July 27, 2016

The DNC Email Scandal Was Anything But MoreLike a Little Gas

Image result for pissed sanders



The great e-mail-leak crisis of the Democratic National Convention may soon become yesterday’s news, but the story offers a useful window into what’s likely to be an increasingly common scenario.

To review: shortly before the Democratic Convention opened in Philadelphia this week, Wikileaks released a collection of almost twenty thousand e-mails by and to staff members of the Democratic National Committee. In the resulting brouhaha, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman, was forced to step down as the chair of the committee. (No one mourned her departure, apparently, because she was universally unpopular.)

Why did D.W.S., as she is known, have to leave the D.N.C.? Well, the gist is that Bernie Sanders and his supporters took offense at what appeared in several e-mails to be bias in favor of Hillary Clinton at Democratic Party headquarters, which is supposed to be neutral territory in a nomination fight. (The Washington Post has helpfully laid out “the most damaging things” contained in the e-mails.)

Sanders and his campaign had long publicly maintained that D.W.S. and the D.N.C. had worked to help Clinton during the primaries—by, for example, scheduling only a handful of debates, often in the viewing ghetto of Saturday night. In other words, there was already bad blood between the Sanders team and the D.N.C., which made this week’s unpleasantness deeply unsurprising. What was so terrible about the e-mails? In one, a D.N.C. staffer raised the possibility of Sanders being asked about his religious views, though it appears nothing came of the suggestion. In another, D.W.S. referred to a Sanders campaign official who had criticized her as a “damn liar.” A third showed her explicitly criticizing Sanders himself, saying he had “no understanding” of the Democratic Party. (This might be because Sanders has never been elected as a Democrat but, rather, always as an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.)

Do these e-mails strike anyone as appalling and outrageous? Not me. They strike me as . . . e-mails. The idea that people might speak casually or caustically via e-mail has been portrayed as a shocking breach of civilized discourse. Imagine! People bullshitting on e-mail!

But that is what people do on e-mail. They spout off, sound off, write first, and think later. Of course, people should do none of these things. They should weigh carefully the costs and benefits of each e-mail that they write, and consider the possibility that someone might make the e-mails public someday. (They should also change their passwords regularly and get lots of exercise.) Last year, unfiltered talk on e-mail also got several people in trouble in the notorious Sony hack. But the real question is whether any of these e-mails really matter. Do they reveal deep-seated political or philosophical flaws? Do they betray horrible character defects? In the case of the Democrats, it seems clear that the answer to these questions is no. The vast majority of the e-mails contain normal office chatter, inflated into a genuine controversy by people who already had axes to grind.

These sorts of issues are likely to recur, in the political world, the business world, and elsewhere. Hacks are virtually certain to become more common. Russian operatives are suspected of orchestrating the D.N.C. hack in an attempt to disrupt the Democratic Convention and help Vladimir Putin’s favored Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But, beyond this single case, the sophistication of hackers, Russian or otherwise, is likely to outpace the rigor of e-mail-security measures for the foreseeable future. That means we’ll again be asked to parse the meaning of barely thought-through e-mails that were never meant to be public. We’ll all be better off if we evaluate e-mails in the spirit in which they’re written—or, better yet, write them off accordingly.

By Jeffrey Toobin, who has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1993 and the senior legal analyst for CNN since 2002

NewsMedia Never Clarified Trump’s Token Gay Who Fights Gay Marriage

If you have enough money you don’t need to care about LGBT every day survival issues. You can make your political decisions to conserve your money alone. Is it right? No, but everyone can only be responsible for the decisions they make for their own lives.  Just because you are gay does not mean you are a good person. The percentage of low down people are the same as straights. Adam
 Peter Thiel, Who pulls the strings?

IF YOU WERE ONE of the estimated 30.3 million people who watched broadcast coverage of Peter Thiel’s speech at the Republican National Convention last week, you would have learned that Thiel is openly gay, a Silicon Valley billionaire, and a Republican.
You would not have heard about Thiel’s moves to secretly bankroll a lawsuit that put the news site Gawker into bankruptcy, or about the Republican party’s extreme anti-gay platform—which suggests, for instance, a rollback of the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage. 
Thiel was the first openly gay Republican to address the convention, a worthy fact to share. But to audiences unfamiliar with his story, broadcast journalists gave little detail on the contradictions his presence at the convention created. How the media chose to handle Thiel raises questions about coverage of these conventions, publicity stunts designed to push the party’s platform and keep the attention on a pre-set narrative. What is the media’s goal with convention coverage? Do they have a responsibility to provide additional context on speakers such as Thiel that runs counter to the party narrative?

