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Bill Clinton Says He Had It Worse Than Obama Print E-mail

Toxic Partisanship? Bill Clinton Says He Had It Worse Than Obama

President Obama heads into midterm elections in which he may face crushing losses. He has been spurned by his own party, whose candidates do not even want to be seen with him. The president’s supporters say the toxic atmosphere in Washington has made it impossible for Mr. Obama to succeed.

But there is a counter view being offered by a former Democratic president that as far as personal attacks go, he, Bill Clinton, had it worse. “Nobody’s accused him of murder yet, as far as I know. I mean, it was pretty rough back then,” Mr. Clinton said last month in an interview aired by PBS, when asked about the partisan climate facing Mr. Obama.

Whatever Mr. Clinton’s motivations, his comments, which his former aides frequently refer to when the topic comes up, do not permit Mr. Obama to excuse his legislative setbacks by simply citing hyper-partisanship. As one former White House aide to Mr. Clinton put it: “They impeached our guy.”

The tumult of the Clinton years — including conspiracy theories about the death of Vincent W. Foster Jr., a deputy White House counsel and friend of the Clintons’ from Arkansas who committed suicide in 1993, the investigation into Whitewater, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment — has come back as Hillary Rodham Clinton inches toward a run for president in 2016.

When asked last month what the single biggest misconception about his presidency was, Mr. Clinton told Charlie Rose on PBS, “I think that most people underappreciate the level of extreme partisanship that took hold in ’94.”

Twenty years later, Mr. Clinton has devoted much of his energy to campaigning for Democrats who do not want to be associated with Mr. Obama. At frequent campaign stops across the country, the former president does not specifically talk about who had it worse, but instead emphasizes that polarization and an inability to work together are the cause of the country’s problems.

“Every place in the world people take the time to work together, good things are happening,” Mr. Clinton said this week at a campaign stop in Hazard, Ky., for the Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. “Every place in the world where people spend all their time fighting each other and telling everybody how sorry they are, bad things happen.”

If Mr. Clinton does not spell out on the campaign trail how bad things were for him, his Democratic supporters do.

“Everyone looks at Clinton in this hazy glow of, ‘He’s so wonderful,’ ” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist. “But when he was president, boy, were there a lot of people who went after him in a very personal, some would say dirty, way.”

The Democrats’ Obama Problem Print E-mail
Russell Brand is open minded about conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 Print E-mail

Russell Brand  is open minded about conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11

By Martin Robinson for MailOnline

Russell Brand caused outrage today after he admitted being 'open-minded' about whether the United States was behind the 9/11 attacks and asked: 'Do you trust the American government?'

The comedian, 39, told BBC's Newsnight he believes there is an 'interesting' relationship between the families of former US president George Bush and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. 

He was pressed by presenter Evan Davis on comments in his new book, Revolution, because in it he describes the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York as 'controlled'.

Brand's decision to give credence to a 9/11 conspiracy led to fury online, with the multi-millionaire, who was married to Katy Perry, branded a 'ranting idiot' who should 'stick to comedy'.

Responding to criticism that Brand was on Newsnight again the BBC, who had nine complaints, said: 'Love him or loathe him Russell Brand has been one of the most eloquent voices articulating the anti-politics mood that all British politicians are currently struggling to engage with'.

Can vegetarianism help to solve NFL's problems with violence? Print E-mail

Ray Rice

Can vegetarianism help to solve NFL's problems with violence?

Nick Cooney

In a league whose players have racked up over 215 arrests for assault, domestic violence, murder, and gun charges since 2000 some are re-defining what it means to be a man.

The controversy that has gripped the NFL over the past two months has centred on the violent actions of a handful of players and the league’s bumbling, almost permissive, response. But away from the spotlight, a second and more compassionate trend has also been on the rise, one that signals a slight cultural shift in the league and in professional sports generally: a growing number of players are swearing off cruelty of any sort by replacing meat and other animal products with mostly vegan meals.

When star Houston Texans running back Arian Foster announced he was ditching animal products shortly before the start of the 2012 season, his decision was met with surprise and concern about how it would impact his performance on the field. Team-mate Brian Cushing even quipped to the media that he had told Foster “If this doesn’t work, I’m going to kick your ass!” Any concerns that he or Texans fans may have had quickly evaporated though, as Foster rushed for a whopping 1,424 yards and a third consecutive Pro Bowl nod.

Veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, who retired this year after 17 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons, switched to mostly vegetarian foods several years ago after reading the book The China Study by Cornell nutritionist T Colin Campbell. While on his plant-fueled diet Gonzalez smashed over 20 NFL records, including most Pro Bowl selections and most touchdown receptions for a tight end. Gonzalez even launched his own brand of vegan protein powder, a mixture of pea, brown rice, and hemp proteins marketed under his All Pro Science brand.


With little fanfare, a number of other NFL players have also been making a move toward vegan eating. Detroit running back Montell Owens has taken a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian approach since reading The Thrive Diet by triathlete Brendan Brazier four years ago. Recent players including David Carter, Deuce Lutui, and Ricky Williams also turned to vegan or mostlyvegan diets midway through their careers.

NFL cafeterias are changing as well. Gone are the days when teams needed players to scarf down plates of ribs, chicken, and other artery-clogging animal products to stay muscular. The Texans have added high-protein meat-free entrees like black-bean burgers, lentils and quinoa to their players’ menu. Other teams have installed extensive salad bars, nut butters, and whole-wheat pasta alongside traditional meat-heavy offerings .

Most players who have cut out or cut back on meat have done so to boost their health and their level of play. “That bad stuff that we eat, it goes into your body and it stays there,” says Foster, explaining why he replaced chicken, fish and other meat with staples like rice, vegetables and oatmeal. “To me, it’s radical we have heart disease and 12-year-old kids with diabetes.”

Owens credits his mostly vegetarian diet with helping speed up his recovery time after injuries. “[It] improved my performance on and off the field … You’re able to take more energy from plant-based sources than animal-based sources.” Gonzalez too has pointed out that his best year ever came after cutting out meat. “I have more energy, better focus, and more endurance. I don’t get tired. I hardly ever come out of the game. And I’m strong as ever.”

Foley Family to White House: You Saved Bergdahl. Why Not Our Son? Print E-mail


Foley Family to White House: You Saved Bergdahl. Why Not Our Son?


After the Obama administration bargained for Bowe Bergdahl’s life, the family of ISIS hostage James Foley begged the White House for the same treatment—only to be denied.

The parents of James Foley, the journalist ISIS beheaded in August, learned about the U.S. government’s attempt to rescue him about an hour before the rest of us did.

The grieving parents got word from President Obama himself.

“I told Obama that Jim worked hard to get him elected,” John Foley, James’s father, told The Daily Beast. “He believed till the end his country would come and get them.”

The president, according to John, responded, “Well I should tell you, we did try to save him.” Then Obama stunned John and his wife Diane, informing them of the failed special operations rescue mission from early July.

In the call, Obama explained that this information about the rescue mission was classified. But not for long, it would seem. Foley added, “An hour later he went and told the world.”

White House spokesmen have said that there was never any intention to share with the public details of the failed rescue mission in Syria. Word of the mission began to leak out on August 20, a day after James Foley was beheaded in a gruesome and slickly produced internet video narrated by a man with a thick British accent. White House officials briefed reporters that afternoon on the failed mission.

For the Foleys, it was a tragic ending to an awful ordeal. Since their son first went missing right before Thanksgiving in 2012, Diane Foley, in particular, began a mission to find any way she could to try to get her son back alive. She pressed the White House, the FBI and the State Department for any information she could find on James. Often, she and John would tell the FBI about what they learned from other European hostages who were released this year by ISIS. The response the Foleys received was, for the most part, beyond disappointing—little more than a “pat on the head,” John said.

Two months after the murder of James Foley, his parents are still frustrated with how they were treated by the White House—even as the Foley family works to establish a legacy fund for their son.

Are Hollywood stars allowed to age? Print E-mail

Zellweger with a noticeably different appearance on Oct. 20. (Reuters)

Are Hollywood stars allowed to age?

Ann Hornaday

From Renee Zellweger to “Birdman,” stars feel the burden of our expectations about beauty and aging.

“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

That line from Richard Linklater’s classic 1993 comedy “Dazed and Confused” came back with an ironic vengeance this week, and die-hard fans of the film will know why: It’s spoken by a 20-something stoner named David Wooderson after a cute-looking teenager walks by. Wooderson is played by Matthew McConaughey, and the girl is a young actress named Renee Zellweger.

