Whitewater and Clinton Scandal Clips
from The Progressive Review
1992-1998 Part 9
In May 1992, the Review became the first publication in America to present a comprehensive report on what has now come to be known as the Clinton scandals. Outside of conservative media no other publication has so consistently told this story
Back to the Review's home page To preceding part of the clip file
RICHARDSON & MONICA'S JOB
Important from The Washington Times' Bill Sammon and largely ignored elsewhere:
"U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, contrary to what he told Congress last month, did not have an opening on his staff when he offered to hire Monica Lewinsky last October, according to informed sources and documents obtained by The Washington Times. . . Mr. Richardson, who was recently confirmed as President Clinton's new energy secretary, planned to create a new position to accommodate Miss Lewinsky's desire for employment in New York City. . . He panicked when the scandal broke in January and scrambled to find a slot that he could claim had existed long before he interviewed Miss Lewinsky, the sources said. Despite Mr. Richardson's repeated, sworn assertions, he did not create the position until after independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr served him with a subpoena demanding all documents relating to the job offer."
-- Percent of Americans who think cheating on your spouse is worse than secretly taping a conversation of a friend: 49%
-- Percent of Americans who believe it is worse to ask your friend to commit perjury than it is to secretly tape a conversation of a friend: 52% [Fox News/Opinion Dynamics]
Drop in Dow Jones average between Jan. 1 1973 (when five lesser Watergate figures pleaded guilty to breaking into Democrat's office) and Oct 4, 1974, two months after Nixon left office: nearly 45%. [Yale Hirsh, Stock Traders Almanac]
THE CLINTON SCANDALS & MENTAL RESERVATION. . .
Much of the discussion of moral issues involved in the Clinton scandals -- curiously dominated by such notoriously amoral trades as law, the media and politics -- is reminiscent of questions periodically arising in the Catholic Church under the general category of "mental reservations." In fact, the discussions of such matters as whether it is all right to lie about sexual affairs or whether perjury is an impeachable offense are being discussed with almost Jesuitical complexity -- or at least as close as Lanny Davis and a MSNBC talk show host can come to it.
The notion of little and big lies have troubled theologians for many centuries. For example, St. Raymund of Pennafort argued in 1235 that if you were hiding someone in your house and a would-be murderer knocked on the door and asked if his intended victim were in, it was proper to say, "He is not at home" or something like that. This is known in the theological trade as an "amphibology," or rhetorical equivocation -- something in which the Clinton administration has specialized. The hidden knowledge that one has of the true meaning of one's words is called a "mental reservation."
The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 described it this way:
"A lie is something intrinsically evil, and as evil may not be done that good may come of it, we are never allowed to tell a lie. However, we are also under an obligation to keep secrets faithfully, and sometimes the easiest way of fulfilling that duty is to say what is false, or to tell a lie. Writers of all creeds and of none, both ancient and modern, have frankly accepted this position. They admit the doctrine of the lie of necessity, and maintain that when there is a conflict between justice and veracity it is justice that should prevail. The common Catholic teaching has formulated the theory of mental reservation as a means by which the claims of both justice and veracity can be satisfied."
For example, "if a confessor asked about things made known to him in confession, he should answer 'I do not know,' and such words as those when used by a priest mean 'I do not know apart from confession,' or 'I do not know as man' or 'I have no knowledge of the matter which I can communicate.'
By the 16th Century, the debate over such matters had become considerably more sophistic. Martin Aspilcueta -- or "Doctor Navarrus" -- offered a doctrine of "strict mental reservation" that allowed one to lie if one had good reason for it. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "In the strict mental reservation the speaker mentally adds some qualification to the words which he utters, and the words together with the mental qualification make a true assertion in accordance with fact. On the other hand, in a wide mental reservation, the qualification comes from the ambiguity of the words themselves, or from the circumstances of time, place, or person in which they are uttered."
The argument of Navarrus was freely debated for some years. Sadly for Clinton, however it was "condemned as formulated by Sanchez by Innocent XI on March 2, 1679. After this condemnation by the Holy See no Catholic theologian has defended the lawfulness of strict mental reservations."
Further, it is likely that most of those debating the issue over the centuries would have drawn a fairly strong moral distinction between saving someone else's life and saving your own political butt.
Interestingly, this Catholic notion has crept into American politics as a part of public oaths. For example, when one takes an oath of naturalized citizenship, or as a US Senator or officer in the National Guard, one does so without "any mental reservation."
There is, sadly, one oath in which the phrase does not appear: that for the president of the United States.
TODAY'S TEST: MEDIA, MORALITY & OBJECTIVITY
It has been said that objectivity is but the ideology of journalism. Be that as it may, here is a little self-test to help journalists figure out how good a job they are doing covering the current unpleasantness:
If 51% of the American people say that one or more of the president's acts should not be subject to sanction, what is the proper journalistic response to those who feel otherwise? Are those in the minority wrong? Are moral issues properly decided by majority decision? Have you checked with a philosopher or theologian on this lately? Or only Dee Dee Myers?
A story in the Washington Post suggests that "political Washington" has reached a consensus that the president "should come clean to the public and hope for the best." In more typical criminal cases, confession and apology precede sentencing rather than exculpation. Clearly there are a different set of rules for President Clinton. List those crimes President Clinton might commit that could be better handled by a television apology rather than by more traditional forms of law enforcement.
What is the moral difference between a federal prisoner incarcerated for a long period because of marijuana or cocaine use and someone in the White House who has enjoyed a similar habit?
There are now 45 individuals or corporations with close connection to the Clinton political organization that have pleaded guilty to or been convicted of various crimes in connection with the current scandals. This has generally not been considered news. As a matter of objective journalism, how many friends of Bill would have to be convicted before you would consider it news?
There are now over 90 individuals who have pleaded the Fifth or fled the country to avoid answering questions in connection with the Clinton scandals. This has generally not been considered news. As a matter of objective journalism, how many persons would have to plead the Fifth or flee the country before you would consider it news?
The number of people who have alleged activities that Clinton has subsequently denied is quite substantial. The subtext of much media coverage of these stories (when it occurs at all) is that the allegations are probably unfounded. How many people would have to have lied in order for what Clinton has said to be true?
What do you suppose Kenneth Starr was doing before Monica Lewinsky surfaced? Why do you suppose journalists write about this story as though it is only about sex when there is no evidence to support this view?
The more typical term for sex given in return for something of value is prostitution? Explain the difference in Washington terms between "consensual sex" and prostitution.
How many reporters actually know what has occurred in the grand jury room? Is it objective to write as though one does?
How does one objectively judge the validity of Kenneth Starr's case before one has actually seen it?
STARR REPORT MORNING LINE
A little CYA action in Newsweek?: "Sources tell Newsweek that Starr may reverse his previous inclination to limit his report's scope to Lewinsky and may expand it to include whether there were efforts to obstruct investigation of the original Whitewater matter." Newsweek had previously said the report would only be about Lewinsky.
"Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's report to Congress contains 'a mountain of evidence' that President Clinton perjured himself about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and obstructed justice by trying to cover it up. Lawyers and others close to the investigation said the report, expected to be presented to the House Judiciary Committee as early as next month, will describe efforts by Mr. Clinton and others to conceal the president's ties to the former intern and to persuade others to take part in the cover-up. . . Now over 300 pages long, the report will outline a case against the president showing that contrary to statements he has made under oath and to the public, he committed high crimes and misdemeanors in trying to conceal the 18-month sexual relationship with Miss Lewinsky." -- Jerry Seper, Washington Times
"Returning after a year in Britain, I am dumbfounded by the insurgent mood of the Washington media. Indeed, it is downright putschist. Former cheerleaders for the Clinton White House are on the television every night fulminating against the President, cursing him with the fury of the betrayed. . . . This looks like the end of the road. Reporters for the elite media are being taken aside by those in the know - the FBI, the Starr investigation, the arbiters of power at the Metropolitan Club - and warned that President Clinton could be facing 10, 12 or more counts of criminal conduct, and that is on the Lewinsky matter alone." -- Whitewater investigative reporter emeritus and Brit Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on returning to this country
LATEST: The Monica tapes are too disgusting for TV, says Lucianne Goldberg and for the web, says Matt Drudge. Latter points out that children might check in on his site.
BIG REPORT COMING: Talk show host David M. Bresnahan writing at WorldNetDaily.com: "The report is said to be well over 500 pages in length and growing daily, with nothing mentioned about Lewinsky until page 400. [A source] confirmed that the report is "massive and will deal with everything." He added that Starr intends to make a "very thorough report. . . Another source also verified that the report "does not focus on Lewinsky alone. It covers it all. In fact, there is much the press and public don't know."
LATEST: Lisa Myers/NBC/MSNBC says 300 pages to Congress after Labor Day mostly about Monica but with no recommendation. Nothing on Whitewater.
