Sheryl Sandberg’s Revolutionary “Lean In”

WHITE BOOK

WASHINGTON – Critics like Anne-Marie Slaughter, but especially Maureen I-Love-My-Pearls Dowd, and others [most of whom didn’t read the book or do their homework] who are blaming Sheryl Sandberg for being a billionaire Ivy League graduate, while accusing her of letting corporations and government off the hook, are missing a major point. Unless women speak up and confront their bosses and reach out to congressional representatives as well, nothing will change.

Sandberg’s got a sister in Norma Rae, Lily Ledbetter, too. She also had good advice from a man.

“First he said, ‘Sheryl, don’t be an idiot.’ Which is excellent career advice,” Sandberg said. The year was 2001. Schmidt had just become CEO of Google, when the company had fewer than 1,000 employees. “But the next thing he said was, ‘If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on, don’t ask what seat.’ [ABC News]

Being a charter member of the modern feminist revolution, there when it began in the 1970s, no one ever told me I could even have it all, which I’ve written about before. Choices had to be made when I was coming up. Sandberg’s another generation, younger than myself or Anne-Marie Slaughter, so it’s absolutely critical that being part of a younger generation she make the argument that women are going to have to lean in to get what hasn’t yet manifested. My hope is that Sandberg has the toughness and power to push the women’s revolution forward, which is definitely stuck, something that’s been proven by Anne-Marie Slaughter and other Sandberg critics.

Sandberg should welcome the controversy and luckily for modern women, she is. It’s better than the usual “women can’t have it all” or “we can’t have it all yet” mantra, which utilizes arguments that take the power away from women and put it in government or corporation hands, which amounts to making us all powerless, except to whine.

No one ever said it would be easy.

From the Introduction of Sandberg’s Lean In:

Women face real obstacles in the professional world, including blatant and subtle sexism, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Too few workplaces offer the flexibility and access to child care and parental leave that are necessary for pursuing a career while raising children. Men have an easier time finding the mentors and sponsors who are invaluable for career progression. Plus, women have to prove themselves to a far greater extent than men do. And this is not just in our heads. A 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishments. 14

Lean In intends to light up the Norma Rae thread in us all. Rae was powerless, until she harnessed who she was. She was in a hopelessly low paying job, until she dared to join up with a larger force to help her make a difference. She was threatened by the corporation, and The Man, but knew she couldn’t back down or she’d never get what she and others, including men, but also her children, deserved.

Obviously not everyone is Norma Rae. But you don’t have to be an Ivy League billionaire to be one. Speaking out is part of leadership, no matter the level, because leadership isn’t a class issue, it’s a matter of heart.

There will always be women who can’t stand up, because they have no power in their job and feel oppressed, perhaps because they’re a minority or for other reasons. No one is denying this fact. However, those who have the opportunity to create an avenue to start change rolling have a responsibility to themselves and all other women to do so.

It’s how the women’s revolution got started in the first place. Progress demands we all be part of a greater drive, which is exactly what Sandberg wants to inspire.

Anne-Marie Slaughter is a terrifically bright woman who was important to the foreign policy hierarchy at the top levels. But she has to take responsibility for deciding to give it all back, because she wanted to go home. That’s her choice, but what she did after making her choice is offer the same old rhetoric that has gotten modern women exactly nowhere. No doubt part of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s ire toward Sheryl Sandberg’s book is because she names what is done too often by women who make it. They quit their jobs to go home.

We are different generations, Sandberg is also from an Ivy League, two parent reality, myself coming from a barely middle class, pull myself up by my own tenacity and determination underdog reality. I’ve been leaning in my whole life, political from the start because I grew up in the age of Gloria, Steinem, that is. An artistic performer, including Broadway by vocation, evolving into a writer and author whose activist eye has always been focused on the politics of sex and how women can continue to rise to greater power, as each of us endeavors to change our corner of the world.

Sandberg’s book was just published Monday, so I’ve not finished it yet. But in what I’ve read so far and in all the research and reading I’ve done on the subject prior to the book’s publication, including Sandberg’s own words, minus the Lean In groups on which I don’t intend to comment, everything I’ve learned so far about her message is on the money and long overdue to be said.

This includes picking the right mate when we’re dating and looking toward a long-term relationship, something I’ve been writing about for two decades. Sheryl Sandberg stresses this point in her book, which for me is the most important point of all, because it’s the least mentioned point in the discussion about how women can reignite a revolution that’s been stalled for two decades.

“Everyone knows marriage is the biggest personal decision you make. But it’s the biggest career decision you make.”Sheryl Sandberg [60 Minutes interview with Norah O’Donnell]

An excerpt from Sandberg’s introduction is below [numbers are footnotes], a vision that makes the case that American women are the leaders the world needs and that we can no longer wait for government and corporations to react and put women in leading positions. Women must lean in and lead wherever we can and we cannot stop until we get the job done.

The blunt truth is that men still run the world. Of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 17 are led by women. 3 Women hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally. 4 In the United States, where we pride ourselves on liberty and justice for all, the gender division of leadership roles is not much better. Women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States in the early 1980s. 5 Since then, women have slowly and steadily advanced, earning more and more of the college degrees, taking more of the entry-level jobs, and entering more fields previously dominated by men. Despite these gains, the percentage of women at the top of corporate America has barely budged over the past decade. 6 A meager twenty-one of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. 7 Women hold about 14 percent of executive officer positions, 17 percent of board seats, and constitute 18 percent of our elected congressional officials. 8 The gap is even worse for women of color, who hold just 4 percent of top corporate jobs, 3 percent of board seats, and 5 percent of congressional seats. 9 While women continue to outpace men in educational achievement, we have ceased making real progress at the top of any industry. This means that when it comes to making the decisions that most affect our world, women’s voices are not heard equally.

Progress remains equally sluggish when it comes to compensation. In 1970, American women were paid 59 cents for every dollar their male counterparts made. By 2010, women had protested, fought, and worked their butts off to raise that compensation to 77 cents for every dollar men made. 10 As activist Marlo Thomas wryly joked on Equal Pay Day 2011, “Forty years and eighteen cents. A dozen eggs have gone up ten times that amount.” 11


Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. A former Broadway performer, Miss Missouri in the Miss American Pageant, Marsh also dabbled in radio and wrote, directed and produced her one-woman show “Weeking for J.F.K.” Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

Following Hillary, from “Field-Clearing” to Gossip

WASHINGTON – We just can’t leave it alone. Writing about Hillary Clinton and her prospects for 2016 is just too delectable, too enticing, too historically epic in proportions that keeping it all alive until Mrs. Clinton decides is what any political writer worth his or her salt will do. You’re going to have to decide what’s worth reading, because right now it’s a crap storm out there. However, the latest topic of discussion is on whether Hillary is a “field-clearer” for 2016.

Mike Allen, as only he can do [see video above], succinctly and correctly lays out the case why Hillary is in the position she is today. It doesn’t take a historical rundown, or any dissecting of any great magnitude. It comes down to the issue that Mrs. Clinton has the resume, has paid her dues, and there has never been a female president of the United States and it’s long past time there was and she’s made for casting.

Jonathan Martin wrote the best piece yet on it, which kicked off the conversation down the new media chain, because to be out of the Hillary traffic loop on the web is accepting irrelevancy.

Steve Kornacki does the historic work, filling in the background, because the obvious has already been done.

David Corn recently revealed yet again his endless anti-Clinton bloodline, opining “I’m not convinced yet that Hillary is going to run because she’ll be 69.”

The rebuttal was left to Joan Walsh, who was afraid of calling Corn out in her piece, “No, Hillary Clinton is not too old to be president.” Writing, “I’m not crying sexism,” talking about Corn, then finishing with “there’s no doubt Clinton’s age will push more people’s buttons than if she were a man.” Leaving Corn aside, it’s logic twisted in knots until it chokes.

I’ve never been afflicted with that disease, which is why I became a pariah for telling the truth and being right. So a little truth… It’s not that David Corn is sexist; it’s that he’s a die hard Clinton hater.

And what would a “field-clearing” story be without juicy gossip came from a Clintonite who just can’t help but keep that hope alive? Unloading the absolute dish for Rupert Murdoch’s rag is the best way to get it done.

“Hillary will be our next president and she will be a great one,” Angelo Tsakopoulos, 76, told the Greek Reporter at a private banquet in California last weekend. “I talked to her husband, and he confirmed it. She will run.”

Who can doubt that former President Bill Clinton would say that to someone on the sly?

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a “field-clearer,” because she’s the most capable candidate the Democratic party could field in 2016, including Vice President Joe Biden, who is a tremendous asset for Democrats, but is still just another white male among many. But nobody knows better than Clinton that getting the nomination is a lot different from being considered inevitable, though if she does run, 2016 won’t look at all like 2008. Having been on the front lines and written the book on what happened, I can say this with some authority.


Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. A former Broadway performer, Miss Missouri in the Miss American Pageant, Marsh also dabbled in radio and wrote, directed and produced her one-woman show “Weeking for J.F.K.” Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

Seth, Shirley, Barbra, and Jane

WASHINGTON – Never has there been more caterwauling. Never mind that it was pure nonsense, because the 85th Oscars was packed from start to finish with females shown in their best light, taking focus at every turn from the men who still run the town.

It’s so odd that so many people are obsessing over the hilarious “We Saw Your Boobs,” which was meant to nab a younger demographic and did just that. It worked, because having that song at the top meant that maybe some of those younger viewers wouldn’t change the channel.

Seth MacFarlane got the last laugh with the only thing that matters, even though yet another decent host says he won’t be back again. Oscars should book Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, stat.

But 40.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Sunday’s 85th annual Oscars, a million more than last year, and the 3-hour-and-35-minute trophy show turned in its biggest total since 2010. Among the young-male fan base of MacFarlane’s often-crude Family Guy and Ted, the audience grew 34% over last year, a bigger jump than for any other group. (Last year’s Oscars also aired opposite the NBA All-Star Game.) The gain among young women, and ABC’s target audience of adults 18 to 49, was 11%, while ratings among folks 50 and older, many of whom had probably never heard of the host, dropped 9%. – Some critics skewer MacFarlane, but Oscars’ ratings up

Seventy never looked like this before for women. Aging men have always been considered distinguished. Aging women have always been reduced to seeming asexual, matronly, a person of dryness, instead of molten liquid. Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda changed that on Sunday and Oscar set it up.

It’s why, amid the cries of sexism against Seth MacFarlane, which includes a ridiculous Slate post that didn’t even get Anne Hathaway’s Oscar correct, everyone missed the magnificent women of well over a certain age that took center stage. This has rarely been seen before and was in addition to all the other females who were the stars. Anne Hathaway, but especially Jennifer Lawrence, stole the show from the men in the same categories, even if Hathaway was getting mocked while Lawrence was getting embraced. Adele to Catherine Zeta-Jones, Charlize Theron to Halle Berry, the Oscars on Sunday celebrated females jubilantly, but didn’t stop at Meryl Streep.

The Oscars have rarely been so female-centric. Hollywood has never honored talented women over 70 who were sensual, beautiful and who also remain supremely talented and viable, perhaps even bankable.

So it’s ironic that the same Slate post I reference above is titled “Forget Seth MacFarlane’s sexist jokes. This was the End of Men Oscars,” while whining about MacFarlane’s alleged sexism. The title and the subject unmask it for what it is. Political correctness run amok.

Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand and Shirley Bassey changed everything for women on Sunday, though we won’t see it for years. They walked out on stage and defied their age through their appearances on a night where looks, beauty and sex appeal are the admission price and beauty is normally reserved for the young.

The smoldering 70s, that was the new category founded by Fonda, 75, Bassey, 76, and Streisand, 70. [Based on birth dates on Wikileaks.]

None of these women look like an old crone who has dried up, which has been the depiction of women over childbearing age, starting at 45 or so. But that these women are well into grandmother status hardly mattered. Their sensuality, grace and beauty defied gravity and age on Sunday, the Hollywood film industry giving a nod to a generation of women that seldom is seen or heard from in the manner they were shown at the 85th Oscars.

Women no longer have to grow old gracefully. Kicking and screaming, with creams and a little work here and there, is the only way to go. And it isn’t for just the very rich anymore, though no one can doubt the more money you’ve got the better you can hold on to your beauty.

There comes a time when we all will surrender to our betraying bodies, but as long as there’s fire, there’s fight. So guard your health.

Seventy no longer means a woman has to look as old as she is. Shirley, Barbra and Jane proved that fact at this year’s Oscars, which honored women, while making fun of the industry in which they navigate, and owes them more longevity in their careers than screenwriters are currently offering.

Somewhere beyond The Graduate and Fifty Shades of Grey there are innumerable vixen and villain roles for mature women like Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, as well as Shirley Bassey. Hollywood studios and independent film producers simply have to find the writers willing to mine it.


Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. A former Broadway performer, Miss Missouri in the Miss American Pageant, Marsh also dabbled in radio and wrote, directed and produced her one-woman show “Weeking for J.F.K.” Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

“Downton Abbey’s” Killer Season [Spoiler Alert]

The makers of Downton Abbey have already moved to console devastated viewers about the “untimely and tragic death” of character Matthew Crawley, after an outpouring of furious complaints about the Christmas special. Viewers complained it was “travasty”, a “tragedy” and an “outrage”, with some saying the ending had “ruined their Christmas”. The makers of the programme yesterday released a statement explaining the decision, reassuring fans the death was the only credible exit for the heir to Downton. [UK Telegraph, December 2012]

WASHINGTON – When Lady Sybil died in childbirth, every girl I talked to was in a state of shock, grief and horror at the harshness of “Downton Abbey’s” plot line. Sunday’s season finale made many “Downton Abbey” watchers in the U.S. come close to a dead faint.

Twitter exploded…

As you may know, British and American audiences are seeing it all play out in different time, but the reactions are mirror images of one another. Slate.com explained earlier this year in an interview with PBS programming boss Beth Hoppe.

Beth Hoppe: This is a question we’re looking at carefully, and it’s a really complicated issue. Where we have Downton now—and have had it for the last two seasons—in January, it’s done incredibly well. It has turned a lot of people into addicts, so we understand people’s feelings, but it gives us an opportunity to promote Downton properly, to not be head-to-head against the fall premiere schedules on the networks. And our version is slightly different, so there are editorial concerns—ITV is a commercial network, so we have to plug up the holes and make our version. We are looking at it for the future, but we don’t want to do anything that will hurt Downton. We have found an audience that still comes to it, even though it is several months later. We think this is the best season yet, and the buzz is amazing. We don’t know that we could build that buzz in the fall. If we see evidence that we’ve hurt the show beyond what we read in the press—if people are abandoning it for any reason—we’ll have to re-evaluate for future seasons.

“Downton Abbey’s” presence perfectly fits as the bookend to Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, one all tied up and corseted in protocol and British stiff upper lip masking of emotions, the other all untied and nakedly exposing every pulsating feeling. Any lip biting in the provocative erotica a precursor to the real thing that makes almost anyone else’s relationship sex life feel pedestrian, while sex on the PBS melodrama is more or less a miracle seen well out of sight and never has a happy ending.

American audiences, TV and book readers, love the two extremes, forever caught between angst and honest sex where pleasure is concerned. That Fifty Shades and Downton were written by Brits is an interesting footnote in an American universe that depicts sexuality with fear, unless you’re watching “Scandal” or perhaps “True Blood.”

downton

The best thing to do if you haven’t seen the show is to buy the DVD collection, which not only gives to PBS, but also encourages dramatic series like “Downton Abbey.” Though, it’s certain the series isn’t for everyone, especially if exaggerated plot contortions isn’t your thing.

“I think it was harder for the people who had to react to me getting out of the chair,” says Stevens, with a grin. “That was a particularly strange point in the narrative. I think there were some justifiable criticisms of series two and its pace. I think from what I have seen, series three has been a lot stronger. But from the actor’s point of view all the bombs and the mud and everything were great to film and I had a great time.” [UK Telegraph]

But the show should at least be appreciated for the acting alone, because of what plots the actors have to help unfold. Oh, if not for Dame Maggie Smith’s one-liners one wonders where a viewer could deposit emotion the calamities bring out in us all. Dame Maggie’s dialogue frequently requires stopping each episode, rewinding and then reviewing, because there hasn’t been a character played with such brilliance on PBS, let alone American network TV, ever. Dame Maggie regularly delivers people to tears and wails of ear piercing laughter, I have no doubt, because that’s what has often happened at our house.

Watching any melodramatic recurring production also requires viewers to understand that actors have their own paths that go beyond the characters they play, with fame offering the best of them the opportunity all artists dream of experiencing: choice to exploit their artistry through other creative adventures. Of course it would have been easier if both characters Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley would have wanted to stay, but Michelle Dockery, and Dan Stevens, wanted a vibrant artistic life, which inevitably means growing and taking advantage of new opportunities that come when you’re introduced to a worldwide audience and you become a star, with is particularly true with Stevens, who has been playing on Broadway with Jessica Chastain.

So take heart, Downton fans, and get ready for what’s to come, which will include a wild ride into the roaring 20s, as well as Lord Grantham growing up after learning that if he hadn’t taken Matthew’s advice Downton Abbey would be no more.

At least Thomas has made a new friend in Jimmy, both accepting the [ahem] situation, which is a bright light in what ended the third season as a heartbreaker, though nothing compares to the death of Lady Sybil. That was a stark reminder of how dangerous childbirth once was for women, which people today have forgotten.

So long, Matthew. [...and we await to see Dan Stevens in a Hollywood film.  Right, ladies?]

So long, Matthew. […and we await to see Dan Stevens in a Hollywood film. Right, ladies?]

There will be drama emerging from Matthew’s death, as Dockery’s Mary will have to grapple with widowhood and raising the heir on her own (with the help of a fleet of servants), and his passing opens the door to a future romance for Mary. Season 3 had all of the Crawley girls paired off—Mary and Matthew, Sybil and Branson (Allen Leech), Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst)—and the deaths in Season 3 (each due to the actor wishing to depart the series, it should be noted) do allow for the possibility of future romantic entanglements, while Rose allows the show entry to the Bright Young Things era of the 1920s. – ‘Downton Abbey’: Why Last Night’s Season Finale Has Fans Seeing Red

Watch Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 7 on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. A former Broadway performer, Miss Missouri in the Miss American Pageant, Marsh also dabbled in radio and wrote, directed and produced her one-woman show “Weeking for J.F.K.” Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

Beware! Facebook Can Kill Romance

WASHINGTON – It’s Valentine’s Day. A day filled with fun and sexpectations, but also opportunities, which in the instant gratification social media era also includes doing things you’ll regret the day after.

It’s also a day for the 1 Billion Rising campaign, where people stand up, speak out, dance and come out against violence against women and girls. As we learn of Oscar Pistorious being charged with the murder of his girlfriend, #1BillionRising has even more meaning.

Most of you know don’t know that I spent a decade or so in the relationship, dating and sex industries, starting out as a relationship consultant. The big thing that’s changed since then is the social media world and that personal ads and online dating have morphed into a huge industry.

Nothing has impacted relationships more than social media, however, younger women have also allowed it to change how they function in a relationship.

Suffice to say that women have never had greater ability to control the whole cycle, but have relinquished much of it, because of how men have reacted to the ease of social media. A much longer explanation is required, but what women really need to know is that technology hasn’t changed the basic human instincts and predilections of men. So, don’t be seduced by ease of communication and group outings, because men will lap up easy connection as long as women play that game and allow them to get away with it. Of course, if you like group dates instead of intimate dates one on one, go for it, but just remember you made the choice to embrace a “post-dating” philosophy. Many men will appreciate it, because it makes things easier for them.

Researchers recently found through three separate studies too much social media sharing can harm intimacy. This isn’t shocking to me, it proves that some things never change even if technology does.

Working with Omri Gillath, associate professor of psychology at KU, the researchers first determined what constituted high self-disclosure on Facebook, then correlated that with the high-disclosers’ feelings of lower satisfaction and intimacy in their romantic relationships. A second study found that the romantic partners of Facebook blabbermouths also had lower estimates of their relationship quality.

Lastly, the KU researchers created two mock Facebook walls, one of which featured a circumspect user — who briefly mentioned sports and weather and linked to items of interest on the Internet — the other of which had a user who let it all hang out, bemoaning parents, classes, weight problems and posting a plethora of party pictures.

“We asked participants to imagine that these were the Facebook walls of their romantic partner,” Lee said. “We found that people who were given the high-disclosure wall felt less intimacy with the user than people who were given the low-disclosure wall.”

Back in the old days, the 90s, before social media and online dating exploded, trying to get women to use the power they had in personal ads, the only game at the time, was very difficult. Women reaching out into platforms like the personals, which morphed into online dating institutions like Match.com, learned that women control what happens in relationships, though it was never easy convincing them that they did.

Social media is great for friendships and spectacular for finding relationship, but what women today still don’t understand is that an intimate, romantic relationship requires a lot more finesse than a simple friendship. That dating isn’t about ease and that “friends with benefits” isn’t a great way to start a romance with someone you consider relationship material.

At least today women can choose whether they even want marriage and also feel freer to have long-term relationships without long-term commitment. Serial monogamy was always my choice, even when it was frowned upon, with other people’s opinions never meaning anything to me, including when I was younger.

Even married people, especially women, find out that if they blab to their friends about details inside the marriage it can create an uncomfortable situation for yourself, your friendship, but also with your husband.

The modern era is tough on long-term relationships. It begins with women being completely independent of men’s financial prowess, because women have their own money and sometimes even a better job and a more solid future. It is emphasized through our long lifespans and the different passages we experience today.

Today, it’s becoming more of a woman’s world every day. In the social media era that can get complicated, especially if you choose to make your public profile transparent to everyone. It’s a bad idea, ladies.

As for sharing on Facebook and other platforms, just because there are social media trends and everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or will get you what you want.

Some things never change, starting with that if you want intimacy between you and your lover keep the details between the two of you.

Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

Marco Rubio Leads 21 Republicans Who Vote Against Violence Against Women Act

via Think Progress

WASHINGTON – A man who has such a thirst for the presidency that he’s in a hurry to get there, which partially explains Senator Rubio’s very awkward Poland Spring moment, shouldn’t be voting against something as important as the VAWA.

There is no excuse for these Republicans, none at all.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said at a news conference following the vote that women across the country would be watching Congress closely as it considered the legislation.

“One of the lessons from this election is that women are going to stand up — they’re going to stand up for themselves — and when people start messing around with questioning rape and questioning victims and talking about things in ways that women find offensive, they’re going to respond,” Klobuchar said.

Some House Republicans have already shown support for the measure. On the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the bill’s author, submitted into the record a letter 17 House Republicans sent to their leadership Monday urging support for the act..

There’s a reason more women vote Democratic over Republican and this is just one reason, but also why we’re right to do so.

Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

Kelly Ayotte Parrots Lindsey Graham Ignorance on Benghazi

“The forces were moving… … There was no time or space available to be able to respond in time.” – Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta [C-SPAN – See video below]

WASHINGTON – Conservatives stubbornly refuse to accept and understand just how quickly the Benghazi, Libya 9/11 terrorist attack engulfed the consulate and also that the Obama administration, Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey quickly responded, but that the situation happened too quickly for the response Republicans fantasize might have made a difference. The reason conservatives are so inept in their attacks on Benghazi is because they don’t understand the mission Ambassador Chris Stevens was on and the dangers of the foreign service, because all Republicans understand is 20th century warfare and large troop movements.

“This is not 911,” Panetta reminded CNN’s Candy Crowley, who also didn’t understand the response of the DOD either, which Senator Kelly Ayotte epitomized during the testimony, which I’ll get to in a minute. Senator Ayotte is the chosen female token Benghazi critic of Senators McCain and Graham, because Republicans have to have a woman in their somewhere, even if she doesn’t have the experience and obviously doesn’t have the depth of knowledge required to ask the questions she’s asking, which became embarrassingly apparent during her questioning and you can see in the clip below.

“It was two twenty-minute battles.” – Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Dempsey



Blaming President Obama completely misses what happened on 9/11/12. But that’s what conservatives like Bill Kristol do best, take an event and politicize it and manufacture something out of whole cloth that isn’t true.

In his remarks, Panetta said the initial reports of the attack were given “almost immediately” to the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Within 17 minutes, Panetta said, an unarmed, unmanned surveillance aircraft was dispatched to give U.S. officials a better idea of what was happening. It arrived at the site about 70 minutes after the attack, he said. Soon, Panetta and Dempsey met with President Barack Obama, the secretary told lawmakers. Obama ordered that the Defense Department respond to the attack with “all available DOD assets” and try to protect U.S. personnel, Panetta said.Panetta, Dempsey defend U.S. response to Benghazi attack

Instead, conservatives are truncating quotes from the C-SPAN testimony [see video below], which wrongly give the impression that President Obama and Secretary Clinton were not doing their jobs, implying specifically that Obama wasn’t engaged after the terrorist attack happened.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, during her questioning [see video below, around 3:52] couldn’t absorb what General Dempsey was saying when he answered her questions about personnel “chartering a plane to get there,” meaning Benghazi.

“We didn’t have an official DOD presence in Libya. [Ayotte interrupts, asks again about “chartering a plane”] I would just reiterate, we didn’t have an official DOD presence in Libya.”Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey

Even after this answer, Ayotte again asks about the plane, saying if we’d had aviation assets we could have gotten to Benghazi sooner.

General Dempsey tries not to be incredulous, answering if they’d had a plane, “sure they could have gotten there sooner.”

Senator Ayotte continues, questioning the quickness of the action from DOD, refusing to accept the facts on how fast the Benghazi terrorist attack spun out of control.

“The forces were moving… … There was no time or space available to be able to respond in time.” – Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

Ayotte continues pressing that military was preparing, but no order to go was given, which wasn’t the case. She didn’t understand the obvious protocols. “There’s a list of prepare to deploy, prepare to deploy, prepare to deploy,” Ayotte continued, further stepping in it by adding that the forces didn’t perceive the dangers or that quick action was required.

“Yeah, if I could just help with that one. The process is you tell a unit to prepare to deploy. When they report readiness you tell them to move. That’s just a piece of the process. There is nothing that held them up.” – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey



Senator Kelly Ayotte provides a perfect example of the ignorance conservatives have in understanding operational reality, which goes also to the heart of what happened on 9/11 in Benghazi, but also the dangerous mission Ambassador Chris Stevens was on. Conservatives don’t understand this because of their general distaste and ignorance about diplomacy and the foreign service itself, jobs that are dangerous by the very nature of them.

