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

o-jeb-facebook

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

Hillary speech1

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.

Hillary2

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!

hillary-clinton-h-stage-roosevelt-island

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 »


Tuesday Reads

Laurette with a coffee cup, Henri Matisse

Laurette with a coffee cup, Henri Matisse

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a late start today, because I was trying to find out what’s going on with my broken computer. I learned that it was shipped yesterday and supposedly will get to me on Thursday. It’s still in Oakland, so I’m not sure I believe that. Anyway, it’s a relief that I will get it back sometime soon. I have really missed it. At the same time, I’m very anxious about it. I’ve only had this computer since September and already the motherboard failed. I just hope it doesn’t happen again.

Anyway, enough about my problems. Let’s get to the news of the day.

The Boston Marathon bombing seems to have been mostly forgotten, but as this year’s marathon approaches, the trial of accused bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev is almost complete. Yesterday the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments and today the jury begins deliberations.

Tsarnaev Jury Selection, Day 1

From The New York Times: Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Wraps Up With Clashing Portraits of Naïveté and Extremism.

BOSTON — The courtroom filled with a swelling chorus of Islamic chants as television screens showed the battlefield carnage on Boylston Street, with severed limbs, an 11-year-old boy with bone fragments from someone else lodged in his body, and bright red blood splashed on the pavement like so many buckets of paint.

Once more, the people of Boston on Monday were plunged back into that moment on April 15, 2013, when Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a pair of immigrant brothers, terrorized the city and the nation by setting off deadly bombs at the Boston Marathon in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

“That day, they felt they were soldiers,” the prosecutor said of the brothers. “They were the mujahedeen, and they were bringing their battle to Boston.”

The scene set the stage for closing arguments in this trial, in which testimony began a month ago, against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, whose brother, Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a shootout with police. In an emotional 80-minute multimedia finale delivered to a courtroom packed with survivors and victims’ families, the government cast Mr. Tsarnaev as an equal partner with his brother, equally determined to extract “an eye for an eye” against the United States for killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Read all about the closing arguments at the NYT link. The prosecution’s argument was very graphic and highly emotional. The case goes to the jury this morning. The defense already admitted that Tsarnaev is guilty, so the only real question will be whether he gets the death penalty or life in prison without parole. I certainly hope not, and most Greater Boston residents feel the same way, according to a poll by NPR station WBUR.

I expect to get my copy of a new book released today called The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, by Masha Gessen. I’m really looking forward to reading it, because Gessen is knowledgeable about both Russia and the U.S. She is also the author of a biography of Vladimir Putin and a book about Pussy Riot. According to the reviews, Gessen focuses on the reasons behind the Tsarnaev brothers’ actions rather than on the crime itself, beginning with the history of Chechnya’s battle to stay separate from Russia.

From Wikipedia: Gessen was born in Moscow, lived for ten years in the U.S. before moving back home to Moscow. She moved back to New York  in 2013 after Russian authorities suggested they might take children away from gay parents. She is a lesbian and a well known activist for LGBT rights and against Putin. I’d love to read her book about Putin too.

From the LA Times review of the book (the NYT review is linked above):

Masha Gessen does something unexpected with “The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy.” In a book about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and their role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, she barely describes the crime. Here it is, her account, which comes almost exactly at the halfway point: “Patriots’ Day 2013 fell on April 15, tax day — an ironic coincidence for a big American holiday. At 2:49 p.m. that day, a couple of hours after the winner completed the Boston Marathon, when runners were crossing the finish line in a steady stream, two bombs went off near the end of the route, killing three people and injuring at least 264 others, including sixteen who lost limbs.”

Still, if such an approach seems counterintuitive, that’s the power of this remarkable book. For Gessen, the details of the catastrophe — the backpacks, the surveillance footage, the suspension of civil liberties throughout Greater Boston for several days — are so well known as to be, in some sense, moot. More essential is the background, both historical and personal. In that sense, “The Brothers” is reminiscent of Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” which won a 2007 Pulitzer Prize.

Wright, of course, published his book several years after the fact, while Gessen’s story is unfolding in the Massachusetts courtroom of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial. “The Brothers,” however, is less interested in the case per se than in its context, going back to the 1940s and the relocation by Soviet authorities of ethnic Chechens to the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

What does this have to do with the bombing? Nothing and everything. The Tsarnaev brothers were the children, or grandchildren, of this relocation, which uprooted their father’s family. Nearly 60 years later, when they, with their sisters and parents, came to Boston not long after the Sept. 11 attacks, it was just one more place that did not want them, that regarded them as alien or worse.

I can’t wait to read Gessen’s book. I’ll let you know if I learn anything new and useful from it.

John Oliver interviews Edward Snowden

John Oliver interviews Edward Snowden

Another topic I haven’t written much about recently–the Edward Snowden saga–is back in the headlines after an interview he gave to HBO’s John Oliver. From Fortune: Edward Snowden’s most outlandish interview yet.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower and former National Security Agency contractor, has conducted lots of interviews since he shocked the world with revelations about top secret government surveillance programs and fled to Russia. He’s video-streamed his visage onto a big screen at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas (as well as a smaller one). He’s appeared on panels, including what became the final public appearance of the celebrated New York Times media columnist David Carr. He’s wandered the halls of the TED conference on the screen of a telepresence robot.

But this weekend on John Oliver’s hit HBO series Last Week Tonight, Snowden participated in what is likely his kookiest interview to date. The show took a deep dive into government surveillance, a subject nearly two years in the public spotlight thanks to Snowden’s leaks, and encompassed subjects ranging from the Patriot Act and espionage to, er, “truck nuts” and “dick pics.”

