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Janet Reno, 1st woman U.S. attorney general, has died at age 78

Janet Reno, the first woman U.S. attorney general who served eight years with President Bill Clinton, has died aged 78.

Reno’s goddaughter, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, said she succumbed to complications of Parkinson’s disease early on Monday in Miami.

The blunt-spoken lawyer worked as the top U.S. law enforcement official under Clinton from 1993 to 2001, becoming the longest-serving attorney general of the 20th century.

Just weeks into the job, she authorized the deadly 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound at Waco, Texas.

Reno later authorized federal agents to seize six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez from relatives in Miami in 2000, and headed the Justice Department during the government’s huge antitrust case against Microsoft.

The former Miami prosecutor, picked by Clinton after his first two choices for the job ran into trouble at the confirmation stage, exhibited an independent streak and a brusque manner that often upset the White House.

Reno weathered White House complaints that she was not a team player and that she sought too many special prosecutors to investigate cases, including the Whitewater investigation involving the finances of the president and first lady Hillary Clinton.

She always said she made decisions based on evidence and the law.

WACO, GONZALES

Reno was only 38 days into the attorney general’s job when she approved the April 19, 1993, FBI raid that led to the deaths of about 80 people, including many children, at the Waco cult compound.

Federal agents had earlier tried to serve a warrant on the cult’s leader, David Koresh, who said he was the Messiah, for stockpiling weapons. Four agents and six cult members were killed in an ensuing shootout, leading to a 51-day standoff.

With negotiations at an impasse, Reno gave the go-ahead for the raid after hearing reports of child abuse in the compound. The raid on the heavily armed cultists ended in an inferno that engulfed the site.

“I made the decision. I’m accountable. The buck stops with me,” a grim-looking Reno told a later news conference.

Reno took a personal interest in the political tussle over Elian Gonzalez, the young shipwreck survivor whose mother drowned fleeing Cuba.

Reno met the boy and his Miami relatives who battled to keep him from returning to communist Cuba, and his father and grandmothers, who wanted to raise Gonzalez in his homeland.

Reno argued that Elian belonged with his father and acted after the Miami relatives defied a U.S. government order to hand him over. She authorized armed agents to take the boy from his relatives’ home in a pre-dawn raid in April 2000 and re-unite him with his father, who took him back to Cuba.

The raid infuriated Miami’s Cuban exile community, whose members picketed her home and denounced her as a “witch” and lackey of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

MICROSOFT, OKLAHOMA

In 1998, Reno’s Justice Department brought a huge antitrust case against Microsoft. Two years later, a federal judge ordered the breakup of the software giant because it had ignored his ruling that it had used unlawful monopolistic practices.

The case was settled in 2001 by the administration of George W. Bush, Clinton’s Republican successor, in terms seen as favorable to Microsoft.

Reno appeared with Clinton after the 1995 truck bomb attack on the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people, and vowed to seek the death penalty for the perpetrators.

Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 2001 become the first federal prisoner executed since 1963. McVeigh said he carried out the attack to punish the U.S. government for the Waco cult raid and another raid in Idaho.

Some comedians made fun of Reno during her time in office, lampooning her appearance and height, around 6 feet 2 inches, among them Will Ferrell who impersonated her on “Saturday Night Live.”

Shortly after leaving office in January 2001 she appeared on the show next to Ferrell, both wearing identical outfits, in a sketch called “Janet Reno’s Dance Party.”

She was diagnosed in 1995 with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that caused trembling in her arms. “All it does is shake and you get used to it shaking after a while,” she told a TV interviewer.

Reno was attorney general throughout Clinton’s two terms as president and was in the job longer than anyone except William Wirt, who held it from November 1817 until March 1829.

After leaving Washington, Reno returned to Florida and ran for governor in 2002, but lost in the Democratic primary.

Reno was born on July 21, 1938, in Miami to parents who were newspaper reporters. She attended public schools in Miami and earned a chemistry degree at Cornell University in 1960.

She received her law degree from Harvard three years later and worked as a lawyer in Miami.

 

Statement on Janet Reno’s death

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch today released the following statement on the passing of former Attorney General Janet Reno:

“With the passing of Janet Reno, the Department of Justice has lost one of the most effective, decisive and well-respected leaders in its proud history.  From her years in state law enforcement to her long and eventful tenure as Attorney General, Janet Reno always strove, as she put it, to do her ‘level best.’  She led the department in a time of turmoil and change, confronting issues ranging from international and domestic terrorism to fair competition in the emerging technology sector.  In meeting these challenges, she was guided by one simple test: to do what the law and the facts required.  She accepted the results of that test regardless of which way the political winds were blowing.  She never shied from criticism or shirked responsibility, earning her the affection of her subordinates, the respect of her critics, and the esteem of the American people.  And of course, as the first woman to serve as attorney general, she was an inspiration and a trailblazer for so many women working in law enforcement and government — including me.  The United States is a stronger, safer and more just place because of Janet Reno’s leadership, and she will be dearly missed.”

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno greets the media next to a caricature of a journalist and fisherman with the the saying in spanish "A reporter lives here," at the back porch of her home in Miami, September 4, 2001. REUTERS/Colin Braley
Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno greets the media next to a caricature of a journalist and fisherman with the the saying in spanish, “A reporter lives here,” at the back porch of her home in Miami, September 4, 2001. REUTERS/Colin Braley
Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida Janet Reno speaks to supporters at the Sheraton Bal Harbor in Miami, Florida September 11, 2002.  REUTERS/Marc Serota
Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida Janet Reno speaks to supporters at the Sheraton Bal Harbor in Miami, Florida September 11, 2002. REUTERS/Marc Serota
President Clinton, accompanied by Attorney General Janet Reno July 19, 1993. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo
President Clinton, accompanied by Attorney General Janet Reno July 19, 1993. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

Ryan disinvites Trump from event, ‘sickened’ by tape of Trump vulgarities

Republicans on Friday grappled with a bombshell 2005 audiotape published by The Washington Post in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump boasted in vulgar terms about trying to have sex with an unnamed married woman and groping women, saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

The disclosure threatens Trump’s already shaky standing with women.

Trump’s leaked comments spurred a flood of indignation and came at what some have seen as a potentially pivotal point. Sunday’s presidential debate, a town hall-style event, is seen as critical as Trump tries to rebound from a dip in some opinion polls after a rocky performance in the first debate with Hillary Clinton.

