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A real Clinton scandal?

It’s well known that neither candidate likely to be nominated by the major parties is particularly popular with the electorate at large. One major difference between them is that Trump actually has a base of people who are enthusiastic about his candidacy. Apart from some folks on Wall Street, there’s not a whole lot of people out there who are truly enthusiastic about Hillary. Of the two, only Hillary can’t count on a core of diehards, meaning she will have more difficulty that he in getting potential “hold your nose and vote” types to get out and hold their noses. The last thing she needs is widespread publicity about something that gives people yet another reason not to trust her.

I’ve said in the past that she’s pretty much invulnerable to scandal allegations, just as Trump is, but this one may be a horse of a different color:

Remember Harry Markopolos? That’s the tenacious financial expert that pounded on the door of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for years, providing it with detailed, written evidentiary support for the premise that Bernie Madoff, the respected former Chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, was running a massive Ponzi scheme. The SEC never confirmed the fraud before Madoff confessed as he ran out of money in December 2008 because it skipped the most basic of investigation techniques: it failed to verify if real stocks and bonds actually existed in Madoff’s client portfolios. They didn’t.

There’s a new Markopolos in town with that same brand of leave-no-stone-unturned tenacity and he has his sights set on the charity operations of Hillary and Bill Clinton, known as the Clinton Foundation and its myriad tentacles. Ortel’s actions come just as Hillary Clinton makes her final sprint for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States with Bill in tow as her economic czar. Like Markopolos, Charles Ortel does not mince words.

In a 9-page letter dated yesterday and posted to his blog, Ortel calls the Clintons’ charity the “largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever attempted,” adding for good measure that the Clinton Foundation is part of an “international charity fraud network whose entire cumulative scale (counting inflows and outflows) approaches and may even exceed $100 billion, measured from 1997 forward.” Ortel lists 40 potential areas of fraud or wrongdoing that he plans to expose over the coming days.

via Wall Street on Parade

The difference between this scandal and all the other Clinton scandals is that this one might be real, and it matters. Besides the article from which I’ve quoted, there’s more here including blatantly incomplete tax returns, etc.

Unlike the folks at Wall Street on Parade I take no joy from this, as Bernie is no longer in a position to win, and HIllary is not the sort of person to take one for the country and step aside, even if this were to cause real pain. One hope is that the Republicans will ignore it. They tend to go after the patently ridiculous scandals (Benghazi, anyone?), while ignoring the stuff that might have merit, most likely because their candidate is usually far more vulnerable on similar issues. But this year is different. Both the press and the electorate are giving Trump a free pass on financial skullduggery. After all, as Trump says, he’s a businessman, and that means if he exults in the chance to profit off of other people’s misery, it’s perfectly alright.

If Clinton loses (I’m not ready to say “when Clinton loses”) the Democratic Establishment will blame Bernie, but it will be the cumulative effect of stuff like this, along with the media’s ever more unanimous refusal to call out Trump for what he is, that will be the real cause.

Your point being?

This morning’s Boston Globe has an article entitled In Custody case, Clinton took the side of a father. When she was a thirty year old lawyer Clinton represented a father in a custody case and she won. For that era, it was quite a feat. I didn’t do much family work back then, but I know that in those years it was almost an automatic thing that mothers got custody of minor children. But the article implies, if it doesn’t outright state, that there is something hypocritical going on here:

Hillary Rodham — as she was known at the time — was building her legal case with an argument that runs counter to a central theme of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign nearly four decades later: Now billed as an unwavering advocate for women, she then argued that a father should be granted full custody of his 6-year-old-daughter over the objections of the mother.

Umm, no. By no means does her advocacy for a man run counter to any theme of her campaign. Clinton has been an unwavering advocate of equal rights for women. It is not by any means the case that equal rights implies that a woman should always be granted custody of her children, just as it was not the case, as it was the custom many many years ago, that a man should automatically get custody. We call what Clinton was advocating “judging each case on its merits”. It is a highly fallible system, but overall it works better than one that works by irrefutable presumptions. The above quoted paragraph implies that an advocate for the rights of women should maintain that a woman who wants custody of her children should always get it, the relative parental qualifications of the parents be damned.

