Hillary’s money grab (with help from a few Oregonians)

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Bill Clinton must have thought we all forgot his history when he began his 2016 Democratic Convention speech with the cringeworthy, “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.” Oh my God, where’s he going, millions of viewers probably wondered.

But Bill didn’t continue about his sexual exploits. Instead, he went on to call his wife, a “change-maker”. Given the amount of money she’s raising for her presidential campaign, she’d be better named a “money-maker”.

This despite her proclamation, “Our democracy should work for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”

“There’s no question that we need to make Washington work much better than it does today,” Hillary said on June 22, 2016. “And that means, in particular, getting unaccountable money out of our politics. … That’s why I’m so passionate about this issue, and I will fight hard to end the stranglehold that the wealthy and special interests have on so much of our government.”

But Hillary Clinton and her supporters have been dogged in their pursuit of campaign money.

Clinton clearly likes the big givers the most and cultivates them assiduously. At an event at the Sag Harbor, N.Y. estate of hedge fund magnate Adam Sender a family photo with Clinton went for $10,000, according to attendees. For a $2,700 donation donors’ children under 16 could ask Clinton a question.

 More than 1,100 elite moneymen and women, called Hillblazers, have together raised better than $113 million for Clinton, operating as bundlers who collect checks from friends or associates, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

Hillblazers are individuals who have contributed and/or raised $100,000 or more for Hillary for America, the Hillary Victory Fund, and/or the Hillary Action Fund since the launch of Clinton’s campaign on April 12, 2015.

Among the list of high-profile Clinton bundlers, which includes actor Ben Affleck, filmmaker George Lucas, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and fashion designer Vera Wang, are a few (very few) people who list themselves as Oregonians:

  • Timothy Boyle, president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear, and his wife, Mary Boyle.
  • Peter Bragdon, Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Secretary, Columbia Sportswear
  • Carol Butler, Principal, Carol Butler and Associates, Democratic campaign consultant
  • Dwight Holton, former U.S. Attorney for Oregon/ defeated by Ellen Rosenblum in 2012 Democratic primary for Oregon Attorney General, and his wife, Mary Ellen Glynn, chief of staff to Anne Holton, wife of Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine.
  • Jane Paulson, a Portland personal injury lawyer at the law firm of Paulson Coletti.

The money has flowed into Hillary Clinton’s campaign organization, Democratic Party committees and so-called independent outside groups.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Clinton and her acolytes had raised a total of $698,169,981 as of the end of last month, and pushing for $1 billion.

Presidential fundraising through Aug. 31, 2016

Category Clinton  
Candidate $373,281,866
National Party $181,378,218
Outside Spending $143,509,897
Total $698,169,981

Most of this money has come from large donors.

Clinton’s campaign, for example, has raised nearly $300 million in large contributions, or donations bigger than $200, the threshold for detailed disclosure of donor information, according to OpenSecrets.

Only about 19 percent of her contributions (roughly $70.7 million) have come in smaller amounts. Obama, in contrast, received about 37 percent of his contributions in amounts of $200 or less through August in his 2012 campaign.

So much for ending the stranglehold that the wealthy have on our government.

Should the two major parties make the rules? It’s debatable.

thirdpartychoiceAnother reason why so many Americans are frustrated, despondent, and bitter this election year.

Both parties have lost ground among the public. Independents now outnumber either Democrats or Republicans, with 40% of Americans choosing that label, according to the Pew Research Center.

But the private, Democrat and Republican-created and -controlled Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday, Sept. 16, that only Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be allowed on the stage for the first presidential debate.

This when:

  • In a recent Quinnipiac University poll that asked likely voters, “Do you think that Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, should be included in the presidential debates this year, or not?”, 62% answered “yes.”
  • Johnson is going to be on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia
  • A new Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll shows Johnson is in double digits in 42 states. In 15, he’s at 15 percent or higher, including 25 percent in New Mexico, 23 percent in Utah and 19 percent in Alaska, Idaho, and South Dakota.