I didn’t see the interview and I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch it; but the video is at the Fortune link if you’re interested.

Apparently the big revelation in the interview was that Snowden never read the documents he stole before releasing them. From Billboard:

If we learned anything from John Oliver‘s super-secret one-on-one interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, which aired Sunday on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, it’s that A) Few Americans probably know who is, and B) The spy agency does not have a department solely dedicated to collecting photos of your junk.

Oliver traveled to Russia to secure the interview with Snowden, who is sought by U.S. authorities for leaking thousands of NSA documents, and though there were plenty of laughs (truck nuts!) the host made sure to grill the asylum-seeker about the seriousness of his situation.

For one thing, Oliver asked Snowden if he had read all the classified docs that he leaked to the media. He said he had “evaluated” all of them — to which Oliver brought up the release of information that revealed the names of U.S. spies. “That’s a fu–up,” Oliver concluded. “You have to own that… You’re giving documents which you know could be harmful, and you know could get out there.”

Snowden responded, “You will never be completely free from risk if you’re free… The only time you can be free from risk is when you’re in prison.”

Snowden just isn’t a serious person. The Daily Mail has an in-depth report with plenty of quotes and videos. Here’s the headline: The damning truth about Snowden: Traitor who put Western lives at risk from terrorists reveals he didn’t even read all the top-secret files he leaked.

rand paul1

This morning Rand Paul revealed (to no one’s surprise) that he’s running for president of the U.S. CBS News reports:

Rand Paul announced his bid for president Tuesday morning on his campaign website, randpaul.com.

On the web page, Paul wrote, “I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government.” The Kentucky senator has already begun asking his supporters for donations to help his cause, too.

His political action committee sent a long email imploring supporters to contribute anywhere from $10 to $500 for a “Stand With Rand Money Bomb.” Paul has used this fundraising technique in the past to collect small-dollar donations online from grassroots supporters.

“The media tells us — if our Republican Party has any hope of defeating Hillary Clinton — you and I should choose a nominee with a track record full of sellouts, compromises and Big Government betrayals. So even though I’m at or near the top of every state poll for the nomination, they continue to try and dismiss my message of liberty and limited government!” the appeal reads.

Paul is expected to formally launch his White House bid at an event in Louisville, Kentucky Tuesday afternoon. The announcement has been expected for weeks, and Paul spent the early part of the week converting his campaign-in-waiting to an actual campaign.

So now the Republicans have two clowns in the clown car: Rand Paul and Ted Cruz–not a particularly auspicious start if you ask me.

rape

One more big story came out late yesterday–a report organized by the Columbia Journalism Review on the Rolling Stone article on the rape problem at the University of Virginia in which the central character apparently fabricated her story. There were many other women in the story who had been raped on the UVA campus, but they were overshadowed by “Jackie’s” apparently false accusations of a man who seems not to exist at all.

Here’s the report at Rolling stone: Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report

and the CJR story: Rolling Stone’s investigation: ‘A failure that was avoidable.’

Amanda Marcotte had two good articles on the report yesterday.

Talking Points Memo: Sorry, Rape Deniers: The Rolling Stone Report isn’t What You Hoped.

Raw Story: The big reveal in the report on Rolling Stone’s rape story fiasco that no one is talking about.

I hope you’ll check out those stories. They’re both well worth reading.

Just one more link from The Daily Beast: Rolling Stone Reporter ‘Nearly Broke Down.’

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?

 


Thursday Reads

Mt. Rainier avalanche

Mt. Rainier avalanche

Good Morning!!

Tales from the frozen Northeast

Yesterday evening in Cambridge, MA, five people were hit by an “avalanche” of snow that slid off the roof of the local skating rink.

The Boston Globe reports: Five trapped by snow falling from roof of Cambridge ice rink.

One man was completely buried and four other adults were briefly trapped Wednesday evening after snow fell from the roof of a Cambridge skating rink, a police spokesman said.

Four men and one woman were walking on a path between Gold Star Mothers Park and the Simoni Memorial Rink, just south of the McGrath Highway, when a “very compact” section of snow about 30 feet wide and up to 5 feet deep fell from the roof just past 6 p.m., said Jeremy Warnick, a Cambridge police spokesman.

A witness called police, who used snow shovels provided by people at the scene to begin the search for a 34-year-old Cambridge man, the twin brother of another man in the group, who was covered in snow, Warnick said.

His twin and other two men, ages 31 and 30, were briefly buried to the chest but were able to extricate themselves, Warnick said. A 20-year-old woman in the group was not completely buried but suffered injuries to her neck and shoulders, he said.

Cambridge firefighters came to assist the rescue effort, and the Somerville Department of Public Works provided two front-end loaders to remove remaining snow. All five who were hit by the snow had been accounted for by 6:23 p.m., Warnick said. He did not release their identities.

From WBZ (CBS Local Boston), Two People Buried By Falling Snow In Cambridge.

Two people were buried when a massive amount of snow fell off a Cambridge ice rink Wednesday night.

Cambridge Police say five adults were walking down the sidewalk next to the rink when the snow fell.

Dan Delongchamp was the first person on scene and started digging. “I want to say it was five minutes of terror,” Delongchamp said. “Digging in the snow trying to find somebody, it was terrible.”

Delongchamp, of Somerville, was riding his bike near the rink when the snow fell. He wants to be a professional bike driver. If you want to become a pro biker, you better read this review about bmx bikes first.

“We kept shoveling, kept shoveling, and finally I reached down and I felt something soft, and said this isn’t snow, and it was him,” Delongchamp said.

A 33-year-old man and 20-year-old woman, both of Cambridge – were stuck under the weight of five feet of snow.

