Obama Took On The Right At White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Obama White House Correspondents Dinner

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner has turned into a major event in recent years, and Barack Obama did a fine job. Among his jokes:

“For many Americans, this is still a time of deep uncertainty. I have one friend, just weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year, and she’s now living out of a van in Iowa.”

“Michele Bachmann predicted I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now that’s big. … Lincoln, Washington — they didn’t do that.”

On Bernie Sanders: “Apparently people really want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all.”

On Dick Cheney: “He thinks I’m the worst president of his lifetime, which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime.”

Cecily Strong, while not as good a comedian, as Barack Obama, did better in this situation than as anchor on SNL’s Weekend Update. She had a number of jokes about the media, from the number of prison documentaries on MSNBC to the nature of Fox’s audience: “Fox News has been losing a lot of viewers lately, and may they rest in peace.”

She was clearly backing Hillary Clinton but she did mention the email scandal: “Hillary Clinton said that she used her private email because she didn’t want to use more than two devices. Now if that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s also one of the rules of the sex contract of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.'”

Obama’s expression of political views has received far more attention than Strong’s. On climate change: “Look at what’s happening right now. Every serious scientist says we need to act. The Pentagon says it’s a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day, and instead of doing anything about it, we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate! It is crazy! What about our kids?! What kind of stupid, short-sighted, irresponsible…”

Both conservative liberal blogs agreed that Obama was expressing liberal views in such jokes, but the spin was quite different. Power Line’s headline was Our Mean-Spirited President Cuts Loose. Ezra Klein put it differently (and more accurately): The joke was that Obama wasn’t joking.

 

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Season Finale; Arrow; Orphan Black; Hannibal

THE AMERICANS -- "March 8, 1983" Episode 313 (Airs Wednesday, April 22, 10:00 PM e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings, Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings. CR: Patrick Harbon/FX

The season finale of The Americans felt more like a mid-season break, consistent with the earlier statements from the producers that they were carrying the plot threads from the third season into the fourth. This makes good sense as shows such as Homeland have shown how easy it might be to use up the story lines which really propel a show and then have to search for a reason to continue.

There were at least two major plot lines addressed in this episode, with one providing a major cliff hanger. Taking Paige to meet her Russian grandmother only served to make her more upset about her identity, leading to the final scene when she called Pastor Tim and told him that her parents are Russian spies.

There are many conceivable ways that this can go. Will Pastor Tim, assuming he believes the story, feel obligated to preserve her secret? Assuming that Elizabeth and Philip find out, will they make sure that Pastor Tim does not survive to tell anyone? There is also speculation among some fans that Pastor Tim is also a spy, but that might be a too convenient way to resolve the issue.

While this is the major cliff hanger of the season, the Martha story line also remains more fascinating after last week’s revelation. This week we learned that Martha is still alive, and that Philip covered for her by framing an FBI tech person for planting the bug. We still don’t know what cover story he is now telling Martha. Does Martha now know he is a Russian spy, or maybe she thinks he is working for a more secret US organization. Martha clearly knows that the person was framed, and should be able to figure out that his suicide was actually a murder. There is a lot for Martha to consider here. This all has Philip questioning his life as he searches for answers at the EST meetings, while Elizabeth has no doubts, especially while listening to Ronald Reagan call her home the evil empire.

the_americans_ep313

Producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields discussed the cliff hanger with The Hollywood Reporter:

Why did you decide to leave it on a cliffhanger?

Fields We’re glad to hear you say it’s a cliffhanger. We talked about that in the room actually, whether or not it should be called a cliffhanger. I suppose it’s a cliffhanger in the show in the sense that one really wants to find out what’s going to happen next, and that’s a good thing. But, to us, it’s all about the characters. What’s most interesting to us is what’s going to happen to these people next, and what personal dramas will they go through next. That’s always more interesting to us than someone kicking in the door with a gun in their hand.

Weisberg We’re also used to drama where a cliffhanger means that somebody is or isn’t going to die or something like that. So the idea that the real question is: Is this guy who got a phone call going to make another phone call? We were really debating if that would count as a cliffhanger.

Fields More like a telephone-hanger. (Laughs.)

