Apr 30 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #877

ON THE RECORD ….

“A book that has not yet been published has caused the New York Times to publish a wildly speculative, innuendo-laced article about the Clinton Foundation and my role in contributing money to it. There is not one shred of evidence to back up the Times‘ conclusions. This is not about me, but rather an attempt to tear down Secretary Clinton and her presidential campaign. If this is what passes for investigative journalism in the United States, it is very sad.” — Frank Giustra, the Canadian businessman who the Times noted also donated to the Clinton Foundation and who owned the predecessor to Uranium One, selling his personal stake in the company in 2007 before its sale to the Russians . 4/23/15

“We’ve spent the past six years trying to rescue the economy, retool the auto industry, and revitalize American manufacturing. And if there were ever an agreement that undercut that progress, or hurt those workers, I wouldn’t sign it. My entire presidency is about helping working families recover from recession and rebuild for the future. As long as I’m President, that’s what I’ll keep fighting to do.” — President Barack Obama in his weekly address. 4/25/15 VIDEOTEXT

“More astronauts have been to the moon than farmers who paid the inheritance tax in 2013.” — Bill Maher poking a hole in the Republican argument that the estate tax threatens the livelihoods of “family farmers.” 4/23/15

“[W]hen you take a closer look at Mr. Schweizer’s organization and who is backing him, it is a who’s who of big right-wing funders, including one of the guys behind the right-wing media site Breitbart.com, for which Mr. Schweizer has previously written — also the billionaire family that is currently bankrolling Ted Cruz’s presidential run.” — Rachel Maddow on the author of ‘Clinton Cash.’ 4/20/15

“At the end of the day, his record, in my view, shows a foreign policy vision one step behind leading from behind. And all I can say is that if he’s the nominee, I will support him. But if he’s the nominee of the party, we risk giving up the central issue of the 2016 campaign which will be foreign policy.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), taking offense at Sen. Rand Paul’s comparison of him as one of President Obama’s lap dogs. 4/22/15

“The Republicans’ multi-year search for evidence to back up their Benghazi conspiracy theories has turned up nothing. The Select Committee has identified no evidence — documentary, testimonial, or otherwise — to support claims that Secretary Clinton ordered a stand-down, approved an illicit weapons program, or any other wild allegation Republicans have made for years.” — Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the panel, accusing Gowdy of intentionally dragging out the proceedings to harm Clinton. 4/23/15

“Hillary Clinton has already spent five hours testifying at two congressional committee hearings but, as she’s been saying since last year, she’s happy to do it again. Unfortunately, Republicans insist her testimony is done behind closed doors, where the American public is unable to see their true, politically motivated intentions.” — Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, on the request by Benghazi Committee Chairman Gowdy (R-SC). 4/23/15

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“Causes considered “pro-Israel”—and make no mistake that killing an Iran deal is, in Washington, a pro-Israel cause—are increasingly being conflated with doctrinaire neoconservatism and taken up solely by Republicans. This is the battle neocons are winning—but being the ideologues that they are, Kristol and his comrades will be satisfied with nothing short of total victory in the war. Which, in the case of Iran, would be launching an actual one.”– Ali Gharib in “The Nation” 4/24/15

“By finally admitting that he omitted key details and has no direct evidence, the author of ‘Clinton Cash’ just confirmed what many media reports had already made clear. ‘Clinton Cash’ is nothing more than a tangled web of conspiracy theories backed by no actual evidence.” — Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin. 4/26/15

Jeb Bush “told about 350 of the top donors to his super PAC on Sunday evening that the organization has raised more money in its first 100 days than any other Republican operation in modern history.” — Washington Post 4/26/15

“Today’s Democratic Party has decided there is no room for Christians. There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers.” — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), 4/25/15

“I believe that I take over on Day One as president prepared to lead this country in the most crucial obligation the president faces, as commander in chief … Governors can certainly read about foreign policy, and take briefings and meet with experts, but there is no way they’ll be ready on Day One to manage U.S. foreign policy.” —Marco Rubio 4/25/15

“I will build the best wall, the biggest, the strongest, not penetrable, they won’t be crawling over it, like giving it a little jump and they’re over the wall, it costs us trillions. And I’ll have Mexico pay for the wall. Because Mexico is screwing us so badly. I will take it from out of just a small fraction of the money they’ve been screwing us for over the last number of years.” — Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump 4/27/15

