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My First "Neighborhood House Party"

Ruth Neubauer   |   July 23, 2012    6:55 PM ET

My First "Neighborhood House Party"

As a very young faculty wife with two babies in two years, I was more involved with the second diaper pail disappearing than I was with meetings we hosted for graduate students from various disciplines as they organized themselves against the Vietnam War. The 1960s.

It wasn't until a couple decades later, divorced and living in the Washington, D.C. area that I felt the call to march for real. The Million Mom March was on Mother's Day that year. When asked by my adult daughters what I would like to do that day I asked that we all go march for CHOICE. All decked out in white like everyone else on the Metro, we spent the day on the Mall looking around at the women and the signs they held feeling like this was a very big extraordinary party knowing, without saying, we felt at home.

I had my first "political" home celebration the day Clinton was inaugurated -- red, white and blue streamers and homemade patriotic cookies. I just graduated with a master's degree in Social Work and worked in the community as a case manager on the front lines trying to find a place to live for homeless men and women in the richest, most well-educated county in the country -- Montgomery County -- I experienced Reagan's depletion of affordable housing by 80 percent during his eight years in office first hand.

The inauguration of Democrat Bill Clinton needed to be celebrated.

At the very end of George Bush's years I moved to Denver to be near my youngest daughter, her husband, and their two delicious daughters. I got to Denver in time that summer of 2008 to get a ticket for the Convention in Coors Field at which Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination. As I looked down the row of the seats way up in section H, no face the same color or shape, I felt I was at a party of seventy thousand people each of whom I knew I would like. The energy that day is only to be found in the particles. And unforgettable.

What a feeling that was.

Not since JFK had I felt that sense of hope, hopefulness.

It is 2012.

I am now 70.

I hosted my first "neighborhood house party" here in Denver recently and had a lovely conversation with the two wonderful young women, graduated high school seniors, spending this summer fully dedicated to the gritty ground work of grass roots campaigning. It's just what it sounds like. Down to the roots with bare hands bringing sign posts and stickers and lists for emails and copies of position papers even a red-white-and-blue pinwheel turning my kitchen and living room into the campaign headquarters of the neighborhood that night. I took pictures as it unfolded.

Turns out the two women who led the meeting and know the local political system have been doing this for years, are experienced and articulate, and lovely and strong beyond imagination so I learned a lot about how much I don't know and what it takes, and how hard they work and how much they know, and that anything at all one can or wishes to do is helpful. Just offering my house for meetings is helpful and fills a need.

Every single piece of cheese and bottle of wine donated to these occasions means something.
"Participating" does really and truly mean "do what you wish, do what you can". Give.

In whatever form is comfortable.

It will be appreciated.

You will feel good.

And Obama must win.

Electoral Emissions: What If Presidents Treated Our Cars Like Our Country?

Brian Crewe   |   July 16, 2012    5:34 PM ET

I love political cartoons. The good ones depend on the reader being intelligent and well read. The more you know and the harder you look at the details, the funnier the cartoon gets. It's wonderful to have art with humor that doesn't talk down to its audience. Whether you agree or disagree, your reaction helps you define your stance on current events. I've always thought it'd be fun to create a film in the style of a political cartoon.

In January 2012, my friend America Young e-mailed me some very basic dialogue for what would become Electoral Emissions, the short film embedded in this blog, which I encourage you to watch before reading the rest of this post.

America wanted to know what I thought of her developing script, which started with a conversation she had had with her mother.

America: One common theme I hear from people attacking Obama is how much money he's spending and that we aren't out of debt yet. True, he did promise to fix us up in four years, which was not realistic, but he was handed something that was broken. It takes money to fix something that is broken. I was talking with my mom about this and she pointed out, if you wreck a car, you have to pay to get it back to working condition. Which then got my mind going. I came up with the scenario of a woman getting her car back from the valet and it being wrecked but the mechanic is the one who gets yelled at, by the valet, for charging money to fix his mistake. It was amazing how easily the metaphor worked for this particular defense of Obama.