Here are some examples, via transcripts, of how broadcast media introduced Thiel:
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly:
Speaking right now, billionaire tech investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel. Mr. Thiel is the co-founder of the popular online payment system PayPal, and an early investor in Facebook. He also is openly gay, and he will be the first person to publicly acknowledge that he is gay at a Republican convention. Many wondering just how far he’ll go with his remarks about gay rights. And different people hoping for different things.
CNN’s Erin Burnett:
A Silicon Valley billionaire is going to take to the stage here in Cleveland at the RNC, PayPal co- founder Peter Thiel is his name. As I said, Silicon Valley billionaire, he is going to say he is gay and he is proud of being gay. He will be the first speaker ever to openly do so, to declare he is gay here on stage at a Republican National Convention and he is going to come out against the party for refusing to embrace LGBT rights.
PBS Newshour political correspondent Lisa Desjardins:
The lineup includes tech billionaire Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, co-chair of the Republican Platform Committee.
CBS This Morning host Gayle King:
Yesterday, he brought up the LGBTQ community, Q, by the way, stands for questioning, I learned that myself, last night for the first time. People around me going, what does the Q stand for? What does it mean? What does it mean? Were you surprised that he brought that up, especially after Peter Thiel spoke, an openly gay billionaire, that got big applause in the room.
This is not to say that no one acknowledged Thiel’s unusual role. Some made passing remarks about his involvement in the Gawker lawsuit, and many print and online publications dedicated more time to the perplexing issue, but few went in depth to break down the significance of the case.
Thiel put up $10 million to fund a lawsuit against Gawker brought by Hulk Hogan, who was suing the company because he objected to the site’s decision to post portions of a sex tape. Hogan won a $140 million judgment in the case, and Gawker filed for bankruptcy as it appeals. Thiel supported the fight because Gawker published an article that exposed his sexual orientation back in 2007. Gawker’s stance was they were not responsible for outing Thiel because many of his friends and coworkers were aware, and so the news was fair game.
Some conservatives, who view Gawker as a gossipy champion of liberal causes, have cheered Thiel for taking on the site and celebrated its bankruptcy filing. But media watchers have described the billionaire’s actions as a disturbing assault on the First Amendment, and they wonder who he might target next. While few would disagree Gawker is guilty of poor journalistic behavior, it has become a symbol of a shadowy war on the press.
In his speech, Thiel acknowledged he is gay and noted he does not fully support the Republican Party platform, but said there are more important issues that the party needs to unite on and deal with first. He said he supports Donald Trump because he’s “a builder” and a candidate willing to be honest about the problems the country faces. Thiel, though, made no reference to his animosity toward the press, another position he shares with Trump. Audiences without the back story would have benefited from the context. 
   Carlett Spike is a CJR Delacorte Fellow. Follow her on Twitter @CarlettSpike.

In Singapore A Man Fights For His Life After Unauthorized Naked Vid Shown

A Singaporean man who recently discovered his nude video was circulating online has hit back against online bullies.
Lokies Khan, a 24-year-old online personality, claims that he discovered a video that he shot privately started getting passed around on Tumblr without his consent or prior knowledge.

SEE ALSO: 78-year-old describes heart-rending realities of living as a trans woman in '70s Singapore

The virality of the media was heightened by people making GIFs from his video, he said.

The openly gay blogger later started receiving comments online calling him a "slut" and a "disgrace to the gay community," he added.

In response, Khan decided to film a four-minute long video with online LGBTQ publication Dear Straight People, directly addressing his critics. In the video, he addresses how his privacy was violated, and that the issue of privacy invasion shouldn't be disregarded.

"I have been swamped with messages since the video came out, which has been extremely positive and supportive," Khan told Mashable.

There however remain those accusing him of trying to gain sympathy through the video, he added. He maintains that his intention is to reach out to others who find themselves in similar situations.

"The issue here was, somebody took what was meant to be private and intimate, and abused it. I’m not the only person in this world who takes nudes. But having it leaked by somebody else other than yourself without your knowledge, is [an] absolute violation,” he said.


July 26, 2016

Party Unity Under Trump and Clinton- Interactive Graph

 File photo

Both Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders gave strong endorsements for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. While Sanders urged his supporters to unite with the party under Clinton, the first Lady Spoke of the importance of electing Clinton as the first female president, just as her husband changed the nation as the first African-American president.

Include the following visualizations to illustrate public opinion on issues brought up during the first night of the DNC, as well as democratic primary outcomes, and a lineup of major speakers at the DNC.

Kansas Judge Will Monitor Compliance with Gay marriage Law for 3 Yrs.


A federal judge told Kansas on Friday that for three more years he will monitor its compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court‘s historic decision legalizing gay marriage across the nation.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a permanent injunction barring the state from treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples in allowing them to marry or extending “other rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage” to them.
“It’s a shame that the court had to spell this out,” said Joshua Block, a senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, a lawyer involved in the lawsuit that led to the order.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Rapp said Attorney General Derek Schmidt advises agencies to fully comply with the U.S. Supreme Court decision and would do so without Crabtree’s order.
“It is disappointing the federal court thinks Kansas judicial and executive branch personnel require ongoing federal supervision,” she said in an email.
Crabtree ruled in a lawsuit filed in 2014 by five gay and lesbian couples against officials in the state’s health and revenue departments, as well as two local court clerks. The health department maintains marriage and birth records, while the Department of Revenue handles tax filings and issues driver’s licenses.
Kansas law already barred gay marriage when the state’s voters in 2005 approved an amendment to the state constitution to reinforce the ban. The amendment declared that only heterosexual couples were entitled to “the rights or incidents of marriage.”
The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on gay marriage last year, and two months later Crabtree declared the state’s ban unconstitutional. But he held off on issuing a permanent order to see how fully the state complied.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and many members of the GOP-dominated Legislature strongly supported the ban and have been vocal critics of the Supreme Court’s order. The Kansas Republican Party’s platform declares that “traditional marriage is the foundation of society.”
Crabtree wrote in his 33-page order that while the state took steps to follow the Supreme Court ruling, it did not comply fully and its conduct “raises doubts about the reliability” of its efforts. His decision to continue monitoring Kansas’ actions means aggrieved couples will not have to file new lawsuits — resolving their complaints far more quickly.
The judge specifically cited the state’s handling of birth certificates for children conceived through artificial insemination for same-sex couples. Crabtree said one couple initially faced additional steps not required of opposite-sex couples to get both names listed as parents and that later officials gave conflicting information about a change in the department’s practices.
Block said similar issues have arisen in FloridaIndianaNebraska and Utah. But he and Mark Johnson, a Kansas City, Kansas, attorney also representing the couples, said Crabtree’s injunction covers all of state government and is clear in declaring that same-sex couples have to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples.
“The judge left no wiggle room,” Johnson said

