Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Hillary and Her Hubby

"Hillary Clinton campaign looks at role of former president; Strategists seek right uses for his political assets" by Philip Rucker Washington Post   May 17, 2015

MARRAKESH, Morocco — The scene that unfolded here recently as Bill Clinton convened world leaders for a philanthropic conference was hardly what his wife’s champion-for-everyday-Americans campaign would have ordered up.

Gathered in Marrakesh for a Clinton Global Initiative confab, foreign oligarchs and corporate titans mingled amid palm trees, decorative pools, and dazzling tiled courtyards with the former president and his traveling delegation of foundation donors — many of whom are also donors to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

His own caravan!

When daughter Chelsea moderated a discussion on women’s empowerment, the only male panelist was Morocco’s richest person, Othman Benjelloun, whose BMCE Bank is a CGI sponsor.

For the week’s biggest party, guests were chauffeured across the city to a 56-room palace that boasts a private collection of Arabian horses, overlooks the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, and serves a fine-dining menu of ‘‘biolight’’ cuisine.

Ahead of that event, Bill Clinton greeted Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal. ‘‘See you tonight, Turki,’’ he told his royal highness.

It was a long way from Hillary Clinton’s campaign-trail visits to Chipotle. The week in Morocco highlighted the overarching question facing the Clintons and their coexisting circles of advisers: What to do with Bill if Hillary is elected?

First Man, ugh! Has nothing to do with gender, either.

The question applies not only to the campaign but also to his role as first gentleman if she gets elected.

In a race that may include two dozen candidates, none has a spouse like Bill Clinton.

The former president’s sprawling charitable ventures are rife with potential conflicts of interest. He is an admired public figure whose common touch propelled his rise, but he now charges up to $500,000 to give a speech. 

He could pay me and I still wouldn't want to listen to that liar.

He is a globe-trotting icon whose recognizable tuft of white hair draws onlookers everywhere, from his old Arkansas haunts to bustling souks in Marrakesh’s central square.

Bill Clinton is a political animal who logged 168,000 miles on the campaign trail in 2014.

What was the CARBON FOOTPRINT on that?

Yet senior aides say he does not plan to do any campaign activities for his wife in 2015, including fund-raisers for her campaign or allied super PACs. He has said privately that she should lead the campaign on her own, aides said.

Translation: he would hurt the effort.

‘‘He’s completely focused right now on the foundation,’’ said Tina Flournoy, Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. ‘‘That does not mean that he does not realize his wife is running for president. But he is not directly engaged in the campaign. As he has said before, if his advice is asked for, he’s happy to give it.’’

If they get in trouble.

But even if he’s off the campaign trail, Bill Clinton is never out of the limelight.

Who is $hining that light?

He will remain prominent in the public eye with a busy schedule of appearances. In mid-June, he will be in Denver to host CGI America, a domestic-themed spinoff of his foundation conference.

‘‘Bill Clinton is like nuclear energy,’’ said David Axelrod, a strategist on President Obama’s campaigns. ‘‘If you use it properly, it can be enormously helpful and proactive. If you misuse it, it can be catastrophic.’’


Keeping the former president at a distance is one way the 2016 Clinton campaign is trying to prove it has learned from the mistakes of 2008. Although as her aides know well, it is impossible to truly isolate him from her campaign.

‘‘He is a very smart political strategist and practitioner,’’ said Ann Lewis, a longtime Hillary Clinton adviser. ‘‘He has never thought that politics is beneath him. He believes that politics is the way that we govern ourselves.’’

Bill Clinton has many assets. He is universally known and unusually popular; 73 percent of voters approved of his job performance as president in a Washington Post-ABC News poll in March, while his personal favorability rating stood at 65 percent in a CNN-ORC poll in March.

He also is considered one of the Democratic Party’s most talented communicators; his 2012 convention speech was a standout moment in support of Obama’s reelection.

‘‘Any conversation about Bill Clinton and his impact on the campaign has to start with the fact that Americans like him and they’ve liked him for a long time,’’ said Geoff Garin, a pollster for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign who now works for Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC.

They like the image; they don't really know him.

But as Bill Clinton showed in 2008, he can be an undisciplined and rogue surrogate. Some of the ugliest episodes in his wife’s campaign were his making, including his stray remarks about Obama that angered black voters in South Carolina and his behind-the-scenes meddling in the campaign’s strategy.

Representative James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, who feuded with Bill Clinton in 2008 about what he saw as race-baiting, said in a recent interview that the former president should be ‘‘a supporting spouse’’ this time around.

‘‘He should refrain from doing anything or saying anything that would take the attention off of her candidacy,’’ said Clyburn, who has not endorsed anyone in the 2016 race. ‘‘It’s got to be about Hillary. It’s got to be about her vision, and he’s got to be supportive of that.’’


