Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Access

Clintons selling of access
Senator Jeff Sessions, who is now Attorney-General designate, appeared on Fox & Friends on August 25, 2016, condemning contributions to The Clinton Foundation and the buying of access to American leaders. Here is video

Hillary Clinton has lost the Presidential election, the Clinton Foundation's inventory of access has been substantially reduced, and the Foundation is shutting down its Clinton Global Initiative. Michael Sainato, in this OBSERVER article The Clinton Foundation Shuts Down Clinton Global Initiative, writes this:
The Clinton Foundation’s long list of wealthy donors and foreign government contributors during the 2016 elections provoked critics to allege conflicts of interests. Clinton partisans defended the organization’s charitable work, and dismissed claims that it served as a means for the Clintons to sell off access, market themselves on the paid speech circuit, and elevate their brand as Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency.
But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.
* * * *
The Clinton Global Initiative was created in 2005 to serve as a networking platform for the Clinton Foundation. Both the initiative’s mission and its own definition of what it seeks to accomplish are vague. “Rather than directly implementing projects, CGI facilitates action by helping members connect, collaborate, and make effective and measurable Commitments to Action—plans for addressing significant global challenges,” states the CGI website. The Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation director of media relations have not responded to requests for a comment.
WikiLeaks revealed several criticisms of the Clinton Foundation were true, as pay-to-play schemes and the foundation’s corrupt management were exposed. On October 26, The Washington Post reported a memo detailed how the Clinton Foundation was used to boost Bill Clinton’s income.
“The memo, made public Wednesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, lays out the aggressive strategy behind lining up the consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton that added tens of millions of dollars to the family’s fortune, including during the years that Hillary Clinton led the State Department,” reported The Washington Post. “It describes how Band helped run what he called “Bill Clinton Inc.,” obtaining “in-kind services for the President and his family—for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like.”
The Clinton Foundation‘s downward trajectory ever since since Hillary Clinton’s election loss provides further testimony to claims that the organization was built on greed and the lust for power and wealth—not charity.

Trump and access selling
Trump is now miring himself in charges that everyone who wants to get close to Trump and the Trump family to get access will do so by striking up business with the Trump organization.

Trump is getting his guns lined up on on behalf of the Trump Presidency being used to enrich the Trump organization and the Trump brand name.

First, after the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, announced at a press conference last Wednesday that President-elect Trump’s “fix” to his ethics and emoluments clause problems didn’t fix anything, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent Shaub a letter accusing him of unprofessionally blurring politics and ethics guidance, and demanding that Shaub make himself available for the  to “interview” him. The letter slams Shaub for attempting to engage in “public relations” and raises at the end of the letter Congress’s need to reauthorize the OGE.

Then, Sunday, on ABC's "This Week". Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, warned the director of [the] federal ethics office to “be careful” about criticizing President-elect Donald Trump.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Trump family political dynasty?

The Clinton political machine
After Bill Clinton left the Presidency, the Clintons had personal goals of (i) becoming rich and (ii) nurturing Hillary Clinton's quest for the Presidency.

In 2001, there was a formidable Clinton political machine, built up by the Clintons over 20 years.

Elements of the machine included (i) a large entourage of loyalists whom the Clintons had benefited with political and governmental jobs and advancements, (ii) an extensive network of campaign donors who found advantage by giving to the Clintons, and (iii) many, many elected officeholders and office seekers the Clintons had helped over the years by Clinton endorsements and fund raising.

From 2000 on, the Clintons needed to nurture their political machine as best they could, pending when Hillary Clinton would make her own run for the Presidency.

The Clinton Foundation was brilliant for doing this.

The Clinton Foundation allowed Clinton loyalists to be put on the Foundation payroll, as would keep them dedicated to the Clinton cause and have them ready for service to a Hillary Clinton campaign when needed. The Foundation allowed for the Clinton  network of campaign donors to be continued by providing opportunities for them (and new supporters) to participate in and profit from the Foundation's many worldwide projects. This participation was typically in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation and for speaking fees to Bill Clinton. These funds could go to paying the Clinton entourage who were on the Foundation payroll, and also be reinvested in more projects for more Clinton supporters to participate in, leading to more donations to the Foundation. In the flexible minds of donors and the Clintons, donations to the Foundation were early expressions of support for Hillary Clinton's quest for the Presidency, to be recognized by the Clintons on a par with contributions later on to a Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.

