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This is What a Leader Looks Like

Our Hillary… always giving the world something to talk about!

No, I’m not just talking about Hillary’s condemnation of the Qu’ran burning that RD wrote about in her last post…although I will say this, Hillary’s statement was absolutely *pitch perfect* on that issue, both at the State Department Iftar dinner last night and today at the CFR. Clear and decisive but to the point that this religious bigotry against Muslims that’s been going on

“doesn’t, in any way, represent America or Americans or American Government or American religious or political leadership. And we are, as you’ve seen in the last few days, speaking out.” –HRC, today at the CFR

Hillary did not get sidetracked and give this publicity stunt of hatred any more attention than it already has generated. She redirected us and the world back to who we are as Americans. That is what a leader does. Leads.

Hillary yesterday... September 7, 2010: Secretary Clinton hosted an Iftar to celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan--a time devoted to worship, contemplation, charity, and fellowship, observed with a daily fast from dawn to sun down. State Deparment Photo by Michael Gross

But, I want to direct your attention to what else Hillary has been saying, because today was a big day for Hillary…today she gave a very important foreign policy speech at the CFR:

As a complete sidenote: with her hair grown out these days, Hillary right now reminds me so much of Hillary Beijing 1995 (“women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights”).

I. love. it! Hillary is free to be Hillary.


Hillary, Beijing 1995

September 8, 2010: Hillary, CFR, Washington DC (Photo credit: KAVEH SARDARI)

The entire speech is a must-see/read for any Hillary “diehards” like myself (and proud of it!), so I’ll leave you with the video and a link to the State department transcript at the end of this post, but before that I just wanted to share with you a few details from her speech and the coverage of it.

Here’s one juicy, gossipy tidbit from President of the CFR Richard Haass’ introduction of Hillary:

Fortunately, today’s speaker, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is experienced in managing the most difficult of situations. And I refer, of course, to her performance this summer as mother of the bride. (Laughter.)

Secretary Clinton is the 67th secretary of State. And as you all know, she has not limited her travels to Rhinebeck. Since she became secretary, she has visited, at last count, some 64 countries, and that amounts to one out of every three countries in the United Nations. She has racked up 350,000 miles in the process, has done all this in just over a year and a half, but still, well more than half a year longer than John C. Calhoun.

Now, speaking of John C. Calhoun — (laughter), who served as vice president before becoming secretary of State, I couldn’t help notice the speculation in some parts that Secretary Clinton might just find herself trading places with Vice President Biden, becoming the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2012. And all I can say is that there’s precedent for this. (Laughter.) There were actually — there were two fellows, named Van Buren and Jefferson, and it worked out pretty well for the two of them. (Laughter.)

Now, speaking of the past, today also marks the seventh time Mrs. Clinton has addressed the Council on Foreign Relations, the sixth time she has done so without a broken arm, and the second time she has been here as secretary of State of the United States.

So Secretary Clinton, it is a privilege and it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Council on Foreign Relations. (Applause.)

I also caught this headline from Tunku Varadarajan at the Daily Beast — “Hillary Clinton Foreign Policy Speech: Better than Obama…. Hillary’s Home Run of a Speech” :

The secretary of State delivered the best speech of the Obama administration this morning. Tunku Varadarajan on her “new American moment”—and why she’s better than her boss.

Behold the Hillary Doctrine. And heap abundant gratitude—and rose petals if you have them on hand—on the firm, unfussy, deeply reassuring woman who has just offered it up to the world.

In the 20 months since this administration began administering (a verb I use only in the loosest sense), the speech Wednesday morning by Hillary Clinton, delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the first time we have been given an unreserved lift of the heart by any of its members. It was, by far, the best speech of this administration. Whereas her president has frequently wrung his elegant hands, doing the rounds of the world to reassure foreign leaders that America is a cuddly bunny at heart, the secretary of State declared Wednesday that we are all living “a new American moment—a moment when our global leadership is essential.” There was no bowing from her to potentates in robes; there was, instead, a promise that “we will do everything we can to exercise the traditions of American leadership at home and abroad.”

And, that’s just the beginning. It gets better:

In her speech, Clinton referred to the sources of “American might.” The first, of course, is “economic power.” But it is her hailing of the second—America’s “moral authority”—that was so invigorating.

It was Acheson who said: “The most important aspect of the relationship between the president and the secretary of state is that they both understand who is president.” What is so piquant here, in this administration, is not the fact, plain to behold, that Hillary understands that Obama is president. It is the growing sense that Hillary would have made a much, much better president than Obama.

