Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Clinton Foundation: the gift that keeps on giving

Nemesis & Hubris
I don't know if it's possible to imagine a more fitting nemesis for the hubris of Democrats and MSM-types (but I repeat myself) who criticized Romney for his outrageous wealth in 2012 than Hillary Clinton as the de facto Democratic presidential nominee in 2015.

Bill and Hillary Clinton enjoy outrageous wealth, and have no problem flaunting it. They've shielded a lot of that wealth from taxes using shell companies, and by using their foundation as a piggy bank. The Left was clear in 2012 that doing this was eeeeevil. But that was when a Republican was the culprit. In 2015, now that the presumptive Democratic nominee is the guilty party? Eh, it's apparently not a big deal.

Now we learn from the IB Times that the State Department under Hillary Clinton approved massive arm sales to governments after they donated to the Clinton Foundation.
Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. ...

In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.
But wait! There's more! Private defense contractor companies got in on the free-for-all, too.
American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.
And this in spite of the State Department's criticism of some recipient nations' human rights abuses.
The State Department formally approved these arms sales even as many of the deals enhanced the military power of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses had been criticized by the department. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents.

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton also accused some of these countries of failing to marshal a serious and sustained campaign to confront terrorism. In a December 2009 State Department cable published by Wikileaks, Clinton complained of “an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.” She declared that “Qatar’s overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region.” She said the Kuwaiti government was “less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks.” She noted that “UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups.”
The IB Times article ends this section with, All of these countries donated to the Clinton Foundation and received increased weapons export authorizations from the Clinton-run State Department.

I think the only reasonable response to that kind of brazenness is, Holy shit.

What will prove to be perhaps even more brazen, however, are the myriad ways the Democrats and the mainstream media will find to downplay, explain away, or flat-out ignore these quid pro quos.
  • We can see it in the media's choice of title for articles reporting on this. The Associated Press, reporting on the Clintons' use of shell companies to avoid income taxes, title their report, Bill Clinton company shows complexity of family finances. The complexity of their finances? In 2012, Romney's use of similar legal tax shelters was proof that he was a tax cheat. The Clintons' use of it is merely proof that their family finances are complex.
  • You can also see it in the media's assessment of the IB Times article. Slate, for example, insists that the article doesn't provide "smoking gun" (not the greatest metaphor to use when discussing weapons sales), though (in a phrase worthy of Understatement of the Year) it does concede that this is more proof that Hillary Clinton, "has often been willing to tolerate high-stakes conflicts of interest."
If a Republican candidate -- let alone the GOP's presumptive nominee -- had done any of this, the coverage would be wall-to-wall, non-stop, and unambiguously critical. The media understands that its power lies in establishing a narrative. As Andrew Breitbart said, "What's important is not what's reported but what's repeated." The media generally hammers home statements by or news about Republicans' or Conservatives' that are unfavorable, thus creating a narrative. They generally tend to merely report similar statements by or news about Democrats and Liberals as one-off stories, thus making it hard for people to connect the dots.

The media are doing their damnedest to avoid establishing a narrative of a corrupt, entitled politician who thinks she's above the law and can't be trusted with power, but the never-ending revelations about her and Bill's corrupt, entitled, we're-above-the-law behavior is making it difficult for them to avoid doing it.

**UPDATE 5/30/15**

And the hits just keep on coming.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Petra Nemcova, a Czech model who survived the disaster by clinging to a palm tree, decided to pull out all the stops for the annual fund-raiser of her school-building charity, the Happy Hearts Fund. ...

The gala cost $363,413. But the real splurge? Bill Clinton.

The former president of the United States agreed to accept a lifetime achievement award at the June 2014 event after Ms. Nemcova offered a $500,000 contribution to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The donation, made late last year after the foundation sent the charity an invoice, amounted to almost a quarter of the evening’s net proceeds — enough to build 10 preschools in Indonesia. ...

Happy Hearts’ former executive director believes the transaction was a quid pro quo, which rerouted donations intended for a small charity with the concrete mission of rebuilding schools after natural disasters to a large foundation with a broader agenda and a budget 100 times bigger.

“The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,” said the former executive director ...

“This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate,” said Doug White, who directs the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University. “The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful.”
Wonderful. Read the whole account of this stereotypically Clintonian story, which is running in the New York Times of all places.

No, the Clintons aren't making ignoring their corruption very easy at all.

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