Later On

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Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

Uh-oh: Some revealing details of Clinton finances

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This at the very least looks bad, particularly the money “donated” by Marc Rich’s wife (pretty clearly in exchange for Marc Rich’s pardon by Clinton hours before he left office). Pam Martens and Russ Martens report:

Hillary Clinton, who has yet to be named the Democratic candidate for President in 2016, finds herself enmeshed in a transatlantic scandal that is an untimely reminder of the scandal fatigue that Americans were forced to endure during the Presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton.

Last Monday, the Guardian newspaper, the BBC, the French newspaper, Le Monde and dozens of other news outlets disclosed that the Swiss banking unit of the global behemoth bank, HSBC, had assisted the ultra rich in hiding assets and providing advice on how to evade domestic tax authorities.

The documentation for the revelations were provided by a former HSBC employee, Hervé Falciani, to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

That news broke on Monday, February 9. The Clinton bombshell came the next day, Tuesday, February 10, when the Guardian reported that seven clients of the Swiss HSBC bank had cumulatively donated $81 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation – a nonprofit that runs the Clinton Global Initiative, the Clinton Presidential Library and numerous other programs.

The Guardian report was quick to point out that there was no evidence that any of the seven donors had evaded taxes and that it “is not unlawful for US or other non-Swiss citizens to hold accounts in Geneva.”

Two of the donors listed in the leaked files are raising eyebrows. According to the Guardian report, one of the donors who had a Swiss HSBC account is Jeffrey Epstein, “the wealthy financier who was jailed for 13 months in 2008 for soliciting sex with underage girls.”  Another, reports the Guardian, was Denise Rich, the ex-wife of the now deceased Marc Rich, who fled the U.S. after being indicted for tax evasion, fraud and racketeering and then received a highly controversial pardon by President Clinton just hours before he left office.

On the heels of the Guardian’s report last week comes news in the Wall Street Journal this morning that the Clinton Foundation is also accepting donations from foreign governments. One of those countries is Saudi Arabia, the country that has played an outsized role in collapsing the price of oil and putting many U.S. shale producers in financial jeopardy. According to the Journal, Saudi Arabia had donated between $10 and $25 million since 1999 to the Clinton Foundation with a portion of that coming in 2014. The Foundation’s database lists only a dollar range for donations.

Other recent foreign government donors include the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Australia, Germany and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development agency of Canada, a government agency promoting the Keystone XL pipeline, according to the Journal report. The paper notes that the Clinton Foundation had stopped raising money from foreign governments in 2009 while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State.

Adding further political intrigue, the New York Times is out with a report this morning indicating that the Geneva prosecutor’s office has released a statement acknowledging that it has opened a criminal inquiry into potential aggravated money laundering at the HSBC Swiss banking unit and is engaged in a search of its offices today.

Related Article:

Hillary and Bill: Their Rugged Journey from Paupers to One-Percenters in 365 Days

The Marc Rich pardon was already quite ugly and suspicious, and to find that it apparently was purchased is very unpleasant.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2015 at 3:46 pm

How White Liberals Used Civil Rights to Create More Prisons

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Radley Balko in his morning links points out this interesting article by Willie Osterweil in The Nation:

Neither liberals nor conservatives are chomping at the bit to discuss the historical roots of the modern gun-rights movement. If asked to describe it, liberals will gesture vaguely at the eighties and nineties, blaming survivalists, school shootings, “cold, dead hands” and the National Rifle Association. Conservatives, on the other hand, will jump the historical mark by some distance, talking about the founding fathers, the Second Amendment and the right to an armed militia. Neither side wants to admit that the first modern anti-carry law was passed by California Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967. Nor would they want to mention that Reagan passed the law to disarm the twentieth century’s greatest gun-rights militia: the Black Panther Party. Political genealogies in America are more mixed than the 24/7 news cycle will allow.

In her first book, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison in America, historian Naomi Murakawa demonstrates how the American prison state emerged not out of race-baiting states’-rights advocates nor tough-on-crime drug warriors but rather from federal legislation written by liberals working to guarantee racial equality under the law. The prison industry, and its associated police forces, spy agencies and kangaroo courts, is perhaps the most horrific piece of a fundamentally racist and unequal American civil society. More people are under correctional supervision in the United States than were in the Gulag archipelago at the height of the Great Terror; there are more black men in prison, jail or parole than were enslaved in 1850. How did this happen?

