Tuesday Reads: Altered States While Driving, Plus Some News.

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Good Morning!!

I’m getting a slow start today. I was exhausted after my trip home, and I slept most of yesterday afternoon. I feel as if I could do that again today, and I just might.

There is lots of news this morning, but first I want to share a small epiphany I experienced while driving through Ohio on Saturday. Traffic was light and the weather was nice, partly cloudy and warm–with just enough sun to be bright but not enough for me to need sunglasses.

I was listening to an interesting program on NPR–I think it was Radiolab–about a man who described himself as solitary–practically a hermit–because he experienced so many problems in interacting with people. He enjoyed being alone more than anything else. His marriage to his first wife had broken up and she had taken their two children, whom he loved. The only relationships he had had that weren’t problematic were with his son and daughter. At one point, he learned that his ex-wife’s boyfriend was abusing his children, and he sued for custody. He didn’t get it because when he went to a psychological evaluation, he mistook another little girl in the office for his daughter. The psychologist questioned how he could be a good parent if he didn’t even recognize his own child.

The man moved to California and found a job where he didn’t have to interact with other people except over the phone, and it worked very well for him. Eventually he met a woman who seemed to understand him, and they lived together for years and eventually married.

pathway1I really identified with the story, because I find most of my difficult experiences involve interactions with other people. I have always preferred being alone to spending time with people–especially in large groups. As a child, I loved to read and could lose myself in a book and shut out the entire world. As a teenager, I loved to listen to music alone in my room, and I still read constantly. I always felt different–as if I didn’t belong in this world. I think that is the reason I like to drive long distances–I can be alone with no one to bother me, unless I want them to.

Anyway, it turned out that the man in the NPR story had prosopagnosia, or face blindness, a visual processing disorder in which a person has difficulty perceiving faces. He discovered this while he and his wife were watching a 60 Minutes program on this unusual cognitive problem. Interestingly, famed neurologist Oliver Sacks suffers from prosopagnosia.

At the point where the man learned what his problem was after years of struggling in relationships, I suddenly had my epiphany. I became aware of a feeling and I thought to myself. This is how it feels to be happy. I’m happy right now. Of course once I had the thought, I was no longer in the present moment, but the good feeling continued for some time as I listened to other stories on NPR.

Now I don’t think I have prosopagnosia–at least I got 6 right on a video test for it–so I don’t know why the NPR program had such a profound effect on me–maybe because I think there’s something wrong with me but I don’t know what it is. It would be great to have an answer. Why am I happiest when I’m alone but still can be in touch with people over the internet or on the phone? Maybe I’ll never know, but I definitely did have one of those peak experiences that Abraham Maslow wrote about.

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On Sunday, the second day of my trip, I was tired all day long and had trouble staying awake. I made good time across New York despite quite a bit of traffic; but the final leg of the trip on the Mass Pike was torturous. I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for more than an hour at one point and the the traffic was hellish the entire way. Oddly, I still felt that my experience of happiness the previous day made it all worthwhile.

I tried to find the NPR prosopagnosia story on-line, but I didn’t have any luck. I’d like to listen to it again.

Now that I’ve likely bored you to tears, I’ll get on with the news.

A deal has been reached with Iran. Politico reports: U.S., world powers reach historic deal with Iran.

The United States and five other world powers have reached a deal with Iran that would place strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions on its economy, the culmination of years of delicate diplomacy pursued by President Barack Obama despite warnings the agreement could strengthen Iran’s Islamist regime and leave it dangerously close to a nuclear bomb.

The historic accord, reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and his international counterparts in Vienna on Tuesday after 18 days of intense negotiations, now faces review from a hostile Republican-led Congress, opposition from every GOP presidential candidate, from Israel’s government and from Sunni Arab monarchs. The deal’s long and complex implementation process also leaves it vulnerable to unraveling.

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Speaking from the White House Tuesday morning, Obama called the deal a victory for diplomacy that would prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and avert a possible conflict with Iran.

“No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,” Obama said. He reaffirmed America’s commitment to Israel’s security and Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia, while adding that the U.S. is “open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.”

Obama also hinted at the possibility of a larger thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations. ”It is possible to change,” Obama told Iranians, urging them to take a “different path, one of tolerance, of peaceful resolution to conflict… This deal opens an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”

“This is the good deal that we have sought,” Kerry said in a statement from Vienna.

It’s another stunning victory for Obama. More from CNN: Landmark deal reached on Iran nuclear program.

After arduous talks that spanned 20 months, negotiators have reached a landmark deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program.

The agreement, a focal point of U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, appears set to reshape relations between Iran and the West, with its effects likely to ripple across the volatile Middle East.

Representatives of Iran, the United States and the other nations involved in the marathon talks were holding a final meeting in Vienna on Tuesday.

Obama praised the deal reached Tuesday morning, saying the agreement met the goals he had in place throughout negotiations.

“Today after two years of negotiation the United States together with the international community has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said from the White House, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also praised the deal, speaking after Obama finished, as televisions in Iran broadcast the U.S. President’s statement live, translated into Farsi.

“Negotiators have reached a good agreement and I announce to our people that our prayers have come true,” Rouhani said in a live address to the nation following Obama.

The essential idea behind the deal is that in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities, Iran would get relief from sanctions while being allowed to continue its atomic program for peaceful purposes.

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And from The Wall Street Journal: Oil Prices Fall as Nuclear Deal Paves Way for Iran Exports.

The possibility of up to a million new barrels of Iranian oil flooding global markets—the amount Iranian officials aim to deliver within months—comes at a critical time. China’s stock-market turmoil in recent weeks could slow an economy that was expected to account for a lot of energy-demand growth. U.S. production remains strong, and oil giants such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia are pumping record amounts.

With new Iranian supply, that has raised the specter of a fresh oil glut.

After recovering somewhat from a 60% drop earlier this year, global benchmark Brent crude has lost 15% since early Ma.. It fell further on Tuesday morning in London trading, to $57.30 a barrel on London’s ICE futures exchange. WTI crude futures, a benchmark largely for American oil, was down 1.7% on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Iran’s efforts to raise oil exports could not have come at a worse time, given the market’s lingering oversupply,” said Michael Cohen, an energy analyst at Barclays.
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In 2012, the U.S. and European Union imposed strict sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, and the country’s oil exports have been cut nearly in half as a result, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Iranian exports averaged 1.4 million barrels a day in 2014, down from 2.6 million barrels a day at the end of 2011, federal data show.

The speed and quantity of new oil that Iran can export hinge upon many difficult-to-predict factors. They include when Iran might be able to satisfy various countries and the United Nations that it has met the requirements of the deal, triggering the start of sanctions relief. Western officials have said that likely won’t happen until the end of 2015.

