Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elizabeth Warren thanks Bill Clinton

Elizabeth Warren earned my respect the day she first set foot on the national stage with her work in establishing the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The U.S. senator- elect for the state of Massachusetts demonstrates a strength of character too often missing in American politics. For one thing, Warren deftly sidesteps Rovian-influenced Dems who would like to see party leaders like the Clintons and Obamas at one another’s throats.

As a Warren supporter from the get-go, I continue to enjoy emails from her campaign headquarters. Most recently, she reminds us that in her efforts on behalf of the middle class, she’s following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, and she invites us to join her in thanking him:


Bill Clinton made headlines for his political speeches this year, but it is his tireless work to improve people's lives and create opportunity that really inspires me.

He often says that hard work, intelligence, and ability are equally distributed -- but opportunity isn't. That's why the Clinton Foundation focuses on providing opportunity where President Clinton sees it lacking, both here in the United States and around the world.

The election is over, and there's a lot of work ahead. But while we have this moment to catch our breaths, can you join the Clinton Foundation and me in thanking Bill Clinton for his tremendous efforts to help hard-working families?

If you've heard me on the campaign trail, you know how hard I've been fighting for real investments in our future -- putting the conditions in place so that the next kid can get ahead, and the kid after that, and the kid after that.

Bill Clinton has spent his whole career fighting for the same thing.

Since leaving office, his foundation has helped provide access to life-saving HIV/AIDS medicine to over 4.5 million people. They've helped small business owners, smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs gain access to markets and investment capital to help their businesses flourish. They've helped our children have better schools, cleaner air and healthier nutrition so they all have the chance to succeed.

For nearly 40 years, Bill Clinton has continued to give a boost to people here in the United States and around the world to live their dreams.

I've told Bill Clinton personally how grateful I am for his leadership. Can you send him your own thanks today as well with a personal note?

Thank you for being a part of this,


Monday, December 10, 2012

A word to the Tea Party: extremism is a destructive approach to governance

Extremism from either the left or the right does not support good governance; it imperils it, as well as the party that adopts its tactics. Read Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s take on how the extremist Tea Party element has become a GOP liability:

The resignation of South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint from the Senate followed close on the heels of the desertion from the Tea Party of Freedom Works head Dick Armey took some by surprise. DeMint and Armey were the two biggest and most identifiable fish in the Tea Party affiliated pond. DeMint could be relied on to broker his name ID and prodigious fund raising prowess to every Tea Party backed Senatorial candidate--and loser.   

Armey was a tireless advocate at big, stagey Tea Party rallies and confabs for the Tea Party's anti-big government hard line message. Now both are out. If that wasn't bad news enough for the Tea Party, GOP conservative House leaders turned on it and ousted Representatives Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan two of the loudest Tea Party position advocates from the House Budget Committee. They were kicked to the curb almost certainly because GOP House leaders know they have to make a deal with President Obama on the budget or risk being further dragged through the public and media mud as being the   cause for shoving the nation over the fiscal cliff. The Tea Party's brand of patented loose cannon obstructionism is too threatening to a GOP still reeling from the election flop.   The ouster of the Tea Party hardliners and desertions by GOP bigwigs from the movement was hardly the first rumbling that the lights are dimming for the Tea Party.

A year earlier, polls showed that far more Americans had an unfavorable view of the Tea Party than when it roared on the scene a couple of years earlier. The disaffection cut across all lines and that included many conservatives.   The reason for the plunge in Tea Party backing in Red State districts support wasn't hard to find. When Tea Party affiliated candidates scored big victories and even upsets of GOP incumbents in some races in 2010 they had one mantra and that was to shrink government, and shrink it fast. Millions of Americans cheered their war call, and voted for the candidates that yelped it the loudest. But it's one thing to scream about big government, bloated federal spending, and whopping federal debts, and it's quite another to actually hold Congress, and by extension, the nation hostage in an uncompromising, shrill battle to chop down government.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

You never outgrow the holiday classics

Courtesy of TV Guide.
A couple of weeks ago, my middle-aged son and his wife and I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Wizard of Oz. We three adults were as entranced by our evening’s entertainment as we were the first time around.  Although we watched the holiday shows annually at our house when the kids were growing up, it had been years since I’d seen Grinch’s transformation, or Dorothy’s realization that you’ll most likely find what you’re seeking in your own back yard.