He on Letterman there? 

Time to hit the Globe campaign trail:

Clintons to report making $25m for speeches since Jan. ’14 New York Times   May 16, 2015

My print piece was by AP, and not even the near verbatim article told me the earnings put the couple in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all Americans

The .1% champion of the extinct middle cla$$! 

So why is George giving them money?

"Gift to Clinton fund adds to charge by GOP of bias by Stephanopoulos" by Jeremy W. Peters and John Koblin New York Times   May 15, 2015

WASHINGTON — Even after more than a decade as an analyst, anchor, and public face for ABC News, George Stephanopoulos has never been able to shake the image that many Republicans have of him: Clinton hatchet man.

That image was glaring to the Republican strategists who blocked him from moderating a debate last year in the US Senate race in Iowa.

It was the elephant in the room in 2011, when, after an interview that Mitt Romney’s advisers saw as especially combative, Stephanopoulos visited the campaign’s headquarters to try to reassure them that he was impartial.

And it has nagged at the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, who has told people repeatedly that he does not want the anchorman anywhere near a debate stage in 2016.

On Thursday, the question of Stephanopoulos’s political leanings and his future as a leader of the network’s campaign coverage broke out into the open, as the anchor acknowledged donating $75,000 to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation over the past three years. He withdrew from playing any role in a planned Republican primary debate on ABC and called his donations to the foundation an “uncharacteristic lapse.”

“I’m sorry because I don’t want anything to compromise my integrity or the standards of ABC News,” he said. “I don’t want to do anything that would raise questions in the minds of our viewers. I’m sorry all of that has happened.”

Don't worry, you didn't. I didn't think you had any integrity, and thus didn't question (or watch).

But his disclosure of the contributions — made after the conservative Washington Free Beacon started asking ABC News questions — seemed only to deepen Republicans’ distrust in the most recognizable political journalist at the most-watched news network in the country. 

I don't watch network or cable news. The Globe is my lone pri$m.

Criticism from both party leaders and news media experts was especially pointed, because Stephanopoulos had just last month conducted an aggressive interview with Peter Schweizer, the author of a new book about the Clinton foundation. During the interview, Stephanopoulos seemed to dismiss Schweizer’s reporting about conflicts of interest among donors to the charity who also had matters pending before the State Department.

“We’ve done investigative work here at ABC News, found no proof of any kind of direct action,” he said.

Conservatives have a long list of grievances against Stephanopoulos dating back to when the American public first caught a glimpse of him as a scruffy, caffeine-addicted, and fiercely partisan strategist for Bill Clinton in “The War Room,” a documentary about the 1992 campaign.

Until now, though, allegations that he lacked journalistic objectivity had been mostly circumstantial — a badgering interview, a series of off-subject questions in a debate.

But with his acknowledgment that he had given a significant sum to the Clinton foundation, he found himself facing accusations that he was effectively trying to buy favor with his former employers.

Despite the criticism, Stephanopoulos insisted he would continue as a leader in the network’s political coverage.

“I am going to continue to cover the campaign,” he said in an interview. ABC appeared to support such a role for Stephanopoulos, despite the fact that he failed to inform the network of the donations. According to ABC News policy, a network spokeswoman said, an employee making a donation to a charity must “disclose that to us before covering a story related to that organization.”

What else is George not telling you?

Stephanopoulos, however, has an unusually powerful role at ABC. The network has consciously made Stephanopoulos, who is a cohost of “Good Morning America” and the host of the Sunday morning show “This Week,” the face of its news division. 

Another Brian Williams!

Last year, ABC appointed him the main anchor for breaking news stories and election coverage. That broke a long tradition among network news divisions of having the evening news anchor handle such duties.

The revelations about his donations threatened to blunt the momentum ABC News has enjoyed in the wake of the Brian Williams crisis at NBC. “World News Tonight,” which is hosted by David Muir, snapped a five-year ratings losing streak last month when it beat “NBC Nightly News” in total viewers. Stephanopoulos’ “Good Morning America” consistently beats NBC’s “Today.”

“We accept his apology,” a statement from ABC said. “It was an honest mistake.”


"ABC faces credibility crisis after anchor’s donation to Clinton funds" by David Bauder Associated Press  May 16, 2015

NEW YORK — George Stephanopoulos apologized to viewers Friday for donating $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation and failing to disclose it earlier, as ABC News now finds its chief anchor in a credibility crisis on the eve of a presidential campaign.

Stephanopoulos said on “Good Morning America” that the donations, made in three increments to the foundation started by his one-time boss, former president Bill Clinton, were a mistake.