And why did you choose for the cliffhanger to be Paige telling Pastor Tim the truth about her parents?

Fields We knew Paige was going to tell Pastor Tim for quite some time, but we just didn’t know exactly where it would fall in the drama — just like we knew that Philip and Elizabeth were going to tell Paige, but we didn’t know exactly where that would fall into the drama. This family is truly a family, and as such loves each other in its own way. Yet, at the same time, their family has blind spots. The idea that these parents had thought that they had gotten through a rough patch with their daughter and thought that things were on an even keel while missing entirely what was going on, it just rings very true. Somebody just said in our writers’ room today, “What’s really going on is that Philip and Elizabeth have an adolescent.”

For all we knew, Paige could have turned into her own KGB agent this episode. When did you know the story wasn’t going in that direction?

Fields Toward the last third of the season.

Weisberg We considered the possibility of her making that phone call the night that they told her, and then we decided that we definitely didn’t want to do that. So then it became a question of whether or not she would tell them this season or next season, and the finale seemed like the perfect point. What’s most moving in a way is how much pain she’s in there after she comes back from her trip with her mother, and how she expresses that pain and what it drives her to do. For us, it was really moving just to see her crying there in bed when her parents are in the next room not really able to connect with her or fully comprehend how much she’s suffering. Then we have her call Pastor Tim and so openly and clearly express the pain she’s in, which is something her parents are not able to do.

Arrow -- "The Fallen" -- Image AR320B_0053 -- Pictured (L-R): Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, and Willa Holland as Thea Queen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TV Line has information from Marc Guggenheim on what happens the rest of this season on Arrow now that Oliver has remained with the League of Assassins following his deal to save Thea:

With Oliver choosing to stay behind in Nanda Parbat, “the character journey of [Episode] 321 is how the hell Team Arrow moves forward without Oliver,” Guggenheim previews. Whereas last time the group thought he was dead, “knowing that he’s out there and alive, but a member of the League of Assassins, that’s a whole lot harder” for Team Arrow to handle, the EP adds.

“There is a real trinity formed between Laurel, Diggle and Felicity,” Guggenheim says. “They’re all leaning on each other. They’re processing things in different ways. Laurel is throwing herself into her work saving the city. Felicity is struggling with heartbreak and grief. She really goes through the seven stages of grief with Oliver. And Diggle, something happens in [Episode] 21 that really upends Diggle’s world, certainly vis-à-vis Oliver. That’s something that will have repercussions for the remainder of the season.”

The EP adds that next week’s hour is “one of our most emotional episodes” because it’s a baddie-of-the-week installment in which “the villain of the week is Oliver.”

So with the hero giving in to the darker nature of the League, what does his future hold?

“The last three episodes spend a lot of time addressing the question of: ‘Is there hope for Oliver?’” the EP says. “And: ‘Is there hope for Oliver in Felicity’s mind?’ [Episodes] 21 and 22 have some very specific things to say about that and Felicity’s coming to grips with the conclusion of Episode 20.”

ORPHAN BLACK s03e02

The second episode of Orphan Black this season included the return of Sarah pretending to be Beth Childs, and for a second episode Tatiana Maslany also provided the voice of another character, the scorpion. Something is clearly wrong with the Castor clones, and finding the original clone lines might provide the clue, or at least propel more episodes this season.

Logic tests might be useful to evaluate the neurological status of some clones, but Helena sure messed that up in dwelling on finding the mangoes and discussing the issue with the scorpion. Plus we know more about Cal, we saw Allison and Donnie as drug dealers, and it is time for Kira to leave for a while to get away from too many stories about having to save her.

Buddy TV discussed the episode with the show’s creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett:

What went into the decision to have Seth’s death happen the way it did and to start the episode off with that crazy threesome?

Manson: “First on the crazy threesome. The crazy threesome was just something that we – you know…I guess what it was was when we looked at those characters, it seemed like they would potentially, because they grew up together, that they share, because they’re brothers. They share and I think that they’re of a very different kind of upbringing than our girls, and so that because they’re brothers and they share…I don’t know, it just seemed like there was a natural kind of sharing, that sexual exploits would be part of that.

