Long (Encouraging) Read: “A Hillary confidante’s letters reveal a window into her friend’s life”

Isaac Stanley-Becker, in the Washington Post:

Hillary Clinton was first lady when an influential legal journal featured her in its spring volume, drawing tributes from such luminaries as Elie Wiesel, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and the Queen of Jordan.

But the most intimate portrait came from Diane Blair, a woman Clinton befriended in Arkansas who was not a Nobel laureate or legal scholar and never held elected office. Through 30 years of friendship, Blair knew more than perhaps anyone about Clinton’s private struggles as she became the governor’s wife, moved to the White House and transformed herself into the most famous woman in American politics.

In her tribute to Clinton in the 1995 Annual Survey of American Law, Blair portrayed her friend as a female crusader, setting an example at great personal cost.

“When I was a schoolchild I was both fascinated and horrified by stories of the canaries who were carried down into the mines as early warning systems for the miners; if poisonous gases started seeping into the mine-shafts, the canaries would quickly expire, thereby giving warning to the men in the mines. I wonder now whether Hillary is playing the risky part of national canary for the women of America,” Blair wrote.

Clinton wrote back to Blair in the summer of 1995, calling her a “fellow canary.”

“We flap our little wings harder and harder, while chirping as loudly as our voices permit about what’s happening around us,” she said. “Sometimes we even are heard outside our cages!”

Blair never sought the limelight, but she became one of Clinton’s closest confidantes as the first lady wrestled with what she saw as a legion of political detractors and a hostile press. Clinton turned to Blair with her fears that her husband was “ruining himself” and the presidency because he had no strategy to fight back at his enemies.
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Saturday Morning Open Thread: Compare & Contrast

It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too. And as spouses and partners and boyfriends, we need to work hard and be deliberate about creating truly equal relationships.

The good news is that everywhere I go across the country, and around the world, I see people pushing back against dated assumptions about gender roles. From the young men who’ve joined our It’s On Us campaign to end campus sexual assault, to the young women who became the first female Army Rangers in our nation’s history, your generation refuses to be bound by old ways of thinking. And you’re helping all of us understand that forcing people to adhere to outmoded, rigid notions of identity isn’t good for anybody—men, women, gay, straight, transgender, or otherwise. These stereotypes limit our ability to simply be ourselves.

This fall we enter a historic election. Two hundred and forty years after our nation’s founding, and almost a century after women finally won the right to vote, for the first time ever, a woman is a major political party’s presidential nominee. No matter your political views, this is a historic moment for America. And it’s just one more example of how far women have come on the long journey toward equality.

I want all of our daughters and sons to see that this, too, is their inheritance. I want them to know that it’s never been just about the Benjamins; it’s about the Tubmans too. And I want them to help do their part to ensure that America is a place where every single child can make of her life what she will.

That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free.

Apart from GOTV — and watching the Olympics — what’s on the agenda for the day?



Late Night Open Thread: Early Reviews

Major Major Major Major says:
I AM HILLARY OF HOUSE CLINTON! RIGHTFUL HEIR TO THE OVAL OFFICE! MOTHER OF HEALTHCARE, SLAYER OF TERRORISTS, BREAKER OF CEILINGS!

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DNC Pinnacle Night #4 Open Thread


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Courtesy, blessings upon them forever, the Guardian, livestreaming here.

There’s also the official DemConvention.com livestream, which unfortunately right at the moment is showing backstage clips instead of the podium speakers…

Abdul-Jabbar introduces a video in which Clinton tells the story of Humayun SM Khan, an army soldier who died in a car bombing.

Now out stop Khizr Khan, the soldier’s father, and his wife, unintroduced.

Khan says they stand as parents of Khan “and as patriotic American Muslims.” They are fervently applauded.

This don’t look like Cleveland.



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: YES SHE DID!


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What Ailes The Republican Party?

To follow up on Betty’s post below…

I’ve been thinking about Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against that omphalos of evil, Roger Ailes, since it dropped.  You all know the essence:

In a suit filed Wednesday in superior court in Bergen County, N.J., Carlson alleges that Ailes “unlawfully retaliated” against her and “sabotaged her career after she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”

“I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” the complaint says Ailes told Carlson last September when she complained to him. He allegedly added, “Sometimes problems are easier to solve that way.”

Even in that first story, there was plenty of evidence that Ailes is a serial harasser, a man for whom the women in his employ are objects to be manipulated (in the root sense of that word) at his pleasure:

While an executive at NBC, Ailes was accused of making sexually suggestive comments to various female underlings, according to a 2014 biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” A young woman named Randi Harrison said Ailes offered to her increase her salary by $100 a week if she would have sex with him, according to the book. A producer named Shelly Ross said Ailes posed “romantically suggestive questions and made flirtatious comments about her appearance.” Ross said she told him, “This is making me uncomfortable.”

