August 8, 2007

Divestment For Thee ...

ABC News reports that a major benefactor to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has ties to companies doing business with the Sudanese government currently committing genocide in Darfur. Despite Hillary's prescription for "moving quickly on divestment" to spur an end to the conflict in Darfur, Warren Buffet has no intention of selling his stock:

Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have taken tough, conscientious stances against the genocidal Sudanese government and the companies which help fund it. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, America's second richest man, has not.

In what activists are calling "a definite contradiction," Buffett -- whose estimated $3 billion in Sudan-linked holdings have been disparaged by anti-genocide watchdogs -- is helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the White House aspirants.

Over the past several years, the Sudanese government has been widely accused of sponsoring the killing of more than 400,000 of its own people and displacing more than two million more, in what has been called one of the worst humanitarian crises of the new century.

Buffett, the legendary 76-year-old investor, has turned away pleas from shareholders and activists to sell his firm's massive stake in PetroChina, a public subsidiary of China's national petroleum company, which watchdogs have tagged a "chief corporate sponsor" of the Sudanese government. Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, reportedly owns the majority of publicly-traded stock in PetroChina.

Obviously, Hillary and Obama can't force Buffet to divest. However, it seems more than just a little contradictory for them to offer that as a prescription to other investors while the super-rich Buffet -- who could afford to take a little loss on the transaction -- continues to both fund PetroChina and their campaigns. Some of those proceeds arguably go into those donations.

In fact, both Senators have sponsored a bill to push states into divesting from these same companies that do business with the Sudanese. That may or may not be good policy on its own. Divestment doesn't have that much of an effect on international governments; it just opens the markets to other companies with less exposure to American investment. It would be difficult to convince these states to comply while the bill's co-sponsors take major contributions from an investor in these same companies -- and who could profit by purchasing stock at cheaper prices on the basis of this divestment policy.

If Hillary and Obama want to be taken seriously, they should refuse Buffett's contributions. The likelihood of that happening is about the same as the chances of success for the UN peacekeeping mission that has just been approved, and which can't get staffed. If they don't, they're taking money that they demand others to eschew, a rather rank form of hypocrisy.


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Comments (18)

Posted by J | August 8, 2007 1:08 PM

Can we please call her Clinton and not Hillary? She is trying to divest herself of her hubby and we must keep reminding people she is Mrs. Clinton. Using Hillary gives her a pass for too many people.

Thank you.

As for divestiture, the hypocrisy shown by Dems is nothing new. If a Republican had stock there, it would be all over the MSM.

Posted by LuckyBogey | August 8, 2007 1:41 PM

Do not forget about the last time a Clinton was involved in a national election and Chinese money influence.

Looks like Fred might have some experience with this issue:

“Sen. Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.), chairman of the committee investigating allegations of illegal 1996 campaign fund-raising, has said he believes the Chinese plan targeted presidential and congressional elections…

… Asked earlier this month about Thompson's accusations against China – made before Lieberman and Glenn said they partly agreed with their Republican colleague – Clinton said, "I do not know whether it is true or not. Therefore, since I don't know, it can't . . . and shouldn't affect the larger long-term strategic interests of the American people in our foreign policy."


Posted by gab | August 8, 2007 2:23 PM

Is "Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)" the same Fred Thompson who was leaking Watergate investigation details to the very people who were being investigated? That Fred Thompson?

He seems like such an ethical fellow.

Posted by James I. Hymas | August 8, 2007 2:27 PM

Cap'n Ed: If Hillary and Obama want to be taken seriously, they should refuse Buffett's contributions.

Should we interpret this as an exhortation to all that there should be absolutely no cooperation between individuals unless those individuals agree 100% on every single issue?

If so, will you be refusing advertising by Clinton on this website and refunding your previous fees?

Posted by FedUp | August 8, 2007 2:40 PM

Lemme get this straight... Ms Clinton and the big O want to suppress free enterprise and capitalism by telling a private citizen who he can invest in? And then take his money?

I don't think we should be funding the Sudanese, but Hilary is getting a bit above herself trying to tell people what they can and can't do with their money (except, give it to her). Sounds like a new version of HilaryCare and I hate it!

Posted by docjim505 | August 8, 2007 3:14 PM

Tough call. The fact of the matter is that candidates get lots of money from lots of people. Some of those people may have dealings with other people who are distasteful to outright disgusting. I don't know how we can draw a line between "acceptable" donors and "unacceptable" donors. It becomes just another tired political issue:

"My opponent took money from Smith!"

"Oh, yeah? Well, YOU took money from Jones, who's even worse!"

In the end, the voters will have to decide if this is a big deal.

Posted by docjim505 | August 8, 2007 3:16 PM

Oh, and it's seldom that I agree with James I. Hymas, but that shot told.

Posted by swabjockey05 | August 8, 2007 3:26 PM

But...CE is not telling other people not to take Hildabeast's money ...

