Posts Tagged ‘Hilary Clinton’

Clinton – artificial, Trump – genuine?

September 8, 2015

Sanders has now gone ahead of Clinton in one poll. Donald Trump maintains his lead.

The New York Times reports that Hillary Clinton’s strategists will now ensure that she shows “more humour and heart” and I wondered if this was not one of the key differences of perception between Trump and Clinton (and all other “conventional” politicians). Clinton and other politicians have strategists and aides who analyse and create an artificial persona that their principal is then supposed to put on show. The perception then is that whatever they say or do is then in support of this artificial persona, which has been calculated as being the most likely to gain voter support. With Trump however the perception is that you get to see the real Trump – warts and all. Real beats artificial.

Add to this the perception that Trump needs no funding from sponsors – looking for their pound of flesh – and is beholden to no one. I begin to think that what is driving the support for Trump is the voter fatigue with conventional politicians who are calculatedly artificial and who are in hock to their donors. Trump’s convictions are perceived to be real while those of others are seen to be “bought” and artificial.

Nobody doubts, even when Trump displays his ignorance in some areas – especially of foreign affairs – that he can always surround himself with knowledgeable people. And nobody doubts either that if he picks the wrong people, he knows how to fire them. It is his real track record being pitted against the implied erudition of others.

I see also that Paul Krugman is generally scornful of the economic policies of all the GOP candidates and especially those of Bush. In his latest column he puts Trump as the best of a bad lot. But one look at Trump’s real billions render all Krugman’s jargon and all his (failed) theories utterly toothless. In one phrase, Krugman basically stands for increased public spending. In fact, in a battle for minds between Trump’s real billions and Krugman’s artificial theories, the real billions on the bottom line carry much more credibility. Krugman stands for debt while Trump stands for real wealth.

If a perception that being “real” is what trumps being “artificial” is the theme now driving US voters, then Trump is going to be around for a long time yet. Conventional, artificial politicians (GOP and Democrat) are going to have a tough time against people fed-up with being sold made-up story lines.

NYT:  ……. In extensive interviews by telephone and at their Brooklyn headquarters last week, Mrs. Clinton’s strategists acknowledged missteps — such as their slow response to questions about her email practices — and promised that this fall the public would see the sides of Mrs. Clinton that are often obscured by the noise and distractions of modern campaigning. 

They want to show her humor. The self-effacing kind (“The hair is real, the color isn’t,” she said of her blond bob recently, taking note of Mr. Trump) has played better than her sarcastic retorts, such as when she asked if wiping a computer server was done “with a cloth.” …

They want to show her heart, like the time she comforted former drug addicts in a school meeting room in New Hampshire.

But the widespread presumption of Hillary Clinton as being untrustworthy, cold, calculating and not very effective (Libya) is firmly ingrained. To now try and show her as being a warm, funny, “nice” but efficient person is not going to fly.

Perhaps the paradigm shift in the 2016 election will be that “real” trumps “artificial”.

Clinton Foundation got millions from Swedish firms to avoid being blacklisted for Iran involvement

June 3, 2015

That the Clinton Foundation functioned as a channel for lobbyists to get access to Hilary Clinton is an open secret. But I certainly had not expected that there were such large money flows from Sweden and Swedish firms to the Clinton Foundation which apparently allowed them to carry on business in Iran without being blacklisted. Some payments were even made directly to Bill Clinton. It seems almost as if the Clinton Foundation may have specifically targeted firms and countries susceptible to US actions as sources for lobbying money.

So far I don’t see this being covered by the Swedish media but the Washington Times has a very long article. There is a clear Wikileaks connection since much of this information is obtained from diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks.

Update: Swedish Radio is now carrying the story but just quoting the Washington Times article. The radio report points out that they have not been able to check the story and imply that it is not reliable since it is from a right wing paper which is opposed to Hilary Clinton. But I note also that Swedish radio is generally very biased in favour of the Democrats in the US (and the Social Democrats/Greens at home).

The Wikileaks connection is interesting. I cannot help thinking that there must be a hidden back story as to why Assange has been hunted and prosecuted by the Swedish authorities for a quite ridiculous molestation/rape allegation. The allegations are by two women who shared a bed with him – quite willingly by their own accounts. The prosecutors first declined to take the matter further and there is surely also a hidden back story as to why the whole prosecution was restarted. Maybe this story is one of the reasons. But why does the Swedish prosecution based on what seems to be rather flimsy “statements” continue? What other Swedish – US connections are there that the Swedish government did not or does not want revealed?