Yes, the Clinton Foundation was brilliant for maintaining the power of the Clinton political machine, serving as a virtual early campaign committee for a Hillary Clinton run for President, and a bedrock for a Clinton family political dynasty to be carried forward by Hillary Clinton winning the Presidency and Chelsea Clinton succeeding to the dynasty.

Clinton corruption and lying
After Hillary Clinton become Secretary of State in 2009, there was an overlap between her global governmental responsibilities and the Clinton Foundation's worldwide activities.

In his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly hit hard against Hillary Clinton on "conflicts of interest" and that she was "corrupt," "crooked." and a "liar."

The main basis for Trump's charges was that there were conflicts of interest in Hillary Clinton's public role and obligations as Secretary of State and the Clinton's personal business, charitable and political interests.

Trump said there was "pay to play" for access and governmental favors, and that Secretary Clinton lied about the use of the private email server to keep the public from learning about questionable and possibly criminal activity related to the Clinton Foundation. This contention was particularly supported by the "bleaching" of 33,000 emails when the private email server became publicly known.

Family political dynasties
Hillary Clinton lost the election, and the Clinton political machine has been weakened. Only time will tell how well the Clinton entourage of loyalists will hold together, and how well will the Clinton network of campaign donors continue to be called on, either to support another try by Hillary Clinton or to be transferred over to Chelsea Clinton.

America has experience with family political dynasties, including the Kennedys, the Bushes, and the Clintons.

Whether these family political dynasties are good for America, or should be avoided, is an ongoing question, for it would seem almost certain that 70 year old Donald Trump's mind has started contemplating a Trump family political dynasty.

What to watch out for
Family members of a political dynasty will naturally think about what will keep the dynasty going.

The elements of the Clinton political machine mentioned above are instructive. The Clintons built  (i) a large entourage of loyalists whom the Clintons had benefited with political and governmental jobs and advancements, (ii) an extensive network of campaign donors who found advantage by giving to the Clintons, and (iii) many, many elected officeholders and office seekers the Clintons had helped over the years by Clinton endorsements and fund raising.

What things could Donald Trump do  to aggrandize power and be in a position to pass the Presidency on to Ivanka or Jared Kushner?

First, he would give Ivanka and Jared the maximum political exposure possible. This is already in the works. It is hard to imagine any greater political exposure right off the bat than Ivanka and Jared being installed in the West Wing of the White House.

Second, keeping the Trump business empire going can be an avenue to augment Trump political power. Untold numbers of persons and businesses will want to be close, or try to be close, to Trump and the Trump family. Doing business with the Trump organizations is an initial entree, and people will endeavor to express their affinity and support for Donald Trump, and these contacts can be turned to political usefulness for Ivanka or Jared.

Trump's direct contacting of, and negotiating deals with, corporations will afford opportunities for augmenting Trump's political power and for introducing Ivanka and Jared to new contacts who may aid their political aspirations.

It may be expected that Trump will apply his deal making propensities to lawmakers in Congress, and his dealmaking could similarly involve bringing in Ivanka and Jared, who could find that politically useful for them. Ivanka and Jared could start picking up political chits by doing fundraising for the lawmakers they are introduced to and for other office seekers.

Trump lovers who believe in Trump as the Second Coming and savior of the country may want to keep a close eye on whether Trump has an unspoken objective of creating a Trump family political dynasty, and that he may be less than exclusively serving the American people in all things Trump does.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Explaining Trump

My current theory of Donald Trump's conduct is that he has a goal of destroying trust, eviscerating concepts of truth and facts, ratcheting up divisions, and ultimately creating chaos and paralysis in our national governance, all with a view to getting himself in a position to seize extraordinary powers on the basis of that being the only way for the country to be saved. [Related blog entry: A Trump speech - Not]


THE NEW YORKER

DONALD TRUMP’S ALARMINGLY TRUMPIAN TRANSITION


With the House Republicans reversing themselves (temporarily, perhaps) on gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics, and Megyn Kelly jumping from Fox News to NBC News, the 2017 political-news cycle began with a bang on Tuesday. But there was no getting away from the story that overwhelms all others: in sixteen days, Donald Trump will become the forty-fifth President of the United States. Outside the Trump family and the alt-right, is there anyone who didn’t shudder a little as the ball dropped in Times Square on Saturday night?

