dismissive assessment of the Clintons’ personal philanthropy as a personal piggy bank. For sure, in a regular family foundation (many of my clients!) the grants and donations are entirely at the discretion of the controlling family, and very often it’s all about shiny brass plaques and photo ops with museum directors or mayors. Fine, that’s our system, and at least something gets done. And then the donors die and the plaques fade. A shawl has no pockets.

    But the Clinton operation is unique: they choose specific issues, partner with competent outside groups, and then direct enormous extra outside funds — not just their own meager foundation money — to tackle the problems. This is only possible because of their international status; not a Gates nor a Slim nor a Zuckerberg could engineer the same.

    One can certainly speculate about who got access (a phone call, seriously?) or who was schmoozed in what way in order to secure their donations. But to broad-brush the whole of the Clinton philanthropy as personal corruption is truly unfair. And it sure doesn’t make sense when there’s so much worse and genuinely scandalous material on the other side just waiting to be uncovered.

    Keep the faith!

  22. In other news today, Bill Clinton has made the largest donation ever to the Association of English Teachers ($350). Coincidently, another anonymous donation of $400 was made to the Association of Prescriptive Linguists and that is the only donation that group has ever received.

    An unidentified spokesperson of the Right-Alt movement was quoted as saying that life is better in Scandinavian countries than it is in African Countries. The BLM has responded with a fire bombing of a food-bank in the nearest proximity.

    The BLMs’ luggage (one shared duffle bag) has still not been found.

    The Clinton campaign petitioned the Association of English Teachers to re-define the word ‘Hispanic’ to allow its use to designate race. Millions of examples from thousands of media sources and blogs were included to show popular usage and acceptance.

    The Trump campaign has responded with the statement, “since when did Hispanic not mean race?”

  23. Ray,

    You say, “And yes, “no context, no evidence of a quid pro quo”, and almost as if she knew she might run for the prez job.”

    By this standard, anyone can be indicted for virtually anything. No evidence becomes evidence of whatever you want it to be.

    The role of “context” in shaping decisions of a cabinet official, especially a secretary of state, defense, or treasury is, shall we say, complex. I know this because I was a chief of staff to one. Denying the significance of context is essentially denying the significance of reality.

    As a matter of fact, that’s what the Hillary bashing is all about. Making perception reality, Karl Rove’s epistemology.

    Over the past 30 years, back to the days Bill was governor, conservatives have spent several 100 million dollars and several billion more in earned media tearing down WJC’s and HRC’s reputations, topping it off with the vile, recently-resurrected accusations of murdering Vince Foster and, more recently, the young DNC employee. Is it any wonder why her negatives are so high and that millennials who grew up in this toxic PR waste pond don’t trust her?

    Sure, the Clintons have screwed up royally on occasion. I think they’ve been foolish and careless with the foundation stuff. But that doesn’t make them corrupt. And the critics who ask, Why doesn’t Hillary just come clean in these controversies? haven’t been paying attention for the past 25 years. She’s learned the hard way that you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The Right and the MSM will frenzy-feed either way. I know this firsthand, too.

    By the standards some progressive lay on the Clintons, we would not have Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, all the environmental and consumer protection programs enacted in the Great Society, or the Voting Rights Act and a black president–because Lyndon Johnson damn sure wouldn’t have measured up. Lincoln wouldn’t have ended slavery, either. He bought and blackmailed the final votes he needed to get Congress to pass the 13th Amendment.

    Some progressives seem to prefer purity over progress. This puts a millstone around the necks of pragmatic progressives, like HRC, who are warriors and make the compromises necessary to gain and then exercise power for progressive ends.