“I will disclose my records. I will disclose everything. And I tell you what: People will be very, very, impressed.” — Donald Trump 4/27/15

“What we have seen in Baltimore should, and I think does, tear at our soul. The patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable. … We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America.” — Hillary Clinton, 4/29/15

1. The Borowitz Report: G.O.P. Chairman Warns Against Hatred for Hillary Peaking Too Soon

In an urgent memo to the field of G.O.P. Presidential candidates, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, praised them for their relentless personal attacks on Hillary Clinton, but warned that their hatred for the former Secretary of State might be “peaking too early.”

Priebus called the candidates’ ongoing evisceration of Clinton “magnificent,” but expressed his concern that “no human beings, even an impressive group like yourselves, could possibly sustain such a high intensity of throbbing hatred for an entire year and a half.”

“Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint,” he wrote. “You need to leave some hate in the tank.” Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. ‘Clinton Cash’ & NYT Fail to Prove Any Connection Between Hillary Clinton & Russian Purchase of Uranium Assets

Relying largely on research from the conservative author of Clinton Cash, today’s New York Times alleges that donations to the Clinton Foundation coincided with the U.S. government’s 2010 approval of the sale of a company known as Uranium One to the Russian government. Without presenting any direct evidence in support of the claim, the Times story — like the book on which it is based — wrongly suggests that Hillary Clinton’s State Department pushed for the sale’s approval to reward donors who had a financial interest in the deal. Ironically, buried within the story is original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale.

The essential fact is that Hillary Clinton was not involved in the State Department’s review of the sale to the Russians. While it is true that the State Department sits on the multi-agency, inter-governmental panel that reviews deals like this one, Hillary Clinton herself did not participate in the review or direct the Department to take any position on the sale of Uranium One.

Mr. Giustra, the main Clinton Foundation donor that the Times suggests stood to gain from the sale of Uranium One to the Russians had liquidated his stake in Uranium One entirely back in 2007 and thus had no reason to have sought any favor from Clinton’s State Department. 4/23/15 Read more at https://medium.com/@brianefallon/clinton-cash-nyt-fail-to-prove-connection-between-clinton-russian-purchase-of-uranium-assets-797a71cb40b0

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3. Swiftboat 2016: Why Buy The Ad When You Can Get The Press For Free?

Today’s news is full of speculation about what the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) has dredged up on Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and donors from foreign countries who gave to different initiatives promoted by the Clinton Foundation. As it turns out IRS reports give a pretty clear look at who’s footing the bill for all of this “government accountability.”

The three largest donors to the GAI are Donors’ Trust, the Koch-founded and operated political slush fund through which donations are laundered and sent to various organizations connected with them, Franklin Center, and the Mercer Family Foundation in New York.

The Mercer Family Foundation is a private foundation established by right-wing hedge fund mogul Robert Mercer. The trustee of the foundation is Rebekah Mercer, who also happens to sit on on the GAI board, alongside Citizens United board member Ron Robinson, former Wall Streeter Hunter Lewis, and Heritage Foundation Fellow Owen T. Smith.

There have been many reports about the reclusive Robert Mercer, because he has been identified as one of the big Ted Cruz funders for the 2016 primaries. According to Mother Jones, “Mercer has a history of spending big to topple House members who support restrictions on the finance industry.” 4/20/15 Read more at http://crooksandliars.com/2015/04/swiftboat-2016-why-buy-ad-when-you-can-get

4. The DAILY GRILL

“Well, here is what’s important to keep in mind. It was one of nine agencies, but any one of those agencies had veto power, so she could have stopped the deal.” — Peter Schweizer, claiming that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had the power to unilaterally veto the Uranium One deal. 4/26/15]

VERSUS

“Only The President May “Decide Whether A Transaction Should Be Suspended Or Prohibited.”  — According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the only person with the power to make a final decision on a proposal requiring CFIUS oversight is the president — not members of the CFIUS.. 4/27/15

 

Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015” strips federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases related to marriage.  The effect of the bill would prevent federal courts from hearing marriage cases, leaving the issue to the States where it properly belongs. […]

