Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Bill Clinton in favour of Keystone; wife to decide its fate

In Bill and Hillary Clinton, Canada, HILLARY in 2012, TransCanada Pipeline, United States on February 29, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton weighed in Wednesday in favour of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial project whose ultimate fate is in the hands of his wife.

Updated: Wed Feb. 29 2012 16:08:11

The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. president Bill Clinton weighed in Wednesday in favour of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial project whose ultimate fate is in the hands of his wife.

Clinton, the keynote speaker at the Department of Energy’s conference for clean-technology startup companies in Maryland, wondered aloud why TransCanada didn’t originally propose to build the pipeline around an environmentally fragile area of Nebraska.

“One of the most amazing things to me about this Keystone pipeline deal is that they ever filed that route in the first place, since they could have gone around the Nebraska Sand Hills and avoided most of the dangers, no matter how imagined, to the Ogallala with a different route,” he said.

“The extra cost of (rerouting the pipeline) is infinitesimal compared to the revenue that will be generated over a long period of time,” he added.

“So, I think we should embrace it and develop a stakeholder-driven system of high standards for doing the work.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying later in the day to the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee hearings into energy security, was asked about her husband’s remarks.

“He’s a very smart man,” she said to laughter.

“But he, unfortunately, is not bound by the laws and regulations any longer of the United States to make decisions that follow a certain procedure. And that’s what we have to do.”

Bill Clinton’s comments are certain to cause a stir given his wife has already been accused of a pro-pipeline bias. The State Department is deciding the fate of the $7.6 billion pipeline since it crosses an international border.

In November, the Obama administration deferred making a decision on the pipeline until after this year’s presidential election, citing concerns about the risks Keystone XL’s proposed route could pose to the Ogallala aquifer.

Pipeline proponents cried foul, saying it was a cynical political move aimed at pacifying the environmentalists among President Barack Obama’s base in advance of the election.

In January, facing a mid-February deadline imposed by congressional Republicans, the Obama administration rejected TransCanada’s permit outright, saying it didn’t have enough time to thoroughly review a new route before giving it the green light.

But Obama also assured Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the decision was not based on the pipeline’s merits, but was merely necessitated by the Republicans’ pressure tactics.

Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that TransCanada has submitted a new application for a route that would carry Alberta oilsands bitumen from the Canadian border to Steel City, Nebraska.

“At the same time,” she said, “they’re moving forward with parts of the pipeline like from Oklahoma to Texas, that don’t cross the border and don’t need State Department evaluation or decision.”

The Calgary-based company has also said it is reapplying soon for a presidential permit that incorporates the alternate route around the Nebraska aquifer.

Republicans have not eased up on their attempts to force approval of the pipeline. Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation that would strong-arm the Obama administration into green-lighting Keystone XL as soon as possible.

They believe the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and help end U.S. dependency on oil from often hostile OPEC regimes.

At the White House daily media briefing on Wednesday, spokesman Jay Carney decried the tactics of congressional Republicans.

“Calls to approve Keystone XL right away, again, are insulting to the American people because there is no permit to approve,” he said.

The pipeline has become a rallying cry for Republican presidential candidates as well. After narrowly winning the Michigan primary on Tuesday, Mitt Romney vowed to keep fighting for Keystone XL.

“I’ll get us that oil from Canada that we deserve,” he said to cheers in Columbus, OH.

The Obama administration, meantime, signalled a shift in attitude toward Keystone XL earlier this week when the president praised TransCanada’s decision to carry on constructing the pipeline from Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas.

Hillary Clinton denied the administration was shifting gears in her testimony on Wednesday.

“So why the flip-flop on the Keystone XL pipeline?” Florida congressman Connie Mack asked Clinton.

“I don’t think there was any flip-flop, Congressman,” she replied.

“I think that this was always a matter that had to be evaluated in accordance with legal and regulatory standards. Certainly energy security considerations was a key factor, but not the only factor. There was a lot of concern on the part of one state through which the pipeline traveled.”

Edmonton Paper


An Apology to former President Bill Clinton for That PBS Documentary

In Clinton Legacy, Peace and Prosperity, President Bill Clinton on February 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

 February 26, 2012

By Joe Rothstein

Apologies are in order, and since PBS and the producers of the four-hour Clinton documentary are not likely to do the right thing, I’ll weigh in instead.

I have standing to do this, since I’m a loyal PBS viewer, regular contributor and, much of the time, uncompromising cheer leader for the network.

But it’s hard to cheer lead for a Clinton documentary that begins with what feels like an endless rehash of the Monica Lewinsky episode, and whose unifying thread is opportunity lost.

If you go to the PBS web site promoting home copies of the program, it reads like this:

“From draft-dodging to the Dayton Accords, from Monica Lewinsky to a balanced budget, the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton veered between sordid scandal and grand achievement. In Clinton, the latest installment in the critically acclaimed series of presidential biographies, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE explores the fascinating story of an American president who rose from a broken childhood in Arkansas to become one of the most successful politicians in modern American history–and one of the most complex and conflicted characters to ever stride across the public stage.”

I doubt that anyone who actually sits through all four hours of Clinton gets a message that he was “one of the most successful politicians in modern American history.” His fault lines, however, are explored in minute detail—from the women he chased during his very first campaign to the he’s-no-LBJ verdict pronounced against him in dealing with Congress.

And what about those “grand achievements?” If you happened to slip into the bathroom for a few minutes at the wrong time you missed the fleeting scenes about balancing the budget and presiding over the most prolonged economic expansion in peace time American history. There was a short segment about his orchestration of an end to the Balkan war, a job he took on at great political risk when European leaders refused to sign up for it. Clinton’s green light of an attempt to kill bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership was noted, but in the context of a suspected impeachment distraction.