The common-sense answer is that launching the war on drugs during the backlash against civil-rights struggles encouraged agents of the criminal-justice system to lock up black people for minor infractions. This isn’t wrong, or not exactly. Ronald Reagan’s infamous Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which established federal minimums (a k a sentencing “guidelines”) and abolished parole in the federal prison systems, did lead to an explosion in the number of federal prisoners, particularly drug offenders. It was one of the pivotal moments in the production of the prison-industrial complex (PIC)—the overlapping sphere of government and industrial activity that employs hundreds of thousands of guards, cops, judges, lawyers, bail-bondsmen, administrators and service employees and which sees millions of prisoners performing barely paid production labor to generate profit. But, as Murakawa painstakingly demonstrates, the Sentencing Reform Act has a “liberal core,” and is built on the technical and administrative logic of racial fairness that structures all federal civil-rights legislation.

This is the fundamental thesis of Murakawa’s book: legal civil rights and the American carceral state are built on the same conceptions of race, the state and their relationship. As liberals believe that racism is first and foremost a question of individual bias, they imagine racism can be overcome by removing the discretion of (potentially racist) individuals within government through a set of well-crafted laws and rules. If obviously discriminatory laws can be struck down, and judges, statesmen or administrators aren’t allowed to give reign to their racism, then the system should achieve racially just outcomes. But even putting aside the fact that a removal of individual discretion is impossible, such a conception of “fairness” applies just as easily to producing sentencing minimums as school desegregation.

Murakawa’s method is to apply deconstruction to the congressional record, reading government documents in search of their guiding political and ideological assumptions. “Implicitly,” she argues, “this perspective discounts intentions, recognizing that racial power is not necessarily exerted by will.” Why wade through rancorous debate between liberals and conservatives if all the hubbub resulted in a massively bipartisan project of racist imprisonment?

But Murakawa does not simply collapse liberal and conservative into each other. She makes an important distinction between postwar racial-liberalism and postwar racial-conservatism. Race conservatives are those who don’t believe that racism is real, but that race is: they believe that black people are innately inferior to whites, and attribute their place in society to a failure of black culture. This race-conservatism is what is broadly considered “real racism.”

Race-liberalism, on the other hand, remains the dominant—and usually unspoken—American framework for understanding race. Built on the premise that racism is real but manifests as the prejudice of white people, race-liberals argue that individuals’ racism can corrupt institutions and bias them against black people. That bias damages black psyches as well as black people’s economic and social prospects. Race-liberals believe that training, laws, stricter rules and oversight can eliminate prejudice and render institutions “colorblind.” Since it is biased treatment that damages black prospects, then this fix—civil rights—applied to all of society’s institutions, would eventually end racial disparity.

Both race-liberals and race-conservatives base their theories on one disastrous assumption: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2015 at 11:45 am

Diane Feinstein tailors the law depending on the individual who broke it

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Glenn Greenwald writes in The Intercept:

When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released his latest document trove—more than 250,000 secret State Department cables—he intentionally harmed the U.S. government. The release of these documents damages our national interests and puts innocent lives at risk. He should be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.

The law Mr. Assange continues to violate is the Espionage Act of 1917. That law makes it a felony for an unauthorized person to possess or transmit “information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”

The Espionage Act also makes it a felony to fail to return such materials to the U.S. government. Importantly, the courts have held that “information relating to the national defense” applies to both classified and unclassified material. Each violation is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The Hill, June 10, 2013 (“Feinstein Calls Snowden’s NSA Leaks an “Act of Treason”):

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday said the 29-year-old man who leaked information about two national security programs is guilty of treason. . . . “I don’t look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it’s an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters.

The California lawmaker went on to say that Snowden had violated his oath to defend the Constitution. “He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s treason.”

Ars Technica, November 3, 2013:

If it wasn’t already clear that the US government was unhappy with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden—and the feds want him extradited, President Obama denounced him—it is now. Today, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and her House counterpart, Mike Rogers (R-MI), both emphasized there would be no mercy coming from Washington.

“He was trusted; he stripped our system; he had an opportunity—if what he was, was a whistle-blower—to pick up the phone and call the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and say I have some information,” Feinstein told CBS’ Face The Nation. “But that didn’t happen. He’s done this enormous disservice to our country, and I think the answer is no clemency.”