Alleged Serial Killer of 8 Men He Met on Gay Dating Sites in UK

He allegedly Poison 4 gay men with GHB (rape drug)
 Stephen Port pictured on his Facebook pageFacebook


An alleged serial killer accused of murdering four men he met through gay dating websites is facing additional charges of drugging and raping eight other victims, it has been revealed. Stephen Port, 41, is alleged to have used the drug GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy, to poison his victims after luring them to his flat before dumping their bodies in east London.

He was due to stand trial in October 2015 accused of the murder of Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25 and Anthony Patrick Walgate between June 2014 and September 2015, but proceedings were delayed as police investigated the possibility of more unsolved crimes committed by the former chef.
Port has now been charged with a string of other attacks against men alleged to have taken place between 2011 and October 2015, bringing the total number of allegations against him to 29.

Port appeared at the Old Bailey to deny four counts of murder, 10 counts of administering a poison with intent to stupefy or overpower to allow sexual activity, seven counts of rape, and four counts of assault by penetration against 12 alleged victims in total. He has been remanded in custody until his trial on 4 October.

Walgate's body was found in Cooke Street, Barking on 19 June 2014. Slovakian-born artist Gabriel Kovari, from Lewisham, was found dead by a dog walker near the churchyard of St Margaret's Church, North Street in Barking, on 28 August 2014.

Less than a month later trainee chef Whitworth from Gravesend, Kent, was also found dead near the churchyard on 20 September. The body of forklift truck driver Taylor, from Dagenham, was found near the Abbey Ruins close to North Street on 14 September 2015.

Met Police officers originally said they were not treating the men’s deaths as suspicious, but launched a murder investigation following the discovery of Taylor's body, resulting in Port being arrested at his flat in Barking.


The Evidence The Russians Are the Hackers

Many U.S. officials and cyber security experts in and out of government are convinced that state-sponsored Russian hackers are the ones who stole 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee and leaked them to the public just in time to disrupt the Democrats' national convention in Philadelphia.

Here's why the experts are so confident the Russians did it:

GEOGRAPHY: At least one of the hacker groups attacking the DNC appeared to cease operations on Russian holidays, and its work hours aligned with a Russian time zone, cybersecurity company FireEye concluded in a report.

LANGUAGE: The hackers also left an obvious digital fingerprint, one cybersecurity expert said, perhaps on purpose: a signature in Russia’s Cyrillic alphabet.

FORENSIC EVIDENCE: After a different batch of hacked Democratic emails was released last month, a wide spectrum of cyber-security experts concluded that it was the work of Russian intelligence agencies through previously known proxy groups known as COZY BEAR or APT 29, and FANCY BEAR or APT 28. “We've had lots of experience with both of these actors … and know them well," according to the DNC's own contract cybersecurity firm, Crowdstrike, which blogged that one of the two groups had already gained illegal access to the White House, State Department and even the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

MOTIVE: Given their mutual and very public bromance, Putin would much prefer a Trump presidency to a Clinton one, and the timing suggests the leak was timed for maximum embarrassment to the Democrats and their presumptive nominee. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said the campaign was told by cyber experts that Russian hackers stole and released the emails to help Trump. “I don't think it's coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here," said Mook, "and I think that's disturbing."

HISTORY: U.S. intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, said they had previously seen evidence of foreign hackers spying on U.S. presidential candidates, including some state-sponsored ones, and that such cyber-intrusions would become even more commonplace.
The main reason, however, is that the email hack is exactly the kind of thing Russian hackers can do, are supposed to do, and are used for by Putin and his aides, retired four-star Adm. James Stavridis told NBC News.
"It is certainly well known that the Kremlin uses Russian hackers for a variety of missions," said Stavridis, who led NATO from 2009 to 2013. "It is certainly well known that Russia possesses those kinds of capabilities. And it certainly seems sensible to assume that the Russians would rather have a Trump than a Clinton presidency.” 

"And as the saying goes, crime is so often where motive meets opportunity. And when you put those two elements together, I'd say it's a real possibility."

Like other cyber-experts, however, Stavridis said definitively proving such connections is virtually impossible. "I don't know the answer to that and I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to that except for a few individuals in the Kremlin."

(Stavridis, who now heads Tufts' University's Fletcher School of International Affairs, was mentioned as a possible Clinton running mate, but says he is a registered Independent.)

On Monday, Crowdstrike co-founder and CTO Dmitri Alperovitch declined to comment on the latest release of hacked emails and whether it confirmed his earlier assessment that the Russians were responsible.

"At this time, I don't have any new insights or commentary to share beyond the facts that I presented [earlier]," he told NBC News.

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort dismissed allegations of Russian complicity in the leak of DNC emails Monday, as the FBI announced that it is investigating what it called "a cyber intrusion involving the DNC and are working to determine the nature and scope of the matter."

“A compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously," said the FBI in a statement, "and the FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace." 


Trump’s Defense of Roger Ailes Where a kiss is not a kiss and a No is a Yes

 When a kiss is not a kiss and a no is not a no

All those hacked DNC emails showing the joy of backstabbing , the self-absorption of DWS  and the price of sitting next to the president have, alas, distracted us from another shocking/not that shocking revelation, this one from the GOP nominee.  

