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Propaganda watch
Propaganda watch

I decided to no longer be very quiet on this..

In honor of the white house echo chambers

The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru

Please note I am including the whole article to prevent editing by the sit owner

Quote:icture him as a young man, standing on the waterfront in North Williamsburg, at a polling site, on Sept. 11, 2001, which was Election Day in New York City. He saw the planes hit the towers, an unforgettable moment of sheer disbelief followed by panic and shock and lasting horror, a scene that eerily reminded him, in the aftermath, of the cover of the Don DeLillo novel “Underworld.”

Everything changed that day. But the way it changed Ben Rhodes’s life is still unique, and perhaps not strictly believable, even as fiction. He was in the second year of the M.F.A. program at N.Y.U., writing short stories about losers in garden apartments and imagining that soon he would be published in literary magazines, acquire an agent and produce a novel by the time he turned 26. He saw the first tower go down, and after that he walked around for a while, until he ran into someone he knew, and they went back to her shared Williamsburg apartment and tried to find a television that worked, and when he came back outside, everyone was taking pictures of the towers in flames. He saw an Arab guy sobbing on the subway. “That image has always stayed with me,” he says. “Because I think he knew more than we did about what was going to happen.” Writing

Frederick Barthelme knockoffs suddenly seemed like a waste of time.

“I immediately developed this idea that, you know, maybe I want to try to write about international affairs,” he explained. “In retrospect, I had no idea what that meant.” His mother’s closest friend growing up ran the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which then published Foreign Policy. He sent her a letter and included what would wind up being his only piece of published fiction, a short story that appeared in The Beloit Fiction Journal. It was titled “The Goldfish Smiles, You Smile Back.” The story still haunts him, he says, because “it foreshadowed my entire life.”

It’s the day 
of President Obama’s final State of the Union address, Jan. 12, and the news inside the White House is not good. Luckily, the reporters on the couch in the West Wing waiting room don’t know it yet. The cream of the crop are here this early p.m. for a private, off-the-record lunch with the president, who will preview his annual remarks to Congress over a meal that is reported to be among the best in the White House chef’s repertoire.

“Blitzer!” a man calls out. A small figure in a long navy cashmere overcoat turns around, in mock surprise.

“You don’t write, you don’t call,” Wolf Blitzer, the CNN anchorman, parries.

“Well, you can call,” shoots back his former colleague Roland Martin. Their repartee thus concluded, they move on to the mutually fascinating subject of Washington traffic jams. “I used to have a 9:30 hit on CNN,” Martin reminisces. “The office was 8.2 miles from my home. It took me 45 minutes.” The CBS News anchor Scott Pelley tells a story about how members of the press destroyed the lawn during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and were told that they would be allowed back once the grass was replanted. The National Park Service replanted the grass outside the White House, but the journalists weren’t allowed back on the lawn.

Unnoticed by the reporters, Ben Rhodes walks through the room, a half-beat behind a woman in leopard-print heels. He is holding a phone to his ear, repeating his mantra: “I’m not important. You’re important.”

The Boy Wonder of the Obama White House is now 38. He heads downstairs to his windowless basement office, which is divided into two parts. In the front office, his assistant, Rumana Ahmed, and his deputy, Ned Price, are squeezed behind desks, which face a large television screen, from which CNN blares nonstop. Large pictures of Obama adorn the walls. Here is the president adjusting Rhodes’s tie; presenting his darling baby daughter, Ella, with a flower; and smiling wide while playing with

Ella on a giant rug that says “E Pluribus Unum.”

For much of the past five weeks, Rhodes has been channeling the president’s consciousness into what was imagined as an optimistic, forward-looking final State of the Union. Now, from the flat screens, a challenge to that narrative arises: Iran has seized two small boats containing 10 American sailors. Rhodes found out about the Iranian action earlier that morning but was trying to keep it out of the news until after the president’s speech. “They can’t keep a secret for two hours,” Rhodes says, with a tone of mild exasperation at the break in message discipline.

As the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Rhodes writes the president’s speeches, plans his trips abroad and runs communications strategy across the White House, tasks that, taken individually, give little sense of the importance of his role. He is, according to the consensus of the two dozen current and former White House insiders I talked to, the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from Potus himself. The president and Rhodes communicate “regularly, several times a day,” according to Denis McDonough, Obama’s chief of staff, who is known for captaining a tight ship. “I see it throughout the day in person,” he says, adding that he is sure that in addition to the two to three hours that Rhodes might spend with Obama daily, the two men communicate remotely throughout the day via email and phone calls. Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of

American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Like Obama, Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press. His ability to navigate and shape this new environment makes him a more effective and powerful extension of the president’s will than any number of policy advisers or diplomats or spies. His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.

Part of what accounts for Rhodes’s influence is his “mind meld” with the president. Nearly everyone I spoke to about Rhodes used the phrase “mind meld” verbatim, some with casual assurance and others in the hushed tones that are usually reserved for special insights. He doesn’t think for the president, but he knows what the president is thinking, which is a source of tremendous power. One day, when Rhodes and I were sitting in his boiler-room office, he confessed, with a touch of bafflement,

“I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

Standing in his front office before the State of the Union, Rhodes quickly does the political math on the breaking Iran story.

“Now they’ll show scary pictures of people praying to the supreme leader,” he predicts, looking at the screen. Three beats more, and his brain has spun a story line to stanch the bleeding. He turns to Price. “We’re resolving this, because we have relationships,” he says.

Price turns to his computer and begins tapping away at the administration’s well-cultivated network of officials, talking heads, columnists and newspaper reporters, web jockeys and outside advocates who can tweet at critics and tweak their stories backed up by quotations from “senior White House officials” and “spokespeople.” I watch the message bounce from Rhodes’s brain to Price’s keyboard to the three big briefing podiums — the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon — and across the Twitterverse, where it springs to life in dozens of insta-stories, which over the next five hours don formal dress for mainstream outlets. It’s a tutorial in the making of a digital news microclimate — a storm that is easy to mistake these days for a fact of nature, but whose author is sitting next to me right now.

Rhodes logs into his computer. “It’s the middle of the [expletive] night in Iran,” he grumbles. Price looks up from his keyboard to provide a messaging update: “Considering that they have 10 of our guys in custody, we’re doing O.K.”

With three hours to go until the president’s address to Congress, Rhodes grabs a big Gatorade and starts combing through the text of the State of the Union address. I peek over his shoulder, to get a sense of the meta-narrative that will shape dozens of thumb-suckers in the days and weeks to follow. One sentence reads: “But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.” He retypes a word, then changes it back, before continuing with his edit.

“Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks, twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages — they pose an enormous danger to civilians; they have to be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence.”

Watching Rhodes work, I remember that he is still, chiefly, a writer, who is using a new set of tools — along with the traditional arts of narrative and spin — to create stories of great consequence on the biggest page imaginable. The narratives he frames, the voices of senior officials, the columnists and reporters whose work he skillfully shapes and ventriloquizes, and even the president’s own speeches and talking points, are the only dots of color in a much larger vision about who Americans are and where we are going that Rhodes and the president have been formulating together over the past seven years. When I asked

Jon Favreau, Obama’s lead speechwriter in the 2008 campaign, and a close friend of Rhodes’s, whether he or Rhodes or the president had ever thought of their individual speeches and bits of policy making as part of some larger restructuring of the

American narrative, he replied, “We saw that as our entire job.”

Having recently spent time working in Hollywood, I realize during our conversations that the role Rhodes plays in the White House bears less resemblance to any specific character on Beltway-insider TV shows like “The West Wing” or “House of Cards” than it does to the people who create those shows. And like most TV writers, Rhodes clearly prefers to imagine himself in the company of novelists.

“What novel is this that you are living in now and will exit from in eight months and be like, ‘Oh, my God’?” I ask him.

“Who would be the author of this novel?” he asks.

“The one you are a character in now?”

“Don DeLillo, I think,” Rhodes answers. “I don’t know how you feel about Don DeLillo.”

“I love Don DeLillo,” I answer.

“Yeah,” Rhodes answers. “That’s the only person I can think of who has confronted these questions of, you know, the individual who finds himself negotiating both vast currents of history and a very specific kind of power dynamics. That’s his milieu. And that’s what it’s like to work in the U.S. foreign-policy apparatus in 2016.”

It has been rare
 to find Ben Rhodes’s name in news stories about the large events of the past seven years, unless you are looking for the quotation from an unnamed senior official in Paragraph 9. He is invisible because he is not an egotist, and because he is devoted to the president. But once you are attuned to the distinctive qualities of Rhodes’s voice — which is often laced with aggressive contempt for anyone or anything that stands in the president’s way — you can hear him everywhere.

Rhodes’s mother and father are not interested in talking about Rhodes. Neither is his older brother, David, who is president of CBS News, an organization that recently revived the effort to declassify the contents of the redacted 28 pages of the Sept. 11 report on the eve of Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia, on which Rhodes, as usual, accompanied the president. The brothers are close, but they often go months without seeing each other. “He was like the kid who carried the briefcase to school,” Ben says of his brother, who worked at Fox News and Bloomberg before moving to CBS. “I actually didn’t do that great in high school because I was drinking and smoking pot and hanging out in Central Park.”

Rhodes’s impassioned yet depressive vibe, which I feel in his stray remarks and in the strangeness of his decision to allow me to roam around the White House, stems in part from feeling overloaded; he wishes he had more time to think and write. His mother is Jewish from the Upper East Side, and worships John Updike, and reads The New Yorker. His father is a Texan lawyer who took his sons to St. Thomas Episcopal Church once a month, where Rhodes felt like the Jewish kid in church, the same way he felt like a “Jewish Christian” at Passover Seders. His New York City prep-school-kid combination of vulnerability, brattiness and passionate hatred for phonies suggests an only slightly updated version of what Holden Caulfield might have been like if he grew up to work in the West Wing.

Rhodes’s windowless back office, which doesn’t have a TV screen, is an oasis of late-night calm in a building devoted to the performance of power. The walls are painted a soft creamy color, which gives it the feel of an upscale hotel room with the drapes closed. He arrives here every morning between 8 and 9 from a modest two-bedroom apartment in a grad-student-type building in an unpretentious Washington neighborhood around the corner from his favorite post-collegiate bar. Before coming to work, he walks his 1-year-old daughter to day care. Then he drives to work in his Beamer, which appears to be the one grown-up luxury he and his wife, Ann Norris, who works in the State Department and longs to return to her childhood home of California, can afford. When his wife takes the car, he rides the bus, which offers him a touch of the anonymity he craves. His days at the White House start with the president’s daily briefing, which usually includes the vice president, National Security
Adviser Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Adviser Avril Haines and Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco.

The books on his shelves are a mix of DeLillo novels, history books, recondite tomes on Cuba and Burma and adventure-wonk stuff like Mark Mazzetti’s “The Way of the Knife.” C. S. Lewis makes an appearance here, alongside a volume of Lincoln speeches (Obama tells all his speechwriters to read Lincoln) and George Orwell’s “All Art Is Propaganda.” I have seen the same books on the shelves of plenty of Brooklyn apartments. Yet some large part of the recent history of America and its role in the world turns on the fact that the entirely familiar person sitting at the desk in front of me, who seems not unlike other weed-smokers I know who write Frederick Barthelme-type short stories, has achieved a “mind meld” with President Obama and used his skills to help execute a radical shift in American foreign policy.