What I loved about America's idea of the Valet vs. the Mechanic was that it was like one gigantic moving political cartoon. As we layered in visual details and incorporated the thoughts of our brilliant and opinionated actors, Justin Welborn and Joe Holt, the funnier and more interesting it got.

America's premise also provided a chance to not talk down to an audience. I'm not a huge fan of impersonators showing off how good they are or having actors pause to wink at the audience to make sure they got the joke. I liked that the script was flexible enough for us to layer in the humor and commentary for the audience to find on their own.

As a viewer, you may agree or disagree with our stance, you might interpret this short film differently than we intended, or you might decide it's just the same old political rhetoric and start calling us a bunch of idiots. Honestly, I'm okay with all of those responses. As with a good political cartoon, America and I simply want Electoral Emissions to provoke a reaction, to make you think about your personal political stance, and ideally inspire you to dig into your choices a little more deeply.

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  |   July 13, 2012    8:23 AM ET

WASHINGTON — Former President Bill Clinton said Mitt Romney's financial record is a matter of legitimate campaign scrutiny because he's been selling himself as a fix-it man on the economy.

Clinton told NBC's "Today" show Romney's hesitation to release all of his tax returns "struck me as a little odd." Romney has released a full tax filing only for 2010.

He explained, "I am a little surprised he only released a year's worth of tax returns. That kind of perplexed me, because this is the first time in, I don't know, more than 30 years that anybody running for president has only done that. you know, it's typical we all release 10, 11 years. I think Senator McCain released over 20 years of tax returns."

Clinton said Romney's record as the head of private equity firm Bain Capital is fair game and says taking a microscopic look at Romney's finances is "just as relevant as going over my record as governor when I ran for president."

He said voters "ought to make up their own mind" whether they support someone who apparently sought to minimize his federal tax liability by parking large sums of money overseas.

On extending the Bush-era tax cuts, he said, "If we're going to have long-term debt reduction, we're going to have to have some spending cuts and some more revenues and that's the fairest place to get it. What the Republicans are trying to do is to put him in a position of giving all that up for another year, which I think would be a big mistake."

  |   July 12, 2012    9:49 AM ET

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and "pattern of provocations" are a serious threat to Asian and world security.

North Korea released a statement later Thursday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' annual conference in Cambodia saying Washington's "never-ending nuclear threat" against the North has forced Pyongyang to build atomic weapons.

BRADLEY KLAPPER   |   July 11, 2012    1:23 PM ET

VIENTIANE, Laos — Decades after the U.S. gave Laos a horrific distinction as the world's most heavily bombed nation per person, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged Wednesday to help get rid of millions of unexploded bombs that still pockmark the impoverished country – and still kill.

The U.S. dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on the North Vietnamese ally during its "secret war" between 1964 and 1973 – about a ton of ordnance for each Laotian man, woman and child. That exceeded the amount dropped on Germany and Japan together in World War II.

  |   June 12, 2012    3:21 PM ET

From Fox News came the exultant headline: "Once shunned Clinton emerges as GOP's election year ally."

Gaffes for Everybody

Jeff Danziger   |   June 12, 2012   10:12 AM ET

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Bill Clinton, Won't You Please Come Home?

Sherman Yellen   |   June 7, 2012    3:00 PM ET

I've always been a big fan of Bill Clinton, even when Bill made that real hard for me. When he was president I watched him adopt some Republican positions like the destruction of welfare for poor families -- they called it reform, I called it cruelty to small children -- all in the name of political expediency. And I watched him lie, sweat and wiggle his way out of his Monica Lewinsky scandal. I was outraged less by his horn dog, bad boy behavior than by the fact that personal sexual behavior could become the source of a politically driven impeachment, and do lasting harm to the decent programs he wanted to institute for the future.

In this case the anti-Clinton attack was led by a pack of Republican hypocrites, some of whom were secret or known adulterers who had seized on Clinton's lie about "sex with that woman" to bring him down. But thinking back, I enjoyed Clinton as a president who on balance tried to do more good than harm, despite his failings in judgment, and mine. You couldn't help but like the man.

