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Posts published in “Day: September 6, 2016”

Just rewards for good works

mckee

If the drumbeat was only from Trump, I would put it into perspective and recognize it for an extension of his mantra that anything Hillary Clinton does or says is wrong, immoral, illegal, unethical and treasonous; all part of an underground left wing conspiracy to destroy the way of life enjoyed by the Conservatives among us – or at least that part of it guaranteed by the Second Amendment. One may have to keep correcting the outrageous lies are spewing forth, but so long as the facts are kept in line, the wacky conclusions can ordinarily usually be ignored and allowed to wither and die without undue attention. But this one has a disheartening twist.

In this case, Trump is bellowing, without a shred of hard evidence, that the connection between the Clintons and their foundation is corrupt and criminal, and an exploitation of the personal relationships involved. Trump and his minions maintain, without evidence, that it has grown into an example of the unethical and immoral practice of “quid pro quo” – the illegal payment to an individual or his campaign in exchange for the deliverance of a governmental benefit – except that the formula doesn’t make any sense when one of the parties is giving benefits away not seeking government deliverance, and no one is deriving any personal profit or personal gain from anything. Nobody has been able to even fashion a grammatically correct sentence that puts forth any hard facts that actually connects anything said or done by anybody involved with the Clinton Foundation that is illegal or immoral, or anything that is even remotely clandestine, or sketchy, or of questionable ethics or morality. Nothing. Nada.

The Clinton Foundation has raised and distributed billions of dollars worldwide, enjoys unparalleled friendly relations with governments and persons of wealth throughout the world; enjoys an extraordinary and close relationship with a huge cadre of donors and volunteers throughout the world; has received nothing but the highest of ratings from independent rating services for its organization and transparency; and has received nothing but praise for its works. Former President George H.W. Bush has frequently partnered with former President Clinton in Clinton Foundation program activities.

It is truly a remarkable organization that was conceived and brought into prominence largely through the energy and devotion to the cause of one man -- Bill Clinton. It is unlike any other charitable foundation in the world. Neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton have taken a dime in income from the foundation, either for their personal use or for any of Hillary’s political campaigns.

The only thing offered by Trump and his surrogates is a collection of opinions based upon totem-pole hearsay and unfounded inferences drawn from some meeting calendars and a handful of emails recently released by the State Department. The worst admission in any of the emails may be the line in one written by Huma Abedin to a staffer at the Clinton Foundation, in reply to a request to Huma to arrange a meeting for an influential donor, where Huma’s response was, “I’ll ask.” Or perhaps, it was the email from the same staffer seeking help in finding a position with State for an employee leaving the foundation. The reply was that the person was known to those at State and that they would keep an eye on personnel developments, because the individual was “on our radar.” It is reported that no meeting with the influential donor ever occurred, although I do not see that it would have made any difference if it had happened. It is not reported whether the friend of everybody got the job.

Two reporters from the Associate Press wrote an expose claiming that fully half of all non-State department related meetings by Secretary Clinton involved donors of the Clinton Foundation – except that the entire premise of the story was promptly and completely debunked. The real fact is that most of the extraordinarily wealthy individuals on the Foundation’s list are already well known throughout the halls of power, and do not need to rely upon any particular portal controlled by the Clintons to gain access to anywhere. Networking is the lifeblood of society, not just politics, as is fully well known, and the communication among staffers found in the emails are merely indications of the normal level networking that exists everywhere.

Many, if not most of the Foundation programs already involve matters and issues that are also of official interest to the State Department. A natural assumption, born out by the explanation of many of Clinton’s meetings, is that any individual interested in supporting Foundation activities is probably also be interested in official State Department programs in the same area. Certainly in some of these areas it was the State Department that was seeking assistance in gaining access to resources back in the home of the contact, and not the other way around.

The point is that nothing raised by anybody so far is even remotely improper. Conversations of exactly this nature occur constantly throughout Washington and the seats of power throughout the world, and include every office of Congress and the entirety of the agencies and departments of the United States.

Despite all of this, the amazing result is that no one is coming to the Secretary’s or the Foundation’s assistance here. Even though the Clintons have acknowledged that if Hillary is elected steps would be taken to isolate the Foundation from any connection with the Oval Office, this is not satisfying many elements of the left. Although there is no legal reason to take action, no ethical breach has been demonstrated and no wrongs are likely to be committed, just because it is the Clintons, the media has determined that the “optics” are wrong. Many from the left are demanding the ties be severed at once, or that the foundation be dismantled. Dismantled!

Even if a cozy relationship did exist, and even if Bill and Chelsea ran the Foundation while Hillary ran the country, and even if they compared notes every night, so long as the Foundation continued to actually produce the good results throughout the world that have been produced up to now, why would this be any cause for alarm?

Hillary has enough on her plate fending off the atrocious slurs from Trump and the far right without any unnecessary sniping from her own backyard just because somebody thinks the “optics” are wrong.

The whole thing is a baseless kerfuffle and nothing needs to be done, now or later.

Trump 64: An unmoored perspective

trump

Imagine a small boat, tethered to a dock. It also alongside other boats, similarly tethered, and all of them are linked in some common relationship.

Now image that small boat untethered, loosened, wandering around the ocean with not even a shoreline visible, with no frame of reference at all but . . . itself.

Now picture Donald Trump, candidate for the ultimate connected people - the single job that most directly affects other people - saying this:

“It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

He said those words on a long-forgotten video, from a 1997 interview with radio jock Howard Stern, that resurfaced earlier this year on the web site Buzzfeed.

The first thing that might occur to many people is that no real great or brave soldier would ever speak of himself in that way. It is true that Trump wasn't specifically saying he was "a great and very brave soldier," merely comparing himself to one. But the facts on both ends of the comparison specifically bear reiteration.

Trump spent time in a military academy and graduated from it in the spring of 1964. Though he participated there without comment in military-type activities, when he enrolled in selective service (the draft) in June of that year, just as America's military was starting to gear up in Vietnam, he took and education deferment, to attend Fordham College. That was the first of four education deferments, and when that ran out after his graduation in 1968, he received a 1-Y medical deferment (over bone spurs in his heels).

He appears not to have been eager to make his way to Vietnam. Possibly the idea of being captured by the Viet Cong held little appeal, since he said of contemporaneous POW John McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

So - that's the reality of Trump, the military and Vietnam. What was it he was referring to when comparing himself to "a great and very brave soldier"?

That, in his conversation with shock jock Stern, was about his years in the 70s when he was engaging in lots of sexual activity: “I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era . . . I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

As a moral actor in American society, Donald Trump is completely unmoored. How else to explain this? - rs