There have long been serious doubts, even among members of his own party, about Trump’s suitability for any public office, let alone the Presidency. His opponents in the Republican primary described him as a “con artist” (Marco Rubio), a “delusional narcissist” (Rand Paul), a purveyor of dangerous falsehoods (John Kasich), and a descendant of Joseph McCarthy (Lindsey Graham). When President Obama suggested, last August, that Trump “doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding” to be President, many senior Republicans privately agreed with him.

If anybody was expecting that Trump would use the lengthy interregnum between Election Day and Inauguration Day to offer reassurances about what lies ahead, he has gone out of his way to disabuse them. For the past two months, he has spent his time publicly congratulating himself on his victory (while greatly exaggerating its scale) and taunting those he defeated; putting together a Cabinet of conservative ideologues, billionaires, and generals; blithely dismissing calls for him to divest his business interests; and—this almost every day—running his mouth on Twitter. In short, it has been a distinctly Trumpian transition.

Perhaps, as the Times’ David Brooks has suggested, we should regard Trump’s online efflorescences as nothing more than perishable Snapchat messages or Baudrillardian simulacra. It is a challenge, though, to be cavalier about a President-elect one day issuing menacing statements about North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the next day publicly trashing the intelligence services whose job it will be to inform him about nuclear proliferation and other global dangers. Evidently, Trump doesn’t think he needs much professional advice: he already regards himself as an expert on foreign-policy issues, including nuclear negotiations.

And he’s just days away from gaining access to codes that could be used to launch a nuclear attack within minutes—a prospect that has many Americans and citizens of other countries unnerved. The Ploughshares Fund, a venerable arms-control organization, has circulated a petition urging Obama to take U.S. nuclear missiles off high alert before he leaves office. “It’s too late to stop Donald Trump from becoming president,” Joe Cirincione, the president of the Fund, wrote recently. “But it is not too late to stop him from impulsively blowing up the planet.”

To be sure, other men who were ill-qualified, ethically challenged, or potentially unhinged have occupied the Oval Office during the Republic’s long history. John Tyler and Millard Fillmore, two mid-nineteenth-century Whigs, are sometimes cited in the first category. During the nineteen-twenties, Warren G. Harding brought the stench of corruption right into the West Wing, where he played poker with his cronies from Ohio, some of whom were busy enriching themselves at federal expense. And, when it comes to addled Presidents, we have the accounts that have been handed down of Richard Nixon as the Watergate scandal reached its climax—brooding, cursing, drinking heavily, driven to the edge of madness.

But historical comparisons to Trump only go so far. Tyler and Fillmore, the tenth and thirteenth Presidents, were both experienced politicians who were serving as Vice-Presidents when their bosses died. (Tyler had been the governor of Virginia and also represented the state in the U.S. Senate. Fillmore was a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.) Although Harding’s name will forever be associated with the Teapot Dome scandal, which involved the secret leasing out of federal oil reserves, he wasn’t accused of lining his own pockets. Nixon, a Shakespearean figure racked by personal insecurities, was also an intelligent man blessed with great powers of concentration. According to Arthur Burns, the economist he appointed to head the Federal Reserve, Nixon could have “held down a chair in political science or law in any of our major universities.”

Trump, then, is sui generis. He has no experience in elected office—in these demented times, that was part of his popular appeal. His reputation as a hugely successful businessman has little basis in fact, as does his claim of being worth ten billion dollars. Until he launched his Presidential campaign, in which he showed some genuine skill as a rabble-rouser, his talents had lain in attracting other people’s money, promoting himself in the media, and playing a role on reality television—the role of Donald Trump, the great dealmaker.

If Trump has any ethics, they are self-serving ones. In his business dealings, he has a record of chiselling suppliers; bankrupting public companies; and operating a private outfit, Trump University, that recently settled charges that it was little more than a scam designed to part Americans of modest means from their savings. For many years, it seems, Trump exploited a loophole in the tax code to avoid paying any federal taxes. At times, he has associated with alleged mobsters and shadowy foreign businessmen, including rich Russians who have invested in some of his real-estate projects. (On this, a lengthy article in The American Interest gathers much of what can be gleaned from public filings and court records.) Although Trump poses as a champion of the common man, he is a prime exemplar and beneficiary of oligarchical capitalism.