Posted by Neo | August 8, 2007 3:38 PM

This is rich. Larry Flynt's "morals investigator" claims that ..

"I have it on very, very good authority that major opposition research has already been conducted on Bill Clinton, and it's going to be a massive smear campaign against him," he says. A group of former intelligence officers, he says, is "going to try to cripple Hillary through Bill.".

Is it possible that there is anything shocking left about Clinton that the public doesn't already know about ?

Posted by mrlynn | August 8, 2007 5:56 PM

docjim505, the issue here is hypocrisy, not just taking money from people you may disagree with.

There's no way a candidate can or should scrutinize the investments of every contributor, but when said candidate self-righteously insists everyone should divest from Sudanese investments, and then takes money from a well-known trader in such investments, hypocrisy is a fair charge.

/Mr Lynn

Posted by patrick neid | August 8, 2007 9:16 PM

"If Hillary and Obama want to be taken seriously, they should refuse Buffett's contributions."

the only way clinton would give the money back is if she thought she could make it a bigger story. otherwise she will just bitch slap the repubs and the MSM and they will will all roll over wanting their stomachs rubbed. aside from rudy, clinton and crew rightfully consider everyone else children.

there is not a reporter on this planet that has the cojones to ask her a difficult question and then press for the answers.

Posted by ck | August 8, 2007 10:35 PM

So, let's get this straight -

Buffet has a stake in PetroChina which in turns deals with Sudan which in turn kills people.

Buffet raises funds for Obama and Hillary, and therefore somehow Obama and Hillary are supporting the crap in Sudan?

I see the connection, its pretty much there for every single politician in Washington. To say that if you are indirectly connected to a company that deals with another country that people don't like too much, then you can't raise funds for a candidate is a bit much don't you think?

Posted by James I. Hymas | August 8, 2007 11:39 PM

Well, I'm certainly pleased that docjim505 agrees with me! That makes our record something like 1 - 999 doesn't it, doc?

Anyway, I simply don't get how anybody could consider this an issue. But don't worry! The RNC has another year of feeding potential smear campaigns to bloggers in an attempt to find one that resonates.

I mean, hell, it's a lot easier than talking about actual issues, isn't it?

Posted by docjim505 | August 9, 2007 4:33 AM

swabjockey and mrlynn,

I see your points, but I think my original argument (and Hymas' shot) still stand. If it's wrong to take money from somebody who does things with which you disagree, then one wonders why Cap'n Ed is taking money from the Hilldabeast to put her ugly mugg on this site from time to time. You are right, of course, that he doesn't tell anybody else that THEY can't do it, though.

For that matter, if we hate the Hilldabeast so much, why are we reading a blog that, in a small way, supports her campaign...

As for hypocrisy... Yes, the Hilldabeast is being hypocritical when she urges people to divest from Sudan while taking money from a big name who adamantly REFUSES to divest. However, I suspect that, if one dug deeply into the finances of most if not all political contributors, he could find something "shady" that could be used to smear ANY candidate. "What? Candidate Smith takes money from businessman Jones, who owns stock in a company that does business with Chavez? Horrors!"

The same could be said about any position. "Candidate Smith, you adamantly opposed to abortion. Yet, some of your biggest campaign contributors are pro-abortion. Can you explain your hypocrisy?"

Hymas is right again: is all becomes a silly "gotcha" game that diverts attention away from substantive issues. Kind of like media reports about whether a candidate's wife is a "trophy" or a machiavellian witch, or whether another candidate's great-grandfather committed some crime, all to feed potential smear campaigns to bloggers in an attempt to find one that resonates.

Posted by swabjockey05 | August 9, 2007 7:01 AM

Disagree on this too Dr J.

If someone takes the Hildabeast's money...only to ridicule her...(with her own money)...he is NOT helping / supporting her fact he is HURTING her because the money that could go toward creating a more favorable impression (lord knows she needs it) is being "wasted" on a guy who uses her ugly mug for a speed bag...

If we support the guy using the speed bag we too are HURTING her cause...

Posted by swabjockey05 | August 9, 2007 7:13 AM

Dr J,

Before you side with these guys who are saying "nothing to see here...move along" should remember that they are the very same shysters who will impale your favorite Repub for taking money from say...the NRA. They'll say he's putting machine guns on the streets...or killing "children" etc etc etc.

Personally, I hope the good CE bloodies his knuckles pounding away on the speed bag. Wish I could here the "dug ga da – dug ga da – dug ga da -- dug a da" each time his fist contacts the leathery surface.

Posted by docjim505 | August 9, 2007 3:12 PM


I see your point, but I'd rather hear the "dug ga da – dug ga da – dug ga da -- dug a da" when CE (and others) repeat her remarks about "taking things away from you for the greater good" and other socialist statements. The Hilldabeast is trying to run as a centrist; she's a stalinist. This is what really needs to be exposed emphasized, not the fact that she gets money from a guy who invests in Sudan.

Posted by swabjockey05 | August 9, 2007 3:32 PM


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