VERSUS

“Mr. King has perverted the Constitution to create rights to things such as discrimination, bullying, and disparate treatment. These efforts to enshrine these appalling values as constitutional rights were not envisioned by the voters, or by King’s colleagues who must currently try to restrain his attempts to single-handedly rewrite the nation’s founding principles on a bill-by-bill basis.” — Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), whose tongue in cheek “Restrain Steve King from Legislating Act,” would block King from introducing legislation related to judicial authority. 4/25/15

 

“Schweizer is working on a similar investigation of Jeb Bush’s finances that he expects to publish this summer.” — Bloomberg Politics, suggesting that this book will quiet the left-wing clamor that Schweizer is simply out to get Hillary Clinton: 4/23/15

VERSUS

“HarperCollins, the publisher of Clinton Cash, denies that any such book is in the works.” — Media Matters 4/24//15

 

“When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year’s Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of ‘I walked into a doorknob,’ it isn’t hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters.” — John Hinderaker, a proprietor of the conservative blog PowerLine on Harry Reid’s exercise equipment accident. 3/30/15

VERSUS

“It was just so outrageous . The fact that someone can say something completely false that can destroy somebody’s life, it’s just wrong. Where’s the moral compass?” — Larry Pfeifer who pitched a fake story about the Reid brothers’ supposed fight to Hinderaker, to test whether the blogger would publish it as well. Hinderaker did and the rumor was subsequently spread by others in conservative media. 4/27/15

 

“In his book’s chapter on Haiti, dubbed ‘Disaster Capitalism Clinton-Style,’ Schweizer writes that O’Brien, whose company Digicel was attempting to secure a contract for mobile phone service in Haiti, paid Clinton $600,000 for speeches in Ireland on Sept. 29, 2010, Oct. 8, 2011, and Oct. 9, 2013.” — John Stanton in BuzzFeed 4/28/15

VERSUS

“The book’s reporting is false. President Clinton did not personally receive speaking fees for any of these three speaking engagements in Ireland.” — Clinton spokesperson Matt McKenna 4/28/15

5. Secret Koch memo outlines plans for 2016

“The Koch brothers’ political machine is expanding into new states and recruiting new donors as it seeks to shape the Republican Party — and its presidential field — headed into 2016,” according to confidential donor briefing documents.

“The documents detail plans to beef up the network’s state-of-the-art data system, and pay hundreds of staff embedded in local communities across the country in preparation for get-out-the-vote efforts that are unprecedented from a third-party group.” 4/22/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/koch-brothers-2016-election-memo-117238.html#ixzz3Y46MBq6j

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6. The GOP’s war against consumer protection (cont.)

The House passed bill would set new limits on, and effectively cut, the amount of money the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can spend.

The bill was approved by a vote of 250-173. Just nine Democrats voted in favor of the measure, and no Republicans voted against it. 2/04/15 Read more at http://thehill.com/policy/finance/231783-house-bill-would-cap-cfpb-budget

7. Senate GOP Leaders Endorse Bill To Extend Obamacare Subsidies To 2017

The Senate’s top five Republican leaders have cosponsored legislation to extend until 2017 the Obamacare insurance subsidies that may be struck down by the Supreme Court this summer.

The legislation would seek to protect the GOP from political peril in the 2016 elections when Democrats would blame the party for stripping subsidies — and maybe insurance coverage — from millions of Americans in three dozen states. A defeat for the Obama administration in a King ruling would likely create havoc across insurance markets and pose a huge problem for Republicans, many of whom have been pushing the Supreme Court to nix the subsidies. 4/23/15 Read more at http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/senate-republicans-obamacare-subsidies-ron-johnson

8. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Conservative Media Float Conspiracy That Obama Made Statement On Drone Strike To Distract From Clinton Cash http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/23/conservative-media-float-conspiracy-that-obama/203394

Schweizer’s Anti-Clinton Claims Start Falling Apart http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/04/23/schweizers-anti-clinton-claims-start-falling-ap/203396

Who Funds Peter Schweizer’s Government Accountability Institute? http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/21/who-funds-peter-schweizers-government-accountab/203355

ABC News Finds More Errors In Schweizer’s Clinton Cash http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/23/abc-news-finds-more-errors-in-schweizers-clinto/203390

