Posted: 06/28/16 01:00
by Dave Mindeman
I spend a considerable amount of time on this blog, debunking GOP myths and challenging conservative policy. I research my topic and make what I consider the best argument I can about the issue.
I have seen some crazy right wing ideas and no matter how many times they are shown to be untrue, they continue to be used as talking and debate points....over and over again. Bill Maher has termed them Zombie Lies.
Well, during this cycle, I have been exposed to the same type of fervor on the left. I never knew it was quite so pronounced as it is, but some of the rhetoric is over the top. I guess I realize why conservatives refer to left wing nuts in their echo chamber, too.
And the problem I see with a lot of this is that these ideas often come from the same sources. Sanders supporters have been passionate about their candidate, but it seems that a certain element in their midst is more concerned about denigrating Hillary then promoting the good and solid ideas of Bernie Sanders.
Let me document some of these which I have come to hear about over the last couple of weeks....
1) Monsanto. There is this idea that Hillary Clinton is some kind of vehicle for Monsanto, to take over the world and flood it with GMO products. They say she is on their board of directors. That she uses her Secretary of State position to push Monsanto products in third world nations. That she has been taking huge sums of money from Monsanto for "favors".
Snopes.com the reliable conspiracy debunker has this one on their list:
But despite the rumor's proliferation across social media, there's no truth to the claim that Hillary Clinton sat on Monsanto's board of directors at any point during her career. Moreover, we found no direct ties between Hillary Clinton and the agribusiness firm in regards to political fundraising. Apart from working with Crawford (whose firm has also provided services for Monsanto), Clinton has no obvious ties to the Monsanto corporation.
Jerry Crawford is an Iowa Democratic activist and lawyer, who has represented Monsanto for legal services. Not on retainer, just certain cases. He has been an Iowa staffer for Hillary and is a personal friend of Tom Vilsack. That connection has been enough to villify Hillary with Monsanto.
2) Laureate University. Laureate is a for profit college company. Not one of my favorite businesses as you probably know from my Kline posts, but the ugly connections inferred to Hillary are a disservice to both Clinton and Laureate. I won't attest to Laureate's honor but the only connection with Laureate is with Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative.
The university system -- part of Laureate Education Inc., which according to Bloomberg is the world's largest for-profit college chain -- has been a seven-figure donor to the Clinton Foundation, giving between $1 million and $5 million, according to the foundation's website. Laureate has also made five commitments through the Clinton Global Initiative.
Reviews of Laureate have been mixed, but it is not considered among the worst offenders in the for-profit college industry. President Obama took action against the industry (not Laureate) in 2010 as criticism mounted that for-profit colleges encouraged students to take on burdensome levels of debt to pay for subpar educations. And Hillary Clinton herself denounced the predatory practices of for-profit colleges (the for-profit industry not just Laureate) during her first campaign swing through Iowa.
The connection with the Clinton Global Initiative is that education in developing countries were part of CGI's global plan to improve opportunity in the third world. A lot of government public education was not large enough to help the many who needed the education and Laureate was brought on to help with special projects. George Soros was involved with them as well. Bill Clinton was an honorary chancellor for Laureate - and he was paid well, but his name opened up areas to Laureate. Besides a salary to Bill, the company gave as much as $5 million to CGI.
In April of 2015, Bill Clinton resigned his position with Laureate. His staff said it had nothing to do with Hillary ramping up her campaign, but it is possible that she asked him to end the relationship as she worked on her positions for student debt.
Hillary, herself, was never involved with the company. Conspiracy people will never be satisfied, but nothing illegal was ever involved here. And again, Hillary herself, was not involved.
3. Donations from oil and gas companies.
I have talked about this one before, but the quick summary is that Clinton HAS received donations from oil and gas executives. And she has received money from oil and gas lobbyists. But those lobbyists are not paid exclusively by the petroleum industry - they have hundreds of clients. And, as stated previously, Hillary gets 0.2% of her contributions from oil and gas. Bernie gets a lot less but still gets 0.03% of his contributions that way. Paltry amounts when you consider that over 90% of all contributions from this industry goes to Republicans and their party.
4. Trade agreements.
While Hillary Clinton might have a tentative position on the TPP, she has publicly stated her opposition. Given her past history, it is understandable to be a little skeptical, but it is her public position.