Ayotte never absorbs the fact that Benghazi was a dangerously uncontrolled consulate and the Ambassador Stevens was attempting to continue the mission to democratize Libya after Gadhaffi’s fall. Libya itself was out of control by the nature of what happened when Gadhaffi was removed, with Benghazi an unstable area, where the Department of Defense had no presence, which meant even as the situation remained rocky and tilting towards unmanageable, the job of Stevens was to continue the mission.

Senator Lindsey Graham used his questioning, bringing up AC-130 gunships and their proximity to Benghazi, ignoring what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey had continually said, which was they did absolutely everything that could be done in the time they had to do it, but also that DOD had no presence in Libya.

If you want to fault anything, it’s the policy of bombing Libya in the first place. But that’s not the Republican position, which is represented by Sen. John McCain who wanted a U.S. military presence and boots on the ground in yet another country in the greater Middle East region. Because that has worked out so well for United States interests so far.

Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

Paul Szep cartoon used with permission.

Progressives Have Tough Fight Ahead

President Barack Obama pauses to look back at the scene before leaving the platform following the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. Standing behind the President are First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, and Marian Robinson. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

WASHINGTON – President Obama gave on his Second Inaugural was still fresh. Secretary Clinton’s tour de force performance on the Benghazi terrorist attack that had taken one formidable female down already, Ambassador Susan Rice, had left Republican senators vanquished, with right-wing House members reduced to talking points. Democratic leaders in Congress then promptly showed weakness, making progressives and Democrats wonder if President Obama looking out at his last inaugural might, pictured above, might end up being the high point of his second term.

The joint budget resolution could also call for Medicare reforms and using the chained CPI formula to curb the cost of Social Security benefits. These entitlement reforms combined with tax reform would give Republicans political cover to accept tax increases — or at least more cover than if tax increases were merely packaged as an offset to the sequester. [The Hill, January 23]

What became clear on this past Sunday is that Republicans won’t let President Obama and Democrats have the immigration reform issue alone. Senator John McCain made that clear on ABC’s “This Week.”

MCCAIN: Well, look, I’ll give you a little straight talk. Look at the last election. Look at the last election. We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that. Second of all, we can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well. So I think the time is right.

The old John McCain is back leading on immigration for Republicans.

As for Democrats, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s collapse on the filibuster, accepting less than he had to in order to make Republicans feel like they were included or whatever excuse you want to use, was the first sign that not much will change in the months to come that Democrats can claim as their own.

It’s like we’re just waiting for the next election, yet again.

Senator Chuck Schumer floated a trial balloon on using the chained CPI on Social Security as a budget cudgel, which is what the quote at the top represents. If it weren’t for progressives that might have worked, but they pitched a fit and Schumer’s office had to give The Hill a clarification, which was added to the column later in the day. The follow-up paragraph reads:

Schumer’s office does not support the idea of fast-tracking Medicare cuts or the chained-CPI formula for Social Security through a budget resolution, proposals that Republicans would likely support. A Schumer aide noted that a reconciliation package could not make cuts to Social Security. This raises the prospect that 60 votes would be needed to waive a budgetary point-of-order objection raised against any reconciliation package reforming Social Security.

All of this could be foreshadowing. As I wrote earlier, President Obama has already warned everyone of what may and may not be possible going forward.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

Shorter Obama: I can’t do this alone, in one term or even two. The deals we make today must be improved upon. Our work is never done.

After all the criticism of Obama’s gender problems, nominating Mary Jo White to the SEC is a strong statement, but even as I laud the appointment because she’s got a reputation as a tough prosecutor, she’s also been an advocate for some real questionable characters, Kenneth Lewis, formerly of Band of America, for one, too. Which leads to the reality of Obama and his problems with holding the 1% accountable; he’s got a lousy track record.

Progressive leader Mike Lux wrote about Obama’s week of “messy narrative,” coming after such an important Inaugural speech. But as I stated in my analysis of Obama’s speech, it was more about his beliefs for the Democratic Party, what must be the duty of all Democrats well after he is gone, than about a roadmap of what he was going to get done in his second term. From Lux:

On the Wall Street accountability agenda, the signals are all over the map. […]

And in other very good news, two days after a devastating piece from Frontline which was scathing in its reporting on how the DOJ was choosing not to prosecute bankers, Lanny Breuer announced his resignation. According to all of my sources inside the administration who I have talked to about this, Breuer has been the biggest roadblock at the DOJ in terms of holding Wall Street bankers accountable, particularly in the last year in terms of slowing down the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Task Force. A former Wall Street lawyer, Breuer’s leaving is an unqualified good thing.

What we don’t know, of course, is who will replace him, so we will see who gets put in that key DOJ slot next. The big question now is what happens next on the task force. Although I know NY AG Eric Schneiderman is pushing hard on the cases he has brought and is exploring other avenues, he is getting little help right now from the rest of the task force. Breuer seems to be doing everything in his power to slow things to a crawl… In the meantime, the task force’s work keeps being undercut by the terrible settlements that have been announced by other agencies, like the OCC and Federal Reserve’s overwhelmingly pro-bank settlement with a bunch of the biggest banks over wrongful foreclosures. …

[…] So we’ve got little progress on the ability of Republicans to block any decent legislation in the Senate; powerful Democrats who keep saying they are open to a deal that cuts Social Security; a complete muddle over being tough on Wall Street, some good news and some bad; and a clear, confident progressive clarion call of an inauguration speech. There is no narrative to all this. Wealthy special interests, especially the big boys on Wall Street, and the opponents of progress, continue to win out over middle and low income folks most of the time, even inside the Democratic party. Yet the president clearly wants to be seen as a progressive champion. It’s a mix and a muddle.

President Obama has always leaned on the side of compromise to accomplish, negotiate down to get something done. What this means for Social Security and entitlements comes down to what progressives are willing to hold him accountable for saying in his Second Inaugural Address.

Progressives have their work cut out for them.

Taylor Marsh, is a veteran political analyst, a former Huffington Post contributor, Broadway babe and talk radio dabbler, and is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

“Zero Dark Thirty,” A Heroine’s Tale

Jessica Chastain as Maya. [Publicity shot provided by Columbia Pictures.]

WASHINGTON – It’s the big story so many are missing in all the reviews tumbling out about Zero Dark Thirty. The hero in Zero Dark Thirty is “the girl.” Played by Jessica Chastain, who won the Golden Globe Sunday night for Best Actress in a Drama, what plays out on the screen is being overshadowed by high pitched squeals from critics whose fervor misses the movie’s genius and ultimate message completely. The American movie industry has never had a female so fierce; a woman who crashes a party where men have reigned almost exclusively. A female leader whom everyone is inspired to follow because of the force of nature that she is.

Why is it that whenever fierce females step up to take history by the reins and tell the story in which a woman has proven to be a leader beyond parallel in her field, which applies to Bigelow and Chastain, there are always individuals, particularly on the left, who feel it necessary to strip what the woman is doing to the bone? Something is always wrong with the intent of the woman involved. She’s never sufficiently cognizant of progressive sensibilities, as both Bigelow and Chastain are being charged, even at a time when women are still trying to prove we can be members of male dominated clubs or even lead them.

If Kathryn Bigelow’s stunningly crafted war movie, thriller and epic historical storytelling by Mark Boal was being seen without the blinders of agenda and ideological myopia, the first thing you’d have to say is this is a feminist tour de force and a partnership of epic magnitude. Having a woman at the helm of the greatest war story of modern time is no small thing, but to have her at the helm in a story whose driving force is a female is nothing short of a history making moment.

Instead of taking the film as a whole, the caterwauling critiques have centered on the “enhanced interrogation,” otherwise known as torture, that appears at the top of the film. Bigelow’s unflinching bravery, combined with her unblinking ability to depict the savagery of the time, which occurred during the Bush era, has been subjected to heinous allegations. The worst of which is Naomi Wolf comparing Kathryn Bigelow’s direction to Nazi Propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. The critics who have latched on to the torture scenes and see them as the whole film have worked to take all the oxygen out of the discussion in order to sabotage the film’s success. It’s their right to do so, but they are wrong in their assessments. It also didn’t work, as the film opens wide number one. [Also see this piece over at Huffington Post.]

The film has stirred so much controversy over the opening scenes that McClatchy reported that the Senators Feinstein, Levin and McCain have written a letter demanding to know details to Acting CIA Director Michael Morell demanding details on what the C.I.A. told the filmmakers of Zero Dark Thirty.

The film not only isn’t about torture, but it in no way glorifies or implies that torture led to the capture of Osama bin Laden, UBL as he’s called in the film. The bulk of the film centers around the agonizing tedium of intelligence work that takes place well beyond the enhanced interrogation, aka torture, that was sanctioned during the Bush era.

More importantly, at the very beginning of the film the torture they’re conducting proves futile from the start. The first detainee tortured in the film refuses to help his C.I.A. interrogators, the result being a terrorist attack happens while agents continue to try to get information out of the detainees.

Maya’s dogged belief that the key to finding Osama bin Laden revolved around Abu Ahmed, believed to be bin Laden’s courier, took 10 years of painstaking work to confirm, which is compressed in the film. She believes the importance of Abu Ahmed’s is given credence, not by what the detainees are saying about him, but by their refusal to mention him at all. Meanwhile, Maya’s C.I.A. colleagues remain very skeptical. [Also see this Huffington Post piece by an assistant law professor at Drexel.]

It can be argued that the editing of the torture scenes confuses the specific lineage of what happened, even the manner in which torture was done, but there is never one “aha!” moment in the film from torture that leads to bin Laden, quite the contrary.

Instead, the opening intense torture sequences seem meant to throw the audience back in time. When President Bush and V.P. Dick Cheney and the administration made the “war on terror” revolve around “enhanced interrogations,” because they didn’t want to admit outright what they were doing was torture. The filmgoer is thrown into the room where torture is being conducted in all manner of ways, going beyond what even the Administration documented happened, reminiscent of Abu Ghraib, with the Bush administration’s account of the torture done one of detail, doctors and due process. We’ve suspected this is false and in Zero Dark Thirty what you see is detainees being subjected to haphazard treatment and torture, pulling the viewer back to a time when it seemed we’d all gone mad and when confusion and ambiguity ruled.

Kathryn Bigelow’s brazen treatment of the audience through the opening torture scenes slaps us into submission. That Sam Pekinpah is reportedly a director Bigelow admires becomes obvious here. It forces us to watch what the U.S. did, at a time when few Americans protested and in fact our country reelected George W. Bush to a second term in spite of it.

And nothing could be clearer in the film about how UBL was caught. It’s the “trade-craft” of intelligence work that leads Maya and her team to UBL. The reason by the end of the film that torture seems so far away is my design. It’s a turn of directorial purpose, because torture was a faraway crime by the time President Obama gave the word for SEAL Team Six to go.

The order by President Obama is what hovers invisibly over the entire film at the end, when Maya leads the UBL team to keep going, while no one had her certainty. But yet this boys’ club not only ended up trusting her implicitly, but followed her lead. This went all the way up to President Obama, who obviously had to be told that the leader behind the manhunt was Maya. The woman who had been following every piece of evidence and never let go, even when the best in the C.I.A., with more experience, still weren’t 100% committed, but only a “soft 60%.” Yet she stood firm. Bigelow and Boal only let Maya back down to 95% to make the guys happy, because surety made them uncomfortable.

The change that you see in the film in Maya through Jessica Chastain’s gritty performance is the guts of serious acting, as she relentlessly and ruthlessly trudges on day after day, evolving from novice to seasoned UBL hunter, the only thing she’s done since coming to the Agency straight from high school. It’s a heroine’s tale in a film that depicts American sadism when it was codified in policy by President Bush’s lawyers, which took a toll on the agents who administered it.

This is a spectacular ride, without the red, white and blue bravura, because Bigelow keeps the drama clamped down and brewing, the film’s score haunting us as we watch. Delivering a haunting requiem to the murdered on 9/11, as we are reminded of who we became after the terrorist attack. There are plenty of questions to ask of ourselves, but none of them can be answered by filmmakers.

The oddest critique of the film comes in the wondering about Maya’s reaction at the end of Zero Dark Thirty, some speculating that she looks alone and empty, while attempting to imply a deadness to her.

When she gets on a military cargo plane the pilot comes out as she boards. “You must be pretty important,” the pilot says to her. “You got the plane to yourself. Where do you want to go?” They take off, with the area behind where Maya is seated, the webbing of the plane, having coloration that mimics the American flag.

Maybe it’s not just exhaustion you see on her face. Perhaps it’s relief. Or perhaps it’s gratefulness that all the work paid off. That after 10 years she can finally rest because the deaths on 9/11 have been avenged. Her eyes fill with tears and she begins to cry.

It’s not hard for your heart to break when Zero Dark Thirty ends. Shedding a tear for America, because in hunting Osama bin Laden we changed and our country changed, too.

Taylor Marsh, is a veteran political analyst, a former Huffington Post contributor, Broadway babe and talk radio dabbler, and is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.

John Kerry, Not Susan Rice, for Top Diplomat

WASHINGTON – This should be an easy choice for liberals. Not only does Senator John Kerry have a deep resume on foreign affairs, but we’ve seen his ability to change and grow through learning the hard way. His ability to take on the military industrial complex and the Pentagon is one of his stronger assets. Of course, my reasons for believing he’s a better choice is because I’ve had the pleasure of working with him through the Patriot Project, as well as interviewing him for over an hour in a serious conversation that revealed much about his mind and character. I remain convinced there is no better choice to succeed Clinton than John Kerry, even understanding that the odds of this happening remain slim, though the tide against Rice has begun to rise recently.

The problem with making Susan Rice secretary of state isn’t Benghazi. It’s war. Rice, like her “mentor,” former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and the current secretary, Hillary Clinton, has supported just about every proposed U.S. military intervention over the two decades. The president should nominate someone that occasionally opposes a war. […] Rice is just a notably successful exemplar of a foreign policy community where supporting war is generally better for one’s career than opposing it. – The Real Problem with a Secretary of State Susan Rice, by Benjamin H. Friedman

Amid the speculation of who would take over after Clinton, a long came the swiftboating of Susan Rice.

Against the McCain-Graham attacks against Amb. Rice that amounted to swiftboating, something I fought against through Kerry’s Patriot Project long ago, the very real questions about her militaristic resume were obliterated by the organic reaction I had to come to the aid of a woman who was clearly being treated unfairly by the GOP boys club. What resulted is a defensive swarm by Democratic women for Amb. Rice that actually had very little to do with what her resume says to us all about her. President Obama’s clear partiality to her and strong offense against the attacks solidified my initial response.

Right before I went on holiday, Rice took to the United Nations floor to condemn the Palestinian vote by the UNGA for recognition, even if it was nonbinding observer status. The hyperbolic militancy of her words reminded me of why, on substance, I’ve never been a fan of her international politics, which I made clear during the run up to Obama’s decision to bomb Libya, something I was against from the start.

Some believe her involvement during the Rwandan genocide of the ’90s should disqualify her. I’m not of that group, because there was plenty of blame to go around, beginning with President Clinton; Rwanda something that has haunted him since, to his own admission, as well it should.

Republicans are also very wrong when they say Rice is not qualified. This is absolutely false.

I’ve not weighed in since her statement against the Palestinian vote, choosing to mull the situation and the other things about her career during a break that allowed me to clear my head of all distractions. Letting the internal dust settle after her clear swiftboating by Republicans, as well as establishment media types like Maureen Dowd, but also Dana Milbank, what rose to the top for me was clear.

John Kerry would be a much better choice for secretary of state than Susan Rice, which includes his stance on climate change, where Rice is incredibly vulnerable due to her economic conflicts of interest. There have been innumerable and substantive reporting recently outlining policies Rice has supported, particularly in Africa, which raise real questions about her as well.

Bill Kristol cut through my biggest issue several weeks ago when he said Rice should be confirmed, citing issues with John Kerry, which boil down to Kerry not supporting enough wars.

I think Susan Rice has been a little more interventionist than John Kerry. John Kerry is a guy who loved the Assad regime in Syria. John Kerry has been against our intervening in every war that we’ve intervened in – the First Gulf War, in Iraq he was for it before he was against it – I actually think Susan Rice might go along with Juan [Williams] and say, ‘You know what, that light footprint thing, it’s not working out so well.’

The sad truth is that in the U.S. career foreign policy establishment there are no diplomatic candidates that an elite politician as president could appoint that wouldn’t fall in line with more wars over more diplomacy. Kerry fits into this category as well, though he has stuck his neck out for prosecuting terrorism as a law enforcement issue versus the “war on terror,” even in the midst of “support” for the Assad regime. However, his statement amid Mubarak’s fall was one of real courage as the Obama administration scrambled to find its voice.

Susan Rice has the same problem as most women in the the national security establishment. Her views cater to the same interventionist militarism as all the females in seats of power, proving that to be associated with the boys club you have to think like them, too.

It’s why I began my book The Hillary Effect with the chapter “What If?,” which takes on Clinton’s mistakes on Iraq, to name one issue, while ending the book with her decision to push the Libyan invasion and become instrumental in Arab League talks, as well as her siding initially with Mubarak, among other issues. The continued support I have for Secretary Clinton, including a run for president in 2016, revolves around her ability to win and become the first female commander in chief, which is more important than our differences. But that’s a subject for another year.

I still fully expect President Obama to nominate Susan Rice, who I believe would be confirmed and against whom I will not work to defeat, even with Senator McCain on the SFRC.

Segue to Glenn Greenwald, whose piece helped push me to write the conclusions I came to since Thanksgiving, mulled over during our holiday, which I felt was time to air for all to read.

Virtually all of this debate has concerned Rice’s statements on a series of Sunday news shows in September, during which she claimed that the Benghazi attack was primarily motivated by spontaneous anger over an anti-Islam film rather than an coordinated attack by a terrorist group. Everyone now acknowledges that (consistent with the standard pattern of this administration’s behavior) Rice’s statements were inaccurate, but in a majestic display of intellectual dexterity, progressive pundits claim with a straight face that public officials should be excused when they make false statements based on what the CIA tells them to say, while conservatives claim with a straight face that relying on flawed and manipulated intelligence reports is no excuse.

[…] Last week, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern extensively documented Rice’s long record of cheering for US wars, including being an outspoken and aggressive advocate of the attack on Iraq, support that persisted for many years. In a New York Times Op-Ed yesterday, Eritrean-American journalist Salem Solomon condemned Rice’s fondness for tyrants in Africa, while Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford argued – with ample documentation – that her supporters “care not a whit for Africa, whose rape and depopulation has been the focus of Rice’s incredibly destructive career.” A New York Times news article from Monday separately suggests that Rice’s close ties to the ruling regime in Rwanda – that government “was her client when she worked at Intellibridge, a strategic analysis firm in Washington” – has led Washington to tacitly endorse its support for brutal rebels in the Congo.

Meanwhile, so-called “pro-Israel” groups have vocally supported her possible nomination due to her steadfast defense of Israel at the UN, hailing her as “an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum.”

At this point, President Obama could throw a hail Mary, choosing Republican former Senator Chuck Hagel, who is respected and also being considered down the list, but this would rightly bring on an explosion from Democratic partisans.

Senator John Kerry’s the natural fit here and would sail through the confirmation process without a hitch. Gov. Deval Patrick could then appoint himself or even Barney Frank to the Senate. The caterwauling about losing the Senate seat is overwrought.

Taylor Marsh, is a veteran political analyst, a former Huffington Post contributor, Broadway babe and talk radio dabbler, and is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.

Blaming DJ’s Prank Call for Nurse’s Suicide is Wrong

WASHINGTON – Has the world gone mad?

Saldhana took the two radio presenters’ call to King Edward VII Hospital last Tuesday and, believing them to be the British monarch and her son, patched the pair through to another nurse, who revealed details of Middleton’s condition. On Friday, Saldhana was found unconscious and then declared dead at her apartment around the corner from the hospital in central London. [Los Angeles Times]

Two DJs make a prank call, pretending to be royals, which leads to the suicide of a nurse who made a professional mistake, and now the radio hosts are being blamed for actions over which they had no control.

It’s understandable that both Mel Greig and Michael Christian feel awful at what happened. Their interview in the aftermath is certainly contrite, but taking blame is not only outrageous, but borderline irresponsible. That their broadcast has been suspended is an appalling overreaction, though banning prank calls is understandable.

Statement from Southern Cross Austereo:

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII’s Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world.

Chief Executive Officer Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances. SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy.

The tragic death of Ms. Saldhana is horrifying, but of accepting responsibility for a woman’s choice to take her own life is absurd.

As much as I appreciate the contrition of both DJs, their statements should also come with the refusal to take on the guilt of the tragedy.

Having dabbled in radio myself, it’s impossible to put myself in the position of the DJs, because prank calls were never my thing. However, as someone who’s been in media for 20 years, an entertainer and cultural commentator for over 30, and had many a discussion in public forums and over international airwaves, I also know that my right of free speech is fundamental in the exchange of ideas and entertainment, but nothing I say has the power to force anyone to do anything.

Southern Cross Austereo, Mel Greig and Michael Christian are correct in offering their sympathies and deep sorrow at the news of Jacintha Saldanha’s choice to kill herself. SCA, however, is dead wrong, as are the DJs, in choosing to silence their own voices that should be on air as long as they have an audience and advertisers to support their forum. The importance of dialogue after this sad contagion of events is also critical to the health of talk radio itself.

There is something very wrong about DJs accepting blame for someone’s suicide after a prank call. The precedence SCA is setting is harrowing.

2Day’s FM Hot 30 Show has now been canceled. It was announced today that the radio station will also donate at least $524,000 to a fund created for the Ms. Saldhana’s family.

Taylor Marsh, is a veteran political analyst, a former Huffington Post contributor, Broadway babe and talk radio dabbler, and is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.

Photo: official publicity shot of DJs.

The David Petraeus Bimbo Eruption

WASHINGTON – As things stand right now, it’s officially impossible to take the Petraeus – Broadwell – CIA – FBI – Eric Cantor heavy breathing over an alleged cyber threat seriously anymore. That it will be a major topic in President Obama’s press conference today could prove a circus.

Later, the agent became convinced — incorrectly, the official said — that the case had stalled. Because of his “worldview,” as the official put it, he suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama. The agent alerted Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who called the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, on Oct. 31 to tell him of the agent’s concerns. – Motives Questioned in F.B.I. Inquiry of Petraeus E-Mails

We are not in national security territory. As for cyber crime, we’re not even in the Anthony Weiner realm, with the FBI agent first contacted by the woman who received “harassing” emails from Paula Broadwell, Jill Kelley, going rogue over ideology, now barred from the case, after he “allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman involved in the case prior to the investigation.”

But can we get one thing straight. A DCIA that gets caught philandering through emails really shouldn’t be running America’s premier spy organization. Is this really hard to grasp? The basic rule of email going back to the ’90s is that you don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t want read on O’Reilly.

Somebody tell the people at “Morning Joe” and “Fox and Friends,” because the infotainment yammerers have gone completely off the tracks over this one.

The idiot brigade on Fox News channel has also declared David Petraeus won’t testify, compounding their 2012 election stupidity with the outlandish assumption, which was rolled out by Gretchen Carlson and others, that he can’t be called to testify about Benghazi if he’s a civilian. If the Fox talking heads pull one more gargantuan whopper out of their posterior they’re going to need corrective surgery.

Not only can David Petraeus testify, but he most surely will. As Andrea Mitchell has reported, after breaking the story, Petraeus already debriefed the station chief in Libya, though there’s some serious confusion about an alleged report that the CIA is reportedly now denying exists.

During a conversation with Bill O’Reilly on Monday, Ralph Peters started ranting about the White House lying about the whole imbroglio, of course because of some fantasy Benghazi cover up. Though truth be told, Peters seemed more bummed that Petraeus won’t get to run for president now.

The parade of FNC numbskulls haven’t gotten up to speed that Rep. Eric Cantor knew some of the dirty details in October and in fact helped the whole thing spiral, because of his Fox News channel mentality.

From the Washington Post:

“I was contacted by an F.B.I. employee concerned that sensitive, classified information may have been compromised and made certain Director Mueller was aware of these serious allegations and the potential risk to our national security,” Cantor said in a statement.

Cantor contacted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Oct. 31, and a week later Clapper told Petraeus he needed to resign.

“I don’t know if it would have taken this course without Cantor,” a person close to the inquiry said.

Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers, both of whom have leading oversight jobs of the agencies, were not amused they were out of the loop.

Our government at work, folks, though it’s more like egos on parade.

But as high school frightening as Paul Broadwell is, can anyone think of a more frivolously silly woman than Jill Kelley, the woman who received the jealous incoming email missives from Broadwell and went berserk?

From the Daily Beast:

At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.

“It was a close call,” the source says.

What tipped it may have been Kelley’s friendship with the agent. The squad opened a case, though with no expectation it would turn into anything significant.

Like, oh, my, god!

Jill Kelley gets icky emails that weren’t threatening or anything significant, but just made her feel harassed. So, of course the creepy FBI guy who sent her shirtless pictures would be glad to help, especially since that Obama guy is lying about Benghazi in the first place, and Lord knows, David Petraeus won’t do anything.

The FBI agents in the cyber squad who literally made a federal case out of a one-sided cat-fight must be infants, because what’s now being reported is unimpressive in the extreme.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency cannot be caught philandering with a woman who has less discretion than a 22 year-old intern. Sloppy impulse control and a midlife obsession he can’t control is one thing, but when you’re caught involved with a woman with the emotional maturity of a high school cheerleader you have no business being in charge of the top U.S. spy agency, particularly when you don’t know better than to use email to conduct your flirting.

If Petraeus started the affair with Broadwell while he was still in the military, the Military Code of Conduct has a completely different standard, which is severe, than the CIA, which demands full disclosure on all sides, leading to a lot of humiliating conversations.

There are a lot of swirling factoids amid the salacious details of human beings proving yet again they’re idiots and don’t take their own responsibilities seriously, not to mention allow their ideology to color every little issue of their lives, but at the bottom of this titillating story are a bunch of adults displaying the discipline of kids during puberty.

Hey, but as soap operas go, I’m glued to it.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.