“No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” said Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican elected official, said he was “sickened” by the comments and said Trump would not attend a campaign event in Wisconsin with him on Saturday.

“I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests,” Ryan said in a statement

Trump in a statement shrugged off the leaked tape as “locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”

In the recorded conversation, Trump was wearing a microphone and chatting on a bus with Billy Bush, then host of NBC’s “Access Hollywood,” ahead of a segment they were about to tape.

“I did try and f**k her. She was married,” Trump said. “I moved on her like a b**ch, but I couldn’t get there.”

Trump talked about his attraction to beautiful women. “I just start kissing them,” he said.

“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” he said.

“Grab them by the p**sy. You can do anything.”

Trump, who has brought up former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a criticism of Hillary Clinton, calling her a “total enabler,” responded to the audio.

“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended,” Trump said.

“Access Hollywood” confirmed the video in its own report, saying it discovered the comments in its library.

Billy Bush, in a statement to Variety, said he was “embarrassed and ashamed” of his comments.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who lost to Trump in the Republican presidential primaries — and who is a cousin to Billy Bush – tweeted that the comments were “reprehensible.”

Mitt Romney, who was the Republican candidate in the 2012 election – and who has long opposed Trump, said his comments were “vile degradations” that “demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”

 

 

 

Obama embraces Clinton, he’s with her

Barack Obama told the nation July 27 that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to serve as president — more qualified than him, more qualified than Bill Clinton.

“I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America,” Obama said to thunderous applause in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on the third night of the Democratic National Convention.” I hope you don’t mind, Bill, but I was just telling the truth, man.”

The president said he is ready to pass the baton to Clinton and he called on people to join her campaign to become the first female president in the nation’s history.

The call included a reach out to the loyal supporters of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and hard-fighting primary candidate who has endorsed her and repeatedly has urged his backers to vote for the Democratic ticket.

Throughout the evening, Sanders supporters interrupted speeches with shouts of “This is what democracy looks like” and “Sanders.” During Tim Kaine’s speech, from the balcony to the left of the stage, demonstrators unfurled a yellow banner reading, “Democracy?”

To Sanders supporters, the president said, “It can be frustrating, this business of democracy. Trust me, I know. Hillary knows, too. When the other side refuses to compromise, progress can stall. Supporters can grow impatient, and worry that you’re not trying hard enough; that you’ve maybe sold out.

“But I promise you, when we keep at it; when we change enough minds; when we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen. Just ask the 20 million more people who have health care today. Just ask the Marine who proudly serves his country without hiding the husband he loves. Democracy works, but we gotta want it — not just during an election year, but all the days in between.”

Clinton is the only candidate in the race, Obama said:

“If you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics.”

“If you want more justice in the justice system.”

“f you want to fight climate change.”

“If you want to protect our kids and our cops from gun violence.”

Obama said citizens who care about democracy can’t sit out the 2016 general election. “You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about ‘Yes he will.’ It’s about ‘Yes we can.'”

The audience in the arena was standing-room only — in fact beyond standing-room only, as many volunteers who had spent the night ushering people to their seats doubled up in seats and chairs to watch Obama.

“I think this is about the most exciting night in politics,” said Philadelphian Peter Crosse. “Well, until tomorrow night.”

At the end of Obama’s speech, delivered after remarks by running mate Tim Kaine and Vice President Joe Biden, Clinton stepped onto the stage to embrace her 2008 rival. Delegates roared a welcome.

 

At the podium

The transcript of the president’s speech, as delivered at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on July 27:

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  (Applause.)

 

AUDIENCE:  Obama!  Obama!  Obama!

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

 

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back!  (Applause.)

 

Hello, America!  Hello, Democrats!  (Applause.)

 

So 12 years ago tonight, I addressed this convention for the very first time.  (Applause.)  You met my two little girls, Malia and Sasha — now two amazing young women who just fill me with pride.  (Applause.)  You fell for my brilliant wife and partner Michelle — (applause) — who has made me a better father and a better man; who’s gone on to inspire our nation as First Lady — (applause) — and who somehow hasn’t aged a day.  (Applause.)

 

I know, the same can’t be said for me.  (Laughter.)  My girls remind me all the time.  Wow, you’ve changed so much, Daddy (Laughter.)  And then they try to clean it up — not bad, you’re just more mature.  (Laughter.)

 

And it’s true — I was so young that first time in Boston.  (Applause.)  And look, I’ll admit it, maybe I was a little nervous, addressing such a big crowd.  But I was filled with faith; faith in America — the generous, big-hearted, hopeful country that made my story — that made all of our stories — possible.

 

A lot has happened over the years.  And while this nation has been tested by war, and it’s been tested by recession and all manner of challenges — I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your President, to tell you I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before.  (Applause.)

 

How could I not be — after all that we’ve achieved together?  After the worst recession in 80 years, we fought our way back.  We’ve seen deficits come down, 401(k)s recover, an auto industry set new records, unemployment reach eight-year lows, and our businesses create 15 million new jobs.  (Applause.)

 

After a century of trying, we declared that health care in America is not a privilege for a few, it is a right for everybody.  (Applause.)  After decades of talk, we finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil.  We doubled our production of clean energy.  (Applause.)  We brought more of our troops home to their families, and we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.  (Applause.)  Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  (Applause.)  We opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our children.  (Applause.)

 

We put policies in place to help students with loans; protect consumers from fraud; cut veteran homelessness almost in half.  (Applause.)  And through countless acts of quiet courage, America learned that love has no limits, and marriage equality is now a reality across the land.  (Applause.)

 

By so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started.  And through every victory and every setback, I’ve insisted that change is never easy, and never quick; that we wouldn’t meet all of our challenges in one term, or one presidency, or even in one lifetime.

 

So, tonight, I’m here to tell you that, yes, we’ve still got more work to do.  More work to do for every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone who has not yet felt the progress of these past seven and a half years.  We need to keep making our streets safer and our criminal justice system fairer

— (applause) — our homeland more secure, our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation.  (Applause.)   We’re not done perfecting our union, or living up to our founding creed that all of us are created equal; all of us are free in the eyes of God.  (Applause.)

 

And that work involves a big choice this November.  I think it’s fair to say, this is not your typical election.  It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right.  This is a more fundamental choice — about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.

 

Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s precisely this contest of idea that pushes our country forward.  (Applause.)  But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican — and it sure wasn’t conservative.  What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world.  There were no serious solutions to pressing problems — just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.

