Tuesday Reads: Berning It All Down

Bernie bros getting ready to burn it all down

Bernie bros getting ready to burn it all down

Good Afternoon!!

Once again, I’ve been sitting here for hours trying to figure out where to begin a post on what’s happening in the news today. So far May has been so terrible for me personally and for my family that I can barely deal with the insanity that is happening in the world of politics. Has it ever been this bad before? I suppose it has, but somehow this election year seems so tawdry, so ugly, so ridiculous, and so horrifying that it’s hard to find a comparison, at least in my lifetime.

Hillary Clinton, one of the most qualified candidates for POTUS ever, is being forced to deal with two insane old white men who are using lies and conspiracy theories to try to bring her down as well as an irresponsible media full of “journalists” who want nothing more than to see her shamed and brought low. If they could get away with burning her at the stake, I believe they would do it without hesitation. I’m not alone. I found this in my Twitter feed:

It is well past time for Bernie Sanders to drop his vicious attacks on Hillary and the Democratic Party, but it has become clear that he is not going to do it. I’m beginning to believe that he actually wants to help elect Donald Trump so that “the revolution” he (Sanders) has dreamed of all of his life will come to fruition.

Bernie is delusional, and I don’t think the Democrats in DC realize the extent to which he has begun to live in his own fantasy world. I don’t think he is going to stop his attacks, and I would not be at all surprised if he tries running third party. I hope and pray that I’m just catastrophizing because of my own stress level.

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One of the first things I clicked on this morning was a link on Memeorandum to Cannonfire: A sin against democracy. It’s a rant about what has become of Salon. You need to read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:

Salon has become something worse than Fox. Comparing the two, I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s great line from Leap of Faith: “Manipulators are sneaky. I’m obvious!” Fox, at least, has the virtue of being obvious.

Here’s the truth: The Clinton Foundation is a charity. Watchdog groups consider it transparent and honest. It does an enormous amount of good. Liars have painted a completely false picture of that Foundation, what it does and how it runs. (They’ve also seeded the internet with utterly bogus stories about how much money actually reaches the needy.)

The attacks on the Clintons Foundation mirror the infamous “swiftboat” attacks on John Kerry’s war record. That, too, was a Republican smear campaign designed to target an opponent’s strength.

If people like Rove, Stone, Atwater — and the writers for Salon — had been around in 1960, they would have found ways to make people believe that JFK had acted abominably in the PT109 affair. I’m not sure how they would have created that impression, but casuistry can achieve miracles.

While you’re at Cannonfire, you can also check out Joseph Cannon’s previous post: 50 reasons why Sanders would lose all 50 states.

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Yesterday the DNC let Bernie pick five of his supporters to be on the platform committee at the Democratic Convention in July. I’ll give him this much credit: he didn’t name Susan Sarandon or Rosario Dawson.

Sanders’s slate includes James Zogby, a longtime activist for Palestinian rights as well as a DNC member and official. Zogby currently co-chairs the party’s resolutions committee. His inclusion is a sign of Sanders’s plans to push the party’s policy on Israel toward what he has called a more even-handed approach to the Palestinian cause….

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who will chair the committee, was named by Wasserman Schultz. Most others named by Wasserman Schultz and Clinton are party stalwarts or Clinton supporters — the establishment Sanders has railed against to great effect. Sanders’s picks include people from outside the usual sphere of party influence, including a Native American activist and author and racial justice activist Cornel West….

Sanders also named Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, among his most prominent elected backers, author and environmental activist Bill McKibben and Native American activist Deborah Parker….

The Clinton campaign’s choices are Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official and Clinton surrogate; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a longtime Clinton confidante; Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois; Carol Browner, a former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and former head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece; and Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

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I wonder if Cornell West will ask for inclusion of a plank containing some of his most outrageous attacks on President Obama? Read examples at the links below.

Cornel West: Obama Is First ‘Niggerized’ Black President, by Karoli Kuns.

The Ghost of Cornel West, by Michael Eric Dyson.

Bernie Sanders should be invisible at this point, but he just won’t stop screaming for attention, and neither will his abhorrent surrogates. Rosario Dawson was in fine form in California yesterday. The Daily Mail:

Actress Rosario Dawson told Bernie Sanders supporters this afternoon that winning the White House is only the beginning of the political revolution.

It’s time for a ‘clean sweep,’ she said.

‘It’s time for us to start looking at everyone down the ballot and go, “Are you really representing us?’ Dawson said at this afternoon at a Sanders rally in East LA. ‘Who are these superdelegates? Who are these Congress people and these senators – are they really with you?’

Dawson told the California crowd, ‘We need to reform, not conform.’ ….

At a rally later in the day for Sanders in Santa Monica she said ‘when they’re telling us that your vote doesn’t matter right now, but on the side they’re talking about party unity, what they’re really telling you’ is to conform….

Dawson intimated this afternoon as she campaigned for the U.S. senator in California ahead of the June 7 primary that the rest of the Democratic Party establishment ought to watch its back, too.

‘We need to vote together. They’re gonna do anything and everything in their power to stop you from doing that,’ she said, ‘to say that it doesn’t matter.’

