Thursday, 31 January 2008

THE ILLEGAL ALIEN FOLLIES (CONT.)

Ken Berwitz

I'm not a fan of Lou Dobbs, but I concede he is the go-to guy when it comes to watching how illegal aliens are addressed in this country.

Here's what I mean, courtesy of "the crypt" blog from www.politico.com:

Lou Dobbs alert: Illegal immigrants may get rebates

In their bipartisan zeal to quickly cut a deal on an economic stimulus bill, GOP lawmakers overlooked something that will certainly inflame the conservative base _ illegal immigrants could receive a tax rebate check from the government.

But late Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee was scrambling to fix the problem _ contained in the House bill _ by only allowing taxpayers using legitimate Social Security numbers to receive rebates.

The text of the House passed bill contains language making "non resident aliens" _ illegal immigrants _ ineligible for the tax rebates. But every year, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants use individual taxpayer identification numbers, known as ITINs, to file income tax returns with the IRS. These ID numbers are used instead of Social Security numbers. There are no exact statistics for how many illegal immigrants file tax returns, but this New York Times story from last year details the significant increase in use of ITINs.  This story also lays out the issue.

Immigration advocates point out that many legal immigrants use ITINs, so it would be impossible to tell who is legal and who is not from those who use these IDs. The Senate version of the bill would prohibit use of ITINs, meaning some legal immigrants would not receive rebates.

Republicans who were involved in negotiating the bipartisan economic stimulus package would like to avoid the illegal immigration debate as the $146 billion bill comes to the Senate this week. Congressional aides say the problem is that the IRS is not a law enforcement agency, so it doesn't check immigration status when people file tax returns.

"The reality is that those who filed a tax return will be eligible" for tax rebates of $600 to $1,200, said Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.). "This [issue] has not been addressed" by the senators writing the bill.

The issue has certainly caught on in the conservative blogosphere, though, and you can bet a few conservative senators will bring this up as the stimulus bill hits the Senate floor. CNN's Lou Dobbs will probably have a field day with the issue as well.

A spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) points out that illegal immigrants are ineligible for any rebates and are committing tax fraud if they fraudulently obtain taxpayer ID numbers to file tax returns. Republicans also issued a memo Wednesday trying to defuse any controversy over immigrants and tax rebates.

"The bill includes language similar to the provisions included in the 2001 and 2003 tax relief bills designed to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving benefits," Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said. "There is no language in the measure that would enable illegal immigrants to receive a tax rebate. 

Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative organization, says the problem is not with the economic stimulus bill but with the lack of coordination between the IRS and immigration enforcement agencies.

"If the IRS was cooperating with Social Security or DHS [Homeland Security] ... they would know who the illegal immigrants are who file tax returns," Krikorian said.

It's not clear if the Senate fix will stay in the bill as the legislation heads to the Senate floor tomorrow.

Well, at least they're trying to fix it.  If the effort is for real (a big "if" for some, especially from the Democratic side of the aisle) then we can smile, chalk it up to an honest mistake made in haste and thank Mr. Dobbs for his eyes and ears.

But this is congress and it is controlled by Democrats.  So you'll pardon me if I wait until it is fixed before assuming the effort is legitimate.  I'll keep you posted.


CAL THOMAS ON THE OBAMA/CLINTON MATCH-UP

Ken Berwitz

Here is Cal Thomas, writing at www.townhall.com, with his opinions about the comparison between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Very well worth reading:

The Fall of the House of Clinton
By Cal Thomas
Thursday, January 31, 2008

The man of hope has beaten the man from Hope (and possibly his wife).

The endorsement of Barack Obamas presidential campaign by three Kennedys from different generations was a political trifecta for the young upstart from Illinois. He is not to be confused with Sen. Hillary Clinton who is from Illinois, Arkansas, New York, or wherever you want her to be.

The contrast of sincerity (Obama) with insincerity (Hillary and Bill Clinton) could not be starker. Critics can say that Camelot was a myth created after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but it is a powerful myth and to see Ted, Caroline and Patrick Kennedy standing on the same stage together at American University endorsing Obama brought the myth back for those of us old enough to have lived through it. It also inspired younger people who want to believe that politics can still have purpose.