More bellyaching from the top 1% at the link.

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The other big story is the major economic speech Hillary Clinton gave yesterday. Here’s a preliminary analysis by Paul Waldman at The American Prospect: Clinton Tries to Move the Economic Conversation Beyond Jobs.

As most of us understand, “Do I have a job?” is not the only question you might ask about your economic situation. That understanding is what Hillary Clinton is counting on as she delivers her first major economic address Monday, an attempt to articulate a vision that will not only provide a means of understanding the collection of policy changes she’ll be advocating in her 2016 campaign for president, but also contrast with the now 17 Republicans who want to face her next fall.

I’m writing this before the full text of Clinton’s speech is available, so what I have to go on is only the outline and selections that have been leaked to a couple of reporters (see here and here). But it’s clear that Clinton is attempting to expand the economic conversation beyond the two measures that usually dominate the discussion: job growth and GDP growth. “The measure of our economic success,” she’ll say, “should be how much incomes rise for middle-class households, not an arbitrary growth figure.”

So while Clinton is going to offer some proposals like an infrastructure bank meant to create jobs, most of her emphasis is going to be on increasing wages and improving working conditions with things like paid sick leave. To see why this is aimed at the Republican candidates, pay close attention to what they say when they’re asked about issues like wage stagnation and inequality. What you almost inevitably get is a brief acknowledgment that these things are indeed a problem, then a quick redirection to the policies they say will accelerate growth and create jobs. The last thing they want is to get into a detailed discussion about wages. If pressed, the best explanation they can come up with for why wages are stagnant, or why inequality has been increasing for many years, is that, like everything else that is not as we would like it to be, it’s the government’s fault.

Maine-Office-of-Toursim-That’s the nature of the problem they face where their ideological beliefs meet the requirements of a presidential campaign. They don’t believe that government can do much affirmatively to improve the economy, so their proposals tend toward “getting government out of the way”—in other words, not doing something new, but stopping something that’s already happening. But if you put a Democratic proposal like paid sick leave alongside a Republican proposal like loosening environmental regulations, it’s a lot easier to understand how the first is supposed to help workers than how the second would.

So as the discussion on economics shifts, Clinton can advocate for at least some policies that are new and meant to react to the changes that have taken place in the American economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, are unlikely to advocate much beyond what they always advocate. There may be some differences in the details, but its essence will be all too familiar: Cut taxes (particularly on the wealthy), cut regulations on corporations, accelerate the decline in collective bargaining, and wait for our glorious future of prosperity to begin.

More reactions following the speech–links only:

Business Insider: Hillary Clinton just called out the economic problem of the next decade.

Washington Post: Why Hillary Clinton made gender such a big deal in her major economic speech.

FiveThirtyEight: The Numbers Behind Hillary Clinton’s Economic Vision

I’ll add a few more news links in the comments. So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the thread below.


Tuesday Reads: Jeb! Is Running for President, and Other News

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Good Morning!!

Jeb Bush is Running for President

Yesterday Jeb Bush announced that he’s really going to run for president, as if we didn’t know already. From Channel 6 South Florida: Jeb Bush Announces Republican Presidential Bid for 2016.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush entered the 2016 presidential campaign on Monday with a rally and speech at Miami Dade College, joining 10 other Republicans already in the race for the party’s nomination.

“I’m a candidate for President of the United States of America,” Bush told a spirited crowd at the college’s Kendall campus. “I am ready to lead.”

Six months after he got the 2016 campaign started by saying he was considering a bid, the 62-year-old former Florida governor formally entered the race at the college, an institution selected because it serves a large and diverse student body symbolic of the nation he seeks to lead.

Bush, whose wife is Mexican-born, addressed the packed college arena in English and Spanish, an unusual twist for a political speech aimed at a national audience.

Columba and Jeb Bush

Columba and Jeb Bush

I guess he’s going to exploit his wife’s ethnicity for all it’s worth.

“In any language,” Bush said, “my message will be an optimistic one because I am certain that we can make the decades just ahead in America the greatest time ever to be alive in this world.”

In his kickoff speech, he said Democrats are responsible for “the slowest economic recovery ever, the biggest debt increases ever, a massive tax increase on the middle class, the relentless buildup of the regulatory state, and the swift, mindless drawdown of a military that was generations in the making.”

Bush didn’t mention why the economy crashed in the first place–his brother George’s trickle down economic policies and his pointless wars.

Some reactions:

The Guardian is getting a bit ahead of itself, assuming that Bush and Clinton will each win the nomination of their respective parties.

Clinton v Bush: America is getting the dynastic matchup it said it didn’t want, by Dan Roberts.

The first salvos in the war for the White House were fired in Miami on Monday with the two families most heavily backed by pollsters, bookies and donors officially beginning a dynastic battle unprecedented in American history.

The Clinton "dynasty": two people unrelated by blood.

The Clinton “dynasty”: two people unrelated by blood.

OK, Hillary’s husband was president, but that’s not a dynasty. A dynasty is by definition a group of leaders from a family bloodline. The Bush family is a true dynasty–going back generations in politics, with a father and son who have each held the White House. Not the same thing. But nitpicking aside, they are not facing each other yet, and I seriously doubt that Jeb will get the GOP nod.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Jeb Bush runs away from his family name.

If Jeb Bush is going to run for president as something other than a Bush, it will take a transformation worthy of Rachel Dolezal.

And yet the former Florida governor, who once accidentally checked “Hispanic” on a voter registration form, is doing everything but change his appearance to de-emphasize his inheritance. His presidential campaign logo, introduced over the weekend, is a simple exclamation: “Jeb!” His brother, the 43rd president, and his father, the 41st president, were not in attendance forhis presidential announcement speech in Miami on Monday. He didn’t even mention them until nearly the end.

“In this country of ours, the most improbable things can happen,” he said. “Take that from a guy who met his first president on the day he was born and his second on the day he was brought home from the hospital.”

And then the punch line: “The person who handled both introductions is here today. . . . Please say hello to my mom, Barbara Bush.”

Har har har . . . . get it? But he’s just a regular guy anyway just plain old “Jeb.”

The adoration of the 90-year-old family matriarch was disrupted by demonstrators who wore T-shirts spelling out “Legal status is not enough.” The candidate, taken off script, made a remark about immigration reform, then tried to pick up where he left off.

“So back to my family, just for a second.”

Ugh.

The Bush Dyasty: Father, son, and two grandsons, related by blood.

The Bush Dyasty:
Father, son, and two grandsons, related by blood.