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Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: Rosario Dawson Thinks Prince’s Ghost Will Help Bernie Win California or Something.

Rosario Dawson, last seen bringing up Monica Lewinsky at a rally in Delaware [is now] somehow connecting a predicted Bernie Sanders win in the California Democratic primary to the birthday of recently-deceased music legend Prince. To cries of “Down with Hillary!”, Dawson explained that Bernie’s appeal to Republicans, Democrats, and independents meant that they were all going to “vote purple,” so,

So actually, I think it’s quite fitting that on June 7, the day that we’re going to win California, that that would’ve been Prince’s birthday.

Bernie is never going to go away. Never.

Meanwhile Donald Trump is doing his darndest to swiftboat Hillary with tired 1990’s attacks on her husband Bill, who is not running for anything. When will the mainstream media start writing about what Trump’s campaign is really about?

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TPM Muckraker: Great White Hope: Trump Unites Generations Of White Nationalists.

According to Taylor, this year’s conference saw a 100-person jump in attendance from 2015; a show of hands identified half of the participants as first-time attendees and one-third as under the age of 30.

This is the man Bernie Sanders is helping–presumably because he thinks a Trump presidency will trigger a left-wing “political revolution.”

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More links to explore:

NYT: Kenneth Starr, who tried to bury Clinton, now only praises him.

Business Insider: Bill O’Reilly confronts Donald Trump over Bill Clinton attacks: ‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea.’

NBC News: Obama Hits Highest Job Approval Since Second Inauguration.

Right Wing Watch: Trump ‘Christian Policy’ Adviser Is A ‘Prophet’ Who Stopped A Tsunami, Says AIDS Is Result Of ‘Unnatural Sex.’

TPM: Sanders: It’s ‘Insulting’ For Clinton To Decline Fox News Debate.

Amanda Marcotte: Bernie insults voters: He must drop notion that everyone who disagrees with him is corrupt or a dupe.

Hollywood Reporter: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Drops Tommy Chong as Intro Speaker Hours Before L.A. Rally.

Dana Millbank: Donald Trump, the welfare king.

What stories are you following today? Please share in the comment thread below.

 

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Crazzzzy Monday Reads

images (12)Good Afternoon!

It’s been a long few days for me culminating with spending the morning at the LASPCA trying to spring my friend’s runaway dog.  Did I mention it took three hours while I had to look at about 10 cute kittens that definitely need a home ASAP giving me those big eyes ? So, I’m late with everything, tired, and the last thing I need is to crack a virtual newspaper and read about crazy.  However, we still have two crazies in the race, so it’s crazzyyy Monday!!!

We knew the Trump ads against Clinton would be bad but we’re beginning to see exactly how bad they will be.  I think most newspaper Tabloids have less sensation and more facts to be perfectly honest. Is this a clickbait headline or what? Alex Jones has taken over candidate Trump’s policies and their oppo research.  From TPM:  “New Trump Video Mixes Bill Clinton Rape Allegation, Hillary Clinton Laughing.”

Donald Trump released a new Instagram video on Monday featuring audio from interviews with women who’ve accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault. The accompanying text asks if Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is “really protecting women.”

As a photo of Bill Clinton comes into focus against a black-and-white photo of the White House, a voice can be heard saying “I was very nervous.”

That voice belongs to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, explaining her concern about divulging her affair with the President to a grand jury.

The next voice says “No woman should be subjected to it. It was an assault.” That’s Kathleen Wiley, a former White House volunteer who alleged that Clinton groped her in the hallway of the White House in 1993, speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in 2007.

The last bit of audio is taken from an infamous 1999 NBC Dateline interview with Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978. A tearful Broaddrick can be heard saying that he “started to bite my top lip and I tried to pull away from him.”

Clinton denied the assault on Willey in a 1998 deposition and has also denied Broaddrick’s rape allegation, which surfaced at the time of congressional impeachment proceedings over his affair with Lewinsky.

Trump’s video clip ends with a shot of Hillary and Bill Clinton together. While audio of Hillary Clinton laughing plays, the words “Here we go again” appear on the screen.

It’s the second time in two weeks that Trump has brought up past sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton. He has called Hillary Clinton a “nasty, mean enabler” of her husband’s alleged affairs.

We’re about to hit through  the boundaries of horrific misogyny32316240-chihuahua-dog-ready-to-run-away-ready-for-adoption-isoalted-on-white-background-Stock-Photo straight into new, uncharted territory.   This is simply on the internet now, but I can only imagine what he’ll eventually try on other forms of media.  This is really appalling.

And this on top of crazy Bernie Sanders and his delusional dead-enders!

There are also the usual proxies for the two campaigns.  I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to read this but you might want to look at the NYT’s profiles of Roger Stone (Trump) and David Brock (Clinton).  It’s about some of their behind the scene work for the campaigns.

One takes a pint-size dog named Toby almost everywhere, smokes electronic cigarettes and wears his silver hair in a flowing pompadour.

The other has a portrait of Richard M. Nixon tattooed on his back, boasts that he owns more shoes than Imelda Marcos and traffics in conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination.

