Today a friend wrote to me to say that I and MJ Rosenberg are exaggerating the role of the Israel lobby in our politics. If this is true--and as my mother will tell you I have never had a very good sense of proportion--it is because everyone in the mainstream poohpoohs the power of the lobby, but it actually cost me employment. Just as it surely affected Rosenberg's fortunes at Media Matters. At least three publications I formerly worked for told me after the Iraq war that they could not have me writing about the Middle East. In one case, an editor said flatly to me, I'm a Zionist. And the new owner was a Zionist. That was real power, the power over my livelihood, and David Halberstam called the media "the powers that be." So Rosenberg and I are reflecting our actual experience of the power structure.
Now it may be that we are the prisoners of our experience-- as I would say that my mother is a prisoner of American anti-semitism, and cannot fully perceive the new reality-- but we actually suffered at the lobby's hands and feel a need to say what we saw. So there.
Oh, the headline: The excerpt is from the sharp sharp Matt Stoller at Naked Capitalism, saying Bill Clinton has made $80 million since he left office due to policies he enacted while in office, some from "Israel First" orgs. Remember that Rosenberg got flayed and roasted on a spit and Buffalo-winged for using the words Israel Firster. (And remember my post last week saying AIPAC president raised $1 million for Clinton candidacy in 92, and lo, Clinton supported the settlements.)
On December 21, 2000, as President, Bill Clinton signed a bill known as the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. This law ensured that derivatives could not be regulated, setting the stage for the financial crisis. Just two months later, on February 5, 2001, Clinton received $125,000 from Morgan Stanley, in the form of a payment for a speech Clinton gave for the company in New York City. A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, also in New York. It turns out, Bill Clinton could make a lot of money, for not very much work...
Today, Clinton is worth something on the order of $80 million (probably much more, but we don’t really know), and these speeches have become a lucrative and consistent revenue stream for his family....
Over the course of the next ten years after his Presidency, Clinton brought in roughly $8-10 million a year in speaking fees. In 2004, Clinton got $250,000 from Citigroup and $150,000 from Deutsche Bank. Goldman paid him $300,000 for two speeches, one in Paris. As the bubble peaked, in 2006, Clinton got $150,000 paydays each from Citigroup (twice), Lehman Brothers, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of
Realtors. In 2007, it was Goldman again, twice, Lehman, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch. He didn’t just reap speaking fee cash from the financial services sector – corporate titans like Oracle and outsourcing specialist Cisco paid up, as did many Israel-focused groups, Middle Eastern interests, and universities. Does this explain the finance-friendly, oil-friendly and Israel First-friendly policies pursued by the State Department under Hillary Clinton? Who knows? But if you could legally deliver millions in cash to the husband of a high-level political official, it wouldn’t hurt your policy goals.