Tuesday Reads: Winter Weather, No Hillary Alternatives, New Snowden Leaks, and More

Cassidy, Arlene - Lazy afternoon

Good Morning!!

I’m awaiting what I hope is the last snowstorm to hit the Boston area for a week or so. This one won’t be a big deal compared to what we’ve been hit by over the past few weeks. It will snow most of the day and we’ll end up with another five inches of snow on top of the giant pile of white stuff that is already on the ground.

The good news is that beginning tomorrow and going through the weekend, we are expecting temperatures in the 40s and 50s, along with rain. That should help wash some of the snow away. The Weather Channel has live updates on how this storm is affecting other parts of the country.

While I was perusing the Weather Channel page this morning, I came across this article–with amazing photos–of the coldest city in the world.

Think we’re having a brutal winter? Winter temperatures in Oymyakon, Russia, average minus 50 C (minus 58 F). The remote village is generally considered the coldest inhabited area on Earth. Oymyakon is a two-day drive from Yakutsk, the regional capital which has the lowest winter temperatures of any city in the world.

How do the locals deal with the cold? “Russki chai, literally Russian tea, which is their word for vodka,” photographer Amos Chapple told weather.com after his visit to the coldest city.

Oymyakon ironically means “unfrozen water.” This is due to the thermal spring located nearby. Originally the location was used by reindeer herders who would water their flock in the warm springs.

Oymyakon’s lowest recorded temperature was a frigid minus 71.2  C (minus 96.16 F) back in 1924. According to The Independent, wearing glasses outdoors can cause them to stick to the wearer’s face. This is just one of the more menial problems of the extremely cold weather

After reading that, I suddenly felt very comfy in my cozy house with the temperature outside a mild 18 degrees F.


Whether we like it or not–and I absolutely hate it–the 2016 presidential race has already begun, and along with it the endless Hillary-bashing that we’ll have to put up with not only from Republicans but also from a subset of Democrats. Republicans will need to be reminded that Hillary is running, not “the Clintons”; and Democrats will have to learn that if they don’t want Jeb Bush as president, Hillary is the best alternative.

It’s a little unnerving that Bob Shrum agrees with me, since he’s rarely backed a winner; but honestly in this case he’s right. From The Daily Beast: Yes, Pundits, Hillary Has the 2016 Nomination in the Bag.

Handicappers in the presidential race abhor the opposite of a vacuum—a campaign two years out where one candidate seems to blot out the entire field. Thus a mini-chorus now rises, and may swell, questioning Hillary Clinton’s apparent lock on the 2016 Democratic nomination. It’s a predictable reflex, but in cold, hard reality, logic suggests that the lock is authentic, not just apparent. And in modern history, or virtually all American history, Hillary’s inevitability is unprecedented for a non-incumbent.

Yes, there are pundits like Matt Bai and Krystal Ball who claim that Hillary is vulnerable to a “grass roots” challenge, but they’re in fantasy land. In response to Ball’s suggestion that Elizabeth Warren should be the candidate, because she is “clearly passionate, living and breathing and feeling … the plight of the worker, the middle class,” Shrum writes:

Hillary, Ball asserts, can’t do that because she was once on the board of Walmart and recently accepted speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. That attack, if an opponent advanced it, could and would be swiftly confounded by the Hillary who, in the penultimate primaries of 2008, in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, emerged as a powerful, persuasive tribune of blue-collar and middle-class Americans.

Of course, there is another slight problem with the Warren option: She’s joined all the other Democratic women senators in signing a letter urging Hillary to run.Warren will probably be out there all right—stumping for Hillary, not against her.

There’s much more at the link about other possible candidates like Andrew Cuomo and Martin O’Malley.

Let me add, btw, for Warren fans who claim that Hillary is “too old,” Warren will be 67 in 2016–just two years younger than Clinton. That’s leaving aside the fact that she has far less political experience than Barack Obama did in 2008 and zero foreign policy experience.

Over at that bastion of Hillary-hatred, DailyKos, Markos broke the news to his followers yesterday: The real primary fight of 2016 (and it’s not an alternative to Hillary.”

Some people have to come to terms. And I’m looking at you, people desperate to find an alternative to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

If Hillary runs, she’s the nominee. I know it’s in vogue to talk about how “inevitable” Hillary was in 2008. But it was a different world. I remember it because I was in the midst of that battle. People wanted an alternative, and alternatives existed. At her best, Hillary’s poll numbers were in the 40s with Obama in the strong 20s. Look for yourself. Yes, she was the frontrunner, but there was a strong primary field within striking distance.