  24. Maybe I should say first that I’m finding it difficult to take our so-called democracy seriously, and so, I have no dog in this fight. Yet I agree somewhat to most of what you say here. Your first point for example is a fair one, or somewhat fair. (“You say, “And yes, “no context, no evidence of a quid pro quo”, and almost as if she knew she might run for the prez job.””
    “By this standard, anyone can be indicted for virtually anything. No evidence becomes evidence of whatever you want it to be”.)
    I disagree though that there is “no evidence”, and I included some of that in my earlier comments. If HRC had not ever met with those donors who later benefitted in some way, well, that would be ‘no evidence’.
    My statement does also however hint a another aspect of what clearly applies. That being why someone who might be planning to run for the Presidency might have created a foundation in the first place? Are the Clintons too stupid to foresee the inevitable controversy; or too arrogant to care. They have after-all created far more doubt, on a broad spectrum, than what any prez hopeful should in these troubled times.
    And I am having some trouble making sense of this:
    “By the standards some progressive lay on the Clintons, we would not have Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, all the environmental and consumer protection programs enacted in the Great Society, or the Voting Rights Act and a black president–because Lyndon Johnson damn sure wouldn’t have measured up. ”
    Firstly, the E.P.A. was established during the Nixon tenure so I’m a little confused and wondering if I’m missing something? Secondly, I see an obvious need for a safety net but… I see just as clearly that the Great Society in general was mostly a vote getting scheme more than it was anything else (see: a divided country now).
    Bill Clinton’s tweaking on welfare reform could be seen as fixing Great Societie’s the biggest flaw, I suppose, but his role in eliminating Glass/Steagul, and his wasted opportunity to pressure Mexico on worker’s rights using the NAFTA, puts him in the same category as LBJ for me.
    I agree with you on Lincoln though, but then wonder what value there is in a president of any color who fashions his basic plan on Lincoln’s
    inharmonious cabinet strategy. Then to thereafter leave office with the nation more divided along racial lines than before.
    Anyway…I feel strongly that the division in the working-class obstructs most any meaningful progress so my definition of ‘progressive’ is atypical, perhaps. And so, from where I’m sitting, the Dems, and the repubs, have created dependencies on a racial divide, and that has evolved into an addiction. So, in much the same biased way that you see that “anyone can be indicted for virtually anything”, I see a ‘dog-whistle’ ploy that allows for most any statement to be interpreted in, virtually, any convenient way. But I also see that there is truth in the ‘dog-whistle’ accusations. But neither side is worthy of any defending insofar as I can tell, and that before getting into the issues related to corruption.

  25. Lot o barkin fer a guy who has no dog in the fight. When I don’t take something serious, I don’t say much about it.

  26. skunk,
    Thanks for the music, I’ve always liked that group.

    Dogs bark, those who “have” a dog tend to be human. And we humans have almost no influence over which dogs we are betting on, but that does not mean we shouldn’t say much about it.

  27. Well if you throw a stick into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit, just sayin.

  28. skunk,
    I don’t fully understand your attempts to criticize me. Your first attempt essentially maligns activism, applied objectively, only to recommend apathy, (that in the context of the political subject matter in play here). And of course, you offer this inverted wisdom as pretentious advice while using a poorly devised metaphor and the word ‘serious’ in a dishonest context. All of this not just infused with the typical low-integrity, context twisting cheap shots, but then you imply that my ‘yelping’ is some sort of psychological need to complain.

    Anyway, presumably, you don’t quite understand that the term ‘critical thinking skills’ requires one to be critical of one’s self, first and foremost. Naturally though, you evidently just don’t know any better, ‘just sayin’.

  29. Yeah I can be a pain in the neck with the critical thinking skills sometimes, sorry if it confused or offended you. And I wouldn’t bet on politics, dogs, people, or just about anything else other than dice if I were you, it’s a lose-lose situation every time. So first and foremost, look in the mirror, turn your head, and know better, cause everything else adds up to a whole lot of nothing in the long run, and why waste such precious time with a whole lot of perceived nothings.

  30. Objectively there are certainly legitimate questions to raise concerning international exchanges of influence (eg: https://mail.aol.com/webmail-std/en-us/suite) but NGO’s of all assortments have been running cover for many insidious interests and covert operations that are much more entrenched than the “appearances” and “perceptions” brought about to selectively politicize the election
    In my opinion Caro (above entry posted) is much more accurate in terms of addressing standards and ethical realism, let alone CIA and other covert ventures using the Great American Foundation system as cover. Scratch the surface and we find that the past 70 plus years of covert practices, cold war & economic warfare policies under free markets have now turned full circle upon our own domestic economy with models of specal interest that are niow normative and institutionalized. Dig deeper and we find roots of the State Department actively engaged in international interests that include suharto’s Indonesia and collusions that include Rockefella and Ford foundation finance and facilitation. Where is the outrage?

    But, as Caro mentions directly, the Bush dynasty has had family and Presidents that have been on the international payrole since before World War II and there has been no American uproar at election times. Japan, the Germans, Saudi Arabian interests, Dubai and Carlyle Group all should be placed under the microscope of scrutiny if we are to make Presidential saber clashing on ethics a public media market sport. Whose interests are actually “suddenly” being served in this currency of power that presently confuses, seizes and attempts to capture opportunism in the quest for the most powerful position in all human history?

  31. Note: (from Global Research critique @ (eg: https://mail.aol.com/webmail-std/en-us/suite) cited above: “Philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist, Andre Vltchek has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV.