About those demonstrators, Betsy Woodruff writes at The Daily Beast: ‘Amnesty Hecklers’ Moment Will Haunt Jeb Bush on the Trail.

Jeb Bush is getting used to hecklers real quick. He was officially a presidential candidate for about 20 minutes before a coordinated heckling campaign hijacked his announcement and pushed him into unplanned territory.

It felt like inverted déjà vu; just a few months ago, Bush joined Sean Hannity for a Q&A session on the main stage of CPAC, and a cadre of Tea Party activists and Rand Paul supporters made a dramatic exit in the middle of the former Florida governor’s speech. Led by a hirsute gentleman sporting a tricorn hat and a Gadsden flag, they marched out and then congregated in the hallway to tell reporters how unacceptable it was that Bush supports comprehensive immigration reform and isn’t Rand Paul.

Monday afternoon’s party-crashers made a ruckus on a similar scale, but for ideologically opposite reasons. They sported day-glo green T-shirts and stood up in a row in the middle of the candidate’s speech. Letters on their shirts together spelled “LEGAL STATUS IS NOT ENOUGH!”

Bush didn’t want to have to talk about immigration. A transcript of his remarks released to media as he began to deliver his speech didn’t include any references to the contentious issue. Bush’s stance on immigration reform is probably more detailed than any other contender’s, Republican or Democrat. Still, his hesitance to talk about it on the announcement stage makes sense, given that it’s a highly polarizing issue for much of the Republican base.

But if the former governor thought he’d get through his announcement without addressing the issue, he was dead wrong.

Read more details at the link.

George H Bush with sons George W and Jeb

From Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight: Pols And Polls Say The Same Thing: Jeb Bush Is A Weak Front-Runner.

Money isn’t everything, and it certainly isn’t the only thing in presidential campaigns. Still, as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush officially enters the 2016 presidential campaign today, there’s going to be a lot of talk about whether his super PAC can hit its $100 million fundraising “goal” by the end of the month. You should mostly ignore those stories; money matters, but Bush will clearly have plenty of cash. Pay more attention to whether GOP officials — governors, senators and House members, in particular — are backing Bush.

Late last week, Bush unveiled a raft of endorsements from Florida pols, including 11 of the 17 Republicans in the state’s U.S. House delegation. Normally, home-state endorsements are pro forma, but with a fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio, in the race, these endorsements are a bit more meaningful.

Bush now has more endorsements, 13, from current House members, governors and senators than anyone else in the 2016Republican field. He’s also the only candidate besides Sen. Rand Paul to pick up at least two endorsements from members of Congress who are not from his home state.

The endorsement race echoes the polling (Bush leads national polls by a speck and New Hampshire polls by a bit, and is running in the second tier in Iowa): Bush is a weak front-runner.

When we weight these endorsements by position (10 points for each governor, 5 points for each senator and 1 point for each representative), Bush’s 13 points account for 28 percent of all endorsement points so far. That’s OK, but not great. And most Republican bigwigs haven’t made a choice at all.

Lots more interesting data at the link.

Jeb in Germany

Jeb in Germany

And finally, McCay Coppins at Buzzfeed News: Jeb Bush Embarks On Least Joyful Campaign Ever.

From the beginning, Bush has insisted his decision about whether to undertake a presidential run in 2016 would depend on his answer to one question: “Can I do it joyfully?” But now, as he officially launches his campaign at a Monday afternoon rally in Miami, Bush’s pursuit of the presidency seems destined to be a grinding, grumpy ordeal — permeated with disdain for the trivial demands of campaign pageantry, and rooted in a sense of duty to save the GOP from a field of candidates he seems to regard as unprepared or unserious.

Joylessness wafts off Bush wherever he goes, from the photo ops on his just-completed tour of Europe to the grip-and-grins on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

He responds with impatient sarcasm when he is forced to field questions about political strategy — or his brother’s polarizing record — instead of public policy. “Anybody have some questions about Germany?” he deadpanned in Berlin, by way of announcing he was through talking about campaign personnel.

His strict adherence to the trendy, low-carb Paleo diet — with its onslaught of grilled chicken and raw almonds — has left him trimmer, crankier, and frequently complaining that he is hungry.

He has been told he needs to make an effort to smile more.

LOL! Read much more funny stuff at Buzzfeed.

The Rest of the News, Links Only

NAACP: NAACP STATEMENT ON THE RESIGNATION OF RACHEL DOLEZAL.

NBC News: Rachel Dolezal breaks her silence on TODAY: ‘I identify as black.’

The New Yorker: Black Like Her.

The Smoking Gun: NAACP Imposter Sued School Over Race Claims.

The New York Gossip Sheet Times: Why It Matters That Hillary Clinton Wore Ralph Lauren.

Business Insider: Chris Christie’s local newspaper says he’ll start World War III if he’s president.

I wonder what Rick Santorum et al. will have to say about this:

The Guardian: Pope Francis warns of destruction of Earth’s ecosystem in leaked encyclical.

The Washington Post: Pope Francis blasts global warming deniers in leaked draft of encyclical.

New York Daily News: Joyce Mitchell had sexual relationships with both escaped N.Y. inmates, sources say.


Reactions to Hillary and Her Speech: The Good The Bad and The Ugly

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Good Morning!!

Dakinikat will try to put up a post this afternoon if she can find time, but in the meantime, here are a few reactions to Hillary’s speech from the media and other politicians, as well as her interview with the Des Moines Register and a good article on the Clinton Foundation for us to discuss in the meantime.

The Good

From The Des Moines Register: Clinton hears ‘eagerness’ for talk of female presidency.

Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but her campaign succeeded in addressing concerns about whether a woman could be commander in chief, she told The Des Moines Register on Sunday.

“Part of what I tried to do in that campaign was to begin to answer that question,” she said. “Now I feel like the question’s been answered.” ….

“There is an eagerness that I sense coming at me from people in my audiences, in my conversations, to engage with me about that more than I felt in ’08,” Clinton told the Register on Sunday, one of two sit-down news interviews that were the first for this presidential bid.

In the 15-minute interview at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Clinton defended the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said she’ll propose improvements to the Affordable Care Act, and expanded on her views about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. She landed on the side of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over Obama in wanting to ensure stronger protections for American workers.

Read the rest at the link.

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Inside Philanthropy: Shut Up About the Clinton Foundation’s Problems for a Minute to Look at It’s Programs.

With all the hype in the media about the Clinton Foundation, we wonder how many Americans actually know what the foundation does—or how many members of the media, for that matter.