 

And that is not the America I know.  (Applause.)  The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity.  The America I know is decent and generous.  (Applause.)  Sure, we have real anxieties — about paying the bills, and protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent.  We get frustrated with political gridlock, and worry about racial divisions.  We are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice.  There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten; parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities that we had.

 

All of that is real.  We are challenged to do better; to be better.

 

But as I’ve traveled this country, through all 50 states, as I’ve rejoiced with you and mourned with you, what I have also seen, more than anything, is what is right with America.  (Applause.)  I see people working hard and starting businesses.  I see people teaching kids and serving our country.  I see engineers inventing stuff, doctors coming up with new cures.  I see a younger generation full of energy and new ideas, not constrained by what is, ready to seize what ought to be.  (Applause.)

 

And most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together — black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight; men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.  (Applause.)  That’s what I see.  That’s the America I know!  (Applause.)

 

And there is only one candidate in this race who believes in that future, has devoted her life to that future; a mother and a grandmother who would do anything to help our children thrive; a leader with real plans to break down barriers, and blast through glass ceilings, and widen the circle of opportunity to every single American — the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton.  (Applause.)

 

AUDIENCE:  Hillary!  Hillary!  Hillary!

 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right!

 

Let me tell you, eight years ago, you may remember Hillary and I were rivals for the Democratic nomination.  We battled for a year and a half.  Let me tell you, it was tough, because Hillary was tough.  I was worn out.  (Laughter.)  She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers, it was backwards in heels.  (Applause.)  And every time I thought I might have the race won, Hillary just came back stronger.  (Applause.)

 

But after it was all over, I asked Hillary to join my team. (Applause.)  And she was a little surprised.  Some of my staff was surprised.  (Laughter.)  But ultimately she said yes — because she knew that what was at stake was bigger than either of us.  (Applause.)  And for four years — for four years, I had a front-row seat to her intelligence, her judgment, and her discipline.  I came to realize that her unbelievable work ethic wasn’t for praise, it wasn’t for attention — that she was in this for everyone who needs a champion.  (Applause.)  I understood that after all these years, she has never forgotten just who she’s fighting for.  (Applause.)

 

Hillary has still got the tenacity that she had as a young woman, working at the Children’s Defense Fund, going door-to-door to ultimately make sure kids with disabilities could get a quality education.  (Applause.)

 

She’s still got the heart she showed as our First Lady, working with Congress to help push through a Children’s Health Insurance Program that to this day protects millions of kids.  (Applause.)

 

She’s still seared with the memory of every American she met who lost loved ones on 9/11 — which is why, as a Senator from New York, she fought so hard for funding to help first responders, to help the city rebuild; why, as Secretary of State, she sat with me in the Situation Room and forcefully argued in favor of the mission that took out bin Laden.  (Applause.)

 

You know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office.  You can read about it.  You can study it.  But until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis, or send young people to war.  But Hillary has been in the room; she’s been part of those decisions.  She knows what’s at stake in the decisions our government makes — what’s at stake for the working family, for the senior citizen, or the small business owner, for the soldier, for the veteran.  And even in the midst of crisis, she listens to people, and she keeps her cool, and she treats everybody with respect.  And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.  (Applause.)

 

That is the Hillary I know.  That’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire.  And that’s why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

 

I hope you don’t mind, Bill, but I was just telling the truth, man.  (Laughter.)

 

And, by the way, in case you’re wondering about her judgment, take a look at her choice of running mate.  (Applause.) Tim Kaine is as good a man, as humble and as committed a public servant as anybody that I know.  I know his family.  I love Anne. I love their kids.  He will be a great Vice President.  He will make Hillary a better President — just like my dear friend and brother, Joe Biden, has made me a better President.  (Applause.)

 

Now, Hillary has real plans to address the concerns she’s heard from you on the campaign trail.  She’s got specific ideas to invest in new jobs, to help workers share in their company’s profits, to help put kids in preschool and put students through college without taking on a ton of debt.  That’s what leaders do.

And then there’s Donald Trump.

 

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Applause.)

 

AUDIENCE:  Don’t boo, vote!  Don’t boo, vote!

 

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, the Donald is not really a plans guy.  (Laughter.)  He’s not really a facts guy, either.  He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.  (Applause.)

 

Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion?  Your voice?

 

AUDIENCE:  Nooo —

 

THE PRESIDENT:  If so, you should vote for him.  But if you’re someone who’s truly concerned about paying your bills, if you’re really concerned about pocketbook issues and seeing the economy grow, and creating more opportunity for everybody, then the choice isn’t even close.  (Applause.)  If you want someone with a lifelong track record of fighting for higher wages, and better benefits, and a fairer tax code, and a bigger voice for workers, and stronger regulations on Wall Street, then you should vote for Hillary Clinton.  (Applause.)

 

If you’re rightly concerned about who’s going to keep you and your family safe in a dangerous world, well, the choice is even clearer.  Hillary Clinton is respected around the world — not just by leaders, but by the people they serve.

 

I have to say this.  People outside of the United States do not understand what’s going on in this election.  They really don’t.  Because they know Hillary.  They’ve seen her work.  She’s worked closely with our intelligence teams, our diplomats, our military.  She has the judgment and the experience and the temperament to meet the threat from terrorism.  It’s not new to her.  Our troops have pounded ISIL without mercy, taking out their leaders, taking back territory.  (Applause.)  And I know Hillary won’t relent until ISIL is destroyed.  She will finish the job.  (Applause.)  And she will do it without resorting to torture, or banning entire religions from entering our country.  She is fit and she is ready to be the next Commander-in-Chief.  (Applause.)

 

Meanwhile, Donald Trump calls our military a disaster.  Apparently, he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  He suggests America is weak.  He must not hear the billions of men and women and children, from the Baltics to Burma, who still look to America to be the light of freedom and dignity and human rights.  (Applause.)  He cozies up to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, tells our NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that they have to pay up if they want our protection.

 

Well, America’s promises do not come with a price tag.  We meet our commitments.  We bear our burdens.  (Applause.)  That’s one of the reasons why almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago when I took office.  (Applause.)

 

America is already great.  (Applause.)  America is already strong.  (Applause.)  And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.  (Applause.)  In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person.  And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election — the meaning of our democracy.

 

Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.”  Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix.  It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades — (applause) — because he’s not actually offering any real solutions to those issues.  He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear.  He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.

