286 Clinton Cash; Armageddon; Stealing America

 Peter Schweizer is an investigative journalist with a muckraker’s penchant for pursuing the darker dimensions of American politics, looking for scoundrels whose behavior needs exposing.  So in Architects of Ruin he detailed governmental corruption underlying the 2008 financial collapse; in Makers and Takers he highlighted the many faults of the welfare state; and in Throw Them All Out he brought to light the many suspicious stock trades enriching members of Congress.  Just recently, in Clinton Cash:  The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped make Bill and Hillary Rich (New York:   Harper Collins, c. 2015), he documents the extraordinary number of questionable ties linking the Clintons and their foundation to wealthy foreign governments and businessmen.  Most all of his critical findings present only circumstantial evidence.  Demonstrable quid pro quo transactions are by their very nature are enshrouded in secrecy and rarely leave overt proof.  But Schweizer’s evidence leads the reader to suspect the Clintons of massive corruption and malfeasance in office.  Legally, there’s a Latin phrase—res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself)—that fully applies to Schweizer’s evidence.  When first published, the book was attacked and dismissed by the Clinton-supporting mainline media.  Thus ABC’s George Stephanopoulos (without disclosing the fact that he personally had contributed $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation) glibly assured viewers that nowhere did Schweizer establish any “direct  action” taken by Hillary “on behalf of the donors.”  Thus, he declared, there were no quid pro quo deals.  However, subsequent Congressional and FBI investigations make Schweizer’s case increasingly credible.  Res ipsa loquitur!  

Admittedly there has always been considerable dishonesty in American politics.  But the Clintons have been unusually close to wealthy foreigners, raking in millions of dollars for speeches and garnering  contributions for the Clinton Foundation.  Indeed, “the scope and extent of these payments are without precedent in American politics.  As a result, the Clintons have become exceedingly wealthy” (#167 in Kindle).  Indeed:  “No one has even come close in recent years to enriching themselves on the scale of the Clintons while they or a spouse continued to serve in public office” (#201).  “Dead broke” in 2001, Hillary claimed, they quickly prospered (accumulating $136 million within a decade) by circumventing the law which prohibits foreign interests from contributing to political campaigns.  Lavish speaking fees and gifts to the Clinton Foundation (which employed friends and covered lush “expense” accounts for the inner circle) were the “legal” (in fact the only discernable) ways whereby the Clintons became inordinately wealthy.  “The issues seemingly connected to these large transfers are arresting in their sweep and seriousness:  the Russian government’s acquisition of American uranium assets; access to vital US nuclear technology; matters related to the Middle East policy; the approval of controversial energy projects; the overseas allocation of billions in taxpayer funds; and US human rights policy, to name a few” (#236).  

Symptomatic of things to come was President Bill Clinton’s pardon (just before leaving the White House in 2001) of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich, who was living abroad to avoid facing a variety of charges.  One of the world’s richest men, he’d been indicted for illegal trading practices and tax evasion.   His “business ties included a ‘who’s who’ of unsavory despots, including Fidel Castro, Muammar Qaddafi, and the Ayatollah Khomeini.”  Rich “owed $48 million in back taxes that he unlawfully tried to avoid and faced the possibility of 325 years in prison,” earning him a place on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.  A federal prosecutor, Morris Weinberg, said:  “The evidence was absolutely overwhelming that Marc Rich, in fact, committed the largest tax fraud in the history of the United States.”  Rather than risk imprisonment, Rich fled the country in 1991.  Fortunately, he had a charming former wife, Denise, who ingratiated herself with the Clintons, making lavish contributions—moving $1.5 million into their coffers.  President Clinton then pardoned Marc Rich soon after Denise donated “$100,000 to Hillary’s 2000 Senate campaign, $450,000 to the Clinton Library, and $ 1 million to the Democrat Party” (#270).  These transactions were helped along by Rich’s lawyer (and former White House counsel) Jack Quinn, who pled her case with Bill and Hillary.  Informed of the pardon, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the U.S. attorney who spearheaded the Rich investigations, refused to believe it.  Surely it was “impossible” that a president would pardon him.  But Clinton did.  Ever mindful of the letter of the law, he evaded clear quid pro quo connections, but what rational person could deny it!  Res ipsa loquitor!  Rich’s was merely one of Clinton’s many last-minute pardons—crooks, con men, relatives, ex-girlfriends, former cabinet members and congressmen.   