The 2016 election, filled with ugly insults, whispered innuendo and sordid character attacks, features two central antagonists known for their colorful traits and devotion to the dark arts of politics: David Brock and Roger J. Stone Jr.

Each has a passion for his side — Mr. Brock for Hillary Clinton and Mr. Stone for Donald J. Trump — and a zeal for attacking critics of his candidate. Their intensity and pugnacity make them either perfect villains or misunderstood masterminds, depending on your point of view.

On the wall of Mr. Stone’s office in South Florida, which has an undisclosed address because of the death threats he said he had received, hangs a “Spy vs. Spy” cartoon, which young staff members titled “Brock-Stone” after the two battling operatives.

“The dynamic between the two of them is very interesting,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist who knows both men. “This will be a battle about who’s tougher.”

Politics has always attracted flamboyant characters with a sometimes-reckless devotion to a cause, and both these men seem to enjoy their outsize images.

Mr. Brock, 53, divides his time between Washington and the West Village in Manhattan, throwing lively salons and wooing liberal donors on both coasts, often accompanied by Toby, his schnoodle — a schnauzer-poodle mix.

7.10.14-Dog-ActivityWe frequently read our friend’s at Brock financed pro-Hillary blog Blue Nation Review.   The NYT article has some interesting stories on him and the purpose of his pro-Hillary PAC.

Mr. Brock now runs Correct the Record, a “super PAC” that coordinates with the Clinton campaign to defend Mrs. Clinton, and American Bridge, a related group that digs up opposition research to defeat Mr. Trump. (Enough to “knock Trump Tower down to the subbasement,” as Mr. Brock put it in remarks to liberal donors, according to Politico.)

His mission now will largely be to get inside Mr. Stone’s complicated head to anticipate, and stay ahead of, Mr. Trump’s attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s allies have vehemently denied that she was involved in silencing Mr. Clinton’s accusers, but Mr. Trump will continue to push that assertion as the two candidates battle for the support of women voters.

Mr. Stone acknowledged that Mr. Brock’s operation has significantly more resources, but he said the traditional tactic of dismissing these accusations as sordid rumors could backfire. “Brock is calling us conspiracy theorists and trying to make us all sound kooky,” he said. “The only people that scares away are the elites.”

Mr. Brock’s group Media Matters for America has taken direct aim at Mr. Stone, labeling him “the underbelly of the Trump machine” and assembling an encyclopedia on his tactics, including his involvement in a National Enquirer article that accused Senator Ted Cruz’s father of associating with Lee Harvey Oswald before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Mr. Stone calls Media Matters part of “the Clinton slime machine.”

Both men operate outside the official campaigns, though Mr. Brock directly coordinates with the Clinton campaign through Correct the Record. Mr. Stone said he had “no formal or informal role” within the Trump campaign, but he is close to Mr. Trump and has had a major influence on strategy.

And both have taken risky moves that have created drama and tensions within the campaigns they are ostensibly helping.

We probably are experience some Nixonian election tactics this year. So, I am going to use Media Matters as the go to for this story on the potential of running-awayNewt Gingrich showing up as Trump’s VP.  I didn’t want to go directly to the National Review but you can if you’d like!  It’s amazing to me that what looks like a slate of serial adulterers and cheaters is going after Hillary on her husband.  The optics on that alone are so bad as to make your eyeballs peel.  It can’t be to attract women. It must be a full throttle all speed ahead to grab white men’s votes.

Fox News figures are praising network contributor Newt Gingrich as a “great choice” for Donald Trump’s running mate. They have touted Gingrich — the first speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to be punished by the House for ethics violations — as “a genius,” “a conservative with bona fides,” and someone who would “bring tremendous stability, tremendous gravitas, incredible intellect,” and “judgment experience.”  

Trump Is Considering Gingrich As His Running Mate

Bloomberg: Trump Has Discussed Gingrich As His VP. Bloomberg reported that “Trump has discussed in recent days the possibility of selecting former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as his running mate, according to people familiar with the talks.” [Bloomberg, 5/11/16]

Trump: Gingrich Is “Absolutely” On His Short List For VP. The Fox News morning show Fox & Friendsasked Trump if Gingrich was on his short list for vice president. Trump responded: “Absolutely. I’ll say yes, because he’s been such a supporter. I mean, anybody that supports me is on the shortlist as far as I’m concerned.” [The Hill, 5/20/16]

Gingrich Has Suggested He Would Accept The VP Slot. Gingrich stated during a Fox News interview that he would be “very hard-pressed not to say ‘yes’” if offered the spot. [The Huffington Post, 5/16/16]

Trump Aide: Staffers Were Informed Gingrich “Will Have His Hand In Every Major Policy Effort.”National Review reported of “Gingrich’s ascent to Trump’s inner circle”:

Gingrich’s influence within Trump World is widespread. Inside Trump’s newly established campaign offices in Washington, D.C., his fingerprints are everywhere. “Right from the minute I joined we were told that Newt will have his hand in every major policy effort,” says one Trump aide. “So one of the things I do when I’m researching or writing anything, in addition to looking at what Trump has said about anything, I look at what Newt has said.”

