Archive

Why Putin's DNC hack will backfire

    The hack of the Democratic National Committee's email servers and the subsequent leak of embarrassing internal documents appear almost certainly to have been carried out by Russian intelligence agencies, making it the most serious case yet of Kremlin interference in U.S. politics.

    That it is a serious interference is clear. The confirmation - long suspected by many in the Bernie Sanders camp - that at least some DNC officials were on Team Hillary over the course of the Democratic primary has divided the party on the verge of its nominating convention and alienated Sanders's base. If it hasn't convinced them to back Donald Trump, it's at least given them second thoughts about voting for Clinton.

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The loneliness of the anti-abortion Democrat

    Kristen Day is not making progress. The executive director of Democrats for Life of America, she manned a booth at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which features caucus meetings, presentations and lots of activists offering their wares to Democrats in Philadelphia for the big party convention.

    Democrats strolled by, including more than a handful wearing pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts. Few stopped at Day's table, which featured a poster promoting paid parental leave, a higher minimum wage and "Medicare for all" -- but no mention of abortion.

    "We're trying to appeal to Democrats, and we want them to talk to us," she explained.

    "Safe, legal and rare" was the abortion-rights mantra of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. In her 2008 presidential run, Hillary Clinton said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare, and by rare, I mean rare." Abortion "should not in any way be diminished as a moral issue," she added.

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Stop telling me I'm 'beautiful.' I'm ugly. It's fine.

    If you're alive and online, you've seen the Dove "Real Beauty" ads, where people react to being called beautiful. They smile, break into tears and hug. These campaigns are meant to make me (and all women) feel good in their own skin. But while I love a good compliment, it doesn't work on me.

    I'm ugly, and I know it.

    In case you think I'm kidding, let me make something perfectly plain: I'm not an idiot, my vision is fine. I know my thighs are too big, my face too undefined, that almost every part of me could use some work. I know that people see that. I'm not saying I don't take pride in my appearance, but true physical beauty is a kind of social currency I cannot redeem.

    This makes things harder, and not just in love and relationships. Random guys on dating apps have matched with me only to let me know how hideous I am. When I was young, I was the girl guys asked out as a joke, "She's All That" style. More than once, a man has told me I'm "ugly as f--."

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Sanders is right: It's time to support Clinton now

    There was a group of delegates at the Democratic National Convention who were plainly and understandably disappointed. The candidate they voted for, the candidate many of them fervently believed in and spent their free time and energy working to help elect, the candidate they were there to support wasn't the nominee.

    So what happened?

    Those 1,639 pledged delegates turned their focus to the general election, to the ominous prospects of a Republican presidency and to the excitement and hope brimming in the Democratic Party. And they not just begrudgingly but enthusiastically gave their support to the party's nominee.

    Confused? Perhaps because this isn't how things went down at the first day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention but what happened in 2008, when Hillary Clinton delegates had to face the disappointment that their candidate lost and show up to a party - in every sense of the word - for her primary opponent, Barack Obama.

    I wasn't at the 2008 convention, but from what I saw on television and from the news reports

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Our politicos say Democrats started strongly

    Two of America's smartest political strategists are analyzing the Democratic National Convention this week for Bloomberg View, giving their perspectives on how the proceedings are coming across to millions of viewers and voters. They are Vin Weber, a Republican lobbyist, consultant and former Minnesota congressman who has advised presidential contenders Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and, this year, Jeb Bush; and John Sasso, a longtime Democratic adviser who was the leading strategist for the presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004.

    Sasso and Weber credited the Democrats with overcoming threats of an ideological rupture on the opening day of their national convention in Philadelphia on Monday with a compelling prime-time show championing Hillary Clinton at the expense of Republican Donald Trump. The consensus star of the night was Michelle Obama.

    "It was a great hour and a half, making an overall good impression," said Sasso, a Democrat.

