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January 02, 2018

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Is there some other political couple that has made more than $150 million in 'speaking' fees alone?

I don't know what folks' total lifetime take is. There are a number of former officeholders who earn or have earned stratospheric fees for speaking.

Giuliani, Reagan, Bush. Colin Powell. Alan Greenspan, Tim Geithner. Tony Blair. All folks who command six figure fees for speaking.

Reagan got a million for one freaking speech. Sarah freaking Palin gets $100K, probably for guaranteeing that she will shut up after some reasonable number of minutes.

Why limit this to speaking fees? Board positions, lobbying, consulting fees, you name it. Former office holders make a bundle.

Do you think there aren't former office holders other than the Clintons who have cashed in for $150M? More accurately, $75M, there are two Clintons.

Why limit it to compensation after leaving office? Phil Gramm got futures deregulation passed, which made a lot of money for Enron, while his wife was on the board of Enron. Enron was, of course, a major contributor to Gramm. And what has Gramm's post-office UBS gig been worth to him over the years, do you think? Why do you think he got that gig?

This analysis has the Clintons earning $230M since Bill left office, with a current net worth of as much as $62M. That's as of the date of writing, 8/2016, so $230M over about 15 years.

That's a whole lot of money. It's probably more than average for former elected officials. Then again, maybe not, I don't know. I would be extremely surprised if it was outside the fat part of the bell curve for people with their resumes.

If you want to get money out of politics, I'm all for it. Campaign money, cashing in with both fists after holding office, all of it. I think over the freaking decade or more that I've been hanging out here that I've been very clear about all of that. Citizen's United is one tiny corner of the crap I'd love to see cleaned up.

But I do not find the fact that the Clintons have earned nine figures over the 15 years since Bill left office to be in any way remarkable, in the sense of being any better or worse than any of the rest of it.

The intersection of money and politics in the US is profoundly and thoroughly unseemly and corrupting. All of it, every inch and pound of it. Want to clean it up? Fine with me.

Singling out the Clintons as being somehow unusual in any of this just seems like a kind of monomania. To me.

People hate the Clintons, for reasons that seem to have little to do with the quality of their service in office. Every thing they do or say is subject to a level of scrutiny that would empty the Cabinet, the halls of Congress, and quite a bit of the regulatory apparatus of government, if it was applied consistently. Probably lose a SCOTUS justice or two as well.

So I just figure haters gotta hate. I don't know why, neither do I need to participate in it. They were pretty damned good public servants, actually, and now they've made a lot of money, because they're famous and well-connected. It's kind of a club, and they're in it. They're not alone.

Shorter me:

My impression is that you concentrate on the Clintons when it looks to me like a systemic problem.

I shoulda read before posting.

“Again, if you're leaving public service I'm not going to whine if you cash in. ”

You are conceding too much. Politicians ( not just the Clintons) who cash in after their political careers end raise the suspicion that some of their stances while in office were made with the understanding that future employers might reward them later. It doesn’t even have to be insincere. If you favor helping the banks, you are the sort of person they might want to hire as a lobbyist or whose speeches they want to hear.

Carter was a mediocre President, but his behavior after he left office should be be the norm, not the exception. Nobody sees anything even remotely sleazy about the Carter Center afaik.

Btw, I am aware that Trump sets new standards for open sleaziness. But he is just the culmination of a lot of bad tendencies in American politics, sort of a test case of just how low we can sink. I expect the bar to be permanently lowered now.

https://nypost.com/2016/11/20/donations-to-clinton-foundation-fell-by-37-percent/

donations fell after she announced. that's a strange kind of corruption.

I'm not particularly concerned about enriching themselves with cheesy talks AFTER their careers are over. Its unseemly, but whatever. I'm concerned with the corrupting influence of raking in millions of barely earned dollars while still campaigning.

there's the problem.

the Clinton Foundation was not the Clinton's "personal wealth". and Clinton's speaking fees were high, but not totally out of range of other people with her credentials (of which there are very very few, and she was extremely popular until the GOP decided she shouldn't be).

but, if you're asserting corruption, explain the corruption in her speaking to The Gap, to the Vancouver Board of Tourism, to the American Deli Association, to the American Jewish University, the National Association of Convenience Stores, A&E TV, etc., etc., etc..

it looks like you're starting with a presumption of corruption and then assuming everything that she does is due to that corruption. but what if your initial assumptions are wrong?

the Clinton Foundation was not the Clinton's "personal wealth".

Just bears repeating.

Oooh! Look! A salmon!

Oooh! Look! A salmon!

Oooh! look1 Corruption!

It's the emails, you see.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/10/27/memo-shows-bill-clintons-wealth-tied-clinton-foundation/92842822/

Gosh, nearly 20 years. Time flies. Let's say Bill knocked down $100m of that $150m...lessee here, that comes to about $5m/year...maybe $120k/speech.

Unseemly, indeed.

And what insidious influence did these shady foreign characters (cf. House of Saud for example) get in return? Looks like bupkis to me.

How does this stack up on the corruption scale? Fiorina steers a famous company into the ditch and walked off with $20m to go away.

I'd say the Clintons did themselves a disservice. They should have used their celebrity to become CEO's.

But you know, Clinton Rules.

Oooh! look1 Corruption!

Bears don't say that.

The problem is not the Clintons raking it in. The problem is there are too many people who can throw such financial sums at them.

Therein lies the true crime.

This is an odd thread. What does Bill Clinton getting personal income from the same people who donate to his family's foundation have to do with what we were talking about. I mean, it's old news, right? And he hasn't been president for 17 years.

It's an odd thing anyway. Were the donors getting the privilege of paying him personal fees in exchange for their donations? It's usually pay-to-play, not pay-to-pay.