 

And that’s another bet that Donald Trump will lose.  (Applause.)  And the reason he’ll lose it is because he’s selling the American people short.  We’re not a fragile people.  We’re not a frightful people.  Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way.  We don’t look to be ruled.  (Applause.) Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that We the People, can form a more perfect union.  (Applause.)

 

That’s who we are.  That’s our birthright — the capacity to shape our own destiny.  (Applause.)  That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny and our GIs to liberate a continent.  It’s what gave women the courage to reach for the ballot, and marchers to cross a bridge in Selma, and workers to organize and fight for collective bargaining and better wages.  (Applause.)

 

America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us.  It’s about what can be achieved by us, together — (applause) — through the hard and slow, and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.

 

And that’s what Hillary Clinton understands.  She knows that this is a big, diverse country.  She has seen it.  She’s traveled.  She’s talked to folks.  And she understands that most issues are rarely black and white.  She understands that even when you’re 100 percent right, getting things done requires compromise; that democracy doesn’t work if we constantly demonize each other.  (Applause.)  She knows that for progress to happen, we have to listen to each other, and see ourselves in each other, and fight for our principles but also fight to find common ground, no matter how elusive that may sometimes seem.  (Applause.)

 

Hillary knows we can work through racial divides in this country when we realize the worry black parents feel when their son leaves the house isn’t so different than what a brave cop’s family feels when he puts on the blue and goes to work; that we can honor police and treat every community fairly.  (Applause.)  We can do that.  And she knows — she knows that acknowledging problems that have festered for decades isn’t making race relations worse — it’s creating the possibility for people of goodwill to join and make things better.  (Applause.)

 

Hillary knows we can insist on a lawful and orderly immigration system while still seeing striving students and their toiling parents as loving families, not criminals or rapists; families that came here for the same reason our forebears came — to work and to study, and to make a better life, in a place where we can talk and worship and love as we please.  She knows their dream is quintessentially American, and the American Dream is something no wall will ever contain.  (Applause.)  These are the things that Hillary knows.

 

It can be frustrating, this business of democracy.  Trust me, I know.  Hillary knows, too.  When the other side refuses to compromise, progress can stall.  People are hurt by the inaction. Supporters can grow impatient and worry that you’re not trying hard enough; that you’ve maybe sold out.  But I promise you, when we keep at it, when we change enough minds, when we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen.  And if you doubt that, just ask the 20 million more people who have health care today.  (Applause.)  Just ask the Marine who proudly serves his country without hiding the husband that he loves.  (Applause.)

 

Democracy works, America, but we got to want it — not just during an election year, but all the days in between.  (Applause.)

 

So if you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders supporters have been during this election.  (Applause.)  We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done.  (Applause.)

 

That’s right — feel the Bern!  (Applause.)

 

If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote — not just for a President, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and state legislators.  That’s where the criminal law is made.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got to work with police and protesters until laws and practices are changed.  That’s how democracy works.  (Applause.)

 

If you want to fight climate change, we’ve got to engage not only young people on college campuses, we’ve got to reach out to the coal miner who’s worried about taking care of his family, the single mom worried about gas prices.  (Applause.)

 

If you want to protect our kids and our cops from gun violence, we’ve got to get the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, who agree on things like background checks to be just as vocal and just as determined as the gun lobby that blocks change through every funeral that we hold.  That is how change happens.  (Applause.)

 

Look, Hillary has got her share of critics.  She has been caricatured by the right and by some on the left.  She has been accused of everything you can imagine — and some things that you cannot.  (Laughter.)  But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years.  She knows that sometimes during those 40 years she’s made mistakes — just like I have; just like we all do.  (Applause.)  That’s what happens when we try.  That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described — not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…but who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.”  (Applause.)

 

Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena.  (Applause.)  She’s been there for us — even if we haven’t always noticed.  And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue.  You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport.  (Applause.)  America isn’t about “yes, he will.”  It’s about “yes, we can.”  (Applause.)    And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.  (Applause.)

 

AUDIENCE:  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can!

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can.  Not “yes, she can.”  Not “yes, I can.”  “Yes, we can.”   (Applause.)

 

You know, there’s been a lot of talk in this campaign about what America has lost — people who tell us that our way of life is being undermined by pernicious changes and dark forces beyond our control.  They tell voters there’s a “real America” out there that must be restored.  This isn’t an idea, by the way, that started with Donald Trump.  It’s been peddled by politicians for a long time — probably from the start of our Republic.

 

And it’s got me thinking about the story I told you 12 years ago tonight, about my Kansas grandparents and the things they taught me when I was growing up.  (Applause.)  See, my grandparents, they came from the heartland.  Their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago.  I don’t know if they have their birth certificates — (laughter) — but they were there.  (Applause.)  They were Scotch-Irish mostly — farmers, teachers, ranch hands, pharmacists, oil rig workers.  Hardy, small town folks.  Some were Democrats, but a lot of them — maybe even most of them — were Republicans.  Party of Lincoln.

 

And my grandparents explained that folks in these parts, they didn’t like show-offs.  They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies.  They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life.  Instead, what they valued were traits like honesty and hard work, kindness, courtesy, humility, responsibility, helping each other out. That’s what they believed in.  True things.  Things that last.  The things we try to teach our kids.

 

And what my grandparents understood was that these values weren’t limited to Kansas.  They weren’t limited to small towns. These values could travel to Hawaii.  (Applause.)  They could travel even to the other side of the world, where my mother would end up working to help poor women get a better life; trying to apply those values.  My grandparents knew these values weren’t reserved for one race.  They could be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter.  In fact, they were the same values Michelle’s parents, the descendants of slaves, taught their own kids, living in a bungalow on the South Side of Chicago.  (Applause.)  They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here, and they believed that the children of those immigrants were just as American as their own, whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke, a baseball cap or a hijab.  (Applause.)

 

America has changed over the years.  But these values that my grandparents taught me — they haven’t gone anywhere.  They’re as strong as ever, still cherished by people of every party, every race, every faith.  They live on in each of us.  What makes us American, what makes us patriots is what’s in here.  That’s what matters.  (Applause.)

 

And that’s why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries, and blend it into something uniquely our own.  That’s why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here.  That’s why our military can look the way it does — every shade of humanity, forged into common service.  (Applause.)  That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.  (Applause.)