On "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Donald Trump stuck up for his old friend Roger Ailes, the ousted (but still well-compensated) head of Fox News, who’s been accused by some two dozen women of trying to pressure them into sex by promising jobs and advancement if they complied and professional consequences if they did not. (Through his famous feminist lawyer, Susan Estrich , he has denied doing any such thing.)  
According to The Washington Post, these accusations go all the way back to the '60s — decades before Ailes helped build a network that perseverates on sexual misconduct.   
Yet — and I’m not sure how this jibes with Ivanka Trump’s RNC speech about what a champion of women her dad is — Trump at a minimum doesn’t mind leaving the impression that Ailes might soon be running his presidential campaign.

'A very good person'
“Is he helping you?” MTP moderator Chuck Todd asked Trump. “Is he advising you?”  

“Well, I don’t want to comment,” Trump responded.“But he's been a friend of mine for a long time. And I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he's helped them. And even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him.  

“And now all of a sudden they're saying these horrible things about him. It's very sad. Because he's a very good person. I've always found him to be just a very, very good person. And by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he's done. So I feel very badly. But a lot of people are thinking he's going to run my campaign.”  

For a candidate who only has to do something to mitigate his historically low standing among women if he wants to win the election, this is bold talk, even from him.  

But it is hardly out of nowhere for a man who, as Fox News’ Megyn Kelly noted at an early GOP debate, has called women he doesn’t like fat pigs … dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” — a man who’s obsessed with looks and youth, has made a creepy comment about his own daughter’s attractiveness, and with cameras rolling, mocked his then-rival Carly Fiorina’s appearance: “Look at that face!”  
Another of Trump’s friends, and one he has in common with Bill Clinton, is Jeffrey Epstein , a convicted pedophile. Years before Epstein’s conviction, in 2002, Trump spoke glowingly — and in retrospect, tellingly — about him to New York magazine for a profile that cast Epstein as  “Gatsbyesque” and a “collector of beautiful minds.”  

“I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump told the magazine writer. “He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

One reason Trump may feel so bad for his buddy Roger Ailes is that he can relate. Because another thing Donald Trump has in common with Bill Clinton is that they’ve both been accused of, and strenuously denied, committing rape.  

One more thing they have in common: Neither accusation got as much mainstream attention as you’d think such a serious allegation would attract.  

I’ve said for years that we’ve been wrong not to want to know whether the Big Dog was not just a hound dog, but a man credibly accused of violating a campaign volunteer in 1978. The woman involved, Juanita Broaddrick , has also said that Hillary Clinton soon thereafter thanked her for all she’d done for her husband in a way that made Broaddrick think the candidate’s wife was really pressuring her to stay silent.  

To me, Trump’s refrain that Hillary Clinton enabled her husband’s treatment of women is indeed relevant as she campaigns on her record as a global encourager of women and their rights. But it was so long ago, when we knew so much less, my friends tell me.

Those who suspect that a prominent Republican accused of rape would be treated differently have so far been proven wrong, because the lawsuit filed last month by a woman who charges that Trump raped her at a 1994 Epstein party when she was 13 years old has been even more widely ignored.  

That’s at least in part because the anonymous woman has never given an interview, and neither has another woman who reportedly worked for Epstein procuring adolescent girls as party favors and who has filed a sworn statement saying she witnessed the attack.  

It’s also because the woman who filed the suit has gotten financial support from a conservative anti-abortion donor and a former "Jerry Springer" producer who say outright that they’re motivated by hatred of Trump.  

In other words, not enough is on the record to assess the facts of the case, and the people who’ve taken it on don’t inspire confidence. The nominee's first wife, Ivana Trump, also said years ago that he had raped her in a fury as they were divorcing, but she later said she didn't mean the charge literally.  

A third woman, Jill Harth , filed a 1997 lawsuit alleging Trump had sexually assaulted her but made the charges amid a business dispute and soon dropped the suit. She recently renewed her allegations.  

Yet there is more than enough from the innocent-until-proven-guilty candidate’s own lips — including his victim-blaming defense of Ailes and admiring view of Epstein — to convict him of holding a view of women that is not just politically incorrect but all wrong. He used to defend Bill Clinton, too — and smeared our 42nd president's accusers, too, back in the day.  

Those, including me, who have thought some pro-choice feminists have been too willing to look the other way on piggery by politicians who happen agree with them on abortion rights should now admit that some pro-life feminists come off as similarly craven in supporting Trump because he’s pledged to appoint Scalia-like conservatives to the Supreme Court; this is their issue, but it isn't the only issue.  

And as long as our discussion of the treatment of women never gets beyond forest-for-the-trees arguments over whether the R or D team’s sins are worse, none of the above will change.

July 25, 2016

Rabidly Anti gay Evangelical Dobson Joins Trump as Advisor

Evangelicals Using Masks and wearing black to infiltrate Pride and chant their tired old slogans

James Dobson has endorsed Republican nominee Donald Trump for president, further boosting the candidate’s standing among evangelical voters.

The Focus on the Family founder released his endorsement on Thursday (July 21), hours before Trump took the stage to accept his party’s nomination on the last night of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

And, while he said he made the endorsement only on behalf of himself and not on behalf of Focus on the Family or his Family Talk organization and radio program, he noted, “Most evangelicals I know have decided for various reasons that they will really have only have one choice for president, and that is Donald J. Trump.

“I believe it’s a good choice. America needs strong and competent leadership,” he said.