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July 30th

Democrats take wrong turn on superdelegates

    The Democrats have taken steps to reduce the influence in 2020 of the so-called superdelegates. Unfortunately, they're doing it wrong. Most delegates at the Democrats' convention are allocated to candidates based on the results of caucuses and primaries. Superdelegates are automatic delegates, entitled to that position by virtue of their status as either elected officials (members of Congress or governors) or members of the Democratic National Committee. They are free to support any candidate they want. In this cycle, most of them committed to Hillary Clinton, and many announced that decision before the voters first got involved in the process.

    Josh Putnam at FHQ has a detailed report of what the convention rules committee decided over the weekend. In a compromise "unity amendment," the Democrats opted to open up a reform committee, as they did in 2008. Back then, they reduced the number of superdelegates. This time, the plan is to keep that number, but to eliminate the independent voice of the supers who are members of the Democratic National Committee.

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On Islam, the GOP has lost its mind and forfeited its soul

    If there was one unifying theme to this year's Republican National Convention - in addition to a seething, "lock her up!" hatred of Hillary Clinton - it was an unthinking and uncaring Islamophobia. The political party that claims to champion national security and Christian values has lost its mind and forfeited its soul.

    I'm careful not to overuse the word "phobia." In the current culture wars, we too readily "phobiaize" the views of our political opponents. But what the Republican party displayed in Cleveland was textbook phobia: an irrational fear disproportionate to the threat.

    As a Christian who served in the Bush and Obama administrations, I watched in dismay.

    Numerous convention speakers last week, from a former mayor to a former underwear model, stoked the crowd with excessive fears of "radical Islam" and "Islamic terrorists," while ignoring many more pressing threats to Americans' safety.

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My old Dems are back, feudin' and fussin'

    After attending the unusually raucous and divided National Republican Convention in Cleveland, I expected a reasonably sedate coronation of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Maybe I should have known better.

    But who would have expected a cascade of internal Democratic National Committee emails to be released Friday by Wikileaks.

    Thousands of emails by party officials appeared to show a coordinated effort to help Clinton and confirmed what Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and his advisors had long claimed: that the DNC was biased toward Clinton in their party's primaries and caucuses.

    To be clear, Clinton did not win her nomination because of dirty tricks at DNC headquarters. She won because she got more votes. Sanders was perfectly free to win primaries and caucuses and persuade the party's superdelegates, who are not bound by primaries or caucuses, to vote for them -- the same way a young senator named Barack Obama did in 2008.

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Israel's religious culture war is getting ugly

    Measured against a tempestuous U.S. election season and a failed Turkish coup, Israel (for a change) seems quiet and stable. Bolstered by coalition agreements with the religious right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems politically secure. For now, at least, elections are not on the Israeli horizon and the borders are quiet.

    Mostly out of international view, however, Israel is in the grips of a renewed battle between an increasingly hard-line, anti-Western and extremist rabbinate, arrayed against Israeli liberal society, the army and even American Jews. The long-simmering battle resurfaced this month when a rabbinic court rejected a woman's conversion that had been overseen by the widely respected New York Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein. (Lookstein was the same rabbi who accepted and then declined an invitation to deliver the invocation at the Republican National Convention.)

    Despite protests by many moderate personalities, including the long-time Jewish human rights activist Natan Sharansky, the religious courts refused to back down, highlighting their disregard for how foreign Jews and much of Israeli society perceive them.

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Is Hillary Clinton Carmela Soprano - or Walter White?

    As first lady, Hillary Clinton was reviled as the wife who sold out her principles and stood by her man, just like the wives who surrendered to their husbands on the dramas that ushered in a new Golden Age of television as Bill Clinton's tenure in office came to a close. Now, as the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for president, she has become the main character in her own story. But however much the Clintons function as a model for the antihero age of television, the genre's difficult men seem unlikely to predict the fate of this difficult, history-making woman.

    If, as Emily Nussbaum memorably wrote about the reputation of "The Sopranos," "David Chase's auteurist masterpiece cracked open the gangster genre like a rib cage, releasing the latent ambition of television," Chase also had the advantage of launching his masterpiece at a moment when American audiences were uniquely prepared to receive it.

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