Limbaugh: Baltimore Has Been Left Unprotected Like Clinton Left Amb. Stevens Unprotected In Benghazi http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/27/limbaugh-baltimore-has-been-left-unprotected-li/203431

Fox Wonders If Muslim Faith Would Keep Military Veteran From Saluting The Flag http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/27/fox-wonders-if-muslim-faith-would-keep-military/203427

Fox Personalities Blame Obama For Baltimore Violence http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/27/fox-personalities-blame-obama-for-baltimore-vio/203442

Limbaugh: “Ultimate Goal” Of Same-Sex Marriage Activists Is To Close Churches http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/29/limbaugh-ultimate-goal-of-same-sex-marriage-act/203470

NRA Uses Baltimore Riots To Promote “Stand Your Ground” Laws http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/29/national-rifle-association-uses-baltimore-riots/203468

Laura Ingraham Likens Same-Sex Marriage Rights To State-Validated Incest, Polygamy http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/29/laura-ingraham-likens-same-sex-marriage-rights/203465

Former Ambassador: Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer Took My Comments “Badly Out Of Context” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/29/former-ambassador-clinton-cash-author-peter-sch/203461

9. 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

President Obama’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=21&v=NM6d06ALBVA

Cecily Strong’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH5XAeKdrjM

10. Voters Back Iran Deal By Wide Margin

American voters support 58 – 33 percent the preliminary agreement with Iran to restrict that country’s nuclear program, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

Supporting the agreement are Democrats 76 – 15 percent and independent voters 60 – 33 percent, with Republicans opposed 56 – 37 percent. 4/26/15 Read more at

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2222

11. Jon Stewart: Baltimore on Fire

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/svt15r/baltimore-on-fire

12. President Obama & Bill Nye Talk Earth Day in the Everglades

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=13&v=Xe5IiNCvFJA

13. Conservative author admits evidence on Hillary Clinton is circumstantial

“In back-to-back interviews over the past 24 hours, conservative author Peter Schweizer admits he doesn’t have direct evidence that Hillary Clinton intervened to assist individuals and entities because they donated large sums of money to the Clinton Foundation.” 4/26/15 Read more at http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/first-read-clinton-cash-author-speaks-out-n348866

OPINION

1. James Carville: Clinton Cash And The Clinton Rule

The Clinton Rule is as follows: There shall be one standard for covering everyone else in public life, and another standard for Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Never have we seen a more instant classic for followers of the Clinton Rule than with this latest tome. The book isn’t even slated to be released for several weeks and yet The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Fox News are in cahoots with the author — reporting on what might be inside. I’ll run you through the playbook.

Let’s start with the facts. The star of this latest instance of the Clinton Rule is the author, Peter Schweizer. He’s a discredited fringe conservative activist and former political aide to the likes of George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Bobby Jindal. That’s a trifecta that pays a high dollar for pushing right wing conspiracies. Schweizer has worked for such “reputable” publications as Breitbart.com — the same Breitbart.com that once called gun safety advocate Gabby Giffords a “human shield” for the gun safety movement. His right wing bona fides don’t end there. Schweizer is even listed as a contributor to one of former Fox News host Glenn Beck’s books.

The bottom line is that mainstream media must be up for the challenge. To all the reporters wanting to push the limits and take an advance look into the claims of a guy whose history of reporting is marked by errors and retractions, I say it’s time to break the Clinton Rule. But in this case, I’m afraid the smarter bet is that we are going to see the same playbook over and over again. 4/23/15 Read more at http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/23/clinton-cash-and-the-clinton-rule/203379

2. Brent Budowsky: Holy war against Hillary

What have the American people done to deserve the political campaigns that have become a permanent feature of American life, starring politicians who perpetually escalate every unsavory tactic that brings politics into widespread disrepute?

Today, consider the Republican campaign for the presidency in 2016, which has degenerated into an obsessive war against Hillary Clinton that borders on becoming a vindictive and venomous holy war, that is more reminiscent of political discourse in the Middle East than the contest of serious ideas that should be the hallmark of democratic nations. Tomorrow, we will consider the Democratic side of what is shaping up as a vapid and empty 2016 campaign.

For two years Clinton has been the target of the most personally hostile, lavishly financed and longest-lasting negative campaign of personal destruction and character assassination in the history of presidential politics.