So here we have a Commission that’s a creature of the two major parties setting the ground rules for who gets to be on the debate stage, securing free airtime for its choices on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and others.

Not exactly a reason to celebrate our political system, is it?

Black student demands to erase history at the University of Oregon: just say no.

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The University of Oregon’s first building opened on Oct. 16, 1876. It was named Deady Hall for Judge Matthew Deady in 1893.

On November 17, 2015, the University of Oregon’s Black Student Task Force sent a list of twelve demands to four top university administrators.

The group asserted that “the historical structural violence and direct incidents of cultural insensitivity and racism” on campus create an environment that prevents black students from succeeding.

In order to create “a healthy and positive campus climate” for black students, the Black Student Task Force said:

“We…DEMAND that you work with us and implement the following list of programs:

  • Change the names of all of the KKK related buildings on campus. DEADY Hall will be the first building to be renamed.
  • We cannot and should not be subjugated to walk in any buildings that have been named after people that have vehemently worked against the Black plight, and plight of everyone working to achieve an equitable society.
  • Allowing buildings to be named after members who support these views is in direct conflict with the university’s goal to keep black students safe on campus.
  • We demand this change be implemented by Fall 2016”

University President Michael Schill appointed a committee of administrators, faculty, and students to develop criteria for evaluating whether to strip the names off Deady Hall and Dunn Hall, part of Hamilton residence hall, because of their association with racist actions in Oregon in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Once the criteria were established, Schill assembled a panel of three historians to research the history of Matthew P. Deady and Frederick S. Dunn to guide his decision-making.

The historians recently released an exhaustive, extensively footnoted 34-page report.

The report described the complex lives of both men, lives filled with negatives, positives, ambiguity and contradictions.

Deady, though a territorial legislator, constitutional convention delegate and presiding officer, and U.S. District Judge for thirty-four years, supported slavery.

Dunn, though he graduated from the University of Oregon, spent the vast majority of his career there and enjoyed a national reputation as a classics scholar, was also a prominent member of the Ku Klux Klan and led the Eugene chapter.

Based on the historians’ report, there is no question that both men held views and engaged in activities that would be considered loathsome today.

But that does that mean their names should be summarily erased from history at the University of Oregon.

To surrender to the Black Students Task Force’s demands would be to embrace presentism in all its intellectual weakness, to endorse interpreting historical events without any reference to the context or complexity of the time.

If there’s one thing students should learn in college, it’s that It makes no sense to see the world entirely in the present tense.

In looking at history, it is critical to acknowledge the degree to which our position and experiences color how we look at bygone days, places and people.

Presentism “…encourages a kind of moral complacency and self-congratulation,” said Lynn Hunt, president of the American Historical Association. “Interpreting the past in terms of present concerns usually leads us to find ourselves morally superior…,”

Many of our forbears espoused racial views that are today considered abhorrent, including people we still consider exemplars of the American experience.

In addition, somebody’s historical goodness and worth should not be based on just one criteria.

“…making race the only basis of judgment…does violence to the spirit of historical investigation, because it reduces complex individuals to game show contestants who must simply pass or fail a single test,” says David Greenberg, a professor of history and journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.

In April 2016, Schill and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh published a letter to the campus community saying, “…we recognize that we can and must do more as an institution to meet the needs of Black students”, but made no commitments on the building renaming issue.

When Schill does make a decision, I earnestly hope he will just say no.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meg Whitman: how to betray your principles in one easy step

Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO, is campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Denver, CO today.

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“I will vote for Hillary, I will talk to my Republican friends about helping her, and I will donate to her campaign and ry to raise money for her.” Meg Whitman, August 2016.

This is a woman who, in her losing bid to become governor of California as a Republican in 2010, called for:

  • Eliminating burdensome business taxes
  • Eliminating a cap on charter schools
  • Barring illegal immigrants from state colleges and universities.
  • Ending “outrageous spending” on a growing state bureaucracy
  • Reducing overall state spending
  • No amnesty for people in the United States illegally, construction of a fence on the Mexican border,
  • Repealing Obamacare
  • Requiring minors to notify a guardian or parent prior to an abortion
  • Enforcing the Three Strikes law because it was “instrumental in keeping violent criminals out of our communities”
  • An end to the Dream Act because it wasn’t fair to legal residents.