But the further answer to that question is that we just thought it was kind of something that we hadn’t seen before, but it would be kind of a really terrifying way to begin the episode, to discover actually there’s a second person in the room with you. From this woman’s point of view, it’s very scary to realize that the other person in the room is a twin.”

Fawcett: “It’s also a transgression and a crime that we do not take lightly throughout the season.”

Manson: “And then in regards to the termination of Seth at the end, what’s different about this is that that is very much a mercy killing, and it is meant to be a very emotional moment. The fact that these boys have this potential terminal illness is a really horrifying kind of thing that they all have to come to grips with, and I think it’s an emotional moment between Rudy and Seth there that we wanted to explore.”

Is the glitching from the Castor clones equivalent to the illness we see with the Leda clones?

Manson: “It’s part of our scientific mystery, and discovering what ails them, it sort of parallels our Ledas searching for what their own disease is, so that is indeed part of the story, part of the mystery we’re unfolding and part of our scientific mystery.”

Is that what Project Castor is testing for, with the questions Paul asks Seth and Rudy and Helena’s being asked?

Manson: “Again, as part of the mystery of what is biologically with the Castor clones, that’s just kind of the tip of the iceberg to some degree. The thing that we do know after watching episode 2 is we do know that the Castor clones, whatever’s wrong with them, whatever’s potentially causing this, is neurological, and so I think that that’s where these tests come from, and it’s our little tip-of-the-hat homage to Blade Runner.”

Digital Spy has eleven spoilers from Bryan Fuller on the third season of Hannibal.

Netflix has renewed Daredevil for a second season.

Quote of the Day: Conan On The Difference Between Dogs And Cats

Conan Photo

“A new report says that dogs can sniff out prostate cancer with almost 98 percent accuracy. The report also finds that cats can sniff it out with 100 percent accuracy but they prefer to watch you die.” –Conan O’Brien

Huckbee Claims Gay Marriage Leads To “Criminalization Of Christianity”

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee is calling legalization of same-sex marriage a move towards the “criminalization of Christianity.”

“I think it’s fair to say that Christian convictions are under attack as never before,” Huckabee said Thursday, according to audio of the call obtained by Right Wing Watch, a project of the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way. “Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great nation. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.”

The former governor of Arkansas, who is expected to announce his presidential bid on May 5, said it is his “biblical duty” to pray for the members of the Supreme Court as they prepare to rule on same-sex marriage this summer.

Huckabee also appeared to be defending gay conversion therapy. He did note a trend among Republican donors which upsets him but I see as a change for the better: “supposedly conservative donors and conservative office holders are running away from the issue.” Many Republicans realize this is a battle they have lost and are moving on.

Huckabee’s statements show  the distorted view of the religious right on the role of religion and government, and why the Founding Fathers were right in establishing a secular state based upon the principle of separation of church and state. Respecting gay rights based upon support for individual liberty does not limit the legitimate rights of Christians. They certainly are not forced to enter into gay marriages (and I’m not sure how Huckabee would respond to those Christian homosexuals who do exist). Despite the paranoia of some on the religious right, legalization of same-sex marriage would not mean that churches opposed to homosexuality would be forced to perform gay marriages.

The only “right” which Christians would see limited is the “right” to use the power of government to impose their religious views upon others. This is what the religious right is fighting over.

PoltiFact: Bill Maher Right About The Estate Tax

Real Time With Bill Maher

“More astronauts have been to the moon than farmers who paid the inheritance tax in 2013.” –Bill Maher

Conservatives often try to make it appear that tax their tax and economic plans are for the good of others when in reality they are supporting the ultra-wealthy. Their arguments against what they call “the death tax” is a good example of this as they claim it is to help farmers. Bill Maher pointed out that in 2013, of the 5000 Americans who paid the inheritance tax only twenty were farmers. By comparison, twenty-four Americans have been to the moon.

When dealing with a comedian such as Bill Maher there is often a question if they are taking some liberties with the facts to make a joke. In this case PolitiFact verifies that he was right.