He is also, as he displayed many times over the past year and a half, an inveterate bully who views the world almost exclusively in terms of winning and losing. Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” which helped define Trump’s public brand, has described him as a compulsive liar and a sociopath. Trump’s history of denigrating minorities, inciting racial fears, promoting birtherism, and boasting about sexually assaulting women surely doesn’t need recounting, but one lesser-known incident is perhaps worth recalling. In 2000, after some family members went to court and challenged his father’s will, Trump cut off health coverage to a nephew’s young son who was suffering from a chronic neurological disorder that caused violent seizures and brain damage. Asked by the Times why he took this action, he said, “I was angry because they sued.”

This is the man about to join the lineage of Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. In the coming days and weeks, some cynical Republican leaders who have made their self-serving peace with Trump will put on a show of support for him and claim that all is proceeding normally. Obama himself, whether out of a desire to go by protocol or in the hope of exercising some restraining influence, has so far avoided making any public criticisms, even though Trump has shown little sign of heeding the advice Obama offered a few days after the election, when he said, “There are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well, unless he recognizes them and corrects them. Because when you’re a candidate and you say something that is inaccurate or controversial, it has less impact than it does when you’re President of the United States.”

Come two weeks from Friday, Trump will be in that position. It is to be fervently hoped that, as Obama predicted in November, entering the Oval Office will awaken Trump to the reality and enormousness of the responsibilities he faces and change the way he behaves. Such a possibility can’t be entirely discounted, I suppose. But, at this stage, does anybody really believe it will happen?

John Cassidy has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1995. He also writes a column about politics, economics, and more for newyorker.com.







Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Trump speech - NOT

[Edit 1/9/17:  My current theory of Donald Trump's conduct is that he has a goal of destroying trust, eviscerating concepts of truth and facts, ratcheting up divisions, and ultimately creating chaos and paralysis in our national governance, all with a view to getting himself in a position to seize extraordinary powers on the basis of that being the only way for the country to be saved. See Explaining Trump. I don't think Trump will ever give the below speech.]


American brothers and sisters, deplorables, and my enemies who cannot get over how I whupped them:

I have said many shocking things during the past 18 months.

I am now going to shock you beyond anything you have heard before out of my mouth.

I  have received over my life rewards and opulence that are beyond imagining by the average person.

I worked extremely hard for the rewards but my splendid fortune in this world is stupefying, even to me.

Now, I have received the greatest honor imaginable, elected President of the United States, to help the American people deal with the huge problems that confront them.

Even I am humbled. This is a capstone to my incredible life that I truly want to be worthy of.

As I have said, I have gotten everything that any human being could want in this life.

I want to return my gratitude to the American people for the trust they have placed in me.

To that end, I don't need anything more than this curtain call in my life of being your President, and I want to give unequivocal evidence of my exclusive devotion to the American people.

I and my family have monumental wealth, and we do not need or seek any more while I carry out this phenomenal job of trust the American people have placed in me.

Let's be clear. I am worth over ___ billion dollars.

I crucified the Clinton family about their corruption, conflicts of interest and pay to play. I understand how the same charges can be potentially laid against me and my family, and I don't want anyone to have any doubt on this.

I said in my campaign, my personal fortune is "peanuts" compared to what is at stake for the American people. I am 70 years hold and I don't need for my businesses to be maintained and grow for me with a view to my situation after my Presidency, I will have a great life after my Presidency as long as I live no matter what.

To remove any question about my exclusive devotion to serve the American people, I am putting all my businesses up for sale. It may take time to sell the businesses, and I may take a significant haircut on their value, maybe 30% . Again, given the phenomenal amount of the wealth I have, and how it is peanuts compared to what is needed to be done by me for the American people, I am honored to incur this reduction in my wealth because of my love for the United States and what I want to do for the country.

As for my children, I have met and discussed with them the amazing life that has been afforded the Trump family and how, now, this highest of honors of the Presidency has been bestowed upon me, and indirectly my family. I have said to my children they should have a choice of either to serve the American people along with me, or to continue in their business careers, but they should not have both. I have made clear that, if they choose their business careers, no access to me as President will be gained by people who do business with my children.