It's the emails, you see.

the first quoted line of the memo is:

"Independent of our fundraising and decision-making activities on behalf of the Foundation,..."

so, no: this doesn't say donations to the Foundation were the Clinton's "personal wealth". it says Clinton used the Foundation staff for personal purposes. that's shitty. but it's not what was alleged.

Independent of those activities we did all these other things, but we were only on the foundations payroll.

Great guys getting Bill all those gigs for no pay.

it says Clinton used the Foundation staff for personal purposes. that's shitty. but it's not what was alleged.

What it demonstrates to me is arrogance and a sense of entitlement. That's what I see as the major Clinton flaws.

What those flaws let to in this case wasn't so much corruption as a failure of ethics as I see it.

Also, too, who's getting impeached over it?

I suspect my donation in my name to the Clinton Foundation, had I made it to influence an elected Clinton to continue the path Obamacare opened to more universal subsidized healthcare insurance, would be considered rank corruption by some, who conversely believe that xyz super PAC, who will not reveal the identities of its mega-doners who send the contributions to unmarked mail drops, and who funds efforts to revoke subsidized health insurance for tens of millions of Americans, the highest form of free speech in a free society.

Citizens United is a little like the bump stock the Las Vegas shooter used in his corruption, a caliber booster designed to do as much damage as possible.

But we can't curtail the use of bump stocks on account of freedom. America doesn't so much have a Bill of Rights as it does a Bill of Ultra-Fetishized Rights as we decline into maximum full of shitness.

I find it odd that we believe politicians are corrupt for accepting favorable donations, even in the hundreds of millions of dollars, to influence their decision-making, but the influence peddlers themselves .... us .... which includes the mega influencers, are considered mere practitioners of the First Amendment.

Besides, it's the true believers who can't be bought off who worry me.

I doubt very much that earnest, righteous, devout Jeff Sessions could be swayed to cease his prosecution of the legal pot industry by mega millions of pot money flowing into his offshore accounts or maybe a free bale of high quality pot fedexed to him the first of every month, because the private prison industry where blacks and Hispanics go to rot for petty crimes and the opioid pain relieving industry align perfectly with his God-sponsored, racist republican conservative principles spreading throughout the land.

i'm trying to understand if Sebastian objects to speeches-for-hire by Clinton *during the 2016 campaign*, or prior to that.

did Clinton speak for big (or any) fees after she announced?

The whole pot thing is mind-boggling. Sessions is an anachronism, and Trump's enough of an idiot to go along with him.

This administration has the most incoherent priorities, except possibly for satisfying the oligarchs.

When they do things that almost no one wants, is that supposed to demonstrate some form of conviction? Or is it just stupidity? (You can only hope to guess my answer.)

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/mr-trump-he-crazy-michael-wolff/

"Also, too, who's getting impeached over it?"

Well, we may see, for the first time in bizarro America, the losing candidate in a presidential election, already returned to private life, impeached and removed from an Office she does not hold, merely to avoid impeaching the corrupt filth holding the Office.

http://www.motherjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/blog_trump_quiz_idiot.gif

I would make an addition at the bottom of that list:

Marty H. Not Hillary, otherwise translated as lower taxes

That said, any sweeping from office of rump and company must include Pence and the entire Republican Party, and if not I'm in favor or retaining rump and taking my chances with worldwide nuclear war, global warming and savage revolution on the American mainland.

Why is it one or the other. In some cases it's conviction, in others it's stupidity, in others it's both.

HSH ...

If you don't want to stand in line to purchase the book, this NY Mag extract is eye opening:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-book-donald-trump.html

If this is only 20% accurate, the Trump admin is as chaotic, unfocused, self-serving, petulant and incompetent as feared.

Worrying about Clinton graft and corruption at this time is quaint.

I'll take competent and corrupt over incompetent and corrupt any day.

Fallows' take on this is spot on.

what Wolff describes is exactly what everybody already knew: Trump is an idiot child who is completely unsuited to the job, and everyone around him knows it too. but nobody on the inside wants to admit it because they're either afraid or they want to keep the gravy train rolling.

what we have here is yet another "open secret", of the same kind that swirled around people like O'Reilly and Weinstien and Matt Lauer and Louis CK. people close to those men knew exactly what was happening, and did nothing. everybody around Trump knows he's a moron, but they do nothing.

Reading thru some of my pot sources, there still appears to be some disagreement. One source says that Feds can arrest state officials, and that the threat would shut down the industry overnight. Another says that state officials can't be arrested for following state law. This makes no sense to me.

The obvious historical example would be the civil rights era, and the end of Jim Crow. But I can't think of many examples of officials going to jail, because I don't remember it ever really being challenged. The Federal Law ruled immediately and completely, and there was no question of state officials not complying or disobeying, however they might stall, cheat, or otherwise covertly try to evade. As I remember, the usual situation involved a court case and injunction, Roy Moore's rock for example. I do not remember state official being prosecuted. If the Colo Fed Attorney got a court order to obey Fed Law, I would expect Colo officials to comply.

An interesting twist on this is the motivations of that weasel Jeffrey B Sessions. Do not assume you know his motivations. A high profile case like this, taken to the Roberts-Alito-fucking Gorsuch Court, could do incredible damage to the incorporation doctrine and expand the areas reserved to the states and severely limit Federal jurisdiction in areas that would appall Democrats. Regress on this front has been moving. This neo-confederate racist fuck is likely not a deadly enemy of "states rights," and may not mind losing.

Why limit this to speaking fees? Board positions, lobbying, consulting fees, you name it. Former office holders make a bundle.

Long, LONG before I start worrying about people getting speaking fees, I want to see something done to address lobbying by former office holders. Specifically and especially former legislators.

Until and unless you address that, don't waste our time talking about speaking fees -- a speech to a private gathering isn't, after all, going to leverage their (past) office in order to cause something to happen in government. THAT'S corruption.

any sweeping from office of rump and company must include Pence and the entire Republican Party

Count, do you really want to make the perfect (by your lights) the enemy of the good? That is, if you could only get rid of Trump (or just Trump and Pence), would you refuse to do it because you couldn't get rid of the entire GOP? Somehow, I don't think so....

