Morning, all. I?m Heather Hurlburt, recovering political speechwriter, national-security wonk, mom, feminist, Gen X-er, executive director of a small-yet-mighty nonprofit, would-be ballet dancer. I?m also the child of two journalists, so writing on deadline is in my blood.
Following E.J. Graff, whose writing has done as much as anyone to create and shape the discourses on the politics of women?s sexuality and on marriage equality, is more than a little intimidating. In fact, while I?ve written on geostrategy and politics for almost two decades now, this?ll be my coming-out party for writing on women?s issues for a clicking audience.
I?m one of those women who was raised by feminist parents in the 1970s to believe not only that I could do anything, but that I was obliged to try?that I had something to prove for hundreds of years of the women in my family who were serving girls and preachers? wives and schoolteachers, who found avenues for adventure by working as governesses, emigrating alone, having children alone?and tracking down the fathers.
Like many women, I took my fight into a field where I almost never have to/get to talk about women. Soviet studies, arms control, European security, conflict prevention ? see a pattern? I work on ?hard? security, thank you very much. You want female colleagues, family-friendly offices, passionate work on family planning, child welfare, women?s empowerment? Go work on international development, humanitarian issues, or human rights.
Then came the day that Madeleine Albright was named Secretary of State. By sheer luck, and a damn lot of work, I was the only woman on her speechwriting staff. I walked into her office the first time, thinking I was so sophisticated that her gender didn?t matter to me. I grew up in Vermont in the 1970s, after all! And there she was, a grown-up girl, short, in heels, like me, like my mom. At some primal level, it did matter, a lot.
I went on to be the only woman on the White House speechwriting staff at the end of the Clinton Administration; then to have the guts to ignore all my career-girl feminist instincts, follow my husband to Michigan, and have a baby. Had only my second female boss, as a part-time speechwriter for then-Senator Clinton; moved back to Washington. Now I am that female boss. And it matters a lot. And our culture and politics have gone crazy.
What I?ve got in mind for the week: some thoughts for Rachel Maddow?s next book; news from the Maryland marriage referendum; where flight attendants are still ?stewardesses? and still have weight requirements; some shop talk on politics, national security, Don?t Ask Don?t Tell repeal; and other matters arising. I?m on Twitter?@natsecHeather?and thanks for coming along for the ride.
As gloomy as liberals can sometimes be, it's been a long time since there was a presidential election in which Democrats actually thought their presidential candidate was certain to lose. The last one would have to be 1984, and before that, 1972. But in the 28 years since Ronald Reagan got re-elected, there hasn't been a Democrat who has been totally blown out of the water, an election in which even his own partisans thought he had little or no chance. The closest would have been Michael Dukakis, who famously had a 17-point lead after his convention, even if he did end up losing by a healthy seven-point margin.
But if you listen to Joe Scarborough, Republicans have basically given up on winning in November. He's not the first person to say it (George Will suggested a month ago that the time to give up on the presidential race was coming), but we haven't heard anyone of his prominence say so vociferously that Republicans are all thinking this one's over, as Scarborough did on today's "Morning Joe":
"Nobody thinks Romney's going to win. Let's just be honest. Can we just say this for everybody at home? Let me just say this for everybody at home. The Republican establishment -- I've yet to meet a single person in the Republican establishment that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election this year. They won't say it on TV because they've got to go on TV and they don't want people writing them nasty emails. I obviously don't care. But I have yet to meet anybody in the Republican establishment that worked for George W. Bush, that works in the Republican congress, that worked for Ronald Reagan that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election."
We should remember that the brand Scarborough has built is as a rebellious Republican, an ideological conservative but straight-talking guy who isn't afraid to tell it like it is, upset the apple cart, annoy his own party, and so on. Saying things like this helps him enhance that brand. But that doesn't mean he isn't telling the truth.