Dobson, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, had attended the meeting last month in New York City between Trump and nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians. Dobson made headlines when he announced the candidate recently did “accept a relationship with Christ” and was now a “baby Christian,” something Trump still has not acknowledged.

The decision to endorse Trump came in direct response to Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech the night before at the convention, a Dobson spokesperson confirmed to RNS. The Texas senator was booed when it became clear he would not formally endorse the candidate.

Dobson, a psychologist, author and radio host, previously had endorsed Cruz.

In his endorsement, Dobson noted his enthusiasm for Trump’s choice of running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Pence signed Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act as governor and had supported causes important to evangelicals as a congressman, opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Dobson also said the presidential nominee has been “unwavering in his commitment to issues that are important to evangelicals such as myself.” He pointed to Trump’s promises to “appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, preserve religious liberty, rebuild the military and defend the sanctity of human life.”

Trump’s positions on abortion have varied, with him saying he was “very pro-choice” as late as 1999. Dobson said he chose to evaluate Trump based not on his past but “on what he says are his current convictions.”

“I believe God can change the hearts and minds of people and I celebrate when they support principles of righteousness,” the evangelical said.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins also said for the first timeThursday night at the convention he would be voting for Trump.

Other evangelical leaders who are supporting Trump include pastors Mark Burns and Paula White, who both delivered prayers at the Republican National Convention; Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who spoke on the last night; pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas; and Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Burns, White, Falwell, Jeffress and Reed all are members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board

Timothy Kaine As Liberal as They Come?

Image result for liberal stamp

For those who know Sen. Timothy M. Kaine well in his home state of Virginia, there is rich irony to the blowback from liberal advocacy groups upset that Hillary Clinton did not pick someone more progressive to be her Democratic running mate.

“Throughout his time in politics here, there has always been this question about whether Tim Kaine was too liberal for Virginia,” said Bob Holsworth, a longtime political analyst. “No one has ever suggested this was a moderate who couldn’t be counted on to support liberal values.”

Before entering politics, Kaine worked as a civil rights lawyer, focusing on housing discrimination affecting African American families and representing inmates on death row. He began his political career in 1994 by winning a seat on Richmond’s City Council, whose majority-black members selected him as mayor four years later.

In the two decades that followed, Kaine rose through the political ranks to serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. senator.

In those positions, he successfully pushed a smoking ban in restaurants in a state where tobacco giant Philip Morris is a major employer. He advocated gun control in a state where the National Rifle Association has its headquarters. He spoke out against the death penalty in a leading state for executions. And he’s remained a close ally of labor groups in a state that prides itself on its right-to-work status.

“I don’t understand it,” said Mo Elleithee, a friend and longtime Democratic operative who once worked for Kaine. “My sense is most of the progressives who’ve been concerned don’t know him and have another candidate they would have preferred.”

The critique in recent days from national progressive groups — some with ties to Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), the runner-up in the Democratic primaries — has focused on a handful of issues, related primarily to trade and banking. And some liberal activists have expressed dismay that Clinton passed over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), a darling of the party’s left wing whom Clinton had dangled as a possible pick.

On Sunday, Sanders said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would have preferred Warren. Sanders said Kaine is more conservative than him but praised his Senate colleague for being smart and “a very nice guy.”

Winnie Wong, an Occupy Wall Street veteran who founded the group People for Bernie, said Clinton’s pick of Kaine showed “a woeful disregard to the progressives who fought so hard this year to create conditions for transformational change this country desperately needs.”

Norman Solomon, the coordinator of a group billing itself as the Bernie Delegates Network, called Kaine “a loyal servant of oligarchy.”

“If Clinton has reached out to Bernie supporters, it appears that she has done so to stick triangulating thumbs in their eyes,” said Solomon, whose organization claims to represent hundreds of Sanders delegates attending the convention in Philadelphia but is not coordinating with the campaign.

Kaine’s stance on trade has been at odds with progressive groups, particularly over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pending trade pact being championed by President Obama but opposed by most liberal interest groups and most liberal Democrats in Congress, including Sanders.

Kaine was one of 13 Senate Democrats who voted in June 2015 to grant Obama “fast-track” authority to push the deal through Congress.

“Why would I not give to this president the same tools to negotiate a trade deal that other presidents had?” Kaine told reporters Thursday, the day before he was picked to be Clinton’s running mate. Speaking of the deal itself, Kaine also said, “I see much in it to like.”

During her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton called the pending pact the “gold standard” of multinational trade, but she has since announced her opposition, and Kaine is expected to fall into line, citing some of the same reservations.

Kaine also drew fire from liberal groups for signing a bipartisan letter last week urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to “carefully tailor its rulemaking” regarding community banks and credit unions so as not to “unduly burden” the institutions with regulations aimed at commercial banks.

Kaine said that the letter merely reflected the differing environments under which different kinds of financial institutions operate, but the activist network Democracy for America, which backed Sanders in the primaries, said his action should be “disqualifying” for any potential Democratic vice-presidential pick, calling it an attempt to “help banks dodge consumer protection standards.”

Holsworth, the longtime Virginia political analyst, said that part of the friction between Kaine and these groups can be attributed to an evolving definition of what it means to be a progressive.

Kaine’s progressivism is rooted in a civil rights and social justice tradition, Holsworth said.

But now “there’s a growing emphasis on more adversarial relationships with large institutions,” including Wall Street firms and large corporations, he said. “That’s not the kind of tradition Tim Kaine comes out of.”