 

That is America.  That is America.  Those bonds of affection; that common creed.  We don’t fear the future; we shape it.  We embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own.  That’s what Hillary Clinton understands — this fighter, this stateswoman, this mother and grandmother, this public servant, this patriot — that’s the America she’s fighting for.  (Applause.)

 

And that is why I have confidence, as I leave this stage tonight, that the Democratic Party is in good hands.  My time in this office, it hasn’t fixed everything.  As much as we’ve done, there’s still so much I want to do.  But for all the tough lessons I’ve had to learn, for all the places where I’ve fallen short — I’ve told Hillary, and I’ll tell you, what’s picked me back up every single time:  It’s been you.  The American people. (Applause.)

 

It’s the letter I keep on my wall from a survivor in Ohio who twice almost lost everything to cancer, but urged me to keep fighting for health care reform, even when the battle seemed lost.  Do not quit.

 

It’s the painting I keep in my private office, a big-eyed, green owl with blue wings, made by a seven year-old girl who was taken from us in Newtown, given to me by her parents so I wouldn’t forget — a reminder of all the parents who have turned their grief into action.  (Applause.)

 

It’s the small business owner in Colorado who cut most of his own salary so he wouldn’t have to lay off any of his workers in the recession — because, he said, “that wouldn’t have been in the spirit of America.”

 

It’s the conservative in Texas who said he disagreed with me on everything, but he appreciated that, like him, I try to be a good dad.  (Applause.)

 

It’s the courage of the young soldier from Arizona who nearly died on the battlefield in Afghanistan, but who has learned to speak again and walk again — and earlier this year, stepped through the door of the Oval Office on his own power, to salute and shake my hand.  (Applause.)

 

It is every American who believed we could change this country for the better, so many of you who’d never been involved in politics, who picked up phones and hit the streets, and used the Internet in amazing new ways that I didn’t really understand, but made change happen.  You are the best organizers on the planet, and I am so proud of all the change that you made possible.  (Applause.)

 

Time and again, you’ve picked me up.  And I hope, sometimes, I picked you up, too.  (Applause.)  And tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me.  (Applause.)  I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.  Because you’re who I was talking about 12 years ago when I talked about hope.  It’s been you who fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds were great; even when the road is long.  Hope in the face of difficulty.  Hope in the face of uncertainty.  The audacity of hope.  (Applause.)

 

America, you’ve vindicated that hope these past eight years. And now I’m ready to pass the baton and do my part as a private citizen.  So this year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me — to reject cynicism and reject fear, and to summon what is best in us; to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.  (Applause.)

 

Thank you for this incredible journey.  Let’s keep it going. God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

At the DNC: Historic, starry night in Philly

With the clock counting down to the roll call on the presidential nomination, delegates to the Democratic National Convention were assembling in Philadelphia for a starry, historic night.

A look at the program on July 26, the second night of the convention, with all times listed as EDT and as provided by the DNC.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (EDT)

Call to Order
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge.

Invocation
Dr. Ima Sherman Jackson

Presentation of Colors
Colonel Charles Young
American Legion Post 682

Pledge of Allegiance
Mallory Weggemann

National Anthem
Timmy Kelly
Timmy Kelly is from Pennsylvania and sang the National Anthem at the campaign launch in New York.

Remarks
Former U.S. Sen.  Tom Harkin
Senator Harkin will speak on the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law he wrote and helped pass.

Remarks
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes

5:00 – 7:00 PM (EDT)

Nominating Speeches and Roll Call Vote

Remarks
Gov. Terry McAuliffe

7:00 – 10:00 PM (EDT)

Remarks
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Women of the House

Remarks introducing Video Message
Former State Sen. Jason Carter

Video Message from President Jimmy Carter

Remarks
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer

Host for the evening: Actress Elizabeth Banks

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: KIDS AND FAMILIES

Remarks
Thaddeus Desmond
Thaddeus is a child advocate social worker in Philadelphia

Remarks
Dynah Haubert
Dynah is a lawyer who works for a disability rights organization

Remarks
Kate Burdick
Kate is a staff attorney at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia

Remarks
Anton Moore
Anton founded and runs a non-profit community group that strives to bring awareness and educate youth on gun violence

Remarks
Dustin Parsons
Dustin is a 5th grade teacher in Arkansas

Remarks
Daniele Mellott
Daniele and Mark Mellott’s adoption of their son was made possible through the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act that Hillary championed as First Lady.

Remarks
Jelani Freeman
Jelani grew up in foster care and is a former intern in Hillary Clinton’s Senate office. Since receiving his law degree, he has worked to bring opportunity to kids at risk.

Remarks
Democratic National Committee Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation Donna Brazile

Remarks
Eagle Academy Principal and Students
As a senator, Hillary Clinton supported the creation of the Eagle Academy to educate at-risk youth in New York City.

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: SOCIAL JUSTICE

Remarks
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Remarks
Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay

Remarks
Actor Tony Goldwyn

Remarks
Mothers of the Movement
Sybrina Fulton, Geneva Reed-Veal, Lucy McBath, Gwen Carr, Cleopatra Pendelton, Maria Hamilton, Lezley McSpadden, and Wanda Johnson

Performance
Andra Day

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Remarks
President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards

Remarks
Actresses America Fererra and Lena Dunham

Remarks
Mayor of Columbia (SC) Steve Benjamin

Remarks
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: STANDING UP FOR 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS & SURVIVORS
Introduction by Actress Debra Messing

Remarks
Joe Sweeney
Joe was a detective with the NYPD on September 11, 2001. When the towers were hit, he rushed down to the World Trade Center and began digging through the rubble for survivors.

Remarks
Lauren Manning
Lauren spent more than 6 months in the hospital after 9/11 recovering from severe burns. As senator, Hillary Clinton helped Lauren get the care she needed.Remarks
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: HEALTH CARE

Introduction of Speaker
Actress Erika Alexander

Remarks
Ryan Moore
Ryan has spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia dwarfism and has known Hillary Clinton since 1994 when they met during the fight for health care reform. Ryan has stayed in contact with Hillary ever since.

Remarks
Former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: SECRETARY OF STATE

Remarks
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

Remarks
Ima Matul
Sex Trafficking Survivor & Advocate

Remarks
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

10:00 – 11:00 PM (EDT)

Remarks
President Bill Clinton

Introduction of Film
Actress Meryl Streep

Performance
Alicia Keys

Sanders’ campaign goals clash with political realities

Bernie Sanders promises voters a “political revolution” that will fundamentally remake the American economy and its education and health care systems.