  32. Bruce, (been awhile),
    High grade stuff there. Yet, I’m not as taken by Caros’ comment as you seem to be. Near the end, this part: “The Clinton family business is benefiting themselves AND OTHERS by way of their prominence.”
    To begin with, the Clinton’s influence in arming the royal gulfies may get us all killed, and so his comparison to the Bushs, while apt in a current sense, it may well be…dangerously premature. Then too, Caro is of course taking sides as if the Clintons don’t fully realize the P.R. benefits of giving away other peoples money. Which segs the question of how could the Clintons have put so much time and effort into Hillary’s run, while creating so many pitfalls for themselves? Did they think the Repubs might get nice? Are they stupid, arrogant maybe? Or just so corrupt that they just can’t stop like so many kleptomaniacs? In any case, it isn’t only Trump’s fitness that we should be questioning.

  33. You bring up a good point about corruptness and arrogance Ray. We (perhaps I) have previously talked about infinity not as being a distance or even time thing in the literal sense, but as a factor of human denial, we are currently peaking (pinnacle like) with the known facts of human denial. We are also at a crossing point of human intelligence, until now the fastest known thing was the speed of light, yet the one thing that can travel faster than the sol, is human intelligence.
    Now the infinite mirror of human denial has been reached, and some like the Clinton’s clan want to break through the mirror to see what’s on the other side rather than look into the mirror and head back to reality to see where they went astray.
    Breaking through this mirror wont be as easy to do once human intelligence is traveling faster than the sol, which is due to occur shortly, all these people being left in the dustbin of history, because they couldn’t travel faster than the sol, go figure.

  34. So, gentlemen, what model of conduct should we judge politicians by? I don’t mean in theory. Who, specifically, meets those standards and has achieved anything of great significance? Since she wasn’t a politician, Mother Teresa doesn’t count.

    I think you make the perfect the enemy of the good-that-has-a-snowball’s-chance-of-being-achieved. If you consider that accepting the lesser of two evils, what’s wrong with that? Less evil in the world is a good thing; that is, unless one adopts the revolutionary’s credo, “The worse things get, the better they get.”

  35. Well, “We The People” still have some time before the election to get the psycho-ops weapons we do not have – mental masturbators on behalf of our “populist” issues…

    From Robert Reich:


    The old debate goes something like this:

    ‘You don’t believe women have reproductive rights.”

    “You don’t value human life.”

    Or this:

    “You think everyone should own a gun.”

    “You think we’re safer if only criminals have them.”

    Or this:

    “You don’t care about poor people.”

    ”You think they’re better off with handouts.”

    Or this:

    “You want to cut taxes on the rich.”

    “You want to tax everyone to death.”

    But we’re seeing the emergence of a new debate where the populist left and right are on the same side:

    Both are against the rich to spend as much as they want corrupting our democracy.

    Both are against crony capitalism.

    Both are against corporate welfare.
    Both are against another Wall Street bailout.
    Both want to stop subsidizing Big Agriculture, Big Oil, and the pharmaceutical industry.

    Both want to close the tax loophole for hedge fund partners.
    Both want to ban inside trading on Wall Street.

    Both want to stop CEOs from pumping up share prices with stock buy-backs … and then cashing in their stock options.

    Both want to stop tax deductions of CEO pay over $1 million.

    Both want to get big money out of politics, reverse Citizens United, and restore our democracy,

    If we join together, we can make these things happen.

  36. Pub,
    While the lesser of two evils is almost certainly the better of that specific choice, it is still choosing evil. So, since there are other choices, a no-vote protest or another party, maybe it makes more sense to think about when the lesser of two evils is too evil.
    And if more of us would focus on finding the truth, and then on analyzing the true weight thereof, instead of working so hard to indoctrinate others, or to fashion clever excuses and incommensurable comparisons, then maybe we will have made good use of this time.
    How HRC measures up to Mother Teresa in regards to goodness would come well short of providing all of what should be considered. HRC’s primary selling point is not her moral purity, but her experience and competence. But if her skills are in fact so well honed, why has she provided the enemy with so much ammo?
    Worse yet, why has she weakened her Party’s chances of getting a majority in the Senate or maybe even in the House? Would someone truly intending to bring progress not take every precaution to avoid scandal and the inherent disunity? And who could possibly know better about the importance of avoiding scandal than the Clintons? So are they just some clever manipulators but lacking in wisdom otherwise, too focused on the wrong things, perhaps. Or maybe they are simply defenders of the status quo that has made them so rich and powerful? In any case, we need to understand what we might be getting ourselves into.