There is no alternative to Hillary this cycle. The last time anyone polled the Democratic primary field, Clinton had 73 percent of the vote, Biden 11, and Elizabeth Warren nine. That tells us a couple of things. One, 73 percent is A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE. She is the consensus nominee, and if you disagree, you are objectively in the deep minority. Second of all, there is no one to provide even nominal challenge. Clinton (again, assuming she runs) will have some “challengers”, but it’ll be a bunch of people auditioning for her VP slot.

To reiterate, leads like 45-25 in 2007 didn’t make Hillary “inevitable”. Numbers like 73-11 in 2014 absolutely do. And you know what? Those are not irrational numbers. Hillary will be a great president.

Elizabeth Warren isn’t running. I get why people persist with this fantasy, but it’s nothing more than a fantasy. Warren had to be dragged in kicking and screaming into the Massachusetts Senate race, a geographically small state in which she could sleep in her own bed every night. If you barely have the fire to run for Senate, then you absolutely don’t have the fire to mount a brutal presidential campaign. And even if she did, all she’d have to do is look at the polling (73-9!) to realize she’d have a million better things to do with her time and her donors’ money. SHE. AIN’T. RUNNING.

So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if some Democrats are willing to try to sabotage the party’s chances of continuing to control the White House and very likely Congress as well. It could end up being similar to what the Republicans did to Mitt Romney in 2012. But this time, there won’t be real competition on the Republican side. Who are they going to run? Mitt Romney again? Paul Ryan? My guess is Jeb Bush would be afraid to run against Hillary.

NSA at night

There’s a new article up at Glenn Greenwald’s new site, The Intercept: Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters. I haven’t had time to read the whole thing yet, because I want to get this post up soon. I’ll read it carefully once I’ve done that. But here’s the introduction:

Top-secret documents from the National Security Agency and its British counterpart reveal for the first time how the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom targeted WikiLeaks and other activist groups with tactics ranging from covert surveillance to prosecution.

The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous.

One classified document from Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s top spy agency, shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google.

Another classified document from the U.S. intelligence community, dated August 2010, recounts how the Obama administration urged foreign allies to file criminal charges against Assange over the group’s publication of the Afghanistan war logs.

A third document, from July 2011, contains a summary of an internal discussion in which officials from two NSA offices – including the agency’s general counsel and an arm of its Threat Operations Center – considered designating WikiLeaks as “a ‘malicious foreign actor’ for the purpose of targeting.” Such a designation would have allowed the group to be targeted with extensive electronic surveillance – without the need to exclude U.S. persons from the surveillance searches.

My immediate reaction is that if NSA were not monitoring Wikileaks, they would not be doing their job. As for the claims that individual visitors to the website were actually targeted, I’ll have to reserve judgment until I read the whole piece and it has been fact-checked by people who understand the technology involved better than the authors. I’ve learned from months of experience that Glenn Greenwald’s articles tend to be filled with errors as well as over-the-top melodrama.

In other NSA news, James Clapper admitted in an interview with Eli Lake of The Daily Beast that “We Should’ve Told You We Track Your Calls.”

Ya think? Here’s an excerpt:

Clapper said the problems facing the U.S. intelligence community over its collection of phone records could have been avoided. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11—which is the genesis of the 215 program—and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it’s going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards… We wouldn’t have had the problem we had,” Clapper said.

“What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” he said, referring to the first disclosures from Snowden. If the program had been publicly introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans would probably have supported it. “I don’t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints. Well people kind of accept that because they know about it. But had we been transparent about it and say here’s one more thing we have to do as citizens for the common good, just like we have to go to airports two hours early and take our shoes off, all the other things we do for the common good, this is one more thing.”

Since the first Snowden revelations in June, Clapper has declassified reams of material relating to the 215 program, including opinions and warrants signed by the top secret court that approves domestic snooping. But he has not publicly acknowledged until now his thoughts that the initial secrecy surrounding the program was ill-considered.

No shit Sherlock! Americans most likely would have supported the program if the Bush administration had been up front about it. Of course, then Congress would have regulated it more–as is happening under Obama–and that wouldn’t have pleased President Cheney. Even now, if Obama and NSA officials would come out and explain exactly what the program is, the fear-mongering by Greenwald and the gang would be far less effective.