Listening to news reports, you’d think the sole purpose of this outfit is to help the Clintons get rich and do favors for their shady friends. And while, to be sure, some of the reports about specific donors have been troubling—and suggest questionable judgment by the Clintons—what’s missing is a broader, more balanced look at how the foundation mobilizes money for good causes and who, in reality, puts up most of that money. (Hint: It’s not dictators looking for favors from the State Department.) While people shouldn’t stop asking hard questions about the foundation, they should pay more attention to its approach and programs.

In fact, the Clinton Foundation stands as one of the more successful efforts of recent years to mobilize new resources for philanthropy. Since its founding in 2001, it has raised nearly $2 billion, according an independent review by the Washington Post. Yes, chunks of that money have come from the Clintons’ network of political donors and corporate friends, which is how fundraising often works: You hit up the rich people you know for your causes. And, sure, some of them may not have the purest motives for ponying up, especially if you’re someone who can return favors later, but that’s the nature of the game.

Philanthropic fundraising is more like political fundraising than many may imagine. You think every hedge fund guy who gives big at the Robin Hood’s annual gala is solely focused on poor kids in East New York? Or that every tech leader who recently listened to Marc Benioff’s pleas and chipped in to fight poverty in the Bay Area has a heart of gold? Or that everyone sitting on MoMA’s board is only there because they love art? Come on.

Much more at the link.

Hillary populist

Matthew Yglesias at Vox gets it: Hillary Clinton has always been to Obama’s left on economics.

At a dramatic weekend rally on Roosevelt Island, Hillary Clinton unleashed a speech that was in some ways strikingly liberal, especially for a candidate who’s not facing meaningful opposition in the Democratic Primary. Politico’s Glenn Thrush says it shows that “the Democratic Party is moving left fast” and Clinton knows it, which is why she uncorked “economic-inequality rhetoric could have been comfortably uttered by the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Stiglitz, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley.”

The truth, however, is that on the kind of pocketbook issues that Clinton spent most of yesterday’s speech discussing, she’s alwaysbeen on the left wing of the Democratic Party. She’s been in the public eye far too long to have avoided inconsistencies over the years. But in positional terms, somewhat to the left of Obama — or Bill Clinton — on economics is where she’s been this whole time.

Yglesias goes into plenty of detail on Hillary’s record. Good piece!

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The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton won the weekend on social media.

According to an analysis by Zignal Labs, The Washington Post’s campaign analytics partner, 59 percent of all 2016 chatter during the weekend was about her. That means three out of every five stories or posts written about any presidential contender mentioned the former secretary of State. By comparison, the week prior, she commanded just 20 percent.

A June 11 post from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at their new site #HillaryMen: A Woman Leading America – If Not Now, When?

Our premise is that Hillary’s inclusive vision, unwavering commitment to public service, progressive policies and unparalleled experience make her one of the best (and best qualified) candidates ever to seek the presidency. If Hillarycannot become the first woman in history to cross the presidential finish line, who can? If not now, when? When will we show our daughters that a woman can be president?

Viewing the 2016 election through an explicit gender lens, the ferocious attacks against Hillary are not just about her, but underscore the deeply ingrained resistance to any woman with a viable path to the White House. Does anyone believe that another female candidate could get within reach of the presidency without running headlong into the same double standard and institutional resistance confronting Hillary?

Spotlighting the gender aspect of the 2016 race does not mean we discount the centrality of issues and competing ideologies or the complex information processing that leads voters to choose a candidate. Nor is it our intention to make specific accusations of gender bias. We are simply acknowledging the political, social and cultural barriers that have resulted in a complete shut out in national U.S. politics, at 44-0. In nearly a quarter millennium, not a single woman has occupied our nation’s highest office.

This is going to be a great site to read for inspiration during the upcoming campaign. Thanks to Beata for posting about it in the comments on Saturday.

Read the rest of this entry »


Saturday Reads and Live Blog: Hillary’s Official Campaign Launch

Hillary smiling

Good Morning!!

The day we’ve all be waiting for since June 2008 has finally arrived! Hillary Clinton will officially begin her campaign for the presidency this morning on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Let’s watch her speech together!

I signed up to get an email when the live feed begins on Hillary’s website. There doesn’t seems to be any other way to get the link–if you find one, please let us know. I assume CNN and other media outlets will be covering the event as well.

I’ll put up a second live blog if we need it.

Hillary’s big campaign kickoff

Hillary’s speech will reportedly focus on income inequality and how she would deal with the problem as president. From the AP, via ABC News: Clinton Calling for New Era of Shared Economic Prosperity.

At an outdoor rally Saturday on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, Clinton will portray herself as a fierce advocate for those left behind in the post-recession economy, detailing a lifetime of work on behalf of struggling families. She says her mother’s difficult childhood inspired what she considers a calling….

“Her story, her life, is she is someone who has always been advocating and fighting for someone else,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director….

Clinton is not expected to roll out specific policy proposals in her address. Aides say that will come in the following weeks on issues that include college affordability, jobs and the economy. She plans to give a policy address almost every week during the summer and fall, Palmieri said.

The rest of the article is criticism of Hillary’s “divisiveness” and her decision not to specifically address the Keystone Pipeline and the TPP. Sigh . . .

Yesterday Beata posted Hillary’s kickoff video, “Fighter.” Here it is again:

At NPR, Mara Liasson writes: How Would Hillary Clinton ‘Reshuffle’ Economic Inequality?

Clinton does talk about the economy a lot on the campaign trail, but so far only in broad strokes. She says she wants everyone to have the same chances she had — and that, as she said visiting a brewery in May, “here in Washington we know that unfortunately the deck is still being stacked for those at the top.”

She says that her job is to take that deck and “reshuffle the cards” but what does that mean?

“Paramount is how we’re going to have an economy that grows for everyone, that’s inclusive, in which middle class families and people struggling to get into the middle class can get ahead as the economy grows,” said Neera Tanden, an informal advisor to Clinton and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress….

She’ll start spelling it all out Saturday in her big kick off speech. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said that’s when Clinton will talk about the conditions of the country and “why people haven’t seen their wages rise even as we’ve seen private sector job growth come back in this country.”

He says she’ll also talk about “what she wants to do to make sure that people get ahead and stay ahead. She’ll lay out a template for that, and then through the course of the Summer and into the Fall she’ll get specific about what policies she thinks she’ can achieve to help people succeed in life,” he said.

In those Summer and Fall speeches, Clinton will lay out her plans for college affordability, early childhood education, Wall Street reform and paid family leave. At some point she will say exactly how high she wants the minimum wage to be, and how she’d finance big investments in infrastructure. And, her aides say, she’ll also eventually explain how she plans to solve one part of the income inequality puzzle — that even when profits and productivity go up, wages do not follow.