There is nothing wrong with myth so long as it does not obliterate reality. We like our fairytales. The film Enchanted is doing well at the box office. But the Kennedy endorsement is more than myth. It represents a potential divorce between the Democratic establishment and the Clintons.

Recall the early 1990s. Democrats were desperate for a presidential candidate who could take back the White House after 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. They rejected the establishment and chose a little known governor from a small state who Republicans would have difficulty sliming as a card-carrying member of the ACLU. Clinton was part of the new Democratic Leadership Council, which bills itself on its Web page as an idea center, catalyst, and national voice for a reform movement that is reshaping American politics by moving it beyond the old left-right debate.

It was a shotgun wedding between the old Left and new moderates within the party, some of whom hid their liberalism behind moderate rhetoric for political gain. Now the old Left wants the party back and the endorsement by the Kennedys is the opening salvo.

The trouble with using people is that when someone better comes along, you get dropped like a bad habit, or like a woman who believes Bill Clinton will call her in the morning. Liberal Democrats dont need the Clintons anymore. They think the Republican field is weak and the time to re-take their party and the government is now.

There can be no question that Obama is the most exciting political orator for Democrats since JFK. Notice in Caroline Kennedys endorsement how she skipped over Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and even Bill Clinton (not to mention, which she also didnt, Ronald Reagan) as inspirational leaders. What a slap in the face that was to the Clintons. Caroline Kennedy, though a liberal, has class, but the Clintons know little about such things, as they troll for power and personal advancement, obliterating all who get in their way. They define the politics of personal destruction.

Will this split have the same result as the Kennedy-Carter clash in 1980, which involved another former Southern governor and ended with a Republican victory? Its too soon to tell, but Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 will make things clearer.

In an email to me, author and liberal Democrat Neal Gabler says, Frankly I dont think it is so much the bona fides (Kennedy) provides that could help Obama as the network and infrastructure. Kennedy has the best staff and the best connections of any politician in America and if Obama is able to tap those he will get a real boost.

Former Clinton aide Dick Morris has accused the Clintons of using race in the South Carolina primary in an attempt to energize white voters. Clinton cynically used blacks during his runs for president and two terms in office. They are just now awakening to the fact that Clinton was not Americas first black president, as writer Toni Morrison once dubbed him, but rather a flimflammer and exploiter of things blacks care about.

On his blog, Morris writes, The boldness of Obama in accepting the Clintons injection of race as an issue and his insistence on an enlightened answer challenges us all. Even as ones head warns that the strategy will fail, ones heart hopes that it will succeed. Either way, Obama has made the Super Tuesday vote more about who we are than who the candidates running for president are.

While its a long way to November and Obamas lack of experience has yet to be fully tested and his background fully vetted, it might almost be worth his election if he could force the Clintons to finally leave the stage. Almost.

It should be remembered that Cal Thomas is a conservative who will probably support either Romney or McCain over Obama.  But you never know, do you?

His point is that Obama, maybe more than anyone else on the horizon, could finally push the Clintons out of the picture.

While I doubt this will happen (I expect Hillary to win the nomination), there is no guarantee.  A lot can change by - and on - Super Tuesday. 

We'll see. And I'll be thinking about Mr. Thomas' analysis as the votes come in.


THE REPUBLICAN DEBATE

Ken Berwitz

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty much debated out by now.

Still, I did watch a lot of the Republican debate in California last night;  if for no other reason to see how McCain and Romney would duke it out now that there is a virtual certainty one of them will be the nominee.

The debate was contentious - at some points it was very contentious - though most of the ground has already been covered (how could it not have been, since this is debate number #46,923 or so it seems).  But two things stick out in my mind:

One of them was CNN moderator Anderson Cooper's first question to Romney and then the other candidates (yes, Huckabee and paul are still hanging around for no good reason).  He pointed out that candidate Ronald Reagan asked voters in 1980 whether they felt they were better off over the previous four years (i.e. jimmy carter's term of office).  Cooper asked Romney to tell people if they were better off than they were 8 years ago, in 2000 (i.e. the start of President Bush's term of office).

