published Monday, March 10th, 2014

Purifying politics — 21st century style

When Emma Goldman said "there is no hope that women, with [their] right to vote, will purify politics," she was not talking about 21st-century candidates, but there are some in 2014 who fit the bill:

Staring Into Hillary's Future

A new national survey indicates the Benghazi scandal is the heaviest thing the public believes hangs over the head of Hillary Clinton as she considers whether to run for the Democrat nomination for president in 2016. Benghazi, Libya, the site of a diplomatic attack in 2012 in which four Americans were killed when she was secretary of State, was cited by 15 percent of respondents in the joint Pew Research Center-USA Today poll. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky was next, followed by her Democratic politics and her perceived dishonesty. Only 51 percent of respondents in the poll said they wanted her to run. The good news, if there is such a thing for her, is that not as many people found her as "hard to like" as they did in 2008.

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Kshama Sawant, a socialist City Council member in Seattle, must have been channeling Hillary Clinton when she recently told an audience that concerns about raising the minimum wage came from an analysis by a "right-wing think tank." Turns out, the information came from the Obama administration's Government Accountability Office, according to Watchdog.org. An attendee at the forum on minimum wage cited a study that showed an economic downturn for American Samoa -- employment dropped 19 percent -- after the U.S. territory substantially increased the minimum wage. Dismissing the study as the work of "some organization called the Freedom Foundation, which is a right-wing think tank," Sawant further called it a "spurious analysis that has no basis in reality ... Even by the standards of right-wing analysis, it's not that great." Although the data the attendee cited did come from the Freedom Foundation, the analysis was done by the GAO. In 1998, Clinton famously blamed the "vast right-wing conspiracy" for her husband's assortment of problems, including his lies about his relationship with Lewinsky.

Putin Just Bush's Puppet?

That Ukraine thing? It's Bush's fault. So says MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who, in discussing her new documentary "Why We Did It," told colleague Andrea Mitchell that the previous administration is largely responsible for current foreign policy under President Obama. "The decisions of our generation on national security are determined more than anything by what the George W. Bush administration did with" wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Those are the determinative constraints for our thinking about everything, from Crimea to Syria to what the overall size of the U.S. military is." Mitchell agreed, adding that the policies impacted "every other decision we make." Next idea: All the problems with Obamacare were secretly suggested by ex-Bush staffers.

Michelle's Big Idea

First lady Michelle Obama often touts the importance of recent federal government changes in school lunch menus, but a government audit released last week indicates some 1.2 million students have stopped buying lunch because the menu is now too expensive or inedible. The Government Accountability Office report said 321 school districts dropped out of the school lunch program altogether, many because of mandates like one requiring fresh fruits and vegetables be on the menu. Many cafeteria officials reported finding the fruits and vegetables in trash cans, and the government found an increase of what it called plate waste in some districts. In other findings, several districts said they believed students were going hungry because of the mandated smaller entree portions, one district had to add unhealthy pudding and potato chips to its menu to meet the government's minimum calories requirements, and another dropped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from its elementary school menus.

Probably a Random Look-See

Turns out, among those who had their Internal Revenue Service records tampered with under the Obama administration was Christine O'Donnell, the 2010 Republican nominee for the United States Senate in Delaware. O'Donnell, a tea party candidate who had a shot at moving the seat into the GOP category, was attacked in local and national media outlets for several weeks for an erroneous lien on a house she no longer owned. Her files were tampered with, a Treasury Department official told her last year, on the day she announced her candidacy for the Senate. Later that day, the IRS placed the lien, which was stamped in New Castle County, Del., where the county executive was Chris Coons, who wound up winning the Senate seat. Go figure.

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