The obvious historical example would be the civil rights era, and the end of Jim Crow.

The type case, it seems to me, would be Little Rock and the end of segregated high schools. Nobody in the Arkansas government got tried, let alone sent to jail. They sent the freaking 82 Airborne in to enforce the Supreme Court ruling! (I remember watching it on the TV news.) But nobody went to jail.

"and Trump's enough of an idiot to go along with him"

Harkening back to Sebastian's remark up thread that ump (I'm subtracting one more letter of his name to track his total but gradual disappearance) shifts crazily all the time, we have to open ourselves to the possibility that Sessions is being set up ..... by ump.

The blowback from this decision could move ump by tomorrow morning to fire Sessions, thus placing ump in the position of the savior of the pot industry and states rights, and ridding the Prez of one more guy that thinks he's smarter than ump, which includes everyone.

I don't fully buy the dementia angle on ump. This craziness is fully in line with his behavior in conducting his criminal business enterprises his entire career. Being close to ump does not confer the normal perks it does for the rest of us. Indeed, the closer you get, the more danger you are in of having a trap door opened under you leading to a pit of ravenous crocodiles.

ump is a creature completely unlike any customary individual. My sense from reading about his business community nauseates is that his "associates", even the rank sociopaths among them, seek one thing in his presence ... to relent and give him what he demands and then get the fuck outta the room and away from him, because he makes their skin crawl.

It's very Joe Pesci/Beelzebubby the way he manipulates his world. He may well be illiterate, as in, he actually can't read, but his reptilian will to dominate overcomes all shortcomings.

The dementia thing could be a ruse. It'll come in handy when he is eventually wheeled before his prosecutors, like those Mafia chieftains who one week are partying at the Badabing Club and the very next show up in Court in a wheelchair (perhaps like Cannibal Lechter on an upright gurney), slumping to one side with a blanket over his lap and drooling from one side of his mouth into a drool cup.

There has never been anyone as simultaneously high-functioning and full of shit, but able to use his full of shitness to effectively get what he wants, as ump. You can see that judgement in the eyes all of his dupes.

The dementia ruse also helps with the republican anti every fucking thing base.

Look, they beam, he's just as fucking stupid as we are.

Read "business community nauseates" as business practices.

I am indeed nauseated, but auto-correct thinks it's smarter than I am, so auto-correct will be found soon at the booth of a river in cement running shoes.

Boots, not booth.

Eff.

I don't fully buy the dementia angle on ump. This craziness is fully in line with his behavior in conducting his criminal business enterprises his entire career.

Habits can be persistent things. You can pretty totally lose touch with reality, but you will still put on your shoes in the same order (right or left first), long after you lose track of when to put them on.

Bottom, not boots.

I couldn't care less about perfection. Or what follows the death of the Republican Party or the relative imperfections of the Democratic Party.

I want vengeance.

ump is merely the fatal mestastization of the republican cancer these last 45 years. Bury the final tumor and the body it infests.

Gotta say, McManus may have nailed Session's motivations and the fucking Gorsuch Court in his final paragraph above.

Yes, Colorado winning the Supreme Court case over marijuana could set a precedent for demanding in future cases the cessation of all federal intervention in state matters, including all environmental regulation and the constitutionality of the entire social safety net since circa 1932.

Perhaps even ending the federal income tax.

These crapmeisters may look like spaced out potheads, but they play the ruthless long game better than any hapless liberal.

Our joints have been bogarted by the straight cracker in the armchair across the room.

It's not me that wants perfection. It is conservatives with their pristine Word of God and the final word of the original Constitution.

No compromise is another word for perfection.

Again, read Hofstadter's Goldwater and Pseudo-Conservative Politics.

These killers never go away.

Indeed, I like wj because he is imperfect, like normal people.

"habits can be persistent things"

True. My mother at her dementia-ridden end couldn't find her feet her shoes were on, but despite not being particularly religious, if you sat her down in a church pew, she could sing every word of every hymn the church organist threw out there.

She didn't know me from Adam, but her sister who passed twelves years earlier, was a constant, palpable presence, as a little girl and when she wasn't there in my mother's mind, you'd better have had a damn good answer to "Where's Betty?"

And, she died 12 years ago, Mom, was NOT the answer she was looking for.

It's an open thread, so I'm gonna chuck this in the pot. Mostly for Michael Cain.

Not a lot of open land where I live, but lots of open ocean. A lot of fish live there, and people have been making a living off of it for, conservatively, 600 years. It's a breadbasket equal to that of any other region of the country.

It's also teetering on the edge of collapse, because it's been over-fished for a long time. I usually find "tragedy of the commons" stories to be mostly bullcrap, but this one is pretty much a textbook example.

The solution to the "tragedy of the commons" is to actually enforce the status of the resource as a commons. Trump and Zinke want to do the opposite.

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/01/chart-of-the-day-net-new-jobs-in-december/

Remarkable, all of the jobs created under the Commie Kenyan Zulu guy with the outrageous taxes.

Things seem to be regressing a bit under prez gimmeawinwhere'smywin.

Must be the deep state cooking the stats.

Liberal Japonicus, "My impression is that you concentrate on the Clintons when it looks to me like a systemic problem."

I concentrate on the Clintons as a particularly bad example of a systemic problem. For me that is the opposite of concentrating on the Clintons as just a pair of people I don't like or whatever. Radley Balko concentrated on the Cory Maye case because it was a particularly bad example of how no-knock police raids of the wrong house could end up with policemen dead and innocent black men railroaded into murder charges. That doesn't mean that Cory Maye was the only case of no-knock raids gone wrong. It was just a particularly bad case of no-knock raids gone wrong which is used to argue that we shouldn't be as permissive with SWAT style arrest warrants.