Most governors, Holsworth argued, tend to be more sympathetic to businesses, because part of their job is attracting them to their state. And in the case of Virginia, which is home to one of the nation’s larger deep-water ports, it’s also important to understand the benefits of trade.

“There are particular issue areas where Kaine can be vulnerable to the progressive critique, but when you look at his entire career, it’s hard to say he isn’t closer to them than the Blue Dogs or other more moderate factions,” he said.

Kaine is also considered well to the left of Virginia’s senior senator, Mark R. Warner, a venture capitalist and one of the Senate’s wealthiest members. The political distance between the two is often overlooked, given that Kaine served as lieutenant governor during Warner’s tenure as governor, and some cast Kaine’s 2005 bid for governor as an extension of Warner’s service.

Neil Sroka, communications director for Democracy for America, one of the liberal groups that have been critical of Kaine, said there’s much to like about him.

“His record on civil rights and guns is unquestionable,” Sroka said, but he argued that doesn’t erase his group’s concerns. “A willingness to take on the corporate establishment is essential to this election,” he said.

Kaine’s boosters say they’ve been puzzled by the progressive groups that have spoken out against his being chosen.

Since winning his Senate seat in 2012, Kaine has won perfect or near-perfect scores from an array of liberal interest groups, reflecting a record that is in line with their positions on abortion rights, gun control, gay rights and labor interests.

In 2013, Kaine also made history with a floor speech entirely in Spanish, an address in support of an immigration law overhaul.

During her introduction of Kaine to a national audience Saturday at a rally in Miami, Clinton repeatedly called Kaine “a progressive who likes to get things done.”

Elleithee and others point to several defining moments in Kaine’s career that speak to his progressive values.

In his race for governor, for example, Kaine was hit hard by his Republican opponent, Jerry W. Kilgore, for his personal opposition to the death penalty. Kilgore ran television ads that featured family members of murdered Virginians denouncing Kaine.

Kaine countered with an ad in which he stared straight into the camera and declared his position a matter of faith — but pledged to carry out the law. As governor, he did allow executions to continue but vetoed bills seeking to expand the application of the death penalty. 

Kaine also clashed with Republican legislators early in his term when he sought to appoint an old friend and longtime labor leader to be secretary of the commonwealth, a position responsible for making thousands of appointments to state boards and commissions.

In a rare move, the House of Delegates voted down the nomination of former AFL-CIO state director Daniel G. LeBlanc, citing concerns about his long-standing opposition to “right to work” labor laws.

In an interview, LeBlanc described himself as “one of those guys who was pushing for the Democrats to be more progressive in Virginia” and praised Kaine for what he did next: appoint him to another Cabinet-level position that didn’t require confirmation by the legislature.

In that position, which LeBlanc described as a workforce development “czar,” he was able to work in areas closer to his expertise.

Kaine’s national politics also have showed a progressive bent. During the 2008 presidential cycle, he was the first governor outside of Illinois to endorse Barack Obama.

Family of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Living Large Right in NYC

Wandering through Times Square, past the Naked Cowboy and the ticket touts, she could be any immigrant trying to live the American dream.

A 60-year-old Korean woman with a soft perm and conservative clothes, she's taking a weekend off from pressing shirts and hemming pants at the dry-cleaning business she runs with her husband.

But she's not just any immigrant. She's an aunt to Kim Jong Un, the young North Korean leader who has threatened to wipe out New York City with a hydrogen bomb. And for the past 18 years, since defecting from North Korea into the waiting arms of the CIA, she has been living an anonymous life here in the United States, with her husband and three children.

"My friends here tell me I'm so lucky, that I have everything," Ko Yong Suk, as she was known when she was part of North Korea's royal family, said on a recent weekend. "My kids went to great schools and they're successful, and I have my husband, who can fix anything. There's nothing we can envy."

Her husband, previously known as Ri Gang, chimes in, laughing: "I think we have achieved the American dream."

Breaking their silence in the U.S., Ko and Ri spent almost 20 hours talking to two Washington Post reporters in New York and then at their home several hours' drive away. They were nervous about emerging from their anonymity; after all, there are Americans who analyze North Korea for a living and do not even know that the couple are here. They asked that the names they use in the U.S. and their address not be published, mainly to protect their three grown children, who live normal lives.

Ko bears a striking resemblance to her sister, Ko Yong Hui, who was one of Kim Jong Il's wives and the mother of Kim Jong Un, the third-generation leader of North Korea. And she had a particularly close relationship with the man now considered one of the United States' top enemies: She took care of Kim Jong Un while he was at school in Switzerland.

But in 1998, when Kim Jong Un was 14, and his older brother Kim Jong Chol was 17, Ko and Ri decided to defect. Ko's sister, their link to the regime, was sick with terminal breast cancer — although she did not die until 2004 — and the boys were getting older. The couple apparently realized that they would not be needed by the regime much longer and were concerned about losing their privileged status.

The Kim family has ruled North Korea for 70 years, through a repressive system built on patronage and fear. They and the top cadres in the Workers' Party benefit from this system — and have the most to lose if it collapses, or if they run afoul of the regime. So the couple decided to flee — not to South Korea, as many North Koreans do, but to the United States.

They live in a large two-story house with two cars in the driveway, a huge TV in the living room, a grill on a rear deck. They've been to Las Vegas on vacation, and two years ago went to South Korea, where Ko enjoyed visiting the palaces she had seen in TV dramas.

They look like a normal family. But look closer. That photo of her eldest son on a Jet Ski? It's at Wonsan, where the Kim family has its summer residence. That girl in the photo album? It's Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un's younger sister, who runs the propaganda division of the Workers' Party.

