Even more sleaze from Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation

The double standard of today’s politics is instantiated in those people who are so willing to call out Donald Trump for his malfeasance and lies (and there are many), and even laugh at naked statues of the man, while at the same time excusing Hillary Clinton’s numerous ethical breaches. “I’m with her!”, the saying goes. Well, my stand is—especially in light of the continuing revelations about Hillary’s shady behavior—”I’ll vote for her, but that’s about it.” I’m not going to talk about the email business, though I think she dissimulated there, but want to discuss the Clinton Foundation (CF), about which there are increasing revelations of “conflict of interest” behavior. In particular, there are new reports that Clinton, while Secretary of State, gave preference, both in terms of access and favors, to CF donors. There are further reports (see my post from two days ago) that the CF broke its promise to identify donors, as well its promises to restrict foreign donations and get State Department approval for all of them.

Last week Bill Clinton announced that he’d step down from the CF board were Hillary elected as President, though we now know from NPR that Chelsea will not. In the meantime, donors can still pump money into the CF anticipating, based on the new reports (see below) that they might get favors or meetings if Hillary were elected. Further, if Hillary wins, the CF won’t accept any corporate or foreign donations.  But until she does, in November, the donors can keep swelling the $2 billion coffers of the Foundation. Bill should get off the board now, and then, if she loses (unlikely), he can get back on.

Before I summarize the latest Associated Press analysis of donations, let me add that there is absolutely no question that the CF does great things. Although their structure of charity work is unusual (they don’t take grant requests, but disperse the money on their own volition), the money is largely used for good things—education, eradication of disease, clean water, and so on—and most of the money does go to this work. The question is not about the Foundation’s work itself, but how donations to it may have bought donors access to Hillary Clinton, even when she was Secretary of State.

Now the defenses of Hillary (and Bill) on this issue run along four lines:

  • Every politician does stuff like this; it’s just business as usual. My response: no they don’t. Obama doesn’t have the long, shady history of mendacity that plagues both Hillary and Bill Clinton. Besides, are we really going to lower our standards for politicians every time there’s some shady dealing revealed by a politician we like?
  • It’s a “vast right wing conspiracy” against Hillary. She’s being singled out! I have no doubt that some of the opposition to Clinton is based on sexism, just as some of the opposition to Obama was because he’s half black. But that doesn’t explain why a) Trump is being vetted (and excoriated) even more strongly than Clinton, and b) the organs that have investigated Clinton include not only a Democratic Justice Department, but, more important, liberal news media like the New York Times, NPR, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post. If you think those are part of the “right wing conspiracy”, you’re nuts. The main focus on Clinton derives from one thing: her long history of questionable behavior, when, probably because of the Clintons’ feelings of entitlement, Hillary often skirted ethical norms. (I’ll mention only once her repeated lies about being under fire in Bosnia. Brian Williams was fired as the anchorman for NBC News for making a very similar false claim, as NBC thought the lie had permanently damaged his integrity.)
  • Clinton hasn’t done anything illegal, so it’s all okay! Seriously? The Justice Department admitted that Clinton’s behavior with respect to her email was wrong, but didn’t rise to the standards of a prosecutable offense. The pattern of donations to the CF being associated with Hillary giving face time to or doing favors for donors (see below) is deeply suspicious, though none of that is a tit-for-tat prosecutable offense, either. But again, is this the hill you want to die on for Hillary? The whole issue of “conflict of interest”, in which politicians are supposed to behave in a way that minimizes conflicts between their personal interests and their political behavior, is one of abiding to high standards, not just “not breaking the law.” In my view, every member of the Clinton Family—Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea—should have stepped off the board the minute Hillary formulated plans to run for President. That’s not the way it worked: only Hillary did that, and only because the public outcry had she not would have been a serious stain on her candidacy.
  • The Clintons don’t benefit personally from the CF, so what’s the big deal? A claim like this is based on ignorance. First of all, the Clintons get power: the ability to get people to do what they want. Second, they get people sucking up to them for political access. Third, they get public promotions, the kind of high-profile presence that brings them big private income, and travel expenses. As NBC reports, Bill Clinton earned 17.6 million dollars in only five years as “honorary chancellor” of the world’s biggest for-profit education company, Laureate Education, Inc. Apparently all he had to do was travel the world extolling the company, giving speeches. (Remember, too, that Hillary continues to criticize for-profit universities.) And the money wasn’t for the Foundation, but for the Clintons themselves. The high profile of the Clinton Foundation certain enhances that kind of moneymaking ability. I’m not suggesting, of course, that the CF was set up just as a way for the Clintons to make personal income; just that the Foundation gives them cachet that they wouldn’t otherwise have, and contributes to their high profile.

Finally, if you don’t buy any of my counterarguments, ask yourself this: Why, if everything’s copacetic, did the Foundation suddenly announce that Bill would step off the Board if Hillary is elected, and that they’d take no more foreign or corporate donations? There are two answers: the first is they realized what they should have done all along: avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. The second is that Hillary and/or Bill realized that this would hurt her candidacy if they didn’t do it, and, believe me, Hillary wants the Presidency more than a starving lion wants a zebra.

But on to the latest reports from that important organ of The Right Wing Conspiracy: The Associated Press. After investigating donors to the CF and lists of people who got to talk to her while she was Secretary of State, the AP notes a disturbing pattern of people getting access to Hillary while she was Secretary after they made big donations to the Foundation. (This puts the lie to the claim that she doesn’t know who gives money to the Foundation). The AP report says this in part:

More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton’s help with a visa problem; and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm’s corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

They are among at least 85 of 154 people with private interests who either met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton and also gave to her family’s charities, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. The 154 does not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives.

The AP’s findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton foundation donors and people who met personally with Clinton or spoke to her by phone about their needs.

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.

Now one person wrote on my FB page, “But half the donors didn’t get access to Hillary.” That’s fatuous, of course. First of all, a lot of donors probably didn’t ask for access to Hillary. The real question to be answered is this: Among all people seeking access to or favors from Clinton as Secretary of State, was the proportion of CF donors who were successful higher than the proportion of non-donors who were successful? My guess is that the donors got an advantage.