IT'S GOING TO BE A BIG ONE:: NBC, William Safire, John Crudele (NYP) -- although Crudele is leaving himself wiggle room by implying conflicting leaks from Starr's office.
IT'S ALL MONICA: Washington Post, WABC, Newsweek
IT'S ALL MONICA IS WHITE HOUSE DISINFO: Matt Drudge
IT'S ALL MONICA IN REPORT TO CONGRESS, BUT WITH A REPORT ON OTHER MATTERS TO THE SUPERVISING JUDGES: Fox News
CLINTON BLIND-SIDED BY GJ QUESTIONS, MOST ON MATTERS OTHER THAN MONICA -- FOX
HIS STORY WAS ALL OVER THE PLACE: Matt Drudge source: "He had major trouble with the time line... He stumbled all over the Vernon Jordan questions. And his Betty Currie story was full of inconsistencies."
CLINTON TO GET A JOB WITH DREAMWORK SKG, POSSIBLY AS CEO: So says columnist Cindy Adams: "Means a seven-figure salary. . .That's plus perks, points,
limo and driver, house with screening room, tennis court, hot-and-cold
THUMBSUCKER ALERT: GOOD-OF-THE-NATION CROWD BACK. . .
There is a time in every big scandal when those who deeply admire George Will and Ted Koppel start lecturing us on what "the good of the nation" requires. Actually, the good of the nation required a media that would have told us the true nature of the Clintons and the most corrupt administration in modern history while there was still time to do something about it, but that's all water over the dress. Now the good of the nation apparently requires that we not learn the truth even after the fact. Hence we find ourselves with absurd writing like the following:
-- Jodi Enda for Knight Ridder: "After two decades in public office, after balancing the budget, sparring with Saddam Hussein and attempting to mend race relations, President Clinton's legacy is riding on words he will say in one single day about a subject that has nothing to do with running the country. . . White House officials do agree, however, that the Lewinsky investigation has exacted a toll on the Oval Office with court decisions that, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will limit any future occupant's ability to confide in even the most senior of advisers."
-- George Edwards, director of the Center for Presidential Studies at Texas A&M University: "We don't have abuse of power. That's not what going on here. . . "This is something that anybody could have lied about and most people don't take seriously. I think this whole thing needs to be seriously re-evaluated. I don't think we need to have a permanent inquisition. ... That's not helping the nation."
[Nominations for future Thumbsucker Alerts are welcome. Write firstname.lastname@example.org]
KEY WORDS AND PHRASES ALREADY USED BY OTHER THUMBSUCKERS: defining moment, the president's peccadilloes, no Watergate, transform the nature of the presidency, diminish the presidency, cheapen the presidency,
GERALDO A PIG HUGGER?
A flashback from Matt Drudge:
Geraldo Rivera, January 23, 1998: "If this is true, getting oral sex from a 21-year-old, then he's a pig. He may be a good president, but he's also a pig..."
Geraldo Rivera, August 6, 1998: "Mr. President, we love you. I want to hug you. I'll say it again, I want to hug you."
BLACKMAIL ON THE POTOMAC?
Clinton flack Jennifer Laszlo defended the president on TV as one of the few men in America who is still married to his first wife, unlike many in Congress who have traded up to a younger prettier models. She thinks they must be worried about having this kind of stuff about them come out in the course of impeachment hearings.
THIS IS SPIN?
Those who think of Sidney Blumenthal as a clever spinmeister might want to engage in a little revisionist thinking given this from the Wall Street Journal: "There is no reason to believe that Sidney Blumenthal is a wife beater. There is every reason to believe he is a raving hypocrite, a partisan with no scruple or principle, and a disgrace to his former profession."
THE CLINTON SCANDAL MATRIX
However the Clinton scandal story turns out, one thing is certain: it is far more complex a tale than the media has reported. Here are just some of the factors involved and the effect they might have had and may still have.
FINANCIAL INDUSTRY: Clinton will be hard-pressed to hang on if financial industry deserts him. Threats to markets is a moderating factor to Congress and Starr.
DRUGS & ORGANIZED CRIME: The drug/crime industry has been in play throughout Clinton's career. Danger to Clinton et al is that the investigation will expose extraneous criminal activity. For example, unexplained deaths, threats and other violence to scandal witnesses may have been to protect mob rather than WJC Probable level of drug/mob influence in Congress is considerable; hence reluctance of legislators to pursue leads that might expose it. . . . Starr has run away from leads to drugs & organized crime, particularly as regards Mena and the Vincent Foster Death. Dan Smaltz, who showed a willingness to pursue such matters, has been sharply headed off by Janet Reno.
BLACKMAIL: WJC has been vulnerable to blackmail most of his career -- a career which has been in no small part a game of cat and mouse between those wishing to extort something from Clinton and those he wishes to exploit. . . .Because of personal behavior and links to criminal elements, some Congress members are vulnerable to blackmail by White House. This has been more politely described by George Stephanopoulos the "Ellen Rometsch" strategy. It seems likely that GOP ambivalence in the Clinton matter reflects at least in part the result of political extortion.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Driven by presidential poll results, the Democrats have shown deep brand loyalty to Clinton. If this changes it will be because of Lou Harris and not Ken Starr. Main political result to congressional Democrats for their loyalty to Clinton has been a loss of seats. If there are signs of a further shift towards the GOP, watch for Dems to get "concerned" about the scandals.
REPUBLICAN PARTY: The ideal GOP rope-a-dope strategy is to keep playing with a wounded Clinton right up to the 2000 elections. . . .There is no single Republican position concerning the scandals and a lot of uncertainty, so the GOP position may be contradictory and diffuse.
WILD CARDS: Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch is a major wild card with various public interest suits that threaten to expose what other players -- perhaps including Starr -- would like to keep quiet. . . . Another potential wild card: any Clinton capos who decide to flip.
INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES: Clinton got rid of William Sessions just before Foster died, but his replacement, Louis Freeh, has proved less than reliable, even talking about Clinton and Gore as possible targets for criminal campaign contribution activity. . . You can't have full information on the Foster death without answering some questions about the NSA . . . The CIA and Clinton have been involved with each other for decades. In short, there are heavy intelligence stakes on top of everything else. . ..Starr will stay away from such issues as though they were HIV-positive.
FOREIGN INFLUENCES: Indonesian billionaire Mochtar Riady and other foreign operatives got interested in Clinton as far back as the mid-1980s. There is a lot that could unravel here . . . Also a concern: the effect of the scandal or foreign politics and finances.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON ON IMPEACHMENT
"The subject of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to society itself."
THE FOSTER CASE
FROM A RECENTLY REVISED REPORT ON THE DEATH OF VINCENT FOSTER BY INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR HUGH SPRUNT: Although Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's report [on the death of Vincent Foster]was made public on October 10, 1997, as of this writing not a single major media outlet has yet covered the most newsworthy aspect of this event: a 20-page insert filed by federal grand jury witness Patrick Knowlton which attacks the Starr investigation and its predecessors as across-the-board cover-ups.
In October 1996, long before the release of the Starr Report, Knowlton filed a civil suit listing over two dozen named and unnamed parties inside and outside of government whom he alleges undertook a concerted intimidation campaign against him in an effort to influence his grand jury testimony about who and what he had witnessed in Fort Marcy Park just 70 minutes before Foster's body was found. . . .
The harassment was witnessed by several people who recorded their observations real-time. The intimidation efforts commenced the day Knowlton received his federal grand jury subpoena in October 1995. The existence of his subpoena was known only to the Starr OIC and the FBI. The harassment continued during the several days immediately prior to his testimony. Knowlton begged the OIC and Starr's FBI agents for help but the civil suit recounts that, in response, an FBI agent appeared at Knowlton's home and joined in himself.
Knowlton's car had been attacked with a tire iron on May 10, 1994 by a person
later identified as having FBI connections on the night before his second FBI
interview, at which interview a concerted effort was made to get him to change
his prior Park Police and FBI witness statements (Knowlton refused and claims
the FBI altered his statements anyway). One blatant omission from the portion
of the Starr report written by the OIC is any mention of Knowlton's
allegations of harassment (not even a denial).
Starr's "bosses," a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit, evaluated Knowlton's 20-page filing and
additional documentary evidence supporting it and then ordered the 20-page
filing attached to the OIC's report over the repeated objections of Kenneth
Starr. There was no legal requirement that the judges order the attachment
made. . . .
[We have posted the Knowlton addendum to the Starr report at http://emporium.turnpike.net/P/ProRev/knwltn.htm]
SLEAZY SUPERMAKET TABLOID DOESN'T LIKE SLEAZE
David Kendall's other client, the National Enquirer, is out with a piece headlined: "STRANGE, SICK WORLD OF MONICA LEWINSKY ... How I seduced the President." Excerpt:
Monica's story is an explosive account of what she saw as a whirlwind, secret romance with the President - a romance she thought was leading to a love affair. But as far as Clinton and the people around him are concerned, Monica lives in a bizarre fantasy world.Whatever romance she imagined between herself and Clinton, it simply didn't exist. It's the product of her imagination.She's created a fantasy world in which the President was falling in love with her and when she realized it wasn't true, she set out to destroy him. <<<
-- NY Post's Liz Smith reports the Clintons house-hunting in Southern CA. . .