Basically, the “metadata” that is collected is just the same information that we used to get on our phone bills: time call was initiated, how long it lasted, and the number that was called. The phone company kept all this “metadata” on file, and law enforcement could access the phone records of a suspect by getting a warrant from a judge–which is the same thing the NSA does. I have way fewer problems with this kind of data collection than what corporations are doing on a daily basis with my internet browsing and purchases.

I’ll end with a couple of fun items.

First, I hope you’ll check out these awesome photos of Russians with their cats at Buzzfeed.

Kerouac map

Second, from The Guardian: Kerouac’s On the Road followed on the road via Google Maps:

“The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream,” wrote Jack Kerouac, famously, in On the Road. “Head northwest on W 47th St toward 7th Ave. Take the 1st left onto 7th Ave. Turn right onto W 39th St,” writes Gregor Weichbrodt, less poetically but more accurately, in On the Road for 17527 Miles, a new book tracing the Beat writer’s famous journey across America – with the aid of Google Maps.

Going through On the Road with a fine-toothed comb, Weichbrodt took the “exact and approximate” spots to which the author – via his alter ego Sal Paradise – travelled, and entered them into Google’s Direction Service. “The result is a huge direction instruction of 55 pages,” says the German student. “All in all, as Google shows, the journey takes 272.26 hours (for 17,527 miles).”

Weichbrodt’s chapters match those of Kerouac’s original. He has now self-published the book, which is also part of the current exhibition Poetry Will Be Made By All! in Zurich, and has, he says, sold six copies so far.

You can read the book at at Open Culture. The site has also published a photo of Jack Kerouac’s Hand-Drawn Map of the Hitchhiking Trip Narrated in On the Road. Very cool.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Tuesday!

70 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Winter Weather, No Hillary Alternatives, New Snowden Leaks, and More”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Mother Jones:

    How Two Hillary Clinton Superfans Became Super-PAC Power Players

    He’s a 28 year-old reserve police officer completing a bachelor’s degree in criminology at Virginia’s George Mason University. She’s a 62-year-old Eleanor Roosevelt scholar and history professor at George Washington University in DC. Adam Parkhomenko and Allida Black are unlikely friends; they are the even unlikelier masterminds of Ready for Hillary, a super-PAC that has risen from rag-tag origins to become a central component of Hillary Clinton’s shadow presidential campaign-in-waiting.

    Parkhomenko and Black fall well outside the Clintons’ rarefied inner circle of advisers, consultants, fund-raisers, and confidantes. Both are Hillary super fans who until very recently were political neophytes. Yet since co-founding Ready for Hillary in January 2013, they’ve managed to raise $4 million, which they are channeling into building a massive database of supporters and volunteers that will become the foundation for Clinton’s presidential run if she jumps into the race. (Within the Ready-for-Hillary world, there’s little doubt that leap will come.) Parkhomenko and Black have also attracted key Clinton aides and allies to their super-PAC and have, thus, obtained the unofficial blessing of the Clintons themselves. These two groupies have worked their way backstage to hang out with the band.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    This guy is a security expert who favors NSA reform (as do most Greenwald critics, including me)

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    The first question I have is who would be a better POTUS than Hillary? NO ONE!!!!! I love Warren, but she’s too inexperienced, although I see her as more experienced than then Sen. Barack Obama when he ran for POTUS. Joe Biden is 5 years older than Hillary and even though I personally like Biden I believe his edges are too rough to be POTUS and that his time has REALLY HAS passed. Although I did notice that after returning from his long absence, his chin, neck and jawline looked more firm. A little cosmetic work does wonders to brush off the “too old” criticism.

    And the “Hillary is too old” meme is an obnoxious criticism considering the hectic pace this woman has lived for 40+ years. All people age differently. Some people wouldn’t be old enough or wise enough for the job at 50. Some people would be too old to run for POTUS in their 60’s, but most people in their 60’s would not. I think the most important issue for Hillary is to decide whether she wants the stress and the rigorous demands of the job. She’s seen the job first hand. She lived a very rigorous life as FLOTUS, as a U.S. Senator and as the Secretary of State. I don’t think the Presidency is any more physically demanding than SOS and only Hillary knows whether or not she’s up to it. My bet is SHE IS!

