Former Olympic Figure Skater Joins Clinton Campaign Staff

U.S. President Bill Clinton accepts a U.S. Olympic team jacket from U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan, an Olympic silver medalist 29 April during ceremonies on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, DC.

Michelle Kwan, a two-time Olympic medalist figure skater, has joined Hillary Clinton’s campaign as a full-time and permanent staffer, according to a Clinton aide.  Kwan was a five-time world champion figure skater and is a decorated medalist from the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, writes CNN

Kwan will work on “surrogate outreach” and will engage surrogates “to help reach key constituencies and discuss the issues that matter most to working families,” the aide said Wednesday.

Kwan has worked with Clinton before as a State Department aide and worked as an adviser to Women-Lead, an initiative that facilitated high level U.S.-Chinese dialogue on women and girls.

(Updated article for credits)

Does Clinton Have Issues With Unions And The TPP?

The likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has yet to show her feelings towards the latest effort to pass “fast track” trade promotion authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

However, that could happen as soon as Monday morning when she takes the stage with prominent labor leaders at a Washington event put on by a liberal-leaning political think tank.

What she says could improve or worsen her position with unions, Democratic colleagues in Congress, the business community, and/or the sitting president, Barack Obama.

Liberal Democrats urging Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to get in the presidential race want Clinton to clarify her position as early as possible, given the fact that there is pending action in Congress on a “fast track” trade promotion authority bill, said Neil Sroka, a spokesman for Democracy for America.

Sroka said that some of the first questions she is asked as a presidential candidate could be about TPP and fast track.

“There’s lots of reasons that people are excited about getting Elizabeth Warren into the presidential race, but her outspokenness in the battle against TPP … is something that speaks to the progressive base’s concerns and is attracting people to this campaign.”

Union groups, including the AFL-CIO labor federation, also have deep concerns about the prospective trade pact with Japan and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific that, along with the United States, represent more than 40 percent of world gross domestic product.

“Every single thing in our trade deals should be openly discussed and subject to public oversight and the full legislative process,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a recent speech. “There should be no question about that. Fast track is wrong and undemocratic. It’s a rotten process, and the American labor movement intends to kill it.”

The labor federation fears the deal will encourage companies to move more jobs overseas, suppressing wages in the United States.

Obama wants Congress to approve the legislation quickly so he can wrap up the TPP pact and submit it to Congress for a vote later this year.

Trade promotion authority would allow him to submit trade agreements, like the proposed TPP, to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote without any amendments.

The next president – whoever it is – could also use the authority to negotiate a deal bringing China into the pact.

Trade promotion authority is also known as “fast track” because of its expedited voting procedures that union groups and many progressive Democrats don’t like.

Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, used the “fast track” procedure to win approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute blames for hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

Clinton voted against the fast-track legislation the last time it was approved in 2002, although her husband repeatedly pushed for the same authority when he was president.

However, as Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton was closely associated with the agreement.


(Updated article)

Is Hillary The Target Of State Of The Union?

Why would the president try to enact legislation on free community college,  grants to selected middle-income households, and tax increases on upper-income earners?

The Atlantic believes that the reason Obama is taking on these challenges is to box in his presumptive successor.

The Atlantic:  “Every time the president advances a concept that thrills his party’s liberal base, he creates a dilemma for Hillary Clinton. Does she agree or not?”   There is a smaller scope on how she can define herself.

Hillary Clinton comes from the more centrist business wing of the Democratic Party.

The Atlantic:  “Whatever her own personal views—still an elusive quantum after all these years in public life—she is identified in the public mind with her husband’s record, her husband’s appointees, and her husband’s donors. Not just in the public mind, but seemingly in the president’s mind, too.

“So as the clock runs down on his administration, he seems determined to set the post-Obama Democratic Party on a more leftward course…”

Hillary Stumps For Alison Lundergan Grimes: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over?

Hillary1It seemed as though some Democrats nationally were starting to back away from Alison Lundergan Grimes due to her movement to the right and her refusal to answer the question of who she voted for in 2012.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also cut its TV advertising for Lundergan Grimes on Tuesday, saying they had to focus on incumbent Democrats.