SurveyUSA interviewed 1,000 adults nationwide and asked them how much respect they have for today's Washington newsmakers on a 1 to 10 scale:
1. Mother Theresa 8.9
2. Abraham Lincoln 8.4
3. Martin Luther King Jr 7.4
4. Ronald Reagan 7.0
5. Michael Jordan 6.7
6. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON 5.5
7. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON 5.2
8. Richard Nixon 5.0
9. Larry King 4.8
10. MATT DRUDGE 4.4
11. KENNETH STARR 4.3
12. Howard Stern 3.2
13. Jimmy Swaggart 2.8
14. MONICA LEWINSKY 2.7
15. LINDA TRIPP 2.7
16. O.J. Simpson 2.4
In connection with the piece concerning Clinton and the Catholic concept of "mental reservation," a couple of readers have pointed out the president's attendance at Georgetown University, where he was exposed to Jesuitical training and argument. I had thought of that, too, but considered the burden for Clinton's behavior too much to lay at the feet of such worthy priests
Former London Sunday Times correspondent James Adams writes in a new book that the Clinton-China connection involved "an espionage coup of epic proportions. . . At the time of writing, one focus of the investigation is on the Pentagon, where sources say a "high level penetration" has been uncovered." . . . Adams also recycles a story his paper broke and the American media ignored concerning the Somalia-debacle awards ceremony at the White House:
"After awarding the Medals of Honor to two widows, [Clinton] invited the families to the Oval Office for a moment of quiet reflection. It was a classic Clinton gesture; thoughtful, full of compassion. The President approached Herbert Shugart, the father of Randall Shugart, and held his hand out. To his astonishment, the handshake was declined. ``The blame for my son's death rests with the White House and you. You are not fit to command.'' Clinton reeled under the onslaught, which continued for several moments. As Commander in Chief, President Clinton could have simply accepted responsibility for the loss and sympathized with a grieving father. Instead, he took fifteen minutes out of his schedule to explain to Herbert Shugart why the death of his son was not his fault. It was a craven performance that horrified the Pentagon officials who were present. Immediately after the meeting, White House officials tried to keep the incident quiet and it was successfully suppressed until the story appeared in the London Sunday Times."
One of the most underrated factors in the president's high poll ratings hasbeen the dismal quality of media reporting of the Clinton scandals. The public has been misinformed or kept in the dark on this story from the start and hardly can be blamed for not understanding what is going on. Here is a short list of aspects of the Clinton scandal story that have been ignored, distorted, or minimized: -- The scandals have been consistently described as having begun last January, when major concerns about Clinton actualy surfaced as far back as the 1992 primary. -- The Starr investigation is consistently portrayed as only (or primarily)interested in Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky. The significant issue of Kathleen Willey (and attempts to deep-six her story) have been ignored or underplayed. Little or no mention is given to the many other aspects of the Starr investigation. -- The conventional media have dismissed reports by Sally Perdue, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey and Linda Tripp having been personally threatened (Tripp was even put in a safe house for a while by the FBI). The treatment of these women has been disparaging and of the sort the police once accorded women who claimed to have been raped. -- The conventional media have dismissed Filegate and Travelgate even though what is even publicly available about these scandals rates them as stunning abuses of power. -- The conventional media have failed to tell the public such simple facts as how many of Clinton's associates have already been convicted, how often the Clintons and their associates have given evasive answers under oath, how many witnesses in the scandals have pleaded the Fifth or left the country, how many witnesses have been subjected to physical threats and how many sudden deaths have occurred. -- The conventional media have badly misrepresented the cost and length of the Starr investigation compared to other such inquiries by independent prosecutors. -- The conventional media have failed to tell the public of ties between the drug trade and organized crime and the Clinton administration. -- The conventional media have failed to tell the public of a 20-page statement that supervising judges ordered attached to the Starr report on Vincent Foster's death. The statement recounts highly suspicious events affecting Foster witness Patrick Knowlton. -- The conventional media have ridiculed those journalists and independent investigators who have produced leads and stories that might threaten the Clinton myth. -- The conventional media have failed to describe in an understandable fashion the import of successful attempts by foreign and domestic power brokers to buy influence in the Clinton administration. Put simply, if any city hall reporter had covered a corrupt mayor for six years as badly and misleadingly as many of the biggest names in journalism have covered Clinton, they would be assigned to writing obituaries or fired.
WHERE STARR RANKS
David Bresnahan on WorldNetDaily.com reports the result of a Congressional
Research Service study that blasts holes in the conventional wisdom about
the Starr investigation. According to CRS attorney Jack Maskell, here are
some actual facts:
-- Number of independent counsel inquiries since the 1978 law was passed: 19
-- Number that have produced indictments: 7
-- Number still underway: 4
-- Number of these that have lasted longer than the Starr probe: 2
(including the Iran-Contra investigation)
-- Number that have cost more than the Starr investigation: 2
-- Number that have produced more convictions: 1
-- Median length of investigations that have led to convictions: 44 months
-- Length of Starr investigation: 45 months.
-- Median number of convictions: 6
-- Number of Starr investigation convictions to date: 15
-- Median cost per conviction: $1.8 million (not corrected for inflation)
-- Median cost per Starr investigation conviction: $2.4 million
Rush Limbaugh says Clinton was surprised and unhappy when the GJ questioning turned to the selling of Arkansas state commission board seats at $50K a pop. If true, this could be a sign Starr is doing a more thorough job than many observers suspected.
Former White House FBI agent Gary Aldrich says the administration has among
its improperly obtained FBI files the dossier on Henry Hyde, who would chair
the committee considering impeachment.
Matt Drudge says the tie Clinton wore during his faux apology the other
night was given to him by Lewinsky.
A tawdry two-bit street hustler. . .Everyone owned slaves for 300 years, and
that didn't make it right, now did it? -- Alan Keyes on Clinton
The latest effort to raise millions of dollars to help pay President
Clinton's legal bills is fraught with serious ethical problems. . . . Alarm
bells should ring whenever money is solicited for the personal use of
politicians and government officials. The money raised by such efforts is
simply indistinguishable in many cases from outright bribery. -- Kansas City
CLINTON TEXT DECONSTRUCTION
Total words: 549
Total words devoted to self-justification: 134
Total words devoted to taking responsibility: 92
Total words devoted to regret for actions: 4
Total words devoted to attack on prosecutor: 180
Total words devoted to "time to move on" theme: 137
Total words devoted to apology: None
SPOTTED MOVING SHOREWARD ON THE HAWSERS
Leon Panetta: "There has to be a bond of trust so that you know your boss is not going to stab you in the back. . .You can't do that to him -- and certainly he shouldn't do that to you."
Lars Erik-Nelson, leading media sycophant,(before the president's talk): "If he can deny he had sex with Lewinsky, his wounded, diminished presidency will continue - and a world of leering gossips and babblers will owe him an apology.
But if he now admits he had sex with her, as some of his aides have begun to hint, he is unfit to lead the nation and ought to have the decency to resign."
THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GOES GOD
The appeal of consoling a president in pain proves almost irresistible for a certain ilk of preacher. Thus we find the Rev. Jesse Jackson serving up such glop as "Suffice it to say he is in the pain of all of this. At a time like this, he would rather face the grand jury, and the press, with their array of questions and hostility, than to face Hillary and Chelsea with hostility. Fortunately for him, they are greeting him with open arms and devotion."
But the most aggressive political theology of late comes from a Methodist, the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, who predicted Clinton would survive, just like King David of ancient Israel:
``King David did something that was much worse (arranging the death of his lover Bathsheba's husband) than anything that President Clinton is alleged to have done. And King David, if I read my Bible correctly, was not impeached."
On the other hand, David was a king with divine rights, something this country was founded to get away from. Further, not being a murderer is hardly a recommendation for high public office. Finaly, as one Bible reader has pointed out, "the child born from David's sins died, and David's son Absalom made a mockery of his kingdom and war against his rule, causing David much pain and public embarrassment."
DEPARTMENT OF SILLY TALK
FROM AL GORE: A short time ago, I spoke to the President and told him that Tipper and I have him and his family in our hearts and in our prayers. Along with the rest of the country, I watched the President's televised address in which he took full responsibility for his actions and apologized to the nation. I am proud of him -- not only because he is a friend -- but because he is a person who has had the courage to acknowledge mistakes. I am honored to work with this great President on his agenda for the nation. . .
Those spreading the idea that the president is potentitally liable for perjury in the Paula Jones case only because of details of the sex involved should consider the following:
[Clinton deposition transcript from Paula Jones suit as questioned by Jones Attorney Mr. Fisher on January 17, 1998:]
Q. So I understand, your testimony is that it was possible, then, that you were alone with her, but you have no specific recollection of that ever happening?