“That’s what our campaign is about. It is thinking big,” Sanders said during a debate last month in Charleston, South Carolina. “We are going to have a government that works for all of us, and not just big campaign contributors.”

Often left unsaid by Sanders, but increasingly at the center of Hillary Clinton’s arguments against her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, is that the political reality of achieving such goals is likely to be a whole lot more complicated.

It would require Sanders not only to win the White House, but to sweep a wave of Democratic lawmakers into office along with him. While Democrats may be able to gain the four or five seats necessary to win back control of the Senate in November, they need 30 seats to recapture power in the House.

But even with majorities in both houses of Congress, Sanders would face challenges. Clinton’s advisers often point out how difficult it was for President Barack Obama to convince a Democratic-led Congress to support the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Sanders’ plan — called “Medicare for All” — would go significantly further by establishing a national health care system run entirely by the government.

Sanders also wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, break up the biggest Wall Street banks, pour $1 trillion into the country’s infrastructure, expand Social Security benefits and make college free at all public universities by raising taxes on Wall Street. All of those ideas are nearly uniformly opposed by Republicans and would face strident opposition in Congress.

Many of those plans would require tax increases on corporations, wealthy taxpayers and middle-class families — a difficult political sell for lawmakers of both parties.

Campaigning at a union hall in Las Vegas on Saturday, former President Bill Clinton called Sanders’ ideas politically unviable, giving the realities of divided government and ability of the Senate minority to block proposals that lack the support of 60 members.

“You can’t get 60 votes!” he exclaimed. “Why, when we’ve got all this gridlock, would we waste any time trying to do something we know we can’t do when there’s so much we can do to get the show on the road? Don’t go down a blind alley.”

Sanders does frequently acknowledge that it will take more than just winning the White House to accomplish his goals.

“No president can walk in there and make changes unless millions of people become engaged in the political process in a way that we have not seen for a very, very long time,” he told more than a thousand supporters gathered in a community college gymnasium in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Sunday.

He casts his “revolution” in a long line of social movements that have reshaped American society, citing the progress made by civil rights activists, feminists and gay rights advocates. He argues that if voters line up behind him and fight for his plans, their collective power can overcome political intransigency, big campaign donors and special interests.

“Every day the media asks: ‘Your ideas are so ambitious, how are you going to get them done?’” he said. “We will get them done because people are going to demand that we get them done.”

Clinton has tried to counter that message with promises to tell voters exactly what she’d do and how she’d do it if elected. Since launching her campaign in April, she’s rolled out dozens of policy plans, tackling issues from autism to the Islamic State.

“I’m not making promises I can’t keep,” she said during Thursday’s Democratic debate. She added: “Let’s go down a path where we can actually tell people what we will do. A progressive is someone who makes progress.”

Clinton’s ideas are also sure to face opposition from congressional Republicans. And should the GOP nominee become the next president, their promises to roll back the work of the Obama administration will face the same challenges from Democrats eager to protect his legacy.

But in a Democratic primary traditionally powered by the most liberal voters, pragmatism has been less appealing than big promises. Sanders’ aspiration message has struck a chord with progressive Democrats and younger voters, boosting him to a near-win in Iowa and a sizable lead in New Hampshire, which casts the first primary ballots on Tuesday.

“I want to give him a shot,” said Nick Ayoub, 22, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. “You’re never going to know if you don’t try.”

Derek Scalia, 33, of Keene, New Hampshire, said he knows that campaign promises don’t always come true, but he likes Sanders’ vision.

“Bernie is the only one that’s talking about health care as a fundamental human right,” Scalia said. “Every industrialized country in the world offers universal health care.”

Analysis: GOP’s deficit reduction promises are unfeasible without tax increases and program cuts that they’ll never support

Thanks to Congress’ recent tax-and-spending spree, Republicans vowing to balance the budget will have to raise taxes and propose far deeper cuts than the public would accept.

If the GOP should won the White House in 2016, those promises — the same ones they make in every election cycle — are likely to come back and haunt them. The last president to balance the budet was Democrat Bill Clinton, who presided over an era of great prosperity that’s not likely to be equaled in the near future. 

In fact, the weakening economy that the nation is currently experiencing means Republicans will have to dig even further into the budget to find sufficient spending cuts to balance the budget, according to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office. The budget — a non-binding wish list of cuts and policies — was already unrealistic, promising cuts that lawmakers have never shown they’d be willing to make.

Last year, for instance, Republicans promised more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over a decade. Instead, they worked with President Barack Obama to add about $750 billion to the deficit over the decade through a mix of spending increases and permanent tax cuts. Even a token effort to curb the federal crop insurance program was immediately reversed after a revolt by farm state lawmakers.

Now, the dismal fiscal picture, budget experts say, would mean Republicans would have to slash more than $2 trillion over 10 years, with the most draconian cuts required in the final years. That’s assuming they will still try to balance the budget.

“Realistically speaking, that’s just not going to happen,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington group that advocates for lower deficits.

With Social Security, the Pentagon and most of Medicare insulated politically from cuts, Republicans are likely to call for even further reductions to programs like Medicaid, domestic agency budgets, student loan subsidies and food stamps.

The GOP chairmen of the House and Senate Budget panels insist they will find a way.

“It’s not only realistic but essential,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said of balancing the budget. “This country is going to be bankrupt if we don’t do something.”

Under Congress’ arcane budget process, lawmakers vote first on a broad, non-binding outline called a budget resolution — which is akin to the blueprints for a house — and then use follow-up legislation to fill in the details. The second-step of votes to implement the budget are invariably more difficult than the first.

Congress does a lot more bragging about budget blueprints than actually trying to enact them. House Republicans boast but they’ve never drafted legislation detailing how they would turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for most future retirees or cut Medicaid funding by about one-fifth — and force many millions of people from health coverage or nursing home care.

Even architects of the budget acknowledge that there’s no stomach to actually try to impose its cuts.

“The critical mass does not yet exist in the country or the Congress that recognizes that we need to save and strengthen and secure these mandatory programs,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga. Price was referring to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, whose mandatory budgets grow automatically unless Congress cuts them.

So in some ways the budget process is perfect for politicians: It gives them a chance to tell voters they’re cutting spending even as they avoid the politically dangerous votes required to actually do it.