So I wonder: How did he get from there to here?

The story that
 Rhodes published in The Beloit Fiction Journal is a good place to start.

Quote:The goldfish idea, I’m told, had been Ms. Wellberg’s.
“Why?” I ask. She is dyed blond, slim, petite, attractive.
“You take meticulous notes,” she slurs.

The editor at Foreign Policy who read “Goldfish,” which Rhodes attached with his query letter, said that the young M.F.A. would be bored with fact-checking. Instead, he suggested that he apply for a job with Lee Hamilton, the onetime congressman from Indiana, who was looking for a speechwriter.

“I was surprised,” Hamilton remembered. “What the hell does a guy who wanted to write fiction come to me for?” But he had always found writers useful, and Rhodes’s writing sample was the best in the pile. So he hired him on at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank. Though Rhodes never said a word in meetings, Hamilton says, he had a keen understanding of what was going on and a talent for putting the positions of distinguished participants down on paper. “I immediately understood that it’s a very important quality for a staffer,” Hamilton explained, “that he could come into a meeting and decide what was decided.” I suggested that the phrase “decide what was decided” is suggestive of the enormous power that might accrue to someone with Rhodes’s gifts. Hamilton nodded. “Absolutely,” he said.

Quote:The notes go on and on. They have ideas with subsets of ideas and reactions to ideas indented beneath the original ideas. The handwriting is perfect. The representation of what happened in the meetings immaculate, like a mirror’s reflection after it has been scrubbed clean. I have a reputation for my notes.

Rhodes served as Hamilton’s staff member on the 9/11 Commission, where he met Denis McDonough, another Hamilton protégé, who had gone on to work for Tom Daschle in the Senate. Rhodes then became the chief note-taker for the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan commission that excoriated George Bush’s war in Iraq. He accompanied Hamilton and his Republican counterpart on the group, former secretary of state and Bush family intimate James Baker, to their meetings with Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, David Petraeus and many others (Vice President Dick Cheney met with the group but didn’t say a word). According to both Hamilton and Edward Djerejian, Baker’s second on the I.S.G., Rhodes’s opinions were helpful in shaping the group’s conclusions — a scathing indictment of the policy makers responsible for invading Iraq. For Rhodes, who wrote much of the I.S.G. report, the Iraq war was proof, in black and white, not of the complexity of international affairs or the many perils attendant on political decision-making but of the fact that the decision-makers were morons.

One result of this experience was that when Rhodes joined the Obama campaign in 2007, he arguably knew more about the Iraq war than the candidate himself, or any of his advisers. He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.

Quote:Boost thinks very highly of me. My notes are so impressive that they have taken on the form of ideas, he feels. I capture other people’s words in a manner that not only organizes them, but inserts a clarity and purpose that was not present in the original idea. Connections are made between two opposing ideas that were not apparent in the meeting. I have gotten at not only the representation of things, but the way that the mind actually works.

Jon Favreau, then the campaign’s lead speechwriter, felt as if he could use a foreign-affairs expert who could write. “Foreign-policy advisers kept changing all the language that made Obama sound like he wasn’t part of the Democratic foreign-policy establishment,” he remembers. “The idea of someone with a masters in fiction who had also co-authored the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission reports seemed perfect for a candidate who put so much emphasis on storytelling.” The two young speechwriters quickly found themselves to be in sync. “He truly gives zero [expletive] about what most people in Washington think,” Favreau says admiringly of Rhodes. “I think he’s always seen his time there as temporary and won’t care if he’s never again invited to a cocktail party, or asked to appear on ‘Morning Joe,’ or inducted into the Council on Foreign Relations hall of fame or whatever the hell they do there.”

Quote:I sit next to Boost in the meetings. The ideas fly like radio waves. I am silent in these meetings, taking notes.

“He was easily underestimatable,” Samantha Power recalls, of Rhodes’s arrival on the Obama campaign in 2007. Herself a writer, whose history of America’s responses to genocide, “A Problem From Hell,” won the Pulitzer Prize, Power went to work in Obama’s Senate office in 2005. Power is now the American ambassador to the United Nations. Her attire suggests a disingenuous ambivalence about her role in government that appears to be common among her cohort in the Obama administration, with a cardigan made of thick, expensive-looking cashmere worn over a simple frock, along with silver spray-painted rock ’n’ roll sneakers. See, I’m sympatico, the sneakers proclaim.

Early on, what struck her about Rhodes was how strategic he was. “He was leading quietly, initially, and mainly just through track changes, like what to accept and reject,” she says. When I ask her where Rhodes’s control over drafts of the candidate’s speeches came from, she immediately answers, “Obama,” but then qualifies her answer. “But it was Hobbesian,” she adds. “He had the pen. And he understood intuitively that having the pen gave him that control.” His judgment was superior to that of his rivals, and he refused to ever back down. “He was just defiant,” she recalls. “He was like: ‘No, I’m not. That’s bad. Obama wouldn’t want that.’ ”

Obama relies on Rhodes for “an unvarnished take,” in part, she says, because “Ben just has no poker face,” and so it’s easy to see when he is feeling uncomfortable. “The president will be like, ‘Ben, something on your mind?’ And then Ben will have this incredibly precise lay-down of why the previous half-hour has been an utter waste of time, because there’s a structural flaw to the entire direction of the conversation.”

The literary character that Rhodes most closely resembles, Power volunteers, is Holden Caulfield. “He hates the idea of being phony, and he’s impetuous, and he has very strong views.”

Quote:In Afghanistan the Taliban dynamites enormous statues of Buddha, the ancient material imploding and crumbling to the ground, small specks of men can be seen watching in the foreground. This is somewhere else. Far away.

On his first day
 in the West Wing, Rhodes remembers thinking how remarkably small the space was, and noticing that the same few dozen people he worked with at campaign headquarters in Chicago were now wearing suits instead of jeans. The enormousness of the endeavor sank in on that first day, and he realized that for all the prep work, there was no manual for how to be on the staff of the person who is running the country, particularly at a time when the global economy was in free fall and 180,000 Americans were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He became aware of two things at once: the weight of the issues that the president was confronted with, and the intense global interest in even the most mundane presidential communications.

‘He truly gives zero [expletive] about what most people in Washington think. I think he’s always seen his time there as temporary and won’t care if he’s never again invited to a cocktail party.’

The job he was hired to do, namely to help the president of the United States communicate with the public, was changing in equally significant ways, thanks to the impact of digital technologies that people in Washington were just beginning to wrap their minds around. It is hard for many to absorb the true magnitude of the change in the news business — 40 percent of newspaper-industry professionals have lost their jobs over the past decade — in part because readers can absorb all the news they want from social-media platforms like Facebook, which are valued in the tens and hundreds of billions of dollars and pay nothing for the “content” they provide to their readers. You have to have skin in the game — to be in the news business, or depend in a life-or-death way on its products — to understand the radical and qualitative ways in which words that appear in familiar typefaces have changed. Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington.

The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

In this environment, Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once. Ned Price, Rhodes’s assistant, gave me a primer on how it’s done. The easiest way for the White House to shape the news, he explained, is from the briefing podiums, each of which has its own dedicated press corps. “But then there are sort of these force multipliers,” he said, adding, “We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn’t want to name them — ”

“I can name them,” I said, ticking off a few names of prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging.

Price laughed. “I’ll say, ‘Hey, look, some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of American weakness,’ ” he continued, “but — ”

“In fact it’s a sign of strength!” I said, chuckling.

“And I’ll give them some color,” Price continued, “and the next thing I know, lots of these guys are in the dot-com publishing space, and have huge Twitter followings, and they’ll be putting this message out on their own.”

This is something different from old-fashioned spin, which tended to be an art best practiced in person. In a world where experienced reporters competed for scoops and where carrying water for the White House was a cause for shame, no matter which party was in power, it was much harder to sustain a “narrative” over any serious period of time. Now the most effectively weaponized 140-character idea or quote will almost always carry the day, and it is very difficult for even good reporters to necessarily know where the spin is coming from or why.

When I later visited Obama’s former campaign mastermind David Axelrod in Chicago, I brought up the soft Orwellian vibe of an information space where old media structures and hierarchies have been erased by Silicon Valley billionaires who convinced the suckers that information was “free” and everyone with access to Google was now a reporter. Axelrod, a former newspaperman, sighed. “It’s not as easy as standing in front of a press conference and speaking to 70 million people like past presidents have been able to do,” he said. The bully pulpit by and large doesn’t exist anymore, he explained. “So more and more, over the last couple of years, there’s been an investment in alternative means of communication: using digital more effectively, going to nontraditional sources, understanding where on each issue your constituencies are going to be found,” he said. “I think they’ve approached these major foreign-policy challenges as campaign challenges, and they’ve run campaigns, and those campaigns have been very sophisticated.”

Rhodes’s innovative campaign
 to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false. Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency. “It’s the center of the arc,” Rhodes explained to me two days after the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was implemented. He then checked off the ways in which the administration’s foreign-policy aims and priorities converged on Iran. “We don’t have to kind of be in cycles of conflict if we can find other ways to resolve these issues,” he said. “We can do things that challenge the conventional thinking that, you know, ‘AIPAC doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the Israeli government doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the gulf countries don’t like it.’ It’s the possibility of improved relations with adversaries. It’s nonproliferation. So all these threads that the president’s been spinning — and I mean that not in the press sense — for almost a decade, they kind of all converged around Iran.”

TBC next post
(06-04-2016, 08:26 PM)Armonica_Templar Wrote: The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru


In the narrative that Rhodes shaped, the “story” of the Iran deal began in 2013, when a “moderate” faction inside the Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani beat regime “hard-liners” in an election and then began to pursue a policy of “openness,” which included a newfound willingness to negotiate the dismantling of its illicit nuclear-weapons program. The president set out the timeline himself in his speech announcing the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” While the president’s statement was technically accurate — there had in fact been two years of formal negotiations leading up to the signing of the J.C.P.O.A. — it was also actively misleading, because the most meaningful part of the negotiations with Iran had begun in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the “moderate” camp were chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The idea that there was a new reality in Iran was politically useful to the Obama administration. By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making. By eliminating the fuss about Iran’s nuclear program, the administration hoped to eliminate a source of structural tension between the two countries, which would create the space for America to disentangle itself from its established system of alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Turkey. With one bold move, the administration would effectively begin the process of a large-scale disengagement from the Middle East.

The nerve center for the selling of the Iran deal to Congress, which took place in a concentrated three-month period between July and September of last year, was located inside the White House, and is referred to by its former denizens as “the war room.” Chad Kreikemeier, a Nebraskan who had worked in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, helped run the team, which included three to six people from each of several agencies, he says, which were the State Department, Treasury, the American delegation to the United Nations (i.e., Samantha Power), “at times D.O.D.” (the Department of Defense) and also the Department of Energy and the National Security Council. Rhodes “was kind of like the quarterback,” running the daily video conferences and coming up with lines of attack and parry. “He was extremely good about immediately getting to a phrase or a way of getting the message out that just made more sense,” Kreikemeier remembers. Framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes’s go-to move — and proved to be a winning argument.