“I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict,” said Stephanopoulos, the host of “GMA” and “This Week.” “I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.”

Everything all better now!

Stephanopoulos rose to the top ranks at ABC over 18 years and worked to establish himself as an independent journalist despite skepticism by some in politics because of his background as a top aide to Clinton’s 1992 campaign and later in the White House. The donations brought that issue back to the fore just as Hillary Rodham Clinton is launching her presidential campaign.

ABC News President James Goldston has not addressed whether Stephanopoulos will be disciplined. The network said Thursday that it stands behind Stephanopoulos after what it called an honest mistake. ABC said Stephanopoulos voluntarily removed himself as a moderator for ABC’s planned coverage of a GOP presidential debate next February.

ABC News rules permit charitable donations, but reporters are required to inform management before covering a story related to the organization. Stephanopoulos did not tell his bosses, or viewers, about the donations before interviewing Peter Schweizer on the Sunday public affairs show “This Week” recently. Schweizer is the author of “Clinton Cash,” a book that traces the involvement of organizations that have donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Network leaders must weigh how the issue will affect public perception of its top on-air political journalist, just as NBC News executives are wondering whether suspended anchor Brian Williams will be believable to viewers after revelations that he embellished details of stories he was involved in.

I'll save you a lot of trouble: We do not and will not.

Schweizer said Friday that Stephanopoulos’s donations “highlight precisely the lack of transparency and cronyism that I report on.”

“It is incomprehensible to me that after George Stephanopoulos went out of his way to state on air that I wrote speeches for President George W. Bush, Stephanopoulos hid from viewers the fact that he is himself a major Clinton Foundation donor,” Schweizer said.

Yes, his credibility and impartiality was called into question!

Former ABC News president David Westin, who hired Stephanopoulos in 1997, said he believed the network was right to stand by him despite the “bad mistake.”


RelatedHillary Clinton announces second N.H. trip

And Iowa. Why the worry?

"Former Va. senator Jim Webb talks record on rare N.H. trip" by Akilah Johnson Globe Staff  May 15, 2015

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Criminal justice reform, the economy, and national security were at the heart of remarks given by former US senator Jim Webb, who met Friday with business leaders on a trip designed to gauge backing for his potential presidential bid.

Oh what a deadly web one weaves when they practice to de$eive.

The luncheon marked Webb’s first visit to the state since October. His potential opponents for the Democratic nominee — Webb has yet to officially declare his candidacy — have spent more time and resources in New Hampshire, amassing support among the grass roots and upper echelons of the party.

But that didn’t seem to faze Webb, who, when asked about his credentials compared with others in the field, said “I think we have some good stuff to bring to the table, and that’s what I want people to look at.”

In addition to Friday’s event at Two International Group on the Pease International Tradeport, he will attend two house parties and appear at a veterans fund-raising dinner. All of these events take place over two days and within a 15-mile span.

“I trust this man, not because of what he might say or think — because I don’t know about that — but because of what he does,” Walter Anderson, Webb’s longtime friend and editor, said during his introduction, which Webb cut short as Anderson regaled the crowd of about 40 with stories of his friend’s wartime heroism.

Webb is a decorated veteran who served in the Reagan administration as assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy. He was a first lieutenant and Marine rifle platoon commander with Delta Company in Vietnam, where he received numerous medals.

He is also a best-selling author, screenwriter, and Emmy-winning documentarian.

Webb emphasized his record in the Senate, where he represented Virginia for a single term until 2013. He said the passage of the post-Sept. 11 GI Bill “shows that you can get things done in the United States government; you can get over the paralysis and work across the aisle.”

They have been, as long as it concerns the war machine, Wall Street, well-connected corporations, or Israel.

Webb said he has “fought to take our broken criminal justice system into the national debate and out of the shadows.”

On the economy, he told the crowd assembled that, “This is a country where people want equality of opportunity and the result that their talents can bring.” Those with assets and capital are doing well, he said. Those without such things aren’t faring well, and the system must be right-sized, he said.

No $pecifics?

But mostly, he told the group, he wanted to take questions. They asked about the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, which he said was problematic because the countries involved have unequal economies, and the president has asked that the deal be fast-tracked, leaving no room for congressional amendments.

He decried the rise of super PACs, calling them corruptive and vowing not to participate.

The last question he took?

“What’s your timeline for making a decision on running or not?”

“Soon,” he said as the room burst into laughter.

Those in attendance said they appreciated Webb’s detailed and honest responses.

“I voted for you before, and I hope I can do it again,” Courtney Walsh, an independent and Virginia resident until 11 months ago, told Webb after the luncheon.