The New York Times, 3 days ago:

The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against David H. Petraeus, contending that he provided classified information to a lover while he was director of the C.I.A., officials said, and leaving Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to decide whether to seek an indictment that could send the pre-eminent military officer of his generation to prison.

The Huffington Post, yesterday (“Dianne Feinstein Urges Government Not To Seek David Petraeus Indictment”):

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged the Department of Justice not to bring criminal charges against former CIA Director David Petraeus over his handling of classified information.

This man has suffered enough in my view,” Feinstein said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, explaining why she doesn’t think Attorney General Eric Holder should seek an indictment.

Petraeus “made a mistake,” added the senator, who is vice chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “But … it’s done, it’s over. He’s retired. He’s lost his job. How much does the government want?”

David Petraeus, the person whom Feinstein said has “suffered enough,” washired last year by the $73 billion investment fund KKR to be Chairman of its newly created KKR Global Institute, on top of the $220,000/year pension he receives from the U.S. Army and the teaching position he holds at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Let us all pause for a moment to lament the deep suffering of this man, and the grave injustice of inflicting any further deprivation upon him.

In 2011, I wrote a book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, that examined the two-tiered justice system prevailing in the U.S.: how the U.S. imprisons more of its citizens than any other country in the world (both in absolute numbers and proportionally) often for trivial transgressions, while immunizing its political and economic elites from even the most egregious crimes. Matt Taibbi’s book, The Divide, examines the same dynamic with a focus on the protection of economic elites and legal repression of ordinary citizens in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

This latest example from Feinstein is one of the most vivid yet. She wanted Julian Assange – who isn’t even a U.S. citizen and never served in the U.S. Government – prosecuted for espionage for exposing war crimes, and demanded that Edward Snowden be charged with “treason” for exposing illegal eavesdropping which shocked the world. But a four-star general who leaked classified information not for any noble purpose but to his mistress for personal reasons should be protected from any legal consequences. . .

Continue reading.

Diane Feinstein simply does not believe that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. She will make exceptions depending on how well she likes a person, offering them de facto legal immunity. Fortunately, this is her last Senate term. She is occasionally right on the issues (as in releasing the summary of the Senate torture investigation), but quite often wrong (as in allowing the intelligence services, including the CIA, to run amok).

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2015 at 11:09 am

A moving tribute to Mario Cuomo, who died today aged 82

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Ken Auletta writes in the New Yorker:

The 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates scouting report on Mario Cuomo in his first year in the minor leagues described him as “potentially the best prospect on the club.” The author noted that the young player “needs instruction” but “could go all the way.”

Cuomo did not go all the way in baseball (he couldn’t hit a curveball). Nor did he go all the way in politics. He chose not to run for President in 1992 because his ambition was superseded by his distaste for the grovelling, the fundraising, the selling, the motels. He did, however, “go all the way” as a public man.

Mario Cuomo had a combination of skills rarely seen in public life. Unlike most pols, he had an active interior life. He spent hours reflecting on events and writing in his diary, not to tout his greatness but to formulate his own thinking. His bookcases were crammed with books he had read and annotated—works by Aristotle, Dante, Marcus Aurelius, and the Jesuit theologian Teilhard de Chardin. His ego was in check and, unlike such able contemporaries as Ed Koch and Hugh Carey, he did not treat others in a room as his audience. He had the rare ability to listen, and he could see four sides of an issue. In the early seventies, these talents allowed him to successfully mediate the seemingly unbridgeable Forest Hills housing divide—low-income public housing was moving into an upper-middle-class neighborhood—and in the process develop a citywide identity.

He was incapable of faking conviction and thus ran a terrible campaign for mayor against Ed Koch, in 1977. His heart was not in the race. On the eve of the mayoral runoff between Cuomo and Koch, I wrote a column that appeared on page 3 of the New York Daily News about how, for me, the real conflict in the campaign was not the one between Koch and Cuomo but the one between “Mario Cuomo the man and the reality of his candidacy.” I also noted that, for me, the campaign was about “falling out of love with Mario Cuomo.” Over the years, he told me more than once how that column wounded him. But he never lashed out or personalized it. He had an ability to laugh at himself. I remember him telling me, “I ran a ridiculous campaign, but you’re still an ass!”