Angelo Ciardiello and his crew were around the corner removing snow for the City of Somerville when they learned of the emergency at the nearby Simoni Ice Rink in Cambridge.

“I’d never seen anything like that,” Ciardiello said. “They were buried up to their chest. They were panicked, they were scared.”

Unbelievable.

Snow jumperThe latest craze for younger adults in Boston is jumping or diving out windows and off balconies into deep snow. It has gotten so crazy that the Mayor felt he had to say something about this dangerous pastime.

USA Today reports: Boston mayor to snow daredevils: Chill out.

Think before you jump. Or, don’t jump at all.

That’s the message Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told snow-bound Bostonians at a press conference Tuesday.

Apparently, some of the city’s stir-crazy, thrill-seeking residents are taking to social media with videos of them jumping out of windows into massive snowdrifts.

“I’m asking people to stop their nonsense right now. These are adults jumping out windows. It’s a foolish thing to do, and you could kill yourself,” Walsh said, according to a video of his remarks from the Boston Herald….

“This isn’t Loon Mountain, this is the city of Boston, where we’re trying to remove snow off of the street and it becomes very dangerous. And the last thing we want to do is respond to an emergency call where somebody jumped out of the window because they thought it was a funny thing to do,” Walsh said.

FYI: Loon Mountain is a ski resort in New Hampshire. See more snow diving and jumping photos at The Daily Mail.

Check out this dramatic video of a snow dive:

At MIT, maintenance workers have piled up the snow removed from streets and sidewalks on campus into a huge five-story high  “mountain” on Albany Street near classroom buildings and student dorms. There’s a fence around the area, but people are still getting in to climb the “MIT Alps” and slide down again. Here’s a photo posted on Twitter by Susie Blackmon (via Bustle)

MIT mountain1 daily mail

 

 “Superbug Nightmare” in Los Angeles

If you thought the measles outbreak in California was scary, “you ain’t heard nothing yet,” as Al Jolson used to say.

From the AP, via ABC News: 7 Infected, 2 Dead After ‘Superbug’ Outbreak at Hospital.

Contaminated medical instruments are to blame for infecting seven patients — including two who died — with an antibiotic-resistant and potentially deadly “superbug” at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, hospital officials said. A total of 179 patients may be infected.

They were exposed to Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, during endoscopic procedures between October and January when it was discovered during tests on a patient, said Dale Tate, a University of California, Los Angeles spokeswoman.

The potentially infected patients are being sent free home-testing kits that UCLA will analyze, the university said.

The bacteria may have been a “contributing factor” in the deaths of two patients, a university statement said.

From Mother Jones: A Superbug Nightmare Is Playing Out at an LA Hospital.

In today’s terrifying health news, the LA Timesreports that two medical scopes used at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been contaminated with the potentially deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). Two patients have died from complications that may be connected to the bacteria, and authorities believe that 179 more patients have been exposed.

Most healthy people aren’t at risk of catching a CRE infection, but in hospitals this bacteria can be quite dangerous: CRE kills as many as half of all people in whom the infection has spread to the bloodstream. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with the CA Department of Public Health to investigate the situation, which is expected to result in more infections.

The problem isn’t just in Los Angeles, though. Last month USA Today reported that hospitals around the country struggle with transmissions of bacteria on these scopes—medical devices commonly used to treat digestive-system problems—and there have been several other under-the-radar outbreaks of CRE.

This is pretty scary stuff, considering that in the antibiotics arms race against bacteria, we are starting to fall behind. Due in large part to unnecessary medical prescriptions and overuse of antibiotics in our food supply, these superbugs are on the rise. In a study published last year that focused specifically on hospitals in the Southeastern United States, researchers reported that CRE cases had increased fivefold between 2008 and 2012.

CRE “superbug” backteria

This just reinforces my determination to stay away from antibiotics, doctors, and hospitals unless I’m really sick–like with a 103 degree temperature or something. A little more from the AP article quoted above:

The two medical devices carried the bacteria even though they were sterilized according to the manufacturer’s specifications, UCLA said. “We removed the infected instruments, and we have heightened the sterilization process,” Tate said.

The CDC said that national figures on the bacteria are not kept, but 47 states have seen cases.

Since 2012, there have been about a half-dozen outbreaks reaching as many as 150 patients, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the UCLA outbreak.

One outbreak occurred in Illinois in 2013. Dozens of patients were exposed to CRE, with some cases apparently linked to a tainted endoscope used at a hospital.

A Seattle hospital, Virginia Mason Medical Center, reported in January that CRE linked to an endoscope sickened at least 35 patients, and 11 died, although it was unclear whether the infection played a role in their deaths.

According to the LA Times, as many as 179 patients may have been exposed to CRE in the past several months.

UCLA said it discovered the outbreak late last month while running tests on a patient. This week, it began to notify 179 other patients who were treated from October to January and offer them medical tests. By some estimates, if the infection spreads to a person’s bloodstream, the bacteria can kill 40% to 50% of patients.

At issue is a specialized endoscope inserted down the throats of about 500,000 patients annually to treat cancers, gallstones and other ailments of the digestive system.

These duodenoscopes are considered minimally invasive, and doctors credit them for saving lives through early detection and treatment. But medical experts say some scopes can be difficult to disinfect through conventional cleaning because of their design, so bacteria are transmitted from patient to patient.

These instruments are not the same type used in more routine endoscopies and colonoscopies.

The procedure in question is known as ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The superbug is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

Read much more at the link.