The person whom Kreikemeier credits with running the digital side of the campaign was Tanya Somanader, 31, the director of digital response for the White House Office of Digital Strategy, who became known in the war room and on Twitter as @TheIranDeal. Early on, Rhodes asked her to create a rapid-response account that fact-checked everything related to the Iran deal. “So, we developed a plan that was like: The Iran deal is literally going to be the tip of everything that we stand up online,” Somanader says. “And we’re going to map it onto what we know about the different audiences we’re dealing with: the public, pundits, experts, the right wing, Congress.” By applying 21st-century data and networking tools to the white-glove world of foreign affairs, the White House was able to track what United States senators and the people who worked for them, and influenced them, were seeing online — and make sure that no potential negative comment passed without a tweet.

As she explained how the process worked, I was struck by how naïve the assumption of a “state of nature” must seem in an information environment that is mediated less and less by experienced editors and reporters with any real prior knowledge of the subjects they write about. “People construct their own sense of source and credibility now,” she said. “They elect who they’re going to believe.” For those in need of more traditional-seeming forms of validation, handpicked Beltway insiders like Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor helped retail the administration’s narrative. “Laura Rozen was my RSS feed,” Somanader offered. “She would just find everything and retweet it.”

Rhodes’s messaging campaign was so effective not simply because it was a perfectly planned and executed example of digital strategy, but also because he was personally involved in guiding the deal itself. In July 2012, Jake Sullivan, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, traveled to Muscat, Oman, for the first meeting with the Iranians, taking a message from the White House. “It was, ‘We’re prepared to open a direct channel to resolve the nuclear agreement if you are prepared to do the same thing and authorize it at the highest levels and engage in a serious discussion on these issues,’ ” Sullivan remembers. “Once that was agreed to, it was quickly decided that we resolve the nuclear agreement in two steps, the interim agreement and the final agreement.” Subsequent meetings with the Iranians followed, during which he was joined by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns. “Bill and I had a huge amount of license to explore what the terms would look like, within the negotiating parameters,” Sullivan says. “What the precise trade-offs would be, between forms of sanctions relief and forms of restraints on their programs, that was left to us to feel out.”

The fact that the president largely let his surrogates do the talking and the selling of the Iran deal — and even now, rarely talks about it in public — does not reflect his level of direct engagement. Sullivan and Burns spent hours before and after every session in Oman with the president and his closest advisers in the White House. When the president wasn’t present, Rhodes always was. “Ben and I, in particular, the two of us, spent a lot of time thinking through all the angles,” Sullivan says. “We spent three, four, five hours together in Washington talking things through before the meetings.” In March 2013, a full three months before the elections that elevated Hassan Rouhani to the office of president, Sullivan and Burns finalized their proposal for an interim agreement, which became the basis for the J.C.P.O.A.

The White House point person during the later stage of the negotiations was Rob Malley, a favored troubleshooter who is currently running negotiations that could keep the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power. During the course of the Iran talks, Malley told me, he always kept in close contact with Rhodes. “I would often just call him and say, ‘Give me a reality check,’ ” Malley explained. “He could say, ‘Here is where I think the president is, and here is where I think he will be.’ ” He continued, “Ben would try to anticipate: Does it make sense policywise? But then he would also ask himself: How do we sell it to Congress? How do we sell it to the public? What is it going to do to our narrative?”

Malley is a particularly keen observer of the changing art of political communication; his father, Simon Malley, who was born in Cairo, edited the politics magazine Afrique Asie and proudly provided a platform for Fidel Castro and Yasir Arafat, in the days when the leaders’ words might take weeks to travel from Cuba or Cairo to Paris. “The Iran experience was the place where I saw firsthand how policy, politics and messaging all had to be brought together, and I think that Ben is really at the intersection of all three,” Malley says. “He reflects and he shapes at the same time.”

As Malley and representatives of the State Department, including Wendy Sherman and Secretary of State John Kerry, engaged in formal negotiations with the Iranians, to ratify details of a framework that had already been agreed upon, Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters. In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

When I suggested that all this dark metafictional play seemed a bit removed from rational debate over America’s future role in the world, Rhodes nodded. “In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this,” he said. “We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked.” He is proud of the way he sold the Iran deal. “We drove them crazy,” he said of the deal’s opponents.

Yet Rhodes bridled at the suggestion that there has been anything deceptive about the way that the agreement itself was sold. “Look, with Iran, in a weird way, these are state-to-state issues. They’re agreements between governments. Yes, I would prefer that it turns out that Rouhani and Zarif” — Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister — “are real reformers who are going to be steering this country into the direction that I believe it can go in, because their public is educated and, in some respects, pro-American. But we are not betting on that.”

In fact, Rhodes’s passion seems to derive not from any investment in the technical specifics of sanctions or centrifuge arrays, or any particular optimism about the future course of Iranian politics and society. Those are matters for the negotiators and area specialists. Rather, it derived from his own sense of the urgency of radically reorienting American policy in the Middle East in order to make the prospect of American involvement in the region’s future wars a lot less likely. When I asked whether the prospect of this same kind of far-reaching spin campaign being run by a different administration is something that scares him, he admitted that it does. “I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” he said, shrugging. “But that’s impossible.”

Getting Rhodes to
 speak directly about the man whose gestalt he channels is a bit like asking someone to look into a mirror while describing someone else’s face. The Obama he talks about in public is, in part, a character that he has helped to create — based on a real person, of course — and is embedded in story lines that he personally constructs and manages. At the same time, he believes very deeply in Obama, the man and the president, and in the policies that he has helped to structure and sell on his behalf.

Obama’s particular revulsion against a certain kind of global power politics is a product, Rhodes suggests, of his having been raised in Southeast Asia. “Indonesia was a place where your interaction at that time with power was very intimate, right?” Rhodes asks. “Tens or hundreds of thousands of people had just been killed. Power was not some abstract thing,” he muses. “When we sit in Washington and debate foreign policy, it’s like a Risk game, or it’s all about us, or the human beings disappear from the decisions. But he lived in a place where he was surrounded by people who had either perpetrated those acts — and by the way, may not have felt great about that — or else knew someone who was a victim. I don’t think there’s ever been an American president who had an experience like that at a young age of what power is.”

The parts of Obama’s foreign policy that disturb some of his friends on the left, like drone strikes, Rhodes says, are a result of Obama’s particular kind of globalism, which understands the hard and at times absolute necessity of killing. Yet, at the same time, they are also ways of avoiding more deadly uses of force — a kind of low-body-count spin move.

‘We created an echo chamber,’ he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. ‘They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.’

He leans back and opens a drawer in the file cabinet behind his desk, and removes a folder. “I was going to show you something,” he says, removing a sheaf of yellow legal paper covered in longhand. “Just to confirm for you that he really is a writer.” He shows me the president’s copy of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, a revision of an original draft by Favreau and Rhodes whose defining tension was accepting a prize awarded before he had actually accomplished anything. In his longhand notes, Obama relocated the speech’s tension in the fact that he was accepting a peace prize a week after ordering 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. King and Gandhi were the author’s heroes, yet he couldn’t act as they did, because he runs a state. The reason that the author had to exercise power was because not everyone in the world is rational.
We sit for a while, and I examine the president’s thoughts unfolding on the page, and the lawyerly, abstract nature of his writing process. “Moral imagination, spheres of identity, but also move beyond cheap lazy pronouncements,” one note reads. Here was the new American self — rational, moral, not self-indulgent. No longer one thing but multiple overlapping spheres or circles. Who is described here? As usual, the author is describing himself.

Valerie Jarrett has been called the president’s work wife and is the only member of the West Wing staff who knew Obama before he began contemplating a run for the presidency. What I want to understand better, I tell her, are the swirls of the president’s emotional fingerprint, which I saw in the longhand draft of his Nobel speech. We talk for a while about being American and at the same time being from somewhere else, and the split-screen experience of reality that experience allows. 

Jarrett was born in Iran and spent her early childhood there.

“Was it a point of connection between you and the president that you had each spent some substantial part of your childhoods living in another country?” I ask. Her face lights up.

“Absolutely,” she answers. The question is important to her. “The first conversation we had over dinner, when we first met, was about what it was like for both of us to live in countries that were predominantly Muslim countries at formative parts of our childhood and the perspective it gave us about the United States and how uniquely excellent it is,” she says. “We talked about what it was like to be children, and how we played with children who had totally different backgrounds than our own but you would find something in common.” She recalls her very first dinner together with the new fiancé of her protégée Michelle Robinson. “I remember him asking me questions that I felt like no one else has ever asked me before,” she says, “and he asked me from a perspective of someone who knew the same experience that I had. So it felt really good. I was like, ‘Oh, finally someone who gets it.’ ”

Barack Obama is 
not a standard-issue liberal Democrat. He openly shares Rhodes’s contempt for the groupthink of the American foreign-policy establishment and its hangers-on in the press. Yet one problem with the new script that Obama and Rhodes have written is that the Blob may have finally caught on.

“He is a brilliant guy, but he has a real problem with what I call the assignment of bad faith,” one former senior official told me of the president. “He regards everyone on the other side at this point as being a bunch of bloodthirsty know-nothings from a different era who play by the old book. He hears arguments like, ‘We should be punching Iran in the nose on its shipments of arms, and do it publicly,’ or ‘We should sanction the crap out of them for their ballistic-missile test and tell them that if they do it again we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that,’ and he hears Dick Cheney in those arguments.”

Another official I spoke to put the same point more succinctly: “Clearly the world has disappointed him.” When I asked whether he believed that the Oval Office debate over Syria policy in 2012 — resulting in a decision not to support the uprising against Assad in any meaningful way — had been an honest and open one, he said that he had believed that it was, but has since changed his mind. “Instead of adjusting his policies to the reality, and adjusting his perception of reality to the changing realities on the ground, the conclusions he draws are exactly the same, no matter what the costs have been to our strategic interests,” he says. “In an odd way, he reminds me of Bush.” The comparison is a startling one — and yet, questions of tone aside, it is uncomfortably easy to see the similarities between the two men, American presidents who projected their own ideas of the good onto an indifferent world.

One of the few charter members of the Blob willing to speak on the record is Leon Panetta, who was Obama’s head of the C.I.A. and secretary of defense and also enough of a product of a different culture to give honest answers to what he understands to be questions of consequence. At his institute at the old Fort Ord in Seaside, Calif., where, in the days before he wore Mr. Rogers sweaters, he served as a young Army intelligence officer, I ask him about a crucial component of the administration’s public narrative on Iran: whether it was ever a salient feature of the C.I.A.’s analysis when he ran the agency that the Iranian regime was meaningfully divided between “hard-line” and “moderate” camps.

“No,” Panetta answers. “There was not much question that the Quds Force and the supreme leader ran that country with a strong arm, and there was not much question that this kind of opposing view could somehow gain any traction.”