One might have thought the GOP had reached rock bottom when Republicans were unable to agree at least that the current Democratic president of the United States loves our country and believes his faith. But no, in their rage and partisanship directed against Barack Obama, some Republicans question the president’s love of America and Christian faith, while many other Republicans respond with agreement, acquiescence or silence to these false and defamatory attacks.

Listening to the long list of GOP candidates for president doing their dog and pony shows, when these candidates should be offering their vision and plans for America, they appear to be going through a psychic transference of their political venom and vindictiveness from President Obama to Clinton.

Ever since Clinton left her post as secretary of State, the GOP has been running a nonstop campaign of vilification against her that is the only unifying principle of Republicans. It takes a form of a two-year holy war, financed by huge conservative money, subsidized by taxpayer funding for partisan congressional hearings, that paints a demonic portrait of a woman who does not exist and publishes a book that turns a half truth into a big lie, propagated by presidential candidates who substitute their derision against the demon for the vision of America they lack. 4/28/15 Read more at http://thehill.com/opinion/brent-budowsky/240392-brent-budowsky-holy-war-against-hillary

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3. Chris Cillizza: Why the middle is irrelevant in American politics

It’s become fashionable in American politics to talk about how the ranks of independents, those famously fickle people without a preferred party, are growing in every state as people sour on the traditional bifurcated model of elections.

But, it’s  also somewhat meaningless.

Why? Because politics has increasingly become about campaigns and candidates talking to people who are already paying attention to what they are saying. Again, why? Because those high news consumption folks also happen to be — surprise, surprise — the sorts of people who turn out to vote. And where do those people tend to reside on the political spectrum? On the far left and the far right, of course. Independents? Not so much.

This battle of the bases is only likely to escalate in 2016 as advances in technology make it harder and harder — and more and more expensive — for politicians to reach people who aren’t already on their side or, more accurately, paying much attention.

Such a “base” campaign will likely grow the ranks of so-called independents as they feel ignored and unappreciated by the two major parties. Of course, until independents start paying more attention to politics, they don’t have much room to complain. 4/22/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/04/22/this-chart-perfectly-explains-why-the-middle-is-dying-in-american-politics/?wpisrc=nl_fix&wpmm=1

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4. Michelle Goldberg: The Clinton Scandal Rabbit Hole

The phrase “Clinton rules” has two very distinct meanings. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s enemies use it to mean that the couple flout rules that apply to everyone else. In the early years of the blogosphere, however, liberals used “Clinton rules” as shorthand for the way journalists regularly abandoned ordinary standards of evidence to breathlessly pursue Clinton pseudo-scandals, often cooked up by right-wing operatives. As the Daily Howler wrote in 2007, “Under ‘the Clinton rules of journalism,’ you can say any goddamn thing you want—as long as you say it about the Clintons.”

Both versions of ‘Clinton rules’ describe real phenomena, and with any given Clinton story, it can be extremely difficult to figure out which Clinton rules are at work. Things are easier if you start off with a strong stance on the couple, always assuming the worst of either the Clintons or of anyone who criticizes them. But if you believe, as I do, that the Clintons have been demonized and persecuted to a preposterous degree and that they have cut ethical corners, if you delight in the idea of a female president but dread the return of the Clinton circus, it’s not easy to sort out who the real wrongdoers are in each new Clinton investigation. You find yourself plunged into rabbit holes, arguing about minutia, wishing for some sort of ideological heuristic to make sense of it all.

Take today’s New York Times investigation, “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company.” The story implies—but does not clearly allege—that money funneled to the Clinton Foundation greased the wheels for a deal that left Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy agency, in charge of 20 percent of American uranium reserves. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was part of a committee of cabinet officials that had the power to accept or reject the deal.

The origin of the piece is suspicious. On Monday, Times reporter Amy Chozick wrote about a forthcoming book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, by the right-winger Peter Schweizer. (Among Schweizer’s other books is Makers and Takers: Why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less…and even hug their children more than liberals.) According to Chozick, Clinton Cash is potentially more threatening to the Clintons than other right-wing hit jobs, “both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.”