Jeb Bush meets the media

Bush brothers

“I’m my own man,” Jeb Bush announced in a speech yesterday. From Reuters:

Republican Jeb Bush staked out a robust vision for U.S. foreign policy in line with party doctrine on Wednesday and sought to ease concerns that he might be influenced by his powerful political family by insisting, “I’m my own man.”

A frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Bush said he would back a global strategy against Islamic State that “takes them out.”

But he offered no specifics on how to do this and avoided military threats that could reawaken memories of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq launched by his older brother, former President George W. Bush, over weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the former Florida governor struck a balance between respecting the service of his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and brother, while suggesting he would make decisions based on circumstances neither of them had to face.

“I’m my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences,” Bush said.

Bush’s claim was undermined by his list of foreign policy advisers. The Washington Post reports: Jeb Bush vows to set his own course while tapping longtime family advisers.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday promised to chart his own course on foreign policy — even as he announced a campaign brain trust associated, in part, with the most contentious policies of his brother’s and father’s presidencies….

In his prepared remarks, Bush mentioned Iraq, where his father and brother waged wars, only in passing — including once by mistake, when he meant to say Iran.

But in a question-and-answer session afterward, Bush addressed the troubled conflict in Iraq during his brother’s administration. “There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure,” he said….

The threat of Iran as a nuclear power is “the defining foreign policy issue of our time,” Bush contended, arguing that the Obama administration has shown itself “unequal to the task.” ….

Meanwhile, the 21 names announced by his campaign-in-waiting as supporters and advisers on foreign policy did not provide much indication of what direction Bush would take.

The list represents the full spectrum of views within the Republican foreign policy establishment — from relative moderates, including former secretaries of state George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III, to staunch neoconservatives such as Iraq war architect Paul D. Wolfowitz.

Yikes!

bush-2000

A few more Jeb links:

The Atlantic: If Jeb Bush Isn’t George W. Bush, Who Is He?

The Fix: Jeb Bush’s foreign policy team is eerily familiar, in one Venn diagram.

Think Progress: Jeb Bush’s Attack On Obama Over Iran Goes Horribly Wrong.

Buzzfeed: Jeb Bush Makes Vague First Foray Into Foreign Policy.

Washington Monthly: Politico Makes Case For Just Declaring Jeb Bush President Right Now.

More News Links

New York Magazine: Justice Department May Sue Ferguson Police Over Racial Bias.

Talking Points Memo: South Dakota Lawmaker says ‘Planned Parenthood Worse Than ISIS’

Undercover Michigan: Michigan Woman dies after accidently shooting herself while Adjusting Bra Holster.

The Missing Leak Sports Blog: Time for Goodell to Step Down?

Tom Curran at Comcast Sportsnet New England: Another black eye for NFL in Deflategate quest.

Politico: Rudy Giuliani says President Obama doesn’t love America (Giuliani supports Scott Walker.)

The Guardian: Chapel Hill ‘hate crime’ response criticised by Muslim lawmaker Keith Ellison.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!

 

 


MLK Holiday Reads

mlk-drawings-children-300x200Good Morning!

It’s our holiday to celebrate the contributions of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King!  No holiday celebration is complete without drawings by grade school children!!

President Obama will give his SOTU address tomorrow and will call for raising taxes on the wealthy to provide tax cuts for the middle class.   This is an interesting strategy and I’m sure the Republicans are planning on screaming “class war” for the next few days.

President Obama will use his State of the Union address to call on Congress to raise taxes and fees on the wealthiest taxpayers and the largest financial firms to finance an array of tax cuts for the middle class, pressing to reshape the tax code to help working families, administration officials said on Saturday.

The proposal faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Congress, led by lawmakers who have long opposed raising taxes and who argue that doing so would hamper economic growth at a time the country cannot afford it. And it was quickly dismissed by leading Republicans as a nonstarter.

But the decision to present the plan during Tuesday’s speech marks the start of a debate over taxes and the economy that will shape both Mr. Obama’s legacy and the 2016 presidential campaign.

It is also the latest indication that the president, untethered from political constraints after Democratic losses in the midterm elections, is moving aggressively to set the terms of that discussion, even as he pushes audacious moves in other areas, like immigration and relations with Cuba.

The president’s plan would raise $320 billion over the next decade, while adding new provisions cutting taxes by $175 billion over the same period. The revenue generated would also cover an initiative Mr. Obama announced this month, offering some students two years of tuition-free community college, which the White House has said would cost $60 billion over 10 years.

The centerpiece of the plan, described by administration officials on the condition of anonymity ahead of the president’s speech, would eliminate what Mr. Obama’s advisers call the “trust-fund loophole,” a provision governing inherited assets that shields hundreds of billions of dollars from taxation each year. The plan would also increase the top capital-gains tax rate, to 28 percent from 23.8 percent, for couples with incomes above $500,000 annually.

Those changes and a new fee on banks with assets over $50 billion would be used to finance a set of tax breaks for middle-income earners, including a $500 credit for families in which both spouses work; increased child care and education credits; and incentives to save for retirement.

The initiative signals a turnabout for Mr. Obama, who has spoken repeatedly about the potential for a deal with Republicans on business tax reform but little about individual taxation, an area fraught with disagreements.

“Slapping American small businesses, savers and investors with more tax hikes only negates the benefits of the tax policies that have been successful in helping to expand the economy, promote savings and create jobs,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the Finance Committee. “The president needs to stop listening to his liberal allies who want to raise taxes at all costs and start working with Congress to fix our broken tax code.”

Republicans have already referred to it as “trolling” given that they run both houses of the US Congress and will pass neither one.  This does, 6a00d8341cc08553ef010536e23afe970c-800wihowever, have very bad optics for them.  It puts them squarely in league with the uberwealthy.