I ask Panetta whether, as head of the C.I.A., or later on, as secretary of defense, he ever saw the letters that Obama covertly sent to Khamenei, in 2009 and in 2012, which were only reported on by the press weeks later.

“No,” he answers, before saying he would “like to believe” that Tom Donilon, national security adviser since 2010, and Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, had a chance to work on the offer they presented.


As secretary of defense, he tells me, one of his most important jobs was keeping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, from launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They were both interested in the answer to the question, ‘Is the president serious?’ ” Panetta recalls. “And you know my view, talking with the president, was: If brought to the point where we had evidence that they’re developing an atomic weapon, I think the president is serious that he is not going to allow that to happen.”

Panetta stops.

“But would you make that same assessment now?” I ask him.

“Would I make that same assessment now?” he asks. “Probably not.”

He understands the president’s pivot toward Iran as the logical result of a deeply held premise about the negative effects of use of American military force on a scale much larger than drone strikes or Special Forces raids. “I think the whole legacy that he was working on was, ‘I’m the guy who’s going to bring these wars to an end, and the last goddamn thing I need is to start another war,’ ” he explains of Obama. “If you ratchet up sanctions, it could cause a war. If you start opposing their interest in Syria, well, that could start a war, too.”

In Panetta’s telling, his own experience at the Pentagon under Obama sometimes resembled being installed in the driver’s seat of a car and finding that the steering wheel and brakes had been disconnected from the engine. Obama and his aides used political elders like him, Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton as cover to end the Iraq war, and then decided to steer their own course, he suggests. While Panetta pointedly never mentions Rhodes’s name, it is clear whom he is talking about.

“There were staff people who put themselves in a position where they kind of assumed where the president’s head was on a particular issue, and they thought their job was not to go through this open process of having people present all these different options, but to try to force the process to where they thought the president wanted to be,” he says. “They’d say, ‘Well, this is where we want you to come out.’ And I’d say ‘[expletive], that’s not the way it works. We’ll present a plan, and then the president can make a decision.’ I mean, Jesus Christ, it is the president of the United States, you’re making some big decisions here, he ought to be entitled to hear all of those viewpoints and not to be driven down a certain path.”

But that can’t be true, I tell Panetta, because the aides he is talking about had no independent power aside from the authority that the president himself gave them.

“Well, that’s a good question,” Panetta allows. “He’s a smart guy, he’s not dumb.” It’s all part of the Washington blame game. Just as Panetta can blame young aides in order to avoid blaming the president for his actual choices, the president used his aides to tell Panetta to take a hike. Perhaps the president and his aides were continually unable to predict the consequences of their actions in Syria, and made mistake after mistake, while imagining that it was going to come out right the next time. 

“Another read, which isn’t necessarily opposed to that,” I continue, “is that their actual picture is entirely coherent. But if they put it in blunt, unnuanced terms — ”

Panetta completes my sentence: “ — they’d get the [expletive] kicked out of them.” He looks at me curiously. “Let me ask you something,” he says. “Did you present this theory to Ben Rhodes?”

“Oh, God,” Rhodes
 says. “The reason the president has bucked a lot of establishment thinking is because he does not agree with establishment thinking. Not because I or Denis McDonough are sitting here.” He pushes back in his chair. “The complete lack of governance in huge swaths of the Middle East, that is the project of the American establishment,” he declares. “That as much as Iraq is what angered me.”

There is something dangerously naïve about this kind of talk, in which words like “balance,” “stakeholders” and “interests” are endlessly reshuffled like word tiles in a magnetic-poetry set, with little regard for the immutable contingencies that shaped America’s role in the world. But that’s hardly fair. Ben Rhodes wanted to do right, and maybe, when the arc of history lands, it will turn out that he did. At least, he tried. Something scared him, and made him feel as if the grown-ups in Washington didn’t know what they were talking about, and it’s hard to argue that he was wrong.

What has interested me most about watching him and his cohort in the White House over the past seven years, I tell him, is the evolution of their ability to get comfortable with tragedy. I am thinking specifically about Syria, I add, where more than 450,000 people have been slaughtered.

“Yeah, I admit very much to that reality,” he says. “There’s a numbing element to Syria in particular. But I will tell you this,” he continues. “I profoundly do not believe that the United States could make things better in Syria by being there. And we have an evidentiary record of what happens when we’re there — nearly a decade in Iraq.”

Iraq is his one-word answer to any and all criticism. I was against the Iraq war from the beginning, I tell Rhodes, so I understand why he perpetually returns to it. I also understand why Obama pulled the plug on America’s engagement with the Middle East, I say, but it was also true as a result that more people are dying there on his watch than died during the Bush presidency, even if very few of them are Americans. What I don’t understand is why, if America is getting out of the Middle East, we are apparently spending so much time and energy trying to strong-arm Syrian rebels into surrendering to the dictator who murdered their families, or why it is so important for Iran to maintain its supply lines to Hezbollah. He mutters something about John Kerry, and then goes off the record, to suggest, in effect, that the world of the Sunni Arabs that the American establishment built has collapsed. The buck stops with the establishment, not with Obama, who was left to clean up their mess.

It is clearly time for me to go. Rhodes walks me out into the sunlight of the West Wing parking lot, where we are treated to the sight of the aged Henry Kissinger, who has come to pay a visit. I ask Rhodes if he has ever met the famous diplomat before, and he tells me about the time they were seated together at a state dinner for the president of China. It was an interesting encounter to imagine, between Kissinger, who made peace with Mao’s China while bombing Laos to bits, and Rhodes, who helped effect a similar diplomatic volte-face with Iran but kept the United States out of a civil war in Syria, which has caused more than four million people to become refugees. I ask Rhodes how it felt being seated next to the embodiment of American realpolitik. “It was surreal,” he says, looking off into the middle distance. “I told him I was going to Laos,” he continues. “He got a weird look in his eye.”

There is nothing snarky about his delivery. Rhodes just was bothered by seeing legless kids and unexploded cluster bombs in the jungle. He is not Henry Kissinger, or so his logic runs, even as the underlying realist suspicion — or contempt — for the idea of America as a moral actor is eerily similar. He is torn. As the president himself once asked, how are we supposed to weigh the tens of thousands who have died in Syria against the tens of thousands who have died in Congo? What power means is that the choice is yours, no matter who is telling the story.

David Samuels last wrote for the magazine about Susan Lindauer, an activist who tried to stop the Iraq war by serving as an intermediary between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush.

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A version of this article appears in print on May 8, 2016, on page MM44 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: The Storyteller and the President. Today's Paper|Subscribe

The US President controlled the outcome of the debate stiffling all free speech..

Rhodes is a traitor and should have known better..

In their honor I decide to start 

Propaganda watch
(06-04-2016, 08:31 PM)Armonica_Templar Wrote: We must shame dumb trump fans: The white working class are not victims

It's not smug liberalism to point out Trump backers are low-educated. What's dangerous is to sympathize with them

low level
Thousands are expected to rally in cities across the United States on Sunday for immigrant and worker rights and against hateful campaign rhetoric in a heated presidential election year

mid level
23 Reasons Why We Definitely Don't Need Any Gun Safety Reforms Ever
Tom McKay

Heavy Liberal biased

Huffington Post

California Muslims sue over hijab discrimination
Jocelyne Zablit
May 2, 2016

I hope Trumpians get what they want and choke on it: Steve Deace
Steve Deace

Veteran GOP Pollster Predicts Clinton Over Trump in November
By Eric Pianin

That John Kasich Was Considered a 'Moderate' in This Election Tells You All You Need to Know
Charles P. Pierce
May 5, 2016

Air Force test pilot shares if the F-35 or A-10 is better for close air support
Alex Lockie

Bob Dole Endorses Donald Trump
Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler

History lesson for Paul Ryan: The Republicans have always been Donald Trump’s party

Eric Segall is the Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law at the College of Law at Georgia State University.

Obliterating UNC’s black history
Special to the Observer

America is freaking out over a cartoon of Michelle Obama
by Brianna Cox

Zimmerman takes victory lap on Trayvon's grave
Leonard Pitts

George Zimmerman Taunts Trayvon Martin’s Parents: ‘They Didn’t Raise Their Son Right’
Gideon Resnick

Intimidation: The Only Thing Bernie Sanders’ Supporters Actually Do Well
By Jon Reinish

Why Donald Trump’s polling advantage may be a bit misleading
By Philip Bump

Do white people want merit-based admissions policies? Depends on who their competition is.
Updated by Victoria M. Massie

University of Missouri criticized for firing professor who yelled at police and reporters during protests
By Susan Svrluga

Too many ‘dead white dudes’? Seattle U students protest program’s curriculum
Katherine Long


The case for a third candidate strengthens
By Jennifer Rubin

This is how fascism comes to America
By Robert Kagan

Is it time to ask Romney to run?
By Jennifer Rubin

Trump Presidency Will Be Another Disaster
Diane M. Francis

Big-name Democrats won't defend Wasserman Schultz

Kelly Presses BLM Activist on Gray Verdict: 'What Did This Cop Do Wrong?'
As seen on The Kelly File

Aggressive Lynch makes mark at Department of Justice
By Lydia Wheeler

Markets eyeing Clinton's slumping campaign warily: Analyst
Leanne Miller | @LeanneBMiller

How an Outsider President Killed a Party
By GIL TROY June 02, 2016

Day after day, Trump is making America smaller
By Danielle Allen

AP Analysis: In Trump Takedown, Clinton Finds Her Message


Each Article is a link to proof I see

I will be adding more names and articles as I read more

In honor of rhodes it is important to remember who is who
Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say

Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say By ADAM LIPTAK

embedded video

Quote:WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump’s blustery attacks on the press, complaints about the judicial system and bold claims of presidential power collectively sketch out a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law, legal experts across the political spectrum say.
Even as much of the Republican political establishment lines up behind its presumptive nominee, many conservative and libertarian legal scholars warn that electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis.

“Who knows what Donald Trump with a pen and phone would do?” askedIlya Shapiro, a lawyer with the libertarian Cato Institute.

With five months to go before Election Day, Mr. Trump has already said he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. He has threatened to sic federal regulators on his critics. He has encouraged rough treatment of demonstrators.

His proposal to bar Muslims from entry into the country tests the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom, due process and equal protection.

And, in what was a tipping point for some, he attacked Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of the Federal District Court in San Diego, who is overseeing two class actions against Trump University.

Mr. Trump accused the judge of bias, falsely said he was Mexican and seemed to issue a threat.

“They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace,” Mr. Trump said. “O.K.? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case?”

Continue reading the main story

[Image: NEWSEVENT-promo-blogSmallThumb.jpg]
Presidential Election 2016
Here’s the latest news and analysis of the candidates and issues shaping the presidential race.

See More »

David Post, a retired law professor who now writes for the Volokh Conspiracy, a conservative-leaning law blog, said those comments had crossed a line.

“This is how authoritarianism starts, with a president who does not respect the judiciary,” Mr. Post said. “You can criticize the judicial system, you can criticize individual cases, you can criticize individual judges. But the president has to be clear that the law is the law and that he enforces the law. That is his constitutional obligation.”