    Crystal Ball needs to give the “too old” thing a break. It is terribly insulting to everyone over 60 (including Warren), and especially those who are more than capable of defeating Crystal Ball both intellectually and physically. So, go pick on someone your own age, Muffy!!! 🙂

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think Krystal Ball used the “too old” argument, but I’ve seen it on Twitter recently.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I was tuned in to MSNBC during one of the conversations about Hillary where her age was discussed as a negative. It may not have been Crystal, it could have been someone else at the table, but it was raised. I do remember part of Crystal’s complaint of Hillary was that she isn’t progressive enough. I’m not inclined to disagree with that, but which Democrat could win the nomination that is progressive enough? I don’t see Warren having a chance in a national election. I’ve heard and read the name Bernie Sanders as being progressive enough, but Bernie is not a Democrat, he’s an independent socialist, and 6 years older than Hillary . I’ve heard this discussion of age a number of times at MSNBC and I’m not sure exactly why Hillary’s age is even an issue. I have the feeling that the same thing is going to happen or is already happening to Hillary in 2016 that happened to her in 2008. The party bosses are going to put their weight behind someone else, AGAIN!!!

        • bostonboomer says:

          OK. Well, as I point out in my post, Warren will be 67 in 2016, so I guess she’s too old also.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          Yep, it doesn’t make sense that Crystal would say it and then cheer for Warren. I wish I could remember who raised the issue of age, I believe I was watching “The Cycle” but it could have been an afternoon or evening MSNBC because Crystal often comes in as a political talker in the nightly lineup.

        • Fannie says:

          They are saying is the same thing they said 2008, her age is so unbecoming, and so is her intellect. How many more times they are going to say it, I can only guess. They really are reaching out and teaching the young girls how to stay in their place, and put your career in the glovebox.

    • Fannie says:

      I had to laugh at myself, how stupid was I anyway? Back in my college days, there was the darn good looking guy, and I sure wanted to get close to him. I heard he had a real bad cold, and so I made up a batch of chicken soup, and delivered it to him. He opened the door to let me in, lo, there in a big over stuffed chair was my roommate. She got the lowdown, and went for it before me. Go ahead, have a good laugh on me.

      This Kathleen Willey, she probably will tell you about her thoughts on chicken soup for the soul. She was married to a lawyer, and that marriage was going sour. Ed Willey had been accused of embezzling over $275,000 from a client in the law firm. She decides to go begging Bill Clinton for a job, and tells her husband she’d be back with a job. Didn’t take long for him to go out into the woods shoot himself in the head, he was missing more than 24 hours before his body was found.

      She did indeed get the job. I don’t know how she is being paid today to get her “digs” in on Hillary, but she is still married, and she loves Bill. 2016 is about Hillary, not Bill, and about the 1990’s.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    The huge errors in the latest Greenwald story are being revealed on Twitter.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Meanwhile, our snowstorm has begun–suppose to continue snowing heavily till 7PM.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    Okay, it is snowing hard again here in Western MA and I am questioning where the hell I am supposed to dump the next 5-6 inches that have been predicted.

    My driveway is about 6 inches wide at this point and my car is once again buried under the pile. I have spent more time cleaning it off than I have cleaning the inside of my house.

    No wonder people went mad back in the day. All the more reason to really appreciate those pioneers who lived through winters without t.v., DVDs, or books.

    Can you tell my cabin fever is beginning to settle in?

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hang in there. It’s supposed to be warmer starting tomorrow. Hope for melting!

      • Pat Johnson says:

        A friend of mine is “begging” for these storms to stop.

        Apparently she has been stuck in the house buying any and everything from QVC and HSC just to keep her mind active!

        She says now when she places her orders they refer to her by her first name.


      • Fannie says:

        Luv ya Pat. Keep hanging in there.

  7. RalphB says:

    Best craigslist roommate ad ever and, wouldn’t you know, he’s from Austin. 🙂

    Space robot researcher seeking room in pterodactyl-free zone (near Evansdale or in Southpark)


    h/t John Cole.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Kansas’ anti-gay bill another attempt to force warped Christianity on others


    The big violation of religious freedom at issue here is the requirement to live in reality – in a country where same-sex marriages exist, and where gay people exist, and where it’s increasingly impermissible to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. The Kansas law tried to give religious people who dislike homosexuality not only the right to live according to their beliefs, but also the right to exclude gay people from any facet of public life over which the religious have power.