Gingrich’s ascent to Trump’s inner circle — and potentially to the vice presidency — marks a reversal of fortune for the speaker, who in recent years has fallen out of favor with party elites over his vocal criticisms of the Iraq War and Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare. On both issues, the views that irked GOP insiders were squarely in line with the unorthodox positions Trump has espoused on the campaign trail. [National Review, 5/23/16]

So, it will be ugly if it’s the doughboys but it’s an easy take down on the sexcapades at least.  I still can’t believe any woman would find Newt’s history fbb9e510884e48c9828b933f161fabf7with women any more appealing than Trump’s.  Still, Trump’s campaign insists they will be aggressive in their ads against Hillary,

“Republicans have been accused in the past, and some degree rightfully so, of not tearing the bark off of our opponents, and this year Donald Trump has made it very clear we are going to be aggressive” to get a Republican in the White House, Sean Spicer RNC chief strategist and spokesman, said.

“We’ve been at it for four years going through her record,” Spicer also said, as quoted by Breitbart. “This idea that people know who she is and that they’ve seen everything is just ridiculous.”

Spicer, speaking with Breitbart News Sunday on SiriusXM radio, added the party has only “scratched the surface” with Clinton.

I never understand the appeal of these kinds of attacks.  They really turn me off. It’s one of the reasons I’m ready to do just about anything within the legal boundaries of the law to see that Bernie Sanders goes back to the Vermont outback, never to be heard from again.  Why do all the remaining dudes in this race all represent the angry white male, women-hating prototype?   Are there really that many of them left out there?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Wacky Politics, Right and Left

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Good Morning!!

It’s another wacky news day in the battles for the major party presidential nominations. In the Republican race, Donald Trump basically has already won; and now that it’s too late, some GOP leaders are trying to stop him. Today it’s 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who plans to denounce Trump today in a speech in Utah.

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney: ‘Trump is a phony, a fraud’ who is ‘playing the American public for suckers.’

In a forceful, top-to-bottom indictment of Trump, Romney will call on fellow Republicans to reject the billionaire businessman’s candidacy in an election “that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country.”

“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney will say, according to a speech prepared for delivery Thursday at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.” ….

Several of Romney’s friends, allies and former donors are involved in efforts to stop Trump, launching and funding super PACs airing ads against the businessman, in Florida, Ohio and elsewhere….

According to Romney’s Thursday remarks, Trump’s “domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgement to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”

Trump, Romney is expected to say, “relishes any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton.”

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Naturally, Trump hit back. From the LA Times: 

Trump, in turn, dismissed Romney as “a stiff” who “didn’t know what he was doing” as the party’s candidate in 2012 and blew a chance to beat President Obama. “People are energized by what I’m saying” in the campaign and turning out in remarkable numbers to vote, Trump told NBC’s “Today.”

In ratcheting up the rhetoric, Romney cast his lot with a growing chorus of anxious Republican leaders — people many Trump supporters view as establishment figures — in trying to slow the New York real estate mogul’s momentum.

But it was unclear what effect his words would have with voters deeply frustrated by their party’s leaders. Trump questioned whether the party rank and file would listen to “a failed candidate” for whom “nobody came out to vote.”

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Unfortunately for the Republican “establishment,” the Koch brothers aren’t going to help them bring Trump down, according to a Reuters exclusive: Koch brothers will not use funds to try to block Trump nomination.

The Koch brothers, the most powerful conservative mega donors in the United States, will not use their $400 million political arsenal to try to block Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s path to the presidential nomination, a spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.

The decision by the billionaire industrialists is another setback to Republican establishment efforts to derail the New York real estate mogul’s bid for the White House, and follows speculation the Kochs would soon launch a “Trump Intervention.”

“We have no plans to get involved in the primary,” said James Davis, spokesman for Freedom Partners, the Koch brothers’ political umbrella group. He would not elaborate on what the brothers’ strategy would be for the Nov. 8 election to succeed Democratic President Barack Obama.

Three sources close to the Kochs said the brothers made the decision because they were concerned that spending millions of dollars attacking Trump would be money wasted, since they had not yet seen any attack on Trump stick.

The Koch brothers are also smarting from the millions of dollars they pumped into the failed 2012 Republican presidential bids of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the sources said.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders supporters are attacking Elizabeth Warren and threatening to primary her because she didn’t endorse their candidate before the Massachusetts primary.

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TBogg at Raw Story: Elizabeth Warren fails to endorse Bernie and his fans freak the hell out on her Facebook page.

After Sanders of Vermont secured a primary win in the neighboring state of New Hampshire, progressives turned their starstruck eyes to Progressive Goddess Warren figuring she could seal the deal for Bernie in her home state primary with a Bernie endorsement.And then she didn’t. In fact, she stayed silent.

Cue Progressive Rageface

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So they expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with Warren on her Facebook page on a perfectly anodyne post celebrating the appearance of the Fisk Jubilee Singers who performed “traditional spiritual and black American religious music” at Boston’s Symphony Hall back on Feb. 21.

Whatever, stupid singers. Facebook is made for ranting.

And rant they did, ripping into the implicit heresy of Warren’s failure to endorse Sanders by letting her know in no uncertain terms that they are really really really REALLY disappointed. And worse.