Since the debate took place at the Ronald Reagan Library, I suppose you could see this as Cooper's clever way of injecting Mr. Reagan into the debate.  I don't.

I thought it was, at best, a clumsy stupid question.  And, at worst, it was an insidious way of putting every Republican at a disadvantage right from the start.  

If President Bush were running the question would have made sense, because the issue would have been whether voters would want four more years of the man whose record was being invoked. 

But President Bush is not running.  So the sum total result of Cooper's question was to force every Republican candidate to start the debate by either talking up a President who is low in the popularity polls or talking him down and angering a large segment of the Republican base.

If Cooper had led off a Democratic debate by asking the candidates if voters were better or worse off since the Democratic congress took control, I'd see it as a logical question.  Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton are both part of that congress right now.  By contrast, the question asked last night was asked for no good or logical reason.

On the other hand, why expect that kind of question for Democrats?  This is CNN.  They didn't have enough time to formulate a tough question relating to the congress Obama and Clinton are part of.  They were too busy stacking the Democratic debate with Hillary suckups and the Republican debate with anti-Republican activists.

Mr. Romney did exactly what he should have done.  He said he would prefer to answer how people made out in the state where HE was elected, Massachusetts.  Good for him.  But Cooper wouldn't let go of his planned, oh-so-clever question and kept nagging Mr. Romney until he got some kind of an answer.  What a professional.

Yes, CNN is a highly trusted name.  You can trust it to be unbelievably biased time after time after time.

The other part of last night's debate that sticks with me is this exchange between Mr. Romney and Senator McCain, which was taken from CNN's web site:

The sharpest exchange in the debate came when Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was asked about the McCain campaign's charge that he once said he favored a strict timetable for removing troops from Iraq.

Romney has consistently denied ever having backed a timetable and said McCain was taking a small portion of a quote out of context.

"It's simply wrong," Romney said. "By the way, raising it a few days before the Florida primary, when there was very little time for me to correct the record, falls in the kind of dirty tricks that Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible." Video Watch the candidates trade barbs

But McCain, the Arizona senator who has strongly backed President Bush's Iraq policy, accused Romney of hedging after public support for the war waned.

"I was on the front lines with my friends saying we not only can't withdraw but we've got to have additional troops over there in order for us to have a chance to succeed," he said..

What a point of difference this is!

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are each trying to prove that they will cut and run from Iraq faster than the other.  It's like a grotesque game of "name that tune" set to the war in Iraq.  "I'll get the troops out in a year".  "Oh yeah, I'll get them out in a couple of months".  "Oh yeah, I'll get them out the day I take office".  "Oh yeah....."  ad infinitum. 

The actual conditions in Iraq that would or would not make withdrawing sensible?  Irrelevant 'n immaterial.  We can't tick off george soros or the daily kos people or cindy sheehan or the other LAMBs for god sake, can we?

But on the Republican side, instead of running from the war in Iraq (which would have made good political sense less than a year ago) the two candidates were actually trying to prove which one of them would more strongly stay the course.  Romney and McCain were fighting to prove which of them would be least likely to withdraw troops on any timetable/before conditions on the ground made it militarily and strategically feasible.

That is a clear demonstration of just how well the troop surge has worked, isn't it?  Last year, who would have thought that either party would be running on our continued presence in Iraq?  But there it is, right out there for you to see.


KWAME KILPATRICK (? - MI)

Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of Geoffrey Dickens at  www.newsbusters.com, is the way the Today show reported on Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's steamy scandal:

'Today' Fails to Call Democrat Caught in Sex Scandal - a Democrat

By Geoffrey Dickens | January 31, 2008 - 16:11 ET

Whenever a Republican gets caught in a sex scandal the GOP party affiliation is permanently affixed to that person's name in the media - think most recently of Larry Craig and Rudy Giuliani. However when it comes to labeling Democratic politicians caught in affairs, reporters often suffer from brief bouts of amnesia. Such was the case on the Thursday "Today" show where co-host Ann Curry forgot to note the party affiliation of the Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in her report on his recent ordeals:

See if you can spot the (D) label in the following January 31 "Today" show story:

ANN CURRY: A scandal involving private text messages forced a popular mayor of a major, a major U.S. city to make a very public apology last night and to beg for forgiveness.

