Hillary Clinton still leads the field of contenders from both parties for the U.S. presidency in 2016, but her lead is softening. As FiveThirtyEight reports “The controversies surrounding the I.R.S.’s targeting of conservative groups and the executive branch’s handling of last year’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya, have yet to have much impact on President Obama’s approval ratings (although some slight decline may be hidden by an improved economic mood). But Mr. Obama’s former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, appears to be have been more affected.
“A Quinnipiac University poll released on Friday found Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating declining to 52 percent, from 61 percent in February. The decrease was considerably more modest in a CNN poll released earlier this month, with Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating decreasing to 61 percent from 63 percent in March. Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton’s favorability scores had hovered in the mid-60s for much of the past two years — and those lofty ratings appear to be a thing of the past. So, are Americans carefully parsing through the details of the Benghazi attack — and finding Mrs. Clinton more culpable than Mr. Obama?
“It’s easy to be popular when nobody is criticizing you — and there was a long period, from the closing stages of the 2008 campaign through most of her tenure as secretary of state, when Republicans had little interest in attacking Mrs. Clinton directly. Now that Republicans have chosen to engage her again, her numbers are coming down. The largest decline in her ratings, as Ed Kilgore noted, has come from Republican voters, with a more modest decline among independents and almost none at all among Democrats. This is what happens when a politician returns to being in the partisan fray after having drifted above it for some time.
But if Mrs. Clinton were to run for president in 2016, Republicans would undoubtedly have found any number of other ways to criticize her — from her policy proposals, to concerns about her age or health, to gaffes that she might make on the campaign trail, to controversies recycled from her tenure as secretary of state.”
More at: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/predictable-decline-in-hillary-clintons-popularity/
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pinned her government’s re-election hopes on a new welfare program for the disabled, proposing on Wednesday a new tax to better fund care for Australians with severe physical and mental disabilities, reports the Associated Press
“The tax would not be paid until July 1, 2014. Gillard said legislation to create the tax would not be considered by Parliament before general elections on Sept. 14.
“Opinion polls agree Gillard’s center-left Labor Party government is unlikely to retain power. While the conservative opposition supports the concept of a new disability support fund, it opposes a new tax to pay for it.
“Gillard had rejected a new tax last year but said Wednesday the government could not fund the program through savings because company tax revenue was falling billions of dollars short of Treasury Department forecasts due to the cooling mining boom and a strong Australian dollar damaging business competitiveness Continue reading “Gillard’s disability gambit”
When the elite Phillips Academy here went coed in 1973, some worried that women would quickly take over this venerable institution, the alma mater of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Samuel Morse and Humphrey Bogart, not to mention both Presidents George Bush, reports today’s New York Times
“In short order, the number of girls in the student ranks did roughly equal the number of boys. The faculty today is more than half female. And until her retirement last summer, the head of school was a woman, for nearly two decades.
“And yet some of the young women at the 235-year-old prep school feel that Andover, as it is commonly called, has yet to achieve true gender equality. They expressed this concern several weeks ago in a letter to the “student newspaper, The Phillipian, and like a match to dry tinder, it set off a raging debate that engulfed the campus.
“The proximate cause of concern was the election, held Wednesday, for the top student position, called school president. Since 1973, only four girls have been elected, most recently in 2004. (The other top student position, that of editor in chief of the newspaper, has had nine girls and 33 boys.)
“The letter writers said this was an embarrassment, especially at a school considered so progressive. The paucity of girls in high-profile positions, they said, leaves younger students with few role models and discourages them from even trying for the top.
“But the broader concern involved age-old questions of whether men and women could ever achieve equality, the nature of sexism and the nature of a meritocracy, which Andover very much purports to be.
More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/education/phillips-andover-girls-leadership-debated.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
Over 50 years ago the United States launched a comprehensive embargo against Cuba, aimed at isolating the country and bringing it to political and economic ruin.
But Cuba keeps chugging along, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and its other bigger friends.
And yesterday they just had another election, as reported by Al Jazeera:
“Ailing Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has made a surprise appearance in Havana to vote in parliamentary polls, expressing confidence in the revolution despite a decades-long US trade embargo. Castro’s visit to the voting precinct in Havana’s El Vedado neighbourhood was the main event in Sunday’s elections, during which Cubans chose 612 members of the National Assembly as well as deputies of local legislatures.
“The 86-year-old is said to have spent up to an hour talking to other voters and the media after casting his vote. About 8.5 million Cubans took part in the polls that featured no opposition candidates. Continue reading “Fidel’s revolution continues”
Let’s not forget that the recent election was largely won on the strength of one cell phone and an obscure media outlet. While this hasn’t gotten much retrospective attention, the now-famous “47-percent” video probably would not have been made or widely circulated even a few years ago.
The recent ubiquity of camera-equipped mobile phones is changing political communication through a new popular documentary practice, primarily among young users. For some time it has been known that cell phones have enabled uprisings, flash mobs, and other forms of social activism, just as phones have also helped disaster communication and the containment of disease epidemics around the world.
And let’s not forget Mother Jones, a name unknown to most Americans till this year, which took the 47-percent video to the net and made it go viral. While hardly a tiny magazine, Mother Jones was reaching less than 100,000 readers in the 1990s until it launched an online format. Continue reading “Small is powerful”
Young people made a critical difference in the recent U.S. election, turning out to in massive numbers to reject the misogynism, homophobia, and ethnocentrism of the Republican platform. Put another way, the recent election smashed the myth of a dysfunctional and alienated youth population.
