30 August 2016

Progressive Parvenues

The New York Times  a couple of weeks back published a photo essay on the Clinton homes as a measure of their rising financial fortunes. Titled Modest to Majestic, the piece looked at Clinton homes through the decades--from the $17,200 home in Fayetteville, Akanasas,   where they married and began their lives together,  to the $1.7 million home in Westchester County, New York, where they currently reside.

The Westchester home, along with the $2.85 million home on Whitehaven St. in Washington, D. C., are the homes that the Clintons owned when they left the White House, as Hillary Clinton put it, "dead broke."

On the one hand, the essay illustrates an inspiring story of one American couple's pursuit of the American dream and the confirmation of America as the land of opportunity. The Clintons excelled academically in their respective high schools: Bill in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Hillary in Park Ridge, Illinois. Bill won scholarships to Georgetown and later Oxford Universities. Hillary was a National Merit Finalist and attended Wellesley. Both became student activists in high school and in college. They met each other while attending Yale University Law School. They soon moved in together and worked on the 1972 George McGovern presidential campaign. After graduating in  1973, Bill Clinton returned to his home state to teach law at the University of Arkansas. Hillary Clinton joined him after experiencing a major setback: she failed the Washington D.C. bar exam.  They married in 1975. The following year Bill Clinton won election to the office of state Attorney General, beginning a political career that eventually took him to the White House. Meanwhile, Hillary had passed the bar exam in Arkansas and began her law career the Rose law firm.

On the other hand, the homes pictured in the essay constitute facades that hide a story epitomizing the democratization of venality. The rise in the financial fortunes of the Clintons follow their political prosperity. From the beginning of Bill Clinton's election to public office, the Clintons have entangled themselves in all sorts of corrupt and tawdry schemes in their weird nexus of money and power. To wit:

Cattlegate: in  1778-79, Hillary Clinton turned a $10,000 investment into $100,000. In what has become a disturbing pattern, the Clinton operatives suffered the consequences while the Clintons knew nothing, In this case, trader Robert Bone received a three year suspension from trading while his investment firm Refco paid $250,000 in fines.

Whitewater: in 1978, the Clintons began investing with businessman and political associate Jim McDougal in a land development project called Whitewater Estates. McDougal and his wife later formed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan to facilitate additional investments such as Castle Grande. Hillary Clinton and the Rose law firm completed much of the legal work for these investments. Whitewater failed, Madison Guaranty failed, and over a dozen people went to jail. The Rose law firm legal records disappeared for years before mysteriously reappearing in the White House. It appears to be Hillary Clinton's first successful experience at hiding records from investigators.

Travelgate: In 1993, the Clinton administration fired the White House travel staff in the hopes of steering business to an Arkansas company with connections to the Clintons called World Wide Travel.

Filegate: In 1993, the White House inappropriately secured FBI background files on Republican lawmakers.

Chinagate: In 1996, donors to Democratic Party organizations, including the 1996 Clinton reelection campaign won permission to sell advanced technologies to Chinese firms.

Furniture Flap: In 2000, Clinton administration staff looted and vandalized the White House before turning it over to President-elect George Bush. The Clintons returned about $30,000 of furnishings to the White House that they "mistakenly" believed were personal gifts rather than gifts to the White House.

Foundation Flap: Between 1997 and the present, the Clinton Foundation has generated more controversy. The Foundation provides employment to longterm Clinton aids as well as on opportunity to influence US policy through Secretary of State and future president Hillary Rodham Clinton. And it is a nice nest egg for Chelsea, to insulate her from engaging the corrupt and often vulgar behavior of her parents in order to secure the family's financial independence.

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