[On screen headline: "Detroit Mayor Apologizes, Begs For Forgiveness"]

MAYOR KWAME KILPATRICK [No party label noted on screen]: Good evening Detroit, I want to start tonight by saying to the citizens of this great city, "I'm sorry."

CURRY: With those words Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Wednesday night, began a seven minute apology for what he called the "embarrassment and disappointment" of the last few days.

KILPATRICK: Finally and most important I want to make a public apology to my wife Carlita, who I fell in love with when I was 19-years-old. This dynamic, strong, caring woman has been forced to go through this very difficult experience because of me. I truly apologize to you.

CURRY: First elected seven years ago, Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty are under investigation for allegedly lying under oath. Last summer two police officers filed a lawsuit saying they were fired for investigating whether the mayor used his security detail to cover up extramarital affairs. During the trial the mayor and Beatty denied being lovers.

ATTORNEY: Were you and the Mayor Kilpatrick either romantically or intimately involved with each other?

CHRISTINE BEATTY: No.

CURRY: But last week a Detroit newspaper revealed a series of steamy text messages exchanged between the two. In those text messages they professed that they were madly in love with each other. Beatty also asked the mayor if he missed her sexually. He responded by telling her quote, "I want some more." Wednesday night the mayor's wife Carlita, stood by her man.

CARLITA KILPATRICK: Yes I am angry, I am hurt and I am disappointed but there is no question that I love my husband. Most couples who work through problems in their marriage are able to do so privately. Unfortunately that option is not available to us.

CURRY: The mayor has said he will not resign but the county prosecutor has vowed to get to the bottom of the allegations.

Fascinating. 

So tell me, is Mr. Dickens right?  When it was Rudy Giuliani or Larry Craig, or for that matter Mark Foley, did they forget to mention that Republican affiliation? 

This is not an isolated instance, folks.  It is a pattern -- and one that is repeated by numerous other major media.  Republicans in a scandal are Republicans.  Democrats in a scandal are ?.

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.

UPDATE:  Arrrgghhhhh.  In the original post I made mention of "Tom Foley" as a Republican involved in a sex scandal.  That is a mistake.  Tom Foley is the former Democratic speaker of the house.  As reader "Al" has pointed out, the person I meant was MARK Foley, the former Republican congressperson from Florida.  I have changed this in the body of the post.  Thanks Al!!

Al Thought Tom Foley was a Democratic Speaker of the House. (02/01/08)


GOOD NEWS FROM PAKISTAN

Ken Berwitz

Now there's a title I don't get to use very often.  But I'm always happy when I can.

Why is today the day?  Let me show you, by way of the Associated Press:

Top al-Qaida figure killed in Pakistan

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer 21 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - One of al-Qaida's top figures, Abu Laith al-Libi, has been killed in Pakistan, an Islamist Web site announced Thursday. Pakistani officials and residents said a dozen people, including seven Arabs, died in a missile strike in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border.

Al-Libi was believed to be the key link between the Taliban and al-Qaida and was blamed for masterminding the bombing an American base while Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting Afghanistan last year. He was listed among the Americans' 12 most-wanted men with a bounty of $200,000 on his head.

Pakistani officials denied any knowledge of al-Libi's death. The killing of such a major al-Qaida figure is likely to embarrass President Pervez Musharraf, who has repeatedly said he would not sanction U.S. military action against al-Qaida members believed to be regrouping in the lawless area near the Afghan border.

A Web site that frequently carries announcements from militant groups said al-Libi had been "martyred with a group of his brothers in the land of Muslim Pakistan" but gave no further details.

However, Pakistani intelligence officials and residents said a missile struck a compound late Monday or early Tuesday about 2 1/2 miles from the Pakistani town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan, killing 12 people, including seven Arabs as well as Pakistanis and Central Asians.

Residents said they could hear U.S. Predator drones flying in the area shortly before the explosion, which destroyed the compound.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn said the victims were buried in a local cemetery.

Rumors spread Thursday in the border area that al-Libi or his deputy died in the missile strike. But Pakistan's Interior Ministry spokesman, Javed Iqbal Cheema, insisted authorities had "no information" indicating al-Libi was dead.