I applauded his great support of Hillary during her presidential candidacy: it seemed real, not the paying off of a marital debt but a true belief in her great talents. And somehow all that affable Clinton stuff has to be enjoyed. By moving his office to Harlem he managed to convince the black community that he was their best friend, and by palling around with Bush the elder he managed to convince many Republicans that he was a good fellow after all, one who was able to see the best in a political foe, and wink, wink, still make deals when necessary. And by smiling his way through the past several years -- difficult years for so many Clinton supporters -- he warmed more hearts than mine. Good cheer is in short supply in this country these days, and the purveyor of it deserves our thanks.

I did have one difficult time with Clinton. I happened to attend a memorial service for an old college friend of mine a few years ago. My friend was a famous and accomplished man, one who had as a sideline offered his political writing talent to help Clinton, and now in this memorial service, Clinton was repaying that debt.

I watched Clinton praise this former friend of mine -- someone I knew since long ago college days: praise him for his sterling character, his generosity, his gifts to humanity. And I knew the man he praised was a liar, a cheat, a bully, a coward and what the great humorist PG Wodehouse might have called "a blot on the landscape." It was an opinion shared by most who had trusted or befriended this man during his lifetime.

Clinton was so charming in his praise for this man, so sincere in his speech, that I almost forgot the true character of the subject and settled on being amazed by Clinton's rhetorical power. Clinton did "sincere" better than anyone I had ever known. But I knew that the character of the deceased would have been obvious to anyone who was not dazzled by professional success, because that man's character was not in hiding. The man had a skill for social climbing that was amazing to behold, acts and words designed to raise him high in the pecking order of the world while pushing others down a rung or two. I suspect that Clinton saw in him a kindred spirit, one who would do or say anything to achieve his goals, conflating his own ambitions with the good of the world, and like Clinton he was a master of his art.

I don't name the man here because this isn't about him but about Clinton, who is so perceptive that he must have seen these flaws but chose to disregard them because it was to his advantage to do so.

This all comes down to Clinton's recent defense of Romney's years at Bain Capital, a gratuitous offering of support to Romney clearly designed to injure the Obama campaign, despite his denials. It is, I fear, another instance of "I did not have sex with that woman." I don't for a moment believe that Clinton thinks that Bain was the model of beneficent capitalism, or that he shares the Republican notion of trickle down prosperity, which has time and again been proven a total failure. I could not help but see it as an opening for Bill Clinton to make friends with the Republicans and help to set up Hillary for big donors when she runs for president -- and she will -- in 2016, particularly after what will probably be a disastrous Romney presidency should Romney be elected.

What was Bill thinking when he stepped out to criticize the Obama campaign and praise Romney? He surely wasn't thinking about the Congress, the courts and the presidency as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers and their friends once Romney is elected. Was he thinking about the suppression of minority voting rights, or the repression of women's rights, those of his daughter and my young granddaughters that will come with a Romney presidency, or the total destruction of the trade unions, with the disparity between the uber-rich and the under-employed majority so great that it will take generations to remedy that destruction of American life?

No, he was thinking, "Here I am, Bill Clinton, charmer of the world, and I better grab the spotlight from a struggling president and save the future for myself." If he continues to carry on that way, it will be a long journey home for him with nobody smiling and cheering.

BRADLEY KLAPPER   |   June 2, 2012   12:00 PM ET

TROMSO, Norway -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday ventured north of the Arctic Circle and urged international cooperation in a region that could become a new battleground for natural resources.

On her trip to the northern Norwegian city of Tromso, she conveyed that message of working together in one of the world's last frontiers of unexplored oil, gas and mineral deposits. The region is becoming more significant as melting icecaps accelerate the opening of new shipping routes, fishing stocks and drilling opportunities.

Nick Wing   |   May 24, 2012   12:16 PM ET

Former President Bill Clinton might be having a good time abroad this week, but that sentiment is certainly not being shared by everyone in his presence.

Attendees of a Clinton Foundation Millennium Network fundraiser held Tuesday at the Old Vic Tunnels in London had serious complaints about the event, with one person giving it the highest dishonor of "worst party ever."

According to the Daily Telegraph, hundreds of ticket-holders who had paid between around $200 and $1,500 to rub elbows with celebrities and hear Clinton speak about climate change were forced to wait outside for hours.

High-profile guests such as actress Gwyneth Paltrow, model Lily Cole, entertainer Will.I.Am and Princess Beatrice of York weren't among those asked to wait.

When the party-goers finally did get inside the converted railway tunnel venue, the scene wasn't much better.

"We arrived, there was perspiration dripping off the walls and the place absolutely stank. It was like walking into a cave," a source told the Telegraph. "Bill Clinton only spoke for about two minutes and was basically inaudible. He was at the end of a very long, very crowded room and the acoustics were terrible."

Author Marie Phillips sent out a tweet, also picked up by the Telegraph:

That was one of her nicer tweets.

Read more from the Telegraph here.

PHOTOS: Chelsea Clinton Parties With Princess Beatrice

Ellie Krupnick   |   May 23, 2012    7:11 AM ET

Well here's two people we never dreamed we'd see together: Chelsea Clinton and Princess Beatrice.

Not that we didn't hope. We love when royals and celebs cross paths (see: the Beckhams at the royal wedding, everyone Queen Elizabeth II has ever met). But we were surprised to see Chelsea in London, where she attended A Night Out With The Millennium Network co-hosted by The Clinton Foundation.

Princess Beatrice was just one of the famous faces in attendance, as Gwyneth Paltrow, Will.i.am and Lily Cole also turned out to show their support.

But we're loving the juxtaposition of these two royals, real and political. It never occurred to us how much they have in common: both grew up in the spotlight but have carved out their own low-key, subdued styles (Bea's royal wedding hat notwithstanding). For Tuesday's event, Chelsea was the sexier of the two in a purple cowl-neck minidress, while the princess opted for black head-to-toe. But both stuck with their typical solid colors and flattering shapes.

Below, see Chelsea and Princess Beatrice united in London.

PHOTOS:

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See Chelsea Clinton's style evolution!

  |   May 18, 2012    9:43 AM ET

Bill Clinton is abandoning his old ally Charles Rangel, who is fighting for his political life as he seeks re-election to a 22nd term, The Post has learned.

Harlem Rep. Rangel won’t be getting an endorsement from the former president, who will sit out the primary, a Clinton source said.

White House Outreach to HBCUs is Clear; Will Public Support Follow in 2012?

Jarrett L. Carter   |   May 17, 2012    5:24 PM ET

First Lady Michelle Obama gave rousing keynote remarks at North Carolina A&T State University's commencement exercises last weekend, marking the third consecutive year she has keynoted an HBCU commencement and four overall for the First Family, counting her husband's 2010 appearance at Hampton University.

Coupling those appearances with those of key administrators like Arne Duncan at this year's Howard University commencement and Valerie Jarrett's appearance at Morgan State University two years ago, it's clear that the White House acknowledges the value and political clout of the HBCU community.

It's a very savvy move by a very savvy administration; be around your family without giving the appearance of being only about your family. The Obama administration has quietly worked to address some pressing needs of the HBCU community, while stopping short of the president wearing a Hillman College sweatshirt to his weekly press briefings. Support of Pell Grants, an executive order to increase federal agency appropriations to HBCUs, and a general willingness to speak the sacred four letters in spots of careful choosing and in select company.

We've appreciated his quiet work, and in return, the HBCU community will again likely serve as an active red-state stronghold in his bid for reelection this year. A second and final term for President Obama is the one many are betting will produce a golden age of reform in employment and educational access for black people. And if not that, at the very least, a public acknowledgment that black folks are uniquely suffering and deserve federal attention to solve what years of racism and discrimination have yielded.

