It’s a day whose name ends in ‘y’ so of course there’s yet another Clinton non-scandal. Plus a little of this and a little of that…. (More)

“There is no evidence that Laureate received special favors”

That’s the big takeaway from the Washington Post tried-to-be-an-exposé of former President Bill Clinton’s role as honorary chancellor of Laureate International Universities. As with every Clinton-non-scandal story, it starts with what seems like a damning detail:

The guest list for a private State Department dinner on higher- education policy was taking shape when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a suggestion.

In addition to recommending invitations for leaders from a community college and a church-funded institution, Clinton wanted a representative from a for-profit college company called Laureate International Universities, which, she explained in an email to her chief of staff that was released last year, was “the fastest growing college network in the world.”

There was another reason Clinton favored setting a seat aside for Laureate at the August 2009 event: The company was started by a businessman, Doug Becker, “who Bill likes a lot,” the secretary wrote, referring to her husband, the former president.

Nine months later, Laureate signed Bill Clinton to a lucrative deal as a consultant and “honorary chancellor,” paying him $17.6 million over five years until the contract ended in 2015 as Hillary Clinton launched her campaign for president.

Is this how we spell P-A-Y-F-O-R-P-L-A-Y? Apparently not:

There is no evidence that Laureate received special favors from the State Department in direct exchange for hiring Bill Clinton, but the Baltimore-based company had much to gain from an association with a globally connected ex-president and, indirectly, the United States’ chief diplomat. Being included at the 2009 dinner, shoulder to shoulder with leaders from internationally renowned universities for a discussion about the role of higher education in global diplomacy, provided an added level of credibility for the business as it pursued an aggressive expansion strategy overseas, occasionally tangling with foreign regulators.

See? There’s no evidence of special favors but shadowsappearances … plus “tangling with foreign regulators!” Which, if you read far enough, turns out to be another nothing:

Laureate has clashed at times with regulators in other countries, such as Chile, where the law forbids for-profit education and Laureate operates by acting as a contractor to local nonprofit institutions.

Yep, that’s the only “tangling with foreign regulators” they mention, which means it’s the worst thing they could find. But-but-but … shadowsappearances, dammit:

Clinton sometimes mingled with foreign government leaders during his appearances on Laureate campuses, such as a 2013 Laureate-hosted conference on youth unemployment in Madrid featuring top European officials.

Ooh, so that’s how the favor-trading happened. Umm, nope:

[Clinton spokesman Angel] Urena said the former president “never sought to influence any foreign or U.S. official on Laureate’s behalf.” [Laureate spokesman Adam] Smith said Clinton played an active role as honorary chancellor, visiting 19 locations, meeting with students and delivering speeches that were broadcast to tens of thousands of students around the world. He said Clinton’s role was not related to the company’s business prospects.

Clinton’s contract with Laureate was approved by the State Department’s ethics office, in keeping with an Obama administration agreement with Hillary Clinton that gave the agency the right to review her husband’s outside work during her tenure. An ethics official wrote that he saw “no conflict of interest with Laureate or any of their partners,” according to a letter recently released by the conservative group Citizens United, which received it through a public-records request.

So why did the Post chase this not-a-scandal?

The Clintons’ Laureate connection emerged as a campaign issue earlier this summer, when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump charged that Hillary Clinton “laundered money” to her husband by funneling tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to Laureate while she was secretary of state.

By all accounts, Trump’s claim was false, and his campaign did not respond to requests for documentation.

And if you sift almost to the bottom of the story:

Though some Republicans tried to draw parallels between Laureate and Trump University, the real estate seminar company founded by Trump that faces multiple fraud investigations, Laureate is a different sort of business.

Unlike Trump University, Laureate’s campuses are fully accredited and offer graduating students valid diplomas. Compared with other universities, including its for-profit competitors, Laureate has a relatively low percentage of students who default on their loans, seen as an indicator of student financial success after graduation. A 2012 Senate report on for-profit colleges said that Laureate’s flagship U.S. school, Walden University, was the best of 30 campuses studied and that students there generally “fared well.”

But the Post still tries to manufacture a kicker at the end:

Kevin Kinser, who studies for-profit colleges at Pennsylvania State University, said that given Laureate’s rapid growth, it was not unreasonable to include a company representative in that setting. But he said Laureate’s inclusion just months before Bill Clinton began being paid by the company does not look good.

“They were clearly a legitimate participant in this sort of event,” he said. “But knowing what we know now, it does seem unseemly.”

So a real, accredited international university system with a higher-than-usual graduation rate and a lower-than-usual student loan default rate got a seat at a State Department dinner in 2009, and later hired Bill Clinton as honorary chancellor to boost their image and enrollment, a job that involved traveling to campuses and speaking to students around the world, which the students they quoted found “very inspiring” — and that’s “unseemly” because … umm … uhh … hrmm….

In other words, the Post chased yet another oppo-research-planted Clinton scandal story and yet again found there was no ‘there’ there, but they can’t just say that lest they be accused of “liberal media bias.”

Now ask why Paul Krugman thinks Hillary Clinton is being ‘Gored.’


“His treatment of drug dealers has been effective”

Well, the mail room clerk almost nailed it. No, Donald Trump hasn’t come out to praise Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, probably because Duterte challenged Trump to a fistfight after Trump said he’d ban on Filipino immigrants. But other conservatives are thumping their chests over Duterte’s reign of terror disguised as a ‘war on drugs’:

The casualties from the war on drugs being waged by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continue to mount, with latest figures showing that more than 2,400 alleged drug users and drug dealers have been killed since he launched the bloody campaign just over two months ago.

Figures released by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday showed that 1,011 alleged drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations since Duterte began his six-year term on July 1, Agence France-Presse reports. A far higher number – 1,391 – has been chalked up to “deaths under investigation,” most of them believed to have been killed by vigilantes.

Some reader comments from Legal Insurrection:

“And he has something Obama lacks too. Balls. Big ones.”

“Make the guy mayor of Chicago.”

“His treatment of drug dealers has been effective.”

Conservatives sure do love them some strongmen….


“Organizational oversights by the Chinese bureaucracy”

Oh, and China snubbed President Obama when he landed for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou … or not:

The United States military had flown in a set of rolling air stairs, as it does on all of Mr. Obama’s foreign trips, and the White House had received Chinese approval to use the equipment. But before Mr. Obama’s arrival, a senior administration official said, the Chinese suddenly reversed themselves.

The Americans were willing to use a Chinese stairway, this official said, but the Chinese insisted that the stairs be taken to the plane by a local driver, who the Americans said could not communicate with the White House team about even the simplest tasks. So the White House demanded that he be replaced with an English-speaking driver, a request the Chinese refused.

As Air Force One was landing, the Chinese relented and told the Americans they could use their own stairs. But by then, officials said, there was no time to make a switch.

So the White House decided to forgo the main doorway in favor of a smaller exit in the belly of the aircraft equipped with its own foldout stairs. Mr. Obama generally uses that door only when Air Force One arrives in places, like Afghanistan, with high security concerns.

The decision deprived the president of the grand display of descending the stairs from the main doorway to a red carpet. (The carpet was there, but easy to miss, as was Mr. Obama, who popped out as if he were getting off a commuter flight at a municipal airport.)
“I don’t think Xi Jinping deliberately tried to do a shakedown of Obama upon his arrival,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “Most likely the episodes at the airport were due to organizational oversights by the Chinese bureaucracy.”

Y’know, if the media really want to make Something out of Nothing, they could chip in to fund a real ceremony for the annual BPI Awards. Just sayin’….


Photo Credit: Javier Soriano (AFP/Getty Images>


Good day and good nuts