The article goes on to describe a fairly routine custody battle, remarkable only for the outcome, which was rare at the time. Yet, we are invited to believe there is a whiff of impropriety here. Clinton, we are told, argued that men are entitled to equal protection under the constitution, which means she “played what now could be called “the man card’”. No, she was just pre-riffing on Kramer vs. Kramer (see below) and making a perfectly legitimate argument on behalf of her client.

The press has long been frustrated by its inability to take down the Clintons, and maybe this is just another somewhat feeble and halfhearted attempt to do so, though to give it its due, the Globe has never been as single mindedly focused on such a takedown as some other publications one might mention (cough, cough, the New York Times, cough cough Whitewater).

But I have to ask, so far as this story goes: So what? There’s nothing to see here except a competent lawyer doing her job.

Something completely different

Some time ago my wife and I gave a camera to my son that had belonged to my father in law. It’s a World War II era Leica. As part of the gift, we paid for refurbishing it, provided he did the work of finding someone to do it, which he did. In the course of getting that done, he researched the serial number, and found that the camera was originally issued to someone in the Luftwaffe. There is no family lore as to how it ended up in the hands of my wife’s father, but it did. He was in the army assigned to Italy, and spent a bit of time there after the war before coming home.Besides the camera, we had a number of negatives my father in law took while he was in the service, primarily in Italy after the war ended. My son undertook the job of scanning them.A great many of the pictures were taken from the air, and aren’t particularly interesting. He took a number of tourist type snaps, some of places we can identify, and some we can’t. He also took pictures of the Italians and his fellow soldiers. I think the people pictures are the most interesting. I’m a bit of an amateur photographer, but I don’t have it in me to walk up to people and ask to take their pictures. Apparently, he did. So, here’s some pictures from Italy, circa 1945 and 1946.

All I can say about this one is that their school uniforms are even worse than what I had to wear at Our Lady of Sorrows.

See what I mean about getting people to pose. This must have been a project.

A bit blurry, but this guy has character.

Thank you grifters

Even grifters aren’t safe from other grifters:

As Donald Trump rushes to start collecting the $1 billion expected to be necessary to compete for the White House, one of his biggest challenges may come from those claiming to support him.

An increasing number of unauthorized groups are invoking the presumptive GOP nominee’s name to raise money, suggesting that they’ll use the cash to support his campaign, even as some appear to be spending most of their money on contracts with favored consultants.


via Politico

I’ve said before that the grifters primarily inflict themselves on the folks on the right, mostly because they are much stupider on average than the folks on the left. Even the rich ones get taken in on a regular basis by big name grifters like Karl Rove. It is deliciously satisfying to see the con-man candidate being victimized by his peers.

But we are not immune. The grifters on our side, by contrast, are the official committees, like the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC. They call their base raising money to elect Democrats, and then use it to try to replace real Democrats with Republicans-lite (Some examples here, but they are legion). Luckily we have Act Blue, which, in the main, lines up behind real Democrats.

More from the Cranky Old Man

This is so heartwarming:

The day Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen told his prominent parents about his new gender identity, he did so in a letter that he left on their bed. Then he grabbed a packed bag and, unsure of whether he would be welcomed back, went to a friend’s house to see if his family would love him or leave him.

His shocked parents, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, and Dexter Lehtinen, who served as the top federal prosecutor here, did not hesitate. They grabbed the phone and told him that they loved him and that family trumped all, and asked him to come home. But as with many parents of transgender children, they were also overwhelmed by fear: The future they saw for their then 21-year-old, whom they had named Amanda, would be pockmarked with discrimination and bullying, if not outright violence.

