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The Pope, Politics and a Fiat

For two hours in the car today, the only news was the Pope's visit to Washington. He rode in a small Fiat. He talked politics, taking sides on issues that showed his independent thinking. Republicans seemed less happy than Democrats, even though he espoused positions both in line with and against those taken by partisans. His views on immigration and climate change more closely matched Democrats while his views on same sex marriage and abortion were closer to Republicans. His views on sex abuse were expected to anger Catholics who think he has aligned too closely with Bishops.

He held a ceremony naming a new saint. Tomorrow he will address Congress. He mingled as much as possible with the people. He's also expected to to visit a homeless shelter at some point where he may serve food. And he'll go to Philadelphia to meet with sex abuse victims. And also visit New York.

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Send Good Thoughts to Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter, 90, announced today that he has cancer. It was discovered after surgery for a mass on his liver. It has spread to other parts of his body.

He will be getting treatment at Emory Health Care in Atlanta. I'm sending good thoughts his way, and hope you do too.

A memorable Jimmy Carter quote: [More...]

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Republican Senators Write Iran, 155k Sign Treason Petition

Here is the letter Republican senators sent to the leadership of Iran.

Iran responded it has no legal value.

Republicans do not speak for Congress or the President who is Commander in Chief. They should be sanctioned for even writing it.

I guess I'm not the only one who thinks this is unacceptable behavior by Republicans. 155,000 people have signed a petition that the ink happy Senators be charged with treason. [More...]

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Hillary Clinton eGhazi Press Conference

You can watch it here.

Anyone think she's not running now?

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Rudy Giuliani Knows All About Love

Rudy Giuliani spoke at a private fundraiser last night. He said President Obama does not love America or Americans.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said Wednesday during a private group dinner in Manhattan, Politico reports. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

That Rudy Giuliani would even venture an opinion about love or how to raise a family is laughable. Ask his ex-wife and his children. More from the New York Times on that here. A blast from the past: This 2006 Salon article profiling Rudy as the authoritarian narcissist. [More....]

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The argument for a populist Democratic Party: Not the Obama Coalition

Neither of these women hinder or help the Emerging Democratic Majority.

Egberto Willes in arguing that the "Obama Coalition" is not truly a Democratic coalition, wrote: [More...]

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R.I.P. Former NY Gov. Mario Cuomo

Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo died today at age 82 of heart failure. The tributes are pouring in.

President Obama:

Obama said Cuomo was a "determined champion of progressive values, and an unflinching voice for tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, dignity, and opportunity. His own story taught him that as Americans, we are bound together as one people, and our country’s success rests on the success of us all, not just a fortunate few."

Here is a letter Gov. Cuomo wrote to the New York Times in 2003 opposing the death penalty. [More...]

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More Road Closures for Joe Biden

I wonder if Joe Biden got any message from the complaints of his visit to Aspen. Today, freeways and other roads are closing in LA because he's attending private fundraisers.

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Joe Biden and his Apology to Turkey

Thanksgiving comes early for perennial gaffer Joe Biden. He has now apologized to the President of Turkey for his recent remarks that Turkey facilitated the growth of ISIS. Biden, speaking at an event, said:

"President Erdogan told me, he's an old friend, said, 'You were right. We let too many people through.' Now they are trying to seal their border,"

Turkish President Erdogan said Biden misquoted him and demanded an apology. Biden dutifully coughed one up. [More...]

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40 Years Ago Today: Richard Nixon Resigns

President Richard Nixon, the most unpopular president until George W. Bush, resigned from office 40 years ago today.

My favorite Richard Nixon article: Hunter Thompson's June 16, 1994 eulogy published in Rolling Stone, "He Was a Crook."

It was Richard Nixon who gave us the War on Drugs. Here's his speech on June 17, 1971. He also gave us the DEA, by executive order on July 1, 1973. [More...]

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Tone Deaf Dick Cheney

The years have not changed Dick Cheney, who in my view was the worst Vice-President in American history.

His latest: The war in Iraq was the right thing to do, and we should spend more on defense and less on the needs of the American people.

"[Defense dollars] ought to be our top priority for spending. Not food stamps, not highways or anything else," Cheney said.

Thank goodness he's irrelevant.

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Hillary Clinton Delivers Strong Critique on Income Inequality

She's running, if you had any doubt:

Clinton told the audience that middle class incomes had stagnated over the last decade even as the average worker’s productivity had increased significantly in the same period. She pointed to studies that showed 4 out of 10 children born into the lowest rung on the economic ladder remained there as adults. [...] “And where is it all going?” Clinton asked. “Economists have documented how the share of income and wealth going to those at the very top, not just the top 1 percent but the top 0.1 percent, the 0.01 percent of the population, has risen sharply over the last generation,” she said. “Some are calling it a throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons.”

She also explicitly contrasted her husband’s record on inequality as president with President George W. Bush. “The 1990s taught us that even in the face of difficult long term economic trends it’s possible through smart policies and sound investments to enjoy broad based growth and shared prosperity,” she said. She denounced the Bush administration for squandering those economic gains as well as a budget surplus [--]“That’s what happens when your only policy prescription is to cut taxes for the wealthy and then to deal with the aftermath of a terrible terrorist attack and two wars without paying for them,” she said. “Regulators neglected their oversight of the financial sector and allowed the evolution of an entire shadow banking system that operated without accountability.”

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Congrats to Chelsea Clinton and Husband Marc

Chelsea Clinton announced today she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expecting a child.

Hillary and Bill are of course, excited. Hillary tweeted:

“My most exciting title yet: Grandmother-To-Be!”

The new addition to the family is due "sometime later this year."

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Freedom of Speech: Freedom of Protest

With the resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla after protests, both within and without the Mozilla organization, led, yet again, to mass confusion about the most basic principles of free speech rights. Today, a new shunning, this time of anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University, will no doubt add to the confusion.

It so happens I agree with the "shunning" of Eich but disagree with the shunning of Hirsi Ali (I am pretty strongly anti-organized religion.) But my personal views on the relative merits of these actions is really not to the point -- free speech rights include the right to criticize and yes, shun.

Let me give the most obvious example that in fact everyone agrees with this conception (that non-state actors can shun, boycott, protest, etc. anyone for their speech) - imagine an accomplished person in any field espousing the view that interracial marriage should be outlawed. Who do you suppose would protest in defense against calls for removal of such a person from a position of public leadership? No one, that's who. And therein lies the point - we all agree that lines can be drawn. We often disagree with where the lines are drawn.

Let's discuss the line drawing on the flip.

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Sen. Feinstein's CIA Allegations

Here is the transcript of Sen. Diane Feinstein's remarks accusing the CIA of removing documents from the Intelligence Committee's computer network. The documents related to the Committee's investigation of the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program.

The resulting staff report was chilling. The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detentions sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us.

As to the removed documents, Feinstein explained the process of her committee's access to them. She said the CIA had not wanted the documents being reviewed at the Senate, so then CIA Chief Leon Panetta set up an alternate plan for them to be reviewed offsite.[More...]

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