One intelligence official in the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the bodies of those killed were badly mangled by the force of the explosion and it was difficult to identify them. The official estimated 12 people were killed, including Arabs, Turkomen from Central Asia and local Taliban members.

In Washington, a Western official said that "it appears at this point that al-Libi has met his demise," but declined to talk about the circumstances. "It was a major success in taking one of the top terrorists in the world off the street," the official said. He added that the death occurred "within the last few days."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he did not "have anything definitive" to say on reports of al-Libi's death.

The Libyan-born al-Libi was among the most high-profile figures in al-Qaida after its leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.

In spring 2007, al-Qaida's media wing, Al-Sahab, released a video interview with a bearded man identified as al-Libi. In it, he accuses Shiite Muslims of fighting alongside American forces in Iraq, and claimed that mujahedeen would crush foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The U.S. says al-Libi was likely behind the February 2007 bombing at the U.S. base at Bagram in Afghanistan during a visit by Cheney. The attack killed 23 people but Cheney was deep inside the sprawling base and was not hurt.

The bombing added to the impression that Western forces and the shaky government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai are vulnerable to assault by Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

Al-Libi also led an al-Qaida training camp and appeared in a number of al-Qaida Internet videos.

He was known to maintain close ties with tribes living on the Pakistani side of the mountainous border, where U.S. officials believe al-Qaida has been regrouping.

A Pakistani intelligence official said that al-Libi was based near Mir Ali until late 2003 when he moved back into Afghanistan to take charge of al-Qaida operations on both sides of the border area. But he retained links with North Waziristan, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Mir Ali is the second-biggest town in North Waziristan and has a strong presence of foreign militants, mostly Uzbeks with links to al-Qaida who fled to Pakistan's tribal regions after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001.

The U.S. has in the past sought to kill top al-Qaida leaders but with limited success.

Al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's second-in-command, was the target of a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan near the Afghan border on Jan. 13, 2006, but he was not at the site of the attack. Pakistan condemned the missile strike that killed at least 17 people in the village of Damadola in the Bajur tribal area, about four miles inside Pakistan.

Pakistani security officials said four top operatives were believed to be killed in that strike. The officials said the operatives included Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, who the U.S. Justice Department called an explosives and poisons expert; Abu Obaidah al-Masri, the al-Qaida chief responsible for attacks on U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan; and Abdul Rehman al-Maghribi, a Moroccan and relative of al-Zawahri, possibly his son-in-law.

Some of the officials also said a fourth man, Khalid Habib, the al-Qaida operations chief along the Afghan-Pakistan border, was believed to be dead.

Radical islamists like to talk about a "merciful Allah".  I hope they're right.  Because if Allah truly is merciful, he will take one look at this murdering terrorist subhuman scumbag and send him straight to hell.

And the last thing he'll hear on the way down is "and if you think YOU got it bad, wait until you see what I do with bin laden and zawahiri"


NANCY PELOSI'S PRESS RELEASE ON IRAQ

Ken Berwitz

"You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough":  William Blake.

Nancy pelosi apparently doesn't know even when it IS more than enough.  I can tell that by her negative, disparaging press release regarding the Iraq troop surge:

Press Releases

Contact:
Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami
202-226-7616
For Immediate Release
01/31/2008

Pelosi Statement on Halting U.S. Surge Troop Reductions

Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today in reaction to news reports that gradual reductions in U.S. surge troops in Iraq could be halted this summer:

"Halting the modest reduction inU.S. surge troop levels that has been underway in Iraq demonstrates the President's insistence on a war without end and will further undermine our military readiness.

"The President's Iraq policy will result in the same number of troops committed to an endless war in Iraq at the end of this year as were there at the end of 2006.  And the President continues to ignore the calls of the American people to wind down the war with the responsible redeployment of our troops.

"Meanwhile, as a report by former NATO commander General James Jones makes clear, NATO 'is not winning' the real war against terrorism in Afghanistan.'  And an Army study reportedly reveals that suicides among Army personnel are at record levels.