“It’s not surprising to see the president call for tax hikes, but now he’s asking Congress to reverse bipartisan tax relief that he signed into law,” said Don Stewart, deputy chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Stewart said that “Republicans believe we should simplify America’s outdated tax code; that tax filing should be easier for you, not just those with fancy accountants; and that tax reform should create jobs for families, not the [Internal Revenue Service].”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, also criticized the proposal.

“This is not a serious proposal,” said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck in a public statement. “We lift families up and grow the economy with a simpler, flatter tax code, not big tax increases to pay for more Washington spending.”

937882789_34faf345d5Plan details include hitting big banks and inheritance taxes.  These suggestions really go at the types of tax cuts that incent gambling and increase financial wealth rather than industrial and business wealth that create jobs and economic growth.

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will lay out a plan to extend tax credits to the middle class by hiking taxes on wealthier Americans and big banks, according to senior administration officials.

Under the plan, the capital gains tax for couples with income over $500,000 per year would be raised from its current level of 23.8 percent up to 28. The plan would also strip a tax break, known as a “step-up,” that allows heirs to avoid capital gains taxes on large inheritances.

In addition, the plan would institute a new tax on the biggest financial institutions, basing the fee on liabilities in order to discourage risky borrowing. The administration says the fee would hit the roughly 100 banks that have assets of $50 billion or more.

The president’s plan would use revenues from those tax code changes to finance credits aimed at the middle class, officials said. That includes extending the earned income tax credits to families without children, which would benefit an estimated 13 million low-income workers, while also tripling the maximum tax credits for child care in low- and middle-income homes.

“This proposal is probably the most impactful way we can address the manifest unfairness in our tax system,” an administration official said.

The tax hikes on capital gains would run into heavy opposition from Republicans in the GOP-controlled Congress. Other elements of the president’s plan, however, have enjoyed some degree of bipartisan support. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has proposed a similar tax on big banks, and many Republicans favor the idea of broadening the earned income tax credit.

According to officials, the capital gains tax reforms would impact “almost exclusively” the top 1 percent of earners, carving out the majority of middle-income families from the hikes.

scan0002[17]Here’s an essential  outline for the items up for revision in the President’s plan. Is it his Piketty moment?  This one is my personal favorite but they’re all good.

Raise the top capital gains tax rate from 23.8 to 28 percent. This is straightforward enough. Money you get from investments is taxed less than money you get from, you know, actually working, and while that might be good for the economy, it’s not good for a basic sense of fairness. Not when the top 400 households are getting 16 percent of all capital gains, and the top 0.1 percent are getting half of them. That’s why, as theCongressional Budget Office (CBO) dryly puts it, “preferential tax rates on dividends and capital gains provide almost no benefit to households in the bottom four quintiles, but provide notable benefits to households in the top quintile”.

So Obama wants to push the top capital gains tax rate, which only applies to couples making more than $500,000, up from its current level of 23.8 percent to 28 percent, where it was when Ronald Reagan left office. In all, the White House calculates that increasing the capital gains tax and getting rid of step-up basis would raise 99 percent of its money from the top 1 percent, with 80 percent of that coming from the top 0.1 percent.

This is one of the items that has really drawn money out of doing business and into stock market gambling.  Why work when you can day trade your life into a lower tax bracket as a wealthy person?

Here’s a few political things sure to give you some fits and giggles.  Lady Lindsey is said to be considering a run at the Presidency. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham acknowledged on Sunday he’s seriously exploring a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if he had started polling voters about his chances in 2016, Graham said he is not polling, “but we set up a testing-the-waters committee under the IRS code that will allow me to look beyond South Carolina as to whether or not a guy like Lindsey Graham has a viable path.”

“I don’t know where this will go, but I’m definitely going to look at it,” said Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina.

Another Tiger Beat on the Potomac exclusive says that Sarah Palin is the only Republican with less popularity than Chris Christie.MLK picture_thumb[1]

A new CBS poll shows 29 percent of Republicans would like to see Christie run for the Republican nomination for president. But 44 percent say no. CBS points out “Only former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s numbers are more underwater: 30 percent of Republicans say they’d like to see her run, but 59 percent disagree.”

Fifty-nine percent of Republicans would like to see Mitt Romney jump into the 2016 race, while 26 percent believe he should stay out.

“Fifty percent of Republicans would like to see former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the campaign trail as well, while 27 percent disagree,” pollsters said. “If both Romney and Bush run, analysts expect them to wage a competitive battle for the allegiance of the Republican establishment.”

Numbers for some of the others often mentioned:

– Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: 40 percent of Republicans urge him to get in, and 29 percent say stay out.

– “Twenty-seven percent of Republicans would like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to mount a bid, but 34 percent disagree. Twenty-six percent would like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to run, while 19 percent would not. Twenty-one percent want Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to run, while 25 percent want him to not run.”

– Gov. Rick Perry of Texas: 21 percent yes, 29 percent no.

– Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana: 14 percent yes, 20 percent no.

– Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin:  22 percent yes, 12 percent no.

Maybe winning isn’t everything after all. “Republicans, by a 61 to 35 percent margin, believe it’s more important to have a nominee who agrees with them on the issues than a nominee who can win the general election,” according to the poll.

Eeeshhh.

Well, that’s it for today!  We’ll see you with a live blog for the SOTU tomorrow!! Have a great holiday!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Challenging Misogyny and Electing a Woman President

hillary-clinton-book-signing

 

Good Morning!!