"The window for the Clintons is a lot bigger (longer?) that the Dole's and the Clintons won. I don't particularly like it, but I don't think that the difference in degree becomes a difference in kind. "

I don't agree with that statement at all. Things that happen on a medium scale can be medium troubling, and then become much more troubling as you scale it up. There are all sorts of semi-corrupt things we can overlook on the margins, that become terrible if allowed to become a major preoccupation.

That is why, in the context of where the norms for corruption get set after a (hopeful) dispatch of Trump, I write things like "My biggest beef with Clinton, before Trump came on the scene, was that she seemed hellbent on pushing the laws on bribery and sketchy fundraising to the very black letter limit. I wasn't comfortable with that."

The Clintons are a particularly yucky example of a systemic problem that we should be addressing. I can't tell if most of the quibbling is on "particularly yucky example". I'm totally willing to defend it, but it seems like a waste of time if you're agreeing with me that it is a big problem.

Hairshirtthedontist "the Clinton Foundation was not the Clinton's "personal wealth".
Just bears repeating."

Ugh, this is why I stopped commenting. It makes me feel like I try to write out exactly why I think something, going to great lengths to be vulnerable about how my mind works, as flawed as it is, and then get dog piled with dismissive remarks that clearly didn't even read what I wrote.

The $150 million that I raised regarding speaking fees absolutely IS CLINTON'S PERSONAL WEALTH .

That wasn't money raised for the Clinton Foundation.

That wasn't money raised for charity.

That wasn't money raised for the Democratic Party.

The Clintons raised all sorts of money for those things too. And some of that looks a little shady to my eyes too.

But I didn't want to try to carefully parse out which fundraising things were shady and which weren't. That would take the full time work of a reporter looking into it for a year or more. And it probably wouldn't be worth it because neither Clinton is running again. I fully agree that some of them might be shady too, but really who knows?

I also didn't mention all the 'board directorships' which are absolutely a bullshit cash in opportunity. And someday I have lots to say about exactly how bullshit the board of directors scams are--even for non politicians. Those are definitely an area of corruption potential that there is every indication that the Clintons worked to the hilt. (The fact that Chelsea Clinton gets appointed to a bunch of board of directors is especially galling but you can't win everything).

Ideally we would reduce all of those things to more manageable levels.

But what I did highlight is absolutely Clinton *personal wealth*. $150 million in speaking 'fees'.

My point on the Clintons is that they are a pretty clear example of a nasty systemic problem.

But especially troubling is that the Clintons appeared to want to do all the cashing in *and still want to run for president afterwards*. When you go for the big cash out, you need to stay OUT because then all of the "well we let them get away with cashing out because at least it can't be bribery because they don't directly do policy anymore" thing no longer applies. This is especially true when everyone paying those big fees knew full well that she was running for President.

I'm not *comfortable* with the norm of having politicians cash out into a tens of millions of dollar 'reward' for 'public service', but I admit that I'm at a loss for how to restrict that after they quit. But at the very least we should be able to say "Nope, you cashed out, sorry".

The whole conversation feels a bit like talking about why Trump is so awful. There are so many moving parts that the conversation has trouble settling on any one.

So yes. It is a systemic problem. Yes, the Clinton's cashed out even more than almost anyone in recent memory. Yes, they are emblematic of something that I would like to see scaled way back.

And yes, I suspect even if we survive Trump, we won't even be able to reset the tolerable corruption level as low as 5x the stuff that the Clintons did, because Trump has just blown the doors off that kind of stuff. And that depresses me immensely about the future of the US.

Very late to the party, but totally what russell said at 07.28 this a.m

Ugh, this is why I stopped commenting. It makes me feel like I try to write out exactly why I think something, going to great lengths to be vulnerable about how my mind works, as flawed as it is, and then get dog piled with dismissive remarks that clearly didn't even read what I wrote.

Sorry. It's very common for people generally, at least those very few who dislike the Clintons (ha!), to discuss the Clinton Foundation as though it's their piggy bank. (You shouldn't stop commenting over such mindless, off-handed things, btw.)

dismissive remarks that clearly didn't even read what I wrote.

what you wrote was here : http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2018/01/a-new-years-open-thread.html?cid=6a00d834515c2369e201bb09e5b232970d#comment-6a00d834515c2369e201bb09e5b232970d

you wrote a multi-paragraph comment that started out with the Clinton Foundation, moved to speaking fees, then to C.U., then to State Department staff. and the "personal wealth" phrase is in the penultimate paragraph:

It is weird that the very same people who get worked up about the corrupting power of money in Citizens United for money given to campaigns for advertising, seem completely insensitive to the idea that money might have corrupting power when given to a candidate for their own personal wealth.

if you were only talking about speaking fees there, then i apologize for my mis-read. but i did read it, and it wasn't at all clear to me that you were only talking about speaking fees there.

My biggest beef with Clinton, before Trump came on the scene, was that she seemed hellbent on pushing the laws on bribery and sketchy fundraising to the very black letter limit.

The $150 million that I raised regarding speaking fees absolutely IS CLINTON'S PERSONAL WEALTH .

You're talking about two different things here.

First, unless I'm mistaken the apostrophe in "CLINTON'S" needs to be after the S. The Clintons, as a couple, earned about $150M in speaking fees between 2000 and 2015. Ten million a year, between them.

Second, I'm not seeing how it amounts to "bribery and sketchy fundraising".

The point about not letting people "cash in" if they're going to subsequently return to public office is interesting, but I don't know how you would possibly enforce that, or even define it crisply enough to say when it was or was not happening.

The Clintons have enriched themselves to a degree that would likely not have been available to them absent their public careers. Maybe more than most, but then again they've done more, and been far more visible and in the thick of things than most. So they command six-figure speaking fees, rather than five-figure speaking fees.

I generally agree that people parlaying public careers into great personal wealth is unseemly and corrupting. Every suggestion I've made about how to address that over the last ten years here, and some number of years prior to that in other venues, has been declared to be, variously, an unfair restriction on people's ability to earn a living, or an unconstitutional restriction on people "speaking" via their dollars, or a disincentive for successful and accomplished people to enter public service.

Apparently, we don't want to do the things - any of the things - that would address the systemic problem.

I disagree that the Clintons are an unusually egregious example. They are, at this point, members of a very elite club, and making money hand over fist in a variety of ethically questionable ways is one of the prerogatives of being a member of that club.

I think it sucks, but apparently it's how we want to roll.

I'm not *comfortable* with the norm of having politicians cash out into a tens of millions of dollar 'reward' for 'public service', but I admit that I'm at a loss for how to restrict that after they quit.

I agree with Sebastian here. I find it worse than unseemly for ex-Presidents, especially, to rake in huge sums after they leave office. I don't think there is any way to stop this, but maybe they could lose their Presidential pensions and other perks once the income reaches ridiculous levels. More useful would be a norm, if there still is such a thing, that they just don't do that.

Let them take a university position, write a memoir, or head a foundation. They can even take a board seat or two. But the money-grubbing - that's what it is - should stop.

Exorbitant speaking fees are particularly bad, IMO. If a President has valuable or interesting things to say, as a result of the White House experience, that in some sense belongs to the people. Pick some spots and speak for free - to students, civic groups, etc., not to the big-money people who will pick up a six-figure tab for the prestige.

Pick some spots and speak for free

A la Harry Truman.

We're a different country than we were 60 years ago. Better in some ways, but definitely not in others.

I have no disagreement with Sebastian's distaste with people cashing in on a career in public service. I just don't see the Clinton's as a particularly egregious case. Bill maybe, Hillary not really.

The reason I make a point of it is that the "Crooked Hillary" thing is one of the reasons we are where we are now.

I would like to say that the very thing I miss about Sebastian's contributions here is the way his mind works, which is powerfully subtle and makes connections no one else notices, even when I think he's mistaken.

Slart was much the same kind of thinker, though more from an engineering point of view rather than the background in law Sebastian possesses.

It reminds me of the tweezing out of angles and weird cornices in language that lj brings to the table when he is talking about his specialties.

Or Russell's ability to point out musical subtleties.

To the extent that my manner frustrates those exposures of vulnerability in others here, all I can say is that it is nothing personal.

So keep on keeping on and maybe not be so sensitive about the background blathering, speaking for my own self.

In the blathering vein, could we reset the corruption scale back to some status quo ante, whatever that happens to be, it could very well happen as a radical over-reaction placed into law and we might be saddled with a group of individuals in leadership who can't be influenced/corrupted away from their principles in any way or by any means.

Most despots, the world-class ones, can't be corrupted. Some of the most honest folks I know are intensely unlikable or at the very least a pain in the ass to work with if compromise is what is needed.

Thus, I fear Mike Pence. His smug, chaste certainty, obliged to him alone from on high, makes me more nervous than a beauty pageant contestant standing half-dressed at her dressing room locker as ump passes by with his hands busy working over time.

ump leaves dead bodies lying around because of rank carelessness; Pence will point to them as evidence of his own uprightness and steadfastness of principle.

I would like to say that the very thing I miss about Sebastian's contributions here is the way his mind works, which is powerfully subtle and makes connections no one else notices, even when I think he's mistaken.

Agreed. There is not one damned thing wrong with Sebastian's mind, and IMO he is one of the most honorable people I've bumped into here in the blogiverse.

Exorbitant speaking fees are particularly bad, IMO.

Maybe we should just put them away in the witness protection program after they stack time in public service, or make sure they stay broke and grudgingly bail them out later a la' HST.

A systemic problem would seem to warrant a systemic solution.

One sided screeds repeating BS about Sid Blumenthal are not going to move the ball forward. Period.

Thanks.

And what cleek said at 1:17 above.

Doesn't matter, Obama is going to make the rest look like blind men with tin cups, and is going to be raking in millions long after the Clintons and Trump are dead.

Seb: ... even if we survive Trump ...

ITMFA, so we can resolve that "if".
Then we can discuss Teh Clintons for sport.

We can then also discuss what to do about the proliferation of right-wing sinecures provided to their sycophants by the rich, in "think tanks" which pass themselves off as charitable foundations.

--TP

Colorado winning the Supreme Court case over marijuana could set a precedent for demanding in future cases the cessation of all federal intervention in state matters, including all environmental regulation and the constitutionality of the entire social safety net since circa 1932.

The problem for Sessions, is that the Court (and Roberts tends to this sort of thing) may rule for Colorado on extremely narrow grounds. That is, that marijuana is not in interstate commerce . . . with no mention whatever of other possible grounds ("promote the general welfare"). Thus failing to get him the state's rights decision he would like.

Not that that would break my heart.

I disagree that the Clintons are an unusually egregious example. They are, at this point, members of a very elite club, and making money hand over fist in a variety of ethically questionable ways is one of the prerogatives of being a member of that club.

What the Clintons are is an unusually visible example. And one that a lot of people, including some who are pretty egregious examples themselves, have an interest in highlighting.

Obama is going to make the rest look like blind men with tin cups

And the evidence for this would be what? I don't doubt it's possible. I don't doubt that you sincerely believe it. I just wonder if you've got any, you know, evidence to back it up.

I'm not comfortable with how the Clintons have comported themselves since Bill left office and I'm horrified by Trump's opportunism.

Having said that ...

I don't get where people think that the flood gates will be opened for even worse activity. I don't see a bar lowering in the offing, but a (healthy) backlash. If the expected financial connections between Trump and Russia are uncovered by Mueller, does anyone doubt that we'll never allow a president to be nominated without full financial disclosures? I think we are headed for an era of greater transparency.

Thus, I fear Mike Pence.

#metoo

Russell "Agreed. There is not one damned thing wrong with Sebastian's mind, and IMO he is one of the most honorable people I've bumped into here in the blogiverse."

Thank you very much. I'm sorry I overreacted. But see my next post.

Obama is going to make the rest look like blind men with tin cups, and is going to be raking in millions long after the Clintons and Trump are dead.

and that will affect the world negatively, in what way?

he's admired and respected, and he'll be out there as an example of what a decent American president looks like. if he collects some cash on the way, why should anyone give a shit?

Maybe we should just put them away in the witness protection program after they stack time in public service, or make sure they stay broke and grudgingly bail them out later a la' HST.

A systemic problem would seem to warrant a systemic solution.

Bobbyp,

There is a large gap between penury and a $200K pension, plus whatever other reasonable income an ex-President might earn via teaching, writing, etc. Let them make money, but not grab for it at every turn.

Let them make money, but not grab for it at every turn.

I'm amazed that we're talking about Clinton or Obama getting wealthy from perfectly legal behavior when the news is full of what it's full of today.

If we're so offended by Democrats (who started out without money) becoming rich, we need to pass some laws about post-office behavior, and see whether they meet Constitutional scrutiny.

Most Republicans are wealthy before they hold office, and the matter of icky ethics seem never to be a problem for them. In the first place, nobody expects them to be ethical, and they're probably good to go anyway - they can take up painting in the bathtub rather than providing medicine to millions of people with AIDS.

Let them make money, but not grab for it at every turn.

Thanks byomtov. I can only say I come at this from a more "mcmannuslike" angle than most here. When you have a system that promotes a central virtue of grabbing for the dough at every turn by everybody, then you should not be surprised at the results.

Where is our (my) outrage at the Clintons, asks Seb rhetorically? My outrage is directed at a society that is structured to allow ANYBODY to acquire that kind of financial advantage, and the power that inevitably flows from from that fact.

Others may disagree.

Where I depart from bob is, when push comes to shove, mostly on tactical grounds where I see more shades of gray and become a neoliberal sellout. :)

Most Democratic officeholders are rich too. I don't agree with the idea that 'perfectly legal behavior' is the final word on what can be criticized in public office holders' behavior. I can't put them in prison for anything less than bribery, but I can still want them to not do it. Extra-especially if they are going to run for President afterwards.

I *criticize* post-public-office behavior, but it is something that I don't know what to do about. The corruption seems evident to me, but I'm not someone who believes that just because you can identify a problem you can also solve it. So if a politician makes decisions while in power which are influenced by the fact that they can cash out at the end, I'm *bothered* by that but I don't see any good solution. There may be some larger society-wide way of dealing with some of the cheesier methods of cashing out (as mentioned by someone else above, corporate directorships are a ripe place to attack even without giving them to ex-politicians). But I don't really see the solution.

But understanding the difficulty of letting a retiring politician cash out doesn't mean we should ignore all sorts of additional problems with someone engaging in cash out behavior while still wanting to run for higher office.

put me down for : raise the percentages on the higher tax brackets and classify more kinds of income as income; do not create laws that try to ban "money-grubbing".

if people want to pay to hear Obama speak, or to buy the books he writes, that's between him and those people.

and that will affect the world negatively, in what way?

There is absolutely no social or personal need, and horrendous social and personal costs for incomes over X amount a year. You can mark X at 1 million, I might make it 100k. Any amount of unequal luxury and power corrupts, both the rich and the relatively poor, and corrupts proportionally as the amount increases. Personal wealth itself is evil. My book collection, a few thousand used paperbacks, is a shameful vice.

After considering expenses audited conservatively (each according to her need) no one should make any more than another. Talent and effort can receive other more socially beneficent rewards and incentives.

Personal wealth itself is evil.

counterpoint: LOL. no it isn't.

he's admired and respected, and he'll be out there as an example of what a decent American president looks like.

I sometimes wonder if Americans realise how true this is. People may criticise elements of his e.g. foreign policy, or failure to capitalise on his first 2 years, but in general it seems to me that he is a symbol of intelligence, thoughtfulness, probity (the mortgage!) and an overt wish to make his country, and to some extent the world, a better place. We can only hope that his example lasts long enough to swing the pendulum back again to something the opposite of Trump, because Jimmy Carter is just too long ago. An old friend of mine, long retired from the senior foreign service of the State Department, remarked to me "I think Trump is the Manchurian Candidate, sent to destroy America". Let's hope he doesn't succeed, although it will take years to repair the damage, always supposing he is not the John the Baptist for the next, more competent, authoritarian strongman.

One thing about ex-Presidents. nobody is paying them in hopes of future government favors. (John Q. Adams and William H. Taft being very much exceptions in their post-Presidential careers.**)

So unless you can find evidence of someone who is paying huge speaking fees having gotten exceptional breaks from the government under a specific President, it might be an idea to focus more attention on those with less high profile political positions. Just because you are likely to find more real corruption (as distinct from stuff that just "looks bad.")

** For those who don't know, and don't want to look it up, after leaving the Presidency John Quincy Adams served again in the House of Representatives. And Taft, of course, went on to serve as Chief Justice. The only other ex-President to come close was Herbert Hoover leading the Hoover Commission (Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government) in the late 1940s.

I'm sorry I overreacted.

Really and truly, no worries. You "overreacting" is most people's calm and measured conversation. Including mine.

What I'd like to see:

You can't go to work in an industry over which you've had a position of oversight for five years after leaving office. "Go to work" includes not only direct employment but also lobbying, consulting, and participation in corporate boards.

If anyone in the household works in an industry for which you have oversight, you either recuse yourself from that responsibility or the household member finds another job.

No exemptions on restrictions against insider trading, for anyone, ever.