Washington Times:

Bill Clinton’s foundation cashed in as Sweden lobbied Hillary on sanctions

– The Washington Times – Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bill Clinton’s foundation set up a fundraising arm in Sweden that collected $26 million in donations at the same time that country was lobbying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department to forgo sanctions that threatened its thriving business with Iran, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Times.

The Swedish entity, called the William J. Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse, was never disclosed to or cleared by State Department ethics officials, even though one of its largest sources of donations was a Swedish government-sanctioned lottery.

As the money flowed to the foundation from Sweden, Mrs. Clinton’s team in Washington declined to blacklist any Swedish firms despite warnings from career officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm that Sweden was growing its economic ties with Iran and potentially undercutting Western efforts to end Tehran’s rogue nuclear program, diplomatic cables show.

“Sweden does not support implementing tighter financial sanctions on Iran” and believes “more stringent financial standards could hurt Swedish exports,” one such cable from 2009 alerted Mrs. Clinton’s office in Washington. Separately, U.S. intelligence was reporting that Sweden’s second-largest employer, telecommunications giant Ericsson AB, was pitching cellphone tracking technology to Iran that could be used by the country’s security services, officials told The Times. …….. 

Mr. Clinton’s Swedish fundraising shell escaped public notice, both because its incorporation papers were filed in Stockholm — some 4,200 miles from America’s shores — and the identities of its donors were lumped by Mr. Clinton’s team into the disclosure reports of his U.S.-based charity, blurring the lines between what were two separate organizations incorporated under two different countries’ laws.

……… At the time of Mr. Clinton’s foray into Swedish fundraising, the Swedish government was pressing Mrs. Clinton’s State Department not to impose new sanctions on firms doing business with Iran, including hometown companies Ericsson and Volvo.

Mrs. Clinton’s State Department issued two orders identifying lists of companies newly sanctioned in 2011 and 2012 for doing business with Iran, but neither listed any Swedish entities.

Behind the scenes, however, the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm was clearly warning the State Department in Washington that Sweden’s trade was growing with Iran — despite Swedish government claims to the contrary.

“Although our Swedish interlocutors continue to tell us that Europe’s overall trade with Iran is falling, the statements and information found on Swedish and English language websites shows that Sweden’s trade with Iran is growing,” the U.S. Embassy wrote in a Dec. 22, 2009, cable to the State Department that was released by WikiLeaks. The cable indicates it was sent to Mrs. Clinton’s office.

At the time of the warning, Mrs. Clinton was about a year into her tenure as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state and the two were leading efforts in Washington to tighten sanctions on Iran.

……… The Swedes were resistant to new sanctions, telling State Department officials repeatedly and unequivocally that they were worried new penalties would stifle the business between its country’s firms and Tehran. At the time, Iran was Sweden’s second-largest export market in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia.

“Behind the Swedish government’s reluctance to support further sanctions in Iran, especially unilateral European measures, is a dynamic (though still fairly small) trade involving some of Sweden’s largest and most politically well-connected companies: Volvo, Ericsson and ABB to name three,” the U.S. Embassy wrote in one cable to Washington.

Several top Swedish officials made the case against proposed U.S. sanctions in successive meetings in 2009 and 2010, according to classified cables released by WikiLeaks.

“[Swedish] Sanctions coordinator [Per] Saland told us that Sweden does not support implementing tighter financial sanctions on Iran and that more stringent financial standards could hurt Swedish exports,” one cable reported. Other cables quoted Swedish officials as saying they were powerless to order banks in their country to stop doing business with Tehran.

Sweden’s foreign trade minister, Ewa Bjroling, met with State officials and said even though her government was obeying all existing United Nations and European Union sanctions, “Iran is a major problem for the GOS (Government of Sweden) because Swedish businesses have a long-standing commercial relationship in the trucks and telecom industries.”

Eventually, Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt — Mrs. Clinton’s equal on the diplomatic stage — delivered the message personally to top State Department officials, who described him as “skeptical” about expanded Iran sanctions.

“Overall, I’m not a fan of sanctions because they are more a demonstration of our inability than our ability,” Mr. Bildt was quoted as telling State officials in a cable marked “secret.”

