This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
The Goldman Sachs transcripts have arrived. Thank you, Mr. Assange.
This is an excerpt from one of the three speeches leaked today:
MR. BLANKFEIN: I think we need to open
it up to some questions now, and if there is a
pregnant pause I know what to follow up with.
PARTICIPANT: One question for you.
MR. BLANKFEIN: Do me a favor? Why
don't we introduce ourselves to the secretary when
you ask a question.
PARTICIPANT: Secretary, Jeff Gordon
with Diverse Technologies.
As you examine the global situation, if
you were to turn back toward the domestic side and
look here at the US and after the 2012 elections
and give your own kind of third-party assessment of
what do we have to do on each side of the aisle to
get America back to a functional government.
Because we've heard a lot even today that the
government has really gotten to a point of
dysfunctionality that may be almost unprecedented.
So just stepping back a little while
and just saying: What do you think? What is your
perspective on where the parties are and what we
have to do to kind of solve the problems here
domestically so that we can come up with a unified
MS. CLINTON: I know -- I heard Leon
was here and was his usual shy and reluctant self
to express an opinion and certainly never to use
any colorful language, but I'm sure "dysfunctional"
was probably the best of the words he used to
describe what is going on in Washington.
Look, I think there is a couple of
things. One, I talk a lot about it, and I talked
about it when I was a senator. I talked about it
as Secretary. I'm talking about it now.
You know, we have to get back to at
least trying to make evidence based decisions.
I know that sounds so simplistic, but the
ideological partisan position on all sides --
because there are people who refuse to look at
facts and deal with them, coming from many
different perspectives -- really undermines
confidence in the people. The American people are
smart. They may not be living and breathing
politics, but they're looking and they're thinking:
Come on, guys. Get it together. You ought to be
able to make a deal of some sort.
You know, when my husband spoke at the
the Democratic Convention he basically touted the
virtues of arithmetic. Can you imagine a major
speech having to be made about how arithmetic needs
to be used as the basis for budgetary discussions?
But in fact, we do need more of an outcry and
pressure from the rest of the American system, not
just the politicians but business leaders and
others who are saying: Let's try to figure out how
we're going to move forward based on as near an
evidence-based foundation as we possibly can
Secondly, you know, people get rewarded
for being partisan, and that's on both sides. The
biggest threat that Democrats and Republicans face
today, largely because of gerrymandering in the
House, is getting a primary opponent from either
the far right or the far left.
You know, there is no reason you would
have noticed this, but there was a woman in the
Senate -- and I think it was Kentucky -- recently
who had an A plus rating from the NRA. A
plus rating. She was a country legislator, highly
regarded, and she was a chairman of a committee in
the state legislature. And somebody introduced a
bill with -- you know, it's not too much
exaggeration to say that you should have your gun
in your car at all times and it should be visible.
And she said: Let's table it for a minute and
think about the consequences.
So the NRA recruited an opponent for
her who beat her. They put a lot of money into it
and basically: You couldn't be reasonable. You
couldn't say let's try to reason this out together.
You had to tow the line, and whether it's a
financial line or gun control line or whatever the
line might be. But people let that happen. Voters
let that happen.
I mean, the number of people who ask me
questions very similar to what you asked I'm sure
is representative of millions of people who feel
the same way. If you look at the polling and all
the rest of it that's clear. But you need people
who will stand up and say: I want somebody who
exercises some judgment. I want somebody who is
not just a mouthpiece for one point of view or
another. I may have my own opinions, but let's
have a debate here. That's what we were always
good at in the past.
MR. BLANKFEIN: Wasn't it a virtue
compromise at one point?
MS. CLINTON: Yes.
MR. BLANKFEIN: A compromise --
MS. CLINTON: Because in a democracy,
especially as diverse as this one, which is not a
theocracy or an autocracy. We don't think anybody
or any party or any interest group has a lock on
the truth. We actually think people bring their
experience, their ability to think to the table,
and then you hammer it out. And the compromise may
not be perfect. In fact, it rarely is, but it
represents the big thinking and the political will
that is currently available in order to make a
And I was in Hong Kong in the summer of
2011 and I had a preexisting program with a big
business group there, and before we had a reception
and there were about a hundred business leaders,
many of them based in Hong Kong, some of them from
mainland China, some of them from Singapore and
elsewhere. They were lining up and saying to me:
Is it true that the American Congress might default
on America's full faith and credit, their standing,
that you won't pay your bills?
And you know I'm sitting there I'm
representing all of you. I said: Oh, no. No.
No. That's just politics. We'll work it through.