The Clinton campaign has of course fought back, denying that there was any tit for tat here, but of course they would say that, wouldn’t they? They can hardly say otherwise. (The State Department has also said it’s not aware of any illegal acts performed by Hillary as Secretary of State in conjunction with the Foundation.) But of course imagine how difficult it would be to prove tit for tat! That’s why we have to avoid its appearance, pure and simple.

You can read the AP report yourself, and dismiss it if you’re One of Those, but it’s disturbing to anyone who’s not off the rails. (NPR also reports that “Released emails have shown some efforts to connect donors or associates at the foundation to personnel at the State Department.”).  The AP also gives several examples of potential tit-for-tat behavior by Hillary as Secretary of State. Here’s one:

In another case, Clinton was host at a September 2009 breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange that listed Blackstone Group chairman Stephen Schwarzman as one of the attendees. Schwarzman’s firm is a major Clinton Foundation donor, but he personally donates heavily to GOP candidates and causes. The next day, according to Clinton emails, the State Department was working on a visa issue at Schwarzman’s request. In December that same year, Schwarzman and his wife, Christine, sat at Clinton’s table during the Kennedy Center Honors.

Blackstone donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Eight Blackstone executives also gave between $375,000 and $800,000 to the foundation. And Blackstone’s charitable arm has pledged millions of dollars in commitments to three Clinton Global aid projects ranging from the U.S. to the Mideast. Blackstone officials did not make Schwarzman available for comment.

Do you seriously think there’s no connection here? The problem, of course, is proving that there was a direct relationship between donations and access. That would be very hard to do without a paper trail. I think the data suggest that strongly, but of course diehard Hillary fans say, “She was never proven to have done anything illegal.” That’s a pretty low bar for supporting a Presidential candidate, n’est-ce pas?

In my view, every Clinton should get off the board now, even though some damage has already been done. They should have nothing to do with the Clinton Foundation until no Clinton holds public office. I don’t think the CF should be shut down, as some have suggested, for it does good work. It should simply become a “blind charity,” having no connection with the Clintons except in name, until Bill, Chelsea, and Hillary once again become private citizens.


  1. Cindy
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Christopher Hitchens despised the Clintons:

    Everything Hitch Ever Said About the Clintons

    • Andy
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Yup, and Hitchens was in favour of the Iraq war and a heavy smoker… It’s almost as though it’s possible to be brilliant in some ways and still make some bad judgements…

      • charlize
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

        Yes, that’s why we should evaluate each position or claim on its own merits. Something that’s standard operating procedure in Science
        where your authority on a subject is only as good as your reasoning and the evidence that supports it.

  2. jamesgart
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    They never took any money for themselves!

    • jwthomas
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      “The AP’s big exposé on Hillary meeting with Clinton Foundation donors is a mess”

      Read the actual facts
      of the matter:


  3. Dominic
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I was going to say, what a screwed up plutocracy the USA is, then thought, hang on, I live in the UK! It is a mess…

  4. Posted August 24, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Worst election cycle evah. I’m ready for 2020.

    • Slaughter
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Hillary vs. … Ted Cruz?

  5. Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I have always felt that the Clintons leave themselves vulnerable because they consider themselves to be the ultimate altruists. This belief tends to blind them from such things as potential conflicts of interest, the niceties of full disclosure, and how their actions may project the appearance of impropriety.

    While my own view is that Hillary craves power and money, I don’t think she is evil. I will vote for her but only because her opponent has a personality disorder and would destroy the Supreme Court for perhaps the next two decades if elected.

    • Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Many an altruist believes that they know best for others. They are wrong of course. Though H. Clinton may not have a personality disorder like Trump, she still has strong narcissist traits including her identity as being a champion for others rendering her blind to how she truly appears via her dubious actions, a vicious circle which causes dizziness in the observer.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      They pimped out the Lincoln bedroom to raise dough for Bill’s campaign in ’96. Hard to put an altruistic spin on that — unless you’re convinced that what’s good for the Clintons is good for the American people (which, obvs, they are).

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        …and Laura Bush invaded Iraq (as long as we’re blaming First Ladies for things their husbands were responsible for).

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 24, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          Hillz takes her share of credit for everything that went right in Bill’s administration; she can take her fair share of blame for the miscarries, too (especially since hasn’t disowned any of it, then or now).

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Everything said about the Clinton’s foundation stinks of conflict of interest. There is little doubt about this and when we concentrate just on this and the Clinton’s it looks even worse. But ask yourself this question of the general operation of our government and specifically inside the beltway we call Washington DC. Nearly all of the 535 members of congress and their thousands of staff members work closely with and do the exact same thing with thousands of lobby firms every day. And it also is perfectly legal and constitutional. Also, in the case of Congress persons, they are not raising money for any charity unless you want to say – charity begins at home. This money goes into the big campaign chest to get themselves re-elected time and time again. It also helps them all get very nice high paying jobs in the lobby firms.

    Influence peddling and quid pro quo applies to them all. It is the name of the game in politics. Special favor for special interests. As I have mentioned before, we most remove the money before we can begin to fix the game.

    • Historian
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Randy, you’re quite correct that money is the lubricant that greases the political system. To run for Congress, particularly the Senate or a contested House seat (of which there aren’t many) costs a small fortune. Members spend a great deal of their time fund raising. It would be naïve to think that big donors don’t expect favors. Thus, the system actually encourages what I would call legal corruption. Public financing of elections with strict limitations on private donations is the only way to restore faith in the system. Unfortunately, through the Citizens United case the Supreme Court has bought the conservative argument (often articulated by George Will) that spending money to influence an election is a form of free speech. Unless Citizens United is overturned by a future court, the inherent corruption of the current system is likely to remain in place.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Yes, and it is my opinion only, but regardless of Citizens United and all the attempts to curb the business through campaign finance reform, it has never worked. I think only through Constitutional amendment can the system ever truly be fixed. That amendment must be for exactly what you mention – public financing of all federal elections and total prohibition of public funds, including funds of those who would run. And yes, always the statement in response is – Oh well, you can never get that. But I say if you don’t the system is doomed.