A. Yes, that's correct. It's possible that she, in, while she was working there, brought something to me and that at the time she brought it to me, she was the only person there. That's possible.
Comments by cabinet officials following a meeting at which Clinton had denied the Lewinsky story, as reported by the Washington Post's Lloyd Groves.
Madeleine Albright: "I believe that the allegations are completely untrue."
William Daley: "I'll second that, definitely."
Rochard Riley: "I've already said that."
Donna Shalala: "I'll second that, too."
Finally, and sadly, there is the unavoidable subject of character in a presidential candidate. . . . But it is not the duplicitousness in his politics that concerns so much as the polished ease, the almost habitual, casual, articulate way he bobs and weaves. He has mastered the art of equivocation. There is something almost inhuman in his smoother responses that sends a shiver up the spine. It is not the compromises he has made that trouble so much as the unavoidable suspicion that he has no great principles to compromise. --Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 28, 1992.
Most of the folks who cover Bill Clinton eventually reach a moment of truth. There comes a time--it's usually definite and memorable--when they stop giving him the benefit of the mounting doubt, when they just give up on him, and vow that they'll never be suckered again. The difference between a Clinton critic and a Clinton apologist is that the apologist hasn't had his moment of truth yet. Perhaps a few never will. It might be noted that some of the types now writing most skeptically, even scathingly, about this president produced some of the most favorable news coverage he ever got back in the presidential campaign of '92, before their own inevitable moment of truth struck. People hate to be fooled. -- Paul Greenberg, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
He had sex with Monica, but it wasn't memorable sex. -- Arriana Huffington on how Clinton might have gotten out of his mess
If a President of the United States ever lied to the American people he should resign. -- William J. Clinton, 1974, during the Watergate scandal.
Three reasons why the British are superior to Americans: 1. They speak English. 2. When they host a world championship they invite other countries. 3. Visitors to the head of state are only expected to go down on one knee. -- John Cleese
BOOMER MOMENTS. . .
FROM THE WASHINGTON TIMES: In the portions of President Clinton's Jan. 17 deposition that have been made public in the Paula Jones case, his memory failed him 267 times. This is a list of his answers and how many times he gave each one.
I don't remember - 71
I don't know - 62
I'm not sure - 17
I have no idea - 10
I don't believe so - 9
I don't recall - 8
I don't think so - 8
I don't have any specific recollection - 6
I have no recollection - 4
Not to my knowledge - 4
I just don't remember - 4
I don't believe - 4
I have no specific recollection - 3
I might have - 3
I don't have any recollection of that - 2 I don't have a specific memory - 2
I don't have any memory of that - 2
I just can't say - 2
I have no direct knowledge of that - 2
I don't have any idea - 2
Not that I recall - 2
I don't believe I did - 2
I can't remember - 2
I can't say - 2
I do not remember doing so - 2
Not that I remember - 2
I'm not aware - 1
I honestly don't know - 1
I don't believe that I did - 1
I'm fairly sure - 1
I have no other recollection - 1
I'm not positive - 1
I certainly don't think so - 1
I don't really remember - 1
I would have no way of remembering that - 1
That's what I believe happened - 1
To my knowledge, no - 1
To the best of my knowledge - 1
To the best of my memory - 1
I honestly don't recall - 1
I honestly don't remember - 1
That's all I know - 1
I don't have an independent recollection of that - 1
I don't actually have an independent memory of that - 1
As far as I know - 1
I don't believe I ever did that - 1
That's all I know about that - 1
I'm just not sure - 1
Nothing that I remember - 1
I simply don't know - 1
I would have no idea - 1
I don't know anything about that - 1
I don't have any direct knowledge of that - 1
I just don't know - 1
I really don't know - 1
I can't deny that, I just -- I have no memory of that at all - 1
RESTIVE GRAND JURY?
From a radio interview with Linda Tripp's attorney, Anthony Zaccagnini: "There are other issues that Ken Starr is investigating that Linda has provided additional testimony on because she was asked - not necessarily by the prosecutors - but by members of the grand jury. Unfortunately, I'm not able to speak out on those because Linda has really tried to maintain the integrity of the investigation.
ANN COULTER ON COURT TV: But there's so much perjury to choose from. . .
MARCIA CLARK: Well, y'know Ann, that's very caustically stated, but 'on the money' I mean, there are an awful lot of things involved here. I find myself finally really upset about this. I think I feel like I've been lied to right in my face with a finger shaking in my face like I was a bad girl for doubting daddy, and I think that daddy did lie, and I feel a lot differently today than I have been in the past. . . .
FROM THE NEW YORK POST:
DEBORAH ORIN: Do you think Clinton will survive?
LUCIANNE GOLDBERG: Goldberg: I do, but only as a damaged and stained, if you will, figurehead. I think it will be so complicated to get him out that it will be easier to just leave him in, just lay out all the evidence and just let him stay there.
DEBORAH ORIN: What do you think the bottom line will be?
LUCIANNE GOLDBERG: I think an irrevocably damaged presidency. I think he will probably sort of be like O.J. Simpson in the White House - all golf, no dating. I think the people he has betrayed - and it is betrayal to make people lie for you - will quietly peel away from him and go about their lives. I think there will be a lot of broken hearts because people did believe in him.
DEPARTMENT OF SILLY TALK
For all his effort to distance himself from the most mobbed-up administration in modern times, George Stephanopoulos still writes of honor in Newsweek: "How Clinton handles the weeks ahead will determine whether he can serve out his term with honor."
One of the ways bad history is written is by historians who apparently use DNC fund-raising appeals as primary sources, witness this from Alan Brinkley, also in Newsweek: "There is an air of tragedy around Bill Clinton. . . Whatever Clinton's personal or moral failing may be, they are almost surely no worse than those of many of his predecessors. He pays a higher price for them, however, because the traditional deference public figures once received has almost entirely disappeared." Brinkley did not name the previous presidents who have had so many associates convicted, so many witnesses against them die suddenly, and so many other witnesses take the Fifth Amendment or flee the country.
SPECIAL THEOLOGY REPORT:
BILL CLINTON AND "ETERNAL SECURITY"
As the only journal to cover in depth the theological implications of the Clinton scandals our text for today -- thanks to the ever alert left coast journalist Pat Mazza -- is eternal security.
"Eternal security" is a fundamentalist adaptation of the Calvinist idea of predestination. In hyper fundamentalist Baptist sects, once you have been saved, your salvation can not be undone by your misdeeds. This may help to explain why the president might have left Monica Lewinsky twirling her knee pads in the Oval Office while he took his Bible and his wife to church.
For example, a Texas Baptist preacher has written, "We take the position that a Christian's sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his souls...And all the sins he may commit from murder to idolatry will not make his soul in any more danger."
One critic of the concept described it this way: "'Eternal security,' [is] being free from the possibility of falling from a spiritually 'saved' condition into a spiritually 'lost' condition. . . Belief in it is used by many as a license to sin. . . . Many who advocate eternal security teach that once a man is saved no matter how wicked he becomes he is still saved."
Eternal security has been described as "easy Christianity." Its believers, on the other hand, attack what they call "works salvation," the idea that a Christian is required to engage in Christian acts.
The Fundamental Evangelistic Association lists biblical evidence on behalf of eternal salvation including:
-- The penalty for all their sin has been forever settled through the perfect and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 4:23-5:2; 5:6-9).
-- Loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ is certain for the careless Christians, but not loss of salvation (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
-- They are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30; Romans 8:23).
-- Their incorruptible, everlasting inheritance is reserved for them by God (1 Peter 1 :1-4).
-- Backsliding is a sin, but the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1 :7-9)
-- They cannot be unborn (John 3:6-8).
-- No man can pluck the Christian out of His Father's hand, and that necessarily includes the believer himself (John 10:29).
-- All who are justified are finally glorified-none are lost along the way (Romans 8:28-30).
-- In their flesh dwelleth no good thing; they are saved by grace and not by their own works (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
-- The gifts and calling of God are without repentance; God will never annul His promise or cast out those who have come unto Him through Christ (Romans 11:29; John 6:37; 17:2).
Tom Strode, writing for the Baptist Press, reports that "the church of which President Clinton is a member has enabled him to 'claim to be a Southern Baptist' while continuing his 'public display of serial sin' because it has not practiced biblical discipline, seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. says. . . . Immanuel has not practiced public discipline, including the removal of members from the church, in recent decades, two staff members told Baptist Press Aug. 26. The church has not exercised public discipline or private excommunication in the 13 years he has been on the staff, associate pastor David Napier said. . . . Rex Horne, Immanuel's senior pastor the last eight years, has not divulged what he has said to Clinton about admitted or alleged sexual sins [but]issued a written statement Aug. 25: 'The recent admission of immoral conduct by the president is grievous. His actions are indefensible and inexcusable. They are not, however, unforgivable. I pray the president will find the grace of God which comes upon confession of sin and the peace which comes from a restored relationship with our Lord.'"