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You can also listen to Liasson’s interview with Tanden at NPR: Hillary Clinton To Address Economic Issues In Campaign Speech.

ABC News reports that the FAA has declared a no-fly zone during this morning’s rally.

Federal officials today took the rare step of creating a “no-fly zone” around the site of Hillary Clinton’s campaign kickoff rally in New York City on Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration established the protective zone in the form of a so-called “Notice to Airmen” announcing that a section along Manhattan’s East Side will be temporarily transformed into “national defense airspace.”

The FAA website lists the reason as “Temporary flight restrictions for VIP Movement” and cites the federal law that the FAA employs to ban flights over events attended by the president, vice president or other key dignitaries.

“The United States government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat,” according to the notice….

“This is highly unusual,” a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, told ABC News. The “no fly zones,” also known as “Temporary Flight Restrictions” are issued about 1,000 times a year, according to the association. But they usually are not issued for candidates for president….

City officials objected to the restriction because of the effect it is expected to have on popular sightseeing helicopters. The no-fly zone will not have any impact on commercial jets landing and taking off from nearby LaGuardia Airport.

article-de-blasio-0413

Speaking of city officials, The New York Times emphasizes that while most of New York City’s political elite will attend the event, Mayor Bill De Blasio chose not to accept his invitation. He told the Times that

I’m waiting to hear, as I said, her larger vision for addressing income inequality, and I look forward to that.

He’s beginning to look like a real jerk, IMO. But his effort to be a wet blanket isn’t going to have any effect. Does anyone but the Hillary-hating Times really care? I seriously doubt it.

Later tonight, Hillary will make her first campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa. From the Sioux City Journal: Sioux City Democrats await Hillary Clinton visit Saturday.

Rick Mullin is excited to see Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Saturday evening, when she’s scheduled to make her first stop in Sioux City during the 2016 election cycle.

Mullin has met Clinton a few times, dating to 1996, when she was the nation’s first lady and Mullin was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

“One on one, she is exceptionally good. Very warm, she listens to you,” said Mullin, a former Woodbury County Democratic Party Chairman, from Sioux City.

Mullin will meet Clinton at an airport and follow that by attending her appearance at a Sioux City home.

Coming in her third swing of the Hawkeye state this year, it will be Clinton’s first event in Northwest Iowa. Saturday’s house party will be simulcast nationally. After having smaller stops in Iowa through Saturday, Clinton on Sunday will step up to larger events, with a town hall meeting planned for the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

More at the link.

landscape-1433368034-gettyimages-455461894-clintons

Of course the media is dying to know what Bill Clinton’s role will be in Hillary’s campaign. CNN got an interview with the former president that is going to run on Sunday morning: Bill Clinton opens up about his relationship with Hillary.

Bill and Hillary Clinton rarely talk about their relationship with one another. But in an interview set to air Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the former president opened up about the woman he said he trusts with his life.

“Whenever I had trouble, she was a rock in our family,” Clinton said during an emotional interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in Denver.

“I trust her with my life, and have on more than one occasion,” he said, describing his wife as someone who helped him through some of the most trying times of his life.

Bill Clinton described how his wife helped him through years “plagued with self-doubt” in his late 20s and offered him someone to not only lean on, but to help guide him through perilous moments in his career.

“I was the youngest former governor in American history in 1980 on election night. I got killed in the Reagan landslide,” Clinton remembered. “People I had appointed to office would walk across the street, they were so afraid of the new regime in Arkansas, and would not shake hands with me. My career prospects were not particularly bright.”

“And she never blinked. She just said, ‘Hey. It’ll turn around. I believe in you. You’ve got this,'” he said.

Read more at the link.

Hillary

Bustle compiled from various sources, including the CNN interview: 8 Bill Clinton Quotes On Hillary Clinton And How She Inspired Him During Hard Times.

A couple more lightweight articles on Hillary’s campaign:

Billboard: How Hillary Clinton Is Soundtracking Her 2016 Presidential Campaign.,

Quartz: It’s official: Hillary Clinton’s logo is actually perfect.

News to discuss while we await Hillary’s big speech:

NYT: Suspects Open Fire Outside Dallas Police Headquarters.

CNN: Explosives found, suspect cornered after gunfire targets Dallas police HQ.

NYT: House Rejects Trade Measure, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal.

David Dayen at Salon: The Democrats’ TPP rebellion just drew blood. Everything you need to know about today’s shocking vote.

CBS DC: Dem Reps: Obama Became ‘Indignant’ On Capitol Hill, Visit ‘Absolutely’ Hurt Trade Bill

CNN: Race of Rachel Dolezal, head of Spokane NAACP, comes under question.

NAACP: NAACP STATEMENT ON RACHEL DOLEZAL.

Jonathan Capehart: The damage Rachel Dolezal has done.

The Federalist: If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?

Mary Beth Williams at Salon: Stop making excuses for Rachel Dolezal: The Spokane NAACP official’s fraud is unforgivable

Hillary2

WaPo: Chinese hack of federal personnel files included security-clearance database.

Politico: Newly disclosed hack got ‘crown jewels.’ ‘This is not the end of American human intelligence, but it’s a significant blow,’ a former NSA official says.

Think Progress: Romney’s E2 Summit.

LOL story from Politico: Mark Halperin, Ann Romney to host ‘Sunrise Pilates’ for GOP megadonors.

NBC News: What We Know: David Sweat and Richard Matt, Escaped Inmates, Still on the Run.

CNN: New York prison worker Joyce Mitchell charged with helping inmates escape.

Texas Observer: Federal Judges Disregard Impact of Abortion Law on Poor Women.

Mother Jones: The Supreme Court Could Make Abortion One of 2016’s Big Campaign Issues.

Mother Jones: A GOP Operative Just Got 2 Years in Prison For Breaking Super-PAC Rules.

Reuters, via Raw Story: Newly-released records show CIA in-house feud over inability to prevent 9/11 attacks.

Raw Story: Michigan adopts law to take away families’ food assistance if kids miss school.

The Weather Channel: When the Weather Changes, So Does Your DNA.

This is an open thread. Please join in.


Lazy Saturday Reads

Students study for finals on "BU Beach," May 6, 2015

Students study for finals on “BU Beach,” May 6, 2015

Good Morning!!

Well, well, well. Boston University and a newly hired assistant professor of sociology are being attacked by right wing nuts who can’t handle free speech or academic freedom. And so far BU is telling them they’re just going to have to deal with it. I hope they stick to their guns, so to speak. In honor of the school administration doing the right thing, I’m illustrating this post with views of the beautiful BU campus.