Henry A. Giroux takes up the new spirit of activism and resistance in among teenagers and young adults in his new book Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm, 2012). In the book Giroux describes how American youth have demonstrated en masse about a variety of issues ranging from economic injustice and massive inequality to drastic cuts in education and public services. Youth in Revolt chronicles the escalating backlash against dissent and peaceful protest Continue reading “Youth in revolt”
Anyone paying attention to conservative media in these post-election days has heard this refrain: America has changed, the country’s ideals have been subverted, and something has gone terribly wrong. Of course, it’s possible to write this off as one more set of conservative delusions––one more Romney alternate reality. But this incredulous response runs deeper than that, since it signals a rejection of the very basis of democracy itself and the founding principles so many Republicans claimed to hold dear
These issues are explored in a thoughtful essay by Dinesh Sharma appearing in today’s online edition of Asia Times, entitled “Transformation of the American Mind.” Sharma writes that “with President Barack Obama’s reelection it is increasingly clear, as I have argued in my book Continue reading “The opening of the American mind”
In a state famous for it’s detailed ballot initiative process, Los Angeles County yesterday passed a novel worker safety measure that supporters compare to regulations requiring construction workers to wear hard hats.
Henceforth, performers in porn movies will be required to wear condoms while filming in LA, a decision that opponents say will leave consumers unsatisfied.
As reported in an article entitled “Condom requirement for porn filming approved by voters,” in the Los Angeles Times: “The initiative garnered 55.9% of the vote after a hard-fought campaign,’This is a major referendum on the subject of safer sex,’ said AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein. Continue reading “LA law protects adult film industry workers”
Outside the bubble of American media, nations around the globe are responding to the news of Barak Obama’s reelection. See “World Congratulates Obama on Victory” in todays edition of Al Jazeera: “World leaders have hailed President Barack Obama’s sweeping re-election, with allies pledging to deepen cooperation with the United States on fighting the world economic slump and maintaining security across the globe.”
Remember that opinion outside the US had favored a second term to the incumbent U.S. President by a five-to-one margin, as reported in Worlding.org (See “World Opinion on U.S. Election.” Oct. 24, 2012)
As Al Jaeera continues “Congratulations poured in on Wednesday from across the world, including fellow UN Security Council members Britain, China, France and Russia as well as its staunch Middle East ally Israel and Obama’s ancestral home in Kenya.
“Russia President Vladimir Putin, whose relations with Washington have often been frosty, sent a telegram congratulating Obama on his victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.”
“Tomorrow, Election Day, we have an extraordinarily important decision to make. Many look at the economy and wish the recovery were happening more rapidly. Some would like to see a larger return on their stocks. And a select few look at their families and hope each day for the same protections that almost every other family in the country currently has.” Thus begins an entry in today’s Huffington Post entitled “Obama Responds to 10-Year-Old’s Heartfelt Letter About Her Dads.”
Apparently, young Sophia Bailey Klugh penned a letter to President Barack Obama “in which she told the president how happy she is that he agrees with her on the topic of marriage equality. You see, young Sophia has two dads. She went on to ask the president an important question: ‘I am so glad that you agree two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other, but at school kids think that it’s gross and weird, but it really hurts my heart and feelings…. If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?’ Continue reading “Obama and tomorrow”
Outside the United States, people favor Obama by a five-to-one margin in the upcoming American presidential election. A BBC World Service opinion poll has found sharply higher overseas approval ratings for US President Barack Obama than Republican challenger Mitt Romney.An average of 50% favored Mr Obama, with 9% for Mr Romney, in the survey of 21,797 people in 21 countries.Only Pakistan’s respondents said they would prefer to see Mr Romney win November’s election. France was the most strongly pro-Obama (72%). The survey was conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA between 3 July and 3 September.
There are lots of theories about how people get wrong-headed ideas or vote against their own interests. Now game designers are trying to do something about it. Fibber is a game about political deception and voter self-awareness. It’s a political “strip guessing” game where players try to determine whether the candidates for the American presidential election of 2012 are telling facts or fiction. The goal of the game is to raise self-awareness and personal fact checking in a world inundated with misleading political ads, social media, and personal bias. Fibber was created by Seek Change, an organization dedicated to using technology to advance self-empowerment and personal well-being. Continue reading “Fibber might change your mind”
Forget about The Hunger Games. The latest craze sweeping the nation is Debate Drinking Games. Blame it on peer pressure, political anxiety, or simply the desire to party, but a new phenomenon has appeared in the current election cycle. Every time Obama says “millionaire” or Romney mentions “private sector,” you toss back a shot. And if you start to lose track after a few rounds, just keep your eyes on Twitter, which has become an necessity in the drinking game phenomenon. Blame the new fad on apathy or political anxiety, but the new excuse for binge drinking has taken off like a rocket on college campuses, where health experts have already proclaimed an alarming increase in alcohol consumption in recent years. Continue reading “Let the debate drinking games begin”
At one moment in the 2012 presidential campaign season, President Obama lamented the difficulty of “changing Washington from the inside” in direct reference to the “Hope” and “Change” themes that had brought him into office in 2008. Of course, the desperate Romney immediately seized on this as an acknowledgement of Obama’s failure to fulfill election promises, declaring that Obama’s remarks signaled the President’s final surrender in arguments over his competence. If we think of recurring “inside/outside” Washington rhetoric in terms of worlding, it’s worth remembering that binary conventions have always been the devil in definitions of world systems. Continue reading “The inside job”