THE REDEMPTION RUSE: CLINTON USES MARION BARRY'S TRICK
In few places in America will you find behavior and Christian values more closely linked than in its black congregations. Unfortunately this is not always the case for those who stand in the pulpit of these churches and one of the drags on black progress has been a long string of multi-ethnic hustlers who have badly abused this spirit of Christian charity.
Two recent examples are Marion Barry and Bill Clinton. Their similarities have been pointed out here before, but the president's almost blasphemous appearance at a mostly black church in Massachusetts provides another link. At the service, Clinton allied himself with Nelson Mandela's forgiving spirit saying, "And all of us -- the anger, the resentment, the bitterness, the desire for recrimination against people you believe have wronged you, they harden the heart and deaden the spirit and lead to self-inflicted wounds" He also said that he had tried to follow Martin Luther King's message to love one's enemies. In short, the president -- under intensive criminal investigation for myriad alleged misdoing and caught red-handed in a seven-month minutely detailed deception for which he has yet to apologize -- managed to position himself as a victim.
This is the same redemption scam used so effectively over the years by Marion Barry and just as fraudulent. There are, to be sure, some differences: in the end you could trust Barry somewhat more than Clinton, Barry blamed others less, and Clinton is better at instant tears.
The Clinton's sleaze is made easier by journalists such as the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly when they pen enabling nonsense such as "it was clear today's event became a part of the healing process aides say the president has begun in the wake of his admission he lied about the affair." Connolly also preceded the president's hypocritical bonding with the leader of South African freedom by writing, "Clinton conceded [sic] he feels as Mandela once did." Someone should explain to Connolly who the perp in this case is.
Clinton also knows he can count on the sycophantic support of the most disappointing bunch of black leaders this country has seen in decades. The oozing of people like Rep. John Lewis and Harvard professors Charles Ogletree and Henry Gates helps to explain why black Americans have done so poorly over the past few years. African-American leadership, like that of the women's and environmental movement, has given the president a free pass, which he has used to dismantle social programs and civil liberties protections on which black Americans could at least sometimes rely.
Given the rise of the redemption ruse, it is useful to keep several points in mind:
-- One can believe in redemption without believing it has to be carried out in the Oval Office. For example, an Irish bishop -- stripped of his role for an discovered two-decade-old affair -- is now seeking redemption by ministering to the Indians of the Guatemalan mountains. It's something for Clinton to consider.
-- Traditionally, redemption has been preceded by apology, contrition and recompense, all lacking in the present case.
-- If we're going to add African-Americans en masse to the president's defense team, then one should ask: when do young black males incarcerated at unprecedented rates, unemployed African-Americans treated like freeloaders, the black citizens of Washington DC stripped of their democracy, and others mistreated by Clinton get their redemption, too?
BILL CLINTON & MARION BARRY
[EDITOR'S NOTE: A reader complains that comparing Clinton with Marion Barry is unfair to the latter. There is, indeed, one big difference. Barry was once a positive and productive leader of the civil rights movement. His life is tragic, in the sense that his personal flaws undid good he had performed and of which he was capable. If falling from grace ever had mattered to Clinton, he didn't have far to drop. He began as he appears to be ending: a corrupt and cynical politician.]
VAST CENTRIST CATHOLIC CONSPIRACY
William Powers writes in the National Journal that a number of Clinton's mainstream journalistic critics are Catholics, the most judgmental of whom are the Irish Catholics. (Powers is an Irish Catholic, to). Among the examples are Chris Matthews, Maureen Dowd, Michael Kelly, Tim Russert, Mary McGrory, Dee Dee Myers, Leon Panetta, and Mark Shields.
One problem with this list is that -- with exception of Dowd -- all the above provided cover for Clinton (either as journalists or employees) until extremely late in the story -- so if there is a papist conspiracy it certainly was a lethargic one.
QUESTION OF THE DAY?
How many journalists covering the Clinton scandals are worried that the White House has dossiers on them as well as on GOP members of Congress?
APOLOGIES YOU WON'T HEAR. . .
[Collated by L. Brent Bozell III of the Media Research Center for a Wall Street Journal column]
From Peter Jennings for asking Clinton sidekick Mandy Gruenwald on April 1: "Mandy, who do you think is now going to carry the water for the anti-Clinton clique?"
From Eleanor Cliff for calling Kenneth Starr a "legal disaster" and "distasteful" and his investigation "a witch hunt."
From Time's Frank Pellegrini for saying that Starr had "an unlimited supply of gall."
From Newsweek's Jonathan Alter for saying that Starr "will go down in history as the Peeping Tom prosecutor."
From ABC Lisa McRee for calling Starr's investigation "legal blackmail."
From Bryant Gumbel for saying that Starr's "tactics border on abuse."
From Geraldo Rivera for calling Linda Tripp "a treacherous, back-stabbing good-for-noting-enemy of the truth."
From Mike McCurry for calling Geraldo Rivera "as open-minded as you would want a journalist to be."
Brian Bloomquist in the New York Post reports that the Clinton criminal defense fund won't give refunds to any donors who decide they don't care for the president after all.
DEPARTMENT OF SILLY TALK
One of the abiding mysteries of a trade that calls itself "objective" is the willingness of major media to pay large sums of money to persons whose fatuous spin they used to get for free at White House news conferences. A particularly sorry example is George Stephanopoulos, one of those most responsible for creating the destructively false image of Bill Clinton, who is now comfortably ensconced at Newsweek, writing mush like "A senior White House staffer is both counselor and character witness; you advise the president and represent him to the world. .But it's awkward to advise a man whom you don't fully respect, and it's unnerving to represent a man whom you don't fully trust." So cut the angst and quit already. If you want more of Georgie's on-the-one-hand-this, on-the-other-hand-that self-serving blather you'll find it in he August 31 Newsweek.
"The only reasons Mr. Starr acted on Ms. Tripp's advice, and without legal authority wired her for an encounter with Monica Lewinsky, is that he saw a chance to destroy Bill Clinton. . . Calling President Clinton to testify before the grand jury was a wholly political act." -- Anthony Lewis of the New York Times, who otherwise gave no indication that he had actually seen what was in Starr's report.
I think Ken Starr is one of the most pernicious influences on American public life that we have had in our history. -- Mortimer Zuckerman
WOULD EIGHT MONTHS BEEN ENOUGH? Meanwhile, a Democratic House member who spent time with Clinton in Massachusetts said Sunday the president regretted the way he explained the affair to the American people and wished he'd had more time to reflect before making his nationally televised speech. -- Associated Press
WWSTATS Amount proposed 1993 poultry regulations would have cost Tyson Food: $57 million initially and $39 million annually. Amount Tyson Food paid in fine and costs for giving illegal gifts to the agriculture secretary during the time these regulations were under consideration: $6 million. Value of government contracts Tyson Food still has: $200 million. [Reuters]
CLINTON'S FBI FILE DOG DON'T HUNT. . .
Here's the problem with the White House's explanation of how it came by 1,000 FBI background files. To believe the story one must envision an extremely security conscious White House during the period in question, 1993-94. This simply was not the case.
One anonymous WH official justified the file raid to the Washington Times this way:
"The official explained that the White House was updating its security files from an outdated Secret Service list that contained both existing employees and those who had left the White House.
"'We were working from a list that was not an accurate one, but there was certainly nothing intentional about this,' the official said. 'There's no question that there were certain people on the list that came over from the Secret Service who were no longer individuals who needed access to the White House. We've said that from the very beginning. ... It was an error."
"The official added that it would be 'completely unfair and not correct' to infer that all names on the list are people whose FBI dossiers were improperly requested by the White House. 'Many of these requests were proper.'"
At the time in question, however, the WH was displaying unprecedented carelessness and arrogance in fulfilling the most meager security requirements such as filling out necessary forms so the FBI could do background checks. Top officials, including cabinet appointees, were being named without such checks. The maligned FBI agent, Gary Aldrich, for example, has written that Dee Myers worked for almost a year without security clearance. Yet we are being asked to believe that the WH was so assiduous in this matter that it not only took care of its own staff but vacuumed up 1000 GOP background files by accident as well.
Although Aldrich took a lot of heat for a single questioned story -- that the president secretly ditched the Secret Service for late night trysts at the Marriott Hotel -- the bulk of his book has not been reported (nor factually challenged) by the media. Among other things Aldrich suggests an attitude of contempt by Clinton staffers toward security concerns.
Aldrich also reports that Hillary Clinton told the Secret Service agents in public to "stay the fuck back, stay the fuck away from me! Don't come within ten yards of me or else!" When her guards have argued with her, she had said, "Just fucking do as I say, okay?"
Then we should consider:
-- The improper collection of 1000 FBI files by the Clinton White House.
-- The obstruction of police investigators following the death of Vincent Foster.