Such suspicious Clintonian behavior persisted—indeed escalated—during the following years as Bill and Hillary established the Clinton Foundation and erected the Clinton Library, soliciting funds from various donors and negotiating huge fees (often amounting to $500,000 or more) for speaking engagements around the world—especially in developing nations such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan where despots flush with cash sought to multiply it.  Skeptical journalists such as Christopher Hitchens wondered:  “why didn’t these third world oligarchs ‘just donate the money directly [to charities in their own countries] rather than distributing it through the offices of an outfit run by a seasoned ex-presidential influence-peddler?’” (#300).  Their activities caused the Obama team to voice significant concern regarding Hillary’s financial ties when she was appointed Secretary of State, so she promised to fully disclose their financial activities and secure State Department approval before accepting gifts to the foundation from foreign sources.  But she quickly broke these promises:   “Huge donations then flowed into the Clinton Foundation while Bill received enormous speaking fees underwritten by the very businessmen who benefited from these apparent interventions” (#395).  Interestingly enough, while ex-presidents’ speaking fees gradually decline once they’re out of office, Bill Clinton’s dramatically escalated when his wife became Secretary of State.  

One of the businessmen most frequently involved in the Clintons’ financial endeavors was a Canadian mining tycoon, Frank Giustra, who first connected with them  in the 1990s and frequently provided a luxurious private jet for Bill to fly around the world (or to campaign for Hillary) after he left the White House.  It was Giustra who arranged a meeting between Bill and the dictator of Kazakhstan that led to an involved uranium deal, helped along by then Senator Hillary Clinton’s activities in the Congress.  This “deal stunned longtime mining observers,” and soon thereafter “Giustra gave the Clinton Foundation $31.3 million” (#593).   Yet another uranium deal involved a Canadian company and Russian investors who sought to gain control of “up to half of US uranium output by 2015” (#751).  This move was set in motion by Vladimir Putin, who personally discussed various issues, including trade agreements, with Secretary of State Clinton in 2010.  Monies then flowed into the Clinton Foundation, thanks to significant gifts from folks invested in the uranium industry.  “Because uranium is a strategic industry, the Russian purchase of a Canadian company holding massive US assets required US government approval.  Playing a central role in whether approval was granted was none other than Hillary Clinton” (#821).  Though a number of congressmen protested the deal, it was duly authorized by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States—a select committee that included the Secretary of State and other Obama Cabinet members.   Coincidentally, Salida Capital, one of the Canadian companies involved in the transaction and possibly a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian state nuclear agency,” would give “more than $2.6 million to the Clintons between 2010 and 2012” (#875).  Ultimately, “Pravda hailed the move with an over-the-top headline:  ‘RUSSIAN NUCLEAR ENERGY CONQUERS THE WORLD’” (#969).  

Since most of the millions flowing through the Clintons’ hands goes to (or through) the Clinton Foundation, Schweitzer devotes many pages to probing its activities as well as providing fascinating portraits of its denizens.  Though its “window-display causes” portray the foundation as admirably charitable, helping victims of AIDS, poverty, obesity, etc., it’s more probably both “a storehouse of private profit and promotion” (#1326) and a generous employer for a numbers of Clinton associates, advisers and political operatives.  (A recent review of the foundation’s 2014 IRS report reveals that of the $91 million expended only $5 million actually went to needy causes; the rest was devoted to employees, fundraising, internal expenses.)  In fact, the foundation has virtually no infrastructure and does very little to actually help those in need.  Rather, it seeks broker deals between “government, business, and NGOs” (#1349).  That some good is ultimately done cannot be denied, but it’s not actually done by the foundation itself.  “While there are plenty of photos of Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea holding sick children in Africa, the foundation that bears their name actually does very little hands-on humanitarian work” (#1356).  When Hillary became Secretary of State, she utilized a special government employee (SGE) rule that allowed her to appoint aides, including Huma Abedin, to her department while simultaneously garnering a salary from the Clinton Foundation.  “Abedin played a central role in everything Hillary did” (#1589), and according to the New York Times “‘the lines were blurred between Ms. Abedin’s work in the high echelons of one of the government’s most sensitive executive departments and her role as a Clinton family insider’” (#1595).  