This was from Laura Rozen’s preview of Hillary’s speech at Politico — “Hillary Clinton finds her ‘groove'” :

“She is definitely getting her sea legs; she is past the learning curve and has developed her team and her agenda and her reputation to the point she can really get things done,” former Clinton-era National Security Council official David Rothkopf said.

“With Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaving within a year and [National Security Adviser Jim] Jones probably leaving too … she looks like she is the stable center of it all and the leading figure in the Cabinet.”

What’s more, Rothkopf said, several foreign policy issues with which the administration is contending are now at a point where the State Department’s role is more prominent than the Pentagon’s.

The efforts of Middle East peace envoy Mitchell “are bearing fruit and bringing that issue to the fore … which is a State issue,” Rothkopf noted, while the hand over in Iraq, and critical issues in Afghanistanl, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and with China “are all State issues.”

Clinton “needs to be the real timeline between the president and the [Middle East peace] negotiations,” veteran U.S. Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller told POLITICO. “Neither now should be the desk officer for those talks. … But by upping her involvement — in the substance — she is the pivot if the talks reach a stage where they get serious, just like Kissinger and Nixon and Baker and Bush.”

And, from Rozen’s reporting after the speech, “Clinton: World needs U.S. leadership” :

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday pushed back on America’s sense of domestic crisis and declining power, saying U.S. leadership in the world is more important than ever despite the economic woes at home.

“I know these are difficult days for many Americans, but difficulty and adversity have never defeated, or deflated, our country,” Clinton told the Council on Foreign Relations in her second major foreign policy address to the think tank as secretary of state.

“Let me say it clearly: The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century,” Clinton said. “Indeed, the complexities and connections of today’s world have yielded a new American Moment — a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways.”

“This is a moment that must be seized — through hard work and bold decisions — to lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come,” she went on, adding that America will not “go it alone. … The world looks to us because America has the reach and resolve to mobilize the shared effort needed to solve problems on a global scale.”

Speaking for almost an hour, Clinton several times connected America’s role in the world with its domestic strength. The State Department, she said, is willing to absorb its share of national security fiscal cutbacks, but asserted “we have to be smart about it.”

Yes, we do have to be smart about it, Hillary. That’s why we need your voice and your smart power out there — you get how the big and small pictures fit together. I wish we had you more on the domestic stage too, but I am glad to have you on the world stage. Keep on fighting for us!

Speaking of which, here’s an extended soundbyte of the part where Hillary got a bit into discussing the national budget (from a foreign policy perspective), upon being prompted during the Q&A section of her CFR speech:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Richard, first, as I said, I think that our rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interests and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally. I mean, it is very troubling to me that we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny, but to have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years.
So I don’t think we have a choice. It’s a question of how we decide to deal with this debt and deficit. I mean, it is – we don’t need to go back and sort of re-litigate how we got to where we are. But it is fair to say that we fought two wars without paying for them and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either, and that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility.
So the challenge is how we get out of it by making the right decisions, not the wrong decisions. There’s a lot of wrong things we could do that would further undermine our strength. I mean, it is going to be very difficult for those decisions. And I know there’s an election going on and I know that I am, by law, out of politics, but I will say that this is not just a decision for the Congress; it’s a decision for the country. And it’s not a Republican or a Democratic decision. And there are a lot of people who know more about what needs to be done and who, frankly, have a responsible view, whose voices are not being heard right now, and I think that is a great disservice to our nation. Whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative, a progressive, whatever you call yourself, there is no free lunch and we cannot pretend that there is without doing grave harm to our country and our future generations.

And, now as promised… the video of her speech and the transcript linked below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here is the link to the State Department transcript of Hillary’s speech.

Hillary says proposed Koran burning is a “disgraceful act”

Decent people don’t need Hillary to tell them this.  From the Telegraph, Hillary Clinton commented on the planned burning of the Koran by a minister in Florida:

Clinton condemned the threat to burn the Quran during her remarks at a State Department dinner she hosted in observance of Iftar, the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths,” Clinton said.

This post is for all of our former friends who were Clintonistas in 2008 but somehow let their anger lead them in a different direction.

I know how pissed you were at the way your vote was taken away from you in 2008.  I know you feel disenfranchised by the one party you thought you could rely on.  You’ve been the invisible ones during this mother of all recessions.  You have lost your jobs or your family has.  You have seen government not working for you anymore where once it had.  You saw people come into office in 2008 promising change and then watched as they crumbled under the slightest wind of opposition.  They let you down, they’ve deprived you of a retirement free from worry and destitution.  They have been completely deaf to your pleas.