-- Encouragement of lying to FBI agents by White House staff. This writer, for example, early in the Clinton administration heard a top White House lawyer say that she had advised staffers, if confronted with evidence that they had used pot, that if they couldn't look an agent straight in the face and say that wasn't true, they didn't belong in this administration.
Finally, Aldrich (who has proved more perceptive about sex and security at the White House than most journalists) makes this comment: "Every time one of the members of the first family countermands efforts to guard him or her, an agent prepares a memo noting the event. The memo goes into a Secret Service file so that the agents, and the agency, are covered. It's called the CYA, or 'cover your ass' file."
Could this file be part of the high stakes battle being waged over Secret Service testimony?
WHITEWATER RIPPLES. . .
Sen. Arlen Specter is filing suit to try to force the appointment of an independent counsel in the campaign financing scandals. The unusual suit charges that "There is specific and credible evidence that the president and vice president have committed criminal violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act. The attorney general has therefore violated the letter and the spirit of the independent counsel statute by failing to appoint an independent counsel."
John McCaslin in the Washington Times quotes Washington shamus James Ross who says that while Maryland law requires both parties consent before a telephone call is taped, Maryland law is superceded by federal law when (as in the case of the Lewinsky-Tripp calls) one of the parties is out of state. Federal law allows taping by one party. Says Ross, "I have regularly acted upon my convictions. While I lived and worked in Maryland, I recorded many interstate calls without the knowledge or consent of the other party . . .It was perfectly legal," he finds, "for Linda Tripp to record her telephone conversations without Miss Lewinsky's knowledge or consent."
American Spectator reports that CNN pulled the plug on a Larry King appearance by Matt Drudge after CNN news boss and Clinton sleep-over buddy Rick Kaplan was lobbied by the White House: "In the days before Drudge's announced appearance, White House staffers Mike McCurry, Ann Lewis, and Rahm Emanuel are said to have lobbied . . . Kaplan to pull the plug on Drudge, warning that the network's White House reporters might otherwise lose access."
HISTORICAL NOTE. . .
The rise of threats to the President appears roughly proportional to the rise in the imperial presidency. As America has moved away from constitutional tripartite government, and as the media encourages the notion of President as Sun King, the incumbent becomes an ever greater symbolic target. A safer tenure could be far more easily obtained by demythologizing the presidency than by strengthening the privileges of his Praetorian Guard. To check this out, compare the security for Clinton with that for Tony Blair or any of the 50 governors.
FILEGATE, TRIPP'S FATE. . .
Washington Times reporting that Linda Tripp is among the nearly 1,000 improperly obtained FBI files obtained by White House operatives. . . So is Gary Aldrich, and big time spooks under Bush and Reagan such as then NSA director Admiral Studeman, and Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, William Casey's top deputy. . .When the White House starts building dossiers on the spooks you know things are out of control.
NO HELP. . .
Supporting our view that we are in the midst of a covert constitutional crisis is the anonymous statement of a White House official read July 16 by Geraldo "Carville North" Rivera. The official, commenting on Judge Silberman's comments in the Secret Service case, said: "We are mad, we are upset, and we are getting into battle mode. There is going to be a lot more hardball played. What little cooperation the White House has been giving to Ken Starr will dry up immediately. He will have to fight for every page of documents, and he will never, ever get the president of the United States to testify without a fight."
In earlier, more democratic and constitutional, times, such a statement by a White House official would, in itself, be an impeachable act.
EXTRAORDINARILY SENSITIVE. . .
Fox News's David Shuster read the fine print of documents Kenneth Starr filed with the Supreme Court and in one footnote found a suggestion that the prosecutor had "extraordinarily sensitive information" which was apparently filed with the court under seal.
NY POST'S CRUDELE SEES AUGUST REPORT, TROUBLE FOR MARKET. . .
New York Post's financial columnist John Crudele -- who has been ahead of the curve on the Clinton scandal story -- writes that Starr will present Congress with a 300-page report and that, contrary to other media accounts, the House Republicans are ready and waiting to move ahead on impeachment.
"That means, of course, that Starr believes Clinton committed 300 pages worth of offenses that can get him kicked out of office even before Lewinsky's agreement entered the picture earlier this week.
"A very reliable source tells me that Starr has decided to include Lewinsky's story in the report, but not - and this is very important - wait until President Clinton's testimony can be digested before moving the document to Rep. Henry Hyde of the Judiciary Committee. So the White House won't have the opportunity to stall the situation in the courts."
Crudele sees trouble in all of this for the financial markets and reports that the July 30 rally was "engineered through some mysterious, heavy buying of stock futures contracts early Thursday morning." This is not the first time in the Clinton years, incidentally, that there have been signs of government manipulation of the futures market in order to create the appearance of financial stability.
ROSENTHAL LOOKING FOR LIFEBOAT
Nothing is more painful than reading the work of an establishment columnist caught on the horns of a dilemma, but Abe Rosenthal's column in the July 31 New York Times is worth the suffering. This is important, maybe not as important as Paul Harvey turning against the Vietnam War, but important nonetheless. When folks like Rosenthal start to doubt, the end is probably near.
DRUDGE ON TALK RADIO
"I did some comparing of the talking points and Clinton's testimony. Hold on to your teeth. There is an identical line. And the talking points were written before his testimony. There was an identical line. Same wordage. What in the world was going on back there?
"I think Starr has got the entire case sealed. I don't think there's even a question mark, in my mind, I've been briefed on some other things I can't go into exactly at this hour...but I'm putting my money in rubber bands."
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Here's the setup: Lannie Davis says of the Clinton story, this is "a case involving, at worst, an alleged false statement about sex. . . . Most of the American people have decided even if that's true, they don't care."
Here's the question for interviewees, talk show panelists and others: if you feel that perjury and obstruction of justice are insignificant in this case, would you support federal legislation to clarify the issue -- such as a measure stating explicitly that lying to a federal prosecutor or obstructing justice in a federal investigation is not a criminal offense as long as the case is about sex?
SECOND QUESTION OF THE DAY
Will the visit of the Clintons (which will include several gold-plated fundraisers) to the home of Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw's in the Hamptons this weekend be listed in any campaign finance report?
===== From Linda Tripp's statement July 29. . .
I ask you to imagine how you would feel if someone you thought was a friend urged you to commit a felony that could jeopardize your job, potentially put you in jail, and endanger the well-being of your children. Imagine how you would feel if your boss's attorney called you a liar in front of the whole country, and imagine if that boss was the president of the United States. Imagine how you would feel if your employer illegally released your confidential records to the media, then demoted you and cast you aside for daring to tell the truth. Imagine how it would feel to see the pain in your children's eyes when they hear a seemingly endless barrage of lies about their mother, a mother who is not going out to defend herself.
As a result of simply trying to earn a living, I became aware between 1993 and 1997 of actions by high government officials that may have been against the law. For that period of nearly five years, the things I witnessed concerning several different subjects, made me increasingly fearful that this information was dangerous, very dangerous to possess. [Emphasis added]
On January 12th, 1998, the day I approached the Office of the Independent Counsel, I decided that fear would no longer be my master. This investigation has never been, quote, "just about sex", it has been about telling the truth, the truth matters. For example, it matters that you know now that I have testified to the fact that I had nothing -- let me repeat -- nothing to do with preparing the so-called "talking points." Allegations to the effect that I contributed to, or assisted in any way with the creation of the talking points are as illogical as they are patently false. -- Linda Tripp
===== Another take on Kenneth Starr. . .
In my own experience, Mr Starr is a trimming, limp-wristed procrastinator with the zeal of a plump sheep, who works part-time on the job, craves approval and bears the imprint of the last person who sat on him. He panicked when his own lead prosecutor told him there was evidence of an FBI cover-up of the 1993 death of the White House aide Vincent Foster. Mr Starr was not going to quarrel with the FBI. The case was shut down. His prosecutor resigned in disgust, and later accused the Office of the Independent Counsel of unethical behaviour.
But after years of ineffectual dithering, Kenneth Starr has at last got the bit between his teeth. Something must have nettled him. Mutterings about his incompetence within the legal fraternity, perhaps, or more likely an arms-length White House smear campaign that saw a private investigator hired to watch his social life. -- Ace Whitewater investigative reports Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, London Telegraph
MAKES YOU SICK JUST TO THINK ABOUT IT. . .
Reports are that Bruce Lindsey has to undergo back surgery and that the operation and recovery will take about three weeks. This brings to five the number of Clinton investigation witnesses who have developed severe medical problems at key points in the Clinton criminal inquiry: Jim Guy Tucker, David Hale, both McDougals, and Lindsay. Linda Tripp, incidentally, might have been on the list had she followed advice she allegedly received from Monica Lewinsky
THUMBSUCKER ALERT: Flee while there's still time. . .
The White House lawn party -- "sources here have told me" -- is over. The worst-covered story in modern American history is about to become unraveled as the White House and the media are forced to confront the other side of the tale: the evidence.