The Moment Karl Rove Imploded on Fox

WASHINGTON – It was a historic collapse of credibility. A moment in time when the American people had spoken loudly. However, on Fox News Channel, Karl Rove went deaf. Dumb. Blind. He took along with him Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly, who evidently didn’t have the power to push him off camera in favor of math and facts and the voters speaking loudly. It was the culmination of coverage on the cable network that had been foreshadowed by weeks of hyper partisan coverage of Benghazi, worse than their usual fair, when the rest of the country was focused on the economy.

The remarkable spectacle on Fox News Channel culminated in an epic explosion once Ohio was called for President Obama and he was reelected the 44th president of the United States.

It began when Chris Wallace announced that the Romney campaign was disputing the numbers coming out of Ohio. Moments later Karl Rove starts spinning out the names of counties trying to prove the race had not been won.

In the middle of all this Charles Krauthammer begins a monologue, hissing invectives at Obama, illustrating why Mitt Romney and Republicans deserved to be taken out.

It happened in a way that no one on Fox News Channel saw coming, because the possibility was too horrible for them to consider.

For days, Fox has been spinning that Mitt Romney was surging. Then after it was clear they couldn’t prove it they started shifting the story and blaming Romney’s faltering on nor’easter Sandy, which continued earlier in the night with Bill O’Reilly, their #1 host.

From Dick Morris pontificating about a “landslide” to Sean Hannity’s hit squad, the hatred for the President has dripped day after day, crafting a narrative that a Romney win was in hand. No evidence, just malarkey.

Then tonight hit and Karl Rove couldn’t believe it.

At one point Megyn Kelly got up to go back stage to talk to the statisticians making sure the count was right out of Ohio. They looked genuinely surprised that she was confronting them, though very nicely. The only reason she went back there was because Karl Rove was blowing a gasket on air.

Kelly came back to the set, while Bret Baier looked over his shoulder for Rove, after calling him back on stage. Then suddenly after he came on stage, Michael Barone was summoned as well.

Barone started talking, everyone clearly trying to appease Karl Rove, who was going through the political version of water torture on air. The entire Fox News audience saw the naked cravenness of their favorite channel not being able to accept that Team Obama had beaten the Romney team, with Karl Rove bereft of legitimacy after being exposed for trying to spin that the election was falsely called, thus making Obama illegitimate.

Barone told Rove it was over.

The entire spectacle was a fitting crescendo and finale to what has been building for weeks, as Fox analysts made up out of whole cloth that Mitt Romney would not only win, but do so handily, while there was no evidence to prove their assertions.

Steve Hayes later said, “The polling was more accurate than it wasn’t.”

This is not what happened.

The coverage on Fox was pure fiction. They lied. They said the polls were “skewed.” That up was down. They were made fools by saying otherwise, with conservatives also trying to humiliate Nate Silver in the process.

What’s even worse is that they sucked in their audience who lapped up this wholly ridiculous narrative they were spinning, because the earnest hatred through which it was delivered missed the truth about this country.

Mitt Romney’s campaign and Fox News Channel, along with right wing radio, not only ignored minorities, but told the white audience that laps up the hatred they spew day in and day out towards Barack Obama, that the Millenials, Hispanics and African Americans don’t exist and that women are going to put up with our bodies being made into “social issues” that can be used like poker chips. Democrats do that with women too, but at least it usually ends up to our benefit.

If Fox News was an employee they’d be fired and unable to get hired in the business again.

Nate Silver was correct and beat all the poll hacks pushing false narratives, but are respected simply because they’re paid by the establishment elite. He’ll be serving crow on the mezzanine deck the rest of the month.

As for Karl Rove, I’ve been waiting 12 frickin’ years for this malevolent egomaniac to get his due, but I never dreamed I’d get to watch his unmaking on Fox News in prime election time.

Thank you President Obama for delivering Karl Rove’s head on a plate.

Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Tammy Baldwin, Claire McCaskill… and on and on… winning was the main course, but The Architect trussed on a platter was a spectacular dessert.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.

Romney Can’t Blame Losing on Sandy

THE MIRACLE of the first debate allowed Mitt Romney to stay in the race. President Obama helped in making this happen, otherwise there would have been a growing gap between the candidates that likely would have ended in a rout. But the next two debates slowly brought President Obama back, performing like an athlete who has to get down and almost be counted out before the resurrection and rise begins. By the time nor’easter Sandy made landfall Obama was back in the driver’s seat, where he’d been for months.

Just because Republicans and their friends in the media started talking about a Romney surge doesn’t make it so.

Dick Morris’s proclamation of a Romney “landslide” was always pure fantasy, the method of pumping up the GOTV efforts that Republicans had to do at the end. It was joined by others saying Romney will win, including Michael Barone. Now Dick Morris warns of “sudden danger signs” in the polls, as he tries to turn his ship away from the epic crash to reality.

All of these changes are, no doubt, related to hurricane Sandy. – Dick Morris

If only this right wing crank would follow this ludicrous theory to its obvious conclusion. God wanted to help Obama to prove he wasn’t really a Muslim. Where’s Pat Robertson when you need backup?

The Joe Scarborough team began weaving the Sandy narrative today as a preemptive reason for Romney’s possible loss, based on President Obama being able to look “presidential,” which indeed he did.

Next we’re going to hear that Gov. Chris Christie helped elect him, though I’d like to be around when some Republican explains this logic to Christie.

President Obama’s approval skyrocketed in the aftermath of Sandy, the best since the killing of Osama bin Laden, but he had already begun to slowly and steadily regain what he’d lost after the first debate.

But, while the storm and the response to it may account for some of Mr. Obama’s gains, it assuredly does not reflect the whole of the story. Mr. Obama had already been rebounding in the polls, slowly but steadily, from his lows in early October — in contrast to a common narrative in the news media that contended, without much evidence, that Mr. Romney still had the momentum in the race. – Nate Silver

Look at the polls on how people are now feeling about the economy. President Obama remains in the danger zone of approval, below 50% most places, but Romney has never, at any time, been able to overtake him.

If you’re going to go out on a cracked limb to cite Sandy, you could just as easily cite Mitt Romney’s offensively false Jeep ad in Ohio as the dealbreaker for him in a state he simply must win, because Obama long ago locked up other battleground states. The local press was brutal on Romney’s Jeep ad, complete with car executives refuting Romney’s lies. The re-emergence of Romney’s “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” was a fresh reminder of the jobs Ohioans wouldn’t have had if Romney would have been in the White House.

You could also cite Richard Mourdock and the reminder of the Todd Akin crazies who believe women should be forced to give birth if raped or a victim of incest. Suburban women may be skeptical of Obama on the economy, but at the final moment when they decide to vote most women will simply not pull the lever for anyone who has been quoted on air that he’d sign a “personhood” amendment that puts a fertilized egg above the woman herself.

Republicans and other religious conservatives need to understand that a woman’s body is not a “social issue.”

And then there’s President Obama’s number one surrogate, President Bill Clinton, who has done the lion’s share of work in getting the working class vote back on Obama’s side, but also driving the economy message home, which began in the mother of all convention speeches that will be remembered and cited whenever the 2012 election is remembered.

Toss in Obama’s demographic advantage, which Republicans don’t like to talk about, and Mitt Romney has serious challenges that no poll can wipe away.

Throughout this race Mitt Romney has performed below what was required to beat an incumbent president. He has been able to get close or even tie Obama according to local polls, as well as meaningless national polls, but Romney has never, not once, at any time been able to overtake President Obama, except in the deep red south.

Political losers always have to find a reason for why they did not prevail, so Team Romney and Republicans in 2012 will be no different.

The next thing you’ll hear is how badly they need Paul Ryan in 2016, because Mitt Romney isn’t a real conservative, so he was bound to lose in the end.

Democrats should be so lucky.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.

Binders, Boys’ Club, and the Women’s Vote [Videos]

IT’S A curious thing that Mitt Romney won’t say he fully supports equal pay. It comes off tone deaf, even hostile towards women’s economic equality. In the race for the women’s vote, “Bindergate” hit “Morning Joe” today, while Buzzfeed reports many of the women in Romney’s binders were campaign contributors. Long forgotten is Obama’s boys’ club, which is now getting a new life.

Paul Ryan made the case for Romney on CBS “This Morning,” saying “of course” he and Mitt Romney support financial equality. Ryan’s problem, so it could also be Romney’s, is that the Lily Ledbetter Act encouraged lawsuits, according to Republicans. It’s a lame excuse, because women who have been wronged deserve to have recourse to right them.

So, obviously Mitt needs help, which NRO provided in two posts here and here, one that gets former lieutenant governor Karen Healy on the record sticking up for her former boss, while the other hits Obama.

There’s been multiple reports, including in books like Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men, which I’ve read, that there has been a real boys’ club in the Obama administration.

“This place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” former White House communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” – Book: Women in Obama White House felt excluded and ignored [Washington Post, 2011]

Amy Sullivan wrote about the same thing in 2011 for Time magazine.

The first time I noticed something was awry, I was flipping through the White House Flickr album from Obama’s first 100 days in office. About halfway through, I realized something was missing. Shot after shot showed Oval Office meetings filled with men in dark suits. But apart from occasional appearances by Hillary Clinton and Valerie Jarrett–and one photo of an Oval Office meeting that included Jarrett and several other female advisers–women were mostly absent from the workplace shots.

I knew the problem wasn’t a lack of women on staff at the White House. A 2009 analysis of White House salary data did find that while women outnumbered men in the lowest salary brackets, there were only 58 women in the 142 highest senior staff positions at the Obama White House.

The women’s vote could make the difference.

Lieutenant governor Karen Healy’s comments in NRO do add something to the conversation.

“I imagine that anyone who had ever walked into Governor Romney’s office would know that for a fact because his chief of staff whose office was directly in front of his was Beth Myers,” Healy says. “She went on to become his campaign manager when he ran for president. His top policy adviser and governmental liaison was Cindy Gillespie, a woman who had been his adviser as well at the Olympics, and come with him to serve in Massachusetts 00 [sic] a Democrat, I might add, although I think she may be a Republican by this time. He had asked me to run with him and serve with him as lieutenant governor.”

“There was in no way a boys’-club atmosphere in our administration,” Healy adds, “and I think that that contrasts very starkly with what we have heard from the accounts of some female staffers in the White House who have called the atmosphere in the White House a hostile workplace.”

Team Obama’s ad above hits Romney on having “condescending views towards women.”

I’m waiting for the ad from Romney that accuses Obama of “a boys’ club” inside the White House.

Romney’s problems where women are concerned mirror those of today’s Republican Party, though Romney’s come close to evening the odds with President Obama, because of economic issues.

That’s why Romney should run the ad below, reported by Maggie Haberman.

The ad below touches on the one question many women still have about Romney. It’s deceptive, because it doesn’t address women’s self-determination that Romney-Ryan oppose, and goes well beyond being a “social issue.”

96 Groups and Social Security Stalwarts Take on COLA Cuts

WASHINGTON – The report comes as “grand bargain” hucksters take to CNBC regularly to push putting Social Security on the chopping block. If you’re not watching CNBC you’re simply not seeing the media blitz by the elite to offer up Social Security as part of the “grand bargain” push. It comes at the same time Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is lowered yet again.

Social Security benefit payments will rise by only 1.7 percent in 2013, down sharply from a 3.6 percent increase in 2012’s cost of living adjustment (COLA). That boost followed two years of no COLA increase. The Social Security Administration said next year’s COLA would raise the average monthly benefit payment by $21, to $1,261 from $1,240. [US News]

The report is from Ryan Grimm and Arthur Delaney:

A coalition of 96 organizations representing veterans, the elderly, minorities and labor unions on Tuesday used the occasion of the annual Social Security cost of living adjustment to plead with Congress not to manipulate the measurement as a way to reduce the deficit in coming negotiations over tax and spending policy.

Leading members of both parties have hit upon the cost of living raise to help pay for extending parts of the Bush tax cuts as part of a new “grand bargain” to reduce future deficits. By swapping out the current measurement for a new, stingier method of gauging inflation, politicians hope to reduce Social Security benefits over the long term, enabling more of the tax cuts to remain in place.

The coalition of Social Security defenders argued that such cuts would be devastating to seniors, more than 40 million of whom received Social Security benefits in August, according to the program’s latest monthly statistical snapshot. The average senior on Social Security receives $1,235 per month. The benefits lifted nearly 14.5 million seniors out of poverty in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Women need to wake up. I’ve quoted “feminist economist” Susan F. Feiner before, but here she is again:

Listen up, sisters! Deficit hawks will eat your lunch, your kids, your jobs and your retirement. […] Today’s deficit hawks (and way too many Democrats are flying with this flock), fundamentally and deliberately misinform by insisting on a fictional symmetry between private sector (household and corporate) bookkeeping and the U.S. federal debt.

… Here are the facts: U.S. government borrowing creates interest-bearing assets. The bonds are bought with dollars, the interest on them is paid in dollars and, at maturity, the bonds are paid off in dollars. Since the U.S. government is both sovereign in its own currency and the sole issuer of dollars, it can never run out of them. How could it?

Don’t think printing presses here: Federal debts are paid off by Treasury clerks making a few clicks on computer keyboards—keyboards identical to the one I’m typing on now.

In contrast, families and businesses have to earn income or sell assets to get dollars to pay off debts. The federal government does not face any such constraint. It can spend as much as it likes and borrow as much as it likes. With so many people out of work—nearly 30 million and counting–and so many firms operating well below capacity, there is no danger of inflation. So, right now, government borrowing and government spending will do one thing and one thing only: It will pump up aggregate demand, call jobs into being and reduce economic pain. Our children will be better off.

Meanwhile, the ceiling limiting the federal debt is an arbitrary constraint.

[…] Fiscal austerity—aka, reducing the deficit—endangers our lives. Deficit spending lies behind virtually all the social services, public amenities, and consumer safety standards that distinguish the U.S. from Rwanda, Bangladesh or Guyana. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Congress is “moving to eliminate the only national program that regularly screens U.S. fruits and vegetables for the type of E. coli that recently caused a deadly outbreak in Germany.” Clearly, this $4.5 million program is too expensive. (Note to reader: $4.5 million is just over half the median pay for top executives at the nation’s 200 largest firms, according to The New York Times. Executive pay is up 23 percent over 2009. What if each of these guys chipped in a measly $22,500 so the rest of us could eat untainted food?)

The possible COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) cuts impact women more than anyone.

Research from IWPR has shown the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women, and these findings have been supported by research from other organizations. Adult women are 51 percent (27 million) of all beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and the survivors of deceased workers (52.5 million). Women are more likely to rely on Social Security because they have fewer alternative sources of income, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become permanently disabled. Moreover, due to the recession many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets. Older women—and older low income populations in general—have become more economically vulnerable and dependent on Social Security benefits. – IWPR

The lame duck Congress is the target, as elite conservatives, both Democratic, from Obama on down to Sen. Udall and others, to Republicans, are hoping to convince people that a deal must be done before January. It’s the reason the term “fiscal cliff” was created. To scare people into believing there is no choice, that if we don’t cut Social Security and other entitlements in the “grand bargain” scheme it’s tantamount to throwing the country over the cliff.

If you are not in contact with your senator and congressperson you need to get busy.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Ben Affleck’s ARGO, Benghazi, and the Double Standard of Bush and Reagan

Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston in “Argo” [Photo: Warner Bros.]

WASHINGTON – Sometimes a film meets with an event in history and the fusing becomes a moment meant to teach. Ben Affleck’s spectacularly entertaining ARGO is that film, coming in the aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attack. The suspense collides with darkly hilarious moments helping you survive the drama on a sled of emotions, the larger plot some of us remember all too well. The Oscar buzz is worthy, especially for Affleck, as is the 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But like all important films it excavates history on the wings of great entertainment.

It wasn’t anticipated that Affleck’s film would land in the middle of the furor over a terrorist attack on another 9/11 in a country we are trying to help begin anew. Such is the sweet nod of serendipity to artistic bravery, as surely this was for Affleck, whose direction from The Town takes another skyward blast in ARGO.

For people like me, artists trained, with a degree in fine arts, and the professional credentials to match. Growing up as a political activist, my mentor a politician who is also my brother. I can’t see a brilliant film like ARGO in any way other than through the lens of history. So, that’s the way I have to review it.

Fast forward from Iran 1979 to Benghazi 2012 for a moment. An ambassador assassinated, the people trying to protect him murdered, all sent to a ravaged land with no leader with the far flung purpose that a difference can be made and the country transformed.

It’s what can happen when we choose to get involved and things go south. Date check history for the proof.

Affleck’s ARGO, however, doesn’t end badly, except for President Jimmy Carter, who lost reelection.

Like the events that make up the storyline, which is very loosely based on the real life bravery of C.I.A.’s Tony Mendez, who received the highest honor the Agency can offer, the Iranian hostage crisis didn’t happen in a blink.

Benghazi didn’t either. Instead, it unfolded as Libya puked up the facade of stability made possible by the biggest powers backing a thug.

Iran during the history that led to ARGO, the United States performed a coup to install their puppet, the Shah.

Iran or Benghazi, both play out in the same prism of political witlessness, outsiders playing savior of people we helped imprison in the first place through our policy of propping up dictators who had our best interests in mind at the expense of their own people (which made me a foreign policy realist).

The Arab Spring is the result. And Republicans wonder why it’s violently turbulent, with America now feeling the blowback? As if the birth of a nation is ever peaceful, our own country an example of the convulsions on the way to freedom.

However, what’s truly obscene is that the entire Republican Party and their supporters are caterwauling today about President Obama and the administration allegedly “lying” and worse. Allegations that there is a “cover up,” while holding circus hearings with partisan motivations in a presidential election year.

Did any of these same people give President Ronald Reagan a pass for the impeachable crime of Iran-Contra?

Fox News Channel spewing the most insanely hyperbolic theories behind the terrorist tragedy, which when compared to the Reagan era can be seen for what they are in a political age for what it is.

President Reagan was allowed to skate on a feeble mea culpa from the Oval Office, which illustrates the difference between the politics then and now, but especially the stark contrast of the media in the ’80s and today’s 24/7, new-media, cable infotainment stream of non-stop speculation, political hacks, off the wall charges, and juvenile journalism.

Imagine President Obama delivering this speech today, just weeks after the Benghazi attack.

“… For the past 3 months I’ve been silent on the revelations about Iran. You must have been thinking, well, why doesn’t he tell us what’s happening. Why doesn’t he just speak to us as he has in the past when we’ve faced troubles or tragedy? Others of you, I guess, were thinking, what’s he doing hiding out in the White House? Well, the reason I haven’t spoken to you before now is this. You deserve the truth. And as frustrating as the waiting has been, I felt it was improper to come to you with sketchy reports or possibly even erroneous statements, which would then have to be corrected, creating even more doubt and confusion. There’s been enough of that. I’ve paid a price for my silence in terms of your trust and confidence. But I’ve had to wait as you have for the complete story…”– President Ronald Reagan, March 4, 1987

In contrast, today’s political climate is best represented by Edward Klein, who is hawking hyperbole and sheer lunacy against the Clintons, which is how the man makes his money. Tucker Carlson’s now published so much swiftboating squeals from the guts of his ideological desperation to defeat Barack Obama that it comes as no surprise he’s got another whopper from Klein today. The Clintons are “furious!” Bill’s corraling the lawyers! All from Tucker Carlson’s new media station on bullshit mountain (h/t to Jon Stewart for the adjective).

Forget offering a Reagan type speech from the Oval Office. If President Obama came out to speak the truth Secretary Clinton did yesterday he’d be run from office.

From Clinton on Friday:

“I think the attack by — and what has largely been a political attack by Republicans, in this case by Congressman Ryan, was to try to suggest that the president and the White House was responsible for assessing security in a diplomatic facility in Benghazi,” said Carney. “The lack of understanding about how this works may explain why Congressman Ryan consistently supported and authored budgets that slashed spending for diplomatic security, and he now takes a different position on these matters in the aftermath, which is clearly part of an effort to politicize what should not be politicized.”

[…] “There is much we still don’t know, and I am the first to say that,” she said. “There is nobody in the administration motivated by anything other than trying to understand what happened,” said Clinton. “We are doing all we can to prevent it from ever happening again anywhere.”

[…] “To this day we do not have a complete picture, we do not have all the answers,” she said. “No one in this administration has ever claimed otherwise. Every one of us have made clear that we are providing the best information we have at that time. And that information continues to be updated. It also continues to be put into context and more deeply understood.”

[…] “Ambassador Rice had the same information from the intelligence community that every other senior official did,” said Clinton. “We can only tell you what we know based on our most current understanding of the attack and what led up to it.”

That Obama wouldn’t dare to deliver remarks like Clinton’s, looking through the prism of Reagan, as he explained away an impeachable offense and gets away with the ploy, illustrates what we’ve lost as a nation. Though if impeachment were saved for serious events like Iran-Contra or Richard Nixon’s crimes, for which he never should have been pardoned, perhaps we would have had a real standard for holding president’s accountable, instead of fellatio being the bar.

Through our hyper-partisan, microwaveable media stories we allow no leadership to rise amid disastrous mistakes made through human ego and election self-interest, which produce events that overtake our presidents, diplomats and political leaders, all of whom are now reduced to expectations that no mere mortal could meet.

If Republicans keep the House, you’ve got to wonder if Darrel Issa will rev up his oversight circus on the way to impeachment hearings, just as the House did during the Clinton era over a consensual sex act that any married man would have lied about if caught with his pants on the floor. The public proved the silliness of this action when they unloaded on Republicans in the election of ’98, which even disgusted Grover Norquist, who warned of what would happen, before Republican zeal turned into Democratic favor and victory.

President Obama being blamed for an obviously botched communication response is one thing, though I have always argued that it was the initial policy on Libya and the bombing through NATO that unfolded only as it could in a country that never had a government beyond Gaddafi and his mafia, compliments of U.S. policy.

Looking back decades to Iran-Contra and the Republican hero Ronald Reagan, who can’t wonder what would have happened if the Gipper had been subjected to the same 24/7, new-media, cable infotainment scrutiny? The assassination attempt on his life wouldn’t have saved him today.

Obama’s crime, his “lie,” according to the screechers like Hannity and the wingnut noise machine, is far greater than Reagan’s, though they never have to explain why. It’s a preposterous assertion. But if Obama had been in charge at the time of the Marine bombing and Beirut, Iran-Contra, or William Casey’s private war across the border of Afghanistan (as reported by Bob Woodward in “Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1984” when he used to write brilliant works not threaded through his ideological prism), he’d have been tarred and feathered and run out of Washington.

We need to be in dangerous countries, but we cannot protect our diplomatic foreign service soldiers from all manner of harm. They know what they’re doing and they’re not victims. They are heroes on a mission, which ARGO reveals through theatrical license. Soldiers without rifles for which they deserve our gratitude and respect, instead of being vilified by Republicans, and not adequately funded and supported. People willing to give their lives to move the world forward, which the harrowing drama in ARGO demonstrates beautifully.

Remember Ambassador Joseph Wilson in Iraq, the last US diplomat to meet Saddam before the first Gulf War, a noose around his neck in a press conference where he told Saddam Hussein to basically go screw himself?

“If the choice is to allow American citizens to be taken hostage or to be executed, I will bring my own [expletive] rope.” – Ambassador Joseph Wilson

Ambassador Kennedy tried to make this very case again and again in Darrell Issa’s oversight hearing, that the foreign service is required, but in dangerous land where they can’t always be protected fully. But Issa, Chaffetz and the Republican chorus were too busy performing for cameras to listen to the message.

As former President Jimmy Carter’s narration plays at the conclusion of ARGO, scenes of history placed on the screen against movie shots from Affleck’s film roll by. Carter’s voice a haunting memory of actions that were secreted away until now, which brings to mind the quickness through which we now view history. Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming film Zero Dark Thirty debuting in December, not even two years after the killing of Osama bin Laden a good example.

ARGO now takes the place among these films. A story of death defying cunning that allowed the few to escape, because of the brilliance of one CIA agent, Tony Mendez, played with great humanity and solemnity by Ben Affleck. We are reminded through art what once couldn’t be known for decades, until the history makes the knowledge safe, even if it meant a president losing his office, because he couldn’t tell the story to rebut an image of weakness in the public.

That Republicans are trying to use the Carter model for Barack Obama hasn’t succeeded nearly so well in the aftermath of George W. Bush’s national security incompetence, from ignoring the warnings of attacks before 9/11 to taking our country to war on a lie. It helps that Obama’s wickedness has been seen through his drone policy, as well as the order to kill Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, without them knowing.

Today, the daring plan in ARGO would have been investigated by Congress and the heroes turned into the accused, whether they succeeded or not. The scrutiny is needed, Congress once an equal branch to the Executive, though it is now just a marketing arm of the party who holds the presidency, but it’s the atmosphere in which a hearing takes place that matters. The chance for honest excavation of truths in the light of transparency drowned in the toxic bile of partisanship, which Darrel Issa proved this past week and the U.S. media illustrates every day.

The Administration screwed up the explanation of Benghazi. But people didn’t die because of that. Christopher Stevens and the others trying to save him and the mission died because they believed Libya was worth saving.

Affleck’s ARGO is a rare piece of film that resurrects history at a moment in modern time where an international crisis has developed around a President’s mission in Libya. In the shadow of Christopher Stevens’s assassination it should remind us all that the foreign service risk their lives by choice and in volatile, unsafe and unstable lands where you can’t predict the next day, or protect these brave diplomatic soldiers from everything. Again, something Ambassador Kennedy said in the Issa hearing, though no one could hear him over the din of their chest-thumping.

Republicans are always saying they want America to lead. They just don’t want to pay for what that costs during our well-meaning misadventurism that never ends well, which includes the missions of foreign service officers who deserve the same budget as war tools made possible through Pentagon bloat.

Democrats by no means innocent in their duplicity on diplomacy and military spending, but also in their cowardice to stand up for war instead of a smarter policy that puts American interests first.

Under Affleck’s direction we see the humor needed to traverse perilously dangerous missions that make death one foot away.

We are reminded that it all comes at a cost.

And sometimes it’s everyone’s fault, including a hypnotized public too ignorant to know what they’re talking about but uninterested in educating themselves beyond their favorite infotainment cable barker. And a president needs to be given the space to learn all the facts before partisan hacks start asking for his head. Call it the Ronald Reagan standard: If the Gipper can get a pass for waiting 3 months to speak about Iran-Contra, surely Barack Obama deserves a month to do the same.