Contributions to campaigns, parties, or PACs, etc are limited to natural human persons only, or to organizations consisting of natural human persons only and incorporated specifically for political / social cause advocacy.

Some reasonable per-person annual limit on any such contributions. Feel free to make it a great big fat limit - $100K per year, per person - but it's a hard limit.

Financial disclosure for all federal office holders includes disclosure of tax filings for previous five years.

Personal finances for all federal office holders must be placed in a blind trust for the duration of their time in office.

Don't want to sign up for the above, then you don't get to hold federal office.

That's what I think is reasonable.

ump

Every couple of days, the guy loses another letter from his name.

In about a month, he's just gonna be "".

Of course you could stop ex-presidents cashing in. Give them a pension of, say $10m per year, and an income tax rate for all other income of, say, 99%.

I rather like this idea. Where's the downside?

Overall, Russell's 5:57 sounds pretty reasonable. But I do see one problem:

If anyone in the household works in an industry for which you have oversight, you either recuse yourself from that responsibility or the household member finds another job.

That would seem to ban anybody in the household being employed anywhere in the government. Specifically including as a member of the military. That seems like a somewhat excessive restriction.

That would seem to ban anybody in the household being employed anywhere in the government.

i would have no problem with an exemption for public sector employment.

https://www.vox.com/2016/8/25/12615340/hillary-clinton-foundation

Douglas Band, the Clinton Foundation’s top executive, asked the state department if Clinton could meet with "our good friend" Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman. Salman, who had given the foundation $32 million, met with Clinton. Clinton later approved a $630 million arms sale to Bahrain, according to the International Business Times.

honest question: does the SoS have final say in arms deals? seems like that would require several other agencies to sign-off on.

The Vox article is very much to the point. The problem isn't that Hillary Clinton is a crook - she isn't. It's that she doesn't have a well developed sense of what is and isn't a good idea in the way she conducts herself. And it really was a bad idea for the Clinton Foundation to be taking large donations from very wealthy people who stood to gain from Hillary's decisions as Secretary of State.

The Vox article is very much to the point. The problem isn't that Hillary Clinton is a crook - she isn't. It's that she doesn't have a well developed sense of what is and isn't a good idea in the way she conducts herself.

This would be funny, given the situation now, if the situation now weren't so apocalyptic.

An article about the sales written at the time. Congress was notified and Patrick Leahy objected.

A description of the procedure for arms sales.

This article states that :

"Bahrain is a longtime ally and the home to a large American naval base, which is considered particularly important amid the current tensions with nearby Iran." and

"The U.S. has long sold weapons to Bahrain, totaling $1.4 billion since 2000, according to the State Department. The sales didn’t come under scrutiny until security forces killed at least 19 people in the early months of the crackdown in 2011. (Dozens have died since then.)

Weird that the only sales to Bahrain under scrutiny are those during the period of Clinton's service. Oh, sorry, not weird. Clinton rules.

NB: our current secretary of state is the former CEO of ExxonMobil, and his lifetime of business dealings with foreign heads of state and sovereign enterprises was touted as one of his primary qualifications.

so, ?????

I get, and share, the concern about corruption and the appearance of corruption. The focus on the Clintons just seems to be a kind of monomania. to me.

Clinton rules, yes of course, compared with Republicans. But try the comparison with Obama. I want people on my side who get this stuff right. If Republicans are as bad as we think they are (and for many of them we're right) we should aspire higher than being no worse.

But try the comparison with Obama.

The comparison doesn't work in this instance. Obama wasn't ever Secretary of State. The alleged sketchiness occurred in his administration, so shouldn't it have raised a red flag? It didn't because it wasn't a real issue. It's a made up issue.

If you don't think there's anything wrong with the donations, or the email server, we disagree about that. If you do, and think Hillary is uniquely blameworthy, you're a Republican partisan. If you think it's wrong when Republicans do that stuff, but not when Hillary does, you're a Democrat partisan. But if you want to blame Obama for not acting as Hillary's moral guardian, wow.

But if you want to blame Obama for not acting as Hillary's moral guardian, wow.

That's kinda funny.

My point was that Hillary Clinton's behavior as Secretary of State was not corrupt. Good for you for buying into the right wing narrative - maybe we should lock her up? You're going to have a lot more to swallow since that's you're wont, and since they're on a tear. You're probably gnashing your teeth over Andrew McCabe as well?

If Obama had believed that deals were being done in the State Department as some kind of a payoff to the Clintons, he probably should have fired her, don't you agree? Of course, he didn't think so, because unlike you, he didn't buy into the right wing narrative.

From all appearances, Obama is on my side in this, not yours, so don't twist this into a criticism of Obama by me. Or at least provide some evidence that he had issues with the Clinton Foundation.

Oh, and I see you're still worried about ... her emails. What a crock.

Pro Bono, by the way: "you're a Democrat partisan"

Maybe "Your a Democratic partisan" is more correct, unless you're a Republican partisan. It's the "Democratic Party". Did you learn your grammar from the right wing, as well as your sensibilities about the "Clinton crimes"?

Sorry, in my rage, I made a typo as well: "You're a Democratic partisan" would be the correct way to describe a Democratic partisan.

Yes, I am somewhat enraged, and I apologize - time for bed. In your leisure, Pro Bono, maybe you can explain why "the emails" are so troubling.

Yes, we disagree. Goodnight!

I was told by somebody in the know that Sid Blumenthal went to the Clinton house every day in the evening to sit by the notorious server culling out all the personal emails proving the Clinton Foundation was just a vast influence peddling slush fund dreamed up by Vince Foster who paid for that insight with his life.

And for this Sid was paid a measly $120,000 per year. What 'effing cheap ingrates.

If you think it's wrong when Republicans do that stuff, but not when Hillary does, you're a Democrat partisan

Not once have I ever complained about Colin Powell using a personal server for St. Dept. business communications.