Marlo Thomas lets us know we aren't the only ones who get all sentimental watching the holiday classics:

Someone once said that the holiday season is the "ultimate sense memory," and that is so true. We all carry inside of us our collective Christmases and Hanukkahs -- the sight of twinkling lights and glowing candles, the sound of caroling and chanted prayers, the smell of pine trees and freshly fried latkes -- and it all comes rushing back to us every December.

The holiday season also triggers wonderful memories of our favorite classic Yuletide movies and TV specials. And often after the big family feast -- when the turkey's tryptophan starts kicking in -- doesn't someone always retire to the den and find one on the tube?

And what great old shows there are to watch. No matter how many times you see Charles Schulz's fetching animated special, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), it's hard not to have your heart go out to poor Charlie as he and the Peanuts gang try to decorate their sad, little tree (though, thankfully, Linus always reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas by the end). And speaking of tinsel-trimmed cartoons, is there anyone who can't sing at least two songs from Dr. Seuss' sweet-and-sassy 1966 musical adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas ("You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch!"). That's a holiday keeper.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Obama’s big boy pants

Winner of the Nobel peace prize for his good intentions, our president is fast achieving the kind of notoriety that Dubya momentarily commanded with his “mission accomplished” swagger. 

Neocons praise Obama for putting on his big boy pants the first time he made a secret kill list and checked it twice before unleashing Predator drones programmed in the name of anti-terrorism to unleash acts of terror against other nations

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf urges Congress to wake up to Obama’s dramatic expansion of executive power, which, of course, includes the right to maintain the above secret kill lists:

Even the Obama Administration agrees that the lethal drone program it runs permits the executive branch to kill too easily. Its officials felt it urgent to codify various constraints when they thought Mitt Romney might win the election, The New York Times recently reported, quoting one official who said, "There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands."

The story went on to report that the efforts are less urgent now that President Obama has won reelection (as if he alone is trustworthy enough to extrajudicially kill all willy-nilly, or to delegate that power to unerring paragons of good judgment like retired CIA Director David Petraeus). Still, the effort goes on with as much transparency as you'd expect: "The draft rule book for drone strikes that has been passed among agencies over the last several months is so highly classified, officials said, that it is hand-carried from office to office rather than sent by e-mail."

So consider this.

The Obama Administration thinks that on the president's authority it can adopt secret rules to a secret killing program, and that the rules will bind future presidents to Obama's notions of prudence?

That isn't how it works. Some David Addington/Harold Koh type could write up a memo demolishing any prudent safeguard the next president found hobbling in no more than a week or two.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The media runs hard to catch up with Hillary

Photo courtesy of the

To hear the New Yorker’s David Remnick tell it, Hillary Clinton is now the recipient of the adulation bestowed on Barack Obama in 08. Remnick apparently considers it a given that Hillary will run in 2016.

Whether Hillary runs or not, long-time supporters can’t help but chuckle as we watch her nimbly outwit a clumsy punditry incapable of comprehending a woman with more complexity and depth than the “dumb blond” stereotype of days gone by.

Stupefied in 08 as the first viable female presidential candidate revealed both her proven leadership credentials and her relational skills, our lemming-like journalists dipped into their store of bigoted epithets and labeled Hillary as “Sybil.”

Remnick tries too hard to be clever in this piece, but he does offer some insight into the state of the 2016 race even before incumbent Obama’s inauguration:

Hillary Clinton is running for President. And the Israeli political class is a full-blown train wreck. These are two conclusions, for whatever they are worth, based on a three-day conference I attended this weekend at the annual Saban Forum, in Washington, D.C.

A word about the scene: Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media and entertainment mogul, has for the past nine years been hosting a conference, sometimes in Jerusalem, more often in Washington, focussed on the Middle East. The attendees are mainly government officials, present and former; business people; institute-niks; a few reporters. There are very few Arabs; this year the most notable exception was Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, though he didn’t stick around long, since the Palestinian Authority, thanks in large measure to Israel, is in grave peril, losing ground all the time to Hamas. Except for a few events, Chatham House rules obtain: meaning the official events are off the record. The presumption is that the incidental meetings are more important than the panels and speeches.

Friday night, however, was on the record—and surprisingly revealing. Hillary Clinton was the main speaker. In a packed ballroom of the Willard Hotel, she was greeted with a standing ovation and then a short, adoring film, a video Festschrift testifying to her years as First Lady, senator, and, above all, secretary of state. The film, an expensive-looking production, went to the trouble of collecting interviews with Israeli politicians—Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni—and American colleagues, like John Kerry. Tony Blair, striking the moony futuristic note that was general in the hall, said, “I just have an instinct that the best is yet to come.”

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