Democrats and Republicans chose to support President Obama taking our nation to war in Libya, backing the NATO mission.

Democrats and Republicans unseated the elected leader of Iran, then put in our guy, which is what caused the hostage crisis. ARGO dramatizes part of this tale, which jettisoned me into a time machine, a walk through my own political life the result.

People want Obama’s head, and now even Joe Biden in the debate with Paul Ryan said he and the President hadn’t been told about the security requests, to which Murdoch’s tweet above refers.

It’s every man for himself.

And we wonder why we’re still making the same mistakes?

ARGO tells one story, while throwing a spotlight on our policies, politics and media culture that won’t allow President Obama to mimic what Ronald Reagan did to escape impeachment over a far more serious leadership failure than Benghazi.

Everyone today wants someone’s head on a spike for Benghazi, when it may be as simple as Christopher Stevens died doing the job he loved and was committed do doing, at a time when one political party no longer believes in diplomacy and proves it daily. Meanwhile, heroes continue to do their jobs with no guarantees in the wild west of Libya, a country caught in the contagion that started as the Arab Spring, but has now grown frigidly cold.

To the partisan witch hunters who say these people aren’t heroes and don’t deserve the same as our soldiers dispatched with duties out of the Pentagon that come backed by big defense budget bucks, in the words of Ben Affleck and as a tribute to the shout from history he unleashed in this great film, to the small minded and short-sighted I say, “AR GO [expletive deleted] yourself.”

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Joe’s Turn

WASHINGTON – Joe Biden knows how to deliver a one-liner. Remember way back what he said about Rudy Giuliani? A little flash back with the video above. But it’s Mitt Romney’s policies Vice President Biden is debating.

“Let’s just take a look at Paul Ryan’s convention speech. It was packed full of lies…” – Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama [The Rachel Maddow Show]

Everyone saw what Mitt Romney did last week in the first presidential debate. Governor Mitt showed up, leaving “severely conservative” Mitt in the green room.

When Paul Ryan gave his convention speech, he lied about Obama on an auto plant that shut down under George W. Bush. He continued the race-baiting work line on Medicare. His speech was panned.

Now Ryan’s got a new problem. With Mitt Romney falsely representing himself to an Iowa editorial board on his views on abortion, then having to walk back what he said when Tony Perkins had a hissy, Ryan has to fix the “gaffe.” Romney’s also had to re-embrace wanting to gut Planned Parenthood funding, as well as believing in forced birth for women.

Paul Ryan has said he and Romney stand together on their views on abortion, which only matters if Democrats make them choke on them.

To Romney and Ryan reproductive health care is a social issue. That’s a euphemism for men controlling women even if they have to use the federal or state government to do it. Conservatism doesn’t mean what it once did, before Ronald Reagan allowed the old crone Phyllis Schlafly and the late Jerry Falwell to cross the line on where religion belongs. Religious conservatives believe men are meant to have power over women, with women of this ilk believing freedom is only for men, which is why feminism is so scary to them. Phyllis Schlafly defeated the ERA amendment because she believed women had it good and didn’t want to rock the sex role boat. It’s the foundation of the fundamentalism that also guides the religiosity of people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. As their religions believe women aren’t fit to lead their churches, they think women aren’t equal to men either. This philosophy blankets their policy prescriptions.

To Barack Obama women’s reproductive rights has been a political tool, but it’s clear he does believe women should control our health care decisions. The word abortion sticks in his throat whenever he talks about this issue. He bowed to Stupak when he didn’t have to, then put politics over science on Plan B. Obama also codified the Hyde Amendment in law, which was wrong and the first time in history it had been done, forever changing the dynamic for women on this issue, the full ramifications still unknown. But the President also has plenty in the win column. He wove real benefits for women throughout ACA, including serious preventative measures, as well as free contraception, all of which are economic issues, not simply a social issue from the men’s club of patriarchal prerogative.

It’s one reason Obama’s stance on Social Security is not only untenable, but unacceptable. Nothing impacts women more than Social Security, because more women rely on it to stay out of poverty.

Joe Biden can take on Ryan’s anti-women agenda, including on Lily Ledbetter, which Romney also ducked, then double down when delivering the case against Paul Ryan when it comes to seniors.

A long time ago when you could get close to Joe Biden, I was able to have a one on one with him, also getting him to share his writings on this site. I’ve heard him on foreign policy many times and we all would have benefited if Obama would have listened to Biden on Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan.

What is very important to hear from Biden is the blue collar case against Ryan’s economics. The middle class message that Barack Obama can’t seem to sell, whether it’s in a debate or anyplace else.

The one concern is the Obama prep team, with factions around President Obama who deride Joe Biden, which is widely known in the press. Joe being Joe is why his convention speech was the most watched of all the speeches, including Bill Clinton and President Obama. If that’s tampered with there could be trouble.

The right’s also gone to work on Biden, with his gaffes causing his approval numbers to dip, which Fox News Channel trades on regularly, as does right-wing radio. The good news, according to Pew, is that 40% say Ryan will do a better job, 34% expect Biden to do better. Paul Ryan has other problems.

The Democratic base is depending on Vice President Biden, because the wider Democratic electorate trusts him, even if the activist and Obama loyalists don’t.

Paul Ryan’s an able adversary, as long as he gets to spin political tales and stay away from his extreme policy ideas.

After the presidential debacle in Denver, Joe Biden can’t afford to let him get away with that and I can’t imagine he will.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Demographics Against Romney, Enthusiasm an Issue for Obama [Updated]

WASHINGTON – Chicago, you’ve got a problem. After the debate where Romney left the wingnuttery that won the nomination behind to embrace his inner Governor Mitt, it has now become acute.

Only 73 percent who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote, compared to 86 percent who back Romney. Likewise, 84 percent of Republicans say they are extremely likely to vote, compared to 76 percent of Democrats. Among those extremely likely to vote, Romney actually leads Obama 52 percent to 46 percent. That’s up from a 2-point lead last week. Obama led 50 percent to 47 percent among this group three weeks ago. – Battleground Tracking Poll: Dems less thusiastic

Chuck Todd’s analysis of the numbers on “Meet the Press” was the best example of the challenge of the President.

MR. TODD: Well, remember, this was before the debate. All right, let me see Wall Street Journal poll and we have a registered voter model that had the president up seven, but we had a likely voter model that had the president only up three at the time 49-46. So the question is why. What is going on that has Republicans doing better and becoming more likely voters? Well, it’s simply an enthusiasm gap. And we’re seeing it across the board. Look at here in this first one; 79 percent of Republicans call themselves extremely interested in this election. On a scale of 1 to 10, that means they say there are a 9 or 10 on interest in the election, 73 percent of Democrats– look at four years ago. It was a 13-point gap in favor of the Democrats.

Let me go through some various voting groups. This is an important voting group. Seniors are an important voting group to Mitt Romney now. He leads them by about 10 points in our NBC Wall Street general poll. Look at this in engagement in the election. Four years ago, it was 81 percent, pretty high, even higher this time at 87 percent. And Romney is doing better among seniors than McCain did. Let me go to an important voting group for the president. Young voters. Look at this engagement level. 52 percent now that call themselves of– of voters, 18 to 34 call themselves extremely interested in this election. Four years ago, it was 72 percent. That 20-point gap. The president wins young voters by huge margins. He is winning them by some 20-plus points. But if you don’t have this kind of enthusiasm, they’re not going to show up to the polls. And then let me give you this last one here, because this is I think the most important one and that’s Hispanics. The president is winning Hispanics by 50 points. He hit the 70 percent mark. However, look at this in terms of interest in the election. 59 percent now. It was 77 percent. What does that mean? The president got 65 percent, I believe, of the Hispanics four years ago. So even though he’s going to get more Hispanics, if less of them turn out, it’s a net zero. And yet you look at Republican enthusiasm up, senior enthusiasm up, it’s a huge problem. And by the way, all of this, pre-debate.

The demographic issue is what weighs Mitt Romney down, though a new Pew Research Poll shows promise with women, though we need more than one poll to prove this is cemented. Just as important for Romney is the shift in perception that he has the “new ideas” and is seen as leading on the economy and the deficit.

In the presidential horserace, Romney has made sizable gains over the past month among women voters, white non-Hispanics and those younger than 50. Currently, women are evenly divided (47% Obama, 47% Romney). Last month, Obama led Romney by 18 points (56% to 38%) among women likely voters.

However, if the enthusiasm continues to lag with Democrats, with Republicans rising, can Romney overcome this disadvantage? Not yet, but the polls are moving.

The question I raised asking can Romney still win?, given his abysmal performance to that date, which was September 19, came with a requirement (emphasis original):

“He can still win,” as everyone across the media continues to chant in unison, but the hill he’s now got to climb to change the trajectory in states that matter, coupled with the demographic divide he chose not to court with his pick of Paul Ryan, is only passable for a political triathlete, which Romney is not.

The best that can be hoped for is a debate miracle.

Until that manifests it’s time for political writers, infotainment hosts, pundits and conservative bloggers and talk radio bloviators to let go of the “he can still win” narrative until Mitt Romney illustrates he’s going to do something to actually change the dynamics now playing out.

Mitt Romney had to do something to prove he had shaken up the race significantly enough to change the state of play that was tilted strongly to President Obama. Mitt Romney has now done exactly that.

Watch Ohio, not national polls that mean nothing, but also watch where women go to see if the gains hinted at in the Pew Research Poll start to solidify in swing states.

In fact, Public Policy Polling is now reporting that the 15-point lead once held by President Obama is now down to 6 [update].

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Clinton Global Initiative Gets Top Stars in 2012 Annual Meeting

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this election campaign, it’s that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good… All I have to do is wait a few days for the bounce.” – Mitt Romney

FROM CNN’s Piers Morgan to “Morning Joe,” including a second session with Morgan with some of the Clinton Global Initiative’s speakers for Wednesday night, President Bill Clinton’s philanthropic dream is not only a reality, but this Annual Meeting had the biggest political stars in the American universe.

Secretary Hillary Clinton arrived to a standing ovation, as her tenure moves into its final months, having revitalized the State Department from the bad old Bush-Cheney days, as well as fought the good budget fight against the Pentagon, winning budget battles of her own. Nobody should doubt the Hillary Effect at the State Department.

CGI coming after the heartbreaking loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, as well as three other Americans, two of which were Navy SEALS, it had to be a welcome moment, especially with drama swirling around the terrorist attack.

During her remarks on Monday, at one point her signature smile broke across her face as she gave a sideways glance, teasing to all watching, especially those who know her style, that a zinger was on its way. Once again she stated she was out of politics, but didn’t waste the moment to weigh in that “the elite” in countries across the world, where there are a lot of rich people, she emphasized, don’t contribute to their own country as they should to make things better for the people.

President Barack Obama spoke at the United Nations General Assembly earlier in the day on Tuesday, then came to CGI to talk about human trafficking being “slavery,” which I wrote about earlier. The President heaped praise on President Clinton, talking about his “extraordinary leadership, and I think I speak for the entire country when I say, you continue to be a great treasure for all of us.”

Mitt Romney came to speak at CGI as well, after talking to NBC’s Brian Williams at their Education Nation event. A moment backstage to speak with Chelsea Clinton and President Clinton was caught, as you see in the shot above, which was circulating via Twitter [source unknown].

“President Clinton has devoted himself to lifting the downtrodden around the world,” said Romney. “One of the best things that can happen to any cause, to any people, is to have Bill Clinton as its advocate. That is how needy and neglected causes have become global initiatives.” [Politico]

The treatment President Clinton got from both Obama and Romney was a continuation of the blockbuster reviews Clinton received from his speech at the Democratic National Convention, which brought the house down and catapulted the presidential race into new territory with the “Bill Clinton bump.”

Maggie Haberman over at Politico called the Obama-Romney-Clinton exchanges a “love-fest” and it’s on the mark.

Romney’s remarks were better than anything he’s delivered in months. Haberman writing it was one of the “best-prepared, and best-delivered” of the campaign. Not only did Romney talk about public-private partnerships, something foundational to CGI, as well as Secretary Clinton, but he walked away from stingy Republican rhetoric on foreign aid that has represented the dialogue from the right for years.

“For American foreign aid to become more effective, it must embrace the power of partnerships, access the transformative nature of free enterprise, and leverage the abundant resources that can come from the private sector… “There are three, quite legitimate, objects of our foreign aid,” he said, citing humanitarian need, to “foster a substantial United States strategic interest,” and aid that “elevates” and brings “lasting change” in other communities. [Maggie Haberman, Politico]

Invoking Ronald Reagan, Romney also talked about “Prosperity Pacts.”

Compacted into just a few days, the Clinton Global Initiative was able to make news, make headlines and present to those attending the hottest tickets in politics, almost as a bonus and reward to the important working sessions and meetings that are signature and primary to CGI.

On CNN with Piers Morgan on Tuesday night, President Clinton was tired, but beaming. Launched in 2005, the CGI Annual Meetings are somewhat of a marvel. However, Bill Clinton had a simple explanation for why it’s been successful and how it all seems to come together.

“You know, nobody’s running for anything. We don’t have to produce miracles. All we produce is progress. And we just keep pushing these rocks up the hill. And I think there’s a real need for that in the world today,” says the man who left the White House with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II. “It can’t all be done over the Internet. There needs to be some face time, some specific commitments, and some mechanism through which you help people to keep these commitments.” [CNN]

All we produce is progress

It should be the motto for anyone in the business of politics, but in global philanthropy Bill Clinton style, it’s gospel.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Photo: screencapture during livestreaming webcast.

The Republican Establishment Go Rogue for Missouri

WASHINGTON – It’s hard to not go back to what drove my brother from the Republican Party and caused his political troubles in Missouri when I look at the Todd Akin rape victim, spastic tubes, “legitimate” versus “forcible” versus “non-forcible” phenomenon, which stipulates that women are expected to be incubators for rapists, which by the way, is a view Paul Ryan shares. Ryan even doubled down this week by saying he was “proud” of his “pro life” record, never wincing at that description, because it obviously makes a woman’s life counts less than an unborn egg. So, we’re on the cusp of the GOP Akin convention, when the only hope Mitt Romney has of winning in November is by focusing on the economy. Good luck with that, because the Democrats have no intention of allowing this to happen.

But at least Ryan wasn’t stupid enough to vocalize his shared Akin philosophy on camera, because Romney believes there should be exceptions for rape and incest, the only humane stance for abortion rights opponents. However, Mitt Romney has said he’d sign “personhood” legislation, which excludes womanhood involved in birth in the first place. So the political party that allowed my brother to co-sponsor the ERA bill in the Missouri state senate, as well as support abortion rights as well, is now a fundamentalist hot bed of extremists who will be allowed to take the entire country off the one subject that’s most important: how we get this country back to a We Build Things society again.

While a recent PPP poll is depressing, Survey USA, while revealing the hot bed fundamentalism across Missouri, also reveals some hope there. What’s even better is that Republicans are now going rogue in Missouri, replicating what happened in Alaska when Lisa Murkowski did the same thing.

Ann Coulter said it best this week in “MISSOURI: THE ‘SHOW ME ANOTHER G.O.P. CANDIDATE’ STATE.” Being a former Miss Missouri, I know a little bit about this “show me” stuff and my former home state just might be able to pull this off.

And yet, the Republican Party now has cemented the Akin-Paul Ryan platform in to their convention purpose. Their “human life amendment that excludes the woman” is now a reality. If you’re raped or a victim of incest, as far as the Republican Party is concerned, as a woman you’re now an incubator.

It’s the 21st century everywhere except inside the Grand Old Party, emphasis on old.

Conservatism is a philosophy that once was moored in not involving government and politics in people’s lives too directly, certainly not with a purpose of controlling them. But today’s Republican Party thinks they have that right, with Missouri a leading light in that backward view, which will never win in the end. It’s just too bad there aren’t any Republicans willing to start a coalition inside that party to push back on what’s taking way too much energy out of the political conversation.

What’s the matter with Todd Akin is the same thing that’s wrong with the Republican Party today, which is drawing the Democratic Party further right as well, because they’re trying to sop up people offended by the current Republican stance on women’s freedom, which is founded on the notion that women aren’t equal to men when it comes to self-determination. That a woman’s womb makes her hostage to government fiat.

The result is more people on the left and right who won’t vote and who can blame them?

So, with Republican fundamentalism ruling, Pres. Obama and the Democrats are embracing fiscal conservatives in order to cobble together just enough to tilt elections in their direction, while not making the progressive economic argument that is powerful at a time when building a new American economic engine should be everyone’s focus.

Here’s a news flash for religious conservatives, wherever they reside in the political pantheon, because Democrats have also embraced politicians with these views; see Stupak-Pitts and Pres. Obama’s gratuitous executive order. A woman finding herself in the throes of an unplanned pregnancy that she can’t abide will always find a way to get an abortion. Even if it puts her own life in danger.

In this Roman Catholic stronghold, where abortion is deeply stigmatized, reproductive health providers tell stories of women going to pharmacies across the border in Mexico, in search of a drug they hope will terminate unwanted pregnancies. […] In a 2010 study he published in the journal Reproductive Health Matters, a 30-year-old Texas woman reported that she started taking misoprostol in her 13th week of pregnancy. She bled so badly that she had to be admitted to a hospital. The woman said cost was the factor behind her decision to try misoprostol instead of visiting a clinic. But she had no regrets. “If I was put in the exact situation all over again,” she was quoted as saying, “I’d probably do it again.” [Texas Tribune]

What Todd Akin represents, which is why Mitt Romney and Republicans want him out of the race so badly and why Paul Ryan called him himself, is the callousness and controlling fundamentalism embedded in today’s Republican Party whose “big tent” fantasy doesn’t include women who demand what men have inherently, which is the civil and human rights to have control over our own body. He also is a reminder that Paul Ryan was one of the co-sponsors to a bill in January 2011 that intended to redefine rape as “forcible,” as if there is any other kind. Ryan’s flip flopped on the “forcible” part in interviews this week, but he’s also said he’s “proud” of his “pro life” record and you can’t have both.

Compared to what Republicans are intending for women at least Pres. Obama has put the largest expansion of power in U.S. history in women’s hands by making contraception free, as well as a host of other reproductive health care options. Of course, he also chose politics over science on Plan B, as well as codified the Hyde Amendment for all time in Obamacare, but that’s picking gnat crap out of pepper, right. These are inconvenient facts that are ignored when looking at Romney-Ryan in the White House. But it’s part of why women continue on this tread mill of individual freedoms.

Until a strong Republican pro women’s freedom and self-determination coalition develops inside that party our country will remain unable to solve the larger issues facing us.

Until Democrats refuse to compromise and coddle their own religious conservatives on matters of women’s fundamental rights of freedoms we’ll keep talking about this subject election after election.

When are political fundamentalists who want government out of food stamps, but expect that same government to police a woman’s body, going to be ostracized and made the pariahs they deserve to be?

Todd Akin is the poster boy this election that should be about the economy.

Partisan voters may care about social issues, but I don’t know anyone who is an undecided voter, and there are very few of them, who’ll vote on them.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Note: The title is a take off on “What’s the Matter with Kansas?,” a book by Thomas Frank.

Photo credit: unknown graphic circulating new-media sites.

Shhh… Changes at Susan G. Komen on the QT

WASHINGTON – The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Komen Foundation is finally shaking the rot from its leadership that led to the catastrophic image collapse when politics became more important to the organization than the women they’re supposed to be helping.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure shook up its top ranks Wednesday, announcing the resignation of its president and creating a new figurehead role for its founder, even as it looked to fill other senior positions in the wake of a controversial decision involving Planned Parenthood.

Searches were under way to find a president, chief executive and chief operating officer, a post that has been vacant since late 2009, said Nancy G. Brinker, who is the founder and current CEO of the nation’s largest breast-cancer charity. She said she would assume a new role after top leadership positions were filled. The departure of President Elizabeth Thompson will take effect Sept. 7.

The WSJ also revealed that two Komen board members, Brenda Lauderback and Linda Law, will also be leaving.

What a time to announce the resignations. In the middle of the hottest vacation month of the summer, during the final days of the Olympics, and right when Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick is becoming the topic most captivating, because everyone is wondering if Romney will blow this call as badly as he did his foreign policy trip.

Oh, but Ms. Brinnker said the departures, including her own shift to “a new role,” has absolutely nothing to do with what happened with Planned Parenthood back in early 2012, when Komen made a political decision to cut Planned Parenthood funding, and then the bottom dropped out of the Komen Foundation’s reputation.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Ann Romney Defines Herself

WASHINGTON – IT’S NOT REALLY what Ann Romney said, as much as how her interview came off, which is why “[you] people” went viral, like a political heat seeking missile ricocheting through the new media system at super sonic speed. For a lot of people now, Ann Romney has been defined. I can’t serve you cake, but it’s the dish of the day.

By 54%-37%, they say Romney should release tax returns from additional years. Those calling for more disclosure include 75% of Democrats, 53% of independents and 30% of Republicans. – Poll: Most say Romney should release additional tax returns

In fact, New York magazine was the first to write that didn’t even hear “you people,” but the magazine’s commenters didn’t care. The Twitterverse exploded with #YouPeople, hilarious 140 character laugh lines in a rapid fire contagion, one after another as viral became global. It’s never a good idea to do an interview with a chip on your shoulder, because whether Mrs. Romney actually said “you people” or not, that’s what people heard, because this is how she sounded…

Seriously, what do you people expect?

In the last two years alone, my husband and I have tithed $1.5 and $2.6 million, and given $7 million to charity. To get received, we have to pay, not that I mind, no really, I don’t.

What have you people done?

We even gave up our elevator for you people. What’s going to be enough?

Honestly, my Mitt is “a very generous person.” I’ve got stuff.

And haven’t you people read anything about my Mitt? All the people he’s helped. He saved the Olympics! Do you really “think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things?” Private equity is what it is, deal with it. At least the guy got paid to build the stage.



Oh, and when he was Massachusetts governor he didn’t take a salary. I won’t even go into all the money we had to move around to make that one work! Christmas was a nightmare.

And don’t get me started on “how disappointed” I am in Barack Obama and all those mean ads he’s running attacking Mitt on Bain Capital and making money. He’s doing God’s work, don’t you people know anything? Helping the poor, making another hundred million, it’s all the same to us.

I don’t need anyone to give me talking points. “It was beneath the dignity of the office of the president to do something as egregious as that.” Corporations are people too, you know, and we represent corporations and a lot of you people.

Let me tell you something else. That dancing horse ad? “It makes me laugh, it’s like, ‘Really?’” That’s the best you’ve got? Besides, there are so many of you people out of work out there, you’ll be asking yourself “in the voting booth in November: Are you better off now?” No, wait, what was it Ronald Reagan said? I can never remember…. um… Oh, right. Are you better off than you were four years ago? No, wait, that puts everyone back when the financial crisis exploded, when Pres. Bush was… [adjusts silk top]…

But really, “Do you really think the future is going to be brighter on the path we’re on, or do you think we need a change?”

“I already sort of know the answer,” I just wish I was sure, because you people are so ungrateful. The economy would be in a sink hole if it weren’t for all the taxes rich people pay… well, we don’t pay them, er.. I mean, we pay enough, so you people don’t have to.

Mark my words, you people are “going to fire the coach because things aren’t going well.” I mean, they are for us, but.. well… You’d be up a creek without a yacht if we weren’t.

[…]

You do know “the coach” is Pres. Obama, right?

I’m never sure if I’m getting through to you people.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Jon Stewart, Food Stamp Gutting, and HBO’s “Newsroom”


WASHINGTON – The “award” I’m about to give is a nod to HBO’s new series created by Aaron Sorkin, “Newsroom,” and the idealist notion in the 24/7 media orgasma era that ratings don’t have to drive content. What you’re about to read is the story of a nation rotting due to the inability to place priorities above political greed and ideological corruption, with our entire media and journalistic community complicit in our moral decay. Those who pay the highest price don’t have a voice, a champion or anyone willing to put our collective duty to humanity on trial in a country that’s losing its soul.

Early on a warm summer Saturday, Chris Hayes and his MSNBC show “UP” may have started off with teasing James Carville would be on later to talk about Romney’s Bain unraveling and the Obama Team’s withering attacks, but turned first to the most un-sexy, depressing and politically shameful subject possible as the price to pay for viewers getting their political red meat treat: hungry people and starving kids in America. Who besides #Uppers, those die hard Chris Hayes fans, could be gleeful about the prospects of the first hour being devoted to the plight of the poor, hungry children, and big agri-business?

From Reuters earlier this past week:

Food stamps would see the largest cut, $16 billion over 10 years, in the House farm bill – $2 billion more than for farm subsidies and nearly half of all the savings in the bill. The cuts, mostly in eligibility rules, are estimated to reduce enrollment by 5 percent. A near-record 46.2 million people, or one in seven Americans, received food stamps at latest count. Enrollment rises during economic distress, such as the current lingering high unemployment. If enacted, the food stamp cuts would be the largest since $27 billion in a deficit-reduction package in 1996, said the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

It’s a subject few want to watch or listen to on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. eastern time, after waking from a Friday night’s pleasures with coffee or tea in hand, already fantasizing about the follow-up Saturday night debauchery to come; even if a bottle of wine and a really late Saturday night is as rowdy as it gets for some of us.

I am appalled, disgusted, ashamed and embarassed by Sen Harkin’s vote. I have lived in Iowa for over half my life and have regularly voted for Democratic candidates. After this vote by Sen. Hrkin, I truly do not know how I will vote when he is on the ballot. Corporate Farming seems to have won the day for him. Fraud and abuse? Show me the facts or should we just follow the money, as they say? – Sally (via email)

“Sally” was talking about what happened back in June when Senate Democrats voted against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s efforts to rescue food aid. The list of Democrats standing beside Sen. Tom Harkin is long and includes vaunted “progressives” like Al Franken, Tom Harkin, Dick Durbin, and including Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who also happens to chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Democrats now among the right-wing politicians who have decided to falsely promote the fraud and abuse aspect of SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, that is relatively non-existent.

Poor people and the unemployed, including a large segment of children, are going to suffer even more because of Republicans, aided willingly by Democrats, are either drunk on austerity or are besotted to the pledge of corporate welfare over American suffering.