The notion that the president is, at worst, guilty of sexual peccadilloes and little white lies never fit the known facts, but with the special prosecutor saying so little, we have been treated to weeks of aggressive codependency between a culpable White House and a gullible press.
Were the central character not a president but rather, say, a governor or organized crime figure, what has happened would fit easily under the purview of the anti-racketeering RICO statutes -- a criminal conspiracy to violate the laws of the United States. Consider, for example, crimes amongst the Clinton organization and those close to it for which convictions have already been obtained: Drug trafficking (3), racketeering, extortion, bribery(4), tax evasion, kickbacks, embezzlement (2), fraud (12), conspiracy (5), fraudulent loans, illegal gifts(2), illegal campaign contributions(5), money laundering (6), perjury, and obstruction of justice.
In addition, possible crimes and issues investigated or raised by special prosecutors, members of Congress and/or investigative reporters: bank and mail fraud, violations of campaign finance laws, illegal foreign campaign funding, improper exports of sensitive technology, physical violence and threats of violence, solicitation of perjury, intimidation of witnesses, bribery of witnesses, attempted intimidation of prosecutors, perjury before congressional committees, lying in statements to federal investigators and regulatory officials, flight of witnesses, obstruction of justice, bribery of cabinet members, real estate fraud, tax fraud, drug trafficking, failure to investigate drug trafficking, bribery of state officials, use of state police for personal purposes, exchange of promotions or benefits for sexual favors, using state police to provide false court testimony, laundering of drug money through a state agency, false reports by medical examiners and others investigating suspicious deaths, the firing of the RTC and FBI director when these agencies were investigating Clinton and his associates, failure to conduct autopsies in suspicious deaths, providing jobs in return for silence by witnesses, drug abuse, illegal acquisition and use of 1000 FBI files, illegal futures trading, murder, sexual abuse of employees, false testimony before a federal judge, shredding of documents, withholding and concealment of subpoenaed documents, fabricated charges against (and improper firing of) White House employees, as well as providing access to the White House to drug traffickers, foreign agents and participants in organized crime.
Now, Kenneth Starr has clearly shown that he does not want to deal with all of this. He has, for example, turned his back on the Arkansas drug connection and on the numerous anomalies in the Foster death. He does not -- and neither do the Republicans in Congress -- wish to open up areas which might lead to bipartisan involvement, such as the drug trade, BCCI, and organized crime. Instead, he appears to be attempting keyhole surgery: making a minor incision that will have a big effect. Concentrating on crimes such as obstruction of justice and perjury allow the prosecutor to nail Clinton while not opening up the Pandora's box of America's endemic political corruption.
Fair game for Starr would logically include:
-- matters involved in Whitewater (including evidence spilled by Jim Guy Tucker)
-- the handling of Hillary Clinton's billing records
-- what went on at the WH after Vince Foster's death was discovered
-- the 1000 FBI files (remember that Chuck Colson went to jail for mishandling only a handful of FBI documents)
-- the travel office affair (in which the Clinton's got rid of career personnel in order to give the job to the firm that had provided him with a million dollars of deferred billed campaign travel).
-- finally, and only finally, the matters that have obsessed the media over the past few months.
In short, TPR's friendly tip to harried hacks: get off the White House lawn and into your clip files. The story has been there all along. . .
THE ARKANSAS CONNECTION
In the middle of Bill Clinton's first inaugural festivities a convicted Arkansas drug dealer got his sentence commuted by the acting governor, complete with allegations that Clinton had reneged not only on payments to the dealer's father (who had worked on Clinton's last state campaign) but on his promise to help market the father's recipe for sweet potato pie. At the time, a state senator was acting as governor because Jim Guy Tucker was attending Clinton's inaugural.
The alleged deal provoked considerable discussion in Arkansas, but the national media was otherwise engaged, installing with proper sobriety the next president of the United States.
Now word comes from Van Buren AK, that a circuit judge has sentenced the dealer, Tommy McIntosh, for failing to pay regular installments on a $250,000 fine that the judge ruled still stood despite the sentence commutation. McIntosh had been convicted along with two others for possession with intent to deliver 4.4 pounds of cocaine.
HMM. . .
Some observers have noted similarities between the Clinton hardball defense strategies and those used by the Church of Scientology.
"Congratulations and just one question of the independent counsel, the judge, the IRS, the State of Arkansas, the defense, and the tax lawyers: If the guy does owe back taxes, does he have to pay them anyway, or are they dismissed, too? Some of us poor suckers who pay every penny, often before we even see it, would like to know." -- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
THE ROMETSCH STRATEGY
Despite all the journalistic thumb-sucking abut Monica/Tripp/Willey et al, one of the more astounding and possibly significant comments by a commentator was made months ago. George Stephanopoulos suggested that the administration was considering adoption of what he called the Ellen Rometsch strategy. The comment got little play in this country but one foreign correspondent reported that "his astonished interviewer, the veteran White House reporter Mr. Sam Donaldson," pressed him for details.
"Are you suggesting that what they are beginning to say is that `If you investigate this too much, we will put all your dirty linen right on the table?'" asked Mr. Donaldson. "Every member of the Senate? Every member of the press corps?"
"Absolutely," replied Stephanopoulos. "The President said he would never resign and I think some around him are willing to take everybody down with him."
Rometsch was a girlfriend of Jack Kennedy who was believed to be an East German spy. When the story was in danger of being exposed, J Edgar Hoover went to the Hill to warn members that an inquiry would let loose any number of congressional sex stories and other scandals.
By Kennedy's time, Hoover had already developed political blackmail to a high art and it seems naive to assume that it has disappeared with his passing.
Certainly, the misappropriation of 900 FBI files by the Clinton White House is suggestive of something far more sinister than mere bureaucratic incompetence. And there have been widely circulated reports that at least one of the unprecedented number of congressional members who have decided not to run for reelection may have been influenced by personal threats.
It seems reasonable to assume that political blackmail plays a more than minor role in the high stakes struggle now underway in Washington. It is certainly an hypothesis that helps the explain some of the peculiarly timid GOP response to aspects of the saga, including the sudden shutdown of investigations.
TRIPP FILES RAIDED EARLY
Terry Good, director of White House records management, has said in a deposition that shortly after the Monica Lewinsky story broke in January, he was asked by the White House counsel's office to pull "anything and everything that we might have in our files relating to Linda Tripp." The revelation, made in a suit filed by Judicial Watch is significant in that private information on Tripp was later improperly given by a Pentagon official to the New Yorker magazine.
On March 18, House Rules Committee chair Gerald Solomon wrote President Clinton asking whether anyone had pulled Tripp's file. The letter was not answered. In light of Good's testimony, Solomon has written Kenneth Starr suggesting a potential obstruction of a congressional investigation in the failure to reveal the personal file sweep.
IF A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST
AND HOWARD KURTZ DOESN'T HEAR IT. . . .
Question for today: If Tim Russert reports that the independent prosecutor is doing something -- but does so in a manner that does not compile with the procedural rules of the media nannies -- does that mean that what he said the independent prosecutor was doing didn't happen?
WHITEWATER RIPPLES. . .
DICK MORRIS IN THE NEW YORK POST has suggested a parallel between Maryland prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli's interest in investigating key anti-Clinton witness Linda Tripp in the midst of a federal grand jury probe to an earlier case: Two years ago Little Rock prosecutor Mark Stodala "made an eerily similar announcement, namely that Kenneth Starr's witness against then-Governor Jim Guy Tucker would be indicted on state charges of insurance fraud. Hale gave damaging evidence against Tucker and the McDougals.
Says Morris: "The pattern is all too obvious. Clinton's allies are using the identical M.O. whenever they need to discredit a threatening accuser. . .Within weeks of [Stodala's] announcement, contributions from Clinton allies began pouring into Stodola's congressional campaign. John Huang, Charlie Trie, Don Tyson, Tyson Foods' political action committee, Jim Blair (Hillary's commodities investment advisor) and Stephens, Inc. (the Arkansas investment firm that bankrolled the '92 Clinton presidential campaign), all gave. Rush Deacon, an associate of James Riady of the notorious Lippo group, chipped in. So did Ernest Green, who had arranged for a Chinese arms dealer to visit the Oval Office. After giving $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee a day after the visit, he sent in $500 for Stodola."
ATTORNEYS FOR DOLLY KYLE BROWNING, who claims a long-term affair with Clinton, has accused the president of defaming her and warned him to reach a settlement by July 27 or face a civil lawsuit. Lawyer in the case is the indefatigable Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch.
JERRY SEPER IN THE WASH TIMES: "Linda Tripp has told a federal grand jury that Monica Lewinsky personally asked her to deny any knowledge of President Clinton's suspected extramarital affairs when called to testify in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit. . . The testimony marks the first time grand jurors have heard from the investigation's star witness that Miss Lewinsky may have committed a crime."
