Archive

Bill and Hillary Clinton's incomprehensible marriage

    Once upon a time, a boy from Arkansas spotted a girl from Illinois across a crowded classroom. And on Tuesday night in Philadelphia, on the night Hillary Rodham Clinton became their party's official nominee for president, Bill Clinton did his best to make one of the most-scrutinized marriages in the history of American politics fit into the contours of a fairy tale.

    OK, a revisionist feminist fairy tale, where the princess eventually saves the prince from the dragon, or the peasant girl ultimately tells the arrogant aristocrat to shove it in favor of lighting the castle on fire and leading a revolution. But watching Bill Clinton argue to the American people that they, too, should love his wife, and trying to narrate his marriage as a wonky fable, was both vexing and sweet at the same time.

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Bill addresses the Hillary deficiency

    Perhaps in repayment for all the times Hillary Clinton has had his back, Bill Clinton held a typically winning "conversation" Tuesday night with the Democratic National Convention delegates -- and millions watching on television -- about the woman polls suggest remains unlikeable and untrustworthy to so many voters.

    The former president turned on his customary charm in a folksy recollection of how they met at the Yale Law School and she eventually followed him to Arkansas, where they married and he became governor and she the first lady of the state, and later of the nation.

    In this casual manner, Bill Clinton offered a step-by-step chronicle of her public service, particularly on behalf of children and the disadvantaged. He cited individuals along the way who witnessed and could testify to his wife's engagement and empathy, running counter to the public impression that she is excessively cold and calculating.

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An internet porn star and a battle over libel

    You can libel a porn star with a photo, according to a federal appeals court, which has allowed a libel suit by internet pornography pioneer Danni Ashe to go forward. That decision in her case -- against an online tabloid that published an article about another porn actress who tested HIV-positive and illustrated it with an unrelated photograph of Ashe -- has important First Amendment implications.

    For a public figure to win a libel suit, she needs to prove that the writer knowingly published falsehoods with "actual malice" (either with the knowledge that a statement was false or "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not"). The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that could be achieved by implication -- and that reckless publication could amount to malice. Taken together, the two parts of the holding threaten internet free speech in the era of widely available stock photos.

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A belch in gym class, then handcuffs and a lawsuit

    Is fake burping in gym class enough to get a seventh-grader arrested? Yes, according to a federal appeals court, which granted immunity to school officials sued by the kid's family after the 13-year-old was hauled off to juvenile detention in handcuffs.

    The officer's action was based on a New Mexico misdemeanor law that makes disrupting school activities a crime. In a 94-page opinion, the court backed the arrest, saying the law didn't forbid arresting someone for burping.

    One judge on the panel wrote a pungent, four-page dissent explaining why that reasoning is wrong. But determining the correct outcome here is a little tricky. The arrest was clearly absurd. Yet it isn't clear that the remedy for every stupid arrest is a federal lawsuit.

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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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