One of the men on Mitt Romney’s short list for vice president didn’t think what the Senate did went far enough.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was one of 30 Republicans and five Democrats who voted against the Senate farm bill. He praised the “responsible reforms” to farm commodity programs but said the Senate bill didn’t do enough to “scale back the food stamp entitlement program,” which he noted accounted for about 80 percent of the cost of the legislation.

Chris Hayes offered a panel of expert analysts and guests that included people who had been helped by SNAP. Hayes ran a clip of Sen. Rand Paul pontificating about one millionaire taking food stamps as part of the “fraud and abuse” that warranted cutting SNAP, with Paul completely ignoring the innocent children who depend on the program, in favor of an outlier fraud case. The clip of Charles Krauthammer with Bill O’Reilly was equally offensive, a conversation that revolved around Americans wanting only a handout, instead of truly being in need.

It’s repulsive this is what masquerades as debate in our media and facts in the Congress.

What Chris Hayes did by leading with the farm bill story instead of the Mitt-Bain swarm is what Sorkin’s “Newsroom” is all about and he does it often. Important news stories taking priority over what might drive viewers to watch the train wreck that represents Congress and our big two political parties today. People who put corporate welfare above hungry American families and children, which is what both Democratic and Republican politicians have done recently, because Congress is now in the tank for the 1%.

If this country still had a soul the people would be collectively shamed into action. Instead, our media ignores what’s happening, letting Congress off the hook for their immoral priorities, while the American public remains ignorant, with much of it because they’re trying to make ends meet. We’re doomed if this continues and that’s not hyperbole.

Democrats bailing on the poor hit me deeply, as has their general rightward drift on everything, starting with the pending “grand bargain” that Pres. Obama already offered up, but especially the insulting dismissal of the importance of unions to the middle class and a living wage. This nonchalance is driven home by Pres. Obama and the Democratic Party’s choice of right-to-work North Carolina as their convention site. Further represented in full disgusting abdication when Democrats in Wisconsin actually picked a candidate to go up against Scott Walker who bragged “I’m not the union guy,” in Tom Barrett, who then refused to make the election about Walker’s efforts to dismantle unions, which was basically a template for completing the destruction of the middle class.

I was hit hard by the dot-com bomb when the dawn of the 21st century began, wiping me out and I didn’t have a lot to begin with. If it hadn’t been for my family I would have been forced to take federal assistance, because when I applied for a basic job like working in a flower shop to make money to have food to eat, they wouldn’t hire me. Not only was my writing resume and entertainment credentials going back to when I was a kid not what people wanted to see for a new hire, but every single person with whom I interviewed looked at me and didn’t believe I needed a basic job. After being gainfully employed since my teens, I quite literally couldn’t get hired anywhere, not even at minimum wage. I remember standing in the middle of the shopping aisle with my very last $20 bill trying to decide what food to buy with it, as I had my first encounter with a massive panic attack ripping through my body. My church loaned me $500 to help keep a roof over my head (eventually I paid it back). There’s much more, but I’ll leave it at that. So, I understand what the 2008 financial collapse has cost people and know personally what the story Chris Hayes covered this past weekend means.

The SNAP story isn’t sexy, but it’s important, because it tells a tale about this country, our politics and our priorities. It spells out our humanity, which is at present gasping for breath and life.

HBO’s “Newsroom” has been renewed for a second season. It thrills me that it has, especially if you saw the last episode. The monologue Jane Fonda, as “News Night” CEO Leona Lansing, unleashed on Sam Wasterston is one of the most important speeches I’ve heard in a television drama anywhere, delivered through perfect pitch emotion, sending a message of fierce urgency. Jane “I got where I am by knowing who to fear” Fonda was talking about people in Congress, in front of whom she has business, which is why she’s freaking out over “News Night’s” programming choices. Fonda isn’t just formidable as Lansing, she stole the entire episode and that’s saying something amid top flight performances across the cast. Fonda’s Lansing has award-winning written all over it, but the message her character is sending to the newsman in charge of “News Night” is bone chilling.

Fonda’s character reminds us what Hayes and everyone who programs content, no matter how small the company, is up against and why the media is failing us and the people no longer trust television news. From a recent Gallup poll:

Americans’ confidence in television news is at a new low by one percentage point, with 21% of adults expressing a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in it. This marks a decline from 27% last year and from 46% when Gallup started tracking confidence in television news in 1993.

At “Newsroom’s” core lies the truth of our media rot, where networks pick a political side to build up viewers, Fox going for Republicans, MSNBC going for Democrats, though they deserve credit for hiring and producing Chris Hayes, with facts often lying in rubble in between. Meanwhile, CNN struggles to stay alive and relevant through a cataclysmic loss in ratings battles brought on by terrible programming, but also because they’re not offering a spectacle. So desperate are they for ratings they actually blew what is arguably the most important Supreme Court case decision since Brown v. Board of Education trying to be first to get back in the game, instead of making certain they were correct. The result was their reputation was made worse, compounding a dire situation.

Enter Jon Stewart, the most powerful media mirror, who’s every utterance is considered gospel, which has been earned because he works at being factual. Unfortunately, Stewart has become so carelessly self-involved he evidently doesn’t understand we need what’s down there deep at the bottom of CNN’s founding heart a lot more than we need his laughs at their expense. Yeah, he vanquished “Crossfire,” which has been replaced by separate little cable shows all spouting their own partisan message. He’s not willing to consider what CNN once did is worth fighting to save. We need to be rooting for CNN to resuscitate itself, not piling on, as Stewart continually does, because there are reasons to do so (and here and here). Our democracy will continue to die a little more every day if someone doesn’t stand up for unfettered facts, objectivity, and getting it right instead of first, even if dull is the presentation. Putting news and stories that matter before head exploding partisan rhetoric that masquerades for important across cable, as well as every other news show trying to stay on the air. “The Daily Show” is brilliant political TV, but there’s a clear case to make for CNN and what it once did so well, especially since it’s the only 24/7 straight network around. “Newsroom” makes Stewart’s part in our media calamity clear: since he’s not pointing to the what’s missing in media, but only laughing at the train wreck, which has led to the rise in his importance, he’s not leading us anywhere but around in circles. Now, he’s obviously a comedy show, but why isn’t his critique leading at the very least to what’s missing, instead of round and round the network wheel? It’s not his job he’ll likely say, and he’s correct, but now that he’s on top we need it to be.

“Newsroom” is a reminder of what many dreamers like me still believe our work can mean to the American people. But it’s no mistake it takes place in a fictional world.

The “newsroom” I have provided as one of the pioneers writing on the web, starting in ’96, is an itsy bitsy window into why things are the way they are, told by someone who’s been in the entertainment business half of her professional life, writing the other half, while growing up in the most politically charged atmosphere of any generation. I began writing about the politics of sex, relationships and culture, telling the story of our world, our country and the people who inhabit it; political analysis, opinion, foreign policy, but also relationships and culture, including the good, the bad and the ugly of human experiences and behavior that foreshadows the future yet to unfold. It’s this “newsroom” attitude that pushed me to write The Hillary Effect, which is as damning a case on the media as has been made on what unfolded in the 2008 primary season that is historical in nature, with the facts proving my expertise and analysis, which is the reason I can stay afloat, if only barely. The odds remain against me in the long-term even as I plan my next creative venture, a jumping off point from my book. It’s 50-50 whether my tiny media company will survive, because the economics aren’t pretty at this point. It sure as hell won’t be for lack of purpose or passion, the proven track record I’ve earned, or the endless hours I spend upgrading my expertise. It’s about there being no room or appetite for independent voices to be heard anymore, with the financials pushing us out.

Chris Hayes and “Up” provided a glimpse of what’s needed this Saturday, as he does often, which is rare on cable. We all know what’s on Fox News Channel and it’s working for them as the most watched network on cable, though the people watching are far less equipped with the facts (see here, here); then there’s MSNBC, providing Democratic talking points, or faux “balance” like on “Morning Joe,” which is filled with elite conservatives, no matter the party represented on the teeter-totter.

Sorkin’s “Newsroom” is a reminder of the world in which the media, including independent people like me way down the stream, swim and why it’s so difficult to stay alive, let alone make a splash with important stories against the train wreck TV that drives ratings and money, but also how each person agreeing to play the ratings game, including what you choose to watch, pay for, and support delays the change needed to rectify what’s gone horribly wrong in this country.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power. The above column was originally posted at Marsh’s new media site.

Liberalism, Marriage Equality and Barney Frank

WASHINGTON – Liberalism made Barney Frank’s marriage to Jim Ready possible, because the politics of conservatism turned nature into something other.

Mr. Frank, famous for his tirades, appeared close to tears as his sister, Ann Lewis, walked him down the aisle. He was trailed by a few hired photographers and by Ms. Kucinich, who leapt with joy as the bridegrooms appeared and snapped dozens of photos for an album that she planned to present as a gift to the couple. – At Barney Frank’s Wedding, Vegan Soba and Pelosi on the Dance Floor

There are a few conservatives in favor of gay marriage, including some libertarians, but the philosophy that spurs equality on is based in liberalism.

Conservatism is by definition confined, limiting and austere; seen through Republicanism, it once included the libertarian notion of individualism, with women’s full freedoms something Republicans once respected. Now they don’t; today’s extremism intending to bind women in an existence that’s parched and patriarchal, while denying a person’s basic human right to self-determination based on gender. It also forbids equality based on sexual orientation, hidden piously in religiosity used cravenly as a shield.

Liberalism is open, expansive and inclusive; seen through the Democratic, it once had the foundational tenet of championing peoples’s civil rights first, with the self-determination of women a primary objective. It has now collapsed in compromise through alleged “inclusion” of conservatism that restricts women’s ability to be free. This compromising of liberalism’s heart and sacrificing of a primary tenet also brings inequality based on sexual orientation.

It’s not enough for politicians to proclaim rights; he or she must pursue their implementation through policy unflinchingly, because anything less relinquishes our very humanity.

Moving towards conservatism, as it’s meant today, moored to patriarchal religiosity that demands adherence to rules existing outside of actual human experiences, all people lose. One irony is that the basic golden rule that we are each other’s keeper is wiped out by the very people who proclaim religion as their guide.

Liberalism is the only thing that saves us from our egos and the fantasy that one person knows best for another, replacing freedom with bondage to some manufactured code that lives only in the minds of mortals.

Marriage is a tough choice in the modern world regardless of your sexual orientation, with half of marriages ending in divorce. Kids bind two people on a path of mutual creation, which is seen as the purpose of marriage, now that we’ve advanced beyond dowries and matches for property.

Of course, I disagree, believing modern partnership offers options. What’s needed to make a relationship work is a common purpose to create something together, which is often children, but absolutely doesn’t need to be anymore. But a creative mutual purpose is very necessary, I’m convinced.

If you choose partnership, the impetus is to join together in a shared life that involves the creation of something together or an investment in each other on some level that binds you in some way on a life path that revolves around something beyond yourselves.

But the happiness of these two men, Barney Frank and Jim Ready, can’t possibly mean the destruction of the meaning of marriage itself, as is the contention of conservatives, wherever they reside on the political scale. In fact, their union is the very manifestation of everything marriage is intended to mean and something in which all people are entitled to celebrate, which no one has the right to impede.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Schools Chief Justice Roberts

Justice Ginsburg, official portrait

WASHINGTON – The greatest female Justice of the Supreme Court in U.S. history, likely for all time, not only reveals her mental might in her opinion rendered last week, but forever puts to rest why Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be forever disgraced for her part in Bush v. Gore. That Chief Justice Roberts has now joined the liberal majority on Obamacare was a mixture of personal ambition and keeping his future options open, but the result of the ruling will be the legitimizing of Obamacare, putting Republicans on the wrong side of history and the majority of the American public.

Among all registered voters, support for the law rose to 48 percent in the online survey conducted after Thursday’s ruling, up from 43 percent before the court decision. Opposition slipped to 52 percent from 57 percent. – Reuters

You’ll very rarely see me cite polling, as it’s the establishment game used to drag reporters and political writers around by their noses, while actual issues are ignored. Another reason I try to ignore polls until the fall is that in a polarized election season, there’s always something for everyone in each of them.

In the new poll, more than half of all registered voters – 53 percent – said they were more likely to vote for their member of Congress if he were running on a platform calling for repeal, up from 46 percent before the ruling. – Reuters

As someone who found the mandate smacking up against my libertarian streak, the great Ginsburg schools me on Libertarianism’s stinginess, while reminding me why I’ve never been a libertarian.  That where all are impacted, we all must participate.  Lacking eloquence, that’s the nucleus of it for me and also why I was once a hyper-partisan Democrat, long before neoliberals and Blue Dogs ruled Democratic policy prescriptions and politics.

The politics of Chief Justice Roberts is woven throughout his majority opinion, as I’ve already written, though it doesn’t make it any less brilliant a move.  Roberts toyed with Pres. Obama like a rat does cheese before devouring, the lip-smacking finish to be seen in years and decades to come. Because in handing Obama what cable yakkers are calling a “win,” Roberts dislodged and elevated his own reputation from and above that of the disgraced Chief Justice Rehnquist and his Court, simultaneously succeeding in preserving options of action through conservatism that will inevitably harm the American majority.

Chief Justice Roberts also kept the elite private insurance industry and Big Pharma in charge, aiding Pres. Obama’s goal and that of Democrats, neither of whom had the tenacity to do what’s required so that health care wouldn’t become a political football, with taxes the tool that both sides today utilize to make villains out of leaders.

The liberal giant Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion renders Chief Justice Roberts to the political player he is, through the machinations of her great thinking mind.  

The sole focus of Ginsburg’s opinion is to keep pure the conjoined ideas of precedent, the Constitution and the Court, and its job for We the People, as she vivisects Roberts’ important majority decision, revealing it for what it is, a shrewd political document nonetheless, throughout her devastating appraisal.  Saying in one section particular to hoisting the tax penalty as political linchpin and activist lightning rod for the right (hitting elite Democrats in their most defensive organ), “THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s limitation of the commerce power to the regulation of those actively en­gaged in commerce finds no home in the text of the Consti­tution or our decisions.”

The historic importance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion had to be highlighted and easily made available to read (emphases below added), because of its grandeur and beauty, but also its stunning impact on what Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

That it was written by a great lady of the Court, I would put forth, arguably the greatest Supreme Court Justice since Earl Warren, is my personal opinion, but one which I believe is fitting of this formidable powerhouse.  To live in an era where Justice Ginsburg’s mind can wield such accurate words against the always leading gender, male, when where she started was a place in history that didn’t embrace women in the workplace, as was already written this week in The New Yorker by Amy Davidson and others, let alone those with great legal minds to the highest Court in the land, should humble and inspire us all.

An American patriot in every sense, which resounds this week more than most, Justice Ginsburg should give every liberal the courage to take back the rightful heart and soul, if not the label itself, that represents the philosophy and purpose of when Democrats were great. Even if it means building from the beginning a new foundation for progressives, so the next time they are faced with conservative Democrats to lead the charge against the right they remember the courage of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Justice who stands up to write what needs to be said, waging the righteous battle for people who would have no voice at all if liberals weren’t around to protect this country from forgetting the least fortunate among us. The same people who make capitalism possible, the vast middle class, who’s slowly lost the only champion we once had, liberal Democrats.

______________________


Cite as: 567 U. S. ____ (2012) 1

Opinion of GINSBURG, J.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Nos. 11–393, 11–398 and 11–400

_______

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT
BUSINESS, ET AL., PETITIONERS

11–393 v.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH
AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN

SERVICES, ET AL., PETITIONERS
11–398 v.
FLORIDA ET AL.
11–400
FLORIDA, ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES ET AL.
ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF
APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
[June 28, 2012]

JUSTICE GINSBURG, with whom JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR joins, and with whom JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAGAN join as to Parts I, II, III, and IV, concurring in part, concurring in the judgment in part, and dissenting in part.

I agree with THE CHIEF JUSTICE that the Anti-Injunction Act does not bar the Court’s consideration of this case, and that the minimum coverage provision is a proper exercise of Congress’ taxing power. I therefore join Parts I, II, and III–C of THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s opinion.

Unlike THE CHIEF JUSTICE, however, I would hold, alterna­ tively, that the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to enact the minimum coverage provision. I would also hold that the Spending Clause permits the Medicaid expansion exactly as Congress enacted it.
I
The provision of health care is today a concern of na­tional dimension, just as the provision of old-age and survivors’ benefits was in the 1930’s. In the Social Security Act, Congress installed a federal system to provide monthly benefits to retired wage earners and, eventually, to their survivors. Beyond question, Congress could have adopted a similar scheme for health care. Congress chose, instead, to preserve a central role for private insurers and state governments. According to THE CHIEF JUSTICE, the Commerce Clause does not permit that preservation. This rigid reading of the Clause makes scant sense and is stunningly retrogressive.

Since 1937, our precedent has recognized Congress’ large authority to set the Nation’s course in the economic and social welfare realm. See United States v. Darby, 312 U. S. 100, 115 (1941) (overruling Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U. S. 251 (1918), and recognizing that “regulations of commerce which do not infringe some constitutional prohibition are within the plenary power conferred on Congress by the Commerce Clause”); NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U. S. 1, 37 (1937) (“[The commerce] power is plenary and may be exerted to protect interstate commerce no matter what the source of the dangers which threaten it.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s crabbed reading of the Commerce Clause harks back to the era in which the Court routinely thwarted Congress’ efforts to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it. See, e.g., Railroad Retirement Bd. v. Alton R. Co., 295 U. S. 330, 362, 368 (1935) (invalidating compulsory retirement and pension plan for employees of carriers subject to the Inter­state Commerce Act; Court found law related essentially “to the social welfare of the worker, and therefore remote from any regulation of commerce as such”). It is a reading that should not have staying power.

In enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Congress comprehensively reformed the national market for health-care products and services. By any measure, that market is immense. Collectively, Americans spent $2.5 trillion on health care in 2009, accounting for 17.6% of our Nation’s economy. 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(B) (2006 ed., Supp. IV). Within the next decade, it is anticipated, spending on health care will nearly dou­
ble. Ibid.

The health-care market’s size is not its only distinctive feature. Unlike the market for almost any other product or service, the market for medical care is one in which all individuals inevitably participate. Virtually every person residing in the United States, sooner or later, will visit a doctor or other health-care professional. See Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for U. S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey 2009, Ser. 10, No. 249, p. 124, Table 37 (Dec. 2010) (Over 99.5% of adults above 65 have visited a health-care professional.). Most people will do so repeatedly. See id., at 115, Table 34 (In 2009 alone, 64% of adults made two or more visits to a doctor’s office.).

When individuals make those visits, they face another reality of the current market for medical care: its high cost. In 2010, on average, an individual in the United States incurred over $7,000 in health-care expenses. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medi­ care and Medicaid Services, Historic National Health Expenditure Data, National Health Expenditures: Selected Calendar Years 1960–2010 (Table 1). Over a life­ time, costs mount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. See Alemayahu & Warner, The Lifetime Distribution of Health Care Costs, in 39 Health Service Research 627, 635 (June 2004). When a person requires nonroutine care, the cost will generally exceed what he or she can afford to pay. A single hospital stay, for instance, typically costs up­wards of $10,000. See Dept. of Health and Human Ser­vices, Office of Health Policy, ASPE Research Brief: The Value of Health Insurance 5 (May 2011). Treatments for many serious, though not uncommon, conditions similarly cost a substantial sum. Brief for Economic Scholars as Amici Curiae in No. 11–398, p. 10 (citing a study indicat­ing that, in 1998, the cost of treating a heart attack for the first 90 days exceeded $20,000, while the annual cost of treating certain cancers was more than $50,000).

Although every U. S. domiciliary will incur significant medical expenses during his or her lifetime, the time when care will be needed is often unpredictable. An accident, a heart attack, or a cancer diagnosis commonly occurs with­ out warning. Inescapably, we are all at peril of needing medical care without a moment’s notice. See, e.g., Camp­bell, Down the Insurance Rabbit Hole, N. Y. Times, Apr. 5, 2012, p. A23 (telling of an uninsured 32-year-old woman who, healthy one day, became a quadriplegic the next due to an auto accident).

To manage the risks associated with medical care—its high cost, its unpredictability, and its inevitability—most people in the United States obtain health insurance. Many (approximately 170 million in 2009) are insured by private insurance companies. Others, including those over 65 and certain poor and disabled persons, rely on government-funded insurance programs, notably Medicare and Medicaid. Combined, private health insurers and State and Federal Governments finance almost 85% of the medical care administered to U. S. residents. See Con­gressional Budget Office, CBO’s 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook 37 (June 2011).

Not all U. S. residents, however, have health insurance. In 2009, approximately 50 million people were uninsured, either by choice or, more likely, because they could not afford private insurance and did not qualify for government aid. See Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, C. DeNavas-Walt, B. Proctor, & J. Smith, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, p. 23, Table 8 (Sept. 2010). As a group, uninsured individ­uals annually consume more than $100 billion in health-care services, nearly 5% of the Nation’s total. Hidden Health Tax: Americans Pay a Premium 2 (2009), available at http://www.familiesusa.org (all Internet material as visited June 25, 2012, and included in Clerk of Court’s case file). Over 60% of those without insurance visit a doctor’s office or emergency room in a given year. See Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Health—United States—2010, p. 282, Table 79 (Feb. 2011).

B

The large number of individuals without health insur­ance, Congress found, heavily burdens the national health-care market. See 42 U. S. C. §18091(2). As just noted, the cost of emergency care or treatment for a seri­ous illness generally exceeds what an individual can afford to pay on her own. Unlike markets for most products, however, the inability to pay for care does not mean that an uninsured individual will receive no care. Federal and state law, as well as professional obligations and embed­ded social norms, require hospitals and physicians to provide care when it is most needed, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. See, e.g., 42 U. S. C. §1395dd; Fla. Stat. §395.1041(3)(f) (2010); Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. §§311.022(a) and (b) (West 2010); American Medical Association, Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, Code of Medical Ethics, Current Opinions: Opinion 8.11—Neglect of Patient, p. 70 (1998–1999 ed.).

As a consequence, medical-care providers deliver significant amounts of care to the uninsured for which the providers receive no payment. In 2008, for example, hospitals, physicians, and other health-care professionals received no compensation for $43 billion worth of the $116 billion in care they administered to those without insur­ance. 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(F) (2006 ed., Supp. IV).

Health-care providers do not absorb these bad debts. Instead, they raise their prices, passing along the cost of uncompensated care to those who do pay reliably: the government and private insurance companies. In response, private insurers increase their premiums, shifting the cost of the elevated bills from providers onto those who carry insurance. The net result: Those with health insur­ance subsidize the medical care of those without it. As economists would describe what happens, the uninsured “free ride” on those who pay for health insurance.

The size of this subsidy is considerable. Congress found that the cost-shifting just described “increases family [insurance] premiums by on average over $1,000 a year.” Ibid. Higher premiums, in turn, render health insurance less affordable, forcing more people to go without insur­ance and leading to further cost-shifting. 

And it is hardly just the currently sick or injured among the uninsured who prompt elevation of the price of health care and health insurance. Insurance companies and health-care providers know that some percentage of healthy, uninsured people will suffer sickness or injury each year and will receive medical care despite their ina­bility to pay. In anticipation of this uncompensated care, health-care companies raise their prices, and insurers their premiums. In other words, because any uninsured person may need medical care at any moment and because health-care companies must account for that risk, every uninsured person impacts the market price of medical care and medical insurance.

The failure of individuals to acquire insurance has other deleterious effects on the health-care market. Because those without insurance generally lack access to preventa­tive care, they do not receive treatment for conditions—like hypertension and diabetes—that can be successfully and affordably treated if diagnosed early on. See Institute of Medicine, National Academies, Insuring America’s Health: Principles and Recommendations 43 (2004). When sickness finally drives the uninsured to seek care, once treatable conditions have escalated into grave health problems, requiring more costly and extensive interven­tion. Id., at 43–44. The extra time and resources provid­ers spend serving the uninsured lessens the providers’ ability to care for those who do have insurance. See Kliff, High Uninsured Rates Can Kill You—Even if You Have Coverage, Washington Post (May 7, 2012) (describing a study of California’s health-care market which found that, when hospitals divert time and resources to provide uncompensated care, the quality of care the hospitals deliver to those with insurance drops significantly), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/high- uninsured-rates-can-kill-you-even-if-you-have-coverage/2012/05/07/gIQALNHN8T_print.html.

C

States cannot resolve the problem of the uninsured on their own. Like Social Security benefits, a universal health-care system, if adopted by an individual State, would be “bait to the needy and dependent elsewhere, encouraging them to migrate and seek a haven of repose.” Helvering v. Davis, 301 U. S. 619, 644 (1937). See also Brief for Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Amicus

Curiae in No. 11–398, p. 15 (noting that, in 2009, Massa­chusetts’ emergency rooms served thousands of uninsured, out-of-state residents). An influx of unhealthy individuals into a State with universal health care would result in increased spending on medical services. To cover the increased costs, a State would have to raise taxes, and private health-insurance companies would have to in­crease premiums. Higher taxes and increased insurance costs could, in turn, encourage businesses and healthy individuals to leave the State. States that undertake health-care reforms on their own thus risk “placing themselves in a position of economic disadvantage as compared with neighbors or competitors.” Davis, 301 U. S., at 644. See also Brief for Health Care for All, Inc., et al. as Amici Curiae in No. 11–398, p. 4 (“[O]ut­ of-state residents continue to seek and receive millions of dollars in uncompensated care in Massachusetts hospitals, limiting the State’s efforts to improve its health care system through the elimination of uncompensated care.”). Facing that risk, individual States are unlikely to take the initiative in addressing the problem of the uninsured, even though solving that problem is in all States’ best interests. Congress’ intervention was needed to overcome this collective­ action impasse.

D

Aware that a national solution was required, Congress could have taken over the health-insurance market by establishing a tax-and-spend federal program like Social Security. Such a program, commonly referred to as a  single-payer system (where the sole payer is the Federal Government), would have left little, if any, room for pri­vate enterprise or the States. Instead of going this route, Congress enacted the ACA, a solution that retains a ro­bust role for private insurers and state governments. To make its chosen approach work, however, Congress had to use some new tools, including a requirement that most individuals obtain private health insurance coverage. See 26 U. S. C. §5000A (2006 ed., Supp. IV) (the minimum coverage provision). As explained below, by employing these tools, Congress was able to achieve a practical, alto­gether reasonable, solution.