    (I gotta go to town)

  37. Regardless of who they may or may not be Ray, Hillary and everything she stands for have been proved to be on the wrong side of nature here, she is so far lacking the only ones who cant see it are the citizens themselves. I would plead to you that you are trying to beat a dead horse to make it carry it’s load to the end of the tunnel where there is light. Yet just how far can one walk into a tunnel?

    Only half way, the other half your coming out.

  38. skunk,
    I appreciate your humor and the trick question. And I tried to think of some equally clever retort, and the lack of responses to the questions I’ve raised on HRC’s competency should fit somewhere in your tunnel, somewhere dead silent, I suppose. But it is difficult to find humor… deep in a dark tunnel with a dead horse. But maybe beating a dead horse is good exercise for my brain, and I most definitely need to practice typing. But the humor just won’t come.

  39. I can understand your quandary, there is nothing funny about Hillary’s competency, it’s pathetic, painful, and pitiful. We’ll all be a lot better off once she has retired from politics.

  40. Hey Ray,

    Lots of words in your response, but I don’t see where you identified the model candidate who meets your high standards. You just told us that HRC doesn’t, which we already knew. Does no one meet your standards, or is there a reason you won’t say who?

    Re “lesser of two evils”–if you don’t like Trump or HRC, the election boils down to three choices:

    – you vote for the greater evil
    – you vote for someone who can’t win, or you stay home, which is effectively a half vote for the greater evil
    – you vote for the lesser evil

    Not choosing is essentially half-ass choosing the greater evil.

  41. Pub, I don’t think she has eight years left in her, she’s about to croak on stage, limiting her ability to forget what happened yesterday so she or (another democrat) can carry the democratic mantra tomorrow. She has passed out, fallen, tripped like a Ford just not going down hill yet, had her intestines ripped out because of bad behavior, and this is just in public.
    Imagine how many blunders have occurred with her in private. She is a disaster just waiting to happen, a Nixon at a Kennedy debate. She hasn’t held a press conference in almost 3/4 of a year, is trying to ride to the rescue of her own created problems under the guise of the Clinton foundation. 8 years, I want to see her survive the next eight weeks.
    Plus there is nothing left to choose from except 100% pure unadulterated, political evil.

  42. Hahaha. You’ve mistaken her for Bill. He’s the one on her left. She’ll live to 90.

    Now, who’s your ideal politician? We’ll loosen the requirements. You can choose from life or literature. :-)

  43. I don’t think so, I know her and Bill too well. She even got mad when I was going to send somebody over there to have Bill take the drug test. Like we really need politicians who are beholden to their drug dealers.
    As for ideal politician, I can’t say we have ever had one beyond the founders, and life so is different today that the comparison is moot.
    Buddy Haley was on the right track, but since the wrong track is the majority it just goes to show how doomed politics really is.

    This country got outsmarted by the Germans and had to retaliate by out gunning them and never recognizing their grievances. Now that the tables have turned and we are the guilty ones, we turn to denial and war as the end of all solutions.
    Their is no political solution, hence the beating of the dead horse as it gets pitch black outside. And it’s hard to fight the reaper coming up behind you with his surprise execution when you can no longer see where you are going.

  44. Haven’t looked into it that closely. I first thought that the three 2 term succession administrations since the founding of the country was the greater consideration of the end of all, now that i’ve been proved wrong, I aint so sure what’s goin on next.

  45. Pub,
    So, if only 25% of the eligible voters participate, as opposed to the usual 40something%, you believe that the additional non-voters are saying little or nothing?
    “Not choosing is essentially half-ass choosing the greater evil”.

    But doesn’t choosing the lesser of two evils simply perpetuate evil? Saying something like “yea, we know this is not really a democracy, the political parties do of course decide who we vote for, but ah shucks, it is fun to pretend, and yea, the system is obviously corrupt but my candidate promises that he/she will change that. And just because he/she takes money from bad people doesn’t mean he/she’ll do just like every other politician has done, always, my candidate will be different. To heck with Einstein’s theory of insanity.”

    So is it not conceivable that the lessor of two evil votes “is essentially half-ass choosing” to be duped over and over again? While a non-vote might say enough is enough?

    Anyway, you seem to represent living proof that the conditioning in regards to what a non-vote truly means is working quite well. The following being a solid example of that conditioning:

    “three choices:

    – you vote for the greater evil
    – you vote for someone who can’t win, or you stay home, which is effectively a half vote for the greater evil
    – you vote for the lesser evil”

    But what if nobody voted other than a small number of political zombies, and of course the establishment?

  46. Ray,

    “Anyway, you seem to represent living proof that the conditioning in regards to what a non-vote truly means is working quite well. The following being a solid example of that conditioning”

    You know how self-righteous and condescending this is, right? And from what I’ve seen of your logic and the evidence you muster to support you’re opinion, I see little reason for such arrogance other than possibly insecurity.