Fox News is shocked! Naturally, they begin with a version of “some people say….”

Boston University prof flunks ‘white masculinity’ in controversial tweets.

Critics say a newly-hired Boston University professor has crossed the line with recent tweets bashing whites, but the school says it’s simply free speech.

“White masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges,” Saida Grundy, an incoming assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Boston University, tweeted in March.

In another tweet from January, she wrote: “Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. and every year i find it nearly impossible.”

In another, she called white males a “problem population.”

“Why is white America so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?” she asked.

View of BU's Charles River Campus.

View of BU’s Charles River Campus.

Horrors! A black female sociologist who studies traditional masculinity had a few things to say on Twitter about white males. No one has to agree with her or even read her tweets (she has now made her account private). The KKK, the American Nazi Party, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Peggy Noonan, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, and every other right wing nut you can name have the same rights to say mean things about any groups of people they choose.

Here’s BU’s response to Fox’s request for comment:

“Professor Grundy is exercising her right to free speech and we respect her right to do so,” Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said.

Read more of Grundy’s “controversial” tweets at the Fox News link and at a Patriots fan site here. I don’t know why they’re all bent out of shape about this.

Grudy got her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, and her other credentials look pretty good to me.

So far there hasn’t been a lot of reaction to this except from right wing sites like American Thinker and American Spectator. I’ll be keeping an eye on the story and whether BU continues to defend Grundy. If they don’t I’ll be very disappointed. It’s not about agreeing with everything she said; it’s about not giving in to the predictable right wing attacks on anyone who says something they disagree with–even if it’s only on Twitter.

BU College of Arts and Sciences

BU College of Arts and Sciences

In other “diversity” news, a restaurant in Colorado is planning a “White Appreciation Day.” That should make the wingnuts happy. From MSNBC:

A Colorado barbecue joint has sparked national outrage with a racially-tinged promotion: “White Appreciation Day.”

“We have a whole month for Black History Month. We have a whole month for Hispanic heritage month,” Edgar Antillon told KUSA-TV. “So we figured all we could do – the least we can do – is offer one day to appreciate white Americans.”

Antillon told the NBC News affiliate that Rubbin’ Buttz, the restaurant he co-owns in Milliken, Colorado, would observe its “White Appreciation Day” on June 11. On this day, all white customers will receive a 10% discount.

It’s worth noting that Antillon is a first-generation American born to Mexican parents, and he acknowledged to KUSA-TV that he has personally experienced racism in his past.

“We’re all American, plain and simple,” he said to the NBC News affiliate.

Apparently the whole thing started as a joke, and then Antillon decided to actually do it. Who cares? It’s dumb and pointless, unless the goal is just to get national publicity. Why not just ignore it? According to The Root, non-white people could end up suing the restaurant for discrimination. The outrage industry in this country is completely out of control.

6/7/10 1:07:44 PM -- Boston, Massachusetts Campus Scenics of Kemore Square, Boston Skyline, BU Banners and Commonwealth Ave Photo by Vernon Doucette for Boston University

6/7/10 1:07:44 PM — Boston, Massachusetts
Campus Scenics of Kemore Square, Boston Skyline, BU Banners and Commonwealth Ave
Photo by Vernon Doucette for Boston University

Now for a little actual news.

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down an effort by the state to cut public employee pensions. The Chicago Tribune reports:

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday unanimously ruled unconstitutional a landmark state pension law that aimed to scale back government worker benefits to erase a massive $105 billion retirement system debt, sending lawmakers and the new governor back to the negotiating table to try to solve the pressing financial issue.

The ruling also reverberated at City Hall, imperiling a similar law Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through to shore up two of the four city worker retirement funds and making it more difficult for him to find fixes for police, fire and teacher pension funds that are short billions of dollars.

At issue was a December 2013 state law signed by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn that stopped automatic, compounded yearly cost-of-living increases for retirees, extended retirement ages for current state workers and limited the amount of salary used to calculate pension benefits.

Employee unions sued, arguing that the state constitution holds that pension benefits amount to a contractual agreement and once they’re bestowed, they cannot be “diminished or impaired.” A circuit court judge in Springfield agreed with that assessment in November. State government appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that economic necessity forced curbing retirement benefits.

Marsh Chapel at center of Charles River campus

Marsh Chapel at center of Charles River campus

The court disagreed with the state, and really slapped down the Illinois legislature in their decision.

“Our economy is and has always been subject to fluctuations, sometimes very extreme fluctuations,” Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote on behalf of all seven justices. “The law was clear that the promised benefits would therefore have to be paid and that the responsibility for providing the state’s share of the necessary funding fell squarely on the legislature’s shoulders.

“The General Assembly may find itself in crisis, but it is a crisis which other public pension systems managed to avoid and … it is a crisis for which the General Assembly itself is largely responsible,” Karmeier wrote.

“It is our obligation, however, just as it is theirs, to ensure that the law is followed. That is true at all times. It is especially important in times of crisis when, as this case demonstrates, even clear principles and long-standing precedent are threatened. Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law. It is a summons to defend it,” he wrote.

Nice win for workers for a change.

Shot of BU buildings on Commonwealth Avenue

Shot of BU buildings on Commonwealth Avenue

Also from the Trib, Chicago teachers are standing up for their rights too: Chicago Teachers Union files labor complaint against school board.

The Chicago Teachers Union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint accusing the city’s school board of bad-faith bargaining and refusing to engage in mediation toward a new contract.

Union officials said little progress has been made over eight formal bargaining sessions and numerous informal meetings since November. The complaint filed Wednesday with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board follows the union’s rejection earlier this week of the board’s proposal that teachers take on a greater share of pension payments….

As she did in the months before the 2012 teachers strike, CTU President Karen Lewis sought to make Mayor Rahm Emanuel the focus of the union’s displeasure with talks to replace a contract that expires June 30. The union again accused the city of using the talks to get back at the CTU for its support of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the mayoral election.

“We feel this is reactionary and retaliatory,” Lewis said at a news conference Wednesday. “I guess the fuzzy sweater’s gone,” she said, referring to Emanuel’s wearing a sweater in campaign commercials to indicate a softer personality.

The district, which says it is wrestling with a $1.1 billion deficit weighted with pension payments, wants to save millions of dollars by having teachers pay more into their pension fund. The district wants to end a long-standing agreement that limits teacher paycheck deductions for pensions, the union said.

I have a solution for Chicago’s and for the state of Illinois’s budget problems. Tax the rich. Blaming teachers and government workers isn’t going to solve your money problems. It’s just going to make everything worse. Tax the people who can afford to give something back to the government that constantly favors them.