"The President's failure to end the war in Iraq influences both of these threats to our security and neither is likely to improve until there is a New Direction in Iraq.".

Despicable.  Not one word about the success of the surge.  Not one word about the dramatic reduction of military casualties, the dramatic reduction of civilian casualties, the dramatic upgrade in Iraqi troops engaging terrorist insurgents rather than US troops and not one word about the refugees streaming back into the country because they feel safe enough to do so.

Nothing but a disparaging wet-blanket attack that ignores all successes and desperately latches onto any and every negative, even the suicide rate, to prop up pelosi's cut-and-run demand.  

Can you show me any part of this press release that al qaeda would be unhappy with?

For the record, here is the real story on the military suicide rate, from the Associated press just three months ago.  It was pulled from the left wing huffington post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/11/01/suicide-rates-increase-am_n_70702.html).  I have put a part-sentence in bold print to show just how low she sank when invoking it in this press release:

Hundreds of troops have come home from war, left the military and committed suicide.

That is the finding of preliminary Veterans Affairs Department research obtained by The Associated Press that provides the first quantitative look at the suicide toll on today's combat veterans. The ongoing research reveals that at least 283 combat veterans who left the military between the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, and the end of 2005 took their own lives.

The numbers, while not dramatically different from society as a whole, are reminiscent of the increased suicide risk among returning soldiers in the Vietnam era. .

Got that?  Not dramatically different than the general population.  But pelosi is so desperate to have the USA lose a war it is winning that she will clutch at any straw, she'll even exploit the tragedy of suicides.  Is anything beneath her?

What is "more than enough" when it comes to nancy pelosi?  Maybe nothing.  As a San Francisco Democrat I suppose she can do this all she wants and probably will gain rather than lose votes.  But I wonder how the rest of the country feels. 

We'll find out in a matter of months.


SLEEP ON THE CHEAP

Ken Berwitz

Need some sleep?  Then why pay for Sominex or Ambien? Just read this:

Ralph Nader Kicks Off Exploratory Presidential Bid

WASHINGTON Ralph Nader is seeking the presidency again.

The consumer activist and political gadfly kicked off an exploratory presidential campaign Wednesday with the launch of a new Web site that promises hell fight corporate greed, corporate power, corporate control and asks people to donate $300 each.

Nader sought the White House in each of the last three presidential elections: He ran on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and 2000, and as an independent in 2004.

Has anyone seen Ralph Nader and Harold Stassen in the same place?  (Yawn), I know that I nev.........

.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


I SEE YOUR RACE CARD AND RAISE YOU A UNION CARD

Ken Berwitz

With a major assist from Barack Obama's campaign, the folks at ABC news  (as reported by www.sweetness-light.com, complete with its commentary about it)  have unearthed this material about Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure on the board of WalMart.  

Wow:

Tapes Show Hillary Was Loyal Wal-Mart Exec

January 31st, 2008

From a shocked and outraged ABC News:

Clinton Remained Silent As Wal-Mart Fought Unions

Tapes Reviewed by ABC News Show Clinton As a Loyal Company Woman

By BRIAN ROSS, MADDY SAUER and RHONDA SCHWARTZ

Jan. 31, 2008In six years as a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors, between 1986 and 1992, Hillary Clinton remained silent as the worlds largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.

Clinton has been endorsed for president by more than a dozen unions, according to her campaign Web site, which omits any reference to her role at Wal-Mart in its detailed biography of her.

Wal-Marts anti-union efforts were headed by one of Clintons fellow board members, John Tate, a Wal-Mart executive vice president who also served on the board with Clinton for four of her six years.

Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase, Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.

Wal-Mart says Tates comments were his own and do not reflect Wal-Marts views.

But Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and other company officials often recounted how they relied on Tate to lead the companys successful anti-union efforts.

An ABC News analysis of the videotapes of at least four stockholder meetings where Clinton appeared shows she never once rose to defend the role of American labor unions

A former board member told ABCNews.com that he had no recollection of Clinton defending unions during more than 20 board meetings held in private.

The tapes show Clinton in the role of a loyal company woman. Im always proud of Wal-Mart and what we do and the way we do it better than anybody else, she said at a June 1990 stockholders meeting

Weve got a very strong-willed young woman on our board now; her name is Hillary, said Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton at a 1987 stockholders meeting in describing Clintons role in pushing for more women to be hired in management positions.