And I'm sitting there: Oh, boy. I hope that is
So for all of their efforts to take
advantage of whatever mistake we might make or
whatever problem we might have, they know right now
at least in 2013, the beginning of this century,
the United States isn't strong at home and abroad.
They've got problems, and it is for me pretty
simple. If we don't get our political house in
order and demonstrate that we can start making
decisions again -- and that takes hard work. I
mean, don't -- I've served. I've been an elected
official, an appointed official. There is nothing
easy about working toward a compromise. I give a
lot of credit to the eight senators, four
Republicans and four Democrats in the Senate. You
go from very conservative to what we would call
very liberal. And they have sat down and they
hammered out a compromise, and then they made a
pledge they would stick to it as it went through
the regular order of the committee hearing. How
unusual. That used to be what we did in Congress.
You know, people would get together and they would
have hearings and then they would introduce bills
and then they would mark them up, and you would win
some and you would lose some, and then you go to
the floor. And we need to get back to doing that,
but the American people need to demand that that is
what is expected.
And I don't care if you're a liberal
icon or a conservative icon. If you are not
willing to be active in your democracy and do what
is necessary to deal with our problems, I think you
should be voted out. I think you should just be
voted out, and I would like to see more people
PARTICIPANT: Secretary, Ann Chow from
Houston, Texas. I have had the honor to raise
money for you when you were running for president
MS. CLINTON: You are the smartest
PARTICIPANT: I think you actually
called me on my cell phone, too. I talked to you
I think the biggest question in this
room is: Do you think you're going to run for
MR. BLANKFEIN: I was going to bet that
wouldn't come up.
MS. CLINTON: I don't believe you.
Well, look. I don't know. I'm
certainly not planning it. I've been out of the
state department for what, four months? Four
MR. BLANKFEIN: You look like you are
ready to get back.
MS. CLINTON: I am ready to continue to
kind of think through what I'm doing and what I
want to do. So I haven't made any decision and I'm
not prepared to make any decision. I mean, on the
one hand, as you could probably tell from my
answers, I feel very strongly about our country and
what is happening, and for me it just defies reason
that we are in this paralysis at a time when we've
got so much going for us and we could be so strong
again and we could deal with so many of our
We were talking at dinner. I mean, the
energy revolution in the United States is just a
gift, and we're able to exploit it and use it and
it's going to make us independent. We can have a
North American energy system that will be
unbelievably powerful. If we have enough of it we
can be exporting and supporting a lot of our
friends and allies. And there are other ways that
we can put ourselves on a better footing, like
passing a decent immigration law and dealing with
our budget and being smart about it and realizing
there is two sides to the equation. You've got to
have spending restraints and you've got to have
some revenues in order to stimulate growth.
I happen to think that part of the
reason we are coming out of where we were a few
years ago in part is because we did do that, unlike
some of the choices the Europeans made. So I mean,
we have teed up well if we just keep going and make
these hard political decisions.
And so I very much want to watch and
see what happens in the next couple of years before
I make any decision. Because honestly, it's kind
of nice being on my own schedule. It's kind of
nice living in my own house.
MR. BLANKFEIN: In South Carolina?
MS. CLINTON: Yeah. Right. Here in
South Carolina. Just traveling around. It's the
first time I've been traveling in my own country
for four years. It's kind of nice.
So I'm just taking it kind of easy, but
thank for what you did for me in 2008.
MR. BLANKFEIN: Just as a hypothetical,
if someone were going to eventually have an entry
in this and given that people line up and other
people test the waters and people put their hat in
and start to raise money but they wouldn't want to
do the impossible or intervene -- you know, at what
point would somebody -- not you, but would somebody
have to manifest some interest? Or would it start
to become clear or would the observer start to say:
This was some critical moment we see what she did
here. For example, our very own governor declared
that he was going to wait. You can't let people
MS. CLINTON: You think not?
MR. BLANKFEIN: In his case it might be
the best thing to wait.
MS. CLINTON: Well, this is just
hypothetical and not about me.
MR. BLANKFEIN: I'm saying for myself.
MS. CLINTON: If you were going to run
here is what I would tell you to do --
MR. BLANKFEIN: Very hypothetical.
MS. CLINTON: I think you would leave
Goldman Sachs and start running a soup kitchen
MR. BLANKFEIN: For one thing the stock
would go up.
MS. CLINTON: Then you could be a
legend in your own time both when you were there
and when you left.
MR. BLANKFEIN: Enough about me.
MS. CLINTON: Look, I am of the mind
that we cannot have endless campaigns. It is bad
for the candidates. It's bad for the country.
I mean, part of the reason why it's difficult to
govern is because an election ends and then the
next day people start jockeying for the next -- do
your job. Get up and do the job you were elected
to do. I believe that doing your job actually is
the right thing to do.