View of Marsh Chapel with Charles River in foreground

View of Marsh Chapel with Charles River in foreground

We haven’t discussed it here yet, but there was a big election in Great Britain with surprising results.

From The Washington Post after the scope of the conservative victory became clear: British election results point to commanding lead for Conservatives.

Exit polls and partial results after a nationwide vote to pick Britain’s next Parliament showed the Conservative Party with a surprisingly commanding lead Friday, just short of a majority and in a strong position to return to power.

The projections defied virtually all pre-election polls, which forecast a virtual tie between the Tories and the opposition ­Labor Party in the popular vote. Both main parties had been expected to fall well short of the majority needed to claim power outright.

But as the counting continued into dawn Friday, all signs pointed to an emphatic margin in favor of the Conservatives and their leader, Prime Minister ­David Cameron, and to a major disappointment for ­Labor as well as the Liberal Democrats, who paid a steep price for having entered into a coalition with the Conservatives for the past five years.

At dawn Friday, Labor leader Ed Miliband delivered what amounted to a concession speech, saying it had been “a very disappointing and difficult night” for his party.

Meanwhile, in the election’s other stunning development, though one that had been predicted, the Scottish National Party (SNP) was redrawing the map of Scotland with what looked like a historic rout in what has long been one of Labor’s most reliable strongholds.

Another aerial view

Another aerial view

The results in Scotland could have long-term significance for the “United Kingdom.” if the trend toward Scottish independence continues.

From the WaPo again: In U.K. election’s wake, questions on E.U., Scotland.

Newly empowered British Prime Minister David Cameron moved swiftly to establish the terms and priorities for his new government on Friday after a stunning national election that delivered his Conservative Party an unexpected majority, devastated three other parties and redrew the political map of Scotland.

Following predictions that the post-election maneuvering to form a government might take days if not weeks, the Conservative Party’s big victory produced a quick end to speculation about what or who would be in charge.

But if the election produced an unexpectedly clear outcome, it may only have heightened the degree to which the country faces a period of internal debate, ­inward-looking politics and potential instability, with questions about the durability of the United Kingdom and its place in both Europe and the world still to be answered.

Cameron will have to find a way to manage resurgent Scottish nationalists who are demanding more powers and possibly another referendum on independence. Further, his pledge to hold a referendum to determine Britain’s future in the European Union will continue to raise uncertainty about the country’s commitments and reliability there.

From BBC News: World media fear UK EU exit, looser US ties.

A day after the surprise result in the UK elections, world media outlets have been taking a look at the ramifications.

European papers are concerned about the effect on the EU in the light of Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to hold a referendum on leaving. And there is speculation that the Scottish nationalists’ spectacular gains may herald the break-up of the United Kingdom.

A US daily fears the result may be the harbinger of the end of the US-UK “special relationship”, but one Spanish daily is enthralled by a photo of Mr Cameron using cutlery to eat a hot dog.

See examples of media reactions at the link. International Business Times also collected world media reactions, and the stats freaks at FiveThirtyEight had to do some serious soul-searching about why they were completely wrong.

So . . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a great spring weekend!!


Thursday Reads: The American Dream

The American Dream - post-war abundance

The American Dream – post-war abundance

Good Morning!!

What is the American Dream? Is it prosperity for everyone? Is it access to nature and a clean environment? Is it a good job, a house, a family? Is it a good education and the chance to be upwardly mobile? Is it a better future for your children and grandchildren? Is whatever it once was dead? Is it even worth talking about?

This morning there’s a Washington Post op-ed in which Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio describe their vision of “How to revive the American Dream.”

In this land of big dreams, there was never a dream bigger or more important than the one so deeply rooted in our values that it became known as the American Dream. Across generations, Americans shared the belief that hard work would bring opportunity and a better life. America wasn’t perfect, but we invested in our kids and put in place policies to build a strong middle class.

We don’t do that anymore, and the result is clear: The rich get richer, while everyone else falls behind. The game is rigged, and the people who rigged it want it to stay that way. They claim that if we act to improve the economic well-being of hard-working Americans — whether by increasing the minimum wage, reining in lawbreakers on Wall Street or doing practically anything else — we will threaten economic growth.

They are wrong.

That thinking is backward. A growing body of research — including work done by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and the Roosevelt Institute — shows clearly that an increasing disparity between rich and poor, cronyism and an economic system that works only for those at the top are bad for the middle class and bad for our economy.

american-dream

Warren and de Blasio are correct that the dream went terribly wrong after Ronald Reagan became president.

When the economy works for everyone, consumers have money to spend at businesses, and when businesses have more customers, they build more factories, hire more workers and sell more products — and the economy grows. For decades, our economy was built around this core understanding. We made big investments in the things that would create opportunities for everyone: public schools and universities; roads and bridges and power grids; research that spurred new industries, technologies — and jobs — here in the United States. We supported strong unions that pushed for better wages and working conditions, seeing those unions improve lives both for their members and for workers everywhere.

And it worked. From the 1930s to the late 1970s, as gross domestic product went up, wages increased more or less across the board. As the economic pie got bigger, pretty much everyone was getting a little more. That was how the United States built a great middle class.

Then in the early 1980s, a new theory swept the country. Its disciples claimed that if government policies took care of the rich and powerful, wealth would trickle down for everyone else. Trickle-down believers cut taxes sharply for those at the top and pushed for “deregulation” that hobbled the cops on Wall Street and let the most powerful corporations far too often do as they pleased.

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All very true. But how do we return to fairness and prosperity for everyone, not just the wealthy few? Warren and de Blasio offer a familiar list of government policies that could turn things around–read them at the link–but they don’t explain how to accomplish these goals in the age of Citizens United, a Republican-controlled congress, and a Supreme Court that favors the rights of corporations over those of individuals. How do we get past the hopelessness and inertia and get Americans to get out and vote for candidates who will stand up for the bottom 99%? How do we even find those candidates?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m basically an optimist and I always have hope for change. But how do we get there from here?

I do think there are some positives signs.

Hillary Clinton is beginning to convince some folks that she’s really a separate person from her husband–a more liberal candidate than he was in the 1990s. In fact Bill Clinton might be more liberal now too. Despite what the Villagers preach, people can change and grow and develop new ideas an opinions. Imagine that Chris Cillizza!

American dream Tbird

One journalist who seems to be catching on is Charles Pierce. Here’s what he had to say yesterday: One Of These Is Not Like The Others: Two Clintons, No Waiting.

For all the noise about e-mails and honoraria, and all the passive-aggressive nostalgia for the Great Penis Chase of the 1990’s, something very interesting has been going on with Rodham Clinton’s campaign since she announced its official launch….