Where Trump Breaks With the Republican Party

Donald J. Trump is set to be the Republican standard-bearer, but when it comes to some of his policies, he is out of sync with many Republican leaders in Congress.


“If he is signaling that that is not his position, that’s a very serious constitutional problem,” Mr. Post said.
Beyond the attack on judicial independence is a broader question of Mr. Trump’s commitment to the separation of powers and to the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution. Randy E. Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown and an architect of the first major challenge to President Obama’s health care law, said he had grave doubts on both fronts.

“You would like a president with some idea about constitutional limits on presidential powers, on congressional powers, on federal powers,” Professor Barnett said, “and I doubt he has any awareness of such limits.”

Republican leaders say they are confident that Mr. Trump would respect the rule of law if elected. “He’ll have a White House counsel,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, told Hugh Hewitt, the radio host, on Monday. “There will be others who point out there’s certain things you can do and you can’t do.”

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who has become a reluctant supporter of Mr. Trump, said he did not believe that the nation would be in danger under his presidency.

“I still believe we have the institutions of government that would restrain someone who seeks to exceed their constitutional obligations,” Mr. McCain said. “We have a Congress. We have the Supreme Court. We’re not Romania.”

“Our institutions, including the press, are still strong enough to prevent” unconstitutional acts, he said.

Mr. Post said that view was too sanguine, given the executive branch’s practical primacy. “The president has all the power with respect to enforcing the law,” he said. “There’s only one of those three branches that actually has the guns in its hands, and that’s the executive.”

Republican officials have criticized Mr. Obama for what they have called his unconstitutional expansion of executive power. But some legal scholars who share that view say the problem under a President Trump would be worse.

“I don’t think he cares about separation of powers at all,” said Richard Epstein, a fellow at the Hoover Institution who also teaches at New York University and the University of Chicago.


The Electoral Map Looks Challenging for Trump

President George W. Bush “often went beyond what he should have done,” Professor Epstein said. “I think Obama’s been much worse on that issue pretty consistently, and his underlings have been even more so. But I think Trump doesn’t even think there’s an issue to worry about. He just simply says whatever I want to do I will do.”

Mr. Trump has boasted that he will use Mr. Obama’s actions as precedent for his own expansive assertions of executive power.

“He’s led the way, to be honest with you,” he said in January on “[url=]Meet the Press,” referring to Mr. Obama’s program to spare millions of immigrants in the country unlawfully from deportation. “But I’m going to use them much better, and they’re going to serve a much better purpose than what he’s done.”

But Mr. Post said there was a difference between Mr. Obama’s view of executive power and that of Mr. Trump. “Whatever you think of Obama’s position on immigration, he is willing to submit to the courts,” he said. “There is no suggestion that he will disobey if the courts rule against him.”

Several law professors said they were less sure about Mr. Trump, citing the actions of another populist, President Andrew Jackson, who refused to enforce an 1832 Supreme Court decision arising from a clash between Georgia and the Cherokee Nation.

“I can easily see a situation in which he would take the Andrew Jackson line,” Professor Epstein said, referring to a probably apocryphal comment attributed to Jackson about Chief Justice John Marshall: “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.”

There are other precedents, said John C. Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who took an expansive view of executive power as a lawyer in the Bush administration. “The only two other presidents I can think of who were so hostile to judges on an individual level and to the judiciary as a whole would be Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt,” he said.

Both of those presidents chafed at what they saw as excessive judicial power. “But they weren’t doing it because they had cases before those judges as individuals,” Professor Yoo said. “They had legitimate separation-of-powers fights between the presidency and the judiciary. Trump is lashing out because he has a lawsuit in a private capacity, which is much more disturbing.”

Other legal scholars said they were worried about Mr. Trump’s commitment to the First Amendment. He has taken particular aim at The Washington Post and its owner, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.

“He owns Amazon,” Mr. Trump said in February. “He wants political influence so Amazon will benefit from it. That’s not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.”
And then an echo chamber

‘This is how authoritarianism starts’
By Steve Benen

‘This is how authoritarianism starts’

Quote:Given how little Donald Trump knows about government, policy, the public sector, and public institutions, it’s difficult to say exactly how he’d govern if elected president. But the New York Timesreports today that legal experts from across the spectrum believe the presumptive Republican nominee has sketched out “a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law.”
Indeed, the article quoted a variety of conservative and libertarian legal scholars who fear a Trump presidency could create “a constitutional crisis” if/when the political amateur took steps to implement some of his stated goals: banning Muslims from entering the country, “loosening” libel laws to encourage lawsuits against news organizations, and even using federal regulators to punish his detractors.
David Post, a retired law professor who now writes for the Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy, said in reference to Trump’s attacks on a judge he doesn’t like, “This is how authoritarianism starts.” UC Berkely’s John Yoo, best known as the author of the Bush/Cheney Torture Memos, called Trump’s perspective “disturbing.”
And when John Yoo thinks your views on government abuses are excessive, it’s probably time to re-think your life choices.
But perhaps most interesting was the response from congressional Republicans to these kinds of concerns. From the Times’ report:
Quote:Republican leaders say they are confident that Mr. Trump would respect the rule of law if elected. “He’ll have a White House counsel,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, told Hugh Hewitt, the radio host, on Monday. “There will be others who point out there’s certain things you can do and you can’t do.”
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who has become a reluctant supporter of Mr. Trump, said he did not believe that the nation would be in danger under his presidency.
“I still believe we have the institutions of government that would restrain someone who seeks to exceed their constitutional obligations,” Mr. McCain said. “We have a Congress. We have the Supreme Court. We’re not Romania.”
“Our institutions, including the press, are still strong enough to prevent” unconstitutional acts, he said.
Oh, good, we’ve apparently reached a new point in our discourse. Leading Republican members of Congress are reassuring the public that their party’s presidential nominee probably won’t be a Constitution-ignoring authoritarian – and if he is, there are probably institutions in place to stop him.

Putting aside whether their optimism is warranted, since when does the United States even have to ask questions like these?
The Atlantic published a piece from David Frum the other day about democracy’s “guardrails” and the degree to which Trump “snapped through” them while undermining traditional American norms. The response from GOP lawmakers like McConnell and McCain seems to be that, if elected, there’s another set of structural constraints that would prevent a President Trump from doing catastrophic damage to our system of government.
Their sanguine posturing is probably meant to be reassuring, but the broader question remains the same: why would the country elect someone who intends to deliberately put unprecedented strains on those guardrails?
Wal-Mart CAN afford $15 minimum wage
Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project

Wal-Mart CAN afford $15 minimum wage

Quote:Wal-mart Stores raised its minimum wage to $9 in 2015 and to $10 in 2016, after years of protests by workers. While important steps in the right direction, these increases are not enough. An employee working 34 hours per week (which Wal-Mart considers full time) at $10 per hour still earns less than $18,000 per year and cannot meet her family's basic needs on Wal-Mart's wages alone, even in states with low costs of living, according to a recent study.
Why does it matter? Wal-Mart is the country's largest private employer, with 1.5 million employees in the United States alone. And it's a hugely profitable one: it generated $482 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2016. The company simply cannot justify its meager pay practices.

[Image: 103685699-GettyImages-52802374.530x298.jpg?v=1464897389]Chris Hondros | Getty Images
An employee restocks a shelf in the grocery section of a Wal-Mart Supercenter
All the evidence suggests Wal-Mart can easily afford a $15 minimum wage. The company, for instance, has routinely poured billions of dollars into stock buybacks as part of a strategy to reduce the number of Walmart shares on the market and increase the value of remaining shares. In the fiscal year ending in January 2015, the company generated more than $16 billion in net profit, and in fiscal year 2015, its CEO, alone, received $19.4 million in compensation, or more than $9,323 per hour based on a 40-hour week.

Low wages matter for taxpayers, too. When workers cannot afford to meet their basic needs despite working full time, they are forced to turn to public assistance. This means that companies rely on taxpayer dollars to subsidize rock-bottom wages. A single adult with one child who works full-time for $10 an hour will still qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programand the Earned Income Tax Credit, for example.

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How will Wal-Mart keep slashing prices: Here's a hint — it flies
A $15 minimum wage would put billions of dollars in the pockets of hundreds of thousands of workers across the U.S. The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education has estimated that an increase to $15 per hour for Wal-Mart employees this year would mean an additional $4.95 billion in annual income for 979,000 hourly employees.* Women employees would see an additional $2.7 billion in earnings, and black employees would earn an additional $1 billion. Latino and Asian employees would receive an additional $626 million and $163 million, respectively.**

A $15 minimum wage would be good business for Wal-Mart. Researchers at The Wharton School find that for every additional dollar spent on payroll at a given store, sales can increase anywhere from $4 to $28. Higher wages help reduce turnover, which

The Wall Street Journal has described as "a special scourge of retail and service companies where wages are low and hourly workers are often viewed as disposable and interchangeable."

This turnover is costly—research shows that it costs a company $4,275 in staffing and retraining costs each time it replaces an employee. Even Wal-Mart itself has explained that its decision to raise wages was part of the company's growth strategy: Wal-Mart's chief financial officer noted in the company's 2016 annual report that Wal-Mart's investment in wages was "not only the right thing to do for [its] associates, but it positions [Wal-Mart] to be a stronger company going forward."

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Our wage hikes give workers more money to spend in our stores: Wal-Mart US CEO
A shift by Wal-Mart to a decent minimum wage would have positive ripple effects across the retail industry, which employs nearly 15 million workers in the U.S. Wal-Mart employs about 1 percent of the nation's workforce and nearly 10 percent of all retail workers. The company's practices undoubtedly set standards for the retail industry as a whole. Indeed, Wal-Mart's previous dollar wage increase was quickly matched by retailers like Target, T.J. Maxx, Ross, and even McDonald's.

Since November 2012, nearly 10 million workers have won gradual wage increases to $15 per hour through a combination of states and cities raising their minimum wage rates; local, state, and federal executive orders; and individual companies raising their pay scales. Two of the largest states in which Wal-Mart operates, New York and California, approved a statewide $15 minimum wage earlier this year. A federal bill would also increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2020.

The movement for a $15 minimum wage may ultimately leave Wal-Mart with no choice but to raise its minimum wage. But Wal-Mart, one of the wealthiest and largest employers in the U.S., can choose to act now and pay its workers what they need, and, more importantly, what they deserve. As Wal-Mart executives and the Walton heirs convene for their annual shareholders meeting this week to chart the future for the company, all evidence suggests that Wal-Mart can easily afford a $15 minimum wage. 

Researchers at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education analyzed the distribution of wages and hours worked for hourly workers classified under Wal-Mart's industry code and simulated the impact of raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour in 2016. Estimates are based on an analysis of the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey, combined with publicly available information on the size of Walmart's hourly workforce. 