It was this visceral reaction to want to protect her child that drove Ms. Ros-Lehtinen to break from her party’s skepticism or hostility on gay and transgender issues — a stance evident now in North Carolina’s battle over transgender bathroom visits — and become a conspicuous advocate in Congress and more recently in public service announcements. On Monday, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, her husband and her son, now 30, will appear in the latest one for SAVE, a longtime South Florida gay rights group that hopes to engage the Latino community here.

via The New York Times

Isn’t it heartwarming? I mean my heart isn’t just warm, it’s burning. It is simply wonderful how Republicans will break with their party when it affects them personally, while remaining in lockstep on everything else. Empathy, it appears, stops at the front door. Among the many slimy things Ros-Lehtinen has done, according to her Wikipedia page (and I’d point out that politician’s Wikipedia pages are sometimes edited favorably by supporters or aides):

Ros-Lehtinen played a key role in keeping the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010 from being passed into law. Although the bill had unanimously passed the Senate with bipartisan support, she persuaded enough Republicans in the House to vote against the bill so that it did not receive the required two-thirds majority. She reportedly invoked concerns about the legislation’s cost and that funds could be used to promote abortion.

This is standard stuff for Republicans. Here in Groton we had a state Senator with a son who was intellectually disabled. She couldn’t do enough for that group of people, yet her empathy for the unfortunate seemed to stop right there. Republicans have difficulty walking a mile in anyone else’s shoes; if the shoe doesn’t fit exactly, it is simply far too uncomfortable for them to wear.

The result for Ros-Lehtinen? A puff piece in the New York Times, with nary a word about the fact that in all other respects, she is a right wing horror show and that the odds are that if it were not for Rodrigo, she’d be with the rest of the Republicans, protecting us from those bathroom monsters we didn’t even know existed a year ago. Far more worthy of praise that they never get are the many Democrats with no personal stake in the issue that support the gay and transgender communities.

Cranky Old Man, post 1

This will be the first in a series of projected posts in a brand new category. In a few short weeks I will be eligible to begin receiving social security benefits. I have therefore reached the age at which all white males become privileged to become cranky old men. Many readers might claim that I have been cranky for years, but, let me assure you, you ain’t read nothing yet.

What led me to this pass was a seemingly inoffensive Boston Globe art review of an N.C. Wyeth Thoreau centered exhibition in Concord. Art critic Sebastian Smee begins his review as follows:

People tend to turn to the writings of Henry David Thoreau when they want to be rescued from criteria they’ve successfully met.

Mr. Smee then goes on to prove (at least to his own satisfaction) that N.C. Wyeth did exactly that. Case closed, I guess.

This is a fairly common rhetorical trick, practiced quite often by our punditry. The name David Brooks comes to mind (and now, like an earworm, I can’t get rid of it). Begin with an unexamined premise, and shoehorn the rest into it. I’m sure there’s a name for this rhetorical device, though I don’t know what it is. The writer counts on the reader to accept the premise, since the reader is quite busy, unless he is a cranky old man who begins yelling at the newspaper. This particular instance is quite harmless. I highlight it only because it is so blatant. Does Mr. Smee have even a smidgen of data that supports his premise? I have read almost everything Thoreau wrote, and I haven’t successfully met any criteria of which I’m aware. Any reader of this blog can attest to that. Had Gandhi a need for rescue from successfully met criteria when he turned to Thoreau? On a deeper level, what does the sentence even mean?

As I said, there’s little harm in this particular use of the device, but it causes a lot of harm in other contexts. It’s what allows the Brookses, Friedmans, Kristols, etc., of the world to spew their nonsense behind a smokescreen of faux profundity.

AFTERWORD: Well, this is somewhat distressing. Re-reading this post, I see it doesn’t approach the level of crankiness I was aiming at. I’ll have to start watching Fox News. They seem particularly good at churning out cranky old white men.

Aiming to lose

Here’s why l won’t give money to the DNC, DCCC, or the DSCC. The depressing thing is that a Hillary victory will mean four more years of this.

Is Facebook failing to meet Fox’s strict standards of impartiality?

So, it appears Facebook has been accused by some disgruntled ex-employees of liberal bias in its “trending news” section:

Many people were rightly disturbed earlier this week when Gizmodo revealed that Facebook employees allegedly suppressed conservative news stories on the whim of their employer’s political leanings. As alarming as that story is, a new congressional investigation into Facebook for those editorial choices is arguably worse.

Gizmodo’s Michael Nunez provoked a firestorm of criticism towards Facebook on Monday when he reported that a former Facebook staffer accused its news team of refusing to include conservative news outlets like Breitbart and RedState in its influential “trending news” section on the front page – which generates huge traffic for those outlets included. Even if you despise the likes of Breitbart and RedState, the idea of such a dominant corporation controlling what you do and don’t see online should alarm people of all political persuasions.