I could go on and on, but it is abundantly clear that Whitman’s political views, based on her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, are diametrically opposed to those of Hillary Clinton.

Hillary, for example, wants to:

  • Increase federal spending by $1.8 trillion over the next decade.
  • Increase the national debt to 86% of GDP over the next decade.
  • Expand benefits under an already troubled Social Security program.
  • Expand Obamacare
  • Increase various business taxes
  • Impose new fees on financial institutions
  • Enact liberal immigration reforms

Whitman’s support for Clinton today, then, can only be seen as an abandonment of her principles and a cynical ploy to secure a position in a new Clinton administration.

So forget about all the kudos for Republicans like Whitman who say they’ll vote for Hillary.

As Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor said, “There is indeed something deeply wrong with a person who lacks principles, who has no moral core.”

 

 

 

The Manafort mess: I’m shocked, shocked!

casablanca-17

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!,” said Captain Renault in Casablanca, as a croupier handed him a pile of money.

I feel the same way about comments from political figures in the U.S., including Hillary Clinton, who have expressed astonishment and dismay over allegations that Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, provided campaign assistance to Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was forced to flee from Ukraine to Russia in 2014 after violent several months of political crisis and violent protests.

I’m equally unsurprised by attempts to tar Manafort as a villain because he has lobbied in the U.S. for Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines

Hillary Clinton’s campaign leapt at the chance to draw blood. “Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them,” said Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook.

Good grief. Everybody’s in such high dudgeon.

But wait a minute.

We’re not all rubes, as so many politicians and media outlets assume. We know that Washington, D.C. is packed with public relations professionals and lobbyists who work for foreign governments and special interests, many of them with reputations for corruption and human rights abuses.

Take John Podesta, the Chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In 1988, he and his brother, Tony, founded Podesta Associates, Inc., a Washington, D.C., government relations and public affairs lobbying firm. The firm later changed its name to the Podesta Group, Inc.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, which works to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent, the Podesta Group has been a registered agent, or lobbyist, for a number of foreign governments, including the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the National Security Council of Georgia, the Republic of Kosova, the Government of Albania and the Kingdom of Thailand.

In 2013, for example, the Podesta Group reported being paid $840,196.21 by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The previous year, the corruption watchdog Transparency International awarded the crown of “Corrupt Person of the Year” to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. “Despite its massive oil resources, … Azerbaijan is plagued by endemic corruption that prevents ordinary Azerbaijanis from sharing in their country’s natural wealth and is a significant barrier to Azerbaijan’s development,” the organization said.

That same year, public protests against human rights abuses led to brutal crackdowns, arrests, and undemocratic trials.

2013 was another awkward time for the Government of Azerbaijan when election authorities released vote results re-electing Aliyev – a full day before voting had even started. The announcement followed intimidation of activists and journalists and free speech restrictions.

Freedom House, a promoter of global human rights, lambasted the country’s government. “Azerbaijan is ruled by an authoritarian regime characterized by intolerance for dissent and disregard for civil liberties and political rights,” the organization said in 2013.

The federal  Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. There are about  2,000 foreign agents registered under the Act representing more than 100 countries.

Late last year, the Center for Public Integrity released a study, “The hired guns who advocate for the world’s worst human rights abusers” – a research report that highlighted the PR firms that make the most money representing clients that violate human rights.

The study said FARA records revealed that “that the 50 countries with the worst human rights violation records have spent $168 million on American lobbyists and public relations specialists since 2010.”

The study said the leader of the pack was Omnicom-owned Ketchum PR, which made $37 million representing human-rights violators, followed by Qorvis Communications/MSL Group at $20.6 Million dollars.

In 2013, Ketchum was behind a Vladimir Putin-led PR push tied to Syria. When the New York Times ran a highly visible op-ed about Syria submitted by Russian President Putin in Sept. 2013, Ketchum arranged it (and likely wrote it).

“From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future,” Putin said. “We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law.” The op-ed went on to say, “Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force…”

According to ProPublica and Ketchum reports, Russia paid $1.3 million for Ketchum’s professional services for the period ended in May 2013.

In 2014, the New York Times reported how Angus Roxburgh, a former Ketchum consultant and journalist for the BBC and The Economist, recounted his experiences working with Ketchum. “The Russian officials…were initially convinced they could pay for better coverage, or intimidate journalists into it,” Roxburgh told the Times. “They were eventually persuaded to take reporters to dinner instead.”

According to the Times, Roxburgh told The Daily Beast that Ketchum’s aim “means helping them (Russia) disguise all the issues that make it unattractive: human rights, invasions of neighboring countries, etc.”

Last year, Saudi Arabia, under fire for human rights abuses, hired a cornucopia of U.S. PR/lobbying firms to tell its story in a favorable way and influence legislation.

In March, the Saudi Royal Embassy retained DLA Piper and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. That same month, it also hired Targeted Victory, which uses expansive data to put together digital campaigns for political clients, and Zignal Labs, which uses big data analytics, media monitoring and business intelligence to provide insights that drive public outreach efforts. In September 2015, the Saudi government expanded its efforts further by signing contracts with PR leviathan Edelman and the Podesta Group.

Just a few things to remember when attack dogs and establishment politicians, including Hillary Clinton, feign surprise and horror at amoral U.S. PR and lobbying firms doing business with foreign governments and foreign leaders with bad reputations.

Don’t be shocked.

 

Addendum

On 8/25/16, PoliticoPlaybook reported that the FBI and DOJ are looking into the Podesta Group’s work in Ukraine:

K STREET WATCH  The FBI and DOJ’s probes into the Podesta Group’s work for a non-profit tied to the former Ukrainian government are sending shockwaves downtown, where the investigation into the firm’s work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine has led to widespread nervousness. Reps from multiple firms who lobby for foreign entities think this might be a tipping point, and the feds might take a much broader look at other firms and clients. “It’s right in the purview of the DOJ – they don’t need a referral,” said one lobbyist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There they go again.Trump and guns.

Feigned Outrage

There they go again.

“If she (Hillary Clinton) gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in North Carolina today. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

His campaign maintained that he was referring to political activism.

But Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager responded in high dudgeon: “What Trump is saying is dangerous.”

Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, erupted in disbelief. “Nobody who is seeking a leadership position, especially the presidency, the leadership of the country, should do anything to countenance violence, and that’s what he was saying,” Kaine said.

The ever low-key Elizabeth Warren followed up, saying Trump had made a “death threat.”

And of course a Democratic Congressman, Eric Swalwell, CA, followed up by calling on the Secret Service to investigate Donald Trump’s comments directed at Hillary Clinton, according to The Hill.

“Donald Trump suggested someone kill Sec. Clinton. We must take people at their word. @SecretService must investigate #TrumpThreat,” Swalwell Tweeted.

The fact that his tweet got him some media attention probably pleased Swalwell no end.

Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, said Mr. Trump’s statement was “repulsive — literally using the Second Amendment as cover to encourage people to kill someone with whom they disagree.”

The media loved it, seeing another opportunity for more over-the-top, twisted, contorted, coverage of the presidential campaign.

The New York Times reported that  Donald Trump seemed to suggest that gun rights backers could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton nominated judges who favor gun control.

I heard the same kind of hand-wringing language on OPB this afternoon.

Similarly, The Hill reported: “Yet another Donald Trump reset has gone by the wayside as the GOP nominee appeared to joke that someone could shoot his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. His comment came just one day after a highly-touted economic speech meant to put Trump back on message.  After the comment gained steam on social media, the Trump campaign raced to clarify that Trump only meant political resource, not violence. But it’s the kind of diversion that drives on-the-fence Republicans crazy.”

Good grief. Come on folks. There are enough legitimate Trump issues to focus on without stooping to this kind of manufactured outrage.

Think third party: your vote will not be wasted

hillaryEvilQueen2Trumpclown1

It doesn’t have to be a choice between an evil queen and a bombastic clown, two toxic, fatally flawed candidates.

About two-thirds of prospective voters consider both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dishonest and untrustworthy. That’s millions of Americans who hold both candidates in high disregard, but appear ready to just hold their noses and vote for one of them, unwittingly helping to preserve the status quo. That’s insanity.

The idea that a third party candidate can’t win will then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But there is another option in this presidential race. Support, and then vote for, a candidate from another party, such as  Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Your vote won’t be wasted and America will be the better for it.

As Eugene V. Debs, five-time presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America, observed, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.”

The potential receptivity of Oregonians to a third party is reflected in the fact that about a third of Oregon’s three million registered voters don’t belong to the Democratic or Republican Party.

Some of that is surely a clear decision by voters refusing to align themselves with one of the major parties. Some may be tied to Oregon’s new policy of automatically registering voters when they visit a Department of Motor Vehicles. Under that process, voters are automatically registered as “unaffiliated” and later given the option of picking a party choice, but most do nothing.

Nationally, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center recently reported that the share of independents in the public, which long ago surpassed the percentages of either Democrats or Republicans, continues to increase. In a 2016 report, based on 2014 data, 39% identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling, according to Pew.

In a 2014 Gallup poll, 58 percent of U.S. adults also favored having a third party because the Republican and Democratic parties “do such a poor job” representing the American people. Only 35 percent said the two existing major parties do an adequate job of this.

Your willingness to express support for a third party candidate will have one immediate impact. In 2000, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a private company, approved rules stipulating that, besides being on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College majority, debate participants must clear 15% in pre-debate opinion polls.

At a minimum, if you express your support for another party’s candidate, that person will have a better chance of joining the presidential debates, making Americans more aware of their positions and enhancing the possibility that they will emerge as a serious contender.

Don’t cop out by endorsing write-ins instead. If you agree that voting is about expressing a political preference, write-ins only signal a defection from the two-party system, not support for another person and agenda. Voting for a third party conveys endorsement of a recognizable set of principles, a public platform.

Even if your third party candidate doesn’t win, your vote will have an impact. Willie Sutton reputedly replied to a reporter’s inquiry as to why he robbed banks by saying “because that’s where the money is.” Politicians follow a similar principle. They go where the votes are. If voters reject the history, values and solutions of Clinton and Trump, other politicians will become more open to alternatives.

Americans will not be throwing away or wasting their votes by casting them for people and policies they support, rather than for the lesser of two evils.

As John Quincy Adams said, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

The only wasted vote is one that’s not cast at all.

(Postscript: The Chicago Tribune agrees: Editorial: Let Libertarian Gary Johnson debate Clinton and Trump, http://trib.in/2b6FGv4)

 

Give the Laureate money back, Bill (Clinton)

Priorities USA Action, a major super-PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, just returned a $200,000 contribution it received illegally from a construction company with federal government contracts. The super PAC returned the money after the contribution was disclosed by the Center for Public Integrity.

Hillary’s husband, Bill, should follow Priorities’ example and give up the $16.5 million he collected from Laureate Education Inc., a for-profit company with a sketchy record. Returning the money would also be consistent with Hillary’s condemnation of underperforming and deceptive for-profit education institutions.

Selling out as a corporate shill has rarely been so lucrative as it has been for ex-president Bill Clinton.

In 2010, he signed on to become an “Honorary Chancellor” for Laureate International Universities, part of Baltimore, MD-based Laureate Education Inc.

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Former President Bill Clinton speaking as honorary Chancellor at Laureate Education

Laureate has 86 schools serving about 1 million students online and on physical campuses in 28 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

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In return for serving as a front man for the privately held company, Clinton collected $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014. Laureate also has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.

While Clinton worked for Laureate, he and the company consistently refused to say how much he was being paid, but an analysis of the Clinton’s tax returns revealed the numbers.

In the statement released with their tax returns, Hillary Clinton said of their financial success, “…we owe it to the opportunities America provides.” That’s one way to look at it.

Laureate aggressively marketed its relationship with Bill Clinton and it paid off.

New York Magazine described Bill Clinton as the “face” of Laureate. When Laureate secured approval to build a new for-profit university, Torrens University Australia, in Adelaide, South Australia (where for-profits are called “private” institutions), the headline in The Australian newspaper read: “First private university in 24 years led by Clinton.”

Bill Clinton resigned his Honorary Chancellor position at Laureate in April 2015.

If he’d done his homework before hooking up with Laureate, he’d have found a lot of reasons not to sign on (aside from avoiding blatant money-grubbing).

As New York Magazine put it, “While some of the company’s schools are highly ranked, others have been accused of low admissions and academic standards, “turbocharging enrollment” to boost revenues, and deceptiveness about tuition costs — the same troubling practices that caused the Obama administration to try to stanch the flow of federal-student-loan dollars to for-profit schools in the United States.”

So, Bill, a little advice. Rid yourself of this stain by returning the $16.5 million to Laureate or (preferably) donate it to a worthy education program (Not the Clinton Foundation). It’s the right thing to do.

 

 

 

Will you vote for Hillary… or for a woman?

Alex Conant, Marco Rubio’s communications director during his presidential race, recently sat down with the Huffington Post to discuss the campaign.

Conant: “Look, I think what we saw last night (June 7) is what we’re going to see from the Clinton campaign every day from now until November. Which is, they’re going to make this election a referendum on whether or not you want a woman in the White House. Not whether or not you want Hillary Clinton in the White House. I think that’s her only message.

Huffington Post: Do you think it plays?

Conant: It’s better than asking people to vote for Hillary.

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This illuminating conversation took place the day after the California and New Jersey primaries, when Clinton picked up enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee after focusing heavily on being the first female candidate of a major political party.

In sync with Conant’s observation, Hillary triumphantly claimed the Democratic nomination, focusing on the “first woman” theme.

“Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” she announced to applause at a campaign event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Responding in lockstep, media across the country announced Hillary’s victories with stories emphasizing that she would be the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination:

Clinton claims milestone as first female major-party nominee, wins California primary. Los Angeles Times

Hillary Clinton’s historic moment. Hillary Clinton — former first lady, former U.S. senator, and former secretary of state — has become the first woman to capture a major-party nomination for president. CNN

‘History made’: Clinton claims nomination. Hillary Clinton triumphantly claimed the Democratic nomination for president on Tuesday, calling for party unity to stop Donald Trump as she became the first woman in U.S. history to lead a major-party ticket. Politico

Hillary Clinton becomes first female presidential nominee from a major party after securing enough delegates. Daily News.

Following the party line, when Oprah Winfrey endorsed Hillary for President on June 7 (Wow! That was a surprise), she highlighted that it is time for voters to elect the nation’s first female president.

“I’m with her,” she told Nancy O’Dell of ‘Entertainment Tonight’. “It’s a seminal moment for women. What this says is that there is no ceiling. That ceiling has gone ‘boom,’ you know?”

 

It’s no secret that Hillary is a damaged and flawed candidate, so the “first woman” approach makes a lot of sense.

Her e-mail scandal may be fairly recent, but she is associated with decades of personal and political blunders and scandals that have led a high level of Clinton fatigue among the public.

“She has always been awkward and uninspiring on the stump,” a senior Democratic consultant once told the Washington Post. “Hillary has Bill’s baggage and now her own as secretary of state — without Bill’s personality, eloquence or warmth.”

The Democratic party has also known for a very long time it is confronting a serious Hillary trust gap.

In a July 2015 Quinnipiac University national poll, 57 percent of respondents said Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, one of the worst scores among all the top candidates at the time. In a subsequent Quinnipiac University poll, “liar” was the first word that came to mind more than any other in an open-ended question when voters were asked what they thought of Clinton, followed by “dishonest” and “untrustworthy”.

In a more recent Washington Post-ABC News national poll, 57 percent of people said they didn’t believe Hillary was honest and trustworthy.

But Hillary’s problems as a candidate go even deeper than that.

“Voters see her as an extraordinarily cynical, power-hungry insider,” James Poulos said in The Week magazine on Feb. 2. “She is out for herself, not out for Americans. Voters know it.”

This ties in with a wide perception that Hillary and Bill are just plain greedy, what with them hauling off $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts when they moved out of the White House, taking money from all sorts of unsavory people and foreign countries for their Foundation, and charging exorbitant amounts for speeches.

David Axelrod, a political consultant for Obama, noted in his book, “Believer”, that Hillary has two other main weaknesses: she’s a polarizing rather than a “healing figure,” and she has a hard time selling herself as the “candidate of the future” given her checkered past and long political resume.

So here we are, facing the possibility Hillary will become the “first woman” president not because of, but despite, herself (and maybe because her opponent is another deeply flawed candidate).

Just goes to show that Clarence Darrow was right. “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it,” he said.

 

 

Clinton, Trump and the housing crisis: a different perspective

Hillary Clinton and her surrogates think they have found something to damage Donald Trump, statements he has made about opportunities to profit from a housing market crash.

But have they? A deeper look suggests Trump was prescient in his analysis of the housing market.

Ten years ago Trump was recorded saying, “I sort of hope that (a housing market crash) happens because then, people like me would go in and buy” and “If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money.”

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At a campaign rally on Tuesday, Clinton jumped on the quotes, accusing Trump of wishing for a financial crash so he could “make some money for himself.”

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) piled on, saying in a press release that Trump “cheered on” the collapse of the housing market. The DNC also observed that the housing crash devastated minorities such as Hispanics and African-Americans (who happen to be a key part of Hillary’s base).

“Donald Trump’s lack of concern for the economic well-being of hard-working families shows that he doesn’t have the judgment and temperament to occupy the Oval Office,” wrote DNC spokesperson Luis Miranda.

But another way to look at it is Trump was being pretty smart and perceptive—and if the Clintons had been smart, they could have made some money, too (not that they needed any more).

The 2008 financial crisis was triggered to a significant degree by subprime mortgages, loans made to people with poor credit or with little documentation to back up their financial fitness. These mortgages were transformed into toxic financial products by investment specialists who made a bundle when the products were sold.

The danger these subprime mortgage products posed wasn’t foreseen by Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

“While a tightening of credit to the subprime sector and foreclosures on existing properties have the potential to deepen the housing downturn, I do not consider it very likely that such developments will have a big effect on overall U.S. economic performance,” Yellen said well into the foreclosure crisis. ” I say this, in part, because these mortgages represent only a small part of the overall outstanding mortgage stock.”

Yellen went on to misread the economy, saying, “I think that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable growth with a gradual ebbing of inflation over time.”

The danger these subprime mortgage products posed also wasn’t foreseen “by the chief executives of America’s premier banks,” said a New York Times book review of the best-selling book, The Big Short. “It was not foreseen by government regulators, by Treasury officials or by the Fed. It was foreseen, however, by a handful of investors, who were aghast at the madness they saw on the Street and who used their prescience to make a fortune off the financial system’s calamitous meltdown.”   

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Trump should fire back at Hillary by pointing out that she’s made some contentious allegations her supporters might resent. For example, she laid some of the blame for the housing crisis on greedy, dishonest homeowners.

“…certainly borrowers share responsibility as well,” Clinton said in a speech at NASDAQ headquarters. “Homebuyers who paid extra fees to avoid documenting their income should have known they were getting in over their heads” and people across the country “…who were busy buying two, three, four houses to sell for a quick buck don’t deserve our sympathy.”

Nothing’s simple, is it?