**OUR Walmart calculated the impact of $15 per hour for women, Black, Latino, and Asian workers using the number of hourly employees determined to receive a raise and the cost of that increase as calculated by UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, then utilizing ethnicity and gender breakdowns of Wal-Mart's workforce reported by the company in its 2015 Diversity & Inclusion report

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Better than a raise: How companies are giving employees more money
Commentary by Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. She served as Director of Public Policy for the national AFL-CIO, the Democratic National Committee's American Majority Partnership director, and an attorney in private practice and the federal sector, representing workers in employment law matters. She is also a member of the board of the directors of the Coalition on Human Needs. 
Commentary: Breaking up with Bernie Sanders

Quote:A great relationship can be ruined by a lousy breakup. Instead of remembering the many wonderful times you had together, when he taught you that “socialist” was not a dirty word, took you to inspiring rallies with great soundtracks and urged you to take down corrupt money in politics, all your recent memories are of his dozens of ALL-CAPS TEXTS insisting “THIS CONVERSATION IS NOT OVER YET!!!”
Standing in the yard with a boombox for one evening can be viewed as a romantic, if mildly creepy, gesture. But standing there until July 25 is grounds for a noise complaint.
You wanted to remember the good times. And there were many of them. You felt energized, at least in caucus states. You changed. You moved left.
But for you to start to miss and remember him fondly, he needs to leave. He needs to stop lurking around with a bird perched on his finger, hoping you will change your mind.
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After meeting with President Obama on June 9, 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders discussed the campaign of Donald Trump and vowed to do all he can to be sure Trump does not become president. (Bloomberg, AP photo)  

It's like when someone says “in conclusion” and then talks for 10 more minutes. He is still at your place even though you've gotten up from the couch, put on a bathrobe and started your evening skin-care regimen. Even John Kasich took the hint and left. But Bernie remains.
The Sanders campaign is that person repeating the joke a second time in case maybe the reason you didn't laugh was you didn't hear it properly, and then a third time, and forcing you to say, “No, the reason I didn't laugh was that it wasn't funny, I did hear you, though!”
You hate to be that person, but he is making it difficult not to.
A man vigorously beating a dead horse is standing outside Sanders HQ sighing, “Dude, give it a rest.”
But he does not hear. He is too wrapped up in explaining for the 10th time why this won't really be over until JULY 25TH AND DO NOT LET ANYONE CONVINCE YOU OTHERWISE.

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Bernie Sanders pulls the Democratic Party dangerously far left

I think most of us have experienced the form of breakup when you say, “I don't think we should see each other anymore,” and the other party says, “I DISAGREE!” and then you are trapped into a conversation with someone who believes with utmost conviction that he is the right man for you and that the only reason you keep saying, “No, thanks, though, but it's been great!” is that you don't understand the magnitude of what he is offering.
But the problem is not that you don't understand what he is offering. You do understand. It's that you don't want what he is offering.
He seems to think that if he just explained it to you in greater detail, or louder, or at greater length, or with more excited gesticulation, you would suddenly understand and change your mind. But, in fact, that is only strengthening your conviction that it is time to end things.
You thought that when he got to the restaurant, he knew it was to say goodbye. He seemed to hint as much. But he hasn't said it yet.
You try dropping hints, like — not voting for him, or voting for someone else, or sending President Barack Obama out with arms folded to explain that, really, your mind is made up and he needs to go.
“Yes!” Bernie says. “We should go! Somewhere quieter where we can hear ourselves think! About the revolution!”
You yawn, but he does not notice. It is over, but Sanders does not want it to be over. Instead of taking the hint, Sanders is following all of you to the parking lot and trying to continue the argument there.
You do not feel threatened, exactly. Just — embarrassed. For him.
There are so many positive things that could come out of this. He could put his frustration into taking up gardening, or trying to invest energy in socialist politics at the local level. Or, I guess, he could continue to repeat to you what he has already said 25 times.
He's been a movement. He's been a voice.
But now he's just that guy who won't leave.
Washington Post
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist. 

Interesting smear
obvious politics
Gotta love not some of the commentaries but ALL the commentaries...

Quote:What is most ridiculous about this column is that it is written by someone who is not a Sanders supporter.

Quote:Ms. Petri misses the point. Bernie was never a candidate. He is leading a revolution! He was never courting voters. He was recruiting revolutionaries.

Quote:"There are 8 million Clinton shills in the Establishment Press."

Quote:Bernie doesn't need to go away just because he was victimized by the DNC and msm trying to shove a warmongering liar down the throats of the American public.

Quote: This has been the most fraudulent, corrupt primary election ever.

~ Today is the youngest you'll ever be again ~
(06-11-2016, 08:12 PM)solarius Wrote: Gotta love not some of the commentaries but ALL the commentaries...

Quote:What is most ridiculous about this column is that it is written by someone who is not a Sanders supporter.

Quote:Ms. Petri misses the point. Bernie was never a candidate. He is leading a revolution! He was never courting voters. He was recruiting revolutionaries.

Quote:"There are 8 million Clinton shills in the Establishment Press."

Quote:Bernie doesn't need to go away just because he was victimized by the DNC and msm trying to shove a warmongering liar down the throats of the American public.

Quote: This has been the most fraudulent, corrupt primary election ever.


It brings to mind the echo chambers
Lynching law created to protect blacks used against protester: Column

Quote:As long as biases remain in justice system, so should challenges to arrests

[Image: 636012041476726731-AP-Police-Chokehold-D...rguson.jpg]

(Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

California Black Lives Matter organizer Jasmine “Abdullah” Richards became the first black person in the United States Tuesday to be sentenced for what, until last year, was considered attempted felony lynching.
If her appeal fails, Richards — who is currently serving part of a 90-day sentence — will face three years of probation and a year of anger management under a state anti-lynching statute originally created to protect blacks, not penalize them.
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Policing the USA

The law was established in 1933 to stop white supremacist mobs from kidnapping and lynching blacks detained by law enforcement. It makes illegal any attempt to remove someone from police custody by riot. Richards, a Pasadena, Calif., resident, was taken into custody after challenging an arrest during an August protest that the activist had organized.
California Gov. Jerry Brown quietly reworded the statute in 2015 to remove the word “lynching” after another Black Lives Matter protester, Maile Hampton, was arrested and charged under the statute. Hampton's charge was downgraded to a misdemeanor.
The question that has frequently surfaced since Richards' conviction: Even if the old lynching law was inappropriately applied, shouldn't there be someconsequence for removing or attempting to remove someone from police custody? Answering that question requires a radical change in modern-day approaches to policing — one that starts with acknowledging that the justice system is plagued with human error and racial bias.
Richards hails from a community that's just minutes from Los Angeles — an area of the country where police have developed a reputation (dating back to the1991 beating of taxi driver Rodney King) for the targeting and harassment of black people. Removing a black person from police custody, given law enforcement's history, is seen by many activists as a life-saving action. Had someone interrupted the arrests of Sandra Bland, the black woman who was found hanging in her Texas jail cell, or Freddie Gray, the young black male who died while in Baltimore police custody, their fate's may have ended very differently.
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Tavis Smiley: Blue Lives Matter. But should cops be given hate crimes protections?

The numbers behind brutality re-enforce the story of bias among law enforcement. According to [url=]a USA TODAY special investigation reported in 2014, a white police officer killed a black person nearly two times a week during a seven-year period ending in 2012.
And recent, high-profile court cases also show how the justice system frequently shields white males from punishments that should be far worse. Brock Turner — a former Stanford University student who was convicted of raping an unconscious woman — was sentenced last week to only six months in prison. The judge was concerned, he said, for the student's future. A similar safeguard was attempted during the trial of Ethan Couch, the Texan dubbed the “affluenza teen" by lawyers who argued that he was too rich to understand the severity of killing four people while driving drunk. Concerns over the futures and affluence of young blacks rarely enter the judicial process. Turner will serve the same number of years probation for rape that Richards faces for essentially raising her voice during a protest.
The moral and ethical implications of laws in this country deserve scrutiny. But so do the biases and behaviors of those tasked with upholding them.
Shanelle Matthews is a communications strategist for Black Lives Matter.  
CAIR-FL to Respond to Florida Night Club Shooting, Urge Muslims to Donate Blood for Victims

10:38 ET from Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

CAIR-FL to Respond to Florida Night Club Shooting, Urge Muslims to Donate Blood for Victims 10:38 ET from Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Quote:TAMPA, Fla., June 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Later today, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) will hold a news conference with leaders of the Muslim community and interfaith representatives to condemn the deadly shooting spree at a nightclub in that city that left at least 20 people dead.
News conference participants will offer condolences to the loved ones of those killed or injured and will respond to the naming of the shooting suspect. They will also ask the Muslim community to take part in a blood donation drive for those injured in the attack.

WHAT: CAIR-FL, Muslim and Interfaith Leaders to Respond to Deadly Nightclub Shooting Spree

WHEN: Sunday, June 12, 12:30 p.m.

: CAIR-FL's Orlando Office, 1507 S Hiawassee, Suite 212 , Orlando, FL 32835

: CAIR-Florida Communications Director, Wilfredo A. Ruiz,, 305-502-6749; CAIR-Florida Orlando Regional Coordinator Rasha Mubarak,, 407-490-9407

CAIR-Florida's Orlando Regional Coordinator Rasha Mubarak said in a statement:

"We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence."

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-Florida Communications Director, Wilfredo A. Ruiz,, 305-502-6749; CAIR-Florida Orlando Regional Coordinator Rasha Mubarak,, 407-490-9407; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171,
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Related Links
Chelsea Clinton announces birth of son, her second child

Quote:By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chelsea Clinton, daughter of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, announced on Saturday the birth of her second child with husband Marc Mezvinsky.

Aidan Clinton Mezvinsky was born on Saturday to Clinton and her investment banker husband, according to a statement released by the proud grandparents. His older sister, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, was born on Sept. 27, 2014.

"We are all over the moon as Chelsea and Marc welcome Charlotte’s little brother to the world and grateful for our many blessings," Hillary and Bill Clinton said in the statement.

"Chelsea and Aidan are both doing well and enjoying this very special time together," they said.

Chelsea Clinton, 36, took to Twitter late Saturday morning to announce Aidan's birth. Her spokeswoman said the she delivered at Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

"Marc and I are overwhelmed with gratitude and love as we celebrate the birth of our son, Aidan Clinton Mezvinsky," Clinton said on Twitter.

Chelsea Clinton is the only child of the former president and the former U.S. secretary of State, who is running for president in November. Chelsea Clinton lives in New York City and is the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, a charity that focuses on global health issues among other causes.

Clinton and Mezvinsky were married in August 2010. He is the son of two former Democratic members of Congress, former Representative Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky of Pennsylvania and former Representative Ed Mezvinsky of Iowa.

Clinton revealed in December that she was due to give birth to a second child, posting on Twitter, "Next summer, Charlotte is going to be a big sister!"

Details about the baby boy's delivery, such as time of birth and weight, were not immediately available, according to Chelsea Clinton's spokeswoman Erika Gudmundson.

In March, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump welcomed a grandson of his own when his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner announced the birth of their third child, Theodore James Kushner. The baby is Trump's eighth grandchild.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
(06-18-2016, 11:29 PM)Armonica_Templar Wrote: Chelsea Clinton announces birth of son, her second child

Quote:By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chelsea Clinton, daughter of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, announced on Saturday the birth of her second child with husband Marc Mezvinsky.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

This one is the art form at its highest

For the simplest of reasons

It is design among other things to illicit sympathy for a certain person
Sanders collides with black lawmakers

Sanders collides with black lawmakers By DANIEL STRAUSS

Quote:Bernie Sanders is on a crash course with the Congressional Black Caucus.