And the house? It was bought partly with a one-time payment of $200,000 that the CIA gave the couple on their arrival, they said.

Even though Ko and Ri have not seen Kim Jong Un in almost 20 years and do not appear to have held official positions, U.S. intelligence on North Korea is so thin that this couple still represents a valuable source of information on the family court.

They can reveal, for example, that Kim Jong Un was born in 1984 — not 1982 or 1983, as widely believed. The reason they're certain? It was the same year that their first son was born. "He and my son were playmates from birth. I changed both of their diapers," Ko said with a laugh.

Sometimes, operatives from the CIA's national clandestine service come to town to show Ko and Ri photos of North Koreans and ask who the people are.

The CIA declined to confirm or comment on any of Ko and Ri's claims. Some parts of the couple's history can be verified, but other parts cannot, or seem incomplete.

Even today, Ri in particular is sympathetic toward the North Korean regime and is trying to get approval to visit Pyongyang. And both are careful in what they say about their powerful nephew, repeatedly referring to him as "Marshal Kim Jong Un." But what they will say about their former charge paints a picture of a man who was raised knowing that he would one day be king.

In 1992, Ko Yong Suk arrived in Bern, Switzerland, with Kim Jong Chol, the first son of Ko's sister and Kim Jong Il, who in two years would become the leader of North Korea. Kim Jong Un arrived in 1996, when he was 12.

"We lived in a normal house and acted like a normal family. I acted like their mother," Ko said. "I encouraged him to bring his friends home, because we wanted them to live a normal life."

Traveling on a diplomatic passport, Ri went back and forth between North Korea and Switzerland. The family spoke Korean at home and ate Korean food but also enjoyed the benefits of an expatriate family in an exotic locale. Ko took the Kim children to Euro Disney, now Disneyland Paris. Kim Jong Un had been to Tokyo Disneyland with his mother some years before — and Ko's photo albums are full of pictures of them skiing in the Swiss Alps, swimming on the French Riviera, eating at al fresco restaurants in Italy.

Kim Jong Un loved games and machinery and trying to figure out how ships float and planes fly. He was already showing personality traits that would later become much more evident. "He wasn't a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered," Ko recalled. "When his mother tried to tell him off for not studying enough, he wouldn't talk back, but he would protest in other ways, like going on a hunger strike."

Kim loved going home for the summer, spending time in Wonsan, where the family has a huge beachfront compound, or at their main residence in Pyongyang, with its movie theater and plenty of room to hang out. "He started playing basketball, and he became obsessed with it," his aunt said of the young Kim, who was a Michael Jordan fan. "He used to sleep with his basketball." He was shorter than his friends, and his mother told him that if he played basketball, he would become taller, Ko said.

The world did not know that Kim had been anointed his father's successor until October 2010, when his status was made official at a Workers' Party conference in Pyongyang. But Kim had known since 1992 that he would one day inherit North Korea.

The signal was sent at his eighth birthday party, attended by North Korea's top brass, the couple said. Kim was given a general's uniform decorated with stars, and real generals with real stars bowed to him and paid their respects to him from that moment on. "It was impossible for him to grow up as a normal person when the people around him were treating him like that," Ko said.

From a humble background, Ko was catapulted into the top echelons of North Korean society in 1975, when her sister, a performer, caught the eye of the princeling Kim Jong Il and became his third partner. "I was very close to my sister, and it was a tough job to be the wife, so she asked me to help her. She could trust me because I was her own blood," Ko said.

Kim Jong Il personally selected Ri to marry his sister-in-law. They all lived in a compound in Pyongyang, with Ko looking after her sister's and her own children for years.

"We lived the good life," Ko said. Over a sushi lunch in New York, she reminisced about drinking cognac with sparkling water and eating caviar in Pyongyang, about riding with Kim Jong Il in his Mercedes-Benz. Then came the charmed years in Europe. But in 1998, Ko's sister discovered she had breast cancer and underwent treatment in Switzerland and France.

This is where Ko and Ri's version of events starts to become opaque. Given that Ri is trying get back into Kim Jong Un's good graces, he has reason to present their defection as nothing but altruistic.

As Ri and Ko tell it, the cancer treatment in Europe was not working, so they decided they should travel to the United States to try to secure treatment for Ko's dying sister. Their defection was all about trying to save Kim Jong Un's mother, they say.

Stories about the couple in the South Korean news media have suggested that they sought asylum because they were concerned about what could happen to them after Kim Jong Un's parents died. This was their link to the royal family, and without that link, what would happen to them?

Ko seemed to imply that this had been a concern. "In history, you often see people close to a leader getting into unintended trouble because of other people," she said. "I thought it would be better if we stayed out of that kind of trouble."

The dangers persist today. Just look at the case of Jang Song Thaek, the uncle who also lived in the Pyongyang compound with Ko and Ri. He apparently built up too much power. In 2013, Kim had him executed.

So one day in 1998, Ri and Ko and their three children took a taxi to the U.S. Embassy in Bern. They said they were North Korean diplomats and wanted asylum. After several days, they were taken to a U.S. military base near Frankfurt.

They stayed in a house on the base for several months while they were questioned. It was then that Ri and Ko disclosed their family connections. "The American government didn't know who Kim Jong Un was, that he would become the leader," Ri said.

When they landed in the United States, the family spent a few days in the Washington area — not far from CIA headquarters — before moving to a small city where a South Korean church had offered to help them, as it had done for others who escaped the North.