A central aim of the ACA is to reduce the number of uninsured U. S. residents. See 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(C) and (I) (2006 ed., Supp. IV). The minimum coverage provision advances this objective by giving potential recip­ients of health care a financial incentive to acquire insur­ance. Per the minimum coverage provision, an individual must either obtain insurance or pay a toll constructed as a tax penalty. See 26 U. S. C. §5000A.

The minimum coverage provision serves a further pur­pose vital to Congress’ plan to reduce the number of unin­sured. Congress knew that encouraging individuals to purchase insurance would not suffice to solve the problem, because most of the uninsured are not uninsured by choice. Of particular concern to Congress were people who, though desperately in need of insurance, often cannot acquire it: persons who suffer from preexisting medical conditions. Before the ACA’s enactment, private insurance compa­nies took an applicant’s medical history into account when setting insurance rates or deciding whether to insure an individual. Because individuals with preexisting med- [TM note: continued below, as in actual PDF]

_______
1
According to one study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the high cost of insurance is the most common reason why individuals lack coverage, followed by loss of one’s job, an employer’s unwillingness to offer insurance or an insurers’ unwillingness to cover those with preexisting medical conditions, and loss of Medicaid cover­age. See Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for the U. S. Population: National Health Interview Survey—2009, Ser. 10, No. 248, p. 71, Table 25 (Dec. 2010). “[D]id not want or need coverage” received too few responses to warrant its own category. See ibid., n. 2.

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ical conditions cost insurance companies significantly more than those without such conditions, insurers routinely refused to insure these individuals, charged them substan­tially higher premiums, or offered only limited coverage that did not include the preexisting illness. See Dept. of Health and Human Services, Coverage Denied: How the Current Health Insurance System Leaves Millions Behind 1 (2009) (Over the past three years, 12.6 million non­elderly adults were denied insurance coverage or charged
higher premiums due to a preexisting condition.).

To ensure that individuals with medical histories have access to affordable insurance, Congress devised a three­ part solution. First, Congress imposed a “guaranteed is­ sue” requirement, which bars insurers from denying coverage to any person on account of that person’s medical condition or history. See 42 U. S. C. §§300gg–1, 300gg–3, 300gg–4(a) (2006 ed., Supp. IV). Second, Congress required insurers to use “community rating” to price their insurance policies. See §300gg. Community rating, in effect, bars insurance companies from charging higher premiums to those with preexisting conditions.

But these two provisions, Congress comprehended, could not work effectively unless individuals were given a pow­erful incentive to obtain insurance. See Hearings before the House Ways and Means Committee, 111th Cong., 1st Sess., 10, 13 (2009) (statement of Uwe Reinhardt) (“[I]m-position of community-rated premiums and guaranteed issue on a market of competing private health insurers will inexorably drive that market into extinction, unless these two features are coupled with . . . a mandate on individual[s] to be insured.” (emphasis in original)).

In the 1990’s, several States—including New York, New Jersey, Washington, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont—enacted guaranteed-issue and community­ rating laws without requiring universal acquisition of insurance coverage. The results were disastrous. “All seven states suffered from skyrocketing insurance pre­mium costs, reductions in individuals with coverage, and reductions in insurance products and providers.” Brief for American Association of People with Disabilities et al. as Amici Curiae in No. 11–398, p. 9 (hereinafter AAPD Brief). See also Brief for Governor of Washington Christine Gregoire as Amicus Curiae in No. 11–398, pp. 11–14 (de­scribing the “death spiral” in the insurance market Wash­ington experienced when the State passed a law requiring coverage for preexisting conditions).

Congress comprehended that guaranteed-issue and community-rating laws alone will not work. When insur­ance companies are required to insure the sick at affordable prices, individuals can wait until they become ill to buy insurance. Pretty soon, those in need of immediate medi­cal care—i.e., those who cost insurers the most—become the insurance companies’ main customers. This “adverse selection” problem leaves insurers with two choices: They can either raise premiums dramatically to cover their ever-increasing costs or they can exit the market. In the seven States that tried guaranteed-issue and community­ rating requirements without a minimum coverage provi­sion, that is precisely what insurance companies did. See, e.g., AAPD Brief 10 (“[In Maine,] [m]any insurance provid­ers doubled their premiums in just three years or less.”); id., at 12 (“Like New York, Vermont saw substantial increases in premiums after its . . . insurance reform measures took effect in 1993.”); Hall, An Evaluation of New York’s Reform Law, 25 J. Health Pol. Pol’y & L. 71, 91–92 (2000) (Guaranteed-issue and community-rating laws resulted in a “dramatic exodus of indemnity insurers from New York’s individual [insurance] market.”); Brief for Barry Friedman et al. as Amici Curiae in No. 11–398, p. 17 (“In Kentucky, all but two insurers (one State-run) abandoned the State.”).

Massachusetts, Congress was told, cracked the adverse selection problem. By requiring most residents to obtain insurance, see Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 111M, §2 (West 2011), the Commonwealth ensured that insurers would not be left with only the sick as customers. As a result, federal lawmakers observed, Massachusetts succeeded where other States had failed. See Brief for Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Amicus Curiae in No. 11–398, p. 3 (not­ing that the Commonwealth’s reforms reduced the number of uninsured residents to less than 2%, the lowest rate in the Nation, and cut the amount of uncompensated care by a third); 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(D) (2006 ed., Supp. IV) (noting the success of Massachusetts’ reforms).2 In cou­pling the minimum coverage provision with guaranteed­ issue and community-rating prescriptions, Congress followed Massachusetts’ lead. 

* * *

In sum, Congress passed the minimum coverage provi­sion as a key component of the ACA to address an econom­ic and social problem that has plagued the Nation for decades: the large number of U. S. residents who are unable or unwilling to obtain health insurance. Whatever one thinks of the policy decision Congress made, it was Congress’ prerogative to make it. Reviewed with appro­priate deference, the minimum coverage provision, allied to the guaranteed-issue and community-rating prescrip­tions, should survive measurement under the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses.

II
A

The Commerce Clause, it is widely acknowledged, “was the Framers’ response to the central problem that gave [TM Note: continued below, as in PDF]
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2
Despite its success, Massachusetts’ medical-care providers still ad­minister substantial amounts of uncompensated care, much of that to uninsured patients from out-of-state. See supra, at 7–8.

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rise to the Constitution itself.” EEOC v. Wyoming, 460 U. S. 226, 244, 245, n. 1 (1983) (Stevens, J., concurring) (citing sources). Under the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution’s precursor, the regulation of commerce was left to the States. This scheme proved unworkable, be­cause the individual States, understandably focused on their own economic interests, often failed to take actions critical to the success of the Nation as a whole. See Vices of the Political System of the United States, in James Madison: Writings 69, 71, ¶5 (J. Rakove ed. 1999) (As a result of the “want of concert in matters where common interest requires it,” the “national dignity, interest, and revenue [have] suffered.”).3

What was needed was a “national Government . . . armed with a positive & compleat authority in all cases where uniform measures are necessary.” See Letter from James Madison to Edmund Randolph (Apr. 8, 1787), in 9 Papers of James Madison 368, 370 (R. Rutland ed. 1975). See also Letter from George Washington to James Madi­son (Nov. 30, 1785), in 8 id., at 428, 429 (“We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which ha[s] national objects to promote, and a national character to support.”). The Framers’ solution was the Commerce Clause, which, as they perceived it, granted Congress the authority to enact economic legislation “in all Cases for the general Interests of the Union, and also in those Cases to which the States are separately incompetent.” 2 Rec­ords of the Federal Convention of 1787, pp. 131–132, ¶8 [TM Note: continued below, as in PDF]

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3
Alexander Hamilton described the problem this way: “[Often] it would be beneficial to all the states to encourage, or suppress[,] a particular branch of trade, while it would be detrimental . . . to attempt it without the concurrence of the rest.” The Continentalist No. V, in 3 Papers of Alexander Hamilton 75, 78 (H. Syrett ed. 1962). Because the concurrence of all States was exceedingly difficult to obtain, Hamilton observed, “the experiment would probably be left untried.” Ibid.

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(M. Farrand rev. 1966). See also North American Co. v. SEC, 327 U. S. 686, 705 (1946) (“[The commerce power] is an affirmative power commensurate with the national
needs.”).

The Framers understood that the “general Interests of the Union” would change over time, in ways they could not anticipate. Accordingly, they recognized that the Consti­tution was of necessity a “great outlin[e],” not a detailed blueprint, see McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 407 (1819), and that its provisions included broad concepts, to be “explained by the context or by the facts of the case,” Letter from James Madison to N. P. Trist (Dec. 1831), in 9 Writings of James Madison 471, 475 (G. Hunt ed. 1910). “Nothing . . . can be more fallacious,” Alexander Hamilton emphasized, “than to infer the extent of any power, proper to be lodged in the national government, from . . . its immediate necessities. There ought to be a CAPACITY to provide for future contingencies[,] as they may happen; and as these are illimitable in their nature, it is impossible safely to limit that capacity.” The Federalist No. 34, pp. 205, 206 (John Harvard Library ed. 2009). See also McCulloch, 4 Wheat., at 415 (The Necessary and Proper Clause is lodged “in a constitution[,] intended to endurefor ages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs.”).

B

Consistent with the Framers’ intent, we have repeatedly emphasized that Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause is dependent upon “practical” considerations, including “actual experience.” Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U. S., at 41–42; see Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111, 122 (1942); United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 573 (1995) (KENNEDY, J., concurring) (emphasizing “the Court’s definitive commitment to the practical con­ception of the commerce power”). See also North American Co., 327 U. S., at 705 (“Commerce itself is an intensely practical matter. To deal with it effectively, Congress must be able to act in terms of economic and financial realities.” (citation omitted)). We afford Congress the leeway “to undertake to solve national problems directly and realistically.” American Power & Light Co. v. SEC, 329 U. S. 90, 103 (1946).

Until today, this Court’s pragmatic approach to judging whether Congress validly exercised its commerce power was guided by two familiar principles. First, Congress has the power to regulate economic activities “that substan­tially affect interstate commerce.” Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U. S. 1, 17 (2005). This capacious power extends even to local activities that, viewed in the aggregate, have a sub­stantial impact on interstate commerce. See ibid. See also Wickard, 317 U. S., at 125 (“[E]ven if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as com­merce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.” (emphasis added)); Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U. S., at 37.

Second, we owe a large measure of respect to Congress when it frames and enacts economic and social legislation. See Raich, 545 U. S., at 17. See also Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation v. R. A. Gray & Co., 467 U. S. 717, 729 (1984) (“[S]trong deference [is] accorded legislation in the field of national economic policy.”); Hodel v. Indiana, 452 U. S. 314, 326 (1981) (“This [C]ourt will certainly not substitute its judgment for that of Congress unless the relation of the subject to interstate commerce and its ef­fect upon it are clearly non-existent.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). When appraising such legislation, we ask only (1) whether Congress had a “rational basis” for concluding that the regulated activity substantially affects interstate commerce, and (2) whether there is a “reasona­ble connection between the regulatory means selected and the asserted ends.” Id., at 323–324. See also Raich, 545 U. S., at 22; Lopez, 514 U. S., at 557; Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Assn., Inc., 452 U. S. 264, 277 (1981); Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U. S. 294, 303 (1964); Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 U. S. 241, 258 (1964); United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U. S. 144, 152–153 (1938). In answering these questions, we presume the statute under review is consti­tutional and may strike it down only on a “plain showing” that Congress acted irrationally. United States v. Morrison, 529 U. S. 598, 607 (2000).

C

Straightforward application of these principles would require the Court to hold that the minimum overage provision is proper Commerce Clause legislation. Beyond dispute, Congress had a rational basis for concluding that the uninsured, as a class, substantially affect interstate commerce. Those without insurance consume billions of dollars of health-care products and services each year. See supra, at 5. Those goods are produced, sold, and delivered largely by national and regional companies who routinely transact business across state lines. The uninsured also cross state lines to receive care. Some have medical emer­gencies while away from home. Others, when sick, go to a neighboring State that provides better care for those who have not prepaid for care. See supra, at 7–8.

Not only do those without insurance consume a large amount of health care each year; critically, as earlier explained, their inability to pay for a significant portion of that consumption drives up market prices, foists costs on other consumers, and reduces market efficiency and sta­bility. See supra, at 5–7. Given these far-reaching effects on interstate commerce, the decision to forgo insurance is hardly inconsequential or equivalent to “doing nothing,” ante, at 20; it is, instead, an economic decision Congress has the authority to address under the Commerce Clause. See supra, at 14–16. See also Wickard, 317 U. S., at 128 (“It is well established by decisions of this Court that the power to regulate commerce includes the power to regu­late the prices at which commodities in that commerce are dealt in and practices affecting such prices.” (emphasis added)).

The minimum coverage provision, furthermore, bears a “reasonable connection” to Congress’ goal of protecting the health-care market from the disruption caused by individ­uals who fail to obtain insurance. By requiring those who do not carry insurance to pay a toll, the minimum cover­age provision gives individuals a strong incentive to in­sure. This incentive, Congress had good reason to believe, would reduce the number of uninsured and, correspond­ingly, mitigate the adverse impact the uninsured have on the national health-care market.

Congress also acted reasonably in requiring uninsured individuals, whether sick or healthy, either to obtain insurance or to pay the specified penalty. As earlier ob­served, because every person is at risk of needing care at any moment, all those who lack insurance, regardless of their current health status, adversely affect the price of health care and health insurance. See supra, at 6–7. Moreover, an insurance-purchase requirement limited to those in need of immediate care simply could not work. Insurance companies would either charge these individu­als prohibitively expensive premiums, or, if community­ rating regulations were in place, close up shop. See supra, at 9–11. See also Brief for State of Maryland and 10 Other States et al. as Amici Curiae in No. 11–398, p. 28 (hereinafter Maryland Brief) (“No insurance regime can survive if people can opt out when the risk insured against is only a risk, but opt in when the risk materializes.”). “[W]here we find that the legislators . . . have a rational basis for finding a chosen regulatory scheme necessary to the protection of commerce, our investigation is at an end.” Katzenbach, 379 U. S., at 303–304. Congress’ enactment of the minimum coverage provision, which addresses a specific interstate problem in a practical, experience­ informed manner, easily meets this criterion.

D

Rather than evaluating the constitutionality of the minimum coverage provision in the manner established by our precedents, THE CHIEF JUSTICE relies on a newly minted constitutional doctrine. The commerce power does not, THE CHIEF JUSTICE announces, permit Congress to “compe[l] individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product.” Ante, at 20 (emphasis deleted).

1
a

THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s novel constraint on Congress’ commerce power gains no force from our precedent and for that reason alone warrants disapprobation. See infra, at 23–27. But even assuming, for the moment, that Congress lacks authority under the Commerce Clause to “compel individuals not engaged in commerce to purchase an unwanted product,” ante, at 18, such a limitation would be inapplicable here. Everyone will, at some point, consume health-care products and services. See supra, at 3. Thus, if THE CHIEF JUSTICE is correct that an insurance­ purchase requirement can be applied only to those who “actively” consume health care, the minimum coverage provision fits the bill.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE does not dispute that all U. S. resi­dents participate in the market for health services over the course of their lives.See ante, at 16 (“Everyone will eventually need health care at a time and to an extent they cannot predict.”). But, THE CHIEF JUSTICE insists, the uninsured cannot be considered active in the market for health care, because “[t]he proximity and degree of connection between the [uninsured today] and [their] subsequent commercial activity is too lacking.” Ante, at 27.

This argument has multiple flaws. First, more than 60% of those without insurance visit a hospital or doctor’s office each year. See supra, at 5. Nearly 90% will within five years.4 An uninsured’s consumption of health care is thus quite proximate: It is virtually certain to occur in the next five years and more likely than not to occur this year. Equally evident, Congress has no way of separating those uninsured individuals who will need emergency medical care today (surely their consumption of medical care is sufficiently imminent) from those who will not need medical services for years to come. No one knows when an emergency will occur, yet emergencies involving the unin­sured arise daily. To capture individuals who unexpectedly will obtain medical care in the very near future, then, Congress needed to include individuals who will not go to a doctor anytime soon. Congress, our decisions instruct, has authority to cast its net that wide. See Perez v. United States, 402 U. S. 146, 154 (1971) (“[W]hen it is necessary in order to prevent an evil to make the law embrace more than the precise thing to be prevented it may do so.” (in­ternal quotation marks omitted)).5 [TM Note: continued below, as in PDF]
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4
See Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for U. S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey 2009, Ser. 10, No. 249, p. 124, Table 37 (Dec. 2010).
5
Echoing THE CHIEF JUSTICE, the joint dissenters urge that the min­imum coverage provision impermissibly regulates young people who “have no intention of purchasing [medical care]” and are too far “re­moved from the [health-care] market.” See post, at 8, 11. This criticism ignores the reality that a healthy young person may be a day away from needing health care. See supra, at 4. A victim of an accident or unforeseen illness will consume extensive medical care immediately, though scarcely expecting to do so.

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 Second, it is Congress’ role, not the Court’s, to delineate the boundaries of the market the Legislature seeks to regulate. THE CHIEF JUSTICE defines the health-care market as including only those transactions that will occur either in the next instant or within some (unspecified) proximity to the next instant. But Congress could reason­ably have viewed the market from a long-term erspective, encompassing all transactions virtually certain to occur over the next decade, see supra, at 19, not just those oc­curring here and now.

Third, contrary to THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s contention, our precedent does indeed support “[t]he proposition that Congress may dictate the conduct of an individual today because of prophesied future activity.” Ante, at 26. In Wickard, the Court upheld a penalty the Federal Govern­ment imposed on a farmer who grew more wheat than he was permitted to grow under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (AAA). 317 U. S., at 114–115. He could not be penalized, the farmer argued, as he was growing the wheat for home consumption, not for sale on the open market. Id., at 119. The Court rejected this argument. Id., at 127–129. Wheat intended for home consumption, the Court noted, “overhangs the market, and if induced by rising prices, tends to flow into the market and check price increases [intended by the AAA].” Id., at 128. Similar reasoning supported the Court’s judgment in Raich, which upheld Congress’ authority to regulate mari­juana grown for personal use. 545 U. S., at 19. Home­ grown marijuana substantially affects the interstate market for marijuana, we observed, for “the high demand in the interstate market will [likely] draw such marijuana into that market.” Ibid.

Our decisions thus acknowledge Congress’ authority, under the Commerce Clause, to direct the conduct of an individual today (the farmer in Wickard, stopped from growing excess wheat; the plaintiff in Raich, ordered to cease cultivating marijuana) because of a prophesied future transaction (the eventual sale of that wheat or marijuana in the interstate market). Congress’ actions are even more rational in this case, where the future activity (the consumption of medical care) is certain to occur, the sole uncertainty being the time the activity will take place.

Maintaining that the uninsured are not active in the health-care market, THE CHIEF JUSTICE draws an analogy to the car market. An individual “is not ‘active in the car market,’” THE CHIEF JUSTICE observes, simply because he or she may someday buy a car. Ante, at 25. The analogy is inapt. The inevitable yet unpredictable need for medi­cal care and the guarantee that emergency care will be provided when required are conditions nonexistent in other markets. That is so of the market for cars, and of the market for broccoli as well. Although an individual might buy a car or a crown of broccoli one day, there is no certainty she will ever do so. And if she eventually wants a car or has a craving for broccoli, she will be obliged to pay at the counter before receiving the vehicle or nour­ishment. She will get no free ride or food, at the expense of another consumer forced to pay an inflated price. See Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, 651 F. 3d 529, 565 (CA6 2011) (Sutton, J., concurring in part) (“Regulating how citizens pay for what they already receive (health care), never quite know when they will need, and in the case of severe illnesses or emergencies generally will not be able to afford, has few (if any) parallels in modern life.”). Upholding the minimum coverage provision on the ground that all are participants or will be participants in the health-care market would therefore carry no implica­tion that Congress may justify under the Commerce Clause a mandate to buy other products and services. Nor is it accurate to say that the minimum coverage provision “compel[s] individuals . . . to purchase an un­wanted product,” ante, at 18, or “suite of products,” post, at 11, n. 2 (joint opinion of SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ.). If unwanted today, medical service secured by insurance may be desperately needed tomorrow. Virtually everyone, I reiterate, consumes health care at some point in his or her life. See supra, at 3. Health insurance is a means of paying for this care, nothing more. In requiring individuals to obtain insurance, Congress is therefore not mandating the purchase of a discrete, unwanted product.

Rather, Congress is merely defining the terms on which individuals pay for an interstate good they consume: Persons subject to the mandate must now pay for medical care in advance (instead of at the point of service) and through insurance (instead of out of pocket). Establishing payment terms for goods in or affecting interstate com­merce is quintessential economic regulation well within Congress’ domain. See, e.g., United States v. Wrightwood Dairy Co., 315 U. S. 110, 118 (1942). Cf. post, at 13 (joint opinion of SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ.) (recognizing that “the Federal Government can prescribe [a commodity’s] quality . . . and even [its price]”).

THE CHIEF JUSTICE also calls the minimum coverage provision an illegitimate effort to make young, healthy individuals subsidize insurance premiums paid by the less hale and hardy. See ante, at 17, 25–26. This complaint, too, is spurious. Under the current health-care system, healthy persons who lack insurance receive a benefit for which they do not pay: They are assured that, if they need it, emergency medical care will be available, although they cannot afford it. See supra, at 5–6. Those who have in­surance bear the cost of this guarantee. See ibid. By requiring the healthy uninsured to obtain insurance or pay a penalty structured as a tax, the minimum coverage
provision ends the free ride these individuals currently enjoy.

In the fullness of time, moreover, today’s young and healthy will become society’s old and infirm. Viewed over a lifespan, the costs and benefits even out: The young who pay more than their fair share currently will pay less than their fair share when they become senior citizens. And even if, as undoubtedly will be the case, some individuals, over their lifespans, will pay more for health insurance than they receive in health services, they have little to complain about, for that is how insurance works. Every insured person receives protection against a catastrophic loss, even though only a subset of the covered class will ultimately need that protection.

b

In any event, THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s limitation of the commerce power to the regulation of those actively en­gaged in commerce finds no home in the text of the Consti­tution or our decisions. Article I, §8, of the Constitution grants Congress the power “[t]o regulate Commerce . . .among the several States.” Nothing in this language implies that Congress’ commerce power is limited to regulating those actively engaged in commercial transactions.

Indeed, as the D. C. Circuit observed, “[a]t the time the Constitution was [framed], to ‘regulate’ meant,” among other things, “to require action.” See Seven-Sky v. Holder, 661 F. 3d 1, 16 (2011). Arguing to the contrary, THE CHIEF JUSTICE notes that “the Constitution gives Congress the power to ‘coin Money,’ in addition to the power to ‘regulate the Value thereof,’” and similarly “gives Congress the power to ‘raise and support Armies’ and to ‘provide and maintain a Navy,’ in addition to the power to ‘make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.’” Ante, at 18–19 (citing Art. I, §8, cls. 5, 12–14). In separating the power to regulate from the power to bring the subject of the regulation into existence, THE CHIEF JUSTICE asserts, “[t]he language of the Constitution reflects the natural understanding that the power to regulate assumes there is already something to be regulated.” Ante, at 19.

This argument is difficult to fathom. Requiring individ­uals to obtain insurance unquestionably regulates the interstate health-insurance and health-care markets, both of them in existence well before the enactment of the ACA. See Wickard, 317 U. S., at 128 (“The stimulation of com­merce is a use of the regulatory function quite as definitely as prohibitions or restrictions thereon.”). Thus, the “some­ thing to be regulated” was surely there when Congress created the minimum coverage provision.6

Nor does our case law toe the activity versus inactiv­ity line. In Wickard, for example, we upheld the penalty imposed on a farmer who grew too much wheat, even though the regulation had the effect of compelling farmers to purchase wheat in the open market. Id., at 127–129. “[F]orcing some farmers into the market to buy what they could provide for themselves” was, the Court held, a valid means of regulating commerce. Id., at 128–129. In another context, this Court similarly upheld Congress’ author­ity under the commerce power to compel an “inactive” land­holder to submit to an unwanted sale. See Monongahela Nav. Co. v. United States, 148 U. S. 312, 335–337 (1893) (“[U]pon the [great] power to regulate commerce[,]” Con­gress has the authority to mandate the sale of real property to the Government, where the sale is essential to the improvement of a navigable waterway (emphasis added)); Cherokee Nation v. Southern Kansas R. Co., 135 U. S. 641,  [TM Note: continued below, as in the PDF]
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6
THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s reliance on the quoted passages of the Consti­tution, see ante, at 18–19, is also dubious on other grounds. The power to “regulate the Value” of the national currency presumably includes the power to increase the currency’s worth—i.e., to create value where none previously existed. And if the power to “[r]egulat[e] . . . the land and naval Forces” presupposes “there is already [in existence] some­thing to be regulated,” i.e., an Army and a Navy, does Congress lack authority to create an Air Force?

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657–659 (1890) (similar reliance on the commerce power regarding mandated sale of private property for railroad construction).

In concluding that the Commerce Clause does not per­mit Congress to regulate commercial “inactivity,” and therefore does not allow Congress to adopt the practical solu­tion it devised for the health-care problem, THE CHIEF JUSTICE views the Clause as a “technical legal conception,” precisely what our case law tells us not to do. Wickard, 317 U. S., at 122 (internal quotation marks omitted). See also supra, at 14–16. This Court’s former endeavors to impose categorical limits on the commerce power have not fared well. In several pre-New Deal cases, the Court attempted to cabin Congress’ Commerce Clause authority by distinguishing “commerce” from activity once conceived to be noncommercial, notably, “production,” “mining,” and “manufacturing.” See, e.g., United States v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U. S. 1, 12 (1895) (“Commerce succeeds to manu­facture, and is not a part of it.”); Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U. S. 238, 304 (1936) (“Mining brings the subject matter of commerce into existence. Commerce disposes of it.”). The Court also sought to distinguish activities hav­ing a “direct” effect on interstate commerce, and for that reason, subject to federal regulation, from those having only an “indirect” effect, and therefore not amenable to federal control. See, e.g., A. L. A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U. S. 495, 548 (1935) (“[T]he distinction between direct and indirect effects of intrastate transactions upon interstate commerce must be recognized as a fundamental one.”).

