consultants are sandburs

Monday, April 11, 2016

Should you trust it when a politician suggests, don't ask me what I thought and did before, ask me where I differ from my opponent; that is, cut me giant slack on issue preemption? Would you like an actual example, or is a hypothetical your thing?

Actual example; IBTimes, days ago, and the nastiness to the 99% via the 1%'s will toward overarching tax haven abusiveness:

Hillary Clinton said Wednesday at a campaign stop [...] “Some of you may have just heard about these disclosures about outrageous tax havens and loopholes and superrich people across the world are exploiting in Panama and elsewhere,” she said at the annual Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention. “We are going after all these scams and make sure everyone pays their fair share here in America.”

But what Clinton left out of her speech was her support five years ago for the Panama Free Trade Agreement that critics say helped intensify tax secrecy in the Latin American nation.

Clinton’s rival for the While House, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has seized on the issue since Sunday’s release of the Panama Papers, a massive trove of documents that exposed widespread use of tax shelters by rich and powerful people from all over the world.

Sanders has pledged to repeal the trade agreement with Panama if he’s elected president.

“I was opposed to the Panama Free Trade Agreement from day one,” he said on Tuesday. [...]

Sanders opposed the deal as it was being debated in Congress in 2011 on the grounds it would worsen secrecy and tax evasion. But Clinton at the time explicitly touted Panama for its tax transparency initiatives and helped pass the deal through Congress as secretary of state.

"I am happy to report we are making great progress on both agreements,” Clinton said in May 2011, referring to favorable trade deals with Panama and Colombia touted by the business community but criticized by labor and environmental activists.

Panama position musical chairs aside, what about that Colombia mention? To labor people, no less.

Almost a year ago to today's date, IBTimes reported details, per a headline, "As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations." Details include:

For union organizers in Colombia, the dangers of their trade were intensifying. When workers at the country’s largest independent oil company staged a strike in 2011, the Colombian military rounded them up at gunpoint and threatened violence if they failed to disband, according to human rights organizations. Similar intimidation tactics against the workers, say labor leaders, amounted to an everyday feature of life.

For the United States, these were precisely the sorts of discomfiting accounts that were supposed to be prevented in Colombia under a labor agreement that accompanied a recently signed free trade pact liberalizing the exchange of goods between the countries. From Washington to Bogota, leaders had promoted the pact as a win for all -- a deal that would at once boost trade while strengthening the rights of embattled Colombian labor organizers. That formulation had previously drawn skepticism from many prominent Democrats, among them Hillary Clinton.

Yet as union leaders and human rights activists conveyed these harrowing reports of violence to then-Secretary of State Clinton in late 2011, urging her to pressure the Colombian government to protect labor organizers, she responded first with silence, these organizers say. The State Department publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights, thereby permitting hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to flow to the same Colombian military that labor activists say helped intimidate workers.

At the same time that Clinton's State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.

[links in excerpt omitted] Yeah, that Frank.

See another item from roughly a year ago, here, headlined, "181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary's State Department." There's a chart, too vast to screen capture; have a look, where it's like 181 of the Fortune 500. More or less.

Here, with an aptly worded excerpt:

For the Clintons, raising foreign money is part of the family business. The Clinton Foundation — now re-dubbed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, so the whole family can share in the glory — is a fundraising juggernaut unbound by national borders.

It has raised about $2 billion during the course of its existence, and foreign governments and other foreign donors make up some of its heaviest hitters. “Rarely, if ever,” as The Washington Post put it, “has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments.”

The foreign fundraising continued apace even while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, a position that, in theory, has some influence over U.S. foreign policy. It is as if the wives of George Marshall and Dean Acheson were operating as globe-trotting money vacuums, with infamously slack ethical standards, while their spouses ran Foggy Bottom.

Yes, Ms. Clinton is a lesser evil than Mr. Cruz, should he be the other party's choice, but Mr. Trump is not owned by the same money sources that have financed Ms. Clinton and Mr. Cruz; and polls suggest Sanders has a better shot at beating Trump in a November general election than Clinton has. Trump can talk about all the money the Clintons have taken to become wealthy as career politician patrician family poster children. Cruz cannot, since he's done just that himself. Bernie can talk about all Trump's past, and what's Trump to say? That he is against democratic socialism? The Sanders message has drawn crowds equally large as the Trump nativist event herds.

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