2016 election

I, Virginia Bergman, pledge not to vote for a male presidential candidate in 2016 just because he's male.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Patriarchal Eve and the real Hillary Clinton

Via DailyKos
Since the patriarchal legend of Eve was first circulated in ancient times, women have been widely stereotyped as the source of all evil, labeled from time to time as untrustworthy, inauthentic, overly ambitious, etc.  If all the above sounds familiar, it should - that's pretty much how the media has portrayed Hillary Clinton since she first set foot on the national stage.

Lately, though, I've been struck by the media's pronouncements of changes in how Hillary presents herself as well as her perceived policy shifts. Even though it's to be expected from our still male-dominated sexist media, I'm still taken aback by the repeated failures of the punditry to realize that in most instances Hillary hasn't changed, the media has just begun to perceive her through a non-stereotypical lens.

So this morning, I paused in scanning the online news coverage to reflect on Harry Enten's piece at 538 titled: Hillary Clinton was Liberal. Hillary Clinton is Liberal. And it's fascinating to see how Hillary has ranked in comparison to Barack Obama:

A bunch of reporters have recently discovered a shocking truth: Hillary Clinton is liberal! (I heard a rumor that Columbo has been helping with the investigation.)

We’ve gotten this raft of “Clinton is liberal” exposés as Clinton has revved up her 2016 campaign, speaking out in support of gay marriage, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, and criminal justice reform. But what many of these articles miss is that Clinton has always been, by most measures, pretty far to the left. When she’s shifted positions, it has been in concert with the entire Democratic Party.

To see how these different issues fit together to form an overall political ideology, we usually use three metrics: one based on congressional voting record, one based on public statements and one based on fundraising.

Clinton was one of the most liberal members during her time in the Senate. According to an analysis of roll call votes by Voteview, Clinton’s record was more liberal than 70 percent of Democrats in her final term in the Senate. She was more liberal than 85 percent of all members. Her 2008 rival in the Democratic presidential primary, Barack Obama, was nearby with a record more liberal than 82 percent of all members — he was not more liberal than Clinton.

Clinton also has a history of very liberal public statements. Clinton rates as a “hard core liberal” per the OnTheIssues.org scale. She is as liberal as Elizabeth Warren and barely more moderate than Bernie Sanders. And while Obama is also a “hard core liberal,” Clinton again was rated as more liberal than Obama.

Sometimes I wonder whether people are confusing Clinton with her husband. Bill Clinton’s statements have been far more moderate. He has also had a more moderate donor base, according to Adam Bonica’s fundraising scores.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Here come the Clintons

Bill and Hillary, courtesy of ABC News.
It's so refreshing to read an article that highlights the many gifts and talents of Bill and Hillary Clinton, plus the broad expanse of their combined experience in public service. Brent Budowsky's piece at the Hill reminds voters of what Bill and Hillary brought to the Oval Office during Bill's Administration and the potential benefits the nation will receive with Hillary at the helm and Bill at her side in 2016:

My theory about how Democrats can win a big victory in the 2016 presidential campaign has long been based on the following.

The most popular American president in many decades is John F. Kennedy. The most popular living former president is Bill Clinton. The most popular public figure in America and the world is Pope Francis. The probability and magnitude of a Democratic victory in 2016 is in direct proportion to the degree that the Democratic nominee, who may well be the first woman president, as Kennedy was the first Catholic president, embodies the spirit of these three historic men.

Far beyond what is reported in heavy-breathing commentaries of the latest news cycle, the most popular living former president is Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon in Campaign 2016.

The magic of Bill Clinton, the vast public appeal he continues to enjoy from the American people — which will not be affected a whit by hyperpartisan hearings of the Republican House Benghazi Committee of inquisition — is an incalculable and indescribable asset to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

I often refer to the highly successful and fondly remembered Bill Clinton presidency because it is true and important to understanding the dynamics of the 2016 campaign.

What is historically accurate, and what voters understand, is that the role of Hillary Clinton during the Bill Clinton presidency was integral to the very qualities that made it so successful.

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Tuning in to the cries of the nation's wolf population

Hi Katalusis friends,

I had hip replacement surgery on May 7, 2015 and since then I've been recovering in a transitional care unit at a local nursing home. I've got wi-fi here and cranked up my laptop the other day to maintain this blog and get back in touch with my online community, which includes a number of supporters of our wildlife. By the way, my occupational therapist interrupted my posting here this morning, and I learned that she, too, is a wildlife supporter - a nice coincidence.