Critics say Clintons efforts produced few tangible results, and Wal-Mart is now defending itself in a lawsuit brought by 16 current and former female employees

Sen. Clinton has recently sought to distance herself from Wal-Mart.

In a campaign speech last year in New Hampshire, Sen. Clinton said, Now I know that Wal-Marts policies do not reflect the best way of doing business and the values that I think are important in America.

Her Senate campaign returned a $5,000 contribution from a Wal-Mart Political Action Committee, although ABCNews.com discovered another $20,000 in contributions from Wal-Mart executives and lobbyists.

Clinton spokesperson Howard Wolfson said, There is no basis to return the money.

According to the New York Times, Sen. Clinton maintains close ties to Wal-Mart executives through the Democratic Party and the tightly knit Arkansas business community. The May 20, 2007 article also reported that her husband, former President Clinton, speaks frequently to Wal-Marts current chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr. and held a private dinner at the Clintons New York home in July 2006 for him.

President Clinton defended his wifes role on the Wal-Mart board last week after the issue was raised by Sen. Barack Obama in a CNN debate.

His wife did not try to change the companys minds about unions, the former Arkansas governor said.

We lived in a state that had a very weak labor movement, where I always had the endorsement of the labor movement because I did what I could do to make it stronger. She knew there was no way she could change that, not with it headquartered in Arkansas, and she agreed to serve, President Clinton said

This information has been out there for decades now.

Funny how it took Mr. Obamas playing of the Wal-Mart card to jar the memories of our watchdog media, such as it is.

Probably some 20 year old intern who has a thing for BHO decided to look into it.

(And of course they couldnt be bothered to note that up until very recently the Clintons still owned Wal-Mart stock.)

She knew there was no way she could change that, not with it headquartered in Arkansas, and she agreed to serve, President Clinton said.

And yet this self-same woman is now telling us there is nothing she cant do.

Still, the videotape ABC has unearthed is quite entertaining in its own right, as are some of the photos they have lifted from it:

On the campaign trail, President Bill Clinton has defended Hillarys role on the Wal-Mart board even though he said she knew there was no chance of changing the companys stance on unions.

In a written statement, Sen. Clintons spokesperson said, As President she will fight alongside labor to promote the economic growth of Americas middle class. He said Clinton believes Wal-Mart workers should have the right to unionize and bargain collectively.

Clintons Senate campaign also returned a $5,000 contribution.

Although there is no mention of it in her official biography, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton served for six years on the board of Wal-Mart, the huge retailer criticized by many for its treatment of workers and its strident opposition to unions.

Factories featured in Wal-Marts Buy America television spots were closed down a short time later as Wal-Mart abandoned the program and jobs shifted overseas.

As the wife of then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, Hillary also took a role in supporting a Buy America program to create American jobs.

You know one of the reasons that we want to buy America is because we love America, she said at the time.

While Hillary Clinton has since denounced Wal-Marts policies, nowhere on the tapes reviewed by ABC News, including at this 1990 meeting, did she speak up to defend the role of Americas labor unions.

You know, as a shareholder and director of our company, Im always proud of Wal-Mart and what we do and the way we do it better than anybody else, she said.

Clinton would not agree to be interviewed on the subject but now says she no longer shares.

Videotapes obtained by ABC News from the archives of a production company hired by Wal-Mart to record its meetings reveal just how strident Wal-Marts opposition to unions was as well as what a loyal company woman Hillary Clinton was.

Nevertheless, it is quite naive for the folks at ABC News even to suggest that Hillary should have put her oft-proclaimed principles before a chance to make herself richer.

Mrs. Clinton hasnt never been that small-minded. 

Y'know, maybe it wasn't such a great idea to use the race card on Senator Obama.  He seems to know how to fight back.  And, after decades of being given a free pass on scandal after scandal, Senator Clinton has plenty of material for him to draw from.

I wonder how the unions supporting Ms. Clinton feel about this.

What's next?  What's, er, in the cards now?  Stay tuned. 


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