These line-drawing exercises were untenable, and the Court long ago abandoned them. “[Q]uestions of the power of Congress [under the Commerce Clause],” we held in Wickard, “are not to be decided by reference to any formula which would give controlling force to nomenclature such as ‘production’ and ‘indirect’ and foreclose consideration of the actual effects of the activity in question upon inter­state commerce.” 317 U. S., at 120. See also Morrison, 529 U. S., at 641–644 (Souter, J., dissenting) (recounting the Court’s “nearly disastrous experiment” with formalis­tic limits on Congress’ commerce power). Failing to learn from this history, THE CHIEF JUSTICE plows ahead with his formalistic distinction between those who are “active in commerce,” ante, at 20, and those who are not. 

It is not hard to show the difficulty courts (and Con­gress) would encounter in distinguishing statutes that reg­ulate “activity” from those that regulate “inactivity.” As Judge Easterbrook noted, “it is possible to restate most actions as corresponding inactions with the same effect.” Archie v. Racine, 847 F. 2d 1211, 1213 (CA7 1988) (enbanc). Take this case as an example. An individual who opts not to purchase insurance from a private insurer can be seen as actively selecting another form of insurance: self-insurance. See Thomas More Law Center, 651 F. 3d, at 561 (Sutton, J., concurring in part) (“No one is in­active when deciding how to pay for health care, as self­-insurance and private insurance are two forms of action for addressing the same risk.”). The minimum coverage provision could therefore be described as regulating activ­ists in the self-insurance market.7 Wickard is another example. Did the statute there at issue target activity (the growing of too much wheat) or inactivity (the farmer’s failure to purchase wheat in the marketplace)? If any­ thing, the Court’s analysis suggested the latter. See 317 U. S., at 127–129.

At bottom, THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s and the joint dissent­-   [TM NOTE: continued below, as in PDF]
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7
THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s characterization of individuals who choose not to purchase private insurance as “doing nothing,” ante, at 20, is simi­larly questionable. A person who self-insures opts against prepayment for a product the person will in time consume. When aggregated, exercise of that option has a substantial impact on the health-care market. See supra, at 5–7, 16–17.
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ers’ “view that an individual cannot be subject to Com­merce Clause regulation absent voluntary, affirmative acts that enter him or her into, or affect, the interstate mar­ket expresses a concern for individual liberty that [is] more redolent of Due Process Clause arguments.” SevenSky, 661 F. 3d, at 19. See also Troxel v. Granville, 530 U. S. 57, 65 (2000) (plurality opinion) (“The [Due Process] Clause also includes a substantive component that pro­vides heightened protection against government interfer­ ence with certain fundamental rights and liberty inter­ests.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Plaintiffs have abandoned any argument pinned to substantive due pro­cess, however, see 648 F. 3d 1235, 1291, n. 93 (CA11 2011), and now concede that the provisions here at issue do not offend the Due Process Clause.8

2

CONTINUED (at 27 in original PDF)

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

What Does Having It All Even Mean?

WASHINGTON – Gayle King of CBS “This Morning” handled the story that began swirling last week brilliantly today when she started the segment by asking, paraphrasing here, What does “having it all” even mean? The story revolves around a woman in a history-making position, once thought a dream job, while also having healthy teens and a husband who supports your career, comes out to proclaim to the next generation that you can’t have it all. Some might even say Ann-Marie Slaughter had succeeded in having it all, even if juggling what she’d chosen for herself wasn’t easy, because her expectations on the satisfaction it would deliver didn’t match up with reality.

Skip Mrs. Slaugher’s article and go straight to this one, by Lori Gottlieb:

How does a smart woman like Slaughter still believe in the childlike notion that people (of either gender) can have whatever they want whenever they want it, regardless of life’s intrinsic constraints? Imagine if this article had been written by a kindergartner:

“But I want to go to my gymnastics class and I want to go Rosie’s birthday party and they’re both on Saturday morning!” rails the 5-year-old journalist. “Why can’t girls have it all? This is so unfair! Somebody has to make it possible for socially ambitious girls like me to be at gymnastics and Rosie’s party! The solution is to accommodate me by moving Rosie’s party or the time of my gymnastics class. I want justice, because no girl should ever have to feel trapped like this!”

[…] This isn’t because the child is a girl. This isn’t a feminist issue. This is Life 101, something all people learn as kids — until they grow up to be a high-level government official who has to choose between one six-figure job near her kids and one far away, and can’t accept life’s inherent limitations.

… This isn’t because the child is a girl. This isn’t a feminist issue. This is Life 101, something all people learn as kids — until they grow up to be a high-level government official who has to choose between one six-figure job near her kids and one far away, and can’t accept life’s inherent limitations.

Everybody makes choices, and every choice has a cost. Don’t blame others for those consequences. Like a kindergartner, Slaughter seems to think that she — and women in general — should somehow be exempt from universal realities…

But alas, after all the work to get to the top, the first Director of Public Policy Planning at State Department has decided she would rather be at home. Oh, to have so much, then decide it’s just not enough. Hey, that’s every woman’s decision to make.

It just shouldn’t come as a rallying cry that one generation of feminists have allegedly promised the next generation you can have it all, now to alert all women you actually can’t, when “having it all” was never the promise of feminism in the first place. There was certainly never any promise ever that a woman could work 15-hour days, have children and a husband, but no one would become emotionally spent, even if your family supported your work.

May the gods preserve us from privileged feminists who get their dream job then decide they want to go home, but also think it’s necessary to make a sweeping, global statement about feminism that’s more about their own ego swathed in a public service message that’s monstrously self-serving.

Ann-Marie Slaughter writes that admitting “I want to be at home” was one of the hardest sentences for her to write in her defensive, self-indulgent Atlantic Monthly article. An admission that didn’t make the first drafts of the article, because she was evidently guilty or embarrassed about it. It took me a couple of drafts of this paragraph to keep the snark level low, because reading and listening to another privileged feminist professional opine that rising to her power position just doesn’t afford enough family time is just too mindnumbingly annoying. This was a surprise to her? That Slaughter spent her entire adult life without knowing her own personal priorities until now is really something coming from a woman in her 50s (which I am as well).

I can’t wait to read her article on menopause.

But the Atlantic article is getting so much buzz that the New York Times, and Slate.com decided to get some traffic love in their piece Talking About the Atlantic Piece That Everyone Is Talking About.

And what is Ms. Slaughter talking about? What “generation of women” has told the “younger generation” you can have it all? We’re both far younger than Gloria Steinem, but went through the fire of the modern feminist revolution, and I don’t remember anyone telling me I could have it all; and I had a brother politician who was one of the Republican co-sponsors of the first E.R.A. bill in the Missouri State Senate, also debating Phyllis Schlafly on the finer points of feminism. What I was told is that I would be afforded opportunities comparable to men but I’d have to fight for them and that I wouldn’t be judged for being a professional woman, instead of focusing solely on motherhood and family, but could also actually choose neither of the traditional roles once expected. There wasn’t a feminist litmus test. Boy was that a whopper, because choosing to be childfree, I took a barrage of crap for decades, though none of it made a dent. No one ever told me it would be easy, fair or financially rewarding either, though economics is a basic premise of equality. Following your bliss isn’t for the faint of heart and feminism doesn’t guarantee the road won’t be rough, either.

I also knew I was responsible for what I chose and whining about what I didn’t get along the way wasn’t part of the deal. Well, you could whine, but nobody had to listen. Yet, here we all are listening.

There is not a bigger waste of time in the second decade of the 21st century than still hearing or reading from feminists the case of “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” That Slaughter engages in trumpeting the importance of flexibility in the workplace, then says not even that would coax her to stay, is worthless to everyone.

Yet the decision to step down from a position of power—to value family over professional advancement, even for a time—is directly at odds with the prevailing social pressures on career professionals in the United States. One phrase says it all about current attitudes toward work and family, particularly among elites. In Washington, “leaving to spend time with your family” is a euphemism for being fired.

Talk about reaching to make your case. Excuse me, but “leaving to spend time with your family” more likely means you’ve had a Larry Craig – John Edwards scandal and hope the media will buy it.

This understanding is so ingrained that when Flournoy announced her resignation last December, TheNew York Times covered her decision as follows:

Ms. Flournoy’s announcement surprised friends and a number of Pentagon officials, but all said they took her reason for resignation at face value and not as a standard Washington excuse for an official who has in reality been forced out. “I can absolutely and unequivocally state that her decision to step down has nothing to do with anything other than her commitment to her family,” said Doug Wilson, a top Pentagon spokesman. “She has loved this job and people here love her.

Think about what this “standard Washington excuse” implies: it is so unthinkable that an official would actually step down to spend time with his or her family that this must be a cover for something else. How could anyone voluntarily leave the circles of power for the responsibilities of parenthood? Depending on one’s vantage point, it is either ironic or maddening that this view abides in the nation’s capital, despite the ritual commitments to “family values” that are part of every political campaign. Regardless, this sentiment makes true work-life balance exceptionally difficult. But it cannot change unless top women speak out.

Only recently have I begun to appreciate the extent to which many young professional women feel under assault by women my age and older. After I gave a recent speech in New York, several women in their late 60s or early 70s came up to tell me how glad and proud they were to see me speaking as a foreign-policy expert. A couple of them went on, however, to contrast my career with the path being traveled by “younger women today.” One expressed dismay that many younger women “are just not willing to get out there and do it.” Said another, unaware of the circumstances of my recent job change: “They think they have to choose between having a career and having a family.”

I don’t care what any woman does with her life, but when she decides what she’s got isn’t what she really wants, I’d appreciate it if she’d not globalize it into a feminist whine about how woman can’t have it all. Newsflash ladies, men can’t either!

Ms. Slaughter seems to have brought her children in to explain just how important her job was and the sacrifices required from her family because of it, which her husband gladly supported, from what I can understand. But leave that aside. The reason she left isn’t about the teen needing her, it’s about how much she needs them.

Pause and let that one sink in.

Is that possibly the message here? That women would simply rather be at home, because it’s all just too hard thinking about what your teenager is doing when you’re at work? Well, hells bells, thank the gods for Slaughter’s memo, because younger women can now no longer expect women who have made it to stay there and continue to change things for the next generation.

It’s women like Slaughter who can tell the best story about the hardship of working moms, devise a way through to help women who have to work, because the boys aren’t the right spokesperson. Instead she wrote an article about how power demands too much from girls. Oh, but she’s not the only one!

Since it’s all just too much for the privileged feminists it’s pretty clear women coming up are screwed.

I simply cannot believe we’re still talking at this level.

The real truth is somewhere between boredom and emotional sentimentality, along with the privilege of having reached her dream position and deciding it wasn’t all that. Slaughter and other dynamo women made it, but judged “it” wasn’t worth keeping when compared to the tugs of home and hearth. It couldn’t be any clearer that the burning desire to run the world and dominate it that men have deep inside doesn’t seem to run in women.

Sounds to me the biggest mistake Slaughter made was not starting her own small business so she could craft her own hours and make the choices she wants.

No wonder we don’t have a female president yet. Our most brilliant females are still clutching 1950s fireplace fantasies out of “Mad Men,” along with guilt and their own emotional needs about being at home, deciding to leave a demanding job that her family understands is about changing the world, but she’s just not that into it anymore now that she’s actually doing it.

Duty doesn’t figure into it for these women, we’re being told, like it does with men. However, American society needs these women, who now we find out aren’t up to it, making it better, more equal, with more females leading so the scale can tip toward getting real healthcare that works, understanding the poor’s plight, that programs around the world to help women make America more secure, the list is endless. Where women tread things change dramatically, because no one has a voice like a woman speaking about economic equality, family challenges, including parental care, etc.

If success and reaching your dream job, while having a family at home support you, isn’t enough for feminists, then I honestly don’t know what any of it, the Ledbetter Act, equality, pay equity, having female governors, female senators and world leaders is all about.

I’ll guess we’ll all just have to take Hillary’s no for an answer, then make sure Elizabeth Warren is really up to it, before hoping a female Democratic president could actually happen.

What an embarrassment of riches elite feminists have achieved, only to find out it’s all just too much, the price too high, no matter what currency is applied.

Maybe conservatives can give Ann-Marie Slaughter feminists some advice, because evidently they’ve had this figured out for a long time.

Mrs. Slaughter’s honorary “Mama Grizzly” membership is waiting for her whenever she gets the time to claim it.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Seems Nobody Is Interested In Reading About Mitt Romney

via Buzzfeed: "Mitt Romney is Terrible for Traffic"

WASHINGTON – People are having trouble keeping two competing thoughts in their heads. That Pres. Obama isn’t inspiring to very many anymore, but Mitt Romney is still seen as horribly out of touch and painful to watch on TV.

The survey shows Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has yet to repair the damage done to his image during the Republican primary. Thirty-nine percent of Americans view him favorably, about the same as when he announced his presidential candidacy last June, while 48 percent see him unfavorably — a 17-percentage point jump during a nomination fight dominated by attacks ads. A majority of likely voters, 55 percent, view him as more out of touch with average Americans compared with 36 percent who say the president is more out of touch. – Obama Leads In Poll As Voters View Romney As Out Of Touch

Meanwhile, they both race around to fundraisers in the vainglorious goal of buying the U.S. presidency.

Obama’s a known quantity, while Mitt Romney remains unknown. That’s usual in presidential elections where one party is trying to oust an incumbent president, but Romney’s got one big problem.

The American voter won’t trust a presidential challenger who can’t make a declarative point about what he’d do in office. People expect promises and pledges, even knowing the politician won’t keep them, but to not say anything takes the political conversation to a new low. You probably thought that wasn’t possible.

People may not be thrilled about Pres. Obama today, but Americans still think he’s an okay guy. They’re not even sure about Mitt Romney, but the worst news for Team Mitt is people don’t seem to care enough to find out.

There is inherent struggle in any African American story, especially one that tells the tale of a man who began so humbly and ended up the most powerful person in the world. Mitt Romney’s struggles were/are… **crickets** Well, they certainly were not comparable to your average American’s struggle, which might explain why he’s seen as so completely out of touch.

Buzzfeed has done a traffic comparison between Obama versus Romney stories, talking to site editors, and how their stories impact the largest new media sites, as well as what gets picked up and ignored.

In the war of partisan trash talk that frequently consumes online political media, one truth has emerged from this year’s election coverage that transcends ideology: No one wants to read about Mitt Romney.

[…] In the absence of the potential for a First Woman President or a First Black President, is there any saving grace that could salvage the next four months for politics websites?

“This is perhaps one of the reasons we should all be rooting for Romney to pick someone like Marco Rubio for veep,” said Lewis.

I’d say once again Mitt Romney should choose Liz Cheney, but the truth is that Sarah Palin has ruined it for conservative women on the ticket for the foreseeable future.

NBC’s First Read has the smartest take on the Rubio dream pick, because he comes with serious baggage.

..despite being the party’s rising star and a favorite of the GOP base, the signs always have pointed AGAINST Rubio being Romney’s pick. Why? For starters, he’s only been a U.S. senator for a year and a half, and he didn’t endorse Romney until late in the GOP primary season. Then there’s the opposition research out there on him — something that the Romney folks who worked for Charlie Crist’s 2010 Senate campaign know pretty well: Rubio charged more than $100,000 to state GOP credit cards, had racked up nearly $1 million in personal debt, and had nearly had his home foreclosed on. No doubt that Rubio has plenty of assets (young, Latino, from Florida). But he also carries a lot of risk for the usually risk-averse Romney.

Sen. Rubio also won’t do anything for the women’s vote in a year where negative campaigning is king and which traditionally makes women, especially single women, tune out.

Politico is talking about Tim Pawlenty being on the short list, but there’s also Rob Portman; Mitch Daniels has accepted a position to be president of Purdue. If true, it would be the worst Republican ticket since Dole-Kemp, reminiscent of the Dukakis era on the Democratic side.

The year 1996 was also a low turnout year, which 2012 at this point is competing to replicate.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

The Reviews Begin: Assessing Secretary Clinton

“It was a standoff,” [Secretary Clinton] told me, “for 24 difficult hours.” – Old-Fashioned Diplomacy in the Twitter Age, by Susan B. Glasser

Secretary Clinton, official portrait

WASHINGTON – “Head of State” aptly describes Hillary Rodham Clinton’s power and position, an interview conducted in the days after a diplomatic crisis was averted. The quote at the very top is a perfect example of Pres. Obama’s “team of rivals” strategy from the start. Says Denis McDonough, “She’s really the principal implementer,” leaving there no doubt where policy is conceived, which is at it should be, at the President’s door.

“It doesn’t mean they always agree,” he told me. “You can see them influencing each other’s views.” – Denis McDonough in “Head of State”

One of the most interesting and important aspects in the Foreign Policy interview, which is also one of the first to review Clinton at State in her last year, is what Secretary Clinton said during the diplomatically dangerous conversations over Chen Guangcheng. An astute politician and knowing China’s policies well, Clinton took advantage of media information she knew her counterparts didn’t have and let the reality just sink in.

Still, the Chinese did not give in. At one point, an advisor who was present recalled, Clinton finally seemed to catch their attention by mentioning what a political circus the case had become — with Chen even dialing in to a U.S. congressional hearing that Thursday by cell phone from his hospital bed to say he feared for his safety if he remained in China. The Chinese team was visibly surprised. Eventually, Dai agreed at least to let the negotiations proceed. A few hours later, exhausted U.S. officials announced a deal.

By the next morning when we met, it was already clear this had been the most intense high-stakes diplomacy of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. She had worked hard to rescue Chen without blowing up the American relationship with China, but it was not yet obvious whether she had accomplished either goal. The Chinese were furious about the embarrassing attention to their human rights abuses. Clinton and her aides were being pilloried at home by everyone from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to the human rights community for abandoning Chen at the hospital. And the secretary was still worried about the deal. “Until he’s actually out and up with his family,” she told me, “it’s still touch and go.”

It’s the first time the story’s been unpacked like this, a moment which could have roiled Clinton’s prowess, while handing Pres. Obama an international diplomatic disaster in a presidential election year.

It’s the Hillary Effect, which simply is, whether you equate it to a good or evil.

Where her job as secretary of state is concerned, it gets more complicated, as Glasser notes.

But then came her comment about the limited role human rights would play on her agenda with the Chinese.

She had done it on purpose, in part to signal that this was no longer the first lady of the Beijing human rights speech they were dealing with — but it was immediately termed a gaffe, both by her old human rights allies and, privately, by some of her new colleagues in the Obama administration. “I didn’t realize it was going to be controversial as much as it turned out to be,” Clinton said in our interview. “I also needed to send a signal to them saying, ‘Look, I’m now secretary of state, I carry this whole portfolio, and human rights is an important, essential part of it. But there’s a lot of other business we have to get done.’ So yes, am I going to raise human rights? Absolutely, but I’m also going to be raising economic issues and Iran and North Korea and all the rest of it.

At the time, the Obamans were not amused at this perceived “gaffe.”

In the White House, the Obama advisor told me, there was much concern. “After the mistake in China — even though what she had said, lots of people actually agreed with — it was just worrying. Can she do this job?” he recalled. What this aide and others termed the intense “micromanagement” of the celebrity new diplomat did not end for some time.

[…] By the time the Chen case exploded, though, the White House was little in evidence. The blame, or credit, would be all for Clinton.

The issue of what exactly has Hillary done now begins to surface, as her last year winds down and her tenure is assessed.

In the rarefied circles of the Washington foreign-policy establishment, where they’ve been paying closer attention, Clinton gets big points for style and for taking her brand of “people to people” diplomacy international at a time when America desperately needed just her kind of star power to revive an image tarnished by a near decade of George W. Bush’s cowboy unilateralism. Aside from that, as one of the city’s mandarins put it to me recently in one of numerous nearly identical conversations, “What has she done?” The poohbah reeled off a long string of Important Global Issues, from Middle East peace to negotiating a political end to the long-running war in Afghanistan, from which Clinton appears to have been sidelined by the Obama White House or is simply out of the picture. To those traditionalists, Clinton is something of a puzzle; clearly, she’s a success in the “soft power” department, a relentless cheerleader for Brand America. But they can’t help disdaining her focus on issues such as women’s rights and development economics — surely not the stuff of real diplomacy — and see her attention to them as proof of how marginalized she’s been by the Obama White House on the geopolitics that count.

One wonders how the Chen situation would have been resolved without the Hillary Effect. Would Libya have happened without Clinton’s ability to cajole the Arab League? Afghanistan remains a mess, with women in peril, but what would their plight be like without Clinton’s leadership, even if she’s been sidelined for quite some time, as Joe Biden’s plan moves forward? How can we get a fair assessment of Clinton’s tenure with some “disdaining her focus on issues such as women’s rights and development economics,” both of which are 21st century solutions that demand a shoulder-leaning push to get us beyond the militarism the embroils us in never ending disasters?

Anyone deeming women’s rights as a secondary diplomatic issue will never get Clinton, the same goes for development economics, both of which is where Clinton and I agree, because we don’t on Libya or drones, but it does help explain why we don’t have a female president.

The celebrity power she brings and the massive support she’s earned across the globe, which at home amounts to Hillary Clinton at her most popular, equates to massive U.S. currency in whatever arena she enters.

Maybe, I ventured, that’s why they had in the end been willing to accommodate her on Chen; they were investing in a future with a possible President Clinton. She wouldn’t answer. At least not for the record. – Susan Glasser, Editor in Chief of Foreign Policy

Clinton’s official portrait, reminiscent of candidate Hillary, is all that remains of what almost was, but also acts as a subtle reminder that the question of what could still be is very much up in the air for everyone but Hillary, at least for now.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

We Shouldn’t Take Hillary’s No for Her Answer

by "Texts From Hillary" on Tumblr

“I think that there will be an election that will elect a woman.” – Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

WASHINGTON – George Washington didn’t exactly jump at the chance to lead our nation after being asked either. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that women like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as people like myself, aren’t taking Hillary’s no for an answer.

I’m not comparing America’s first president to Hillary Rodham Clinton, but the times and the need for a fearless leader are as dire.  The times also call for America to break the female president barrier, which is long overdue. Consider Hillary a baseline for the Democratic party to change the history of our country on that score.  We already know where Republicans don’t want to tread again, and I wrote where Republicans could start this year.  The rest of that conversation we can pick up another time.

Secretary Hillary Clinton’s remarks made a couple of weeks ago at a town hall at La Martiniere School for Girls in Kolkata, India were no different than previous preemptive withdrawal statements regarding a second presidential run come 2016.

No one should take them as definitive. We simply cannot afford to.

As the guest of honor in a conversation moderated by NDTV’s Group Editor Barkha Dutt, Secretary Hillary Clinton once again proved why, according to Gallup, she now enjoys the highest approval rating of her twenty year public career. The questions from the audience proves the Hillary Effect continues to resound.

Clinton was introduced by Barkha Dutt in a sterling tribute that mentioned her over 777,000 miles traveled, followed by a pictorial look back at Secretary Clinton’s travels to India that comes in a good-bye tour as she winds down her duties for President Obama. We are witnessing the final days of a partnership that has defied critics and delighted supporters on all sides of what was once a divide. It also proved President Obama’s strong commitment to women in leadership that has been seen through Hillary Clinton’s passion and purpose at the State Department.

There is no one in American politics who is more prepared for the presidency than Hillary Rodham Clinton. That women here and across the globe need her to continue what she started in 1995, when she declared “women’s rights are human rights” in China as first lady, should go without saying, especially with the backdrop of the Republican war on women, which is very real.

Clinton has widened the diplomatic territory through her tenure, which began by galvanizing a demoralized foreign service after the Bush administration’s disrespect for what diplomacy can do, then through her historic expansion of women being central to U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century. The partnership of Obama and Clinton put into action what studies have shown, which is that a developing nation is only as strong as the role women play in it.

The collaborative partnership of President Obama and Secretary Clinton has changed the playing field for women here and around the world.

It’s just one reason whenever Secretary Clinton is taking questions in a relaxed forum, the topic of another run for the presidency invariably comes up. After watching her apolitical diplomatic leadership rise and her prestige and prowess expand, as we simultaneously take in the American political circus, the American public, especially women, would be derelict in our citizenry to simply accept Clinton’s premature pass on 2016 at face value.

Everyone from Buzzfeed to Politico to CBS News, as well as Irish Central, jumped on the the Associated Press report from India.

“I would like to come back to India and just wander around without the streets being closed,” she said. “I just want to get back to taking some deep breaths, feeling that there are other ways I can continue to serve.”

One of those ways is an international foundation focused on women modeled after her husband’s wildly successful Clinton Global Initiative. It’s a natural decision and extension of what Hillary’s already begun that would take her work beyond political constraints and offer a hedge against austerity budgeting that would curtail aid to places where women are most affected when the U.S. steps back, which certainly will happen under Republican leadership.

Finding other ways to serve is perfectly understandable, a natural choice for Clinton. However, as I see the political landscape looking forward, nothing is more important than what Hillary Rodham Clinton could do for America.

Our current economic challenges and the austerity craze in the elite political class begs for what I call “Fighting Hillary,” a central theme in my book, to step forward again. A fighter for the middle class, teachers and unions, women’s economic equality, which Republicans have fought against, seen through their opposition to the Lily Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, she’s a politician who understands health care, but who also proved in the Senate that she can work with Republicans while steadfastly holding firm to her principles, without ceding territory to the right, which threatens the middle class.

I write this as someone who has researched and written extensively on Hillary Rodham Clinton, but who also disagrees with her on issues, as well as the need for women to reinvent the conversation on U.S. power and the language we use to discuss it. Our differences are as small as when the State Department responded to Iran’s Green Revolution with complete silence from Dipnote, State’s blog, to large issues like Secretary Clinton’s initial comments giving support to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s government out of loyalty to a friend.

Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” – Secretary Hillary Clinton, January 25, 2011

These words are a result of U.S. foreign policy doctrine that has pervaded both political parties for close to a century, which Clinton certainly represents in this particular statement, but yet as she walks the bridge to the 21st century she’s also risen above these positions to face openly the challenges that confound our best leaders.