But now Republicans on the Senate commerce committee have opened an inquiry into Facebook’s editorial decisions, which encroaches on the first amendment in a way that represents a clear and present danger to their free speech.

via The Guardian

I have no idea whether there is any truth to this, but I disagree with the Guardian’s columnist. I think what I’m sure will be a strictly impartial investigation is very much in order, so long as it’s thorough, and doesn’t stop with Facebook. I’ve heard rumors that Fox News skews to the right. As hard as that must be to believe, there is enough evidence to warrant looking into it. The now Bezos-owned Washington Post has a thing about gutting social security and Medicare, and, quite possible (well, definitely, actually) has allowed its opinion to sink into what are purportedly news articles, besides featuring pundits who beat the drum for senior-impoverishment daily. (All of which is well documented by Dean Baker at Beat the Press). That, at least to me, gives off at least a whiff of bias, which likewise bears investigating. Then there’s the remote possibility (still worth looking into) that talk radio is dominated by the right.

Of course Facebook would be well within its rights to purposely inject liberal bias into its news feed. But since when has the constitution stood in the way of the Republican Party? So I’m all for an investigation; as long as it’s fair and balanced.

A Terrifying thought

This morning I skimmed this column at the Boston Globe, in which a Globe pundit opined that Hillary would surely beat Donald, though, to give him credit, he acknowledged that anything was possible.

It got me to thinking. For the past year the pundits that are always wrong have been telling us that Donald Trump could not ever be nominated. There’s a partial list here, and it even includes a pundit, Nate Silver, who is almost never wrong. But the usual suspects are there, including, of course, Bill Kristol, as well as Russ Douthat.

These same pundits, and many more, are now, or will soon, be telling us that Trump simply cannot win the presidency. That terrifies me. I know about stopped clocks and all that, but what are the odds that all the clocks will be stopped at precisely the same time, so that can all be right at once?

This pundit would like to believe Hillary will beat Donald (though he thinks Bernie is the better bet, despite all the arguments the Hillary folks trot out), and a few weeks ago I felt fairly confident on that score. Now, I don’t know. I think there may be a bit of a reverse Bradley effect in the polling. It may very well be that many people don’t want to admit to a pollster that they will vote for Trump. But it’s the unanimity of the pundits that really has me scared.

Told you so

My previous post involved passing along some good news. Now, back to normal.

I’ve noted on a number of occasions that Hillary Clinton’s opposition to the Trans Pacific Pact will melt like snow in the spring once she’s safely elected, this being an example:

When Clinton announces that she won’t scupper the TPP, she’ll tell us that she modified it in some minuscule way that makes all the difference, and it is no longer objectionable. Since she hasn’t, at least to my knowledge, said exactly what has caused her to change her mind and want to scupper it, it will be easy for her to claim that a minor modification is sufficient to keep it afloat.

Signals are already being sent:

Laura Rosenberger, foreign policy adviser for the Clinton campaign, said Clinton still supports the goal of a TPP that advances US interests in the region. However, she said, the pact in its current form doesn’t meet three conditions needed for a trade deal: to create good jobs in the US, raise wages at home, and advance US national security.

Kurt Campbell, who was Clinton’s top lieutenant on East Asia at the State Department and is now advising her campaign, describes TPP as a “strategic commitment” to engage in Asia. The 12 participating nations account for about 40 per cent of global GDP, and other Asian nations are interested in joining.

Campbell said that a full-scale renegotiation would be “very difficult”, but that adjustments could make it more politically palatable in the US[.]

“There are always opportunities to adjust on the margins and figure out how to ensure that we’ve got an agreement which legislators can sell back home,” Campbell told the Truman Centre think tank last week, without giving specifics.

Associated Press via Down with Tyranny.

Look, I know it was so obvious that it hardly seems worth pointing out, but if I don’t pat myself on the back, who will? Besides, it may not be much, but it puts me head and shoulders above pundits like Friedman, Brooks, and Kristol, to name just a few, who have never been known to be right.