That decision effectively leaves Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on her own and is read by some as a sign that national Democrats believe her race is effectively over.

But Hillary was there on Wednesday, campaigning in Louisville, Kentucky.

She defended the president’s health care law as she campaigned on Wednesday for Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in her fight against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Kynect is about more than a website,” Clinton said of the Kentucky exchange, the state health care marketplace created as part of the Affordable Care Act. “It has helped more than half a million Kentuckians get good, quality affordable health care.”

In a Monday debate between McConnell and Lundergan Grimes, McConnell told voters that he wants to repeal the health care law “root and branch,” but said that the state’s health care website is “fine.”

“You cannot have it both ways. It’s simple math,” Clinton said. “If you repeal the federal law, there is no more federal money for subsidies for Kentucky families. There is no more money for Medicaid expansion, and think about … the forty eight thousand young people in Kentucky who will be thrown off their parents’ insurance plans.”

Grimes has largely avoided defending the health care law on the campaign trail, focusing instead on bread-and-butter issues like the minimum wage and equal pay.

Does 2016 Belong To The Oligarchs?

Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that he thinks his brother Jeb Bush wants to be president, possibly setting up another Bush-Clinton “rematch.”

The former president said he is encouraging his brother Jeb to run for the Oval Office — a move the former Florida governor is considering.

“He and I did a conversation. I of course was pushing him to run for president. He of course was saying, ‘I haven’t made up my mind,'” the former President said in a Fox News interview. “I think he wants to be president.”

Bush added that his brother would “be a great president,” noting that his brother “understands what it’s like to be president.”

Republicans Will Go For The ‘Hypocrisy’ Angle

Republicans will go for the “hypocrisy” angle with Hillary Clinton…and it will be easy to do.

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly comments on it.

O’REILLY:  “…if Hillary Clinton runs for president, how can she even mention income inequality?

“Mrs. Clinton gets paid about $200,000 for a speech. And she flies to the venue in a private jet. And you know what; there is nothing wrong with that. Bill and Hillary Clinton have a unique position in the world and many people want to hear what they have to say. Mrs. Clinton also has a new book out for which she was paid more than $10 million — again, nothing wrong with that. Publisher believing it will make money selling Hillary’s book. That’s capitalism.

“But it also takes away a big issue that the Democratic Party is pushing in order to retain political power — inequality. For her book alone Mrs. Clinton is making more money than most Americans will make in their entire lifetimes. So, if you want an example of income inequality, I believe Hillary Clinton is the poster lady. In fact, she didn’t even write the book. Others did. She provided notes, guidance, point of view, but she did not put the words on the paper — again, nothing wrong with that.

“So, if I’m reading this correctly, Mrs. Clinton might want to think about running for president on the Republican ticket. She is obviously worried about taxes, obviously a hard worker. And she is making Romney- type money in the free marketplace, is she not?

“Also, she doesn’t feel guilty about it. She is a one percenter. She has far more cash than most Americans even dream of having.

“Now, if Mrs. Clinton does run as a liberal Democrat and does start spouting income inequality, ‘Talking Points’ will be offended. If you really believe that capitalism is distorted, a bad thing, because it provides the opportunity to make millions, then you can’t be vacuuming up the money. That would be hypocritical.

“If the Clintons want to give the money to charity, that’s another story. But at this point, Bill and Hillary are living very well — giant homes, private jets, every luxury — again, nothing wrong with that. They earned it.

“FINALLY, A PIECE OF ADVICE TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: if Hillary is your nominee, stow the income inequality stuff. It’s not going to play with the folks.”

It is not clear what “folks” he is talking about.  However, he makes it clear that he believes that a wealthy person who talks about income inequality is – de facto – a hypocrite.

Does the O’Reilly piece give a sense of what is to come? Will pointing out “income inequality hypocrisy” become a conservative talking point?

Never mind that some of the wealthy seem fine with paying more taxes and consider it “paying their fair share.”  Never mind that they want health care for all.

But does O’Reilly have a point?  Will Republicans go for the “hypocrisy” angle?