So I mean, I am constantly amazed at
how attention deficit disordered the political
punditry is. Because there is a lot to cover.
There is so much that you could actually be
educating people about. The difference that I
experienced from running for the Senate, being in
the Senate, running for president and being
Secretary of State is that the press which covered
me in the state department were really interested
in the issues. I mean, they would drill them.
They would have asked a hundred more questions
about everything Lloyd has asked in the time that
they had with me because they really cared about
what I thought, what the US government was doing in
Our political press has just been
captured by trivia. I mean, to me. And so you
don't want to give them any more time to trivialize
the importance of the issues than you have to give
them. You want to be able to wait as long as
possible, because hopefully we will actually see
some progress on immigration, for example. Maybe
circumstances will force some kind of budget deal.
It doesn't look too promising, but stranger things
So let's give some space and some
attention to these issues instead of who is going
to run and what they're going to do and: Oh, my
gosh. What is happening tomorrow? But if someone
were going to run, given the process of raising
money, given the -- you know, for better or worse I
apparently have about a hundred percent name
recognition. Most of it my mother would say is not
true, but I live with it.
So for me it might be slightly
different than for somebody else, but you certainly
would have to be in raising money sometime next
year or early the following year.
MR. BLANKFEIN: It's like the traffic
in New York. No rush hour.
MS. CLINTON: Well, you know, I really
admire Peter King. He's a Republican
representative from Long Island. He and I did a
lot of work together after 9/11 on terrorism and
all of that. But when the vote on Sandy came up --
and a lot of Republicans voted against aid for New
York and New Jersey, Peter King said to the New
York funders: Don't give any of them any money
because somehow you have to get their attention.
So I thought it was pretty clever. I know what
it's like. I mean, everybody is New York on
MR. BLANKFEIN: All the senators
declined to give aid to New York.
MS. CLINTON: Which ones?
MR. BLANKFEIN: The senator from
MS. CLINTON: Yeah, I know, but that's
what I mean. Peter King said: Don't give any of
Emergency aid used to be off what was
called off budget. You would go in with an
appropriations request for a hurricane, like
hurricane Andrew, I remember, back in '92 or
whatever. You would have floods in the midwest and
you would have tornadoes and you would have forest
fires and on and on. And there are some people who
as a matter of principle say: We shouldn't do it
like that. We should not do it off budget. But
it's very hard to budget for disasters. I mean,
you can fund FEMA, you can have a pool of money,
but given what we're going through right now with
one thing after another it's a difficult challenge.
So I think that we're going to have to
take seriously how we fund disasters, but I think
Peter's point was a larger one, which is -- you
know, New York is kind of an ATM machine for both
Democrats and Republicans, and people come up and
they visit with many of you and they ask for money,
and often they're given -- if they're coming
they're going to get it. And at some point the
American public -- and particularly political
givers -- have to say: Here -- and it's not just
about me. It's not just about my personal
standings. Here are things I want you to do for
the country and be part of that debate about the
MR. BLANKFEIN: I have to say we
Republicans -- we obviously reach out to both sets.
To a person -- a person regarded as someone who may
be expected to be more partisan and has spent so
much time is is very, very well liked by the
PARTICIPANT: First off I would like to
thank you for all the years. Of course, I'm on the
MS. CLINTON: The dark side?
PARTICIPANT: It's the dark side right
now, but otherwise the sun does come through. You
have to be an optimist. But you have to put a
great, great effort, and I commend you for it. But
I would like two things. No. 1, you just talked
about Sandy. And since you were First Lady and a
senator -- forget the Secretary. But what is wrong
with our politicians -- I served in the Corps of
Engineers. Whether it's in Iraq, Iran -- anyplace
outside the US you can build bridges overnight.
You could have gone into Sandy. You could have
gone into New Orleans.
The actual problem is the law from the
1800s. No military, which is the only force, not
the National Guard. They don't have crap. It's
the military. Like down in New Orleans. If we
would just change the dumb law -- because it hasn't
been changed because politicians have no say once
the president declares it martial law. Put the
military up. They would have cleaned up that
coast. You wouldn't have the frigging mess you
have today. But we can do it for everybody else in
the world, but we don't do it because the state
judges don't have no authority. The mayor don't
have no authority, because you're going to put a
military officer in charge. That's one question
why you haven't looked at --
MR. BLANKFEIN: They did that in New
PARTICIPANT: Forget the -- the second
thing you mentioned about Afghanistan. Most people
don't realize the Russians were there before us for
ten years and whatever, and we supported Tannenbaum
to beat the hell out of them. A lot of our
problems is because we have a competition with the
Russians. If we would -- the Russians by nature
hate the Chinese, but forget that.