This last line caught many up short. Why on earth would The New York Times enter into an “exclusive agreement” with a right-wing hack like Schweizer? After all, there’s nothing to stop the paper from following up on Schweizer’s reporting on its own. Why make a deal with him? What did it entail? Chozick didn’t say, and a piece today by Margaret Sullivan, the paper’s public editor, only clarified things a bit. “Any agreement limiting journalistic inquiry is unacceptable; the wording in the original story certainly suggested that,” wrote Sullivan. “I believe…that such a thing didn’t happen here; that, rather, The Times merely pursued the angle it was most interested in, with no restrictions. But I still don’t like the way it looked.” Indeed, it looks terrible—a clear example of the second sort of Clinton rules. 4/23/15 Read more at http://www.thenation.com/blog/205225/clinton-scandal-rabbit-hole

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5. John Cassidy: “Clinton Cash” Attacks Could End Up Aiding Hillary

On Monday night, Sean Hannity opened his show on Fox News by claiming that new developments had emerged that could derail Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. He was referring to the revelation, in the Times, that an upcoming book, “Clinton Cash,” by Peter Schweizer, a conservative speechwriter and author, reportedly alleges that overseas donors to the Clinton Foundation, as well as foreign entities that paid Bill Clinton for speeches, received favors from the State Department while Hillary was in charge.

Many viewers of Hannity and other Fox programs will probably seize on the new book in order to confirm their view that Hillary Clinton is unworthy of the Presidency. But none of these people were going to vote for her anyway. Politically, the important question is what impact, if any, the book’s allegations will have on independent voters, who may or may not vote for Clinton, and also on liberal Democrats who are inclined to vote for her, and maybe even to campaign for her, but who still have some reservations.

On this front, my guess is that “Clinton Cash” (whose full title is “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich”) could end up benefitting Hillary. With Hannity and other conservative media figures piling on, the Clinton campaign will be able to portray questions about the Clinton Foundation and the family’s finances as a political witch-hunt rather than a legitimate exercise in vetting Presidential candidates. And if that happens, many Americans may end up dismissing the whole thing as a partisan squabble.

From here on out, however, things could get tricky for journalists covering the Clinton donations. Every word they write will be doubly scrutinized for evidence of political bias, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives will be on hand to dismiss as part of a G.O.P.-inspired vendetta anything that is critical of the candidate. Until this week, it was easy to label such tactics as political spin, and few fair-minded people questioned the credibility of the Clinton money stories or the motivations of those writing and publishing them. Now that Schweizer has entered the fray, with the likes of Hannity and Paul to ballyhoo what appear to be largely unsubstantiated allegations, partisan politics is likely to color the views of the broader public. If and when Hillary Clinton falls back on the old argument that it’s all a right-wing conspiracy against her and her family, many people might well be prepared to take her at her word. 4/22/15 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/clinton-cash-attacks-could-end-up-aiding-hillary

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6. Olivia Nuzzi: Republicans’ Gay-Marriage Hysteria

The social conservatism of presidential elections past will be a hard sell in 2016—but apparently no one has informed the Republican candidates. 

At the Point of Grace Church in Waukee, a Des Moines suburb, GOP candidate after candidate (or likely-candidate) pledged support for a constitutional amendment that would overrule the Supreme Court’s decision and allow states to ban same-sex marriage again. (How this would work is not quite obvious.)  

While most of the country favors the legalization of same-sex marriage, Republicans overwhelmingly do not. According to that Washington Post-ABC poll, over 60 percent of Republicans and more than 70 percent of conservative Republicans remain opposed. 

Appearing soft on traditional marriage could prove fatal in the primary, where socially conservative voters hold significant power. Candidates prone to more moderate rhetoric on marriage (if not actually moderate policies)—Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul—must compete with the likes of Cruz and Huckabee, both of whom usually sound like they are on the verge of waving snakes in the air and speaking in tongues. 

This places Republican candidates in a tough position. What wins the primary may be the very thing that sets the nominee up for failure in the general. 4/27/14 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/27/the-gop-s-gay-marriage-hysteria.html

7. E.J. Dionne: Is Democracy Unraveling?

The world’s democracies, perhaps especially our own, face a peculiar set of contradictions that are undermining faith in public endeavor and unraveling old loyalties.