As in:

Your unwillingness to endorse Bernie prior to Super Tuesday indicates to me that your fear of pressure from Hillary friends on Capitol Hill “trumps” your commitment to the progressive cause. I have lost faith in you and the DNC.

Elizabeth – is there ANY reason on God’s green earth that you’re sitting quiet in the corner while Bernie is awaiting your endorsement? Am I missing something here???

Is she really part of the establishment? How can she, as a representative of the people, as a self proclaimed progressive, not publicly endorse Bernie Sanders? Do you think she owes Clinton some political favors? hmmmm.

Read more lovely examples of Bernie-discourse at the Raw Story link.

As if that wasn’t enough, yesterday a Sanders supporter from Chicago posted a petition on Change.org to have former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrested for . . . something. More than 80,000 angry Bernie fans have signed it so far.

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The Boston Globe: Did Bill Clinton violate election rules in Mass.?

Bill Clinton’s presence inside a polling location in Boston on Super Tuesday raised concerns about whether the former president violated state rules on election campaigning.

While stumping for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton entered a polling station at the Holy Name Parish School’s gymnasium in West Roxbury early Tuesday.

It was there that he spoke with workers, bought a cup of coffee, and apparently took a photo with one woman, according to press pool reports.

A video clip showing Bill Clinton shaking hands with election clerks at Holy Name, alongside Mayor Martin J. Walsh, had some people on Twitter questioning the former president’s appearance indoors.

“Aren’t there rules about electioneering at the polling location?” one person wrote on Twitter, after seeing the video.

Hmmm . . . should the mayor be arrested too? He endorsed Hillary. Of course Secretary of State Maura Healy did too. Oh the unfairness of it all!

“He can go in, but he can’t approach voters,” Galvin said. “We just took the extra precaution of telling them because this is not a usual occurrence. You don’t usually get a president doing this.”

According to the Election Day Legal Summary on Galvin’s website, certain activities on Election Day are prohibited within polling locations and within 150 feet of polling places, including the “solicitation of votes for or against, or any other form of promotion or opposition of, any person or political party.”

Of course Bill wasn’t actively campaigning. He probably shouldn’t have done this, but he was accompanied by mayors in the places where it happened. Presumably, the mayors are the ones who brought Clinton inside. Maybe Bernie bros should make a citizens’ arrest. Or alternatively, maybe Sanders should just run a better campaign. Just a thought.

GOP debate

There’s another Republican debate tonight in Detroit, and we’ll of course have a live blog for discussion. The event begins at 9PM and will be hosted by Fox News. Moderators will be Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.

More stories to check out, links only:

The Guardian: Donald Trump releases his healthcare plan in campaign statement.

The Washington Post: Pandemonium in the GOP: Some embrace Trump while others rush to stop him.

The New York Times: Debate Prep: Fact-Checking the GOP Candidates on Health Care.

Peter Beinart at The Atlantic: The Violence to Come: With Donald Trump on the brink of the GOP nomination, America is hurtling toward a schism unlike anything since the 1960s.

This is a great article by David Cay Johnston on Donald Trump’s income, wealth, and what might be in his tax returns: 9 Key Points About Trump’s Income Taxes (And Many More Questions).

Fortune: Why Donald Trump’s Tax Returns May Prove He’s Not That Rich.

Time: White House May Be Vetting Appeals Judge for Supreme Court Vacancy.

Christopher D. Benson at the Chicago Tribune: In ‘Spotlight,’ a lesson on covering race.

Shakesville: Hillary Sexism Watch Part Wev in an Endless Series.

Politico: Sanders campaign: What losses? There’s a unified message from the Vermont senator on down: They’ll fight on until the Democratic convention.

Ugly story out of Boston:

The Boston Globe: US to investigate racial allegations at Boston Latin and Family of student threatened with lynching wants consequences in the case.

What stories are you following today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump May Have Bitten off More than He Can Chew

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Good Morning!

In the past week or two Donald Trump has begun directing his crude and crass public attacks at Hillary Clinton rather than his Republican rivals for the presidential nomination.

Trump claimed that it was “disgusting” that Hillary went to the ladies room during a break the last Democratic debate. He said that Obama “schlonged” Hillary in the 2008 presidential primaries. He announced that it was “fair game” for him to use Bill Clinton’s infidelities in the 1990s against Hillary. Will it work?

From the NYT: Poll Show Attacks on Bill Clinton May Only Help Hillary Clinton.

Survey data from the Pew Research Center show’s [sic] Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating jumping to 63 percent in August of 1998, four months before Mr. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives. In December of that year, as controversy about their marriage continued to swirl, her popularity climbed higher, reaching 66 percent.

“In contrast to her husband, Hillary Clinton continues to draw high marks from the public,” Pew found at the time. “Two-thirds of Americans say they admire Hillary Clinton’s decision to stand by her husband and nearly as many have a favorable opinion of the first lady.”

Figures from Gallup also showed Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating rising as accounts of Mr. Clinton cheating dominated headlines. That rating, which was at 39 percent in 1992, remained high through 1999 before leveling off. It hovered from 40 percent to 50 percent in the 2000s and topped 60 percent again when she joined President Obama’s cabinet.