Those of my children who choose to serve with me and who forego their business careers now will have enormous opportunity to resume careers in business after my Presidency.

My children have agreed that is the right thing to do, and, if they choose their business careers, they have agreed that they will be clear to anyone who does business with my children that such business shall be solely on the basis of the merits of my children and their businesses apart from me, and no one will gain any access to me or anyone in my administration.

To implement this ban on access, I will institute protocols in my Executive Branch of the Federal government and request my children to adopt protocols in the conduct of their businesses to assure that absolutely no one will think they can gain any favors or access to me or my administration as a result of their doing business with my children. I will advise the American people about the specifics of these protocols when they are instituted.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Are mall fights MAGA?

Are mall fights MAGA?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ivanka 2

Daddy, did you see the article about Chelsea "flagging 'serious concerns' about Clinton Foundation conflicts?" It's posted at Ivanka to President-Elect
Now there's the below AP story today about Eric. 
I think we really need to talk about this as a family. 
Love, Ivanka


Eric Trump says he'll stop soliciting money for his foundation


Eric Trump, son of Republican president-elect Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in New York, New York, U.S. November 16, 2016. 
 REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- One of President-elect Donald Trump’s sons will stop directly raising money for his namesake foundation, saying he worries the donations could be perceived as buying access to his father.
Eric Trump said Wednesday that it pained him to cease soliciting donations for his organization, which he says has raised more than $15 million for children terminally ill with cancer. The foundation came under scrutiny recently after posting an online auction for coffee with his sister Ivanka.
“Fighting childhood cancer is a cause that has been central to my life since I was 21 years old,” Eric Trump told the Associated Press. “It’s an extremely sad day when doing the right thing isn’t the right thing. That said, raising awareness for the cause will be a lifelong mission for me.”
Trump, the younger of the president-elect’s two adult sons, has raised enough money over the last decade to fund a new intensive care unit at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which provides free medical care for children. But criticism mounted after an invitation offered a hunting trip with Eric or his brother Donald Jr. in exchange for donations of $500,000 or $1 million to a new charity that Eric Trump supports.
Both the coffee and hunting ventures have been scuttled.
The focus on the Eric Trump Foundation comes after Donald Trump relentlessly criticized his Democratic opponent for the White House, Hillary Clinton, for allegedly providing favors to donors to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of State. She has denied those allegations.
News of Eric Trump’s decision was first reported Wednesday by The New York Times.
Eric Trump said he will likely wind down the Eric Trump Foundation - which had just one employee - but plans to continue public advocacy against childhood cancer. About $5 million of a $20 million, 10-year commitment to St. Jude’s remains outstanding, money that likely will be raised by donations from patrons at Trump-owned hotels and golf courses.
Don Jr. and Eric Trump, who were among the Republican businessman’s closest campaign advisers and have played an active role in the transition, are planning to remain in New York to run the massive Trump Organization once their father takes office. Critics have demanded the president-elect divest himself from his business. He was to have addressed the future of the company at a press conference last week, but it has been postponed to January.
The future also remains murky for the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a separate charity run by the president-elect that solicited outside gifts and has been criticized for using donations to fund business interests.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Suggestion for Electors

In the constitutional oath of office, the President-Elect solemnly swears (or affirms) that he will "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States . . .."

President-Elect Trump said in his interview with The New York Times that "the president can’t have a conflict of interest."

That, and other things he and his transition team have said, seem to give no recognition to the word "faithfully" in the constitutional oath of office.

Electors might, before they vote, require a written statement to be submitted by President-Elect Trump that he is aware of the word "faithfully" in the oath of office and that such statement set forth the President-Elect's understanding of what "faithfully" means relative to his conflicts of interest (in fact). Such statement might also address what role the President-Elect believes Congress has to play, including whether Congress has the power to make its own determination of whether a President is faithfully executing his office, and the power to impeach the President if the Congress determines that the President has not faithfully executed his office.


RELATED BLOG ENTRIES
Is Trump risking a hashtag #crookederthanHillary? , November 22, 2016
Priority questions for AL legislative delegation, November 24, 2016
Priority questions for Congress, November 27, 2016
Trump Inc., November 29, 2016
Trump name, December 15, 2016
Ivanka to President-Elect, December 15, 2016