………. Current State Department officials and outside experts who advised the department on Iran sanctions told The Times that Sweden, and more specifically Ericsson, was a matter of internal discussion from 2009 to 2011 before new sanctions were finally issued. “The Ericsson concerns were well-known, but in the end many of the sanction decisions were arbitrary and often involved issues beyond the actual business transactions,” one adviser directly involved in the talks told The Times, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because he was describing private deliberations.

U.S. intelligence officials told The Times that they kept the Obama administration apprised of Ericsson’s activities inside Iran, including the fact that the Swedish firm had provided Iran’s second-largest cellular provider with location-based technology to track customers for billing purposes. The technology transfer occurred in late 2009, shortly after Tehran brutally suppressed a pro-democracy movement in that country, the officials said.

U.S. intelligence further learned that Ericsson in 2010 discussed with Iran’s largest cellular firm providing tracking technology that could be used directly by Iranian security authorities but never formally pursued the contract, officials said.

Read the full story.

Not much difference between Hillary Clinton and Richard Nixon

March 11, 2015

They didn’t have email in Richard Nixon’s day. And we don’t have much in the way of magnetic tape recordings these days. But otherwise Richard Nixon’s deletion of 18.5 minutes of incriminating recordings is no different to Hillary Clinton’s deletion of some 32,000 emails – self defined as being “private”.

To claim that over 50% of her email during this period when she was secretary of state was private is an insult to intelligence. “Of the 62,320 emails in her account, her office said 30,490 were deemed public business, while the remaining 31,830 were deemed private”. Really!

WashPo (16th June, 2014):

This week in 1972, a conversation took place which would lead to the most famous incident of evidence destruction by a presidential administration. ……. 

On November 17, 1973, the White House informed Federal District Judge John Sirica that the 18 1/2 minute Nixon-Haldeman conversation of June 20, 1972, had been erased. White House Counsel Fred Buzhardt told the Court that he no explanation for the erasure.

Nixon’s Secretary Rose Mary Woods took the blame for the first five minutes of the erasure. She said that she had been transcribing the tape, and when she reached to take a phone call, her foot hit a pedal on the recording machine, inadvertently causing the tape player to “record” over the original tape’s contents. Reporters were called to the White House to watch her perform a re-enactment, and the photos of her performing a tremendous stretch, which she supposedly held for five minutes, were rejected as implausible. Moreover, the particular tape recording machine does not operate the way she had claimed; simply pressing the foot pedal to “record” would not initiate a recording unless the play button was being manually depressed at the very same time.

Chief of Staff Alexander Haig blamed the 18 1/2 minute gap on a “sinister force.” In January 1974, experts who examined the tape reported that were four or five separate erasures. ……..

WashingtonTimes (10th March, 2015):

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton deleted nearly 32,000 emails she deemed private from her time in the Obama administration and refused Tuesday to turn over her personal email server, insisting she “fully complied” with the law and that voters will have to trust her judgment.

Answering questions for the first time about her emails, Mrs. Clinton said she’s turned over to the State Department 55,000 pages of emails she deemed work-related, but said she got rid of the rest last year. She defended her decision to keep control of her emails by using a private account, saying previous secretaries did the same thing, and saying it was more “convenient” for her this way.

“I wanted to use just one device for both personal and work emails instead of two,” she said in a hastily called press conference after she spoke at the U.N. Conference on Women.

Hillary Clinton’s motives and morals in destroying incriminating evidence are not so different to Richard Nixon’s. There is only one reason for a public official (or even any employee in any company) to use private email rather than the organisation or company provided email. And that is to keep something secret from that organisation or company. Deletion of material is even more an explicit admission that the deleted material was incriminating. The “convenience” argument is childish – but I am surprised at how many in the US can be so “gullible” and take such an excuse seriously. I suppose the acolytes will believe whatever they want to believe no matter what the evidence says.

Is Hilary Clinton a secret neocon?

June 17, 2014

Robert Kagan, the American historian and political analyst would normally be considered a neocon though he prefers the term “liberal interventionist”. He sees the current events in Iraq as an opportunity for the interventionists. Hilary Clinton’s expected foreign policy is something neocons are quite comfortable with. Jason Horowitz writes in the New York Times:

…… He (Kagan) called for Mr. Obama to resist a popular pull toward making the United States a nation without larger responsibilities, and to reassume the more muscular approach to the world out of vogue in Washington since the war in Iraq drained the country of its appetite for intervention. ……. Mr. Kagan, 55, prefers the term “liberal interventionist” to the neoconservative label, but believes the latter no longer has the stigma it did in the early days of the Obama presidency. ….. 

