Mr. Clinton Goes To Kazakhstan

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

It’s been really great, having Hillary Clinton right in the thick of a close, disputatious race for President.  It puts her husband back in the papers, and that guy is always up to something wild!  By way of example, let’s follow the 2005 path of the peripatetic former POTUS as he took a quick little pleasure jaunt over to exotic Kazakhstan.  The New York Times broke this story today, and I have divided it up into easy-to-read, mostly chronologically numbered chunks for your reading pleasure:

1.  On September 6, 2005, a private plane carrying ultra-wealthy Canadian businessman Frank Giustra (a profile can be read here) landed in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  Here’s where Almaty is:

kazakh-map.jpg…and here’s Frank Giustra: f-giustra.jpg

Giustra was there to bid on the exclusive rights to large deposits of uranium, which he would then use to fuel nuclear power plants he planned to build around the world.  On the private jet was Bill Clinton, a good friend of Giustra ever since Giustra started throwing millions of dollars at Clinton and his charitable foundation, the William J. Clinton Foundation.

nursultan-nazarbayev.jpg 

2.  Upon landing, the two had a fancy dinner with Kazakh president Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, who has ruled, rather iron-fistedly, for 19 years in that country.  As outlined in this Washington Post article, Nazarbayev “has banned opposition parties, intimidated the press and profited from his post” and “has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of pocketing the bulk of $78 million in bribes from an American businessman.”  In 2007, Transparency International ranked Kazakhstan 150th out of 179 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index, scoring it a 2.1 out of a possible 10. 

3.  Within 2 days of this dinner, Bill Clinton was enthusiastically supporting Nazarbayev’s government’s bid to head the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy, according to the Times story.

4.  Also within 2 days, Giustra’s nascent uranium mining company, UrAsia, was awarded the rights to 3 big uranium projects controlled by the state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.  This despite the fact that the company had no time to develop contacts and relationships with Kazakh officials.  According to the Times,

“A spokesman for Mr. Clinton said the former president knew that Mr. Giustra had mining interests in Kazakhstan but was unaware of “any particular efforts” and did nothing to help. Mr. Giustra said he was there as an “observer only” and there was “no discussion” of the deal with Mr. Nazarbayev or Mr. Clinton.  But Moukhtar Dzhakishev, president of Kazatomprom, said in an interview that Mr. Giustra did discuss it, directly with the Kazakh president, and that his friendship with Mr. Clinton ‘of course made an impression.'”

5.  A few months after the Kazakh deals were finalized, Clinton’s charitable foundation received a $31.3 million gift from Giustra.  (The relationship was further cemented in 2007 with the creation of the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative.)

6.  Later in 2005, in December, Nazarbayev won re-election with a dictatorial 91% of the vote in an atmosphere described by the very OSCE that Nazarbayev meant to lead as tained by “an atmosphere of intimidation” and “ballot-box stuffing.”  Bill Clinton sent Nazarbayev a congratulatory letter stating, sickeningly, “Recognizing that your work has received an excellent grade is one of the most important rewards in life.”  More on the repressive power consolidation from the Wall Street Journal here.

7.  Eleven months previous to Clinton’s atta-boy to a Soviet bloc dictator, a Congressional commission sent a letter to the U.S. State Department opposing Kazakhstan’s bid to head the OSCE, saying it “would not be acceptable” and cited “serious corruption.”

8.  The letter was signed by Hillary Clinton.  That’s all, folks!

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Ricky Gervais And Stephen Merchant Are Funnier Than You

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.funnyordie.com posted with vodpod

The NOW Morphs Into The National Organization For Whiny Girls

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

If I’m in the National Organization for Women, I’m embarassed right now.  As you may or may not have heard, Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama’s presidential bid today, delivering a nice, Boston-accented “fahk you” to Bill and Hillary Clinton in the process.  And because Ted endorsed a boy, who of course are all just a bunch of meanie meanie doodoo-heads and who have cooties and do nothing but snap bra straps and pull pigtails all day, the NOW freaked out.  The full text of their PMS-fueled screed statement is below, and I would like to point out that its authenticity was confirmed by The Politico’s Ben Smith, who checked with organization president Marcia Pappas:

“Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

“And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America, democrats.com, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.

“This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation – to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”

 crying-lady.jpg

A “that time of the month” joke, while probably accurate and suitably derisive, would be too easy here, so I won’t make one.  I don’t really need to, as the statement is a big enough joke in and of itself – “he picked the new guy over us”?  What is this, a cafeteria lunch table?  I must say, it is not without irony that the National Organization for Women, of all groups, has reinforced the notion, which I had thought to be banished by simple modernity, that women shouldn’t be in power because the minute they don’t get their way, they throw a hissy fit and pull the sexism card.  So let’s see how Hillary’s quest to break the gender barrier is going:

1.  Hillary is asked how she is coping with the stress of the campaign.  She cries.

2.  Hillary gets poll numbers showing her in big trouble in South Carolina.  She runs away and sends her husband, who has cheated on her innumerable times mind you, to do the fighting for her.

3.  Hillary loses the endorsement of Ted Kennedy, and the National Organization for Women all run crying into their treehouse and yell “Unfair!” at the mean boys across the street on her behalf.

Stay tuned, when we’ll see Hillary cope with losing Florida by going on a daylong crying jag and watching a Steel Magnolias/Thelma and Louise double feature.