In a letter sent to both the Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns, the CBC is expressing its resolute opposition to two key reforms demanded by Sanders in the run-up to the Democratic convention: abolishing the party’s superdelegate system and opening Democratic primaries up to independents and Republicans.

"The Democratic Members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently voted unanimously to oppose any suggestion or idea to eliminate the category of Unpledged Delegate to the Democratic National Convention (aka Super Delegates) and the creation of uniform open primaries in all states," says the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO. "The Democratic Party benefits from the current system of unpledged delegates to the National Convention by virtue of rules that allow members of the House and Senate to be seated as a delegate without the burdensome necessity of competing against constituents for the honor of representing the state during the nominating process."

The letter — which was also sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — follows a Wednesday CBC meeting where members discussed for over an hour the impact of eliminating superdelegates on the African-American community, according to CBC Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.).

"We passed a resolution in our caucus that we would vehemently oppose any change in the superdelegate system because members of the CBC might want to participate in the Democratic convention as delegates but if we would have to run for the delegate slot at the county level or state level or district level, we would be running against our constituents and we're not going to do that,” said Butterfield. “But we want to participate as delegates and that's why this superdelegates system was created in the beginning, so members would not have to run against their own constituents."

The opposition to open primaries is based on the fear that allowing independent or Republican voters to participate in Democratic primaries would dilute minority voting strength in many places.

The implications here seem very subtle

The problem may lie in the title which leads to the other parts

It seems to say that sanders does not like the named community
Why the media needs to ban Trump this July Fourth

Quote:In what seems like a lifetime ago, I stood with fellow members of the press as Donald Trumpaddressed a crowd of supporters in Pella, Iowa. It was on Jan. 23 of this year, a little over a week before the Iowa caucuses were to be held. The whole event was beyond the realm of my caucus experience. The Iowans that I had covered for three caucus cycles had turned into people I no longer knew. Prior to this year, those who came to candidate events for both parties were polite, thoughtful and given to light applause. Sure, at larger events close to the caucus date, there were cheers, and at times, even thunderous applause.

But this was something different.

I wasn't accustomed to Iowans being hateful.

Trump pointed at the perhaps two-dozen media present, and said, "I hate them, but I wouldn't kill them." The crowd roared. He said it again: "I hate them, but I wouldn't kill them," and the crowd roared louder. Again: "I hate them, but I wouldn't kill them."

Although I was a credentialed member of the media, I wasn't in media row. I was in the balcony, looking down at the scene. Pella was, after all, in my coverage area, and for my story I was as interested in what my townspeople thought about Trump as much as Trump himself. From my perch in the balcony, I watched the crowd of media as Trump went on at length, vilifying them. Most of my fellow reporters looked straight ahead; some seemed to ignore his comments, while others shuffled nervously. Regardless, it was a clear effort to intimidate the press, and I wondered how this treatment might influence their coverage. I hoped it wouldn't.

Trump focused his tirade against the media in general, but The Des Moines Register — Iowa's paper of record — in particular. As a native Iowan, The Des Moines Register is the paper I grew up with and have great respect for. I'm not sure that the paper uses this motto anymore, but when I was a kid, a frequent promotion the paper printed was something like "Only one newspaper has won more Pulitzer Prizes than The Des Moines Register — our congratulations to The New York Times." Trump soon had the crowd booing the Register.

Sure, I understand that Iowans might disagree with editorials, but boo Iowa's largest and most important newspaper? The paper many in the audience had grown up with, and quite likely many had read that morning and even subscribed to?

Boo it? Come on, I thought, but Trump had them eating from his hand. He could say anything, and did, and they cheered, or booed, no matter whether or not what he said made any sense. At one point I thought he could have said "McGillicuddy cheesecake" and they would have cheered. It was earlier the same day, in Sioux Center, that he said, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." My memory has him saying the same thing in Pella, which also drew cheers.

Trump had banned Register reporters from his events in July for what he considered biased coverage. At the time I was surprised, and naive enough to think that perhaps it wasn't possible: the First Amendment, and freedom of the press and all that. Other media took little note of this, and in retrospect, perhaps unfortunately.

That assault on the press was the low moment of the caucuses for me.

Last week, Trump banned reporters from The Washington Post, adding them to a growing list that includes Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, the New Hampshire Union Leader, Univision and reporters from many other publications.

When will he stop? When he has a subservient and compliant media that only fawns over him? Maybe. Even Fox News has seen the share of his wrath. Megyn Kelly's treatment during the Fox News debate was an early indicator of this pattern. Her questions were excellent, and well put. He just didn't like having to answer them.

Trump banning media impinges not only the First Amendment, but is a threat to democracy itself. I'm reluctant to evoke Martin Niemöller's anti-Nazi poem, but as a defense of the First Amendment, maybe it's appropriate: "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist."

Or, in this instance, "First he came for The Des Moines Register, and I did not speak out ... "

It's time to speak out. For the media to unite and stand up to Trump in defense of the First Amendment and tell him it isn't OK to ban the press from his events. It's also time to remind some of the public of the importance of a free press.

Last Tuesday, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank suggested a near-blackout on Trump coverage. While I agree with Milbank's sentiment, his plan is too draconian for me.

So how do we do it? I suggest we — all the media worldwide, large and small — stand united in defense of the freedom of the press by holding a moratorium on coverage for Trump for one day. Only one day. Whatever he does, no coverage. Even media who support Trump must recognize the precedent he is setting, and hopefully join this protest.

So what day to we pick? Easy. The symbolism is compelling: the Fourth of July — Independence Day. Independence Day for the American people, and Independence Day for a free press and democracy.

If Trump holds a rally in Miami? No coverage. If Trump goes to a picnic in Boston? No coverage. If Trump watches fireworks along the East River in Manhattan? No coverage.

If a Trump falls in the forest and no one is there to report on him, will he make a sound?

Leonard covers the Iowa caucuses for KNIA/KRLS Radio in Knoxville and Pella, Iowa. He's the author of Yellow Cab and more. Follow him on Twitter @robertleonard.

Calling for censorship to protest

What is sad is he worded it in such a way to disagree is well 
you hateful and mean

Narrative champion contestant
Reagan White House Files Show Ronald and Nancy Repeatedly Snubbed Donald Trump and His 'Large Ego'

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Reagan White House Files Show Ronald and Nancy Repeatedly Snubbed Donald Trump and His 'Large Ego'


In 1986, a 40-year-old Donald Trump sent a letter to then-First Lady Nancy Reaganinviting her to stay at his Mar-a-Lago mansion – which, he informed her, was designed to be the "southern White House" – when she came down for the American Red Cross Ball in Palm Beach, Florida. 

According to a Washington Post review of Reagan Library archives, the East Wing staff had no clue what Trump was talking about – the first lady had not been invited to the Red Cross ball – but Mrs. Reagan nevertheless drafted a hand-written letter declining the businessman's invitation and telling him, "I am familiar with Mar-a-Lago." Then, apparently thinking better of the potentially ego-stroking line – she crossed it out. 

Trump's ego – more so than Trump himself – was well-recognized at the Reagan White House, where, The Post's review of records found, aides sought to reject the mogul's many overtures without wounding his pride. 

Since launching his presidential bid last summer, Trump has frequently compared himself to Ronald Reagan and claimed a closeness with the 40th president – "He liked me," Trump has said – that did not exist, the White House records suggest. 

In 1987, White House Political Director Frank J. Donatelli wrote a memo asking Chief of Staff Howard Baker to reach out to Trump directly after the New York developer announced that he was weighing a request to headline a big fundraiser for congressional Democrats. "It would be most helpful if you would place a phone call to Don Trump today. He has a large ego and would be responsive to your call," Donatelli wrote in the memo, underlining the word "large." (Trump ultimately decided not to chair the event.) 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: Flashback Moments, 1979 – 1992

The memo came amid a decade's worth of almost-begging invitations Trump extended to the Reagans – all of which the president and first lady declined or ignored. Here are six examples, via The Washington Post

• "In 1983, a request came in for a presidential telegram congratulating Trump on the grand opening of his eponymous tower on Fifth Avenue. A lawyer in the counsel's office wrote 'NO' and explained internally that it would be inappropriate because it was a 'commercial' venture. 

• In 1984, Trump requested that Reagan attend a gala to honor Vietnam veterans in New York City and said he would schedule it for any day that worked on the president's calendar. The White House said no ... 

• In 1987, Trump urged Reagan to pick ex-Sen. Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.) as Transportation Secretary. The president went with Jim Burnley instead. 

• In 1988, the New York Board of Trade gave Trump an 'outstanding executive' award. The head of the group sent the White House a letter asking if POTUS could come. 'Advanced word is that Mr. Trump will have some stimulatingly interesting comments to make during his talk at the dinner,' he wrote. The scheduling office never seriously entertained the idea. 

• Around the same time, Trump sent a glossy pink invitation to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue inviting the president and first lady to an 11 p.m. LaToya Jackson concert at his Atlantic City casino. This was ignored. 

• Back in 1983, Trump snagged a picture with the president during a photo line at a White House event. The president, not paying close attention, signed it 'Reagan Reagan.' Five years later, Trump included the image in his book The Art of the Deal. An aide in the social secretary's office noticed the mistake. She sent an apologetic note and a corrected picture – signed with an autopen." 

Trump appears to have embellished his relationship with the former president in multiple interviews over the past year. During an interview with Good Morning America in August 2015, he said of Reagan, "I have great respect for him. I helped him. I knew him. He liked me and I liked him." 

"I didn't know him well," Trump later admitted to The Wall Street Journal, insisting, however, that friends told him Reagan was a fan. "He felt very good about me," Trump said. "Frankly, he liked my attitude." 

Reagan's son Ron, a political analyst noted for his liberal views, said in a recentradio interview that his father "didn't know Donald Trump and wouldn't have cared for Donald Trump." 

"My father would not have known Donald Trump if Trump stood up in his soup," Ron said.

This one is a pretty low example of the art
It is a form of association

Mind you it shows a few cards
writers are democrat

designed to say the great Reagan did not like Trump
written for people who they assume are Republican

problem, they forgot to build up Reagan
instead it shows poor design
with poorer execution

The people who are writing these need to go back to college and try again
Obama’s approval rating at highest level since killing of Osama bin Laden

Quote:President Obama’s approval rating is at its highest level in more than five years, an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday shows.

According to the results of the survey, conducted in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., two weeks ago, 56 percent of

Americans approve of Obama’s handling of his job as president, compared to 41 percent who disapprove.

The last time the president’s approval rating was this high was in May 2011 following the killing of Osama bin Laden in a nighttime raid led by U.S. Navy SEALS in Pakistan.

According to the Washington Post, Obama is more popular now than Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush were at this point in their presidencies, though not quite as popular as Bill Clinton in 2000.