If we were more or less kind of like
forget that superpower, superpower, and work with
them -- two superpowers equal a hell of a lot more
in the world. You wouldn't have an Iranian
problem, we wouldn't have the Syrian problem, and
why don't we just cut Israel loose? Give them the
frigging bomb and just blow the thing up. That's
my question to you.
MS. CLINTON: Those are interesting
questions for sure.
First, I think you're referring to the
posse comitatus, which has been actually in
existence -- if not from the end of the 18th
century, the very beginning, as you said, of the
19th century. And it is a law that really limits
what the military, the US military, can do on our
soil, and it has been supported all these years in
part because there is a great suspicion by many of
US government power -- and there is no more obvious
evidence of that than the US military.
However, we do call out the National
Guard, which is under the control, as you know, of
the governor and the adjutant general. But it is
clearly in the line of command as well from the
Pentagon. So although it took some difficulties
with Katrina we did get the National Guard out.
With Sandy we got the National Guard out. But
you're right, that if you were to want to have the
military, the actual US military involved in
disaster recovery, you would have to change the
law. And it's something that would be a big fight
in Congress because a lot of people would not vote
to change a law that would give any additional
authority to any president, Republican or
democratic, to order the US military to go anywhere
in the United States.
We kid about it, but I used to see it
all the time when I was a senator. There is this
great fear that the US military is going to show up
and take away your guns and confiscate your
property. I think it's --
MR. BLANKFEIN: Was the last time that
happened with Eisenhower?
MS. CLINTON: Yes. That was to enforce
a court order.
MR. BLANKFEIN: It was shocking,
MS. CLINTON: It was. Wasn't it the
82nd? I mean, they flew through to desegregate the
central high school, and it was viewed as a very
PARTICIPANT: The fact is it proved
what was right. Not what the politicians think.
It's a case of sometimes the politicians, which
MS. CLINTON: The politicians for more
than 200 years have been united on this issue.
There was a posse comitatus law before that. But
the sensitivity about it was heightened and new
regulations were put in after the Civil War, but --
PARTICIPANT: No disrespect, but if you
were right you could not have had Illinois,
Oklahoma, California join you. You had governors
that were appointed there. Military law.
MS. CLINTON: Well, you can declare
martial law. You can declare martial law.
PARTICIPANT: Military was always --
MS. CLINTON: Well, I personally could
not favor turning control over to the United States
military as much as I respect the United States
military. I guess I'm on the other side of this
I think that the civilian rule has
served us well, and I don't want to do anything
that upsets it even though I have a very personal
experience. You remember when Castro opened the
prisons and sent all the criminals to the United
MR. BLANKFEIN: The --
MS. CLINTON: A lot of those prisoners
were ordered to go to a fort in Ft. Smith,
Arkansas, Ft. Chaffee, and my husband was governor
of Arkansas at the time. It was a military fort,
so the United States military ran it. So if you
were on the fort you were under US military
authority, but if you stepped off the fort you were
not. And the result was there was a riot where
prisoners were breaking through the gates, and the
US military would not stop them.
So my husband as governor had to call
out the state police. So you had the military
inside basically saying under the law we can't do
anything even to stop prisoners from Cuba. So it
is complicated, but it's complicated in part for a
reason, because we do not ever want to turn over to
our military the kind of civilian authority that
should be exercised by elected officials. So I
think that's the explanation.
And finally on Afghanistan and Russia.
Look, I would love it if we could continue to build
a more positive relationship with Russia. I worked
very hard on that when I was Secretary, and we made
some progress with Medvedev, who was president in
name but was obviously beholden to Putin, but Putin
kind of let him go and we helped them get into the
WTO for several years, and they were helpful to us
in shipping equipment, even lethal equipment, in
and out of out of Afghanistan.
So we were making progress, and I think
Putin has a different view. Certainly he's
asserted himself in a way now that is going to take
some management on our side, but obviously we would
very much like to have a positive relationship with
Russia and we would like to see Putin be less
defensive toward a relationship with the United
States so that we could work together on some
We've tried very hard to work with
Putin on shared issues like missile defense. They
have rejected that out of hand. So I think it's
what diplomacy is about. You just keep going back
and keep trying. And the President will see Putin
during the G20 in Saint Petersburg, and we'll see
what progress we can make.
MR. BLANKFEIN: Secretary, all of us
thank you for our service, but I think almost --
maybe all of us are hungry for more.
MS. CLINTON: Well, I'm not sure about
all of us, but thank you.
(Event concluded at 9:15 P.M.)