The Clinton swamp

The narrative about Bill and Hillary Clinton began in 1992 and the media has never let up, no matter the lack of evidence. It decided Bill was guilty of having an affair with Gennifer Flowers, concluded the Clintons were trailer trash unlike the high-and-mighty bespoke-suit-wearing persons all journalists were, and has been on the hunt ever since. Even when the accusations have been proven false, retractions have been few and far between and appeared usually on page 17 (the allegations were always Page One news, of course).

The New York Times’ Jeff Gerth was the first to pounce on Whitewater, the non-scandal that triggered the Clintons-are-duplicitous meme, and though, according to Joe Conason and longtime political reporter and erstwhile Clinton defender Gene Lyons, Gerth had exculpating evidence, he apparently chose not to include it. He was, one imagines, doing his best Woodward/Bernstein impression, with the Clintons standing in for Nixon.

This is how Lyons put it in a 1994 Harper’s magazine article:

Absent the near-talismanic role of The New York Times in American journalism, the whole complex of allegations and suspicions subsumed under the word ‘Whitewater’ might never have made it to the front page, much less come to dominate the national political dialogue for months at a time. It is all the more disturbing, then, that most of the insinuations in Gerth’s reporting are either highly implausible or demonstrably false.

This is why you get stories similar to this from the Washington Post last week, claiming there were 147 FBI agents looking into Secretary Clinton’s emails. That number should have triggered the BS monitor of any reporter; for one thing, the FBI doesn’t deploy that kind of resources for anything short of violent revolution. But it was what the press wanted to believe, so it went into the story, leaked from an “unnamed” lawmaker who claimed to have been briefed by the Director of the FBI. That, by the way, should have triggered the BS monitor again; Director Comey briefs Congress in hearings; I doubt he does so in private phone calls.

The number got knocked down to “under 50” agents and the Post issued a retraction. The next day another source told MSNBC the number of agents was about twelve. A far cry from 147, no? But the original Post reporter, Robert O’Harrow Jr., couldn’t be bothered to fact-check. A hundred and forty-seven agents would grab the headlines and the clicks, and to hell with whether it made sense or not.

That’s the quality of “journalism” the Clintons have faced since they arrived in Washington in 1992.

America Held Hostage

That, you’ll recall if you’re old enough, was the original title of the 20-minute Special Report ABC News ran each night beginning November 8, 1979, four days after the Iran Hostage Crisis began. That’s the program which morphed into Nightline. The program ended in 1981 when the hostages were released.

The House Select Committee on Benghazi is still afloat, now in its 700th day. It has run longer than the Iran Hostage Crisis (444 days), longer than the 9-11 Commission (604 days), longer than either the Tower Commission which investigated the Iran-Contra scandal (87 days) or the Congressional Committee which did the same (93 days), and longer than the Watergate hearings (406 days).

Unlike any of those hearings, there have been no conclusions drawn by the Committee. It seems to be on political autopilot, its Chairman hoping against hope that someone, anyone, will provide it with a weapon which will destroy the former Secretary of State and current Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Seven separate congressional committees investigated the Benghazi attack before the Select Committee was even created. None of them found any wrongdoing. That was unsatisfactory to some Republicans, and they prevailed on then-Speaker John Boehner to convene a Select Committee. He did so on May 9, 2014, and it’s been in session off-and-on ever since, costing US taxpayers some $6.5 million so far.

The only way to be rid of this troublesome beast (to paraphrase Henry II of England) would seem to be to defeat enough Republican House Representatives in November to retake the majority.

Exercises in futility

Today was full of errands that didn’t turn out well.

First we got a phone call from Mom’s primary care nurse asking where her routine lab tests were for her appointment today. Oops. Okay, we’ll reschedule.

Second, we went down to the clinic to get the lab tests done. Oops. Lab tests required fasting, and Mom had a blueberry cheese strudel and a Clementine for breakfast. Okay, we’ll come back tomorrow.

Third, we took a pair of shorts with a drawstring problem to an alterations place. Oops. The sign on the door of the shop said “We’re closing our doors as of March 31.”

Fourth, we headed for the Ben Franklin store a couple of miles away to look in their notions section to see if Mom could find some ribbon, bias tape, or something to replace the drawstring in that pair of shorts. Oops. The Ben Franklin store that had been in that shopping center for years closed and moved to an unknown location a couple of years ago.

We gave up and came home.

Panama says “Not us, dammit!”

Panama is unhappy that this offshore company scandal has gotten the name Panama Papers.

The Panamanian government said Tuesday that it won’t accept Panama being used as a “scapegoat” for the apparent financial misdeeds detailed in the so-called Panama Papers.

“We are not going to allow Panama to be used as a scapegoat by third parties. Each country (implicated) is responsible,” the presidential chief of staff, Alvaro Aleman, said.

Panama “rejects and regrets” that anyone should want to “trample” its good name … he told a press conference at the seat of government.

The chief of staff or one of his minions has even gotten to the point of trying to change the Twitter hashtag keyword used to denote posts related to the scandal from #PanamaPapers to #MossackFonseca.

Good luck with that.

Wow. Mr. Laettner, siddown.

All basketball fans remember Grant Hill’s pass to Christian Laettner back in 1992, when Duke beat Kentucky.

Now we’ve got another NCAA Championship game play to remember. This one’s gonna be seen in all the promos for the tournament from now on.

The Villanova coach: “He takes those shots all the time and sometimes I want to kill him,” Jay Wright said. “But sometimes he makes them, too.”

He surely did this time. As broadcaster Bill Raftery said, “how ’bout those onions!”

Final Four Basketball

It looked like Villanova and North Carolina were playing D-II teams today. The results were a 44-point blowout by the Philadelphians and a much more modest but just as convincing 17-point win by the Chapel Hill residents.

Oh well. There were some great photos of the action today.

I don’t know who to pick in Monday’s Championship game. My bracket has neither team in this game; in fact, I had none of the Final Four teams getting that far. Therefore whichever one I pick should probably be the one you bet against.