Questions On Clinton Foundation Contributions And Speaking Fees May Bring About Further Fall In Polls For Clinton

Recent coverage of the Clinton scandals will hopefully put an end to the conservative myth of a liberal media which will lie and twist the news to promote Democratic candidates at the expense of Republicans. Much of the “liberal” media is demonstrating that they are just as likely to cover evidence of unethical behavior among political leaders regardless of party. Today The New York Times looks at how Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.

Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.

There is certainly no smoking gun to absolutely prove that actions by the Clintons were in response to the money they received, but as just one part of a pattern is is unlikely that few beyond Clinton partisans will believe they were innocent of unethical behavior. This, and other similar stories, look far worse for the Clintons by the manner in which Hillary Clinton failed to abide by two Obama policies designed to reduce the risk of such corruption in his administration–increased transparency, including the use of government email, and an agreement, which Clinton violated, to disclose all contributions to the Foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State. While discussing The Disastrous Clinton Post-Presidency, Jonathan Chait wrote:

The Obama administration wanted Hillary Clinton to use official government email. She didn’t. The Obama administration also demanded that the Clinton Foundation disclose all its donors while she served as Secretary of State. It didn’t comply with that request, either.

The Clintons’ charitable initiatives were a kind of quasi-government run by themselves, which was staffed by their own loyalists and made up the rules as it went along. Their experience running the actual government, with its formal accountability and disclosure, went reasonably well. Their experience running their own privatized mini-state has been a fiasco.

It has been an unusual experience, limited to the Clinton and Bush families, for an ex-president to have the opportunity to continue to exert influence due to having other family members in major positions of power. ABC News looked at how Bill Clinton Cashed In When Hillary Became Secretary of State.

After his wife became Secretary of State, former President Bill Clinton began to collect speaking fees that often doubled or tripled what he had been charging earlier in his post White House years, bringing in millions of dollars from groups that included several with interests pending before the State Department, an ABC News review of financial disclosure records shows.

Where he once had drawn $150,000 for a typical address in the years following his presidency, Clinton saw a succession of staggering paydays for speeches in 2010 and 2011, including $500,000 paid by a Russian investment bank and $750,000 to address a telecom conference in China.

“It’s unusual to see a former president’s speaking fee go up over time,” said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office under President George W. Bush. “I must say I’m surprised that he raised his fees. There’s no prohibition on his raising it. But it does create some appearance problems if he raises his fee after she becomes Secretary of State.”

Public speaking became a natural and lucrative source of income for Clinton when he returned to private life in 2001. Records from disclosure forms filed by Hillary Clinton during her tenures in the U.S. Senate and then in the Obama Administration indicate he took in more than $105 million in speech fees during that 14 year period.

The article also noted that ABC News found some errors in an advanced copy of Peter Schweizer upcoming book Clinton Cash. This is why it is so important that reliable journalistic outlets such as The New York Times are evaluating his data, and that others, including liberal investigative journalists such as David Sirota, are uncovering the same issues while working independently.

While Schweizer has previously written conservative books, he is branching out to a Republican family which has the same ethics issues as the Clinton family. Bloomberg Business reports that Schweizer is targeting Jeb Bush next.

In related news, Reuters reports “Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors.” One question here is whether these were innocent errors or yet another attempt to prevent disclosure of foreign contributions.

Hilary Clinton continues to have a huge lead for the Democratic nomination but there was one development of interest earlier this week when one ex-Clinton backer has switched his support to Martin O’Malley.

Clinton’s lead in the national polls has grown increasingly narrow in recent weeks with the most recent Quinnipiac poll showing Clinton leading her closest Republican opponent, Marco Rubio, by only two points. Of particular concern, the poll found that “American voters say 54 – 38 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, a lower score than top Republicans.” These polling numbers, which have worsened since the start of the email scandal, very well might get even worse for Clinton as further information comes out over the course of the campaign. At some point those Democrats who are in denial of the seriousness of the accusations against Hillary Clinton may have to consider how their defense of Clinton may be serving to bring about the election of Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, or some other Republican as the next president.

Update: The New York Times noted this report from Reuters, along with Clinton’s failure to disclose relevant contributions per her agreement with Obama, in their editorial on this matter the following day:

The messiness of her connection with the foundation has been shown in a report by The Times on a complex business deal involving Canadian mining entrepreneurs who made donations to the foundation and were at the time selling their uranium company to the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company. That deal, which included uranium mining stakes in the United States, required approval by the federal government, including the State Department.