There is a decline of trust in traditional political parties but also a rise in partisanship. A broad desire for governments to reduce the levels of economic insecurity and expand opportunity is constrained by a loss of confidence in the capacity of government to succeed. Intense demands for change are accompanied by fears that much of the change that is occurring will make life worse for individuals and families.

In the United States, partisan splits have rarely been so deep and acrimony across party lines so intense. But these feelings don’t come from wildly positive views about the parties voters embrace. In a widely discussed paper released earlier this month, Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster, Emory University political scientists, noted that “one of the most important trends in American politics over the past several decades has been the rise of negative partisanship in the electorate.”

It occurs, they write, when “supporters of each party perceive supporters of the opposing party as very different from themselves in terms of their social characteristics and fundamental values.” Yes, our current form of partisanship leads us to dislike not only the other side’s politicians but even each other.

This is a big problem for self-government, since aggregating sustainable majorities is the first task of politicians in democratic countries. They are not doing a very good job, and the unfolding 2016 campaign doesn’t inspire much confidence that they’ll do better. 4/27/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/04/27/is_democracy_unraveling_126396.html 

8. Matea Gold and Ed O’Keefe: Never before have so many people with so much money run for president

The 2016 Republican presidential contest, designed to be a tidy affair, is instead shaping up to be a chaotic, drawn-out slog, thanks largely to an expanding pool of rich patrons raining money on a broad field of candidates.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has raised tens of millions of dollars for his allied super PAC, collecting a historic amount, he told donors Sunday night. But that hasn’t been enough to stop his rivals from amassing their own stockpiles. A super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida secured about $20 million in commitments in less than two weeks, according to people familiar with the totals. An independent operation backing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas says it pulled in $31 million in a single week. A new super PAC allied with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is close to matching that, fundraisers say.

Never have so many candidates entered a White House contest boosted by such huge sums. The financial arms race could fuel a protracted primary season similar to the one in 2012 — exactly what party leaders were hoping to avoid.

“There could be as many as a dozen candidates that have a threshold amount of money in their campaigns and super PACs to compete vigorously in the early states,” said Phil Cox, a Republican strategist who runs America Leads, a super PAC supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that has the backing of at least two billionaires. 4/27/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/why-the-2016-gop-race-may-be-more-like-2012-than-the-party-hoped/2015/04/26/fff662c8-e9f9-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html

GOP-candidates

9. Dana Milbank: For the GOP, ‘one man, one vote’ becomes ‘one billionaire, one ballot’

GOP leaders exulted a few years ago when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other decisions invited the rich to pour unlimited sums into political campaigns — and they are, by the billions of dollars.

But the Law of Unintended Consequences frequently rules the practice of politics, and it has once again. Republican candidates are hauling in so much money that the flood of cash has washed away the Darwinian system of natural selection that previously allowed parties to pick their nominees.

In the past, there was a money primary: If candidates polled poorly, their fundraising would dry up and they’d have to drop out of the race. But such market principles no longer apply, because a large number of inviable candidates are artificially subsidized — kept in the race by a beneficent billionaire, or even a friendly multimillionaire or two. With no easy way to push weak candidates from the race, Republicans are being hoist by their own gilded petard.

My Post colleagues Matea Gold and Ed O’Keefe reported Monday that no fewer than 15 White House hopefuls are being assisted by outside groups typically formed as “super PACs” and run by the candidate’s allies. For the first time in the modern political era, political operatives say it’s possible the eventual nominee need not win in either Iowa or New Hampshire.

The outright acquisition of the primary process by the wealthy is the latest instance of the 1 percent taking over the American political system – although in this case it’s more likely the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. As the Center for Responsive Politics notes, the top 1 percent of donors to super PACS (about 100 people and their spouses) contributed 67 percent of super-PAC funds in 2012.

Fred Wertheimer, a campaign-finance reformer who runs the group Democracy 21, predicts that, for the first time, spending by super PACs will exceed spending by candidates and parties combined in the 2016 presidential campaign, which is expected to cost some $5 billion.

Thanks to the Roberts court, the sacred concept of one man, one vote has been replaced by a new reality: one billionaire, one ballot. 4/27/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-the-gop-one-man-one-vote-becomes-one-billionaire-one-ballot/2015/04/27/d6a35aa4-ed0d-11e4-8abc-d6aa3bad79dd_story.html?hpid=z3

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