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE is reporting that Hillary's brother Tony is in business with a Cambodian partner who has "reportedly been placed on a visa black-list by the US government for alleged involvement in narcotics trafficking." Says Rodham: "That the first I've heard of it."
MOCHTAR RIADY, CENTRAL TO the Clinton story from the 1980s on, did not fare that well in the recent Indonesian unpleasantness. 16 Lippo branch banks were destroyed, six Riady-owned department stores were burned, and his Supermal shopping mall took some hits. Newsweek further reports that Riady's affair with Arkansas is souring. Wal-Mart has sued him for breach of contract and has pulled out of a joint venture with him. Newsweek also said that "the word on the street is the [Riady] family wants to sell its 50 percent share of a Hong Kong bank owned with a Chinese gvoernment corporation."
A FRIENDLY REMINDER. . .
Those appearing so knowledgeable on TV about what Kenneth Starr has been up to are engaged in a post-modern media activity known technically as "talking out your ass." Your editor, having done quite a bit of this over the years, can assure his readers that most of the people so occupied are in fact faking to an extraordinary degree. The basic reason for this is that, contrary to the impression given, the spin heads do not know what is going on in the grand jury. For their supply of miasmic macrology, therefore, they are forced to go to the only dealer left in the 'hood i.e. the Big Creep. The result is rampantly biased interpretation based on virtually no information from one side and a continual stream of prevarications from the other. As spin head was brave enough to admit the other evening: "We're not entirely clear what was said the grand jury room."
Kenneth Starr may have blown this case or, on the other hand, the Lewinsky matter may be merely a laniappe to be added to a legal presentation fully confronting years of official illegalities and abuses of power. The point is we don't know and probably won't until Starr does whatever he intends to do. It doesn't help to pretend otherwise.
McDougal was worried about his health. . .
Jim McDougal was so concerned about surgery scheduled for him by federal prison officials that he sought to have friends and media inquire after his welfare.
The story is contained in McDougal's biography written by Curtis Wilkie of the Boston Globe. Wrote Wilkie (in a passage recently quoted by Carl Limbacher column of the Washington Weekly):
"Shortly after [McDougal] was confined at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky [the first of two prison facilities to house him], he called to report that doctors wanted to operate on a blocked artery.
"He felt it was unnecessary and didn't want to undergo surgery. He added a mordant note: 'The conspiracy boys could sure have fun if I died on the operating table.' Jim asked me to alert some of his friends in the Whitewater press corps to make inquiries about his condition in prison. After several newspapers, newsmagazines and networks expressed interest in his health, the prison authorities chose to forgo surgery.
"Jim was relieved."
In another column, incidentally, Limbacher notes that Judge James Robertson, who dismissed tax evasion charges against Webster Hubbell, is the same judge who recently threw out several charges against two Tyson Food officials indicted by independent counsel Don Smaltz. The pair were convicted on the remaining charges after a two-hour jury deliberation.
Furthermore . . .
House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill) has told committee Republicans and key staff to be prepared to return to Washington on "48 hours notice" in August. Says a report in Roll Call, Hyde told a closed-door meeting of Judiciary Republicans "not to schedule any vacations in August, according to a GOP member who attended the meeting and other Republican staffers who were briefed on the meeting." Hyde has also assembled hi-tech computer technology to network with the 100,000 file database of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.
The Tampa Tribune reports that ten employees of Mark Jimenez -- a Florida businessman who gave over $400,000 to the Democrats in recent years -- have told congressional investigators that they will not answer questions under oath. This would bring to 102 the number of witnesses who have taken the Fifth or left the country rather than answer questions concerning the Clinton scandals. In 1996 Jimenez was Florida's largest contributor to the Democrats.
The New York Times front-paged Clinton's showboating on new safe food regulations, but has consistently low-balled coverage of attempts by independent counsel Don Smaltz to get to the bottom of the relationship between the Agriculture Department and Clinton's buddies at Tyson Food. If food safety is a front page story, then so is the Tyson story.
WHITEWATER. . .
Carl Limbacher of the Washington Weekly writes that the Boston Globe's Curtis Wilkie has learned that prison officials withheld crucial heart medication from key Whitewater witness James McDougal just hours before he died of a heart attack. Further, when McDougal suffered the coronary -- according to Wilkie's sources at the Federal Medical Center -- guards and staff did not attend to McDougal for nearly an hour. Wilkie is the author of the McDougal biography. He told the Washington Weekly that he does not suspect foul play in McDougal's death but, he added, "if there's something there that needs to be exposed, I hope it gets exposed." He received letters from several inmates, one of whom wrote:
Darkness engulfs the compound and James is still unable to urinate. He is ordered to the lieutenant's office. There he is handcuffed behind his back and taken across the compound to the hole. Later that evening he complains about the cold and chest pains. The guards ignore his cries for help. He whined the last time he was in the hole.....During the ten o'clock count they found James unconscience (sic) on the floor of his cell in the hole. An hour later after being evacuated by helicopter to the best heart treatment facility in Ft. Worth, James was pronounced dead.
Below are some names that have been in the news sorted by the way the corporate media has tended to treat them. What does each list have most in common other than the legal position of the parties involved?
=====Treated with respect=====
William J. Clinton
=====Treated with ridicule=====
ANSWER: All the names in each list save one is of the same sex. . .
THE HUBBELL CASE. . .
The criminal investigation into the Clinton scandals was set back as a lower court judge threw out on technical grounds major charges against Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell. Hubbell who had gone to jail after pleading guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud involving the theft of nearly a half million dollars from the Rose law firm and $143,000 in unpaid taxes. Hubbell, as part of the plea, was supposed to cooperate with the independent counsel. This became a matter of high concern at the Clinton White House. In fact, a December 1994 WH counsel's memo designed to help staffers keep a handle on the two score scandal issues lists Hubbell as number 11 with a note to "monitor cooperation."
The current case stemmed from the independent prosecutor's discovery of evidence he claimed showed that Hubbell, his wife and two advisers had been involved the failure to pay taxes on close to a million dollars Hubbell had mysteriously received from a variety of sources while supposedly cooperating with investigators. The indictment suggested that the money might have been intended to keep Hubbell quiet. Among those who have admitted seeking clients and consulting work for Hubbell during the period in question are Erskine Bowles, Thomas McLarty and Vernon Jordan.
Somewhat bizarrely, the ruling by US Judge Robertson took on not only Kenneth Starr, but a special panel of appellate level judges authorized under the independent counsel law. These judges specifically gave Starr the go-ahead in the Hubbell case. In effect -- although Robertson rightly noted that the panel is not an appeals court -- he overruled three more senior judges. Robertson was named to the bench by Clinton in 1994 as Hubbell and the president's criminal problems were gathering steam.
Robertson's ruling challenged Starr on several counts. He said that the special panel could not authorize Starr's investigation without the approval of Attorney General Janet Reno and that the limited immunity given Hubbell prevented him from being tried using evidence that Hubbell himself had provided. After the ruling, Starr's office said: "With respect to the jurisdiction issue, the District Judge's opinion expressly sets itself in disagreement with two other rulings in the District Court for the District of Columbia. With respect to the 'act of production immunity' issue, the District Judge's opinion rejects the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals."
Further, although Robertson claimed that Starr had exceeded his prosecutorial mandate, the independent counsel law specifically allows him to "investigate and prosecute federal crimes, other than those classified as Class B or C misdemeanors or infractions, that may arise out of the investigation or prosecution of the matter with respect to which the Attorney General's request was made, including perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses."
But there was little sense of Starr's strong legal standing in the media coverage. Instead, Starr was depicted as a loose cannon, aided by copious quotes from the White House and its friends. Once again, convicted criminals such as Hubbell and Susan McDougal are given sympathetic coverage while Starr is blasted.
"If I catch anybody doing it, I will fire them the next day. There won't be - won't have to have an inquiry or rigmarole or anything else," -- William J. Clinton in 1992 after the Bush administration rummaged through his passport file.
"[Ken]Bacon_ has not rummaged through people's personnel files and dumped them out on the streets. He was asked a specific question ... That's an entirely different matter and the Clinton_ 1992 statement does not arise," -- Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry.
"What's the difference between getting answers to a specific question and rummaging? It's absolutely parallel. If anything, this is worse" -- Ex-prosecutor Joseph diGenova, assigned to look into the passport case.
"Communist Party cadres should study the speeches of Hillary Clinton because she offers a very good example of the skills of propaganda. Her sentences are short and stimulating. "That's why she gets a lot of applause. But Chinese people have a habit of giving long speeches in which the sentences are long and tedious." -- Yu Quanyu, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Studies, in the latest issue of Ideological and Political Work Studies"
"Wouldn't it be very easy for the Chinese just to slip back to pre-Clintonian days, where repression was the rule and the airwaves were once again ruled by the state?" -- NBC ace correspondent Geraldo Rivera in an interview on the NBC Today show.
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