Three Cheers For Byzantine Government Regulation!: Quote Of The Day

From the American Banker Morning Scan for Friday, January 25, 2008, commenting on the monster kick to the capital nads recently suffered by France’s Société Générale after it announced that heretofore unremarkable trader Jérôme Kerviel managed to lose, undetected, over $7 billion in bad futures trades:

“We’re guessing this won’t be the day we hear a lot about the competitive disadvantages of Sarbanes-Oxley.”

Now Entering The Ring, Accompanied By Her Manager, Slick Willie…

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

You may recall that on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, I suggested that the only way Hillary Clinton could revive her flagging campaign was to hire a new manager – not your typical campaign manager, mind you, but a professional wrestling manager – somebody who could be her aggressive, offensive, aggrandizing mouthpiece, grabbing headlines by challenging Barack Obama without regard for decorum or propriety.  I knew it was an outrageous suggestion of course – the post was really just an excuse for me to inject my love of pro wrestling into my love for politics.  I never thought for a minute she’d actually do it!

Of course, she chose not to go with my suggestion, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, despite the fact that Hart’s management resume includes Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, King King Bundy, the Hart Foundation, Earthquake, and of course, the Immortal Hulk Hogan, and the fact that Hart is a two-time Pro Wrestling Illustrated Manager of the Year.  Imagine my surprise when she chose, instead…her husband, former President and the world’s most famous fellatee (that’s not a real word, don’t bother looking it up), Bill Clinton!

The guy is a natural at this!  The minute he’s set loose on Obama, he comes up with gems like calling Obama’s Iraq statements “a fairy tale” and referring to Obama as a “kid”!  That kind of vituperation stands up to Jimmy Hart’s best stuff!  And not only is Bill hitting all the rhetorical marks, but he’s nailed one of the most important elements of the pro wrestling manager:

slick-willy.jpg    jim-cornette.jpg

The garish orange tie!

Quite A Poker Face You’ve Got There, Senator

From the January 13th, 2008 edition of Meet The Press: 

MR. RUSSERT: You say you’ve been deeply involved in the eight years of the Clinton administration. One of the powers given to a president is the power of pardon. At the end of the president’s second term, he granted 140 pardons, including one to Marc Rich, someone who had been convicted of tax evasion, fraud and making illegal oil deals with Iran. Were you involved in that pardon?
SEN. CLINTON: No. I didn’t know anything about that.
MR. RUSSERT: No one talked to you whatsoever?
SEN. CLINTON: No. No. Unh-unh.
MR. RUSSERT: His ex-wife gave $109,000 to your campaign.
SEN. CLINTON: Well, no one talked to me about it, Tim.

Ease up Tim, you’ll make her cry!  (I know, I’ve been mean to Hillary this week.  Well I promise, if Huckabee wins Florida, he’s up next.)

Hillary Clinton: Depends On What Your Definition Of “The Truth” Is

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

Barack Obama gave an interview to the Reno Gazette-Journal last Monday, and committed the mortal sin of talking about Ronald Reagan without using the words “decade of greed” or “antichrist” or “oppressor of the working poor.”  Here is what he said: 

“I think it’s fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10-15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.  Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.  He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.  He tapped into what people were already feeling, which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

Didn’t sound like a compliment to me so much as a political judgment.  Whether you like what Reagan did or not (I myself wasn’t a big fan of his “poor by choice” remark, or the military obsession with missile defense), he did truly build a Republican coalition of fiscal conservatives and foreign policy realists, he was an incredibly skilled communicator who was able to instill optimism in everyday Americans, and he could rock a cowboy hat better than any President since Theodore Roosevelt.  Politically, he left a substantive legacy, and of course your feelings on that legacy will vary.  That’s just a fact acknowledged by political historians of all stripes, it’s not a value judgment.  But you can’t attack a fact, so the ambitious Senator from New York by-God turned it into a value judgment instead.

“My leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last 10-15 years. That’s not the way I remember the last 10-15 years.”

Well that’s quite a leap.  Good for Hillary, seizing the opportunity to drag out the Reagan boogeyman as a way of showing the Democratic base that Senator Obama is nothing but a Reagan sympathizer, a traitor to the cause.  Hillary wouldn’t be caught dead saying nice things about the GOP hero!

On an utterly, totally, completely, 100% unrelated note, here’s a quotation from Tom Brokaw’s new book, Boom! that I just thought I’d throw out there.  Because it has Reagan in it. 

“When he had those big tax cuts and they went too far, he oversaw the largest tax increase. He could call the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and then negotiate arms-control agreements. He played the balance and the music beautifully.”

“Played the balance and the music beautifully.”  Wow, that’s pretty effusive.  Wonder what talk radio Reagan acolyte Brokaw dug up to say THAT!  Wait, hold on a tick…why it was Hillary Clinton!

Well shit.

hillary-picture.jpg BONUS HILLARY MENDACITY!

When the opportunistic carpetbagging Senator from New York met Sir Edmund Hillary in 1995, she told him that she was named after the legendary climber.  It’s an anecdote she often repeated, and it even made its way into her husband Bill’s 2004 autobiography Women Other Than My Wife I Have Remorselessly Slept With My Life.  Aaaaaannnnndd…Hillary Clinton was born in 1947, and Sir Edmund Hillary did not become famous for ascending Everest until 1953.  My my, she does love her tidy narratives, doesn’t she?