Shawn J. Parry-Giles, a communications professor at the University of Maryland, explained in her 2014 book about the role of gender in American politics that Mrs. Clinton was seen as more sympathetic and authentic as she endured the fallout from her husband’s affair.

“As she showed a clear sense of marital fortitude by staying with her cheating husband, her poll numbers would rise,” Ms. Parry-Giles wrote. “As the scorned and sad woman attracting sympathy from others, Clinton would more closely resemble the traditional ideals of authentic womanhood.”

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Paul Waldman at The Week: Bill Clinton’s sexual history is fair game for Donald Trump. But it’s bad politics.

…since Hillary Clinton often mentions her husband’s presidency as an example of the kind of successful approach she would bring, that presidency — warts and all — is certainly relevant. But if Republicans want to re-litigate the Monica Lewinsky matter, they probably shouldn’t hope that things will turn out differently this time. You may recall that they were unable to remove Clinton from the presidency, and two years after being impeached he left office with approval ratings in the high 60s. In the end, the public decided that though his private behavior was deplorable, they were happy with the job he was doing as president. They also concluded that a bunch of prurient Republicans had become positively obsessed with Clinton’s sexual life and dragged the country through a needless impeachment crisis.

It’s fair game to talk about all that again (which, I must point out, members of the media would absolutely love to do). What’s much harder to figure out is why Bill Clinton’s behavior provides a reason to vote against his wife. That’s the substance of the question, which still awaits an explanation.

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Obviously for Trump and the dudebro media, a wife is simply an appendage, not a person in her own right.

One might even ask what relevance Donald Trump’s obvious sexism has for the presidency. Unlike with some of the other large groups he has alienated, it’s less clear what the connection would be between Trump’s sexism and his actual policy positions. Yes, he finds women’s bodily functions “disgusting,” in the word he repeatedly uses (see here or here), and has a history of dumping his wives when they hit their 40s so he can get himself a younger model. But his positions on issues of particular concern to women are little different from those of most Republicans, even those who are perfectly polite and respectful to everyone (you can argue that things like opposing abortion rights are inherently sexist, but that doesn’t tell us anything about Trump specifically).

But it would be “fair game” now, right? Please go read the rest of the piece at the link. It’s good.

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Mary Sanchez at the Chicago Tribune: Donald Trump should think twice about taking on Bill Clinton.

Donald Trump might be picking the wrong schoolyard fight. His modus operandi is to  bully. And it’s proved to be an ideal strategy for tying his Republican rivals in knots. But now he’s trying it on someone whose powers of political legerdemain are legendary: Bill Clinton.

The 69-year-old former president is wilier than Trump could ever dream of being. This is the man who hung the 1995-1996 government shutdown around the neck of his chief political adversary, House Speaker Newt Gingrich. A formidable huckster in his own right, Gingrich was the It Boy of conservatism and the leader of an ascendant “Republican Revolution,” but after losing his budget showdown with Clinton, his career went into permanent eclipse.

Gingrich’s oafish understudies then mounted an ill-advised impeachment campaign against Clinton, which only burnished the president’s credentials as a victim of partisan fanaticism.

Trump, by contrast, is a cad whose vulgarity and brutishness are given cover by the fact that those very qualities are cheered by a large portion of the Republican base. He’s making the P.T. Barnum bet on the Republican electorate, and so far it’s paying off.

In recent days, Trump has pounced on Hillary Clinton’s husband, in particular his record of cheating, as a new stratagem to upend her campaign. On Twitter, he asserted: “If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!”

But this only underscores another difference between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump: The former president’s record on so-called women’s issues is stellar. He appointed the first women to become U.S. attorney general and secretary of state, added Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court and signed the Violence Against Women Act, along with other measures that benefited women.

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Most recently Trump has been claiming that Hillary is “weak” and “low energy” and that she “lacks .”

From the Washington Post:

For as long as Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye, she has answered questions — and sometimes volunteered information — about how much and how hard she works to get it all done.

Few, even her political enemies, have questioned her work ethic or staying power — until Donald Trump.

“She’ll do a couple of minutes in Iowa, meaning a short period of time. And then she goes home,” the GOP presidential front-runner said in Davenport, Iowa, a few weeks ago, as his attention turned to those areas. “You don’t see her for five or six days. She goes home, goes to sleep. I’m telling you. She doesn’t have the strength. She doesn’t have the stamina.”

Ever since — and increasingly in recent days — the magnate has lobbed a barrage of insults at Clinton from onstage at his campaign rallies, on television and online. The former secretary of state is “low-energy,” Trump says. She lacks stamina. She’s physically weak.

The attacks — often coded, always personal — seem to be aimed at raising questions in voters’ minds about a factor that has long been whispered in some GOP circles: how Clinton’s age could affect her ability to serve.

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Trump is older than Clinton, but I guess he thinks he’s not affected by aging. Or maybe he thinks only women are?

“I think that my words represent toughness and strength. Hillary’s not strong. Hillary’s weak, frankly. She’s got no stamina; she’s got nothing,” the billionaire said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “She couldn’t even get back on the stage last night.”