  9. dakinikat says:


    One hostile observer suggested Jindal had “gone Palin.” That may actually be not too far off if you assume he is looking for a national niche audience that could elevate him from his troubles back home into a viable presidential candidacy. And though there is plenty of potential competition for the worn but serviceable mantle of the supposedly defunct Christian Right — the retreads Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, and the newbie lion of righteousness Ted Cruz — there is no more immediate path in the Iowa Caucuses than the Via Dolorosa of conservative Christian self-pity. And Jindal, who identifies himself as an “evangelical Catholic,” and whose commitment to spiritual warfare is uniquely reflected by his participation in an actual exorcism when he was at Oxford, may think he’s found in the Duck Dynasty/Hobby Lobby communion a narrow road out of Baton Rouge to Des Moines, and then to the White House.


    Poll: Jindal unpopular in Louisiana; Vitter leads in 2015 race

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I’m guessing Jindal is unpopular everywhere. Ever since his post SOTU GOP response I can’t even look at him without thinking “fool” and laughing out loud. Almost as funny as Rubio’s water gulping SOTU GOP response. The GOP has nothing but swaggering idiots to put front and center. I can’t imagine any potential GOP’er, besides Jeb Bush, who even has a snowballs chance in hell of becoming POTUS.

  10. ANonOMouse says:

    How low can they go????? How low will they go????

    Radio host Mark Levin: Gay marriage ‘affects society’ like father-daughter incest

    “I’ll give you an example to be as clear as I can,” Levin continued. “What if an individual decides to have sex with a close relative? And what if it’s both agreed to, they both agree to it?” “Let’s say a father with a daughter. I know it’s grotesque, I’m just making a point. I’m not saying a minor either. With an adult daughter. Does that affect you? Does that affect society? Is that something where we should turn the other way and say, ‘Hey, look, they’re two adults, let them do what they want’? I say that affects society in a big way.”


    • ANonOMouse says:

      I hate same gender relationships being compared to incest, but just in case Mr. Levine does not know, the bible is filled with stories of incestuous relationships blessed by “god”. Even Abraham, the great Father, lived a life of “god approved & blessed” incest. Here are a few examples, Thanks be to Google. 🙂


      Amnon and Thamar II Kings 13:1-2

      Amram and Jochabed Exodus 6:19-20

      Lot and his daughters Genesis 19:31-36

      Nachor and Melcha Genesis 11:26-29

      Abraham and Sara Genesis 20:12-13

      Cain & wife Genesis 4:16-17

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Double Ugh!!!

        Cruz: “They want to use brute power to force the states to take down marriage laws that have been in place for centuries, and that’s inconsistent with the Constitution,”

        Brute power? He thinks marching in pride marches and filing lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of not allowing L/G’s access to a civil contract is brute power? He’s such a wimp.

        Cruz: “And it’s not right, and it’s heartbreaking. Because you and I both know that the best environment for children to be raised is a loving home with a mother and father.”

        Really? By every social measure and most studies the best environment for raising children is one of love. L/G’s are as capable of providing that environment as heterosexual parents.

        Cruz: “ there is an awakening” of “millions” of Americans who were lining up behind his campaign against marriage equality.”

        Millions of bigots!!! Because being against equality is what jesus would do.

        Cruz: “I think the most important thing your listeners can do is simply pray,” Cruz said. “Because we need a great deal of prayer. Because marriage is really, really being undermined by a concerted effort. And it’s causing significant harm.”

        Because everyone knows if it wasn’t for those damned overbearing lesbians and those flashy gay men all prancing around and trying to get married, heterosexual marriage would be thriving. Just pray on it!!!! Amen, Hallelujah, Preach it,

      • what a fucking asshole Cruz is.

  11. RalphB says:

    Jeez, if it isn’t cold it must be fire season…

    …Fire Weather Watch In Effect For Late Thursday Morning Through
    Early Thursday Evening For Areas Along And West Of I-35…

    .A Pacific Front Will Move Across South Central Texas On Thursday.
    This Will Bring Much Drier Air With Breezy Winds Into The Hill Country Late Morning To Midday And I-35 Corridor Early In The Afternoon. Relative Humidities Will Fall Into 10 To 20 Percent Range. Northerly Winds Will Increase To 15 To 25 Mph With Higher Gusts.

  12. ANonOMouse says:

    “If You Think the Weather Is Bad Now, Wait Until El Niño Returns”
    Droughts, high temperatures, heavy rain and floods are all sparked by the El Niño weather pattern.


    “While there is no definitive proof, El Niño has been linked to global warming. One study published last year suggested that “El Niño may get stronger as the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere climbs,” as Scientific American reported.”

  13. dakinikat says:

    Going to be provincial here: Audio documentary about my gentrification in my neighborhood … funny downtown New Orleans history: