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Ne'er the Twain?

  |   June 10, 2013    9:55 AM ET

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Joanna Zelman   |   May 17, 2013    3:44 PM ET

"We are in a race against time," former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night, in an interview with actor Harrison Ford.

"We still live in a state of denial," Clinton suggested, regarding the future impacts of climate change. "We see it, we experience it, but we have a great deal of difficulty in summoning the political will ... to address it."

Ford interviewed Clinton on challenges ranging from climate change to poaching as part of Conservation International's annual New York Gala Dinner.

Clinton focused specifically on small Pacific Island nations whose existences, she said, "are truly at stake."

At the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands last August, she announced aid for programs focused on sustainable economic development and climate change adaptation.

Many island nations are already being forced to adapt to the effects of a changing environment. Earlier this year, Kiribati President Anote Tong told The Huffington Post that unprecedented coastal erosion is forcing some of his island nation communities to relocate, and declared that the United States should "not be so scared to talk about climate change."

Recent research confirmed that virtually all scientists agree that humans are contributing to climate change through actions such as the burning of fossil fuels.

On Wednesday, Clinton also spoke out against wildlife poaching. "We have a wildlife trafficking, poaching, murdering crisis," she said.

Beyond endangered species concerns, "Think about ungoverned space that is dominated by criminal and terrorist elements," Clinton warned, "murdering park ranchers and local people who try to prevent them from killing large numbers of animals, and think about what that means to our own security."

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Clinton cited an incident earlier this month in the Central African Republic, where armed poachers killed at least 26 elephants at a protected sanctuary.

The country has been plagued by violence recently, and rebels ousted the president earlier this year.

Clinton pushed for conservation groups to help nations protect wildlife and their habitats, while also encouraging tougher ivory penalties in the U.S.

Luke Johnson   |   April 25, 2013   12:21 PM ET

Former President Bill Clinton, speaking at the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication on Thursday, said that he had considered asking his successor to paint a picture of him, but joked that he backed off after he saw the hacked self-portraits of Bush nude in the bathroom.

"I probably shouldn't say this, but I'm going to anyway," Clinton said at the ceremony on Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. "Your mother showed me some of your landscapes and animal paintings and I thought they were great, really great, and I seriously considered calling you and asking you to do a portrait of me -- until I saw the results of your sister's hacked emails. Those bathroom sketches were wonderful, but at my age I think I should keep my suit."

The Smoking Gun released Bush's pictures of himself in the shower and the bathtub in February. Art experts contacted by The Huffington Post said uniformly that they were perplexed by the paintings.

The former president's wife, Laura Bush, said Thursday on NPR that there would be no paintings at the Bush center until he gets "better."

JIM SALTER   |   April 6, 2013    9:06 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Former President Bill Clinton and a panel of successful entrepreneurs had a simple message Friday for college students gathered in St. Louis: Dream big, have a social conscience and commit to your goals.

The former president brought his Clinton Global Initiative to Washington University. More than 1,000 university students from 75 countries and all 50 states are gathered for a weekend of sessions seeking practical and innovative solutions to the world's problems.

How Can the Opposition Make Sure Hillary Does Not Win in 2016...

  |   April 4, 2013    6:30 PM ET

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HILLEL ITALIE   |   April 4, 2013    8:07 AM ET

NEW YORK — So what does it all mean?

Hillary Rodham Clinton has a deal for a memoir and policy book about her years in the Obama administration, Simon & Schuster told The Associated Press. The book has yet to be titled and is tentatively scheduled for June 2014, in time for the summer reading season and for the midterm elections, when a promotional tour could easily blend with Democratic efforts work to recapture the House.

It Wasn't David Stockman Who Wrecked the Economy

  |   April 2, 2013    3:48 AM ET

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Jessica Prois   |   March 11, 2013   12:43 PM ET

A forum this week is bringing together global leaders to tackle education solutions for the approximately 139 million children who are missing out on schooling worldwide.

During the inaugural Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai March 14-17, world leaders including Bill Clinton and Tony Blair will be discussing private-public partnerships to improve education equity.

Former President Clinton will deliver the keynote address and will answer questions from Twitter in partnership with Varkey GEMS Foundation, a nonprofit that empowers underserved children worldwide, for which he serves as honorary chairman. Clinton, who tackles global education issues through his Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation, has long stressed the need for providing greater education opportunities.

The global forum will cover topics including new technologies, technical and vocational education and solutions to pressing issues such as empowering girls. Attending world leaders have stressed the power of education-related public-private partnerships as a means to stability.

The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova said in a release: “Global companies have their global interests. But there is something new coming about, and that’s the common understanding that it’s in the private sector’s interest that people are well educated.

The Varkey GEMS Foundation CEO Vikas Pota has called for a disruption in education in a similar way global heath issues such as polio have been tackled by NGOs. Pota wrote in a blog:

"The overwhelming evidence points to the inability or motivation of governments to challenge the status quo. Are NGO's able to leverage their expertise?"

The Global Education and Skills Forum is in partnership with organizations including UNESCO, the UAE Ministry of Education and the Varkey GEMS Foundation.

Huffington Post Impact is a media partner for the Global Education and Skills Forum. Impact will exclusively live stream the event Friday, March 15 at 10:45 a.m. EST. Tweet #AskClinton to have your question considered, and follow @GemsEducation for updates.

Bill Clinton and DOMA: The Indelible Stain on a Presidency

Michelangelo Signorile   |   March 8, 2013    3:10 PM ET

A stain on Bill Clinton's presidency that will never be blotted out is his signing of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Today, in an op-ed, Clinton asked the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA, which, he and his defenders like to point out, he signed late at night with no fanfare. It's certainly a great thing for an ex-president to weigh in with a reversal and give his opinion to the Supreme Court. And I commend Clinton for his evolution. But that doesn't remove this damaging act from Clinton's legacy, nor certainly the harm that that one law caused for almost 20 years.

Clinton has at various points engaged in revisionist history in offering the reasons why he signed DOMA after the GOP pushed the law through Congress. The most disingenuous attempt was in 2009 when he, following on claims a year earlier by Hillary Clinton's campaign, stated that Democrats were trying to stop a constitutional amendment from being passed. In fact, gay activists cannot recall any mention of a constitutional amendment until years later.

''That's complete nonsense," Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry told Metro Weekly in 2011. "There was no conversation about something 'worse' until eight years later. There was no talk of a constitutional amendment, and no one even thought it was possible -- and, of course, it turned out it wasn't really possible to happen... That was never an argument made in the '90s.''

The reason Bill Clinton signed DOMA is, quite simply, because he refused to be leader on a civil rights issue, irrationally fearful of the ramifications of vetoing the bill and rationalizing the damage caused by signing it. That refusal to take leadership really goes back to day one of his presidency. That was when he signaled to the GOP, like a frightened person on the street signals fear to a barking dog, that he was deathly afraid of the gay issue and would not be a leader on it.

In the first few days of his presidency in 1993, Clinton blinked. Rather than sign an executive order ending the ban on gays and lesbians in the military, as he'd promised during the campaign -- and just as he signed various directives reversing anti-abortion policy of the Bush years -- Clinton bowed to the GOP and conservative Democrats like Georgia Senator Sam Nunn. We ended up with the loathsome "don't ask, don't tell" law, which in the end was no better than the outright ban.

Would the GOP and anti-gay Democrats have reacted harshly and passed a law banning gay service if Clinton had signed the executive order? Perhaps. But Clinton would have defined himself as a leader on the issue and could have helped to change public opinion. Instead, the gay issue was something he ran away from during the rest of his presidency and which the GOP knew he was vulnerable on and would use over him every time. That was when what Joe Sudbay calls "political homophobia" took hold -- when our supposed friends run from us, irrationally fearful of the political ramifications of embracing gay equality.

What if Clinton had decided to lead on the gay issue rather than bow? We'll never know for sure, but it's ridiculous to think Bill Clinton would have lost reelection over the gay issue, no matter what happened. And it's highly probable that his leadership could have helped change minds. In 1996, when he signed DOMA into law, Clinton was well ahead of Bob Dole in the polls. Anybody who would vote against him because he vetoed DOMA was already voting against him.

LGBT leaders of the time are to blame as well because they allowed Clinton and his administration to cravenly perpetuate political homophobia (which was carried with Rahm Emanuel and others into the first years of the Obama administration, too). LGBT leaders may have spoken against the signing of DOMA at the time, but they rallied around Clinton, continuing to raise money for him and making the case to the community to get out and vote for the man who'd just signed a law against them. There were no ramifications for Clinton of any kind from the gay community.

Contrast that to the Obama years. Though some in the Obama administration, including the president himself, were fearful of the gay issue early on, grass roots LGBT activists made it known that it was unacceptable. Members of groups like Get Equal chained themselves to the White House fence and interrupted Obama's speeches, while big donors withheld money. They made it clear that this was not the way to make his base enthusiastic heading into his re-election campaign.

Obama was pushed to the take the lead, and he did. Sure, public opinion was in a much different place on gay issues in 1993 and 1996 than it is now. But it was also in a different place in 2008, when Obama took office, and even in 2011, when Obama came out for marriage equality. The president's support of gay marriage -- his decision to take a leadership role on the issue -- helped push public opinion dramatically. Rather than hurt him, the issue helped to galvanize his base. BIll Clinton's presidency had enshrined political homophobia in Democratic politics, and it took almost 20 years for it to begin to diminish.The Defense of Marriage Act is part of that legacy.

You Are Not a Person, Anwar al-Awlaki

  |   March 5, 2013    1:47 PM ET

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Sequester Insanity

Joe Peyronnin   |   February 20, 2013    8:19 AM ET

It is doubtful that Congress and the White House will reach a budget agreement in time to avoid the deep mandatory cuts, known as the "sequester," from going into effect at the end of next week. The consequences, according to many economists, could be disastrous for the already anemic American economy.

Conventional wisdom currently is that the sequester deadline will pass and then Washington will come up with some sort of compromise solution. Perhaps just in time for the next self-inflicted crisis, the threat of a federal government shutdown on March 27 if Congress does not approve funding.

At the heart of this crisis is the debate over how to reduce the annual deficits that Washington continues to rack up. The national debt is currently $16.5 trillion, or about $50,000 for each citizen.

On Tuesday, Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson released their new deficit reduction plan, which they say splits the difference between President Barack Obama and House Republicans. Their plan would reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion dollars over the next decade.

Bowles worked in the Clinton administration, and Simpson was a highly respected Republican Senator. They served as co-chairmen of the White House's 2010 deficit-reduction panel, which put together a bipartisan package of tax and spending changes that was rejected by both the administration and Congressional Republicans.

The Bowles-Simpson plan includes $600 billion in cuts from Medicare and Medicaid, $600 billion in new tax revenue from ending or reducing deductions and breaks, and $1.2 trillion in cuts to discretionary spending, along with cuts in cost-of-living increases for Social Security, the farm program and civilian and defense retirement programs. Bowles-Simpson 2.0, as it is being called, sharply reduced tax revenues from their original plan, perhaps in an effort to win over some Republicans.

In the current deficit debate, the White House favors a $1.5 trillion package that includes smaller cuts in social programs, investments in education, new technologies and infrastructure, and additional revenues achieved by closing tax loopholes. Republicans say they will propose a $4 trillion package of cuts that they claim will result in a balanced budget in 10 years, although they have not provided details. But Republicans have ruled out any further tax revenues.

Meanwhile, some economists question making deep cuts in federal spending at a time when the nation's economic recovery is so weak. They point to failed austerity measures in European countries, like England, which slipped back into another recession.

A compromise like the Bowles-Simpson plan seems appropriate for the country to avoid further calamity. "Our plan is not perfect, but it can serve, we believe, as a mark for a bipartisan deal," Mr. Bowles told reporters Tuesday morning. However, it is unlikely that the plan will receive any traction in Washington.

So, at the end of next week, the sequester is likely to go into effect. It calls for $85 billion in across the board cuts, and gives the government little discretion in how to enact them. The president called it a "meat cleaver" approach, warning that national security and vital services will be reduced, resulting in furloughs for border patrol agents, first responders, teachers and air traffic controllers.

With Congress on a break, no negotiations are underway. Instead, Congressional leaders are pointing fingers and playing the blame game. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner said, "Words alone won't avert it. Replacing the president's sequester will require a plan to cut spending that will put us on the path to a budget that is balanced in 10 years. To keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut?"

No wonder a recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 72 percent of American registered voters disapprove of the way Congressional Republicans are doing their job. And now Republicans are ready to bring the country to its knees rather than compromise on a more balanced budget deal to avert the latest Washington manufactured crisis. This is insanity.

Second Verse, Same as the First?

Andrei Cherny   |   February 19, 2013    8:52 PM ET

President Obama chose to begin his State of the Union address last week with a quotation from President Kennedy. It was appropriate and well-chosen. However, the agenda that he presented to the nation brought to mind another of Kennedy's quotes, this one from his 1960 campaign. A standard line in JFK's stump speech was that the Republican Party reminded him of its mascot: a "circus elephant, with his head full of ivory, a long memory and no vision." What went unsaid but left to his audience to infer was that the pachyderms invariably had to be trailed by a man with a shovel to clean up the mess.

It was a similar - and similarly unpleasant task - that occupied much of President Obama and President Clinton's first terms in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the double-dip recession of the early 1990s, respectively. In both men's presidencies, a stabilizing economy at the start of their second terms made it possible for them to speak to propose to the nation a longer term and broader set of ideas. Having been privileged to be part of President Clinton's post-reelection White House, what was remarkable to me in listening to this year's State of the Union address was how much of President Obama's new agenda had a familiar ring.

Whether it was raising the minimum wage, strengthening infrastructure, promoting research and innovation, providing high-quality preschool to every child in America, making college more affordable, addressing climate change, stemming gun violence, or even passing specific legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act much of the 2013 State of the Union address picked up - even with the same words - where the 2000 State of the Union speech left off.

Yet while aspects of the agenda may be similar, the moment is very different. The intervening years between Clinton and Obama were not simply a pause but a detour - a devastating attack on the country, two painful wars, runaway deficits, economic policies that tilted away from middle class opportunity, and ever more corrosive politics.

The broadly shared growth and yawning budget surpluses of the end of the Clinton presidency have not yet reappeared, and it is doubtful we will see them soon. That means that some of the more ambitious elements of the Clinton agenda of 2000 - such as new universal retirement savings accounts to supplement Social Security - are now out of reach. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen," wrote John Greenleaf Whittier, "the saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"

The question, however, is what yet might be. That is because more has changed in the intervening years than our economic and budgetary situation. The partisan polarization already well in evidence in Congress in the late 1990s has been overtaken by an ideological polarization. The ranks of moderate Republicans, Blue Dogs, and New Democrats have dramatically thinned. Where Clinton could laugh about "the seesaw" he was witnessing in his 2000 speech with Democrats giving ovations at some points and Republicans providing them at others, Speaker Boehner and his Republicans could scarcely be roused to their feet to applaud what once would have been considered common sense.

Though the times are different, a president's agenda can still speak to that dynamic. So much of what was said in 2000 and in 2013 overlapped, but just as important as the specific programs was Obama's eloquent plea to address Medicare spending in a balanced way by appropriating the targets of the Bowles-Simpson commission. In doing so, he echoed the passion Clinton demonstrated for approaches such as reinventing government and reforming welfare - ideas that broke the mold and broke out of the traditional contours of the two party debate.

Perhaps it is too late to recreate "the seesaw" of the late 1990s, but these types of ideas are crucial to building a new long-term governing majority among the independents distrustful of the stalest parts of both parties' programs.

"The era of big government is over, but we can't go back to a time when our citizens were just left to fend for themselves," said Clinton in his 1996 State of the Union address. "It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth," argued Obama seventeen years later. What passed between their presidencies took America in a wrong direction in so many ways. In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama held out the promise of building the bridge to a better 21st century.

Mollie Reilly   |   February 18, 2013   10:15 AM ET

Hillary Clinton will begin giving paid speeches this year, Politico's Mike Allen reported Monday.

Clinton, who retired as U.S. secretary of state earlier this month, is joining the Harry Walker Agency and is expected to earn fees in the six-figure range. However, Politico reports that she will likely speak for no fee on behalf of causes she supports, and will donate some of her earnings to charity.

The agency confirmed the news on its website Monday morning.

"We are proud to share the exciting news that Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined the Harry Walker Agency exclusively for her speaking engagements," reads the announcement.

Former President Bill Clinton, also represented by Harry Walker Agency, has had a lucrative career on the speaking circuit since exiting the White House in 2001. In 2011, he earned $13.4 million from speaking fees, increasing his total speaking earnings to $89 million over 10 years.

Other notable political figures at the agency include Al Gore, Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman, Howard Dean, and Karl Rove.

Hillary Clinton is expected to join the paid speaking circuit in April or May.

As speculation swirls about whether or not she will run for president in 2016, Clinton has insisted she intends to take a break from politics after her busy four years at the State Department. In addition to her new speaking gig, she has also announced plans to write another memoir, focusing on her time as secretary of state.

  |   February 15, 2013    5:29 PM ET

The story revealing that FreedomWorks produced a video with an obscene scene featuring a giant panda, Hillary Clinton, and oral sex created quite a stir and, according to former officials of the influential tea party group, had staffers at the conservative advocacy group and super-PAC "freaking out," as one put it.