So it's possible that 2012 could be the third presidential election just in the last 16 years in which Republicans knew they had basically no chance of winning. Nobody ever thought Bob Dole had much of a shot to beat Bill Clinton, but it was his turn and making him the nominee seemed like the right thing to do after a lifetime of service to the Republican party. He lost by eight and a half points, in an election that was never close. In 2008 the polls were a lot tighter for much of the race, but in the end Barack Obama spanked John McCain by 13 points.
It's still quite early, and the election will have ups and downs. I'd even guess that at some point, Romney will actually pull ahead in tracking polls. But what's interesting here is Scarborough's contention that the Republican establishment has already given up. That can't be good for Mitt.
A State Department internal memo opposing the Justice Department's arguments for CIA "enhanced interrogation techniques"?torture?has been released. The memo from February 2006 was written by Philip Zelikow, then counselor to Secretary of State[...]
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(Blogger’s Note—Today is the 44th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King was shot. That is not so pleasant. Better is my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List that I update each year here on the blog. There is always something hopeful and useful to learn from the life of Martin Luther King.) While [...]
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Nancy Pelosi calls 'em as she sees 'em. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)In a wide-ranging interview at a private event at Paley Center for Media in New York, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi predicted that the Supreme Court would uphold the Affordable Care Act.
She also had a little fun at the expense of her Republican colleagues, when asked why they are so hell-bent on making birth control harder to get:
"I never could understand why they didn't believe in family planning and not, like, have 13 children themselves," she mused. "When you meet some of them you may understand why."Counting down to FOX News and Rush Limbaugh outrage in three.... two....
"That was terrible of me," she then laughed. "Shame!"
The GOP health care reform plan.
Well, look at this. The New York Times notices something that we lefty bloggers have been talking about for quite awhile: that "repeal and replace" mantra the Republicans ran on in 2010 was a fraud.
They never had a "replacement" plan and had no intention of doing the hard work to create one. Now they might have to, and they're going back to some old, half-baked ideas.
Republicans say they will have to make good on their pledge to replace the health care law if the Supreme Court strikes down any significant parts of it. [...]The Congressional Budget Office already estimated their "plan" would only extend coverage to about three million additional people, while leaving 52 million uninsured, not to mention their "plan" for Medicare, which the CBO says would result in "reduced access to health care; diminished quality of care; increased efficiency of health care delivery; less investment in new, high-cost technologies; or some combination of those outcomes."
?Our wheels are beginning to turn,? said Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which would have a large role in developing Republican alternatives to the Obama health care law. [...]
Republicans are dusting off proposals that date back more than a decade: allowing individuals to buy health insurance across state lines, helping small businesses band together to buy insurance, offering generous tax deductions for the purchase of individual policies, expanding tax-favored health savings accounts and reining in medical malpractice suits.
Republicans have controlled the House for two years. By Speaker Boehner's count, they have voted 27 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and one actual vote on a "reform" plan, another tort reform bill that was actually, substantively just another repeal effort.
The only Republican who's ever had a real health care plan is Mitt Romney. And in order to win the Republican nomination, he's trying to pretend it never happened.
Philip Zelikow was an aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006 when he wrote a memo dissenting from the Bush Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion that approved various forms of "enhanced interrogation techniques" that most considered forms of torture. Six years later, the State Department has finally made it public.
George Washington University's National Security Archive and Wired's Spencer Ackerman both obtained a copy of the memo through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests they filed three years ago. As the National Security Archive explains, the memo "concludes that because they violate the Constitutional ban on 'cruel and unusual punishment,' the CIA techniques of 'waterboarding, walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement' were 'the techniques least likely to be sustained' by the courts."
Zelikow wrote that they were "unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here, even where the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants."
The memo did, however, say that techniques like slaps could be sustained as well as nudity, sleep deprivation and liquid diet "depending on the circumstances and details of how these techniques are used."
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Three years after a FOIA request, the State Department has finally made public Philip Zelikow's 2006 memo dissenting from the Bush Justice Department's line on torture. [...]
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Thin skin, Separation of Powers Edition. [...]
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