Over the next several days, many more women have come forward to add their accounts:

In recent days, more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s New Jersey–based attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period, dating back to the 1960s, when he was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show. “These are women who have never told these stories until now,” Smith told me. “Some are in a lot of pain.” Taken together, these stories portray Ailes as a boss who spoke openly of expecting women to perform sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities…

Vouet,_Simon_-_Lucretia_And_Tarquin

Read the whole piece at that link for some heart breaking memories.

If Ailes is really gone, the nail in the coffin may have been hammered by the Fox News megastar,  Megyn Kelly:

According to two sources briefed on parent company 21st Century Fox’s outside probe of the Fox News executive, led by New York–based law firm Paul, Weiss, Kelly has told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox. Kelly, according to the sources, has described her harassment by Ailes in detail.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has been doing seriously good work on this story, which makes this nugget from his Kelly post so interesting:

According to two sources, Monday afternoon lawyers for 21st Century Fox gave Ailes a deadline of August 1 to resign or face being fired for cause.

So, good.  It looks like a truly monstrous figure is on his way out.

I’m as thrilled as anyone at that likely outcome, for all that Ailes’ well-padded crash ($40,000,000 buys a lot of whisky to cry into) is coming decades late.  But there’s a larger story that isn’t getting enough attention.

That is:  Roger Ailes isn’t just a network boss who has managed to deliver ratings to his owner.  He has been perhaps the single most important figure in the forging of today’s Republican party.  His Fox News has set the agenda, constructed the alternate reality, shattered the norms, and altered much for the worse what it means to be a Republican leader or voter.

He’s the architect and engineer of the hate-based, race-focused, anti-science, know-nothing tendency in American politics.  His triumph, his conquest of so much of American government at every level, has reached its apotheosis in the home-video version of Triumph of the Will we’re all seeing in Cleveland this week.  And he is a person who has, throughout his entire working life it seems, defined women as toys to be played with or broken at his whim.

I do not suggest that the Republican party, even in its current desperately debased state, is filled with people who would do as Ailes is alleged to have done.  But Ailes’ signal success has been in shaping how the party thinks, how its members and leaders think the world works.  And that influence is shot through with a sense of whose views count and whose don’t.  In Ailes life, half the world doesn’t rise to the level of agent, of people whose existence demands respect.

The fish rots at the head.

Image:  Simon Vouet, The Rape of Lucretia, 17th century. (Not my favorite of this subject. Rubens’ is great, and I’m a sucker for Tintoretto’s pearls.  But I wanted to keep the post SFW, so Vouet will do.)



Open Thread: President HRClinton Promises Ponies All ‘Round

but no unicorn ponies! (Why does she hate progressives who love unicorns?!?)… Given the NYTimes‘ reflexive anti-Clinton (and anti-Obama) bias, this isn’t too bad a profile:

Should she win the presidency, Hillary Clinton would quickly try to find common ground with Republicans on an immigration overhaul and infrastructure spending, risking the wrath of liberals who would like nothing more than to twist the knife in a wounded opposition party.

In her first 100 days, she would also tap women to make up half of her cabinet in hopes of bringing a new tone and collaborative sensibility to Washington, while also looking past Wall Street to places like Silicon Valley for talent — perhaps wooing Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, and maybe asking Tim Cook from Apple to become the first openly gay cabinet secretary…

Her opening might be a narrow one. She faces skepticism on the right about her willingness to compromise and her potential use of executive actions, and there is outright suspicion on the left that she might sell out progressive goals for the sake of bipartisan action with Republicans.

Still, Democrats close to her say she has a real touch with power brokers in both parties that could yield surprising results…

Her calculation is that she will be dealing with a Republican Party that is deeply fractured and demoralized after the defeat of Mr. Trump, whose leaders will be searching for ways to show they can govern and to court Hispanics if Mr. Trump loses badly with them. Mrs. Clinton also thinks a huge Democratic turnout this fall would put the Senate back in her party’s hands, while Speaker Paul D. Ryan and the Republicans would have a reduced majority in the House.

What Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Clinton do not know — but regularly explore in conversations, according to friends — is whether Republican leaders, even if their power is diminished, would be in a mood to cooperate…

Mrs. Clinton has assigned three top aides — Ann O’Leary, Ed Meier and Sara Latham — to oversee transition planning, reporting to Mr. Podesta. Clinton advisers say they do not expect Mr. Clinton to be constantly visible in the early months beyond whatever duties Mrs. Clinton gives him on economic policy and foreign affairs. The Clintons’ priority is that he does not do anything that distracts from her agenda or overshadows her as the country gets used to having a former president (and a man) in the role of first spouse…