When he was elected governor in 1982, I spent five months in Albany reporting a two-part New Yorker Profile of Cuomo. We conducted more than a few interviews around the dining-room table at the mansion. One night, he served a bottle of white wine wrapped in a linen cloth. When I asked about the wine, he responded like a pitchman for his state: “This is New York State’s finest.” I didn’t believe him and unfolded the linen. He watched with a twinkle in his eye as I held up the naked bottle of Corvo from Italy. His gubernatorial staff consisted of heavyweights like the press secretary Tim Russert, but the media narrative was that Cuomo was handicapped by an insular claque led by his son Andrew and his former law-school classmate Fabian Palomino. Yet what I witnessed in the five months I spent profiling Cuomo for this magazine was that Andrew and Palomino, who each called him Mario, confronted him with unpleasant truths that most of his staff often tried to duck.

The time he spent with his books and wrestling with his diary helped lead him to thoughtful, principled positions. He opposed the death penalty and vetoed a bill that would have introduced it in the state. Then he took the time to publicly expound on his position, which was an unpopular one in New York at a moment when crime was rampant. It became a major reason he was defeated for a fourth term as governor. He defied his Catholicism by explaining that while he was personally opposed to abortion he defended a woman’s right to choose. Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor contemplated excommunicating him from the Church.

But my most vivid, and maybe most consequential memory of Mario Cuomo was . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 January 2015 at 8:07 pm

Corruption via cronies: Democratic Party edition

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Ken Silverstein writes in The Intercept:

Long before Jim Messina became a trusted aide to President Barack Obama and one of the most powerful men in Washington, he was just a simple boy from Boise. Now, after working in politics for just over a decade, he lives in a lavish D.C. estate. How this happened is a classic Washington Cinderella story.

Raised in Idaho by a single mother, Messina moved to Washington in 1995, in his mid-20s, to take a job as a legislative aide for Max Baucus, the conservative Democratic senator from Montana (now ambassador to China). Baucus supported George W. Bush-era personal and corporate tax cuts, and other policies favored by the Wall Street firms, pharmaceutical companies, and lobbyists, from whom he raised so much money.

Up until 2002, Messina was still largely unknown. But that year, when managing Baucus’s Senate re-election campaign, he released one of themore homophobic ads of modern political times. It featured footage from a 20-year-old TV ad for a hair salon run by Baucus’s opponent, Mike Taylor –who at the time was 20 points behind in the polls and had no chance of winning –who was seen massaging a man’s face while wearing an open-front shirt, and hence was obviously supposed to be gay.

The ad, set to a porn soundtrack, caused Taylor to drop out of the race. When he announced two weeks later that he was resuming a limited campaign aimed largely at “getting the slander out of Montana politics,” Messina issued a public letter that asked Taylor to sign a “clean campaign pledge” for the remainder of the race, saying, “We take you at your word that you want to turn over a new leaf and run a positive campaign.”

This sort of scumminess put Messina on the map in Democratic circles. He also became known as a world class asshole who kept an “enemies” list on an Excel spreadsheet. “Everybody was a douchebag,” says a person who knew him then. “He kept score.”

In 2008, Messina joined Obama’s presidential campaign and after the inauguration was named as a deputy chief of staff under the awful Rahm Emanuel. One of his first jobs was to salvage Timothy Geithner’s confirmation as Treasury Secretary, which was endangered due to tax irregularities. The fact that Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was in charge of Geithner’s confirmation made Messina’s job a lot easier. (The basic story is told in this Washington Post blow job, or “beat sweetener,” as it’s known in D.C. journalism circles.)

By the time he turned 40 in October 2009, Messina was a Washington VIP. His birthday party — “ROCK OUT WITH JIM MESSINA AS HE TURNS 40!”, said the emailed invitation — was held at the Gibson, a trendy D.C. bar, and hosted by Baucus, Emanuel, Pete Rouse, then a senior Obama advisor, andJim Crounse, one of Messina’s closest friends, a former Baucus chief of staff and now one of the top Democratic direct mail consultants in the country.Three years later, Messina’s star had risen even further — he was in charge of Obama’s 2012 reelection. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2014 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Democrats, Politics

For political junkies: Elizabeth Warren’s role similar to Jim DeMint’s, not Ted Cruz’s

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Interesting column by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2014 at 11:51 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, GOP

Two articles on Elizabeth Warren and her success through being straightforward

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2014 at 2:32 pm

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