Wednesday, November 19, 2008

$$$$ Millions Of Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Not Be Secretary of State

One of the millions of reasons Hillary Clinton should not be secretary of state (should not be in any government office for that matter) is because her husband takes way way way too much money as "gifts" or "contributions" from "interest groups", including lots of foreign countries and people inside the U.S. who are lobbying on behalf of foreign countries. Presumably at least some of these people giving money to Bill Clinton have been trying to buy influence in the event Hillary became president. There's certainly something to be said to having the U.S. Secretary of State's husband as your bff. Put differently, the hundreds of millions of dollars given to Bill Clinton since he left office suggests he is selling something more than his pretty face. Like influence and connections. Which looks really tacky for an ex-president. But of more importance, it would make it extremely hard for anyone to believe that Hillary could be fair in assessing positions of one country (which gave her and Bill a bundle) and another country (too poor to pay). Our politicians, our public officials, those we choose to represent us to the world, should not be for sale to the highest bidders.

Many countries have laws making it straight-up illegal for any government employee to accept anything from anyone, other than family gifts. There are good reasons for this. It is not necessary that there be actual influence peddling, vote-selling, corrupt actions, in order for money paid and taken to undermine and destroy a country. It is only required that there be the appearance of impropriety, because that destroys the confidence of the citizens in the integrity of their government. If, for example, a judge accepted a gift from the lawyer representing Client A, it is inevitable that Client B, in a trial in front of that judge and against Client A, will feel that the judge is corrupt. After all, he has taken something of value from the lawyer for the other side. Regardless of anyone's secret intent, this creates the appearance of impropriety. If the cop accepts free meals or fixes traffic tickets, or the politician's kid is let go without being charged while the non-politician's kid is charged under the same facts, all of this leads the public to conclude the system is corrupt, the insiders cheat, and so should they.

It's despicable that our Congress is so corrupt. All the Senators, all the Representatives take money from Wall Street, for example, then look the other way while Wall Street steals everything in this country including the little kids' piggy banks. Congress takes money from the credit card industry which literally hands them a new law that the credit card industry wrote, which law is intended to make it impossible for anyone to discharge credit card debt through bankruptcy. And then after Congress takes money from the credit card companies, they vote to pass that law. If it's not corrupt, it sure smells like it.

But we need to stop not only Congress and the white house from taking money. We also need laws prohibiting anyone who leaves federal office or employment from taking certain kinds of money for at least 5 years after they leave office. Otherwise, it looks like the former-employee is being paid for having improperly used their office. For example, Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, a convicted felon. And before he did that, and while Clinton was still president, Marc's ex-wife paid $450,000 to an entity Bill Clinton had set up to collect contributions, which he named the Clinton Foundation. And another of Marc Rich's friends gave $1.0 million to that Foundation. Then Clinton pardoned Rich. Did he buy the pardon? It certainly looked like it. Hard to argue otherwise. But whether he did or not, it created the appearance of impropriety and made all of the Democrats look cheap and dishonest.

Ever since he left the white house, Bill Clinton has gone around the world collecting hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign countries and exceedingly rich people. Some might argue that this is money being paid to thank him for passing the free trade policies of the 1990s which authorized U.S. businesses to take jobs to third world countries and use child, prison, and slave labor. Which has destroyed manufacturing inside the U.S. He was also instrumental in deregulating the financial companies, and look where that's led us.

Others would argue it's just influence peddling. Or future influence, since everyone thought Hillary was the likely candidate for 2008. However you look at it, it seems really sleazy. When Ronald Reagan left office, the nation was stunned when he accepted $2.0 million from Japan for an appearance in that country. Small potatoes compared to the hundreds of millions Bill has raked in.

Bill Clinton has not just received money in his own name. I think $110 million is money paid to him and Hillary for the "personal" money. But that's just the beginning. He's set up lots of different places to put money. And much of the money is from "secret" sources that Bill refuses to disclose. Like stuffing wads in different pants' pockets, and this guy has more pockets than a pool table.

There's the "foundation," an institution set up to fund his library and create an international charitable organization that gets major corporations together once a year for a lavish gathering in New York City where the corporate representatives dine on exotic fare and sympathize with the starving masses, bringing checks from the corporate entities to pay into the charity bucket, networking, and presumably trying to consolidate their position in taking over the entire world.

Bill Clinton's foundation has reportedly received $500 million in contributions from foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, from major corporations, from rich people.

The Bill Clinton presidential library fund (apparently part of the foundation) is one of the pockets into which Bill has been stuffing big wads of money ($170 million?) including a reported $10 million from Saudi Arabia, $1.0 million each from various middle-eastern governments, and the $450,000 reportedly paid by the wife of fugitive Mark Rich immediately before Clinton agreed to pardon Rich. Clinton has claimed that the library fund is a charity, that the donors may remain confidential, and he has consistently refused to identify those donors.

The Washington Post link below is to two of Hillary Clinton's financial disclosure statements, for 2005 and 2006, while a Senator. Just for an example, in 2006, General Motors paid Bill Clinton $200,000 (6/15/06) for a "speech"; Mortgage Bankers Association paid him $150,000 for a speech on 10/23; Jewish National Fund paid $150,000 on 11/8 and the Simon Wiesenthal Center paid him $150,000 on 3/5; something called the Biotechnology Industry Org. paid him $150,000 on 4/11/06; IBM ponied up $200,000 on 4/30; Cisco $150,000 on 5/18; Citigroup paid $150,000 on 11/15; The Latin American Institute of Education Communication ponied up $300,000 on 11/16. And that's just a small part of it.

The current thinking is that if questionable practices are "disclosed" by the politicians, then that solves the problem. If the public doesn't like it, they can throw the politician, or the party, out of office. But that's nonsense. The public doesn't have time to figure out who is giving money, for what purposes, and the politicians always lie about it. We need strict laws to get money out of politics.

As for Hillary Clinton, given the money her husband has taken in recent years, the mere disclosure does not solve the problem. Her ability to be fair and unbiased in representing the U.S. would be called into question because of the hundreds of millions of dollars in wealth given to the Clintons by special interests and foreign nations in recent years. She should decline the offer.

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