Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Hillary Clinton Russia Uranium One Conspiracy Theory (Doesn’t Make Any Sense)

The Hillary Clinton Russia Uranium One Conspiracy Theory (Doesn’t Make Any Sense)

It's hard to believe anybody thinks there is anything there, but research is difficult and requires sober, rational thinking. As Mencken noted, one thing is always lucrative, and that is "underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." If you throw something out and defend it with a straight face, no matter how silly it is, there will always be people who believe it. The Pyramids were built for grain storage? The world is flat? The universe is 6000 years old? Sure, tell me more.

The whole case against Hillary is preposterous, but the right-wing spin doctors have thrown it out, and people will believe it, so let's review the case again, shall we?

First I'm going to give you a very quick summary of the uranium market, because it is important to understand it, and very few reporters enjoy mathematical analysis, so they have generally concentrated on Clinton's involvement in the deal:
1. How big is the deal itself?

It is so small as to be virtually non-existent. The entire commercial uranium market in the USA is 25,300 tons per year. Of that, only 2,800 tons are mined in the United States. Of that, Uranium One, the controversial Canadian company owned by Russian state mining interests, only constitutes 300 tons of that market. That's it. A whopping 11% of the domestic market, therefore 1% of the total market.

As Clinton's opponents have stated, Uranium One has 20% of the commercial, domestic uranium mining capacity, but those opponents fail to note that the actual production of the company is less, only 11% of the uranium mined in the USA. But even if they produced ALL of it, it would STILL be insignificant, because 89% of America's commercial uranium is mined overseas.

2. But can't they just give all of our uranium to Russia?

First of all, they can't even sell that uranium to Canada, even though they are theoretically a Canadian company. Their charter forbids them to export uranium mined in the USA.

Second and perhaps more important, what the hell would Russia do with it? They don't know what to do with all the uranium they have now, except sell it to us. Russia, along with its buddies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, currently accounts for 38% of the uranium purchased in the United States. If they wanted to tighten the screws on us, they would do it with that 38% from their mines, not the other 1% from ours.

3. Does Uranium One have any power at all?

Not a lick. In fact the opposite is true. The USA holds all the cards. Since they are such a tiny portion of the market, our commercial users of uranium could easily stop buying from them completely and fill that 1% elsewhere. Since Uranium One can't export the uranium, if we stopped buying from them, they would essentially have no business at all. They have to sell to us or close the mines. Why do you think those mining assets were for sale in the first place? They are in a very vulnerable position, completely at our mercy.

Most mainstream sources have covered the political side of the deal, and I've already noted that the deal is insignificant to begin with, so I'll just give a top-line summary.
A Russian company paid money to purchase controlling interest in a Canadian company which owned mining assets in the USA. Because of US laws involving strategic assets, a nine-person panel, consisting of representatives from nine different US agencies, had to approve the sale. None of them objected. One of the agencies is the Department of State.

The State Department was represented on the matter by the Assistant Secretary assigned to the Foreign Investment Committee, Jose Fernandez. He made the decision not to object to the sale. Hillary Clinton never got involved in any way. (It's not clear whether she even knew about it, except as another matter in a very large in-box. We presume that Fernandez filed a written report to Clinton, and that she chose not to override him, but he pointed out that she never weighed in with him at all, so his decision stood.)

In other words:

1. The whole matter is insignificant.

2. Hillary had only 1/9 of the power to approve. It was approved unanimously.

3. Hillary did not even exercise her 1/9 to influence the decision. One of her subordinates, the one with specific expertise in that field, made the decision. Mrs. Clinton had no specific knowledge in this area, and presumably had actual significant matters to occupy her time.

Did the Clinton Foundation get a massive donation ($131 million) from one of the former owners of Uranium One?
Sure, but it was before Clinton was Secretary of State.

And, equally important, by the time the deal happened, in fact 18 months before Hillary became Secretary of State, that guy (Frank Giustra) had already sold his stock in Uranium One!

Moreover, it's not surprising that Giustra contributed so much, considering that the donation specifically went to "The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership," which is a specific initiative within the Clinton Foundation. I hear that guys tend to support causes named after themselves.

Or to word it another way, his donation to the Clinton Foundation had nothing to do with the sale of Uranium One, nor could it have, given the timing.
But even if it had, Clinton did not get involved in that decision.

And even if she had, the deal was insignificant to the uranium market.


  1. Yes,people are idiots for believing it. I mean come on a Russian buisness corrupt and bribing public officials? Whoever heard of such a thing!

  2. I gather you haven't read anything about it or anything I wrote.

    No money came from any Russians, and there was no Russian business involved at the time of the big donation. The money came from people involved with a Canadian business (the Russian involvement came much later), and it went to a very specific part of the Clinton foundation - one named after the guy who made the donation, an initiative devoted to his own pet cause!

    Moreover, several years later, when the controversial decision was made, Hillary Clinton had absolutely nothing to do with it!