And if there is to be a public acknowledgment of how black people have been doubly disadvantaged by segregation and desegregation alike, there is no better example deserving support than historically black colleges and universities. Debate on subsidized housing and healthcare is healthy. Debate on equitable opportunities at higher education is not healthy, and no other institution is as structurally or culturally prepared to meet America's demand for an increase in educated professionals and innovators than HBCUs.

More money for capital improvements, research development and programmatic enhancement is needed, and that need has been in place for generations. The White House recognizes the disadvantage at which HBCUs have operated practically since their inception, and has covertly, from a media perspective, worked to right the wrong. Even when key liaisons between the White House and HBCUs have wrongly attributed HBCU struggles solely to administrative incompetence, sensible members of the White House Board of Advisors on HBCUs have dutifully and sternly reminded that a culture long-suffering from the "more with less" burden of leadership doesn't change over night, and the changing, ravaging demand of global economics makes the job that much more difficult for even the most keen and invested HBCU executive.

All in the HBCU circle of influence recognize that the championing for resources begins at home, and so there's no reasonable expectation for the White House to reward what HBCU alumni and corporate communities, at large, have not. But what is expected of the Obama administration and key members of the executive cabinet is a consistent, public declaration about the need for HBCUs and the national benefit for the American public and private sector to invest in their success.

The Obama administration has been on the record for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. It has been on the record for dignified and responsible measures on immigration reform and has acted in saving the financial interest of corporations intricately tethered to the economy of the nation and the world. HBCUs are intricately tied to solving a multitude of issues plaguing the black community; from entrepreneurial development, civil service, improving secondary education, public health awareness, and diversifying the fields of science and technology, HBCUs literally are a catalyst for saving and improving lives for Americans across the nation.

The White House knows what HBCUs are all about. President Obama has public declared a personal partnership with these institutions. The wheels have begun turning to engage HBCUs on the second time around for change in Washington, and if HBCU support helps them turn in favor of a second term, there's a reasonable expectation for the administration to take a stronger, more public position for HBCU support and expansion.

A position not relegated to HBCU commencement ceremonies.

Nick Wing   |   May 14, 2012   12:25 PM ET

Hank Crumpton, a former CIA officer and top counterterrorism official, said in a recent interview that President Bill Clinton's White House missed a golden opportunity to take out terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in 1999.

Bin Laden was in Afghanistan in 1999, Crumpton told CBS's "60 Minutes" in a segment that aired on Sunday. His convoy had been clearly identified by an early edition Predator drone, which at the time didn't have weapons capabilities.

"We saw a security detail, a convoy, and we saw bin Laden exit the vehicle, clearly," Crumpton told CBS's Lara Logan, describing aerial images captured by a drone flying somewhere outside of Kandahar. "The optics were spot in, it was beaming back to us, CIA headquarters. We immediately alerted the White House, and the Clinton administration’s response was, ‘Well, it will take several hours for the TLAMs, the cruise missiles launched from submarines, to reach that objective. So, you need to tell us where bin Laden will be five or six hours from now.' The frustration was enormous."

The administration also denied the CIA's request to engage their on-ground forces, Crumpton said, which could have acted more quickly. The missed opportunity led the CIA to speed the process of arming the unmanned drones with Hellfire missiles, so that they could act more swiftly if they found bin Laden again. U.S. forces have since come to rely heavily on unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out strikes on targets in hostile territory, much to the disapproval of some human rights groups.

Clinton has been criticized for a supposed failure to seize opportunities to kill bin Laden on multiple occasions. A 9/11 commission report, which brought the original release of the drone footage that Crumpton is referring to, led to accusations from Clinton's opponents that he had neglected to act despite a wealth of convincing intelligence.

Crumpton's interview comes as his book, "The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service," hits the bookshelves. It focuses on the CIA's response to 9/11 and the rapid implementation of covert operations on the ground in Afghanistan. Read advance excerpts at the Daily Beast.