So now that I've worked out with dowels and other OT stuff, let's welcome Jamie Rappaport Clark and tune into to the cries of the nation's wolf population:

Donate Now

America’s Wolves
Need You!
Gray Wolf, (c) Larry Travis DPC
Congress has introduced a series of bills that would force wolves in seven states off the Endangered Species List!
Donate Now Button

Dear Virginia,
A war is raging. And the future of America’s wolves could depend on you.
They are dying by the hundreds – shot, trapped, gunned down from helicopters, left to die in snares.
And now – in an effort to pander to anti-government ideologues and wolf-hating extremists – Congress has introduced a series of bills that would force wolves in seven states off the Endangered Species List.
If these bills pass, nearly every wolf in the nation will be at the mercy of the states.
More than 3,300 wolves, including mothers and helpless pups, have been killed since Congress stripped wolves in the Northern Rockies of federal Endangered Species Act protections.
I know you care. And we need you now more than ever.
As a special thank you, with any gift of $20 or more, we’ll send you a wolf beach towel FREE that features the Defenders of Wildlife logo along with a beautiful color image of a wolf.
There have always been wolf-haters. Driven by fear, greed and superstition, they exterminated wolves by the thousands. By the 1950s, wolves in the Lower 48 were all but extinct.
Twenty years ago, Defenders helped reintroduce wolves to the Northern Rockies. New packs were born. As the 21st century dawned, wolves were making an historic comeback.
But now the wolf-haters are fighting back harder than ever – and they’re using Congress to get their way. They’ve declared war on the very wolves we worked so hard to restore.
Donate today, and with your gift of only $20, you’ll receive our wolf beach towel FREE!
Defenders of Wildlife is America’s leading voice for wolves, panthers, manatees and other imperiled wildlife. We are a dedicated team of field scientists, policy experts, wildlife lawyers, lobbyists and advocates with a remarkable track record of success.
But we are only as strong as our base of supporters. People just like you.
A war is raging. Won't you stand up to defend the defenseless?
Jaime Rappaport Clark
Jamie Rappaport Clark
President, Defenders of Wildlife

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

News media plays victim in its coverage of Hillary Clinton

A pleasant surprise: almost objective coverage of Hillary Clinton at the NY Times. Amy Chozick reports on Clinton's visit to Cedar Falls, Iowa where she engaged with a news media that in the past has focused more on her hair style, clothes, and yes, the size and shape of her ankles than on her qualifications for the presidency. 

The same news media continuously whines about receiving a cold shoulder from Clinton, the most admired woman in the world for 17 years.

 I'm getting a little off topic here, but I wish our educational institutions would require journalism majors to master the art of critical thinking and shed whatever forms of bigotry colors their perspective, in addition to mastering basic journalism skills like the difference between the Times New Roman and Impact fonts. Hey, I took several journalism courses in college while earning my BA degree in English, concentration in writing.

But back to Cedar Falls, Iowa:

Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed reporters Tuesday, fielding questions on topics ranging from her personal wealth and her family’s foundation to the deteriorating situation in Iraq, saying at one point that she had “made a mistake” as a United States senator in voting to authorize the war in Iraq.
Mrs. Clinton, who has been criticized for weeks by Republicans and members of the national news media for her unwillingness to engage with the political press corps, approached journalists and answered five questions after a round-table discussion in Cedar Falls focusing on small business creation.

“I am so proud of the foundation,” Mrs. Clinton said in response to a question about the controversy surrounding foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. “I’ll let the American people make their own judgments.”

Mrs. Clinton also defended her relationship with Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend and confidant who was paid by the Clinton Foundation and offered her advice about the situation in Libya while she served as secretary of state.

“I have many, many old friends and I always think that it’s important when you get into politics to have friends you had before you were in politics and to understand what’s on their mind,” she said. (Mr. Blumenthal served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton in the White House and has been close to the Clintons since.