The Clintons’ approach to “charitable” work was manifest following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti which killed some 230,000 people and left 1.5 million more homeless.  Days after the earthquake, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to the island, as did husband Bill.  “With a cluster of cameras around him, Bill teared up as he described what he saw” (#2497).  “The Clintons’ close friend and confidante, Cheryl Mills, who was Hillary’s chief of staff and counselor at the State Department [recently granted immunity for telling the FBI what she knew about the thousands of Hillary’s deleted emails] was assigned responsibility for how the taxpayer money, directed through USAID, would be spent” (#2497).  A special committee, with Bill as cochair, was appointed to distribute these funds, and he made speeches describing how Haiti would marvelously recover under his guidance.  But little construction actually took place!  For example, in “December 2010 Bill and Hillary approved a ‘new settlements program’ that called for fifteen thousand homes to be built in and around Port-au-Prince.  But by June 2013, more than two and a half years later, the GAO audit revealed that only nine hundred houses had been built” (#2712).  

Rather than rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, the money was spent on “worthless projects,” and “in several cases Clinton friends, allies, and even family members have benefited from the reconstruction circumstances” (#2521).  Consider the story of Denis O’Brien, an Irish billionaire who studiously curried the Clintons’ favor (often making available his Gulfstream 550) while successfully promoting his mobile phone company, Digicel.  The firm profited enormously from its Haitian programs and O’Brien himself collected $300 million in dividends in 2012.  O’Brien invited Bill to speak three times in three years in Ireland, and almost simultaneously his company was granted profitable positions in Haiti.  Then there’s Hillary’s brother, Tony Rodham, who had absolutely no background in the mining industry but became a member of the board of advisors for a mining company that secured a “gold mining exploitation permit”—a “sweetheart deal” that outraged the Haitian senate.  Meanwhile, Bill’s brother Roger collected $100,000 for promising builders he’d arrange a sweet deal with the Clinton Foundation.  “In sum, little of the money that has poured into Haiti since the 2010 earthquake has ended up helping Haitians.  And how that money was spent was largely up to Hillary and Bill” (#2770).  

In conclusion:  “The Clintons themselves have a history of questionable financial transactions” (#2806).  They neither follow the same rules nor receive the same treatment as most Americans, yet they have famously flourished within modern American politics.  That they have succeeded, despite the record of questionable activities detailed in Clinton Cash, should give us pause!  

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Few political insiders know Bill and Hillary Clinton better than Dick Morris, the architect of Bill’s “triangulation” strategy which enabled him to coast to re-election in 1996.  Morris’s Armageddon:  How Trump Can Beat Hillary (West Palm Beach, FL:  Humanix Books, c. 2016), co-written with his wife, Eileen McGann, offers a unique perspective on this year’s election.  Given Morris’s checkered history, his pronouncements must always be considered with significant reservations!  Much of his life he’s worked as a “hired gun” and shown little ethical concern when involved in the rough and tumble world of partisan politics.  But inasmuch as he was one of Bill Clinton’s most trusted consultants in the 1990s he certainly provides information worth pondering as we consider Hillary’s presidential aspirations.  Morris also discusses Donald Trump’s prospects, but it’s his knowledge of the Clintons that most interests me.  

As the book’s title indicates, Morris writes as an alarmist:  “The ultimate battle to save America lies straight ahead of us:  It’s an American Armageddon, the final crusade to defeat Hillary Clinton” (#138).  Her election, he says, listing a litany of fears, will consign us to “four long years of another bizarre Clinton administration, featuring the Clintons’ signature style of endless drama, interminable scandals, constant lies, blatant cronyism and corruption, incessant conflicts of interest, nepotism, pathological secrecy, hatred of the press, his and her enemies lists, misuse of government power, inherent paranoia, macho stubbornness, arrogant contempt for the rule of law, nutty gurus, and thirst for war.  Those will be the disastrous and unavoidable hallmarks of a Hillary regime” #246).  With a cast of characters including Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal, David Brock, Terry McAuliffe, et al.—“unqualified and greedy cronies and  her money-grubbing family members” roaming Hillary’s White house—the nation will suffer gravely.  When we think of the Clinton scandals, we usually focus on Bill’s sexual escapades, but Morris declares “that almost every single scandal in the Bill Clinton White House was caused by Hillary:  Travelgate, Whitewater, Filegate, her amazing windfall in the commodities futures market, the Health Care Task Force’s illegal secrecy, the household furniture and gifts taken from the White House to Chappaqua, Vince Foster’s suicide, Webb Hubbell’s disgrace—all Hillary scandals” (#412).  