John McMasters is a realtor from Portsmouth who described his ideology as independent with Republican leanings.

I don't think that wins you the Democrat primary.

“I knew nothing about him,” McMasters said. “I think he’s well-grounded, well-educated. His answers were well-thought-out, long, and detailed, and usually you don’t get that from a politician.”


A bigger threat:

"What’s so authentic about Bernie Sanders?" by Alex Beam   May 14, 2015

Before becoming a representative and a senator, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the popular mayor of Burlington, Vt., for eight years. So what did he socialize? What privately held entity did he transform to public ownership? Isn’t that the definition of socialism? I put this question to his spokesman, Michael Briggs, who provided a list of accomplishments: affordable housing, a child-care center, a Little League program.

The late Boston Mayor Tom Menino could have made those same claims, and he didn’t run around pretending to be a socialist.

As for breaking up the banks (Sanders filed some dead-on-arrival legislation to this effect last week), the Democratic Party had its shot six years ago and blew it. Barack Obama surged into the White House on the heels of a devastating recession, with a clear mandate for economic change. Instead, his appointees played patty-cake with the banks, as if they were drawing paychecks from George W. Bush. If Democrats really cared about breaking up banks, Elizabeth Warren might be running for president.

Maybe it is Warrented.

To me, Sanders is just another political Pander-Bear. (Thank you, late Senator Paul Tsongas, for that wonderful addition to the political lexicon.) Sanders rails against wasteful military spending, yet has championed the basing of the crazily overpriced F-35 joint strike fighter in Burlington. “From whom might these F-35s protect Vermont?” Thomas Naylor asked in Counterpunch magazine. “Possibly Canada. . . or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?”

“Hundreds of jobs” were at stake, spokesman Briggs pointed out. Of course Sanders supported the base.

An observation I also noted.

Earlier this month, Slate magazine writer Mark Joseph Stern documented some of Sanders’ more noxious pro-gun posturing.


In 1993, then-Representative Sanders voted against the Brady Act, a relatively mild gun control measure. Sanders twice supported what Stern calls “vile legislation,” the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun manufacturers from the kinds of lawsuits inevitably filed after mass killings such as those in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.

Sanders’ spokesman had no comment on the Slate article, other than to point out that the NRA isn’t exactly pouring money into Sanders’ campaigns because he has supported some gun control measures.


I get it. Bernie supports the absurd F-35 base and throws the gun owners some bones because he is representing his constituents, who like having jobs and enjoy playing with their guns. He is authentic in that respect — he is an authentic American politician.

It's a culture up there.

And I get that for some Democratic primary voters, casting a ballot for a purported socialist feels exotic, like sneaking into a Brazilian slasher film at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. But don’t worry; this socialist won’t confiscate your second home on the Cape and turn it into a proletarian sanatorium. His bark is far worse than his bite. 

In other words, he's a $ociali$t.


Related: "What You Should Know About Bernie Sanders' Dark Side"  Progressives for genocide.  American voters don't get a free ride on this.  If Bernie has blood dripping from his fangs, it will be your blood too." -- xymphora

Also see:

Martin O’Malley Said to Schedule May 30 Announcement on Political Plans

Baltimore buried his chances; however, he may Feingold in Wisconsin.


Sanders to introduce bill to make college tuition-free

Sanders’s move could add pressure on Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton. The move could stack this issue on top of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as another issue awaiting comment from Clinton, in which more liberal Democrats are herding her to the left.


I'm already sick of that blowhard.

Other $ide of the ai$le:

GOP candidates call for more robust global role for US 

Nothing there for me then.

To presidential hopefuls, Iraq war a mistake

First of all, it wasn't a mistake. It was a planned and calculated effort at deceit. Then turn around and tell it to the millions (and still counting) of Iraqis that have been killed over all these years, you goddamn class of war-criminal elites.

Then there was something about a mayor's race I don't care about. I think we all know who will be winning the Florida Republican primary in 2016.

Oh, btw, it was him on Letterman.


Bernie Sander's just released his economic plan:

"Vermont’s 6 percent sales tax will apply to soft drinks for the first time, and income tax deductions will be reduced for wealthy taxpayers, under terms of an agreement between Governor Peter Shumlin and lawmakers. The provisions were part of a $30 million tax package agreed to Saturday, clearing the way for an expected adjournment of the Legislature’s 2015 session. Both the House and Senate were calling for nearly $35 million in new general-fund revenues, while Shumlin wanted to hold the line at about $15 million. After hours of closed-door talks over recent days, lawmakers got most of the money they were looking for. Most of the money would come from limiting deductions for people who itemize on their income tax returns (AP)."

They were hoping you wouldn't notice?