A couple of days ago, Dan Murphy of The Christian Science Monitor tweeted a link to a 2013 post he wrote about on-line misogyny and noted that “It’s only getting worse.” It’s refreshing that some men recognize the problem. But why is it “getting worse” this week? I doubt if even Dan Murphy knows what’s driving the recent increase in on-line expressions of woman hatred.

Hint: A powerful woman released a memoir on Tuesday. There are now 552 customer reviews of the book on Amazon, most written by misogynistic Hillary-haters who obviously have not read even a single paragraph of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices. 

We watched it during the 2008 presidential campaign, and we always knew it would happen again if Hillary dared to run again. The truth is that misogyny is even stronger than racism in this country; hatred of women is so powerful that even pointing it out can unleash rape and murder threats. From Dan Murphy’s post from last year about misogyny in the UK:

Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman got the ball rolling this time by daring to write on Tuesday:

There’s been a lot of focus of late on the weirdy-weirdos who send rape threats on Twitter, and rightly so. But much of the coverage makes several misguided assumptions. First, that angry misogynists only communicate on Twitter (allow me to introduce you to something called Reddit). Second, that this is a man-versus-woman thing. Some of the angriest messages I’ve ever received on the Internet have come from women, usually telling me how ugly I am. Lovely to meet you, too! And third, that legislating against rape threats on the Internet is a contravention of freedom of speech. Seeing as legislation against hate speech in the real world has not, as far as I know, contravened anyone’s right to freedom of speech, this argument makes no sense, except, maybe, to people who make rape threats and whose grasp of logic is, perhaps, not whipsmart.

Ms. Freeman soon received a bomb threat on Twitter. Also in the UK last week feminist writer Caroline Criado-Perez and Labour Party politician Stella Creasy received rape threats via Twitter. After Ms. Criado-Perez complained to police she’d received dozens of sexual threats over the Internet, a 21-year old man was arrested.

Hillary cartoon

The Hillary hate has been building up for awhile now, ever since Hillary stepped down as Secretary of State and the media began shrieking from the dark heart of its collective fear of a woman president–especially *This Woman.* I don’t know how bad its going to get, but I’m already sick of it. I want so much for Hillary to stand strong and prevail over the fear and hatred of women that is and will be projected on her for the next couple of years.

Even I fell for it yesterday when we discussed Hillary’s interview with NPR’s Terry Gross. I said I thought Hillary had sounded defensive when she responded to Gross’s question about changing her position on same-sex marriage. Luckily for me, Fannie and Janicen were there to point out my mistake:

Fannie

I am glad Hillary asserted herself and her tone. I don’t know why Terry Gross didn’t do her homework, or why she took the path that lead to the “twisting of her comments, insisting it was politics”. Hillary wasn’t trying to jump her (or as the media said, Hillary was being testy), she was being spot on about her response. Get ready, now that her book is out, we are going to see underreactions, overreactions, the ups and and downs, and everything else they will thrown into the mix. Hillary will be up against the Ducks, the Rick Perry’s who thinks gays are alcoholics, the tea party candidate who says the Bible tells me to stone gay people to death, and Rich Gohmert who debates at congressional hearings about who is and who is not going to heaven. She’s been around the block a couple times.

BB, you remember when Chris Hayes was attacked by a republican woman, she hammered his ass, and it was all because they “disagreed”. Hillary was NOT being nasty like this woman. She handled it well, I thought.

Let’s get back to Hillary’s history. She was speaking out against the oppression by the Uganda Bill “Kill the Gays”. She gave a hell of speech at George University. That was early in 2009.

Did Chris and Terry forget 2009 when she said:
“On behalf of Department of State and USAID, I want to congratulate the gays and lesbians in foreign affairs agencies on winning the Employee Resource Group of the Year Award by Out and Equal Work Place.”

It was Hillary who changed the policy at the Dept. State, to help provide benefits for same sex partners of those work were in foreign service. It was after this that Obama followed with other federal agencies. Obama had been nodding his head, while she was actually changing the laws, and the records are there for everybody to see. Terry and Chris refused to see.

Hillary Clinton also developed policy on transgender employees at the state department. She said stand up and be who you are. Keep in mind, she said “the struggle for equality is never ever finished”…. and she is right.

Hillary has been advocate for LGBT community for long time. She knows that they (we) are all flustrated because change is slow to come. It coming but very slowly. It was Hillary who marched in Pride Parade when June was declared Pride Month, she was right there with them, while Obama was working out.

Chris is getting lazy, get up off his ass and speak to those she has helped for many many years.

janicen

June 13, 2014 at 11:55 am(Edit)

I have to disagree that she sounded defensive. I think she sounded decisive. Gross kept stupidly pushing her agenda again and again. Clinton was polite for as long as humanly possible and then she just had to put the idiot in her place. I’m glad she responded as she did. Until then she was sounding like a politician. Once she cold cocked her, Madame President sounded like a leader.

Thank you, my dear friends. That is a clear demonstration of the value of a community blog where we can argue share our analyses with each other. I’m so glad we are still hanging in there together!

Now a response to the chorus of media criticism of Hillary as “testy” (IOW *bitchy*) from Jeremy Holden at Media Matters: How NPR’s Terry Gross Created A False Impression That Hillary Clinton Stonewalled On Marriage Equality.

By repeatedly asking the same question, NPR correspondent Terry Gross created the false impression that Hillary Clinton was stonewalling and dodging over the issue of marriage equality, despite the fact that Clinton consistently and repeatedly answered Gross’ question.

As a senator and during her 2008 presidential run, Clinton supported civil unions for same-sex couples and opposed marriage equality. In a March 2013 statement, she announced that “I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law.” She explained that her travels as secretary of state and her daughter’s wedding had been key to her changing her opinion on the issue.