    Finally, even if they had bribed her and she had made the decision personally, the whole matter was completely insignificant to begin with!

    The way to get people to believe it is just to intone, "Russians, national security, bribery" like a mantra until people believe it without ever reading the details or considering the facts

    Because ... well ... because nobody has "ever lost public office by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

  3. The Hill is generally considered a trustworthy newspaper.

    1. That article is utterly clueless.

      First of all, it said that Hillary "presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States." That's a (deliberate? or uninformed?) misstatement of fact. Not only did she not preside, but she never even showed up for any of the meetings, and never even offered any input to her Assistant, who said she “never intervened ... on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”

      To make matters worse, the article originally said she "served on" the committee, then changed the word "served" to "presided," thus making it both more damning and less accurate at the same time, not to mention less grammatical, because one doesn't preside "on" something, but "over" it.)

      That little edit tells you a lot about the authors of the story.

      The article also says that the sale gave Moscow control of 20% of the US uranium supply. That is "spin," not journalism. First of all, the sale gave Moscow no control of anything. That uranium may not be exported! All the control resides in the States, since the uranium must be sold in the States and it represents only 1% of the market, so the nuclear power industry can do without it entirely. Second of all, it is not 20% of the uranium supply, but 20% of licensed domestic mining capacity, which is actually only 11% of domestic uranium production, which in turn is only a mere 1% of the country's uranium supply. That's utterly meaningless, in light of the fact that Moscow ALREADY controls 38% of the US uranium supply - that's how much we currently buy from Russia and its lackey states.

      All of those stats are available from public info, and when they are known make the entire deal utterly insignificant.

      As for the bribery, that was NOT to government officials, but to businessmen in the nuclear power industry. (The same things that probably occur in every industry every day.)

      The Hill is kinda middle-of-the-road, which makes it more reliable than Kos or Breitbart, but that's not the same as being trustworthy. "Trustworthy" requires competence. You might try CBS news.

  4. But they are (intentionally or not) bringing Clinton's name into it when she was just 1 of the 9 groups of governing bodies that unanimously approved the sale. The point being, there is zero proof that she lobbied for the approval (people have looked very hard to find it) yet they are acting like she was the criminal mastermind that shepherded this through the approval process.

    This is beyond a zero that keeps getting brought up because the words "Clinton", "Russia", and "uranium" trigger the lock her up crowd despite there being nothing to the claims.

  5. Hillary may well have taken no improper action in relation to the Uranium One deal. But the $500,000 speaking fee Bill Clinton was paid by a Russian bank with ties to Putin stinks to high heaven. To be fair, I am not sure there are any Russian banks WITHOUT ties to Putin, but it was completely inappropriate (even if technically legal) for Bill to accept that fee.

    I didn't vote for Trump and in fact I despise that moronic egomaniac intensely. But between that speaking fee and the fact that the Clinton campaign paid for the Steel dossier there appears to be more evidence the Clintons colluded with Russia than there is that Trump did.

    Not that I think Hillary colluded with Russia about the election. I just think she and her husband are corrupt. I don't know what that $500,000 was for. But someone thought it was a good idea to pay them.

    1. This is yet another illustration of how "talking points" with no basis can get people to believe anything.

      The Steele Dossier had nothing to do with Clinton/Russian Collusion. First the GOP, then the Democrats, paid Fusion GPS to do opposition research. Suspecting that Trump/Russia was a problem, Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele because he had been an intelligence agent and had extensive Russian contacts. In order to find out whether Trump had Russian problems, Steele had to ask some Russians with inside knowledge. That's all there was to it.

      At no time did the Clinton campaign have contact first-hand with Russians, or even second-hand with Steele, but only third hand when Fusion produced their report. And that represents the degree of separation from somebody else in the campaign, not Hillary. Since somebody on the campaign staff did the hiring of Fusion, Hillary Clinton's personal contacts with Steele's Russians were therefore fourth-hand. (The same as yours and mine.)

      But even if Hillary had personally hired Steele and met first-hand with Steele and his Russian spies, which of course she did not, even that would not be collusion with Russia. He obviously could not have found out whether Trump had Russian dealings unless he actually asked some Russians with insider knowledge! Moreover, those Russians were obviously not Putin's minions. "Collusion with Russia" obviously means with elements of Russian authority, as opposed to random Russian people who are willing to rat out and gossip about their own wheeler-dealers.

      As for the $500,000, that was business as usual. In fact, Bill Clinton actually gave them a discount! A Chinese telecom conference paid him $750,000 to deliver a single speech. I can't figure out why anybody would pay Bill Clinton $750,000 to show up, deliver a speech and schmooze for a while, but the fact is that many people around the world have too much money, and stand in line to do just that!

      (In both cases, I guess the theory is that the fee will pay itself out because more high-rollers will come to their gathering for a chance to hob-nob with a rock star, which Bill is. That in turn means that even more high rollers will come for the chance to make contacts with their fellow high rollers, etc.)