But don’t take it out on Muslim Americans.

The people who are channeling your rage towards Muslims are the very same people who are responsible for the mess you’re in now.  They are providing you with a distraction and an easy scapegoat.  They are pointing your rage towards destruction.  It is unproductive and won’t save your job, pay your mortgage or help you retire with dignity.  It simply takes your soul towards a dark place without the tempering spirits of civil behavior.

And men like Glenn Beck have been around for thousands of years.  They pop up whenever economic disasters lead to a power vacuum and a confused and leaderless people.  They talk about a return to “honor” and morality.  They proclaim “No to decadence and moral corruption!” and “Yes to decency and morality in family and state!”  Those last two quotes were from Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, just before he consigned the works of Jewish authors to the flames at a massive book burning in 1933.

We all know better than to behave like this.  We were brought up better than this.  We’ve had our mouths washed out with soap for saying bigoted things when we were children.  That’s because our parents or grandparents saw the little indignities of segregation or the slow intensification of anger and hostility that lead to the holocaust agains the Jews in Nazi Germany.  And they wanted us to learn and become better people and “to not judge a book by its cover”.  I would hate to think that there are mothers and other members of our own family out there who taught us better who are now falling back into this backwards and ignorant behavior and are being taken in by false prophets like Beck.

Those Jews saw themselves as German citizens just as Muslim Americans see themselves as American citizens.  They expected the law to protect their rights, persons and property and instead, they saw ruthless, unscrupulous men take advantage of the despair and anger of a downtrodden nation.  Those men, those forerunners of Glenn Beck, unleashed that anger against their own fellow citizens.

In the aftermath of 9/11, we came together as a nation and for the most part did not give in to retribution against our Muslim American population.  Yes, there was a lot of hostility and anger and some innocent people were hurt.  But we held back because most of us knew that the attack on the World Trade Center was designed to undermine the legal barriers against our baser instincts.  It was an act of extremism, not an act of a foreign god.  Then we got to work rebuilding.

So, you should ask yourself why, after nearly 10 years, we are dredging up this old anger, refreshing it and placing the blame for a heinous act on innocent Muslim Americans who had nothing to do with it.  Does it really have anything to do with 9/11 or is it something much more sinister?  Is Glenn Beck’s call to restoring honor genuine or is it the tried and true formula of finding a scapegoat for people to beat up on while the bad guys continue to loot the country and cement their power in place?

Back then, a German citizen might have gleefully burned the books of Einstein and Freud thinking, “Oh, they are only Jews”

Today, do we follow in their footsteps and burn the Koran because it is only the Muslims?

If we do, then we have learned nothing from witch burning, segregation, the Holocaust or history in general.  We should be ashamed of ourselves.  It is disgraceful.

And for a nation that knows better, it is dangerous.  People like Beck are redefining decency.  He thinks you are weak and easily lead.  Beck is playing you for a fool.

Are you?

Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

The fall political season is now in full swing since we’re past the “end of summer”. That is, we’ve just past Labor Day. Of course it’s still summer, but who’s counting. Ha, apparently still not Democrats. Couldn’t resist that one. Ah Democrats, the party that despises democracy most of all. So what’s the political landscape look like. As if we didn’t know. We’ve had a number of posts on the subject, so it doesn’t take too much looking around to see the news keeps getting worse and worse for the anti-democracy party. Gosh, there are a whole lot of former movers and shakers in the old party who’d love to help, but we were thrown away. How’s that working out for you? Yea, that’s what I thought.

So let’s see what we find this fine morning. Obama is set to discuss what to do about Bush’s tax cuts later today:

President Obama will argue personally Wednesday against extending the Bush-era income tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest families even for a year or two, White House officials said Tuesday – a message aimed at wavering Democrats who have been swayed by arguments that the economy is too weak to raise anyone’s taxes.

In a speech scheduled for delivery Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland, Obama will restate his long-held position that the nation cannot afford to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of families, White House officials said.

That sounds pretty good. I’m sure like with most things, he’ll stand firm, keep to what he promises. Not be swayed by those bully Republicans. Oh wait, what’s this? The very next paragraph in the story (emphasis mine):

The officials added that Obama would not threaten to veto any compromise which extends the upper-bracket cuts, a position that has gained ground in recent weeks among moderates in both the House and Senate. But congressional sources said they were told to expect the president to try to stiffen Democratic spines in expectation of a showdown over income tax rates before the November midterm elections.