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mindfulness and the art of knitting

I'm not a knitter and at this point in my life, I'm not likely to take lessons and master the art. But I can tell you this: after reading Barbara Hannah Grufferman's post, Why Knitting Is the Must-Have Life Skill, I wish I'd picked up a pair of knitting needles decades ago.  Grufferman's comment that knitting enforces mindfulness meditation jumped out at me, as I've been practicing mindfulness meditation for several years. However, I'm also intrigued by her several other reasons for claiming that knitting is a "must have life skill."

Grufferman writes:

Growing up in Brooklyn, my no-nonsense German grandmother tried to teach me how to knit -- a life skill she believed was the key to happiness. 

Like any adolescent, I rebelled and made excuses. "Tomorrow, Grandma, okay? Studying for a math test now, but I promise we'll sit down and you can teach me. Can't wait . . . "

Of course I regret it. That goes without saying. For sure, I spent lots of quality time with my grandparents, loving people who embraced the job of raising two more kids (my sister and me) in midlife after having raised five of their own, including my mother. When my father left my mother with two daughters under four, her only choice-- and a very good one, indeed-- was to move back home so she could work full time to support us. 

My grandmother showered us with things my mother was too young and inexperienced to give: unconditional love; patience during a rocky time in our lives; structure (dinner on the table every night at 6pm); and essential life lessons like how to make the perfect roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, apple strudel and Christmas cookies. 

We learned a great deal from her, but my sister and I drew the line at knitting. 

It wasn't until I turned 50, many years after my beloved grandmother had passed on from Alzheimer's, that I decided to step into my local knitting store and finally get that lesson. To say that I am hooked is an understatement.

 Here's why I knit:

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hillary Clinton's impassioned speech on securing equal opportunity and justice for all (video)

Please watch this video of Hillary Clinton's inspiring speech given at Columbia University. Our country needs this woman as president in 2016. Watch and let Katalusis know if you agree:

Friday, April 24, 2015

The use of drones and after many other civilian deaths, the killing of two hostages

And Malala told the President to stop using drones.

It’s the stuff of nightmares that President Barack Obama, honored early on with a Nobel Peace Prize for good intentions, developed a personal kill list and authorized drone weaponry in the U.S. arsenal. I was as shocked by Obama’s decision to use drones as I was by Dubya’s approval of the CIA’s use of torture under his regime.

In A Brief History of Drones, John Sifton concludes that the “unique technology” of drones “allows the mundane and regular violence of military force to be separated further from human emotion. Drones foreshadow the idea that brutality could become detached from humanity—and yield violence that is, as it were, unconscious.”

Unconscious violence? I guess Sifton was referring to the possibility that a U.S. drone might miss its mark and take out a couple of Western hostages in northern Pakistan; I watched President Obama, our drone master, offer a personal apology for the deaths this morning, and I hope his words ease the pain of the grieving families of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto. Obama said:

“As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations,” the grim-faced president told reporters as television cameras broadcast his words. “I profoundly regret what happened,” he added. “On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”

Lest we forget – lest we forget – Juan Cole at Informed Comment reminds us:

Contrary to assurances given by President Obama a couple of years ago, the US government admits that it had no idea who it was targeting when it hit that building. Indiscriminate fire is a recognized war crime, and it seems to characterize the US drone program.

These are the figures for the US drone assassination program in Pakistan, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

Total strikes: 415
Obama strikes: 364
Total killed: 2,449-3,949
Civilians killed: 423-962
Children killed: 172-207
Injured: 1,144-1,722

That is, as many as a fourth of those killed by US drone assassinations are non-combatants.

Cole continues:

Death by drone is inherently lawless. There is no constitutional or legal framework within which the US government can blow people away at will. For a while in the 1970s through 1990s, assassination was outlawed.

Now it is back, but has taken this freakish form where bureaucrats thousands of miles away fire missiles from large toy airplanes. The US is not at war with Pakistan, so this action is not part of a war effort. You can’t be at war with an organization– a state of war has a technical legal definition.

It took Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, a teenager and also the youngest Nobel Prize winner, to stand up to President Obama about his use of drones. The young social activist said:

"I thanked President Obama for the United States' work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees," she said in the statement. "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact."

It would seem, however, that President Obama continues to use drones to pursue those terrorists unfortunate enough to make his secret kill list, plus any civilians who get in the way. What was it that historian John Sifton said about drones – “Drones foreshadow the idea that brutality could become detached from humanity—and yield violence that is, as it were, unconscious.”