Inquisitr states:  “If she runs for president, Hillary Clinton apparently plans to make income inequality a cornerstone of her campaign. The Clintons reportedly have a net worth of $100 million to $200 million, much of it from $200,000 a pop speechmaking before corporate groups.”

The Guardian states:  “But the mantle of class warrior has always fit poorly on Hillary’s shoulders…The missteps on the $225,000-a-speech Hard Choices campaign echo that fundamental problem with Hillary’s first run at the presidency: she is an insider who claims to be an outsider.”

Will Hillary be able to take up the cause of income inequality?  Equally important, will she be able to fend off attacks and charges of hypocrisy?

Hillary Clinton Speech In New York Interrupted By Immigration Protestors

Hillary Clinton addressed the crowd. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

During a speech in New York last week for victims of the 9/11 attacks, Hillary Clinton was interrupted by immigration protestors.

According to multiple reports, the small group of protestors chanted “undocumented, unafraid” at the end of the speech, but Clinton did not respond to them.

Some wore T-shirts reading “Will you deport my family?”

The protestors were escorted out by security.

According to Business Insider, one of the protestors, Mateo Tabares, 19, told reporters they were there to ask Clinton why she would deport their families. Tabares said Clinton opposed action by President Obama to prevent some deportations.

Clinton did not respond to multiple questions from a reporter for her reaction to the protestors, according to Business Insider.

In her remarks, Clinton called on Congress to extend the Zadroga Act, which aids people with health problems stemming from the 9/11 attacks. Its programs are set to expire in 2015 and 2016.

Asked if she supported Obama’s delay of executive action on immigration, Clinton replied that “I think we have to just keep working.”

The protestors later praised Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a potential long-shot presidential primary challenger to Clinton, for supporting executive action.

Over the summer, responding to the surge of unaccompanied children at the border, Clinton first was open to changing a 2008 law in order to speed deportations, but then later said she opposed changing the law.

Madam Secretary: A Show About Hillary Clinton?


Hillary Clinton hasn’t made her run for President in 2016 official, but some think CBS may be helping her campaign with its new drama “Madam Secretary,” which debuted Sunday between “60 Minutes” and “The Good Wife.”

Culture and Media Institute’s Katie Yoder says the series, starring Tea Leoni, appears to be nothing short of “pro-Hillary propaganda.”  She says, “The connections in the show between Elizabeth and Hillary are clear, from the blond hair to the pantsuits,”

Leoni plays a former CIA analyst turned stay-at-home mom who is thrust into the position of Secretary of State. The premiere episode dealt with young American hostages held in Syria, in which she courageously handles the crisis.

Yoder isn’t convinced that “Madam Secretary” will work in Clinton’s favor should she run.

“Madam Secretary” was brought to life by actor/producer Morgan Freeman and executive producer Lori McCreary, who told the L.A. Times that the idea for the show came when she saw Clinton “raise her fist” while testifying before Congress with regards to the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

Next week’s episode is reportedly titled “Another Benghazi,” while the third week delves into an Edward Snowden-like hacker causing chaos within the State Department.

The L.A Times wrote that Leoni’s McCord is “no Hillary knock-off,” and that she was not a “career politician” but one with a functional and relatable home life.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of New York-based publicity firm 5WPR noted that it isn’t at all surprising that a major network has cast a powerful woman as the lead for its new fall TV series.  “It is simple business and smart on CBS’ behalf. Media chatter will increase in coming months about a possible leading woman politician, so surely it makes sense to give ‘Madam Secretary’ a prestigious spot on the network,” he said.

According to the Denver Post, creator-producers Barbara Hall and Lori McCreary deny the Hillary Clinton inspiration: “We believe this show and its characters have been written to tell the story of an apolitical woman at the pinnacle of the diplomatic world. She thinks outside of the box and party lines…”

TYT Survey: Al Gore For President?

TYT and SurveyMonkey polled registered voters aged 18-35 and asked who their favorite Democratic candidate would be for president. According to the survey, outside of Hillary Clinton, the most popular candidate would be Al Gore.