Quote:Pres. Obama’s approval rating rises to 56% in new @ABC News/WaPo poll, up 5 points
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) June 26, 2016

The results of the survey are in line with a recent CNN/ORC poll that found 52 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s performance as president, up 5 points since January.

And according to that survey, also conducted in the wake of the nightclub massacre, Obama “ranks as the most positively viewed recent second term president.”

Both Clinton and Ronald Reagan were viewed favorably “by just under half of adults in the spring or summer of their final years in office.” George W. Bush’s favorability rating, by contrast, was just 38 percent at this point in 2008.

All of this is good news for Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed by Obama earlier this month.

The president plans on campaigning for the presumptive Democratic nominee in the coming weeks and has already begun to take aim at her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.

In Seattle on Friday, Obama offered a preview of his anti-Trump stump speech while speaking at a Democratic fundraiser for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

“We don’t have time for charlatans, and we don’t have time for bigotry,” Obama said. “And we don’t have the luxury of just popping off and saying whatever comes to the tops of our heads. Don’t have time for that.”

So why is this Propaganda?

For those keeping their mind sharp

First read the title quickly then look away from the screen and write it down
Then go back a few minutes later and see what you wrote

First point of words for title

Second point

No referencing of the data show

Methodology used in collection
No showing of demographic communicated with

It is basically lying via statistics
Your Blackness Isn’t Like Mine: Colorism And Oppression Olympics

Quote:[*]Sil Lai Abrams [/url]CEO of @TruthInReality_ & domestic violence awareness advocate.

[Image: n-JESSE-WILLIAMS-628x314.jpg]



Monday night, actor and activist Jesse Williams [url=]gave a powerful speech
 at the BET Awards upon receiving the Humanitarian Award, during which he spoke eloquently, passionately, and dare I say — even lovingly to the audience of millions. I have seen hundreds of awards show acceptance speeches and Williams was the first Black man I witnessed stand up and acknowledge the sacrifices of Black women on this type of platform. In fact, through this speech he acknowledged damn near everyone, from “activists,” to “the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families the teachers, the students, that are realizing that systems built to divide and impoverish us cannot stand if we do.”  He called out the names of those who have been killed by the police and railed against cultural appropriation and exploitation by White media corporations.

Williams’ speech was profound and emblematic of what it means to be “truly woke,” yet for some it wasn’t enough. While many tweeted their adoration for his message, there was a vocal group of people expressing their frustration that Williams — a light-skinned, biracial Black man, was being given center stage as “the face” for the Black Lives Matter movement. While criticizing his appearance, they conveniently ignored that there are plenty of prominent Black folks with darker complexions who haven’t said a damn thing their entire lives about social justice, stars with platforms even bigger than Williams.
Samuel L. Jackson spoke after Williams, but his speech paled in comparison. Now, I love me some Sam-You-El, but let’s be real: he had the same opportunity to speak out against racism and injustice and chose not to do so. While not present at the awards, the iconic actor Denzel Washington, arguably one of the most popular actors of the latter part of the 20th century, has to my knowledge never embraced social justice causes, at least publicly.  He may have played Malcolm X, but it appears Washington does not possess the desire to speak out on these issues. In Hollywood and real life, dark skin does not determine one’s capacity for wokeness any more then having light skin symbolizes one’s complicity with maintaining a racist, White society. 

Spoiler alert:  I am a light-skinned Black woman of biracial descent who possesses various privileges — which I didn’t ask for and was born with, like all the other light-skinned folks. As much as I have benefitted from my various privileges, I also have had a hell of a lot of disadvantages that my light skin did nothing to mitigate. In fact, in some cases, the very thing that is/was considered a privilege actually decreased my safety as a Black woman in a White patriarchal society. 
As an outspoken critic of domestic violence and Black women’s media representation, I regularly use my voice to challenge the status quo. Like Williams, I have found myself in situations where my message has been lost (to some) based upon my appearance. I would be a fool to say that my entree to certain spaces hasn’t been a direct result of my possession of specific privileges. But to have your work devalued because of the color of your skin, whether it is chocolate brown or light and bright, is dehumanizing and demoralizing, no matter your hue.

Those of us with light-skin privilege who speak up about the injustices that we all face as Black people should not have their message minimized while being vilified for their appearance. Our skin color is our birthright, one that no one has control over receiving. We do however, have control over how we acknowledge the advantages or disadvantages of our color.

The truth is that more than color comes into play when determining one’s place in the American hierarchy—specifically in our capitalistic society, class. Fact: No matter how close her proximity to Whiteness based upon her appearance, a light-skinned bus driver will have less privilege than her dark-skinned investment banker sister. We do not live in a binary world. You can be light-skinned and poor and have all the benefit of your color privilege stripped away because of other disadvantages. Conversely, you can be as dark as Idris Elba and be treated better than your lighter kin because of other advantages that offset the impact of the stigmatization of darker skin in our society. 

I’m not reducing the damage and wounds that darker-skinned people experience regardless of their accomplishments in the world. Their burden is different and very, very real. Unless you have willfully shoved your head in the sand your entire life, you know that darker-skinned Black people have historically received poorer treatment, not only in our country but globally.

They receive harsher sentencing, higher suspension rates, lower earnings, and lack of media representation as darker-skinned Blacks.  Darker skin color plays a direct role in one’s socioeconomic status. These are facts that cannot be refuted.

As the late Black lesbian poet and scholar Audre Lorde wrote, “Those of us who stand outside that power often identify one way in which we are different, and we assume that to be the primary cause of all oppression, forgetting other distortions around differences some of which we ourselves may be practicing.” It is fallacious to assume that it is solely because of their lighter skin that some Black people have advanced further and more easily in this country. We cannot afford to look at racism and colorism through a binary lens.  One can’t examine the subject of colorism without taking into account the various privileges (and disadvantages) which intersect and shape how oppression plays out in our lives, irrespective of whether our color is cafe au lait, or ebony.

We as a people must recognize that using the shades of our Blackness as a barometer to determine who is truly oppressed contributes towards the maintenance of structures that prevent us from collectively working together to create a world where we can all flourish. Social stratification based upon skin color ends up building walls between us when we should be tearing them down.

While there are variations in how White Supremacy functions in our society, it has only one steadfast, immovable rule:  the inherently superior position of White people over persons of color.  From my own experience growing up in Central Florida, racists don’t really care if you are as light as Angela Davis or as dark as Miles Davis. In their minds, “A n*gger, is a n*gger, is a n*gger.” 

Instead of directing our frustration about White Supremacy at our lighter-skinned sistren and brethren, we should embrace them and their work to liberate us ALL and focus our rage on dismantling the systems of oppression that enable those who are lighter to continue to be the face of what it means to be free in America.

Follow Sil Lai Abrams on Twitter:


The author is a tool

It has reached point with this Propaganda that I can not stand by and say nothing

First off how dare this woman sideswipe SLJ and not acknowledge his roots
Some one needs to take a brick of knowledge and drop it on here head

SLJ has done more for the black community then this C#$% ever has
If she is not smart enough to simply research his origin then F#$% HER

As for the other stars she named

Has she considered that they are not morons
Your work is not a steppinng stone for political areana's

I call it the stirling effect 
After SM Stirling
You see when he joined a website to remain unnamed they ended up banning him claiming he was a racist idiot 

The problem was they were liberals and could not separate the author from the bad guys he wrote (termed morons for those who can not do that)

I have seen several stars get hit with this stirling effect

when is the last new song he wrote you have listened to

Brad Pitt
what last movie of his recieved excellent .. got to see it again (note hit by his wife's Halo off of stirling efffect)

Angelinna Jollie
Last movie you went to see because she was in it.. 

Will Smith
Movie bombs lately? not included in resurgance

Do I need to go on and on? Can you add more to the list

the Author needs to GET real

The people named have what is called a product
They are VERY careful not to spoil thier product by attaching it to a cause

Not racism, called BUSINESS
Because their product becomes downgraded if the cause fails of flounders
lose their money

and their ability to help those they believed in
Called the real world

of Note to the Author if she ever reads this
SPOILER ALERT: I am a Pagan American.. You never have had people whisper behind your back.. Go OUT of their way to f#$% you because they think you are evil.. (which had nothing to do with my response minusculebonker )

You have not encounter the level of bigotry I have
Christians hate my people, and have been known to round them up and torture them
Islam has orders to kill us

So what was that whining about something done not even to you
Ambassador Chris Stevens’ family: Don’t blame Hillary Clinton for Benghazi

Quote:Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the long-awaited report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi “found nothing” new on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, during her tenure as secretary of state.

And Stevens’ family agrees.

“I do not blame Hillary Clinton or [former Defense Secretary] Leon Panetta,” Anne Stevens, MD, Chris’ sister who has served as the family spokesperson since his death, told the New Yorker’s Robin Wright. “They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had.

“The Benghazi mission was understaffed,” she continued. “But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.”

In its 800-page report, the Republican-led Benghazi committee blamed the Obama administration for what it concluded was a slow response to help the Americans under attack.

Hillary Clinton responds to Benghazi report: 'Time to move on'
Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s long-awaited report on the 2012 attack “found nothing” new and that “it’s pretty clear it’s time to move on.”

Clinton, who was grilled for 11 hours before the committee last year, suggested that House Republicans had accomplished little with their extensive look into the attack.

“I understand that after more than two years and $7 million spent by the Benghazi committee out of taxpayer funds, it had to today report it found nothing,” she said. “Nothing to contradict the conclusions of the independent accountability board or the conclusions of the earlier prior investigations carried out on a bipartisan basis in the Congress.

Stevens echoed that sentiment.

“It doesn’t look like anything new,” Stevens told Wright. “They concluded that the U.S. compound in Benghazi was not secure. We knew that.”

Clinton said on Tuesday that she responded to the attack by thoroughly investigating the incident, adding, “It’s pretty clear it’s time to move on.”

The Benghazi Report: 5 things to know
The long-awaited report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi was released earlier today. Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff joined Yahoo News Guest Host Stephanie Sy on “Yahoo News Now” and broke down five things to know about the new report.

“She has taken full responsibility, being head of the State Department, for what occurred,” Stevens said. “She took measures to respond to the review board’s recommendations. She established programs for a better security system. But it is never going to be perfect. Part of being a diplomat is being out in the community. We all recognize that there’s a risk in serving in a dangerous environment. Chris thought that was very important, and he probably would have done it again. I don’t see any usefulness in continuing to criticize her. It is very unjust.”

She believes her brother’s death has been inappropriately politicized, particularly in this election season. Many conservatives focus on the State Department’s reaction to the Benghazi attack while attacking Clinton’s record. But Stevens said some of those attacks had gone too far.

“Every report I read that mentions him specifically has a political bent, an accusatory bent,” she said. “With the many issues in the current election, to use that incident — and to use Chris’s death as a political point — is not appropriate.”

Stevens was also asked what Chris would have felt about the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I know he had a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton,” she said. “He admired her ability to intensely read the issues and understand the whole picture.”

For the New Yorker’s full interview with Anne Stevens, click here.

The problem is the sister apparently did not talk with the mother

The mother is not mentioned here, guess why..

She blames Hillary

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