However, I want to go back and talk about NAFTA. Bernie criticizes her for Bill's passage of this treaty, but Hillary herself was First Lady at the time and did not vote. And there is a story that David Gergen (White House staff with Clinton and GOP Presidents) recounts in which he had discussions with Mrs. Clinton at the time, where she stated her personal opposition to NAFTA and was troubled by how it might affect workers. She made no public statement at the time so as not to embarrass her husband. But the fact is, that she did not vote on NAFTA itself.
5. Goldman Sachs speeches.
Bernie has used these speeches as a rallying point for his campaign and his supporters. What is the story here? Let's go back to October of 2013. Goldman Sachs and CEO Lloyd Blankfein invited Hillary to participate in a Tech Expo for the company. They paid her the standard fee that she gets for speeches, $225,000 ...they paid twice for 2 appearances within a week. Yes, the average person could never hope to get paid that kind of money and the Roseau Chamber of Commerce isn't going to be inviting her any time soon at those rates. But, given her resume, obviously she can command that kind of money in the marketplace. I can't say that it is right, but it just is. Nothing sinister about it.
Now why doesn't she release the transcripts? If there is nothing there, just make them public? She does have transcripts. The people at those meetings know that she requested a recording and has a stenographer that goes with her. But she intentionally does not allow any other copies and for every speech she has a non-disclosure agreement in place.
Why is that? Is she hiding something? Is this a sinister plot between her and the banks?
I found some anecdotal accounts from people who were there and talked about her appearance. Most said that she talked in general terms about her travels as Secretary of State. Spoke about banking in general. She didn't criticize the banks like she does now, but she didn't say they were doing anything good either. I know we would all like her to take their money and then rip into them for all the damage they did to the economy. But she was a private citizen at the time. It was not her job anymore. And she was their guest and was asked to talk about other things.
Some of the people who were there were asked to talk about what she said during those speeches. They couldn't think of much - not because they were sworn to secrecy, but because they thought it was kind of BORING. The people who attended this expo were young tech geeks and entrepeneurs. Those that were asked could tell you much more about the other main speaker - Elon Musk.
This is just one more aspect of what a person does to protect her privacy after it has been invaded so many times, in so many ways.
6. The dreaded e-mails.
Lastly, just another note about the e-mail controversy. The GOP brought out their "breaking news"/fund raising e-mail to tell us about the lies that Hillary talked about today.....where she discussed her 25 year battle with the right wing conspiracies.
And they couldn't help but link up a story about e-mails "suddenly found in State Dept files"...
"These emails were not among the 55,000 pages of work-related messages that Clinton provided, including one where the then-secretary of state discusses how her official records would be kept. Clinton and her lawyers deleted tens of thousands of messages she claimed were clearly personal." (Michael Biesecker, "More Clinton Emails Released, Including Some She Deleted," The Associated Press , 6/27/16)
Lies. She is telling more lies.
Well, these e-mails were found in the e-mails of the people they were sent to. Personal e-mails to friends and co-workers. Nothing classified. Just personal. She said she deleted personal stuff - all work related material was handed over. No lies here. Just a person worried about protecting her privacy.
But, as every conspiracy theorist will tell you, it must mean that she has other things that she is hiding. Despite a year long investigation and 55,000 pages made public, we are still left with.....a conspiracy theory.
So, there you have it. The Clinton dossier. I know that none of this will convince anyone that her intentions were honorable. Maybe some of it wasn't honorable, but I believe it was never dishonest. Hillary Clinton has been in a public crucible for 25 years. Experienced the most humiliating personal ugliness imaginable in a very public way. And has been villified over and over and over again.
But all the while, she keeps trying to seek out good public policy. To find ways to pass laws that help the most people. She will do what it takes and suffer personal costs, just to stand up for people who can't.
Yes, the Clintons are a "power" couple and wealth and fame are their reward and tribulation. I am not going to ever say that she did nothing wrong. I, frankly, find it difficult to say that about anybody. She went to great lengths to protect her private dealings, relationships, and words. Maybe too far.
But given her history, how could anybody who could really understand what it is like to be in her shoes, blame her.
I would still like to see her as President of the United States.