Ah, there you have it. In the next breath they make it clear Obama won’t veto a bill that extends the Bush tax cuts. That might be the shortest “pretend to stand firm” time ever for a president. Well, we were told he was historic. You know, since he’s pretty much always on vacation, and he’s always flip-flopping like this, how about he just only wear flip-flops from now until the end of his one and only term. Is that too much to ask?

In addition, from the same article, Obama has one more thing up his sleeve:

In addition to restating his position on the tax cuts, Obama plans Wednesday to officially unveil more than $180 billion in fresh spending and business tax breaks – aimed at boosting both the nation’s economic recovery and the political prospects of congressional Democrats facing the wrath of recession-weary voters in November.

What, business tax cuts you say, likely more tax cuts for the rich effectively you say? At this point, what else do you expect. Also from the article:

Economists, business groups and tax lobbyists said they are not enthusiastic about the job-creating potential of expanding an existing tax credit for domestic research and permitting firms to write off 100 percent of spending on new plants and equipment in 2011.

Of course they don’t. But then, they just don’t have enough hope. Let’s see what the official chief of spin the crap has to say:

Politically, the provisions could be equally ineffective, some Democrats said. Because the details are sketchy, vulnerable Democrats may find it difficult to campaign on them. Meanwhile, some Democrats questioned whether voters would be able to distinguish between the new proposals – which the White House vows will not increase the nation’s soaring budget deficit – and last year’s $814 billion stimulus package, which voters tend to think increased deficits without improving the economy.

“It depends on how it’s spun,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D), whose state is a critical bellwether this year, with a governor’s race, a high-profile Senate race and a dozen competitive House races that will help determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

“The president has to attempt to attack this problem and attack it now,” Rendell said. “Is this a little too sophisticated for the voters to get? I’m not sure. But it’s better than nothing.”

There you have it. And how could it be otherwise. If we the little people don’t get it, or have issues with it, then perhaps we’re just not sophisticated enough to get it. That’s the new Democratic party in a nutshell right there. I leave it to the reader as an exercise to map out their line of reasoning to your nearest toilet. Remember, after you throw up, brush your teeth and gargle well.

Over at CBS, they have a nice story on the obvious result of the practices we’ve been seeing in the new Democratic party:

More Republicans voted in this year’s statewide primary elections than Democrats, according to a new study, marking the first time GOP turnout has exceeded Democratic turnout in midterm primaries since 1930.

Republican turnout exceeded Democratic turnout in the primaries held through August 28 by more than four million votes, according to Curtis Gans, director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate. While the average percentage of eligible citizens who voted in the GOP statewide primaries was the highest since 1970, the average percentage of eligible citizens who voted in Democratic primaries reached an 80-year low.

Yes, you read that right. Lowest in 80 years. Since 1930. Wonder what was happening back then? Hey new Democrats, how’s that new coalition and all hope, no experience approach working out for you? Are you getting it yet? No? Can’t still face it yet? Well, I can understand how hard it would be to admit that you kind of messed this one up. Well, I was being kind, you may have actually destroyed the whole country. But never mind. You’ve got hope.

But here’s the really interesting part:

“These figures speak to the falling away of an ever larger slice of the population from active political participation and the continuing decline in public involvement with the major political parties, reducing their ability to serve as forces of cohesion within the American polity,” Gans said.

Yea, that’s not good. That’s people noticing that both parties are owned and full of crap. Got hope?

So that’s happening.

Let’s see if we can find something less, oh, I don’t know, despair inducing. This is interesting, Murkowski in Alaska may find a way to still run:

The Alaska Libertarian Party’s Senate candidate said Tuesday that after meeting with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both he and the recently defeated Republican senator are considering whether she should continue her run by becoming the party’s new nominee.

Libertarian Party nominee David Haase told POLITICO he met with Murkowski at the home of a private citizen Tuesday morning in Anchorage, where they discussed whether she was in interested in replacing Haase as the party’s nominee on the ticket this November.

“My answer was that I was considering it and I wanted her to come up with some reasons why, and she’s considering that,” said Haase.

Murkowski appeared to be leaving the race for good just a week ago, telling supporters in her concession speech last Tuesday that she was ready to come “back home” after this year after a stunning GOP primary loss to Sarah Palin-backed attorney Joe Miller.

But now it appears the senator is weighing her options to stay in the race, which include running as a write-in candidate or becoming a third-party candidate. Not only has Murkowski met with Haase, but the state Libertarian Party chairman also confirmed Monday that the senator’s top aides reached out to him about meeting to discuss whether Murkowski could run on their ticket.