Her energy level, he has said, should disqualify her from the presidency. “Hillary is a person who doesn’t have the strength or the stamina, in my opinion, to be president,” Trump told ABC’s “This Week.” “She doesn’t have strength or stamina. She’s not a strong enough person to be president.”

Trump, who often takes credit for saddling former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) with a “low-energy” label, has lately used the same line on Clinton.

“She’s even lower-energy than Jeb Bush,” he told a South Carolina crowd on Wednesday.

Trump has looked tired by the end of every GOP debate. I’d love to see him sit through 11 hours of hostile questioning at a Congressional hearing as Hillary did not too long ago. Who know what’s in Trump’s fevered brain, but I think these are all sexist attacks designed to make people believe a woman couldn’t handle the presidency. I don’t think this line of attack is going to work for Trump either.

A few more reactions to Trump’s attacks on Hillary and Bill Clinton:

Joe Conason at The National Memo: Below Par: Donald Trump’s Ardent Courtship Of Bill And Hillary Clinton.

Janelle Ross at the WaPo: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and how sexism is now partisan.

Lanny Davis at The Hill: Thank you, Mr. Trump — keep attacking the Clintons.

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What do you think? What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads

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Good Morning!!

I’m getting a slow start again today. We’re having another heat wave here, and its throwing my circadian rhythms off. It’s hard to get to sleep at night because it’s so hot, and then I wake up at around 5AM when it has cooled down some, then fall back into a deep sleep and wake up a few hours later feeling drugged. I’m just drinking my iced coffee now and trying to get myself going. The good news is that at this time of year it does cool down quite a bit at night.

Hillary Clinton is in the news this morning, and as usual, even when she does something positive like requesting the release of all of her State Department emails or hold a meeting with activists and then release the video, the media reports it in a negative light. Here’s the video:

Part 1

Part 2

I hope Hillary supporters will watch the videos and not just read the media reports; because she gives intelligent, sensible answers. I linked to a blog post by Oliver Willis a few days ago in which he suggests that the activists are focusing on getting Hillary to say she’s sorry for things her husband did in the 1990s instead of pushing for real changes in policies. He was right.

The Hill reports: Clinton tells Black Lives Matter activists: ‘You’re not going to change every heart.’

“All I’m saying is, your analysis is totally fair, it’s historically fair, it’s psychologically fair, it’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say, ‘Here’s what we want done about it,’ ” Clinton says to a few members of the movement in the video posted by GOOD Magazine.

“Because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it,” Clinton adds later. “Even for us sinners, find some common ground on agendas that can make a difference right here and now in people’s lives.”

Clinton met with the group of Boston-area Black Lives Matter activists last week after they were shut out of an event in the early voting state of New Hampshire that they planned to protest. A spokesman said they watched from an overflow room and met with Clinton afterward.

“I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate,” Clinton continues later in the exchange.

Activists who spoke with Clinton appeared on MSNBC last night to criticize her for “ducking responsibility” for policies of Bill Clinton’s administration that led to mass incarceration of black people.

Why is it that no one seems to understand that Bill and Hillary Clinton are two separate people with separate views of the world? Do they really believe that the wife of a president makes the laws of the land?

Still, Hillary did respond to the accusations. CNN:

Daunasia Yancey

The activists, led by Daunasia Yancey, founder of Black Lives Matter in Boston, pressed Clinton on her family’s role in promoting “white supremacist violence against communities of color.”

Clinton acknowledged during the conversation that laws put into place by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, did not work out as planned.

“I do think that there was a different set of concerns back in the ’80s and the early ’90s. And now I believe that we have to look at the world as it is today and try and figure out what will work now,” she said. “And that’s what I’m trying to figure out and that’s what I intend to do as president.”

But Clinton also told the protestors that she was “not sure” she agreed with the activists that her husband’s policies were racist.

“I do think that a lot of what was tried and how it was implemented has not produced the kinds of outcomes that any of us would want,” she said. “But I also believe that there are systemic issues of race and justice that go deeper than any particular law.”

But for some reason all the activists wanted was for Hillary to show contrition in some way. Was she supposed to break down sobbing? I’m not sure what they wanted. Read more about it at CNN.

New York Magazine has more:

Julius Jones is the man on the right.

Julius Jones is the man on the right.

The first video starts with [Julius] Jones spending three minutes going over America’s history of violence toward black people, ending with Clinton’s role in perpetuating mass incarceration. He concluded with a thoughtful question on what that means to Clinton personally — “Now, they may have been unintended consequences, but now that you understand the consequences, what in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of the country?” he asked — and a Clinton aide interrupted before she could answer.

Specifically, what was Hillary’s role in this? Do they believe she was actually running the country with Bill as just a figurehead? Continuing,

Clinton started off with a standard politician answer, recapping her lifelong advocacy for minority children, then offered some insight into how she wants to frame the issue on the campaign trail. “Once you say that this country has still not recovered from its original sin, which is true, the next question by people who are on the sidelines, which is the vast majority of Americans, is ‘So, what do you want me to do about it?'” she said. “I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain it and I can sell it, because in politics if you can’t explain it and you can’t sell it, it stays on the shelf.” ….