When you look at Clinton’s speech on January 13, 2011 in Doha, Qatar, it’s even more surprising that someone of Hillary’s knowledge and foreign policy stature would decide to bolster an old friend like Mubarak and the status quo, instead of adhering to what she warned about in these remarks just a little over one week earlier. An excerpt from her remarks:

… a growing majority of this region is under the age of 30. In fact, it is predicted that in just one country, Yemen, the population will double in 30 years. These young people have a hard time finding work. In many places, there are simply not enough jobs. Across the region, one in five young people is unemployed. And in some places, the percentage is far more. While some countries have made great strides in governance, in many others people have grown tired of corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order. They are demanding reform to make their governments more effective, more responsive, and more open. And all this is taking place against a backdrop of depleting resources: water tables are dropping, oil reserves are running out, and too few countries have adopted long-term plans for addressing these problems.

Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries’ problems for a little while, but not forever. If leaders don’t offer a positive vision and give young people meaningful ways to contribute, others will fill the vacuum. Extremist elements, terrorist groups, and others who would prey on desperation and poverty are already out there, appealing for allegiance and competing for influence. So this is a critical moment, and this is a test of leadership for all of us.

Secretary Clinton was instrumental in the U.S. backed NATO mission to bomb Libya, which I opposed, and was able to get the ear and gain the trust of the Arab League to convince them to back President Obama’s move, which led to a tactical victory. Her power to persuade the Arab League is part of a legacy that began by bolstering the State Department team that included dragging diplomacy into the social media age, no small task.

I am also opposed to Afghanistan support to 2024 without the world community giving requisite financing, with Clinton one of the strongest advocates for continued financial aid for the mission in Afghanistan.

Our differences don’t take away from the fact that she’s the only woman today who could handle the job and gather the world behind her, becoming the first female president, which would broaden the Hillary Effect to include women having a more significant higher profile in foreign policy and national security, especially where our military intervention is concerned. The language Clinton uses is broader than most politicians today, women taking a primary focus, but as we saw with even Samantha Power on Libya, as well as Ambassador Susan Rice, the language of women remains similar to that of the men who have been in power, which is that of war.

Secretary Clinton remains the symbol of smart power and diplomatic muscle, her ties to the defense industry and U.S. military tight, with these two aspects of political power the only route for a woman to break through to becoming a respected commander in chief. The respect she’s gained over years inside the defense industry, but also at the Pentagon, rivals that of any person who could challenge her, with a small, select few equaling her prowess. Power that sets Clinton up perfectly to be the one to continue the restructuring of the military to a more flexible and agile force.

Being the first female president, someone who is keenly in tune with the ravages of war on women and children, Clinton can’t help but bring a wider lens to conflicts than her male opponents.

We’ve elected many an imperfect man to the presidency, so disagreements aren’t a disqualifier for the first woman president, because it’s impossible to agree with any politician today across all issues. What’s important is getting a qualified woman running this country from the office of the presidency, something that is in all of our best interests, including making sure that female respects, supports and stands up for our demand for full freedoms and opportunities, economic and individual. Hillary’s voice on these subjects alone could change the dynamic in profound ways.

There is no one who understands the multifaceted and layered challenges we now face or how to navigate better them than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Politico’s Mackenzie Weinger highlighted one quote from Clinton’s India conversation. When the talk turned to her possible 2016 candidacy, Clinton stated, “I’m very flattered, but I feel like it’s time for me to kind of step off the high wire. I’ve been involved at the highest level of American politics for 20 years now.”

It’s sort of a cruel thing to be Hillary Clinton. She first had to endure the political and personal torture of the right’s fury over her feminism, then the world’s shock at her declaration that “women’s rights are human rights,” to finally having something she won on her own, the title of Senator Clinton of New York, which put her on the rise to the presidency, only to run smack into a change election that meant a brilliant newcomer was presented with the perfect moment he wasn’t about to waste. Now, after years of globetrotting in a position she never dreamed of taking when her national rise first began, it’s finally over and her life is about to be her own. But yet Democratic supporters of her Fighting Hillary persona, with all its ferociousness and passion for economic justice for the middle class, as well as women, are still not convinced Hillary should be allowed to leave the political stage.

Last year, in a comment Clinton made to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, she said “I am doing what I want to do right now, and I have no intention or any idea even of running again.”

Fair enough, so take those “deep breaths,” which have been well earned. Kick back, take the private trips as a celebrity civilian, have cocktails with your friends, while relaxing and enjoying yourself. Then prepare to take one last leap into the history, because your country needs you. Nothing less would allow us to prod you back into the presidential arena, because we all know what the last race cost.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has already volunteered to get the game on when the time is right. In March 2012, the Washington Post reported her remarks, Gillibrand volunteering for the important job saying “I’m going to be one of the first to ask Hillary to run in 2016… I think she would be incredibly well-poised to be our next Democratic president.”

America is indeed ready for our first female president.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is not just the most prepared female in the United States to run for president, she’s the most qualified person.

We’ll let her rest, relax and run around the globe on her own for a couple of years, then it’s time to revisit the question she’s been asked innumerable times over the months.

“Well, we hope you change your mind.” – NDTV’s Group Editor Barkha Dutt

Hillary Rodham Clinton has dedicated her life to public service, including stepping aside for her husband at a time when our country wasn’t ready for her. Now it is, so we simply can’t afford to take her preemptive no for an answer.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Liz Cheney for GOP V.P.

WASHINGTON – Don’t tell me Republicans are going to make Elizabeth Cheney, former “Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs,” go through the Senate farm system.

Don’t tell me Sen. Marco Rubio is a better vice presidential choice than Dick Cheney’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth. She beats him on experience alone, though we all know that doesn’t matter to Republicans.

Because Republicans are more worried about the Hispanic vote more than the women’s vote? No doubt Rubio could change this and heaven knows the Republicans sure could use a shift away from their “illegal” immigration phobia. When I first mentioned Sen. Rubio as the best pick, it was soon after he gave the obligatory no, he wasn’t interested. If they could get the women’s vote, which is possible on economics alone, they won’t need many Hispanics, which looking at the map out west isn’t very encouraging.

But Mitt Romney will never be confused with Rick Santorum on these issues, and many women understand that. (I should disclose here that my husband is an adviser to Mr. Romney; I have no involvement with any campaign, and have been an independent journalist throughout my career.) The struggling women in my life all laughed when I asked them if contraception or abortion rights would be a major factor in their decision about this election. For them, and for most other women, the economy overwhelms everything else.Obama: Stop Condescending to Women, by Campbell Brown

Where are conservative women on this one?

Why aren’t women on the right being more aggressive for a woman vice presidential nominee?

Are they really going to settle for two men on the ticket? It’s so 20th century.

Is Sarah Palin’s disastrous candidacy actually going to make them miss this moment? A moment ripe to beat Pres. Obama, but which comes with a Republican nominee who’s a horrific political candidate that desperately needs a lift, someone who could appeal to the majority voting block, women.

When Mrs. Cheney was asked about her political ambitions on Fox News Channel, she demurred: “I’m really focused on defeating Barack Obama. We don’t have the luxury, frankly, of looking beyond this election.”

What better way to take on Obama than next to Mitt Romney?

Now, I’m not a fan of Mrs. Cheney’s politics, obviously. But I’m sick to death of making incredibly strong women be subjected to the boys’ rules when it’s clear she’s prepared, served in sensitive positions in government, as well as having a solid anti-women’s rights stance on every issue that matters to religious conservatives.

Liz is mentioned in my book, the chapter on “It’s All the Women’s Fault,” for a couple of reasons, beginning with her role in a weird honor crimes case that turned out to be a hoax, as well as the embarrassing lawyer squabble she got into with conservatives over the constitutional right of legal representation of alleged terrorists. But also because I think she’s worthy of the Republican all star ideological national security team, as the video above illustrates.

Going down the list of women on the right who deserve attention for vice president, Mrs. Cheney is a more attractive candidate than Sen. Ayotte, Gov. Haley and Gov. Martinez combined, while also wiping away the Sarah Palin stain, because she’d play with the media like a cat with a bird, while not missing a beat on policy questions, no matter the subject. That is if anyone could get a question in edgewise, with mighty Liz talking about whatever she wanted and doing so with acrobatic aplomb.

The other factor is Mitt Romney’s hopeless befuddlement on foreign policy. He just can’t help it, because he’s reading off of a script without any depth on the subject matter whatsoever. Liz Cheney is reading off the same script, but she’s been dyed in her daddy’s neoconservatism fervor, through tutelage of the man who helped author the right wing manual on foreign policy.

Who wouldn’t pay to see Liz Cheney debate Joe Biden?

Marco versus Joe? That’s just funny, but the vetting sweepstakes would be a ball.

Oh, and what a vice presidential pit bull Liz would be, complete with lipstick.

If someone isn’t whispering in Mitt Romney’s ear about Elizabeth Cheney, I’d like to know why not.

Why not the best for President Obama and the Democratic party? And how much more will victory be worth having this November when it’s a victory over the liberal dream team of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? – “Why Not the Best,” by Bill Kristol

This is my answer to Bill Kristol’s nauseating article for the Weekly Standard that once again trots out the ridiculous Obama-Hillary for 2012, because what he should be writing about is Elizabeth Cheney. He’s just distracted, because his main goal is to get Hillary Clinton tarred with the whole Obama – Romney 2012 disaster, which it will be no matter who is elected. Because if Bill Kristol and his back room boys aren’t worried about Hillary for 2016 they’re certifiable. They know she’s not sure if she’ll run, but they also realize if she does she’ll be a political bullet train.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

They’re Coming for Pres. Obama

WASHINGTON – The ramp was in place when the birthers got the backing of Donald Trump, but that was a long time ago and these things take preparation and waiting for the right moment. Now Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee, with Regnery publishing Edward Klein’s Obama book that was primed for the presidential election cycle with Rev. Wright factoids, which was trotted out by Sean Hannity on his radio and TV shows this week. So when Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg broke the blockbuster swift-boating story it detonated like a political I.E.D., except the people it took out were the ones who planted the bomb.

Townhall had an “exclusive” with Mitt Romney on Thursday that ran with a headline blaring “Romney ‘Repudiates’ Conservative Group’s Planned Rev. Wright Attacks.” But before I could see the post, a pop-up ad for Edward Klein’s swift-boating screed of a book against Pres. Obama blocked my view. Klein is the serial right-wing propagandist who Sean Hannity is hyping like a mad dog, which began with playing selected parts of Klein’s Rev. Jeremiah Wright interview for his radio listeners on Wednesday, followed by a performance on Fox News channel with Hannity the same night.

An inconvenient fact is that Mr. Romney has invoked Rev. Wright before.

“I’m not sure which is worse. Him listening to Rev. Wright or him saying that we must be a less than Christian nation.” – Mitt Romney, February 7, 2012

Of course, Romney “repudiates” is a gross exaggeration. Here’s the statement:

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described. I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity — particularly for those in the middle class of America. And I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about … It’s interesting that we’re talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]; I hope people also are looking at what he’s doing, and saying ‘why is he running an attack campaign? Why isn’t he talking about his record?'”

“I repudiate the effort… I repudiate what they’re thinking about…” but Mitt Romney hopes people are looking at what team Obama is doing and “saying ‘why is he running an attack campaign.'”

Anti-Obama TD Ameritrade billionaire and Romney Super PAC man Ricketts has rejected the Hannity-pimped Jeremiah Wright swiftboating road, though that hardly means it won’t be deployed in places where playing the race card is thought could work. From Burns & Haberman:

“Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called ‘Ricketts Plan’ to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning,” Baker said in a statement. “Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take.”

It’s a long way from what Sen. John McCain’s choice, which was not to touch the subject. In fact, it just may be that because of McCain’s choice, team Romney will repudiate the “thinking” and the “effort,” but it will be unleashed anyway.

I’m not about to pretend that team Obama isn’t capable of the same. There’s an entire chapter in my book dedicated to the Axelrod-Plouffe strategy, which today Romney labeled “character assassination,” titled “Eating Your Own.”

Democrats have dragged everything they can up and over Mitt Romney’s candidacy, but Mormonism remains outside the acceptable for Obama and Democrats, while Republicans, including Mitt Romney, have no trouble invoking Rev. Wright and his religious ideas intending to adhere Wright to Pres. Obama.

Republicans are perpetually self-righteous, so feel entitled to go there, while Democrats are forever self-loathing after buying the right’s criticism that the left isn’t sufficiently religious. The entire faith competition having no place in American politics.

The problem with the Rev. Wright Super PAC ploy, if they manifest, is how the press will play it. That’s what will hurt Mitt Romney and his campaign, because if Chuck Todd’s reaction today is any indication Romney will be in for a brutal confrontation if he doesn’t make real efforts to stop the swiftboating of Pres. Obama through a Rev. Wright interview that dredges up issues of race, religion and 2008 issues that the press themselves didn’t see fit to focus on when they were relevant.

Pres. Obama was fairly elected, with the Rev. Wright discussed as much as the press saw fit to cover it, minus the dirt Edward Klein gets from Rev. Wright today, which Sean Hannity and his right-wing friends are too happy to regurgitate. Wright can’t get enough of the limelight after what he obviously sees as a betrayal by Pres. Obama, for not including him as his presidential pastor, though Wright’s behavior illustrates perfectly why the President did not.

The personal attacks on both Barack and Michelle Obama’s faith made by Wright in the Klein interview are particularly scurrilous and over the line. In the 21st century there are many ways to spiritually enlighten oneself, discover and even practice Christian faith that can go well beyond organized religion. Of course, that hits The Church, whatever denomination, in the pocketbook, which is one reason they fight against individual experimentation of faith so fiercely. The other is that most organized religions, including Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, believe women have no business leading anyone on issues of religion and faith.

As a feminist, organized religions leave very little freedom for a woman to own faith and participate equally with men. The Episcopal church has offered an open relationship for me, though that very much depends on the church, even if my main compass today is meditation.

The bribing allegation Wright asserts is not news at all. Given Wright’s hyperbolic rhetoric, the moneyed friends of any politician running at Obama’s level would have done the same thing.

Edward Klein’s charge that a black pastor told him that Hillary’s campaign allegedly wanted to pay him to say negative things about Wright is more of Klein’s swiftboating talent. It’s the same type of tactic Obama supporters utilized against Clinton in ’08, attributing a supporters actions to the campaign strategy itself, also covered in my book, which is as relevant today as when I wrote it, because it’s about recent political history that echoes today.

So far, the traditional and new media universe is buying the Romney “repudiate” campaign line.

One Politico post sucked it up: “Romney repudiates Jeremiah Wright plan.”

The New York Times headline read: “Romney Rejects Using the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Against Obama.”

Jake Tapper’s headline: “McCain, Romney Camps Decry Super-PAC Proposal to Attack Obama on Rev. Wright.”

The Burns & Haberman blog, in a Maggie Haberman post, over at Politico put “repudiates” where it belongs: in quotes.

The Rev. Wright swift-boating bomb didn’t work, because someone in Republicanland got wind of it and freaked, then leaked it to the New York Times. Next time Republicans might not be so lucky, because as you can see in the Eliot Spitzer interview with Rutenberg above, there’s a back story to this that hints people were fired up and ready to go yesterday, but then the dime dropped.

If Republicans think peddling Rev. Wright will rev up their base, they should beware. But if they think it would help Romney they’re certifiable. The blowback to such race-baiting from Democrats and Independents against Republicans would be fierce.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Ignore the Following

WASHINGTON – The screencapture above was just one of two treats from the New York Post over the weekend.

As far as Michelle was concerned, Oprah’s billions and her elite lifestyle disqualified her as an adviser to Barack, who had no truck with wealthy people, except as a source of campaign contributions, and was a redistributionist at heart.Excerpt of “The Amateur,” by Edward Klein

Speaking of amateurs, a word about Edward Swiftboat Writer Masquearading as Truth Klein.

Just one of the quotes in his fireplace fodder against Hillary Clinton, “The Truth About Hillary,” was anonymously dropping that “she’s been botoxed to the hilts,” allegedly from some “New York physician who had knowledge of such matters” (page 220). “Those matters” being botox, not Clinton.

So, no one should be surprised that Klein treats his readers to a cat fight Democratic style, this time starring Michelle Obama and Oprah, with Valerie Jarrett having a supporting role. The man’s a pig, no offense to the pink cuties.

The line emphasized in bold at the top is a perfect example of a Kleinism. Obama “had no truck with wealthy people”? Epic phrase that rendered me into fits of laughter.

Klein’s stuff about Rev. Wright in the New York Post about being “bribed” with $150,000 is priceless. If Wright had actually been offered the money by “one of Barack’s closest friends,” the woman or man who offered it would have been a hero if Wright had taken it. Wright was a perpetually exploding rhetorical grenade, so any person on team Obama would have been committing professional malpractice not to have offered cash to Wright to be quiet.

The rest of the Regnery drivel is likely just as bad, though I really hope Klein has finally learned to write chapters over four or five pages in length. Guess the publisher feels for the reader and believes keeping the chapters short, the reader’s gag reflex won’t lock due to overuse.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Blissfully Childfree

WASHINGTON – I’m so glad I didn’t have children.

Every Mother’s Day affirms it.

I’ve never understood the desperate fertility treatment dance so many women go through in order to have children that they can’t conceive naturally. It’s a miracle it’s an option, but the torture of it all. But when I found out my niece and her husband finally conceived we cracked a bottle of Tequila and did shots in their honor.

Some girls want a different life.

When I grew up it was an expectation you would get married and have children. It’s what women did. I refused, wearing the childree stigma from those days as a badge of independent bravery. Because when the modern age of feminism blasted off Phyllis Schlafly’s harping was a loud noise in our ear.

Thankfully, it’s not so anymore.

As a kid, the doll I loved was Barbie. She was independent, had lots of clothes and cool car and dream house, though I wasn’t interested at all in Ken. What did Barbie need him for anyway? Her perfect body didn’t faze me. All I saw was her freedom. She wasn’t one of those loathsome dolls that I was expected to pretend feed, pantomime diaper changing and roll around in a fake stroller, which was obviously meant to prepare me for something I always knew I didn’t want.

When I got a Thumbelina for Christmas one year, she came in a pretty basket all cuddled up. My interest lasted about a second.

I love being around little people. Their reaction to me is entertaining, because I don’t treat them like children. The encounters are inevitably magical for me, but it’s a vacation zone not a landing strip.

What’s your life all about without children? Everything you can think of to do and then more. It’s about discovering or creating something else you’re passionate about that teaches you, inspires you and expands you. It’s a never ending cavalcade of experiences. As a thinker, artist and writer it’s been about making an impact in my little corner of the world.

Contrary to the stereotypical propaganda, not having children can also keep you young. You are the kid in your life, just with heaping responsibilities and the rewards that come with adulthood.

I can’t imagine my life any other way and wouldn’t have it any other way either. It’s been a madcap, non-stop whirl of amazing miracles and evolutionary thrills.

That was before I met Mark and got married, when it was thought a feminist was more likely to be hit by a terrorist than get married in her 40s. What has made it so strong and exhilarating is we’re on this journey together. I’ve married the strongest feminist I know who stands beside me in all I do, as we create our life lived in a perpetual roller coaster of events. He’s a great dad, but that’s his life to manage, not mine in which to interfere. I can hardly wait ’til his kids come visit us in Virginia. What fun that will be!

Every day begins when I ask myself what will I explore or discover today? Then off I go.

I’m grateful I had the guts to say no to kids when I was very young and hold on to that vision all of my life.

When I read about more and more women today putting off motherhood or choosing to forego it entirely, I send them a secret blessing for what is possible in front of them if they choose to stay childfree. A big, messy board of bright colors and life free of being tethered to shepherding anyone’s journey but your own. Loads of hours and days and weeks and months where you have nothing to think about but your own adventure.

If you get really lucky, you’ll find someone who wants to come along and has great ideas of trouble to get into and together you’ll have a madcap blast.

For all you mothers out there, happy Mother’s Day. I hope you’re as blissfully happy with children as I am childfree.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.


graphic via 7DeadlySinners

Hillary’s Vogue

“I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now. Because you know if I want to wear my glasses I’m wearing my glasses. If I want to wear my hair back I’m pulling my hair back. You know at some point it’s just not something that deserves a lot of time and attention. And if others want to worry about it, I let them do the worrying for a change” – Secretary Hillary Clinton in an interview with CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

WASHINGTON – Clinton’s style quake has shifted the American universe and provided yet another Hillary Effect moment, one that rattled the confines of post-feminism and the concept of raw power among girls. There is no woman on planet earth who could cheerfully, defiantly and unflinchingly remove the stigma of a working woman’s persona from being tied to glam duty more thoroughly.

Here’s the hub of it. Women being able to choose their look, without expectations of false eyelashes and mandatory movie-esque makeup, when sometimes less of all of it is who she is. Rachel Maddow wouldn’t wear Gayle King’s high heels and bright hues, but the style Maddow opts for works for her, same for King.

Drudge began the latest conversation with the “Hillary Au Naturale” headline (seen below), which Fox News and others picked up (see above), launching another salvo in the war on women, this one targeting our looks and age as vulnerabilities. Expectations that because a female doesn’t appear dolled up it’s worthy of headline news instead of a deliberate decision because it suits her.

Teens and twenty-somethings get away with a scrubbed face, but aging shouldn’t relegate us all to chasing the vanity mirror unless we want to.

It follows what Drudge did when Clinton was a presidential candidate, which is covered in my book, with both he and Rush Limbaugh getting the scrutiny they deserve. Flashing back on the event when candidate Clinton was eviscerated on Drudge for a picture showing her natural wrinkles, which comes with age regardless of gender. Progressive new media blogs were also guilty of posting unflattering pictures of Clinton on purpose, but none came close to the Drudge-Rush treatment. As the Kathleen Hall Jamieson of Annenberg Public Policy Center relayed to Bill Moyers in 2007, negative images are purposefully used in politics to make the onlooker feel bad about a politician. However, when it’s done to a woman through highlighting her age it hits our juvenile nation in its solar plexus, though the air it knocks out is that of the woman being targeted, while telling other femmes to stay in the beauty box.

When Rush picked up on the Drudge wrinkle photo back during the ’08 race, he used his signature shrill sexism for the occasion.

Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis? And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she’s getting older, because it will impact poll numbers. It will impact perceptions.” – Rush Limbaugh (December 2007, source: The Hillary Effect)

“America loses interest in you,” Rush opined.

Today, where Hillary is concerned, nothing could be further from the truth.

Virginia Clinton Kelly, William Jefferson Clinton’s late mother, had moments of pause upon meeting Hillary Rodham, because Mrs. Kelly was a full makeup kind of girl. Hillary wasn’t. She now isn’t again, at least at times.

Just be careful when trying this if you’re plodding up the professional ladder, because we all know how long it took Hillary to ascend and be accepted, what it cost, and people still have expectations. But the Hillary Effect just might make it easier to decide to be different.

That Drudge got creamed this time ’round from all quarters was a thing of beauty to watch. That Clinton gave him the middle finger with a casual smile in an interview while she was on yet another grueling globetrotting tour as America’s chief diplomat was a fitting and long overdue screw-you.

We’ve come a long way from ABC’s headline in 2007 asking “Is It Sexist to Discuss Hillary’s Wrinkles?” to articles in the Washington Post defending her, to Jezebel’s Hillary “GIVES ZERO F*#!S” graphic.

But that won’t stop outlets like the UK Daily Mail from doing the misogynistic deep dive on “Make-up free Clinton shows the strain of her busy travel schedule,” complete with pictorial walk-through over the last months and years meant to prove she’s worse for wear.

There’s not one woman who doesn’t know what the “tired” trap means. It means she can’t take the heat, because she looks like she’s melted without makeup. The girl’s not up to it. It’s the ultimate sexist slap driven into our confidence that we can’t matter once we’re beyond youth and motherhood, because of our mind alone. That the way we think isn’t actually a huge part of our beauty, with the confidence to live originally making us hotter with age, because the fact is it does.

The people I’ve talked with who know Secretary Clinton have said she is exhausted and looks forward to a long holiday and rest, which has been reported in every outlet you can name; some supporters puzzled over her relaxed hair and makeup. It’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t have to be. You fly 700,000 miles doing a pressure cooker job and see how you feel about every two to three weeks keeping a short haircut maintained and daily sculpted, highlights regularly, the mask of cosmetics every morning, even when you’ve had little sleep, it’s hot as hell where you are and you couldn’t name where that is without an aide. I’m not saying Clinton can’t name it, but I’ve had jet lag on puny little holiday trips, so I can’t imagine reality with her itinerary.

America is an airbrush nation.

When the first HD TV blasted across the country we all got a look at the infotainment pundits and talking heads who shouldn’t be blamed if they started looking for plastic surgeons, dermatologists, or doctors who practice laser therapy, women in particular.

Look at the films and the few female actresses who continue to work over 40.

It’s a testament to the women in film and television who have stood up and shown what they look like before they get their glamour on. KLG and Hoda did it, Natalie Morales and Meredith Vieira, too. Trendy magazines have done pictorials of actresses without makeup, with People the latest, which included Jessica Paré, who plays Don Draper’s wife on “Mad Men.” Her freckles are fabulous. In the Golden Age of Hollywood that fact would have been hidden on pain of the publicist’s life. A way to an Oscar is also seen through beauties going beastly who are considered brave. Remember Charlize Theron in “Monster”?

But not everyone is a Hollywood actress, let alone the brilliant Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s seen more pressure come her way on looks than most and finally rejected the reviews outright.

Could yet another part of the glass ceiling have cracked when Hillary “au naturale” hit the headlines this time? Traditional and new media, as well as most of television, minus misogynist central on the traditional right, didn’t just shrug, but said you look good to us, Hillary.

Taking the cue from Secretary Clinton, we backed her up and because of it some of us over 40 or 50 and beyond, took note. A space had been made to breathe. A moment crafted where the most admired American female leader said, whether I have makeup on or not in the middle of a work day “it’s just not something that deserves a lot of time and attention.” Let others worry about the trivial, I’m helping run the world, or my family while juggling a job, or running a small business.

As a girl who chose the pageant system to help pay for college, did the national commercial and Broadway babe thing where talent and looks combined made a difference, then on from there to eventually write about things that matter, all the while trading on talent and face to help get in doors or in a talking head chair to help pitch my points, I’m now at an age where it takes a lot more work for a lot less bang for my MAC buck. Sometimes I enjoy the paint and sometimes not, but I never go public in my work without it.

Let’s hope Hillary cracking the makeup ceiling shatters convention.

I’m never going to forget it and am grateful for it.


Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.