The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.

David Letterman’s Take On Hillary Clinton’s Announcement Video

There have already been many comments about the vacuousness of Hillary Clintons’s announcement video (along with her entire campaign so far). Ruth Marcus called it “a Verizon commercial without the substance.” David Letterman had a unique take on it last Friday–video above and transcript below:

Hillary Clinton made her long-awaited announcement earlier this week to run for President. You’ve probably seen her website announcement, and this part was a bit of a surprise. We take a look at the announcement.
PERSON 1: “I’m getting ready for a lot of things.
PERSON 2: “It’s Spring, so we’re getting to get the gardens ready.”
PERSON 3: “I’m getting ready to retire soon.”
HILLARY: “I’m getting ready to do something, too. I’m joining Scientology. Learn how to unlock your inner power at Scientology.org.”

Letterman also had two jokes about Hillary Clinton in his opening monologue the same night besides this video:

“Hillary’s traveling through Iowa on a listening tour, to listen to the Iowa constituents. It’s a listening tour because if you want her to speak it’ll cost you $200,000.”

“Hillary’s in a van with a bumper sticker that reads, ‘If the van’s a rockin;, I’m deleting e-mails.”

I’m going to miss Dave.

Good News In Polls On Obamacare, Obama, And The Economy

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll April 2015

There is some favorable news in a couple polls out today. A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll shows that the number who view the Affordable Care Act favorably or unfavorably is now evenly split, with 43 percent having a favorable view and 42 percent unfavorable. This remains within the margin of error and, while still lower than it should be considering how well the law has worked, is an improvement over previous polls. Last month 43 percent viewed the law unfavorably and 41 percent favorably. A year ag0 46 percent viewed Obamacare unfavorably compared to 38 percent favorably. As expected, there was a large partisan difference in these findings. The poll also showed that few people realize that implementation of the Affordable Care Act has cost less than originally estimated.

A CNN/ORC poll shows an improved approval rating for President Obama, along with increased optimism about the economy:

For the first time since May of 2013, more Americans polled say they have a positive impression of how Obama is handling the presidency than a negative one: 48% approve of the way Obama is handling his job, while 47% disapprove…

Obama’s numbers are on the rise at the same time the public gives the economy the highest ratings of his presidency.

The poll finds 52% describe the U.S. economy as very or somewhat good, while 48% call it very or somewhat poor. That marks the first time since Obama took office that significantly more people describe the economy as “good” than “poor,” and only the second time since then that a majority has described the nation’s economy as “good.”

…Likewise, the public’s outlook for the country’s economic future is remarkably positive. Sixty percent say they expect the economy to be in good shape a year from now, while just 38% say they think it will be in poor shape. That’s the most positive outlook since the height of the 2012 election campaign. Such campaigns typically boost optimism about the economy as people on both sides of the ideological divide believe their candidate will win and ultimately turn things around.

But outside of that campaign, the last time optimism about the economy reached 60% was in April 2009, about three months into Obama’s time in office.

New Book Questions Donations To Clinton Foundation

clinton-cash-cover

Donations to the Clinton Foundation has long been a source of concern to critics of the Clintons on both the left and right. A new book by a conservative author, but which is claimed to be well-sourced, is likley to create further problems for the Clinton campaign, especially in light of an unusual deal in which both The New York Times and Fox have exclusive agreements to use the research for the book for further investigations. The New York Times reports:

“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.

“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.

His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.

In the long lead up to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announcement, aides proved adept in swatting down critical books as conservative propaganda, including Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud,” about tensions between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s “Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.”

But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, 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.

Other media reports state that only The New York Times and Fox have such agreements, and that The Washington Post does not.