    If you can’t name a single political leader from anywhere in time or space that meets your standards of righteousness, that says a lot. And I suspect I know what it says. You don’t want to show your true colors, or you feel you can’t back up your choice.

    Which is it?

  47. Wow, pub, you are even more of a zombie than I thought. I write ten times as many words on this board as you do, teeming with contentions that you could challenge, but you ignore nearly all of those opportunities to defend your champion of less evil only to keep coming back with some lame nonsense about who I might support.
    And by “condescending” do you mean like this:”Lots of words in your response, but I don’t see where you identified the model candidate who meets your high standards”.
    But of course telling me what we ‘should’ be talking about after suggesting that my “words” are not worthy of any effort on your part, is not just condescending but rudely so and evasive. As if the topic here is what you say it is, not HRC’s questionable behavior, but instead this all important quest of yours to discover my “single political leader from anywhere in time or space”. As if such folly matters in the actual time and space that we can do something about.
    And questioning my “true colors” as if suggest that I’m trolling or whatever. Should I now expect the name-calling and context tweaking to follow? Or must the moaning and chanting simply go on until election day.

    who is your dreammm can-di-da-te?”, lessor of two evils, do you have an ideal can-di-date? you only have 3 choices, ya ‘know. lessor of two evils. lessor of two evils. All leaders have flaws. not voting as I do is half-ass. wanna talk about the best candidate taken from all of history. lessor of two evils. don’t be half-ass. lessor of two evils. I like standing in line, do you?

    But then too there is the big tell of big tells:
    “And from what I’ve seen of your logic and the evidence you muster to support you’re opinion, I see little reason for such arrogance other than possibly insecurity”.
    Do have any notion of how hypocritical and low-integrity it is to not provide ‘any’ support for such a claim? What logic! What evidence! What reason do you ‘actually’ see? Where be the ‘why’? Did you flunk English all through school?

    I’ve written enough on this board that even the laziest blogger at the worst site could of found at least some sort of an example, or shred of evidence, to back up at least something. Crap like your comment just says “hey look, I don’t know the first rule of sound analysis, or good writing in general, but I’ve analyzed you using low standards and I don’t like you because you don’t agree with me and that makes you insecure”. Wow again.

  48. Closer to Homebase: “WHO CARES?”
    Department of Homeland Security Has Surprise for Bernie Supporters at DNC Lawsuit Hearing
    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 29, 2016
    There are political issues not being covered by mainstream media http://wallstreetonparade.com/2016/08/department-of-homeland-security-has-surprise-for-bernie-supporters-at-dnc-lawsuit-hearing/…that have more to do with election questions concerning the DNC and its efforts to evade accountability for its conduct, along with certain too close for comfort insider support to keep things confused:
    The lawsuit against the DNC is Wilding et al v DNC Services Corporation and Deborah ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz. The case is being heard in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida. (Case Number 16-cv-61511-WJZ.) The Sanders supporters are being represented in the lawsuit by the following law firms: Beck & Lee Trial Lawyers of Miami; Cullin O’Brien Law, P.A. of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Antonino G. Hernandez P.A. of Miami.
    “the first hearing on August 23 in the Federal lawsuit that has been filed by Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters against the Democratic National Committee and its former Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The lawsuit, which currently has more than 100 plaintiffs and more than a thousand in the wings with retainer agreements, is charging the DNC with fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.”

    Regardless of the voting; the exposure of corrupting political practice must be considered equal to the election voting itself.

  49. “Some progressives seem to prefer purity over progress. This puts a millstone around the necks of pragmatic progressives, like HRC, who are warriors and make the compromises necessary to gain and then exercise power for progressive ends”

    The ends justify the means right? Barf!!!

  50. Wow, I found your article OK although too much in the all pure or all evil genre. We can’t deal with this kind of problem in isolation from the rest of our culture and government, any more than we can impose a nationally funded Medicare for all without changing our NASCAR, celebrity/millionaire worshipping, racialist- tribalist (not the same as racist which has lost most of its meaning, closer to Barry Goldwater’s viewpoint) controlling central core. That’s a tall order, not even Bernie has the answer although reducing financialization & imposing a security transaction tax would be a start. If we somehow snuck in Medicare for all or an improved and expanded Obamacare, the controlling central core which includes the Koch brothers, would ensure that it failed because of their stranglehold on Washington and federal + state budgets.

    Turing to the comments, there are many that make me cringe. This is a harmful side of the Internet, reading comments makes me feel that Armageddon is nigh. It is not in reality.

Comments are closed.