Murkowski spokesman Steve Wackowski did not immediately return a request for comment, but the senator told The Associated Press Tuesday that she is “still in this game.” Murkowski said she’s been flooded with calls from supporters asking her to say in the race, so she is looking at her choices.

Very interesting. I’d rather see her than the Tea Party replacement. But then again, whatever.

In economic news, oh yea, we’re going there, here’s an interesting story about vast numbers of banks still to go bust soon:

Even if the US and European economies manage to avoid a double dip, it will still feel like a recession, while more than half of the 800-plus US banks on the “critical list” are likely to go bust, according to renowned economist Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics.

The second half of the year will remain weak as tailwinds become headwinds, Roubini told CNBC on the shores of Lake Como, Italy at the Ambrosetti Forum economics conference.

“In the second half, fiscal policy becomes a headwind, no more cash for clunkers,” Roubini said. “The positive scenario is that growth will be below par.”

Roubini recently said the chance of a double-dip recession in the US was now more than 40 percent.

“The big risk is that there will be a downturn in markets that could impact the bond, the equity and the credit markets,” he said.

“Job losses have been higher, the US jobs number will show that. There is no private sector jobs growth,” he said. “Consumption is weak, exports are weak and housing is weak.”

“If there is no final sales and no final demand, companies will not invest,” he added.

He goes on to say even more depressing stuff. And speaking of, it looks like the recent flash crash is spurring stock fund withdraws:

Retail investors have yanked money out of stock mutual funds for 17 straight weeks. And the still unexplained May 6 “flash crash” — when the Dow Jones industrials plunged more than 600 points in minutes before recovering — is increasingly being cited as a key reason the public has been selling.

In a speech Tuesday, Mary Schapiro, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said the SEC was informed by retail brokers that the Main Street investors they cater to “have pulled back” from the stock market since the flash crash.

To buttress her point, Schapiro noted that stock funds have suffered net outflows every week since the flash crash. In contrast, in all 11 weeks leading up to the mayhem of May 6, net inflows were positive, with retail investors pouring roughly $26.6 billion into stock funds, Ned Davis Research says.

While there are many other factors to explain why investors have been fleeing stocks since the flash crash — the European debt crisis, nearly double-digit unemployment and recent fears that the economy may slip back into recession — many experts cite the flash crash as the selling catalyst.

“I don’t want to argue that all the selling is due to the ‘flash crash,’ ” Ned Davis noted in a recent client report. “I just think that was the trigger.”

Since the start of 2008, investors have been fleeing stock funds in favor of bond funds, which are viewed as safer. Still, there’s no question that seeing the Dow fall so far so fast with so little warning took a big bite out of confidence, says Michael Farr of investment firm Farr Miller & Washington. “It made the individual investor more certain in their suspicion that the (stock investing game) is fixed,” he says. The fact that regulators have yet to explain why it happened and whether it can happen again, he adds, is an overhang on the market. Still, Farr says it has faded from his clients’ minds: “I haven’t heard a peep about the flash crash in months.”

So that’s happening.

Let’s see what else. There are a lot of neat things happening in science. I usually go there for solace in times like these. Here’s a kind of interesting and kind of funny one. There’s some research about how men dance and more importantly how it’s judged by women as a test of health and mating potential. I’ll call it, the peacock news segment:

The researchers say that movements associated with good dancing may be indicative of good health and reproductive potential.

Their findings are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

“When you go out to clubs people have an intuitive understanding of what makes a good and bad dancer,” said co-author Dr Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist at Northumbria University, UK.

“What we’ve done for the very first time is put those things together with a biometric analysis so we can actually calculate very precisely the kinds of movements people focus on and associate them with women’s ratings of male dancers.”

“We found that (women paid more attention to) the core body region: the torso, the neck, the head. It was not just the speed of the movements, it was also the variability of the movement. So someone who is twisting, bending, moving, nodding.”

Movements that went down terribly were twitchy and repetitive – so called “Dad dancing”.

Dr Neave’s aim was to establish whether young men exhibited the same courtship movement rituals in night clubs as animals do in the wild. In the case of animals, these movements give information about their health, age, their reproductive potential and their hormone status.

There is a video interview at the site, and a video of good and bad dance examples. So what kind of dancing do you do?

On that lighter note, we’ll wrap it up. What are you reading? Add anything that tickles your fancy or raises your BP. Or just chew the fat as we say.