Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Deep, Cleansing Breaths

What’s on the agenda for the new day?



Friday Morning Open Thread: Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor…

Apart from being reassured that some Americans still understand the ideals upon which our commonwealth was founded, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another week?



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Happy Autumn Equinox!

One hopes for a national political rotation away from the Summer Silly Season…


“300 million independent auditors”. That’s practically poetry.

But be of (guardedly) good cheer…



Saturday Morning Open Thread

Since some of you may have missed Michelle Obama’s speech yesterday, here’s something inspirational to start the day. Per CNN:

First Lady Michelle Obama denounced the caustic campaign style of Donald Trump on Friday, demonstrating a new willingness to wade into this year’s messy political battle while arguing for a Hillary Clinton presidency.

While she didn’t mention Trump by name, the first lady aimed squarely at the Republican candidate’s most pronounced positions and tactics, including his persistent challenges to her husband’s eligibility for office.

“There were those who questioned and continue to question for the past eight years, up through this very day, whether my husband was even born in this country,” Obama said in Fairfax, Virginia, during her first solo campaign appearance for Clinton. “Well, during his time in office, I think Barack has answered those questions with the example he set by going high when they go low.”…

In her half-hour-long remarks, she argued Trump’s brand of politics should be kept far from the Oval Office, predicting his bombastic style of campaigning wouldn’t mellow if he wins…

… “If a candidate is erratic and threatening; if a candidate traffics in prejudice, fears and lies on the trail; if a candidate has no clear plans to implement their goals; if they disrespect their fellow citizens, including folks who made extraordinary sacrifices for our country; let me tell you, that is who they are. That is the kind of president they will be, trust me.”…

At her campaign rally, Obama worked to convince her and her husband’s supporters that Clinton is also worthy of their votes. The rally on the campus of George Mason University was timed ahead of the commonwealth’s October 17 voter registration deadline.

“When I hear folks saying they’re not inspired this this election, I disagree. I am inspired,” she said, urging the crowd to register to vote and actually cast ballots for Clinton…

And that reminded me, what with one thing and another, I never got around to sharing Variety‘s recent interview with the First Lady:

… Obama, 52, calls herself “a product of pop culture.” She is convinced of its influence on the public consciousness — in her case to build awareness of her signature policy initiatives, specifically ones tied to healthy eating and exercise, girls’ education, support for military families, and college advancement…

“What I have never been afraid of is to be a little silly, and you can engage people that way,” Obama says in an interview with Variety in her upstairs White House office, decorated in an eclectic mix of abstract art and framed mementos from her tenure. “My view is, first you get them to laugh, then you get them to listen. So I’m always game for a good joke, and I’m not so formal in this role. There’s very little that we can’t do that people wouldn’t appreciate.”

Has it worked?

The first lady is convinced that it has.

A case in point: The Carpool Karaoke segment highlighted one of Obama’s key initiatives, Let Girls Learn, a worldwide plan of action to promote girls’ access to education. She and Corden also sang “This Is for My Girls,” which songwriter Diane Warren wrote several years ago but was recorded as an anthem for the initiative, with Elliott, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, and others participating, and AOL Makers producing….

Obama explains that as she launched the initiatives, she knew it would take “reaching people where they lived on a day-to-day basis, and the next step was, ‘How do you do that? Where are the people?’ Well, they’re not reading the op-ed pieces in the major newspapers. They’re not watching Sunday morning news talk shows. They’re doing what most people are doing: They are watching TV.”

She adds: “A lot of our audiences are kids and teens, and they want to be in on the joke. And they’ll listen again. We’re just a little looser with this stuff than most traditional first ladies.”…


What’s on the agenda for this fine fall day?



Long Read: “Edward Snowden makes ‘moral’ case for presidential pardon “

The Guardian‘s Ewen MacAskill, valiantly soldiering on:

Edward Snowden has set out the case for Barack Obama granting him a pardon before the US president leaves office in January, arguing that the disclosure of the scale of surveillance by US and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right but had left citizens better off.

The US whistleblower’s comments, made in an interview with the Guardian, came as supporters, including his US lawyer, stepped up a campaign for a presidential pardon. Snowden is wanted in the US, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act and faces at least 30 years in jail.

Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited…

“I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [US] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result.”
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Monday Morning Open Thread: Happy Nice Thoughts

Soldiering on…

At an event in northern Virginia on Friday, Mrs. Obama will urge voters to register ahead of the state’s Oct. 17 deadline, the first of what aides say will be a series of appearances in the coming weeks in support of Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Obama’s steps into the campaign spotlight underscore her transformation from a once-reluctant political spouse into a confident public figure, a role she says she has embraced more fully during President Obama’s second term.

Mrs. Obama’s communications director, Caroline Adler Morales, said the first lady’s focus would be on encouraging voters in swing states, particularly young people and African-Americans, to register and vote.

Her message, Ms. Morales said, will emphasize “the qualifications and demeanor a president needs, the values we hold dear as Americans and our shared hopes for the future.”…

Apart from holding strong to those values and hopes, what’s on the agenda as we start the week?



Saturday Morning Open Thread: Victory Lap

Winning so much, and yet still not tired of winning. Alex Goldstein, “former press secretary & senior political advisor to former MA Gov. Deval L. Patrick“, in Politico:

As Team USA shatters world records and scores win after historic win, Trump’s Twitter account, his favored megaphone, has been virtually mum. Since the one awkwardly worded meme he blasted out to his feed on August 5, with his own photo in front of an American flag, Trump has tweeted about the Olympics exactly zero times. He’s attacked the media, retweeted compliments to Donald Trump, pumped up his rallies. Not a word about the events that people are tuning into every night.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is seizing the opportunity to ride the wave of these feel-good Olympics…

Why has Trump hit the mute button on the Olympics, while Clinton has pumped up the volume? There’s a good reason for that, and a surprising one. The spectacle of America vanquishing its global rivals is—ironically, amazingly—utterly terrible for the “America First” candidate.

A big part of his political message, the one you hear at his stump speeches, is that America has grown weak. America doesn’t win anymore, he says. “Crippled America” is the title of his most recent book. He alone can Make America Great Again. As someone who’s been around a few campaigns, believe me: The Olympics is about the worst thing that could have happened to the Trump train. Here’s a candidate whose message depends entirely on convincing Americans that they’re living in a failing nation overrun by criminal immigrants. And for the past two weeks, tens of millions of Americans have been glued to a multi-ethnic parade of athletes, winning easily. “Make America Great Again” has never felt more out-of-touch than it does against the backdrop of tenacious, overachieving American athletes driven by their own journeys in pursuit of the American dream…
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