Gross’ central question was whether Clinton changed her publicly stated position and supported gay marriage out of political expedience, a question she asked seven separate times during an NPR interview. Clinton consistently rejected Gross’ characterization throughout the interview, instead saying that her views on the issue changed over time.

SONY DSC

To me it seemed that Gross wanted Hillary to say that she had always supported same-sex marriage, but had pretended to oppose it for political reasons. Of course if Hillary had said that, she would have been pilloried for lying about her position. The truth is, as she stated very clearly, that Hillary’s views on same-sex marriage changed as she heard the logical arguments for it from LGBT activists–whom she had long supported. Here is Hillary’s clear response at the beginning of the exchange.

TERRY GROSS: Were there positions you believed in as senator but you couldn’t publicly support because you felt that it wasn’t time yet? That the positions would have been too unpopular? That the public wasn’t ready in regards to LGBT rights? And, you know, I often think that there are politicians who, you know, in their heart really support it but don’t publicly support it.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I was fully on board with ending discrimination in the workplace on behalf of the LGBT community. I did not support gay marriage when I was in the Senate or running for president, as you know, and as President Obama and others held the same position.But it, for me, became an opportunity to do what I could as secretary of state to make the workplace fairer – something I had always supported and spoke out about. And then when I was out of the secretary of state position and once again free to comment on domestic matters, I very shortly came out in favor of fully equality, including gay marriage.

Yet “progressives” like Chris Hayes writers at Firedoglake and Huffington Post ripped into Hillary for standing up for herself against Gross’s attempts to twist her responses.

Another defense of Hillary’s truthfulness–while expressing frustration with her positions–came from the Washington Post’s Johnathan Capehart: Gross misunderstanding of Hillary Clinton on gay marriage.

The history bears out Clinton’s contention. Her evolution on marriage equality was as irksome for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as was President Obama’s. But what made Obama’s evolution especially painful to watch was knowing that as a candidate for state senate in 1996, he unequivocally stated, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” As I covered Clinton from first lady to senator to presidential candidate, I never detected a whiff of that kind of political calculation in her opposition to same-sex marriage. If anything, her march to “yes” was maddeningly slow.

Hillary profile

Here’s another interesting example of contrasting views on Hillary and her behavior. First The UK Guardian’s review of Hard Choices by David Runciman: Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton review – buttoned-up but still revealing.

If Hillary Clinton becomes the next American president she won’t just be the first woman to hold that office: she’ll be the first secretary of state to get there since James Buchanan in 1857. Unlike in Britain, where foreign secretaries and chancellors of the exchequer routinely go on to the top job, senior US cabinet positions are not seen as stepping stones to the White House. No secretary of the treasury has ever become president. Cabinet officers are meant to be functionaries: people whose job is to make sense of the world. Presidents are meant to be politicians: people whose job is to lead it. In this long, exhausting, faintly robotic but ultimately impressive book, Hillary makes her pitch to be both.

According to Runciman, Hillary’s book is way too cautious and “prosaic,” but still “an amazing story.

Above all, what comes through is Clinton’s sheer persistence. This is how she does politics, by keeping going and totting up the small victories so that they outweigh the defeats. Unlike Obama, who still appears to believe that politics is about rational argument, and unlike George Bush, who thought it was about vision, Hillary believes it is about breaking things down. She is a disaggregator, who can’t see a problem without trying to make it smaller, more manageable, and only then does she try to fit the pieces back together again. Peace, she tells us, doesn’t necessarily begin with a grand fanfare. Sometimes it comes out of the temporary ceasefire that holds just long enough to make a difference. Part of why this book is so exhausting is its thoroughness: she travels the whole world and tells us about the different challenges she faced, taking them all seriously. Early on she quotes approvingly a maxim from Deng Xiaoping: “Coolly observe, calmly deal with things, hold your position, hide your capacities, bide your time, accomplish things where possible.” The US could do worse than having Deng as its next president.

Perhaps that’s the only option for a powerful woman in the misogynistic rape culture of the U.S.?

Hillary Rodham Clinton Signs Copies Of Her Memoir "Hard Choices"

Here’s feminist writer Jessica Valenti, also from The Guardian: Hillary Clinton’s book is exactly as ‘safe’ as female politicians are forced to be.

Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices – a memoir of her time as secretary of state – is finally out, and the critical consensus is that it’s a snore. CNN’s conservative commentator Ana Navarro called it “50 shades of boring” while the network’s liberal contributor Sally Kohn called it “safe” and “dry” – and joked that the book should have been called “Boring Choices“. The New Republic criticized its “dullness and lack of critical energy”. Politico’s Mike Allen called the 596-page book a “newsless snore”.

I’m not exactly sure how action-packed the minutiae of a diplomat’s life is supposed to be, but the Hard Choices haters ignore that a “safe” book was Clinton’s only real choice. After all, whenever she’s hinted at being anything other than measured and guarded, Clinton has been attacked as hysterical, a ballbuster or worse. So if people are bored by Hard Choices, they should blame the misogynist expectations of Washington, not the careful crafting of a seasoned politician.

When then-presidential hopeful Clinton teared up on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in 2008, for example, Maureen Dowd penned a column in the New York Times that asked “Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?”On CNN, Glenn Beck said, “After spending decades stripping away all trace of emotion, femininity, and humanity, Hillary Clinton broke down and actually cried. … I don’t buy the hype.” On Fox News, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol called the emotional moment “solipsistic and narcissistic”. Similarly, when Clinton got into a heated exchange during her Benghazi testimony, the New York Post ran a cover of Clinton yelling with her fists clenched; the headline: NO WONDER BILL’S AFRAID.