But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his “mainstream” view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes. Mr. Kagan pointed out that he had recently attended a dinner of foreign-policy experts at which Mrs. Clinton was the guest of honor, and that he had served on her bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavy hitters at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman.

“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president. “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”

Hilary Clinton has not yet confirmed that she will run for President in 2015 but being seen as a secret neocon will not be helpful – especially if the current mess in Iraq (and in Syria) will still be bloody chaos at the end of 2015. She must already contend with Benghazi being part of her baggage.

Another Clinton, another Bush (2)

May 4, 2014

The US Presidential Election is one of the great entertainment events of our time and the 2016 aspirants – declared and undeclared – are getting into position. I am looking forward to an exciting 6 months in 2016; perhaps not as exciting as in 2008 (Obama > Clinton v. McCain ± Palin) but surely not as boring as in 2012 (Obama/Romney). From an entertainment perspective I’m hoping for a Bush – Clinton battle. It could be quite interesting with Clinton attacking George Bush’s legacy and Jeb Bush pouring scorn on Obama’s non-accomplishments! Bill Clinton could be a a hidden flaw in his wife’s stable while Jeb Bush will have to keep his elder brother out of sight!!

Even in our various forms of democracy around the world, “hereditary” politicians have replaced the hereditary barons and kings of old. This is not just in India or Malaysia but also in Japan and across Europe and in the US. Dynastic politics in the US is not new and the passing of political positions of power – always subject to electoral victories – to marital partners or siblings or offspring happens quite often. A year ago a Hilary Clinton – Jeb Bush battle in 2016 seemed – at least – plausible. Now with 2 years to go the room for complete outsiders to emerge is shrinking. It is still very early of course. Each has still to first stand for and win their party’s nomination. Yet judging by the pairings that the polls envisage, the likelihood of a Clinton – Bush fight has just increased.

As of today Clinton would trounce Bush. But things could be much closer in two years. Though there seems to be no Democratic candidate to challenge Clinton, she will likely have to overcome the burden of the negative perception of the Obama years. While the perception of the Reagan years is of economic well-being at home and the Cold war victory abroad, the perception of the Obama years will be quite different. They will be seen as being long on hype and short on substance. A period of economic malaise at home and ineffectual foreign policy abroad. If Obama’s last two years in office continue to be as pedestrian and exhibit the same caution as the preceding six then, Hilary Clinton will have a significant incumbent factor against her.

Jeb Bush is not even the front-runner in the Republican party. He has not yet declared that he will run. But he may well be perceived as being more politically astute than even his father was and far more intelligent than his brother (though that is not saying very much).

Washington Post: 

The 2016 Republican presidential nominating battle is shaping up as the most wide-open in a generation, with a new Washington Post-ABC News poll showing five prospective candidates within four percentage points of one another at the top and a half-dozen more in the mix.

The picture is very different on the Democratic side, where former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton is the clear front-runner. In a hypothetical matchup, Clinton leads former Florida governor Jeb Bush — seen by many GOP establishment figures as the party’s strongest general-election candidate — 53 percent to 41 percent.

Fox News:

A new poll that looked at how Florida registered voters would cast their ballots in a 2016 Republican primary, former Gov. Jeb Bush led by about a 2-to-1 margin over other GOP contenders.

Bush leads in the hypothetical GOP contest with 27 percent compared to 14 percent for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, 11 percent for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and 7 percent for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. As for other GOP hypothetical candidates, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, none received more than 6 percent.

But when the poll included former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the mix, she beat any potential Republican challenger in a head-to-head match-up, according to the Quinnipiac University survey. In a potential faceoff between the former First Lady and Bush, Clinton snatched 49 percent support compared to 41 percent support for the former governor.


The biggest parlor game on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms these days is guessing whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will run for president and save the GOP’s old establishment base from its rising populist wing.

The second most popular game is guessing what happens if Jeb says no. …….. if Bush doesn’t run, the list of Republican saviors could be short. Some donors fear Christie will never overcome the Bridgegate scandal. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin so far seems more inclined to stay in the House than to run for president. And to varying degrees, other candidates — such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio — are either unknown or untrusted.

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