The budget process also fits into Speaker Paul Ryan’s vision for using the House agenda to tell voters what they’ll get if Republicans win the White House. The annual budget debate will come before efforts to replace the health care law or reveal the party’s plans to update the loophole-clogged tax code after five years of controlling the House.

Conspicuously left off the agenda? Emphasizing spending cuts, even as the deficit has begun growing again and the latest estimates reveal trillion-dollar deficits returning in just a few years.

“Clearly that’s going to take a Republican president because this president has continued to kick the can down the road and I see no change in his behavior,” Ryan, R-Wis., said recently.

But it’s by no means clear that balancing the budget will be a top priority for presidential candidates who have promised big tax cuts and aren’t really talking about the issue on the campaign trail. If there is a GOP president next year, he will have to answer questions about living up to the balanced-budget promises of Republicans in Congress.

If a GOP president embraces a balanced budget, they’ll have to offer an enormously difficult set of cuts to Republican lawmakers unschooled in what balancing the budget really means.

“The magnitude of the policy changes that you would have to implement to achieve the savings that are promised in the budget — I don’t think there’s an appreciation for the magnitude of those changes,” said Neil Bradley, a former top House GOP aide who now works for the Conservative Reform Network, which offers policy advice to GOP candidates and lawmakers.

Obama submits his budget Feb. 9, and House and Senate Republicans promise floor debates on their alternatives in March.

In defense of the Clintons’ LGBT record

The nation has come so far so fast on LGBT issues that it’s easy to forget — or never to have known — the sociopolitical realities that faced Bill Clinton when he introduced the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy and signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

It was Clinton’s zeal to fulfill his campaign promise to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military that led to the enactment of “don’t ask.” New to Washington and naïve to its vicious ways, Clinton announced soon after taking office that he intended to keep his promise to end the ban preventing gays and lesbians from serving in the military. He was unprepared for the near-hysterical backlash from Republicans as well as the majority of American citizens.

Looking back, it’s obvious that he should have taken a more measured, pragmatic approach, as President Barack Obama did on marriage equality. Clinton and the LGBT community acted before they’d sufficiently made their case on the issue.

In response to the backlash, Clinton proposed the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue,” which was seen as a compromise. It meant gays and lesbians could serve, but only secretly. In retrospect, the compromise seems shockingly offensive: It forced gays and lesbians to live in the closet, in the shadows — in paranoia and shame.

Still, it might actually have been better than the previous policy if not for the anger it triggered among Armed Forces leaders, who were offended that a young liberal and former anti-war activist dared tell them how to run the world’s largest military. So they ignored the “don’t pursue” portion of the policy and, in an act of revenge, embarked on a witch-hunt that led to record numbers of discharges. The witch-hunts wrecked tens of thousands of gay and lesbian patriots’ lives and undermined the nation’s military capacity.

Clinton’s role, however, was motivated by miscalculation and inexperience, not anti-gay sentiment.

The same is true of the Defense of Marriage Act. We remember it now as a gross perversion of our constitutional rights, which indeed it was. But support for same-sex marriage was only 27 percent in 1996. Republicans were determined to enact a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, which would have taken decades to undo. Clinton signed DOMA with the hope of appeasing anti-gay activists and avoiding Republican threats of a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. And he succeeded.

In signing the anti-gay law, Clinton made it easier for gays and lesbians to gain the right to marriage later through a Supreme Court decision. Otherwise, equality leaders would have  had to go through the process of enacting a constitutional amendment repealing an anti-gay amendment — a process that, like the Equal Rights Amendment, would probably never have succeeded.

With this history in mind, it seems unfair to mock Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Defense of Marriage Act was a defensive political maneuver, because that’s exactly what it was. Both Clintons have devoted large swathes of their careers to expanding civil rights. There is no calculated flip-flopping concerning Hillary Clinton’s evolving position on this issue, any more than Obama’s change of heart was a flip-flop. Both Clinton and Obama have consistently been on the side of social justice. It’s in their DNA.

When progressives resort to demagoguery on issues like marriage equality, they are mirroring the destructive, unyielding approach of the right. They’re suggesting that compromise is no way to win, that pragmatism is betrayal.

In so doing, they’re aiding and abetting the real enemy, the opponents of equality and social justice. The Republican right would love to watch us bicker internally with our self-defeating purists and wind up as frayed and recklessly self-destructive as their side of the aisle.

Progressives need to decide if they want to win the war or continually re-enact the battle on this and other key issues. 

Clinton rallies Democrats in Milwaukee, campaigns for Burke

Former President Bill Clinton energized fellow Democrats on Oct. 24 in Milwaukee, where strong turnout could be a deciding factor in a close governor’s race between Mary Burke and Republican incumbent Scott Walker.

Recent polls show Burke and Walker in a dead heat, and both parties have been seeking star power to help get voters to the polls. First lady Michelle Obama has made two trips to Wisconsin for Burke, and President Barack Obama will campaign with her Tuesday in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to make a second visit to the state next week to back Walker.

Clinton, who remains a major draw and powerful fundraiser nearly 15 years after leaving office, joked that he’s like a retired racehorse pulled out of the barn during tough elections “to see if I can get around that track one more time.” But it’s not clear whether even he can give Burke the edge she needs in a race with few undecided voters. Most of those in attendance Friday described themselves as strong Democrats who already planned to vote for Burke.

“I can’t imagine anybody whose mind is not made up,” said Beth Kutka, 61, of Eagle, who came with several friends. “But I think it is the turnout that is important … hopefully rallies such as this will support, will encourage people to vote.”

Burke spoke before Clinton, urging the crowd to knock on doors and make calls to get others to vote. “Eleven days, that’s it,” she said. “We have got to leave it all out on the field.”

Clinton said it shouldn’t be a hard choice for voters when they compare the state’s economic recovery to that of the U.S. as a whole. Wisconsin is one of few states with fewer jobs now than in 2008, he said.

Walker regularly notes Wisconsin has gained 110,000 jobs since he took office in January 2011, while Burke counters that it has 50,000 fewer jobs than when she led economic development efforts under former Gov. Jim Doyle.

“You want a governor who will get you more jobs, and you want a governor who will get you better paying jobs,” Clinton said.

The crowd laughed when he added, “If you look at who’s best qualified to do that, this is not a hard decision.”

Most of those in the audience were old enough to remember when Clinton was president and expressed admiration for him personally.

Kurt Genich, 64, of Racine, said he had spent several hours already going door-to-door for Burke and would do so again the weekend before the election. He said he’d encountered few people who were truly undecided but worked to shore up support among some with a “borderline” commitment. And, he urged everyone to vote.