In his first chapter Morris lists “A Dozen Reasons Hillary Clinton Should Not Be President.”  These include:  1) her dismal failure to respond well to the terrorist attack in Benghazi; 2) her compulsive, life-long lying about almost everything; 3) her penchant for hawkish, pro-war pronouncements; 4) her ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, as evident in her close ties to Huma Abadin, whose parents (and she herself) fervently supported the organization; 5) her easily documented record of flip-flops on a variety of issues (e.g. gay marriage, free trade) during the course of her life; 6) her manifest corruption—a “way of life” most evident in her multifaceted financial deals, e-mails, and Clinton Foundation; 7) her obsessive concern for secrecy; 8) her queen-like ignorance regarding ordinary Americans; 9) her economic vacuity; 10) her reliance on disreputable “gurus” such as Sidney Blumenthal; 11) her stubbornness; and 12) her notorious nepotism.  

Clearly Dick Morris dislikes and distrusts Hillary Clinton.  How seriously you take his warnings naturally depends upon how much you trust him.  But when placed in proper context, and compared with other accounts corroborating his data, he’s persuasive.  

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With the election of 2016 approaching, Dinesh D’Souza published two clearly polemical treatises designed to warn America about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party:  Stealing America:  What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me About Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party (New York:  Broadside Books, c. 1016), and Hillary’s America:  The Secret History of the Democratic Party (Washington, D.C.:  Regnery Publishing, c. 2016).   For many years D’Souza has espoused conservative principles, shaped in part by his unique story as an immigrant (from India) feeling deeply blessed to thrive in his adopted country.  For me his treatises serve to elicit thought, not to chart a course!  

In 2012 D’Souza gave a friend running for a state office in New York $10,000 and persuaded two others to donate the same amount, for which he reimbursed them.  He knew he was skirting the campaign finance limit but didn’t think he was breaking the law.  Soon thereafter, however, he was pursued by the Justice Department and (unlike virtually all other violators) found himself paying half-a-million dollars in legal fees and serving eight months of nights in a confinement center in San Diego.  That he’d just produced an anti-Obama film (2016) was, he believed, anything but coincidental!  Commenting on his case, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said:  “‘What you did is very commonly done in politics, and on a much bigger scale.  Have no doubt about it, they are targeting you for your views’” (p. 14).  In confinement D’Souza “understood, for the first time, the psychology of crookedness.  Suddenly I had an epiphany:  this system of larceny, corruption, and terror that I encountered firsthand in the confinement center is exactly the same system that has been adopted and perfected by modern progressivism and the Democratic Party” (p. 26).  He came to see the party of Obama and the Clintons not simply as “a defective movement of ideas, but as a crime syndicate” (p. 26). 

Pursuing this thesis—however preposterous it might seem—makes for interesting reading.  In particular, one learns much about the criminal underclass populating America’s prisons and its utter cynicism regarding the political system.  The murderers and thieves with whom D’Souza lived noted that most politicians enter “office with nothing and leave as multimillionaires.  So how did this happen?  It just happened?” (p. 47).  If nothing else they understood crime—and they knew criminality undergirds this process!  D’Souza soon grasped the truth of St. Augustine’s famous observation in The City of God:  “What are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale?  What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms?”  Translating that truth into contemporary America, D’Souza concludes that “the ideological convictions of Obama, Hillary, and the progressives largely spring out of those base motives and that irrepressible will to power.  The progressives have unleashed a massive scheme for looting the national treasury and transferring wealth and power to themselves, and their ideology of fairness and equality is to a large degree of justification—a sales pitch—to facilitate that larceny.  Previously I didn’t see this very clearly; now I do” (p. 50).  

The same basic message characterizes D’Souza’s Hillary’s America, the book basic to the widely-viewed documentary bearing the same title.  He clearly believes Hillary is a threat to the republic, but more basically he argues the Democratic Party has (since its inception under Andrew Jackson) supported a variety of evil endeavors running from stealing Indians’ lands to enslaving Africans to endorsing Jim Crow laws and racist eugenics.  To D’Souza the “progressive narrative” of American history is “a lie” and the Democratic Party must be held accountable for its desultory past.  Hillary Clinton is merely the current representative of a movement that has “brutalized, segregated, exploited, and murdered the most vulnerable members of our society.”  As such Hillary and the Democrats must, he insists, be defeated!  

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