All during her husband’s administration, HRC was considered to be the more progressive of the two. She supported the accommodations he made to get re-elected, some of which were pretty damned ghastly. She also was one of the most vocal in defense of that administration against the organized ratfking that sought to destroy it. (The only mistake she made, as Calvin Trillin pointed out at the time was that she referred to a “vast right-wing conspiracy” rather than a creepy little cabal.) I once had a long conversation with a former Clinton lawyer. He told me that, if there were 1000 people in a room, and 999 thought Bill Clinton was a direct descendant of Jesus Christ, and one of them thought he was the spawn of Satan, Clinton would seek out that one person and spend the rest of the night and all the following day trying to change that person’s mind. That is not something anyone ever has said about Ms. Rodham Clinton. The edges of her triangulations are all sharp ones.

All of this is to point out that not only is the whole “two for the price of one” trope beloved of people whose politics came of age in the 1990’s outdated and inadequate, but so is the political strategy of the first Clinton Administration. Clinton herself seems to be acknowledging this political reality. She started talking on economics like Elizabeth Warren. Her speech on criminal justice reform was aimed at excesses many of which have roots in her husband’s law-and-order compromises in the mid-1990’s. (So, it should be noted, do many of the Patriot Act’s more controversial provisions.) For the moment, I choose to believe this is not merely a bow to political expedience, but something genuine and, if progressives are smart, infinitely exploitable.

the-american-dream-occupy-wall-street-27079246-593-261

Most of them will never get it, but maybe, just maybe Hillary can get her message out to the people who count–voters–and get them fired up enough to go to the polls in November 2016.

I also think it’s a good sign that Bernie Sanders has decided to run for president. No, he has no chance in hell of getting the nomination, but he might be able to get the media to publicize some of his ideas. He could also be a foil for Hillary, giving her an opportunity to draw attention to her more innovative and liberal ideas. Some of the latest news about Bernie’s efforts:

Reuters: Why socialist Bernie Sanders may just shake up the 2016 presidential race, by Robert Borosage.

Sanders is a funhouse mirror image of Clinton. She has universal name recognition (by her first name), unlimited funds, national campaign experience and a powerhouse political operation. He has scant name recognition, paltry funds, no national campaign experience and hasn’t begun to build a campaign staff. With a net-worth ranking among the lowest in the Senate, Sanders can be an authentic populist — the real deal. As one supporter said, he is the candidate of the “12-hour filibuster and the $12 haircut.”

Sanders’s announcement was treated with respect by a press corps eager for any kind of race on the Democratic side. Pundits dismiss his chances in part because Clinton is expected to raise a billion dollars or more for her campaign. Sanders hopes to raise $50 million.

But Sanders is likely to do far more than exceed low expectations. His candidacy could have a dramatic effect in building an already growing populist movement inside and outside the Democratic Party.

As Sanders made clear in his announcement, his focus will be on the central challenges facing this country: an economy that does not work for the vast majority of its citizens and a politics corrupted by big money and entrenched interests.

Sanders refuses to take part in politicians’ usual, incessant pursuit of large donations. So he is a political rarity: Someone free to speak forcefully to the often insidious connection between the two.

pdfbuddy_split2-page-001

Will people pay attention? I think it’s possible. So does David Horsey of the LA Times: Bernie Sanders’ ‘socialism’ may have mainstream appeal.

Finally, conservatives have a real socialist to go crazy about. Instead of concocting dark fairytales about how Barack Obama, a very conventional liberal Democrat, is a secret Marxist who wants to destroy the American way of life, they can shriek about Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who has never shied away from the socialist label.

Sanders is now the first person to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race to win the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Clinton, though, is not his real adversary, Sanders says. He refuses to make disparaging comments about Clinton and insists he has never run an attack ad in any campaign and will not do so against her. Sanders wants to take on the billionaires, not Hillary.

Nobody gives the 73-year-old Sanders a chance of stopping the Clinton political juggernaut, but some think he could make it veer to the left. If the Vermonter gets traction in debates and primaries with his unabashedly progressive positions, Clinton might be forced to match at least some of his rhetoric. Would that be a bad thing for Democrats? Not if enough beleaguered middle class voters get a chance to consider what Sanders’ version of “socialism” entails and like what they see.

Go to the LA Times link to read Horsey’s list of Sanders’ ideas that could interest voters.

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Sam Stein at Huffington Post: Bernie Sanders Raises $3 Million In Four Days.

With the help of a crew of former aides to President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) campaign has raised $3 million in four days for his presidential campaign — a dramatic indication that he won’t be confined simply to a long-shot role in the Democratic primary.

Sanders, who is running for president as a Democrat, announced on Wednesday that he has retained the services of the firm Revolution Messaging to run digital ads and online fundraising. The staffers with the firm who will be working on Sanders’ campaign include Revolution Messaging’s founder, Scott Goodstein, who ran the 2008 Obama campaign’s social media and mobile programs; Arun Chaudhary, who was the first official White House videographer; Shauna Daly, who served as deputy research director on Obama’s 2008 campaign; and Walker Hamilton, who was a lead programmer for that campaign.

“Like a lot of Obama supporters, we were looking for a candidate with a track record of doing the right thing — even if it meant taking on Wall Street billionaires and other powerful interests. A candidate who could inspire a movement,” said Goodstein. “Bernie Sanders is that candidate.”

Due to his long-standing criticism of the influence of big-money interests on government, Sanders has strong online and grassroots appeal, which he hopes to leverage to raise the money needed to fund a presidential campaign. And so far, the strategy looks savvy. The campaign has received roughly 75,000 contributions, and the average amount is $43. According to a campaign adviser, 99.4 percent of the donations have been $250 or less, and 185,000 supporters have signed up on the website BernieSanders.com.

Not bad.

What do you think? What does the American Dream represent for you?

As always, this is an open thread. Post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a terrific Thursday!


Thursday Reads: Corporate Media Enables Victim Blaming in Death of Freddie Gray

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell)

Good Morning!!

The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.

From the WaPo story:

A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

That solves that mystery then, right?

Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.

Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.

A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.

Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.

Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:

Those stories that Freddie Gray had a pre-existing spinal injury are totally bogus.

One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.

Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident….

“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray.

“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

A$$holes.

But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.

“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”

And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”

F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”

From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’

Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.

In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99” and that she was a minor when the case was settled.

In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.

Baltimore, Md -- 12/2/11 -- The rear of a vacant house, marked with "X" on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer.  Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Baltimore, Md — 12/2/11 — The rear of a vacant house, marked with “X” on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer. Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.

As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.

While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.

Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.

Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.

TPM Cafe:

The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.