More than 22 million jobs were created during the Clinton presidency. Home ownership was at the highest level ever, (without the phony mortgages that came during the Bush years). The crime rate dropped to the lowest level in 26 years. The Brady gun law was enacted. Family leave time became a reality.

Clinton made extraordinary efforts in the cause of racial harmony. (They called him “the first black president”). Thousands of Russian nuclear warheads were deactivated, and many others lying loose after the Soviet Union’s collapse were located and disarmed.

Unless I was checking email on my smartphone at the time, I saw or heard none of that.

But from beginning to end, you could have dropped into the PBS documentary nearly anywhere along its four hour time line and been told of sex, investigations, failures to live up to promise, and pseudo analysis of why Clinton behaved as he did. The producers didn’t discuss bed-wetting, but clearly they were obsessed with what made Clinton tick when he should have tocked.

Whitewater, as we now know, was a phony smokescreen Republicans used to justify what amounted to a full time, resident inquisitor who spent five years searching for anything that could tear down the Clintons. With what amounted to an unlimited checkbook of public money, subpoena power, a friendly Congress and about all the assets any prosecutor dreams of having, Kenneth Starr found nothing to hang on the President except Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.

Bill Clinton was no saint. Neither were Newt Gingrich or Tom DeLay or so many others hounding Clinton all those years. During the impeachment process, Rep. Henry Hyde, who took on the role of chief U.S. House prosecutor, had to admit to an extra marital affair of his own.

Neither was Bill Clinton an LBJ. So what? Can you think of anyone, Republican or Democrat, who has duplicated LBJ’s talent for maneuvering through the legislative thicket to achieve success on difficult issues? Clinton made rookie errors in his early White House years. So did Reagan. So has Obama.

To be successful, television needs viewers. And since TV is pictures, reliving scenes of a sex scandal is bound to attract and hold more eyeballs than the intricacies of balancing a budget. The Lewinsky case and impeachment did consume an inordinate amount of public oxygen for years, along with various other failed Republican efforts to bring down President Clinton. Vince Foster, the White House travel office, missing files—thinking back it all seems like a bad dream. And all so pointless and historically insignificant.

Republican attempts to criminalize the President were scandalous, and the American public knew it. He left the presidency with the highest approval rating of any president since World War II. By the time the U.S. Senate voted down impeachment the public was sick to death of the entire episode. The largest grass roots organization of the past decade, Move On, was created by those begging political leaders to do that—-move on.

The PBS documentary billed itself as one of the first post-Clinton White House attempts to put those years in context. Why then, spend so much air time with a known self-aggrandizing sleezeball like Dick Morris and not a single bona fide historian? 

WAS DORIS KERNS GOODWIN asleep in the powder room?

Where were the first person interviews with members of Congress? Other than Robert Reich, who provided some excellent perspective, and Robert Rubin, Clinton’s treasury secretary, why no cabinet members? Clinton was portrayed generally as a failure in the foreign policy arena. Really? Is that how his foreign leader contemporaries viewed him? Did anyone ask Blair, Chirac or Putin?

If this attempt at defining the Clinton years were on cable TV I wouldn’t be surprised that sex and scandal were the highlight reels. But PBS?

PBS probably won’t apologize for this, Mr. President. But PBS is also the millions of us who contribute to keep it on the air. I can’t speak for anyone else, but from one loyal PBS member, I’m sorry. You deserved much better.

(Yes, millions of US but remember just one, George Soros contributed millions ensuring the highlights of the Clinton legacy would be short shrifted painting  Obama, the Renaissance Man of the 21st Century.)

(Joe Rothstein can be contacted at

Yet Another Taxpayer-Funded Vacation for Michelle Obama…

In Michelle Obama, Squanderer of Tax Payer Money, Washington, White House on February 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm

While her penchant for living the good life on the taxpayer’s dime has become something of a joke, there really is nothing funny about an individual so seemingly concerned with the ideals of financial equality who time and again proves herself willing to embrace a lifestyle reserved only for the super wealthy.

Michelle Obama has flown off to the winter playground of the wealthy and famous in Aspen Colorado to do a bit of skiing. ( While plenty of ski resorts can be found much closer to Washington D.C. on the East Coast, it appears those locations just don’t have the kind of upscale reputation the First Lady demands of her vacation locations. Now THIS vacation comes just a month after Mrs. Obama returned from her multi-million dollar 17-day winter vacation in Hawaii. And THAT vacation came just a few months after the Obama’s concluded another multi-million dollar vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. And THAT vacation came just a month after the First Lady returned from another multi-million dollar trip to Africa. (Without her husband)

Where are the Occupy protesters

on these repeated examples of extravagant living being repeatedly put on display by the First Lady? A Daily Mail report estimated in August – before Michelle Obama’s more recent taxpayer funded outings, that her vacations have cost taxpayers $10 MILLION dollars. That total is likely much higher given the other vacations that have taken place since that report was initially published:

The First Lady is believed to have taken 42 days of holiday in the past year, including a $375,000 break in Spain and a four-day ski trip to Vail, Colorado, where she spent $2,000 a night on a suite at the Sebastian hotel.

And the first family’s nine-day stay in Martha’s Vineyard is also proving costly, with rental of the Blue Heron Farm property alone costing an estimated $50,000 a week.

The source continued: ‘Michelle also enjoys drinking expensive booze during her trips. She favours martinis with top-shelf vodka and has a taste for rich sparking wines.

‘The vacations are totally Michelle’s idea. She’s like a junkie. She can’t schedule enough getaways, and she lives from one to the next – all the while sticking it to hardworking Americans.’