Clinton Critiques Obama’s Foreign Policy

Hillary1 In an article in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg states, “Professional Clinton-watchers (and there are battalions of them) have told me that it is only a matter of time before she (Hllary Clinton) makes a more forceful attempt to highlight her differences with the (unpopular) president she ran against, and then went on to serve. On a number of occasions during my interview with her, I got the sense that this effort is already underway.”

“Clinton had many kind words for the ‘incredibly intelligent’ and ‘thoughtful’ Obama, and she expressed sympathy and understanding for the devilishly complicated challenges he faces. But she also suggested that she finds his approach to foreign policy overly cautious, and she made the case that America needs a leader who believes that the country, despite its various missteps, is an indispensable force for good.”

When Clinton talked of Obama’s “don’t do stupid stuff” slogan, she was responding to Goldberg:


At one point, Goldberg brought up the slogan President Obama recently coined to describe his foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid stuff.”

Clinton replied to Goldberg, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

David Axelrod, the architect of Obama’s presidential campaigns, didn’t miss the opportunity to take a jab at one of the choices in Hillary’s portfolio in his tweets. “Just to clarify: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision,” he tweeted about Clinton’s support for George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion.

Clinton goes on to say, “One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’etre is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat.”

These comments seem similar to Obama’s own: “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy,” he said.

She criticized Obama’s decision not to get involved with the Syrian civil war years ago: “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad — there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle — the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” she told Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic in August.

However, Hillary’s comments fail to address the shifting landscape in Syria and that the greatest threat in Syria is no longer considered to be Bashar Assad, but rather ISIS. Her view fails to address the complexity of the situation in that she wants to support a rebel force against Assad, but ISIS is a rebel force against Assad.

Will it not become difficult to keep American arms out of the hands of ISIS if you are arming the allies of ISIS? Theoretically, the U.S. wants to vet the groups and only give arms to “moderate” groups. How would that work out on the ground? Recently, moderates in the area near Damascus made a truce agreement with ISIS.

Clinton also seems to take a more pro-Israel stand on the Palestinian conflict.

When asked about the intense international focus on Gaza, Clinton was quick to identify anti-Semitism as an important motivating factor in criticism of Israel. “It is striking … that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. … You have Russia massing battalions—Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member-state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair.”

According to the 2012 National Power Index (NPI), released by the Foundation for National Security Research (FNSR), a New Delhi-based think tank, Israel achieved a 32.19 NPI ranking, placing it tenth on the list of the world’s most powerful countries. It’s military is often ranked 10th by most measures.

By contrast, Palestine does not have a military at all, though there is the Al Qassam brigade, which is the military wing of Hamas, a political party.

President Obama has been for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Wikipedia states:

“On 22 January 2009, President Barack Obama signed an order to suspend proceedings at Guantanamo military commission for 120 days and shut down the detention facility that year.[12][13] On 29 January 2009, a military judge at Guantanamo rejected the White House request in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, creating an unexpected challenge for the administration as it reviewed how the United States brings Guantanamo detainees to trial.[14] On 20 May 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90–6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.”

The president and Hillary both generally agree on closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. According to the Daily Kos:

“But at the end of the day, Clinton had little leverage to get the White House to act. Now, in one of her last moves as secretary of State, she was making a final effort to prod her boss to do more. Her memo was replete with practical suggestions for moving ahead on Gitmo. Chief among them: Obama needed to appoint a high-level official to be in charge of the effort, someone who had clout and proximity to the Oval Office.

“Further, Clinton argued that Obama could start transferring the 86 detainees who’d already been cleared for release. (Congress has imposed onerous restrictions on the administration’s ability to transfer Gitmo detainees—including a stipulation that the secretary of Defense certify that detainees sent to other countries would not engage in acts of terrorism. In her memo, Clinton pointed out that the administration could use ‘national-security waivers’ to circumvent the restriction.)”

To summarize: Clinton does seem to be more of a hawk, but it is not clear that her hawkish decisions on Syria (i.e. giving more help to the rebels) would have been for the best. In all, there is also quite a bit of overlap between her foreign policy and Obama’s.