Any emotion that Hillary Clinton shows has always been used against her, and it has become a kind of stand-in for the many reasons women are said to be oh-so-unfit to lead. The building-up of her protective public armor, post- and potentially pre-White House, isn’t just smart for Clinton personally – it’s essential for the growing national image of women in politics.

It’s clear from reading Hard Choices that sexism – particularly during Clinton’s 2008 run for president – has taken a toll on her. “I knew that it arose from cultural and psychological attitudes about women’s roles in society, but that didn’t make it any easier for me and my supporters,” she writes. Indeed, the frenzy of misogyny was so intense that it’s hard to imagine enduring it all while vying for the most important job in the world.

After seeing the racism that has plagued Barack Obama’s presidency–and has, if anything, increased during his second term–we now know that the misogyny from the media and society as a whole would continue throughout a Hillary Clinton presidency. That is what it will take for a woman to break through that ultimate glass ceiling. If we are going to support Hillary in her fight to do just that we will need to stay awake and aware of the various forms the efforts to bring her down will take. I learned that lesson here yesterday, and I will rely on other Sky Dancers to keep me focused on the ultimate goal. I hope I’ll be strong enough to do the same in return.

Now, what else is happening in the world today? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.


Hillary and Barack Have Lunch at the White House

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have lunch at the White House, July 29, 2013

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have lunch at the White House, July 29, 2013

Good Afternoon!!

Tongues are wagging in Washington over President Obama inviting Hillary Clinton to lunch today. The White House announced that “the purpose of the lunch is chiefly social,” but pundits suspect the two may have been discussing Hillary’s possible run for president in 2016.

The New York Times speculated:

Hillary Rodham Clinton has walked the halls of the White House as the first lady, a senator and the secretary of state. On Monday, she is returning as a former diplomat — who might just want one more job.

Mrs. Clinton is back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a private lunch with President Obama, a meeting that the White House said was decidedly closed to the press.

Given Mrs. Clinton’s last job and the turmoil around the world, it seems likely that the two will talk about the situation in Egypt, the emerging peace talks in the Middle East and the diplomatic battle over Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American intelligence contractor.

But it is possible they may chat about politics as well, in particular whether Mrs. Clinton will run for president again in 2016.

NBC News emphasized the President and former Secretary of State’s close friendship as the reason for today’s get-together.

The two Democrats and former rivals met for lunch Monday in a private dining room at the White House, spawning a frenzy of predictable media speculation about whether they might be putting their heads together about Clinton’s much-rumored 2016 run.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily briefing that the meal is simply a chance for the two pols to pal around.

“Over the course of the last four years … Secretary Clinton and the president have developed not just a strong working relationship, but also a genuine friendship,” he said. “And so, it’s largely friendship that’s on the agenda for the lunch today. So it’s not a working lunch as much as it is an opportunity for the two, who saw each other on a pretty frequent basis for the past four years, to get a chance to catch up.”

Hillary Clinton arrives for lunch at the White House, July 29, 2013.

Hillary Clinton arrives for lunch at the White House, July 29, 2013.

The Christian Science Monitor offers more detailed speculation about what the two may have discussed over their “grilled chicken, pasta jambalaya and salad.” CSM’s Linda Feldman offers three theories:

First, Obama could be giving Clinton input on her future political plans.

How can Mr. Obama help her decide? He can bring her up to speed on what presidential politics are like in the age of 24/7 social media – already a factor in 2007 and 2008, but not like today – and 24/7 political coverage. Remember, Politico launched on Jan. 23, 2007, just three days after Clinton announced she was forming an exploratory committee for a presidential campaign. Now Politico (and BuzzFeed and all the other new politically obsessed sites) is a force to be reckoned with. No tidbit is too small.

Second, maybe Obama wanted to pick Clinton’s brain on foreign policy.

Obama certainly has a full plate, and Clinton can obviously speak knowledgeably about the range of issues he faces – Egypt, Syria, Russia, Edward Snowden, the Keystone XL pipeline, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that begin in Washington Monday evening. John Kerry, of course, is now Obama’s secretary of State, and Clinton’s task as a “former” is to be quiet and let the new guy do his job. Thus a closed-press lunch meeting is the perfect forum for discussion, away from the cameras.

One more topic on foreign policy: The issue of Benghazi – the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on US diplomatic facilities in the Libyan city that left four Americans dead, including the ambassador – is still a thorn in Obama’s side. And it happened on Clinton’s watch, making it fodder for political opponents in a second Clinton presidential campaign.

Third, maybe they just wanted to hang out.

To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes a lunch is just a lunch. Maybe it’s just two friends breaking bread together, catching up on how they and their families are doing. Obama’s daughters are growing up – Malia is a teenager, and Sasha is almost there – and Clinton has experience raising a teenage girl in the White House. How did the Clintons handle all the normal teen issues – clothes, makeup, boys, parties, driving?

What do you think they talked about? This is an open thread, of course.

A few more headlines that  might catch your fancy:

LA Times: FBI raids rescue 105 teens who were forced into prostitution (Catching criminals like this involves {Gasp!} electronic surveillance!)

CBS News: Verdict near in Bradley Manning trial–judge could decide by Tuesday.

CBC News: Pope Francis says he won’t judge gays–but homosexual acts are sinful, and women can’t be priests because Jesus’ apostles were men. Except for Mary Magdalene, who was erased by the church hierarchy way back when. And of course women are still baby machines.

USA Today reports on another horrible train crash in Europe–this time in Switzerland.

The Guardian reports on another Chinese factory producing Apple products. Conditions for 70,000 workers at Pegatron plants allegedly worse than those reported in the Foxconn scandal