        • darrelle
          Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          In addition to what you’ve outlined, it might be a good idea to set a maximum limit past which you can not accept any more contributions. Heck, it might be worth considering a set amount for all qualified (by some set process) candidates issued by the government from public monies. A small set amount.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

            In my thinking on this amendment, there would be no contributions from any place. Not a dime from a person or corporation. Only an amount from uncle sam based on what you are running for. The details on that would be determined by the congress or whatever. So much for the primary, so much for the general election. Every congress person gets the same and no more. Once you have spent it, you are done. In some circles they call that an even playing field.

            This has the potential to actually making running for these offices available to anyone. Not just the rich or those who have the connections. And it would destroy K street and the lobby. You no longer get to peddle influence like the NRA and all the rest. It kills them. They would all be toast.

            • darrelle
              Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

              I’d vote for that.

              • rickflick
                Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

                Maybe if you help elect Hillary, you might get a chance to. I think she’s very progressive in her thinking, despite being blind in her middle(self critical) eye.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          I agree with everything you’ve said Randy. In addition, the US insider trading laws don’t apply to federal politicians.

          I agree with what darrelle says too. NZ is one of several countries where strict campaign spending limits are applied and enforced. If a candidate goes over the limit by even a few cents, their election is voided.

          We don’t have public funding of elections, but it’s something I support. Whether those in power would ever let it happen in the US is something I doubt. However the groundswell of support for candidates who don’t have big donors shows the public might be able to force the government to adopt it.

  7. Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    JC, You are stretching to find reasons for “not dying on the hill” for Hillary. I admire Obama but he did let bankers and brokers influence his early appointments of Geitner and Summers and others. He does illegally use drones to kill enemies and others. The vetting of Trump has shown many serious breaches of law and morality.I will be glad and relieved to see Hillary elected and will be in despair if Trump manages to win.

    • Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Where on earth did I ever say that I would vote for Trump, or have the slightest desire to do so? I’ve said exactly the opposite–many times.

      I’m not stretching at all, and it’s rude of you to suggest that. Her record speaks for itself. Your response is to show the bad things Obama has done. But who among us would prefer Hillary rather than Obama as President? I wouldn’t. In fact, the tenor of your response is “Vote for Hillary because Obama did bad things, too.”

  8. Roan Ridgeway
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    We seem to think nothing of a donor being given an ambassadorship in return for having made a large contribution to a presidential candidate’s campaign but think it unforgivable that a contributor to the Clinton’s charitable organization should be granted an audience with the Secretary of State.

    I recently read about a political scientist’s finding on how the press treats Trump, Bernie and Hillary based on counting the number of ] negative words used by the media for all three since last year. The finding was that more negative words were used regarding Hillary than the other two.

    As it stands now, it does not appear that Hillary has done anything more egregious than creating the appearance of impropriety and creating circumstances where wrongdoing is more likely.

    If it is proven that she allowed foundation donors to influence her actions as Secretary of State, then, with no alternative but to still vote for her, I will have to hold my nose as I enter the polling booth.

    • GodlessMarkets
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I half agree with an earlier comment.

      As long as access to the state is valuable, people will pay for access. Whether or not paying for access is noxious, I think depends on the underlying motivation and cause: the Bangladeshi economist asking for help does not strike me as improper. Because it is difficult a priori to distinguish objectionable lobbying from the unobjectionable, I am reluctant to make the statement that money is always bad for politics.

      Along these lines, if Elizabeth Warren had been in politics as long as Hillary, I don’t think she’d look all that different.

      • darrelle
        Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        In the reality we actually inhabit, I think it is as you say. Though we have to live with the reality of how things work in the now, we can also work at figuring out better ways to get things done. The system could, in principle, be devised so that money is not a significant factor in acquiring access.

        • Roan Ridgeway
          Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          I quite agree that we should make changes to our system so that the wealthy have less of an advantage when it comes to politics and government access.

  9. Kevin
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    “Hillary wants the Presidency more than a starving lion wants a zebra”. This. This is what Hillary thought when she was five years old and has never let go of that romantic dream.

    I say give her what she wants. Of course, Trump really wants to be President too, but he is a funny goof who didn’t have the attention span within his own brain to know his ego wanted it before he did.

  10. chris moffatt
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    No wonder she didn’t want to have her eMail routed through US government servers. As a canadian I can’t vote in this election and that’s good for me, i’m spared that agony (although Trudeau is embarrassing enough). It’s too late for this election but what are americans going to do to recover their democracy? Or will they continue to treat politics as a spectator sport?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      The spectator sport analogy is a good one. The US has an extremely low voter turnout (in the bottom third internationally), especially in years when there’s no president up for election. A lot of that must be because people think their vote doesn’t count and other similar reasons. That should be a concern for everyone.

  11. Jamie
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Zephyr Teachout is quite eloquent on corruption and defines it simply and broadly as the self-serving use of public power for private ends. She has produced extensive documentation that our constitutional founders pragmatically applied just such a broad definition, and that only recently has the term been legally constrained to quid pro quo cases.


    As Lambert Strether puts it:

    But if you play golf with the chief of police, write the recommendation that gets their kid into private school, throw a lot of business to the real estate firm run by their spouse, and then — mirabile dictu — win the no-bid contract for the police department’s new Stingray unit, that’s not corruption, because there’s no quid pro quo. But that’s ridiculous…

    I wonder about the timing of this particular brouhaha. Clinton corruption charges have been in the air for decades. While it might be better for Hillary to keep the whole thing under wraps, if it has to come out, now is the propitious time for it from HRC’s point of view, I think. There is still enough time before the elections for the outrage to dull, and voters will forget about it, just as they seem willing to forget about her server issues since nothing was done about them. There seems to be a blanket acceptance of any behavior that doesn’t actually land a politician in jail.

  12. Kyle B.
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I was wondering if people had read Vox’s piece on this.

    Vox’s Matthew Yglesias has a different take that I found more persuasive than the AP’s.


    To get such a figure of 85/154, for example, they exclude a lot of people. I thought it rather fishy that she only met 154 people throughout her time as Secretary of State. Now to give the AP the benefit of the doubt they did say “private interests” (which I missed when I read the first time), although that’s easy to forget and I haven’t looked enough into their classification system to determine for myself if it is actually a good thing to throw out the other meetings. Yglesias appears to think it is not a great idea to throw out all the other meetings.

    As another example, for Schwarzmann (quoting the article)
    Equally banal is this finding: “[I]n December that same year, Schwarzman’s wife, Christine, sat at Clinton’s table during the Kennedy Center Honors. Clinton also introduced Schwarzman, then chairman of the Kennedy Center, before he spoke.”

    Of course the secretary of state introduced the chair of the Kennedy Center when she attended the Kennedy Center Honors. More substantively, Braun and Sullivan also note that “the State Department was working on a visa issue at Schwarzman’s request.” One could imagine a scandal here, but the AP doesn’t produce one — was a visa wrongly issued? Or was the State Department simply doing its job and fixing a problem?

    This isn’t to say that I think Clinton is great (although she is obviously better than Trump), but I haven’t been very convinced of corruption stories for Clinton. Whenever I look more into them, they always seem to be cherry-picking or taking a rather slanted look at her. The number of them that show up do give me a lot of pause, though. The appearance of impropriety so often is very disquieting. I just haven’t found any that have convincingly proven that something truly shady is going on (at least convincing to me).

    • Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      The Vox story ignores the big question that I raised above: Among all people seeking access to or favors from Clinton as Secretary of State, was the proportion of CF donors who were successful higher than the proportion of non-donors who were successful? My guess is that the donors got an advantage.

      I don’t care how many people she met at State, what I care about is whether you get increased access if you’re a donor. Vox doesn’t disprove that, and the AP doesn’t prove that.

      But again, if everything’s fine, why is the Clinton Foundation suddenly changing its behavior?

      • Kyle B.
        Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the reply. That’s a very fair point, and one I wouldn’t dispute. Your two questions are the most important to answer (and, really, the crux of the matter).

        I just wanted to make people aware of the evidence of increased donor access that the AP presented appears weaker (to me, at least) because of the Vox article.

        That is not to say that donors do not get increased access, though. As you have said, the AP doesn’t prove wrongdoing, but it would be incredibly difficult to prove wrongdoing in any case.

    • vince
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. I was just getting ready to post/discuss that article. The whole thing is a big nothing-burger. After all that effort those examples are the best they could find?

      Sec of State has meeting with company they are getting ready to announce a global AIDS effort with. Oh, scandalous, the Sec of State was doing her job.

      She also met with a Nobel prize winner, UN Foundation alum, and number two on the list of top global thinkers. Wow, that’s awful. She totally wouldn’t have done that even if he wasn’t a donor to the Clinton foundation.

      And gee, she introduced the chair of the Center whose awards she was attending. But she also bumped into him at a meeting once and did something for him. But ,wait, if his donations bought him influence why didn’t he just call and get access that way? Why wait until they happened to be at the same meeting?

      It’s a pretty sad effort, but unfortunately many won’t read beyond the headline, and others you can serve up a big nothing-burger dressed in some scandalous sounding innuendo and they’ll swear they just ate a filling meal.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Good article by Vox.

      And though I know I shouldn’t bring him up, I would like to point out that Donald Trump, who insists that being a big donor to the Clinton Foundation makes you someone who is trying to buy influence with the Clintons, is himself a big donor to the CF. He, of course, was the only one not trying to buy influence – he donated because he is a Good Person and is More Moral And Ethical Than Everyone Else.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        By the way, in case it comes across otherwise, my snark is directed solely at Trump. I naturally have no problem with people debating the situation fairly, and everything I’ve read so far does just that.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 24, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Hillary has her faults and vulnerabilities, but Trump is absolutely the inapposite candidate to exploit any of them. For Trump to criticize a Clinton for greed, or for duplicity, or for playing the influence game? I mean, my gawd, at long last, sir, have you no sense of decency?

      • Beth Clarkson
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        Donald Trump has made no secret that he made donations to politicians in order to buy influence. He claims that is how the system works and should be changed.
        While I’m no fan of Trump, your claim that he insists he donates due to his innate goodness and superior ethics is false. He states quite bluntly that he donates because he expects favors in return.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          In this particular case it was a claim made by Kelly Ann Conway on his behalf to Dana Bash of CNN. Conway specifically stated that he wasn’t trying to buy influence.

          I’m aware that in the past Trump himself has made comments around “knowing the system” etc.

  13. Paul
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Yes, shutting down the CF is the right thing to do. However, there is at least as much “mendacity” and “sleaze” in reporting about this issue as there is in the facts of the case: http://www.vox.com/2016/8/24/12618446/ap-clinton-foundation-meeting

  14. Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    “The double standard of today’s politics is instantiated in those people who are so willing to call out Donald Trump for his malfeasance and lies (and there are many), and even laugh at naked statues of the man, while at the same time excusing Hillary Clinton’s numerous ethical breaches.”

    It’s not a double standard in the sense that people don’t care about it, or forgive it. The reason most people aren’t being publicly critical is that they recognize that during an election criticizing/ridiculing candidates amounts to support for their opponent. It makes no sense if one is interested in defeating Trump to bring attention to Clinton’s faults at this time.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good point. I think if you go back over many elections, it usually comes down to the lesser of two evils. If you’ve decided one evil is more acceptable you have to advocate for that one. (Three-way elections don’t seem to work well in the US). In the election confronting us now, I’d prefer Hillary to Trump by such a huge margin it isn’t even funny. 8-(

    • Posted August 26, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Yes, good point.

  15. Petrushka
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the FBI said the email server “didn’t rise” to the level of prosecutable behavior. I think the wording was closer to: no one could successfully prosecute the case.

    That’s a bit Oracular, in my opinion.

  16. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    On a smaller scale than criticism of Islam there is a “boy who cried wolf” syndrome at work here.

    Just as centuries of horrific anti-Semitism have made honest criticism of Islam (or the state of Israel) difficult, spurious right wing charges of the Clinton’s murdering Vince Foster, or malfeasance in Whitewater have made it much much harder for legitimate criticisms of the Clinton to have any sticking power.
    (Even now Sean Hannity is pursuing a groundless conspiracy theory about a cover-up of HC’s ill health and alleged epilepsy.)

    I did not agree with Christopher Hitchen’s endorsement of the Iraq war, but for an old lefty like him to publish his anti-Clinton book when he did shows real integrity.

  17. Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    “In my view, every Clinton should get off the board now, even though some damage has already been done. They should have nothing to do with the Clinton Foundation until no Clinton holds public office.

    I fully agree with this. It is the only way to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

    I used to work for the Federal government. I was in the executive branch (the Prez’s portrait hung in our offices). We enforced the laws (a certain Title in the US Federal Code).

    We were trained to avoid all conflict of interest and, as you note: The appearance of conflict of interest. This was hammered home, a lot. They gave very detailed training in it. It was (and is, I’m sure) a termination-level offense.

    I think the Clintons have bad cases of the “Master of the Universe” syndrome (à la Tom Wolfe’s novel) and they think the rules shouldn’t and don’t apply to them.

    Of course Drumpf has this in spades as well.

    The scene in the (excellent) movie Michael Clayton, where Michael Clayton (George Cluny) confronts a client who has hit a pedestrian and run from the accident is a wonderful enactment of this attitude.

  18. Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    As someone interested in ethics (professionally), Jerry’s argument brings up a tension between forthrightness (having all the information) and censoring this information to increase the probability that those who marginally distrust Hillary will vote for her anyway.

    What is the greater good? Defeating Trump is the greatest good, and yet there’s some soul-selling to do it–as do we really want to live in a world where we have to silence the data we don’t like?

    I have to say that I’m with Jerry on this. ‘I’m with her’ as they say, but that doesn’t have to mean that I embrace everything Hillary has done or said. I’ve been trying to recognize religious tendencies in my thought patterns, tendencies to accept things wholeheartedly without proper or full examination. On matters of race and politics, religious thinking prevails. It’s so easy to say, “I love Obama!” And I do. I like almost everything I’ve encountered of him, and because of this, I shut off my mind. However, there is one matter on which Obama and I disagree: prayer. He publicly reinforces notions of the supernatural, even if he doesn’t take his words literally. It can be argued that this is a minor point. Maybe. In the scope of the tremendous good he’s done, it is. But at least, I can disagree with him on something. It still feels like a betrayal, right? A little one. But with Hillary, the effort to get her into office makes voicing any disagreement almost verbally sinful, shameful. And she’s a woman. I should fight against any of the sexist undertones. How do I fight the sexism and also acknowledge the CF ethical conflicts of interests? I think the only way to do this is for our society to become less politically religious–more willing to acknowledge data, embrace the nuances, or in the case, the glaring facts that don’t shine a bright light of character purity on someone who should still be elected in November.

    • Posted August 24, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      This brings up what I tell people who want to improve their communication:


      Scrupulously honest*
      Direct (don’t make people guess what you mean)
      As unemotional as you can be, given the situation

      (* I agree with Sam Harris that lying is essentially never justified.)

      • Posted August 24, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        “lying is essentially never justified”

        It may not be moral, but there are many justifications for lying that I see all the time in medicine, if we construe lying to mean giving the impression of agreement or staying silent to not make oneself look bad. These are justified with the argument that avoiding the appearance of conflict is preferred than looking like you are not above the fray.

        But this brings up the epistemological question of what is lying. What is a lie?

        • Posted August 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

          What is deceit?
          Is it always bad?
          Under what circumstances do people dissimulate?
          What’s happening socially that the pressure to dissimulate is there?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      A salty old politician — one I once worked a campaign for and voted for a few times, and would gladly vote for again were he still with us — told me that a candidate cannot expect to do the public any good in office and still tell them the unvarnished truth all the time.

      What he was getting at, I think, was that there are some innocuous (and on occasion not-so-innocuous) falsehoods a candidate must speak to get elected, while there are others it is wrong to tell — kind of like the distinction the old Tammany Hall pols used to draw between “honest” and “dishonest” graft.

      For example, when a politician takes the podium to say “It’s a thrill to be back here in Peoria in February with so many of my dearest friends,” I don’t think anyone really buys it (except maybe for some naïve Peorians who long to be dear friends and like lousy weather) and she hasn’t harmed anyone (except perhaps herself) in saying it. These are simply the routine bromides and banalities one must recite as shibboleths to gain passage to elective office.

      Compare this to politicians who tell material falsehoods about their policy plans for office — which ought to be considered strictly verboten. (Where we draw a line between the two, in the vast field of gray that is political speech, is necessarily arbitrary, with nearly indistinguishable cases falling on either side. But knowing that there is such a line is what’s crucial.)

      Wherever we draw this line, as between Clinton and Trump, Hillary regularly traverses it, crossing easily from mere bromide to material prevarication. Trump, on the other hand, hasn’t the foggiest than any such line even exists, since he has no regard whatever for the truth content of his speeches. All that matters to him is aggrandizing the Trump “brand.”

      Which is why we must do what we can to keep him from getting anywhere near the White House — save that he should buy a ticket and get in line with the rest of the tourists.

  19. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Trump is being vetted (and excoriated) even more strongly than Clinton …

    There’s a lot I agree with in this post. But the above statement just isn’t correct.

    Although Trump is getting some closer scrutiny now that he’s made it to the medal round, during the whole of his campaign he’s gotten away with spouting insane bullshit that would have had anyone else tossed from the race. Imagine what the rightwing (or even mainstream) media would’ve done to Hillary if she’d have said John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he got taken prisoner, or if she’d’ve claimed that her opponent had family ties to a JFK assassination conspiracy, or had threatened to “spill the beans” on Bernie’s wife — or had done any of the other crazy nonsense Trump got away with on a day-in-day-out basis throughout the primary season. (Poor Howard Dean got chased out of presidential politics in ’04 for letting loose a scream a little too close to a live microphone. Selah!)

    Hillary is certainly a flawed candidate, and I’ve never been much of fan of either Clinton (although I do have a bit of a personal soft spot for her, and her plucky, steely-eyed resolve). But as long as there’s only two people with a chance to take the presidential oath of office on 1/20/17, and one of them is Trump … well, then, I’m with her.

    • Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Jeez, maybe we’re reading different media. I see article after article pointing out Trump’s lies, and even fact-checking pieces on the evening news pointing out how many more lies Trump has told than Clinton.

      The leftwing media, I think, is already doing to Trump what you’d say the rightwing media would do if Clinton were to say such stupid things.

      • Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        I think there might be exposure bias going on here.

        Check out the result of my Google Trend query on searches in Google for “Donald Trump lied” and “Hillary Clinton lied”:


        • Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          “I think there might be exposure bias going on here.”

          Yes, and if you look at polls it’s pretty much a statistical dead heat between Clinton, and Trump in terms of honesty, and trustworthiness, and this despite the fact that Trump almost weekly it seems, says something that is demonstrably false. Where else but from the media are people gaining these perceptions.

          • Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

            Yes, it seems that Trump is perceived as more genuine than Hillary despite demonstrably having little regard for facts.

            Hillary on the other hand is supposed to be trustworthy. Hillary and Trump are held by different standards. She’s obviously much better equipped to dissimulate with sophistication–but women aren’t supposed to be anything but angelic, warm, and caring. We are supposed to be Michelle Obama, who is loved and trusted. But what’s going on there? Why is Michelle not perceived as power hungry? Clearly she’s positioned herself time and time again proximally close to the seat of power. I don’t have an answer here. I’m just trying to think through why Hillary takes so much heat. Why the tenor is so negative. The tenor is not negative for Michelle. Is it that Michelle hasn’t lied to the public? Maybe that’s the case. Maybe Hillary should be called on the table for her imperfect history. But when compared to Trump, she comes off like a lying maniac.

            • Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

              I will also throw out there some questions about gender in relation to race and differences between how Michelle and Obama relate to each other and how Hillary and Bill relate to each other.

              Regarding race: there are some stereotypes about African American women leaders being warm: for instance, Oprah, Maya Angelou, and Michelle seem to carry a presence of nurturing.

              Hillary doesn’t have that feel to her. She comes off like the women who decided to stay with a cheating, lying, husband, which makes her someone who was willing to tolerate lying in her life. She faced a public humiliation and had to do what she had to do to stay relevant and active. I think this has shaded her with a harshness on top of the harshness projected onto females who focus on business without spending their time nurturing/coddling.

              Also, Michelle comes off as the perfect mom and wife, somebody who would likely defer to her husband. Hillary does not come off as being willing to defer to Bill.

              But all of this is pure projection, speculation, and off-the-cuff thoughts. It’s just not politically correct to talk about this in polite company.

              • Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

                Okay, final round of stream-of-thought about this:

                I don’t think Hillary would have made it as the democratic nominee for president had she divorced Bill back in the 90s. She would likely have gone into obscurity, though there is no way to know.

                However, had she divorced him, I bet people would look on her differently, trust her more. Perhaps admire her, though there are some who admired her for staying with Bill. Still, the scandal disparaged Hillary. Made her come off as less sexually desirable. Might we think differently if Bill treasured Hillary in public the way that Obama does Michelle? When I see Obama and Michelle, I think, man, they really like each other. He loves her. I don’t get that sense from Bill. I do get pride and support from him, but not passion.

                We like to think that relationships don’t matter, but they do, especially when it comes to women. It’s hard for me to imagine a single woman as a serious presidential candidate. Can you imagine the scrutiny that would come of her dating life? But more than this, there’s social capital to being married. Hillary is tainted and benefited by all the associations with Bill and all the connections he and their family have, as Jerry brought out regarding CF. CF kept their family vitally involved in the public sphere after Bill’s office.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      There are a few things Trump isn’t being vetted about, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. He hasn’t released any tax returns, and some (pre-2008 I think) are no longer under audit. He’s released no health records – all that’s been sent out is a bizarre letter he appears to have written himself and persuaded a doctor to sign. It says something like, “If Donald Trump is elected he’ll be the healthiest president ever.”

      • darrelle
        Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        That’s one of the things that really dismays me about the possibility of a Trump presidency. After having an intelligent, very well spoken president, Obama, I don’t no if I can stand the shame of having another apparent idiot like Bush Jr talking to the rest of the world on my behalf.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          You’re absolutely right, darrelle; we’ll miss President Obama more than we can yet imagine. He and the First Family have been a class-act all the way.

          BHO has been the embodiment of the African-American adage (dating back to the days of WEB DuBois and Booker T. Washington) that you have to be “twice as good” — twice as talented, twice as trustworthy, twice as hardworking — to succeed at the white man’s game.

          We’ll especially miss his thoughtful, articulate speeches (many of which he’s penned himself) as well as his ability to deliver cogent off-the-cuff remarks. By comparison, Trump’s rants from the podium come off like drunken, rambling wedding toasts.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      I agree, that statement seems to be inaccurate. I don’t see that Trump is getting excoriated or vetted more than Hillary. By some people? Sure. Almost everyone has a side. In general? I don’t see it. Though in my opinion his behavior merits more excoriation and vetting than he has so far received. Even if it were the case that he is receiving more than Hillary, I don’t see the problem. As I said I think he merits it. Better yet, he should just be completely ignored by everyone.

      On the flip side, I can’t think of any politicians that have been excoriated more than the Clintons. That hasn’t abated during this election cycle. In a vocation that has become rife with excoriation, they are the winners. What’s interesting is that there has been a shift in that some on the right are now tacitly supporting Hillary because Trump is so distasteful to them, but their numbers are more than made up for by an increase in excoriation of Hillary from the left.

      Don’t misunderstand me, people like the Clintons (rich, powerful, highest political offices) should be under a microscope. That is precisely the press’s, and our’s (the general public’s), duty to maintain our society. I don’t have particularly strong feelings either way about either Hillary or Bill. I am not a Clinton supporter, but neither do I despise her (or him) the way many others on the left do. I would really like to have someone else to vote for, as long as they had a reasonable chance of winning against Trump. Someone with no attachments whatsoever to any past ruling dynasty.

      • Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Ken and Darrelle. I also don’t see that Trump is getting excoriated or vetted more than Hillary. As I stated in an earlier thread, I think Hillary is held to a much higher standard than other politician. She is the Israel is American politicians. Even when she supports gay rights and marriage equality, it gets viewed as a cynical ploy to win votes and she gets criticized for not have done it sooner. Just as Israel’s support of gays is written off as “Pinkwashing.” If Hillary cured cancer tomorrow she’d be attacked for putting thousands of doctors out of work (she’s terrible for the economy!) and why didn’t she cure it last week instead of spending the week campaigning – the selfish, lazy, heartless, b**ch?!?!?

        • Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:49 am | Permalink

          “I agree with Ken and Darrelle. I also don’t see that Trump is getting excoriated or vetted more than Hillary.”

          I agree, and I think an analysis bears that out. You have the “center” (CNN, and the networks) which report both Trump, and Clinton’s lies, and malfeasance. Then you have right, and left leaning sources which minimize the malfeasance of their candidate, and maximize that of the opposing candidate, and then where Hillary really gets the short end of the stick. The far right (Fox et al.) where Trump can do no wrong, and Hillary no right, and the far left (TYT for example) where while Trump can do no right, no punches are pulled where Hillary is concerned almost as a “we told you so” for the fact we nominated Clinton rather than Sanders.

  20. Posted August 24, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    And all of the Hillaryites keep saying but do you want Trump as President.

  21. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Ahh, politicians. Making the Ichneumon wasps look good since before they were named.
    (The wasps, not the politicians. The Ichneumoniae were setting standards for politicians to underpass long before the evolution of apes. Probably primates.)

  22. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Oy. I noted reading a bit down that analyzing this article means being given names. (Probably even noting this. :-/)


  23. Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I agree that there is definite appearance of impropriety and potential conflict of interest with Clintons and their foundation and that the foundation should be closed or permanently severed from the Clinton family, but for the sake of being fair to all candidates, shouldn’t we also expect Donald Trump and his kinds to sell all of their holdings and businesses and put the money into Treasury bonds or index funds?

  24. rickflick
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I believe the Clintons operate through a Machiavellian calculus. They strike me as well motivated liberals who have decided early on that to be successful (promote your progressive agenda) requires staying within a narrow range on the ethical boundaries. You need influence and money to be effective, and to get those necessities, you need to operate just inside the law. This is the way politics works and there is not much hope if you hold to an idealistic path. How true this operating assumption is, I’m not sure. Obama and Carter seem to have done well without creating too many questions.

  25. mordacious1
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just about had it with the Clintons. If Hillary used her position as Sec. of State to straighten out some guy’s visa problem just so she could feed starving kids in Rwanda, that’s the last straw! What a bitch!

    (Sorry Jerry. I’ll get my coat)

    Posted August 24, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I am appalled– the Clintons shook down wealthy donors to fund campaigns in the third world to fight AIDS and other diseases, illiteracy, lack of clean water and never took a salary while using 88% of contributions for charitable purposes, an extremely high percentage compared to other large charities like the Red Cross. Also, the Clintons contributed money to the foundation rather than sucked money out of it, so let’s have a little balance here

  27. FA
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Vote Trump.

  28. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    “Every politician does stuff like this; it’s just business as usual.”

    “It’s a “vast right wing conspiracy” against Hillary. She’s being singled out!”

    It appears a large number of politicians do indeed do stuff like this, but only Clinton is being required to step down, so I’m having difficulty understanding how she’s not being singled out. If it is such a big problem and a terrible example of possible influence then shouldn’t all politicians be expected to step down from such positions?

    “Clinton hasn’t done anything illegal, so it’s all okay! Seriously? The Justice Department admitted that Clinton’s behaviour with respect to her email was wrong, but didn’t rise to the standards of a prosecutable offense.”

    The Justice Department said those in Clinton’s office were careless and sloppy, and their handling of emails didn’t rise to an prosecutable offence, stating there was no intent to do wrong. They also stated there was a history in the State Department of others doing the same sorts of things. That’s a far cry from a suggestion that there was anything nefarious or underhanded going on.

    “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.”

    “In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”

    “The Clinton campaign has of course fought back, denying that there was any tit for tat here, but of course they would say that, wouldn’t they?”

    Of course they would, just as innocent defendants state they are innocent.

    • Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your testimony in favor of Hillary’s beatification. First of all, she’s not being required to step down off the Foundation; she did it of her own accord, as did Bill. Second, she basically lied about the emails. The email issue didn’t bother me so much as her post facto lying about it (same with Bill’s sexual malfeasance).

      Third, in what world do you think Clinton would admit she had the appearance of a conflict of interest? But if everything’s coopacetic, as I said, why is the Foundation taking all these steps now?

      I don’t want to continue this, so no need to reply to me.

  29. LG
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m in general a Hillary Clinton supporter, but you make some very good points. Thanks for the post.

  30. W.Benson
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    There are still the 15,000 Hillary Clinton emails found after Hillary swore that she had sent all of her emails to the FBI. My comment is a little unfair because many may be duplicates of emails already submitted to the FBI or personal emails among the 30,000 she has already admitted deleting.
    When and if Hillary is elected, if she keeps up these monkey-shines, we can impeach her.

  31. Andy
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    The AP story seems designed to mislead, since she obviously met with more than 154 people. The Vox debunking is useful. If AP has such a good point, why do they have to lead with such a slippery statistic? They knew full well that it would get paraphrased to the inaccurate summary that more than 50% of the people she met with were donors (which happened on the local radio here, at least).

    As far as I can see, dozens of right wing groups have been going over almost every email Hillary ever sent, and the worst they can find is a thing that looks a little suspicious if they fudge the numbers the right way. That’s a pretty encouraging sign!

    I think there’s a lot to the idea that if you have unlimited search powers and go through anyone’s private life enough, you’ll find something that can be prosecuted.

    It kinda reminds me of the endless inquiries into about whether Bill Clinton had an affair. Wasn’t that led by Ken Starr and Dennis Hastert? What fine upstanding people they turned out to be…

  32. m. Zimmerman
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    perhaps a more reasoned analysis

  33. Jarle Tveitan
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Imagine if the gop had been able to produce a candiate that is neither a shady, lying moron (Trump) or a vicious theocrat (all the other serious contenders in the rep. primaries this year), they’d most likely have won.

    Hillary will win because the alternative is worse. Thats the only reason.

  34. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I am English, and god knows we’ve got our own problems, and forgive me if I overstep my bounds here, but my impression is that a lot of the people who’re standing up for Clinton(and often but not always whitewashing her past), are pragmatists like myself who’ve spent the last year or so desperately trying to talk around Bernie Or Bust-ers whose attitude to the political disintegration of western democracy is ‘the sooner the better’.

    These are the Susan Sarandon types(and they’re possibly even more numerous per head here in Britain, as Corbyn picks up a head of steam), and they repeatedly claim that either they won’t vote, or even that they’ll vote for Trump(the reasons they give in attempting to justify how a hard-left-winger who ascribes to Bernie Sanders’s politics can put a cross besides the name of a borderline far-right candidate are too inane to bother with.). They are everywhere, on every Clinton article, and the venom that flows her way is often utterly, insanely disproportionate.

    I wouldn’t poke my nose into another country’s business too much, but to the extent that I’ve defended Clinton it’s been as a flawed candidate who in any other cycle I’d not give two shits about. She strikes me as competent but financially compromised and there’s not much to get excited about policy-wise. But it really doesn’t seem like an ordinary cycle, and it’s impossible to ignore the thickening of the recent political atmosphere.

    I can’t tell you how worrying it is to see swastikas popping up in Scottish cities; the most left-wing, liberal part of the UK(for now); the uptick in open racism since Brexit, the far-right edging closer to mainstream popularity and even power in Austria, Germany, France…every word Trump says empowers a latent nationalism, with a fascist fringe, that’s growing in Europe and America. He is their Jesus, and that’s only a mild exaggeration.

    So whilst I won’t pretend Clinton is something she isn’t, and no-one should have to, it frustrates and angers me when I read the hived-off criticism she re ceives(which does frequently seem disproportionate) given the context, given what a Trump presidency could do(and fuck knows what he’s going to be like, but I hope the world never has to find out if it is ‘all bluster’.).

    I listen to the far-left Bernie Bros and Corbynites dredging up Stalinist language to describe Shillary and Red Tory Scum, and dripping poison about Zios and Israel, and then I listen to them bulletpoint their reasons why voting for Trump rather than Hillary will ‘bring about genuine socialist revolution’, and ‘he won’t do anything anyway’…I don’t know what universe they’re living in. In that context I can understand a certain amount of defensiveness on the part of Clinton supporters, and simple anti-Trump people too. I think I’ve managed to avoid the ‘bow down before her’ crowd that Jerry alludes to, so the people I see are very worried pragmatists whose attitudes have been shaped by repeated encounters with a far-left whose entitlement and complacency scares the shit out of them.

  35. Mike
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    From this side of the pond, the whole process reeks of corruption, why don’t you all vote for Jill Stein and be done with the establishment.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Because (a.) she’s a deluded, far-left ideologue, and (b.) Donald Trump exists.

      You might like to believe that Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are ‘both as bad as each other’ and it therefore doesn’t matter if Trump wins – but I have my doubts that you’re a member of any of the huge number of minorities who have been slandered and threatened by Trump, his supporters and the fringe of whackjob supremacists who see him as their Mohammed, nor are you, I suspect, in such a state of impecunity that the kind of deranged isolationism/free-marketeering combo that Trump proposes in his more intelligible moments would impinge upon your life in any serious way. I might be wrong – you might be one of the small number of turkeys voting for christmas – but more likely you couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the kind of people who’d suffer under Trump because you’re not one of them.

      And if you’re British the same argument applies in a less immediately pressing form to the deluge of predominantly middle-class, well-off Corbyn voters who are prepared to tank the British centre-left’s only viable party, and give the political right a free run at office for the next decade, simply because…’he’s a proper left-winger’ or something(‘proper’ in this case meaning ‘unelectable’).

  36. KD33
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink


  37. Posted August 25, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I don’t envy my American friends this Hobson’s choice … (again, though this time seems particularly egregious)

  38. Mister R.
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I’ve followed this blog for years.

    It’s been a beacon of reasoned thinking.

    Yet where’s the uncontested PROOF that Hillary Clinton, or The Clinton Foundation, sold their souls to corporate donors?

    I left PZ Meyer’s blog because he—and his sycophants—habitually tarred and feathered
    those who disagreed with them.

    Where’s your absolute proof, Jerry? Or are you just giving an opinion?

    This is your blog. Say whatever you want.

    Can you establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the Clintons are “sleazy”?

    Mister R.

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      You’ve followed for years but this is your first comment? What a great asset to the community you have been!
      First of all, I said I couldn’t prove a tit for tat for the Foundation. That is hard to do. Did you actually read my post?

      Second, the proof that the Clintons (you mentioned both) are sleazy is in Hitchen’s book, it’s in Hillary’s dissimulation about her emails, it’s in their failure to deal with the appearance of conflict of interest till the last minute, and it’s in her blatant lying about being under fire in Bosnia. And don’t forget Bill’s lying about his affairs under oath.

      Third, your demand for absolute proof is ridiculous. Where is YOUR “absolute proof” that the Clintons are NOT sleazy? I sure have more evidence than you do!

      That enough sleaze for you? Now begone: find yourself somebody else to beleaguer.

  39. tomh
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Jason Rosenhouse at Evolutionblog has a sensible take on the matter with, Another Fake Clinton Scandal.

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      Sounded about right when I read it.

    • Posted August 26, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Thanks for reminding me that I should re-start reading Rosenhouse’s blog. I used to read it years ago, but somehow it fell off my radar. I agree with him about Clinton, too.

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