“I’ve watched what Scott Walker has done to the state, and I don’t agree with his policies and methods of what he’s gone about doing,” he said. “We need to get him out of there.”

Hillary Clinton returns to Iowa

Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to Iowa Sunday to pay tribute to the state’s retiring Democratic senator as anticipation builds over the possibility of her launching another presidential campaign.

Clinton and former President Bill Clinton headlined retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry fundraiser in rural Indianola. The event was Clinton’s biggest campaign splash in 2014 so far, opening a fall of fundraising and campaigning for Democrats who are trying to maintain a Senate majority during President Barack Obama’s final two years.

Obama defeated Clinton in the state’s leadoff pridential caucuses in January 2008, and the former secretary of state has not returned since. Iowa Democrats said Clinton remained widely popular and predicted she would receive broad support if she chooses to run again.

“Barack Obama was a phenomenon. He just was. I’ll give him credit, he worked hard in Iowa, but so did she,” Harkin said, when asked whether Clinton would do things differently in the state if she runs in 2016.

On Sunday, party activists streamed onto a hot-air balloon field lined with colorful signs thanking the Harkins and promoting state candidates like Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for Senate. Ready for Hillary, a super PAC supporting a potential Clinton candidacy, posted light blue “Ready” signs to promote the main speaker. On stage sat a quintessential Iowa tableau: bales of hay, an American flag and two tractors parked in the surrounding field.

“I honestly believe she will be the next president,” said Cindy Sturtz, a union member from Fort Dodge, who caucused for Obama in 2008 but says she plans to support Clinton if she runs again.

The Clintons’ arrival offered the possibility of a fresh start for the former New York senator and first lady, whose campaign stumbled in the months leading to the 2008 caucuses.

Anti-war activists opposed her vote to authorize the Iraq war in 2002 and coalesced around Obama, who had opposed the war. Clinton was often insulated by a large entourage in a state where voters expect face-to-face politics.

Clinton, who has conferred with Iowa Democrats in recent days, would enter a presidential campaign with a large advantage over potential rivals. Early polls have shown her leading other Democrats by wide margins, including Vice President Joe Biden and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Biden is traveling to Des Moines next week and has not closed the possibility of another campaign, while O’Malley has made several visits to the state and dispatched staffers to Iowa this fall.

Clinton has said she’ll decide whether to run early next year.

Analysis: Republicans lost 5 House seats last time the GOP pushed impeachment

The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost five House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily.

Memories of Bill Clinton and the campaign of 1998 may help explain why Speaker John Boehner and the current Republican leadership want no part of such talk now, although conservatives increasingly clamor for it. And also why President Barack Obama’s White House seems almost eager to stir the impeachment pot three months before midterm congressional elections.

Republicans have already “opened the door for impeachment” with their plans to sue the president over allegedly failing to carry out the health care law, White House aide Dan Pfeiffer told reporters. In something of a dare last week, he also said any further action Obama takes on his own on immigration will “up the likelihood” of a  Republican-led move to remove Obama from office.

The Democrats’ campaign committee from the House of Representatives used reports of tea party Republicans meeting to discuss impeachment in an emailed fundraising plea sent Sunday. They warned “the fate of Obama’s presidency is at stake.”

Pfeiffer and Democratic fundraisers aren’t privy to the inner workings of the House Republican leadership. Boehner, who is, insists at every public opportunity that the lawsuit is one thing, impeachment is another — and not on the table. The planned suit results from a dispute over the balance of powers between the president and Congress, he said last month, and the House “must act as an institution to defend the constitutional principles at stake.”

Republicans dispute suggestions by Democrats that the suit’s true purpose is to release pressure from the party’s more extreme supporters for impeachment.

One Republican committee chairman, Congressman Pete Sessions, said in a brief interview that Clinton deserved to be impeached, but Obama does not.

The 42nd president “broke the law,” he said of formal allegations that accused Clinton of lying under oath to a grand jury and obstructing justice in connection with his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Contrasting the former president with the current one, Sessions said: “Breaking the law is different from not fully enforcing the law.”

At least one senior Republican isn’t as definitive. Interviewed on Sunday on Fox, Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, newly elected to the Republican leadership, repeatedly declined to rule out impeaching Obama.

For his part, Sessions spoke a few hours after he opened a meeting of the House Rules Committee with what could well have been a case for impeachment: sweeping allegations that went far beyond the boundaries of the planned lawsuit.

“The president has unilaterally waived work requirements for welfare recipients,” the Texas Republican said. The chief executive “ended accountability provisions in No Child Left Behind,” an education law dating to the George W. Bush era, he said.

The president “refused to inform the Congress of the transfer of what is known as the Taliban five,” Sessions went on. “And ignored the statutory requirements of the Affordable Care Act,” he said, using the formal name for the 4-year-old health care law also known as Obamacare.

However compelling the complaints, no judge will ever rule on most of them.

Three months before the November elections, Republicans intend to limit their lawsuit to a narrower claim, that he has failed to faithfully carry out the health care law that, according to polls, remains poorly received by the public.

“In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it,” Boehner said in a statement last month. “No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”

Republican officials say they decided to narrow the focus of the court case after being advised by lawyers that their chances of succeeding would be stronger.

None of this seems likely to satisfy the political right, as 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin recently made clear. “It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of America we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment,” she wrote.

Yet her opinion is not widely shared among non-Republicans, and Democrats quickly sought to use calls like the one from Palin to raise campaign funds.

In a CNN survey last week, more than half of all Republicans said they favor Obama’s impeachment, but that level that fell to one-third of the overall electorate. Among independents, 63 percent opposed it.

A lawsuit is also generally unpopular, but less so than impeachment would be, the poll indicated.

When it came to the lawsuit, 41 percent of the country backed it. Support was 75 percent among Republicans, while independents opposed it by 43-55.

As a junior member of the leadership in 1998, Boehner had a seat at the table when Republicans decided to inject Clinton’s impeachment into that year’s elections.

Republicans held their majority, but Democrats gained five seats, a rarity in midterm elections for the party in power in the White House.

Clinton was impeached in a post-election session of the House, later acquitted in the Senate and remained in office. Then-Speaker Newt Gingrich fared worse. Under pressure from his rank and file, the Republican gave up his post and left Congress soon after the election debacle.

In the upheaval, Boehner lost his leadership post for a decade.