Jones objected to Clinton suggesting that Black Lives Matter needs to have clearer policy goals to get the rest of the country onboard. “I say this as respectfully as I can: If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do,” Jones said, adding that “this is and has always been a white problem of violence” and there isn’t much black people can do to stop it.

Really? So candidates and activists should not communicate about changes in legislation and policy? As Oliver Willis noted, the activists don’t seem focused on policies for the future. I really hope this analysis is wrong, but it does sound like this movement may go the way of Occupy Wall Street if they don’t start telling candidates what policies they would support.

Hillary and Julius Jones

Hillary and Julius Jones

I know you’ve probably seen the headlines suggesting that Hillary is no longer the most likely candidate to get the Democratic nomination, so I won’t bother posting them. Here’s a response from Nate Silver, based on actual data: Hillary Clinton’s Inevitable Problems.

Clinton’s favorability rating has, in fact, fallen quite a lot, to an average of about 42 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable in recent polls.

Numbers like those, when combined with the “emailgate” scandal and Sen. Bernie Sanders’s position in the polls (he’s now running very close to Clinton in New Hampshire, although not in Iowa or nationally), have a lot of commentators saying Clinton’s campaign has had an unexpectedly rough start. “Hillary is probable, but no longer inevitable,” wrote David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times, assessing her chances to win the nomination.

Horsey is right to deal in probabilities rather than certainties. Personally, I give Clinton about an 85 percent chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. (The general election is a whole different story.) That’s a pinch higher than betting markets, which put her chances at 75 to 80 percent.

But those betting markets, unlike some pundits, haven’t changed their assessment of Clinton much. In the markets, her probability of winning the nomination is still close to its all-time high and has barely budged in the past few months, rarely falling much below 75 percent or rising much above 80 percent.

Emailgate? #feelthebern? Clinton’s declining favorables? The betting markets think everything that’s happened to Clinton so far in the campaign is pretty much par for the course. It’s not that these markets are clairvoyant; they presumably didn’t know there would be a scandal involving Clinton and her email server, for instance. But it was a pretty good bet that there would be some scandal involving Clinton. (It’s not as though there is an absence of them to pick from.) Likewise, while you might or might not have identified Sanders as the person to do it, it was a pretty good bet that somechallenger to Clinton would be situated about where Sanders is in the polls. So events like these were “priced in” to her stock. Let’s look at each of them in a bit more depth.

Please go read the rest at the FiveThirtyEight link above.

Valerie Tarico

Valerie Tarico

I’d like to call your attention to an essay by Valerie Tarico published at Raw Story: Republicans want 10-year-old girls to give birth to ‘rape’ babies — here’s what the Bible sas about that. Tarico is a former evangelical christian who is now a psychologist who writes about “the intersection between religious belief, psychology and politics, with a growing focus on women’s issues and contraceptive technologies that she thinks are upstream game changers for a broad range of challenges that humanity faces.”

In her lengthy essay, Tarico demonstrates that in the Bible women have no function except to bear children and serve men. They are not seen as autonomous human beings who should have choices about any aspect of their lives. We all know this, but reading the biblical examples she gives is still highly enlightening.

More interesting reads, links only:

The Intercept: Why Did the FBI Spy on James Baldwin?

Raw Story: ‘Women get equal pay’: Rick Perry doesn’t want a bunch of girly fair wage laws ‘jumbling up our code’

People: Donald Trump Reports for Duty (Jury Duty That Is!) After Five Summonses.

Business Insider: ‘Dilbert’ creator: There’s a ‘clown genius’ behind Donald Trump’s campaign — and it’s why he’s unstoppable.

Washington Post: State Department flags 305 more Clinton e-mails for review. (Go down several paragraphs and you’ll learn that none of the emails were classified at the time and Clinton is not being accused of any wrongdoing. The review of the emails is simply for the purpose of deciding what material should be released under the Freedom of Information Act.)

Reuters, via Raw Story: Scott Walker tries channelling Trump in attempt to kick-start sinking campaign.

Bankok Post: Bangkok blast: the Hindu shrine beloved by Buddhists.

USA Today: Police release footage of suspect in Bangkok bombing.

Matter: I Watched 14 Police Officers Take Down a One-Legged Homeless Black Man Outside Twitter HQ.

NPR: For The First Time, Women Will Graduate From Army’s Rigorous Ranger School.

What stories are you following today?

 


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

Hillary smiling

Good Morning!!

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

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

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

Hillary’s big campaign kickoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More at the link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at the link.

Hillary

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

A couple more lightweight articles on Hillary’s campaign:

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

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

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

NYT: Suspects Open Fire Outside Dallas Police Headquarters.

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

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

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

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

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

NAACP: NAACP STATEMENT ON RACHEL DOLEZAL.

Jonathan Capehart: The damage Rachel Dolezal has done.

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

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

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

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

Think Progress: Romney’s E2 Summit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is an open thread. Please join in.


Thursday Reads: The American Dream

The American Dream - post-war abundance

The American Dream – post-war abundance

Good Morning!!

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

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

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

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

They are wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do think there are some positives signs.

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

American dream Tbird

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not bad.

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

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