Vox has further background information on the controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation, noting how the controversy harms the Clinton campaign:

  1. It reinforces a series of powerful memes against Hillary Clinton: Republicans say she’s unwilling to play by the same rules as everyone else, and her populist turn on the campaign trail is at odds with her big-dollar fundraising, much of it from foreign governments and individuals.
  2. Perhaps more important — since most Republicans aren’t inclined to vote for her — it reminds Democrats of two toxic perceptions about Clinton within the Democratic Party: she’s too cozy with, perhaps even co-opted by, the very Wall Street and corporate titans who are most reviled on the left (Barclays, Citi, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, and Walmart are all foundation supporters), and she exercises poor judgment around both the money she raises and the company she keeps.”It fuels a narrative that’s not positive,” one House Democrat who supports Clinton’s presidential bid said in an interview Thursday on Capitol Hill. “They [the Clintons] show a real tin ear when it comes to their own behavior.”

Barack Obama was among the first Democrats to show concern over this and insisted that Clinton agree to release the name of donors to the Foundation while Secretary of State. Reuters reported last month that Clinton failed to comply with the terms of this agreement. Frank Rich and Ron Fournier have both written recently on this conflict of interest:

“Follow the money.” That apocryphal phrase, attributed to Watergate whistle-blower “Deep Throat,” explains why the biggest threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential dreams is not her emails. It’s her family foundation. That’s where the money is: corporate money, foreign money, gobs of money sloshing around a vanity charity that could be renamed “Clinton Conflicts of Interest Foundation.”

Conor Friedersdorf described how hard  the Clintons have made it to follow the money in an article in The Atlantic. Earlier this month three investigative journalists, Matthew Cunningham-Cook, Andrew Perez, and David Sirota, reported that Clinton had altered her position to support a Colombian trade deal in return for contributions.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to prove that favors provided by Clinton after a contribution were definitely in return for the contribution, but a damaging pattern can be found. This is certain to be used by Republicans in the general election race. While Democratic primary voters might believe her denials, voters in the general election are less likley to. Clinton’s credibility, already low among many voters, is further damaged by her actions including failure to divulge contributors as agreed when Secretary of State, her violation of the rules in effect in 2009 regarding maintenance of email, and her decision to wipe the server.

We won’t know for sure how much there is to this book until the legitimate journalists have had more time to go through the data. The important thing is how the information in this particular book pans out, not the history of the author. The National Enquirer is also generally a poor source, but their story on John Edwards turned out to be true. It is unusual for a book from a conservative that the author is willing to let The New York Times see his research. So far they seem to be confident there is something to this–and there is a good chance considering the reporting along these lines elsewhere.

Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb Faced The Media But Hillary Clinton Continues To Avoid The Press

O'Malley Face The Nation

Martin O’Malley appeared on Face the Nation today, telling Bob Schieffer that he plans to decide by the end of May as to whether he plans to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Schieffer asked him why he plans to run:

O’MALLEY: Because I believe that our country faces big challenges.

And I know that leadership is important, if we’re going to turn these challenges into opportunities. I have 15 years of executive experience as a big city mayor and as a governor bringing people together to get things done. And I believe that I have the ideas that will help our country move forward to a time when our economy is actually working for all of us again, instead of wages declining.

There has been repeated mention in the media as to how Clinton has taken the unusual course of not meeting with the press (see here and here).  O’Malley did not take advantage of this opportunity to criticize Clinton:

SCHIEFFER: What do you think of way she launched her campaign? All these Republicans are up there making speeches, kind of doing it the old-fashioned way. She gets in this little van and drives all the way out there. She’s given no interviews, as far as I can tell. She hasn’t had a news conference. Can you get the nomination that way? And how will you do it?

O’MALLEY: Well, look, I will let others talk — second-guess her strategies and tactics. And she can certainly defend herself. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Secretary Clinton.

I believe that the best way to campaign is one-on-one with people. You can’t forge a new sort of consensus, you can’t forge public opinion by following public opinion. And you have to engage with people in living room after living room, in luncheonettes and lunch counters. I think that is the best type of campaign is the one- on-one contact, where we actually talk about the better choices we need to make to get earnings to rise again.

So far Clinton has only received gentle criticism for the manner in which she has avoided the press, but if she keeps this up I would expect the press to discuss this more, as back in 2008 when Sarah Palin was hiding from the press. The Washington Post noted that O’Malley and James Webb appeared on the Sunday interview shows but Clinton was only represented by stand-ins.

The full transcript of Face the Nation is available here.