But I will admit to being a partisan Democrat (in the correct grammatical usage of the terms).

I know you're just joking about culling the emails. But Blumenthal didn't just get paid $120,000 a year. That was what he got from the Clinton Foundation. He was earning about three times that much. The Clinton Foundation was just his side job.

There's nothing remotely ungrammatical in English about using nouns as modifiers.

how much should Sib Blumenthal have received from the Clinton Foundation ?

the vox article calls out the fact that making donations might make it more likely for the donor to have their voice heard.

i'm kind of dumbfounded by this. of course they will be more likely to have their voice heard. that is literally how our government functions.

is it ethically questionable? yes, it probably is. and, it is how our government functions. cut a check and you phone call will be more likely to be answered.

there is *nothing whatsoever* unusual about it. there is likely no person who has run for or held national office about whom that claim could not be made. including saint bernie.

other highlights were that the saudis and bahrainis made contributions, and subsequently had arms sales approved.

we have been selling arms to both of those countries for, like, ever. with or without contributions to clinton foundation. before the clinton foundation existed. the saudis and bahrainis do not need to make donations to the clinton foundation to get favors, they have been joined at the hip to US foreign policy ever since crude oil was discovered under their sand.

people don't like the clintons. so be it. but this stuff is just silly.

There's nothing remotely ungrammatical in English about using nouns as modifiers.

In case you weren't aware of the connotation of your usage, here's a helpful Wikipedia article. Also NPR. Also Daily Kos.

Your self-expression is obviously your own call, but if you're not aware of how it comes across, perhaps you should take a look.

Go ahead and call people "Democrat" partisans. We'll take that as permission to call you a "Teabagger". You'll just have to "suck it up".

Ok, I'm English, I didn't know it was an issue. I'm generally happy to use the terminology people prefer. But I do suggest you give up the "ungrammatical" argument, which is palpable nonsense.

Oh, and this being the internet, you can call me anything the moderators allow. If you can't tell from my comments here that I have no sympathy for the Republican Party, either my powers of expression or your powers of comprehension are sadly lacking.

But I do suggest you give up the "ungrammatical" argument, which is palpable nonsense.

Well, I'm not a grammar pedant - and we all have just seen why. But since we're chatting about it, "Democrat partisan" is at the very least redundant.

Bashing Clinton may not indicate sympathy with the Republican party generally, but you are helping out with one of their tactics: to change the conversation to "Look! Clinton! Lock her up!" instead of "Look! Democracy is over! Let's act now!" That's a beef I have with Bernie sympathizers, much more so than my actual disagreement with their policy views.

I'll accept what you say at face value, that you're English, and didn't know this is "a thing".

Thought this might be of interest in the context of the Clinton / corruption / screwed up politics discussion.

Thought this might be of interest in the context of the Clinton / corruption / screwed up politics discussion.

There's a useful comment underneath the article by someone named Alan.

Because we live in a market economy where money is influential, people use money in this way. If money were removed, people would use something else. People with whatever currency of influence there is will always be able to influence. We can and should (and do) draw lines, and enforce them, but the phenomenon can't be eliminated entirely.

There's a useful comment underneath the article by someone named Alan.

That is an excellent and thoughtful comment, thanks for pointing me to it.

We can and should (and do) draw lines, and enforce them, but the phenomenon can't be eliminated entirely.

I agree, however IMO the status quo has gone profoundly awry. It's not a matter of eliminating it entirely, it's a matter of having it not be the norm.

My feeling on the topic generally is that people who assume positions of responsibility should also expect and accept that they will be subject to stronger rules about their conduct. They should expect to be under a microscope, and they should expect that they may need to forgo things that they may have a right to enjoy, but which could be seen as undermining or compromising their integrity and impartiality in office.

A higher bar.

Not everyone will want that, and those folks should not seek positions of public responsibility.

I'm not picking on Clinton here, IMO both of the Clintons were excellent public servants, and the paths they've taken to enrich themselves are well within the norm. They are, in many ways, more transparent than most in their position.

the Clintons have been under a whole biology department's worth of microscopes for decades. whatever there is to find has been found.

TrumpCo on the other hand is just getting started!

I agree, however IMO the status quo has gone profoundly awry. It's not a matter of eliminating it entirely, it's a matter of having it not be the norm.

I think so too, but agree with you that the focus on the Clintons is misguided. When I said that we enforce lines, we certainly aren't doing that now, so I retract that. Pre-Trump, we did have lines, and we did enforce them. It might have been worthwhile (and maybe in the future will again be worthwhile) to discuss how to tighten our expectations of public officials, but now that everything has gone kerflooey, it seems like just getting back to the previous baseline is our immediate task.

I should apologize, perhaps, for being so sensitive about the Clintons, and I know my reputation here is to be a bit overzealous. But if the Clintons were a baseline as the standard for public service, our country would be in good shape. The Obama administration even more phenomenally so. I don't think we can do much better than that, so I find the constant refrain from some people about Clinton corruption to be really tiresome.

TrumpCo on the other hand is just getting started!

Just a shout out to Di Fei - Yes, I know she's done some stuff that people, including me, don't like, but good on her! This was spectacular! Thank you, Dianne!

"But if the Clintons were a baseline as the standard for public service, our country would be in good shape."

They are, thus Trump. I don't see that as good shape.

Pie filters are nice because you can peek, take a pause, and remember why you did that.

For all the back and forth on this site I have never filtered anyone. I disagree with many here, really take some shots from others, but I read them all.

Proof, if it were still needed, that the irony gene is absent from the Trump genome....
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/09/ivanka-metoo-supporter-trump-daughter-329038

Good for you, Marty. I peek at your posts, obviously, but I have an anger management problem (only on ObWi, where I have been banned, not with my family or pets), and the pie filter helps me to take a step back.

Thanks, cleek, for providing us with that pause moment!

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