"The people at the church kept asking us questions," Ko said. So the family moved to a different city with few other Koreans, or even other Asians. "Life was hard at the beginning. We had no relatives and we worked for 12 hours every day," Ri said. He worked as a builder, then did maintenance, jobs that were easy to do without English.

Ko was frustrated at not being able to work. "The only thing I could do without speaking the language was dry cleaning," she said in Korean. Ri speaks reasonable English today, but Ko's is still basic. So they opened a small store and began working long hours, Ri at the machines and Ko doing alterations. They soon hit their stride.

Their children have no interest in Korea, North or South, she said. Their oldest son is a mathematician. Their second son helps out in the business, while their daughter works in computer science.

They have a comfortable existence but do not appear to be living large. Stopping at a gas station for lunch on the way back to their home, Ko was disappointed that the Dunkin' Donuts was out of burritos. It's a long way from cognac and caviar.

So why are they breaking their silence now? Ri says he wants to visit North Korea and has come out of their deep cover to dispel what he calls "lies" being peddled about their wider family in North Korea by regime critics. He is particularly careful around reporters not to speak ill of the regime.

"My ultimate goal is to go back to North Korea. I understand America and I understand North Korea, so I think I can be a negotiator between the two," he said. "If Kim Jong Un is how I remember he used to be, I would be able to talk to him."

Ko said she misses her hometown — the pull of home cannot be underestimated in Korean culture — but does not want to go back. Nor does she want Ri to visit. “But how can I change my stubborn husband's mind?"


Excerpted from an article that originally appeared in The Washington Post

These are the Corporate Sponsors that Mingled and Paid for Cleveland

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) poses with two employees at Pfizer, one of the sponsors of the RSLC event in Cleveland.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) poses with two employees at Pfizer, one of the many pharmaceutical industry sponsors of an RSLC fundraising event in Cleveland. (Photo: Ashley Balcerzak, OpenSecrets.org)
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s impassioned speech to unite the GOP on Tuesday was not the last he would give in Cleveland. A national Republican organization brought in the big guns for their fundraiser, with Ryan headlining the event to inspire donations.
In the tranquility of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens on Wednesday, miles away from the madness surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena, Ryan stressed the need to coordinate and strengthen the Republican party on the federal, state, local and federal levels. His audience? A bevy of state legislative leaders rubbing elbows with industry interests. 
The afternoon of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres was organized by the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, part of the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national 527 political organization that aims to elect down-ballot Republicans.  
The two-hour catered event treated politicians and their corporate guests to salmon-wrapped asparagus, watermelon topped with bleu cheese and edible flowers, and two open bars. (Note to watchdogs: This probably was ethically fine for Ryan and any other federal lawmakers there.) Republican officials and representatives of GOP-aligned big money groups like American Crossroads milled about chatting with corporate officials representing some of the biggest corporations in the country, from industries as diverse as tech and retail to fossil fuels and private prisons.
The Republican State Leadership Committee brought state level politicians together with industry special interests for a fundraiser at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. (Photo: Robert Maguire, CRP)
The Republican State Leadership Committee brought state level politicians together with industry special interests for a fundraiser at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. (Photo: Robert Maguire, CRP)
Reporters for the OpenSecrets Blog were not on the invitation list, but were able to gain access to the event. 
“Your help, your donations, your efforts to help in our states to maintain these majorities to continue to move us forward, is extremely important,” said Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, kicking off the event. “And by the way, before you go, make sure you see us again to see how much money we can get from you.”
Together, the more than two dozen corporations and organizations sponsoring the event have given $12.4 million to the RSLC’s efforts since 2013. More than half of that came from just two donors: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $5.4 million, and the Altria Group, which gave nearly $1.2 million. 
Republicans are not alone in raising cash from corporations that hope to curry favor with legislators who will be formulating policies that will affect their bottom line. The RSLC’s analog on the left, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, raises millions from unions and corporations, and Democratic leaders will almost certainly be wooing these groups next week in Philadelphia. 
Very few of the sponsors at this morning’s RSLC event, however, have been as generous with the DLCC. In all, those same sponsors only gave $2.3 million to the DLCC since 2013, and 11 have not given a single contribution to the Democratic group in that time frame. On average, the corporations sponsoring the Paul Ryan event favor the RSLC more than eight to one over the DLCC, with only four companies — Wal-MartAT&TMonsanto, and Microsoft — having a near even split in support for both. 
Early in his speech, Ryan gave a nod to fossil fuel interests present, such as the American Coalition for Clean Coal and Electricity, a sponsor, and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, on the invitee list, in the middle of a metaphor about government effectiveness. 
“In the House we sort of see ourselves at the bottom of a ship, shoveling coal into the engine,” Ryan said. “By the way, there’s nothing wrong with shoveling coal into an engine. Shout out to coal country,” he said, as the crowd burst into applause. 
Ryan concluded by emphasizing that the party needs resources to “make sure the down ticket stays strong” and maintain a “big and deep party” on all levels of government.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) headlined the RSLC event, expressing the importance of resources to Republican efforts.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) headlined the RSLC event, expressing the importance of resources to Republican efforts.
Big Pharma had a strong showing, with event backing from Astellas PharmaPfizerNovartis and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry as a whole has been a big supporter of the RSLC, giving more than $3.4 million since 2013. 
Other notable sponsors include two of the largest private prison corporations, Corrections Corporation of America (which gave $53,000 since 2013) and the GEO GroupOpenSecrets Blog reporters also spied nametags laid out for foreign dignitaries, including Nigel Farage, Brexit leader and former head of the U.K. Independence Party, and Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S.



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