While McConaughey has been trotting a victory lap of his “McConaissance” the past few days, doing publicity for the upcoming sci-fi blockbuster “Interstellar,” Zellweger experienced a very different kind of publicity: Shortly after walking the red carpet at an event in Hollywood on Monday, photos of her went viral, with commenters speculating that she had undergone plastic surgery, then quickly moving on to how successful or disastrous said procedure was. Within the span of a few hours, it seemed, Zellweger became a one-stop trope for the tyranny of sexism and appearance in Hollywood, where the system is notoriously unforgiving of women who dare to age. As Slate’s smart, observant columnist Amanda Hess aptly noted, “Plastic surgery is fake. So is the Hollywood fantasy where women over 40 just don’t exist.”

Series Is On, and Everybody’s Watching ... Football Print E-mail

Series Is On, and Everybody’s Watching ... Football

World Series 2014: Baseball Is No Longer the Center of Attention in a New Landscape

It may be America’s national pastime, but it has never felt less national.

On Tuesday night, the first game of the 2014 World Series drew just 12.2 million viewers to Fox, making it the lowest-rated Game 1 on record. Game 2 on Wednesday night fared somewhat better, with 12.9 million people tuning in.

For most of the last century, the start of baseball’s World Series — with its red, white and blue bunting and occasional ceremonial first pitch from the president — was always a major event. The opening game of the Fall Classic has provided some of the country’s most enduring sports memories, including Willie Mays’s over-the-shoulder basket catch (1954), Sandy Koufax’s 15-strikeout performance (1963) and Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run (1988).

But this week, more people watched “NCIS: New Orleans” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and — for that matter — “The Walking Dead,” the cable show about zombies. The audience for “Sunday Night Football,” a regular season game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos, was almost twice that of Games 1 or 2. Even last Saturday night’s college football matchup — Florida State University versus Notre Dame — drew more viewers than either World Series game.

Perhaps the most compelling statement about baseball’s relative standing among American sports fans is this: Last summer’s World Cup match between the United States and Portugal drew 25 million viewers, roughly double that of the World Series opener.

The low ratings highlight a number of trends in the sports and media industries. Above all, perhaps, is the rise of the N.F.L. in the era of 24-hour sports television, and the growing popularity of football fantasy leagues and video games. On a more basic level, potential World Series viewers simply have more options than ever before, both in their ever-expanding cable packages and via online streaming services like Netflix.

These numbers, provided by the Nielsen company, also reflect the fact that baseball is becoming an increasingly local sport. Unlike the N.F.L. and the N.B.A., it derives a vast majority of its revenues not from nationally televised games, but rather from those shown on regional sports networks such as the YES Network in New York and Boston-based NESN.

The modest viewership thus far is partly a function of the matchup: the San Francisco Giants versus the Kansas City Royals. The Royals have one of the smallest TV markets in all of Major League Baseball. They are also pretty much devoid of boldface names, which may give the team added cachet among devotees but limits their appeal among casual fans.

“We are talking about at least one team that doesn’t have much of a national following,” said Neil Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports.

But in 1985, the last time the Royals played for the championship — and won — the games averaged 34.5 million viewers. (That team had George Brett at third base; this one has Mike Moustakas.) World Series ratings have been in a more or less steady decline since then. The last nine years have produced the eight least watched World Series. For stat buffs, the 1978 Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Yankees was the most watched in the last four decades, with an average of more than 44 million viewers.

In some ways, baseball has never been stronger. The game has been free of labor strife for almost 20 years. Teams across the country are playing in new, taxpayer-subsidized stadiums. Attendance is robust, helped by the recent addition of two new wild-card teams to the postseason, which has kept more teams alive deeper into the fall.

A number of franchises have also recently secured lucrative, multiyear deals to have their games carried on local cable networks. The Dodgers, for instance, signed a deal with Time Warner Cable worth up to $8 billion over 25 years. In addition, franchises also share the pooled revenues from nationally televised games. Over the last 20 years, baseball’s annual revenues have grown to about $8 billion from under $2 billion.

Both Fox and M.L.B. emphasized that the audience totals now should include viewers watching in Spanish on the Fox Deportes cable channel. That would add just under 280,000 more viewers to the Game 1 total.

Matt Bourne, an M.L.B. spokesman, noted that another factor in the ratings so far has been the run differential. He said it was the first time since 1937 that the first two games of the World Series were won by five runs or more.

Still, there’s no avoiding the reality that the World Series is not what it used to be.

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Elizabeth Warren-for-prez hype fails to drum up cash Print E-mail

Elizabeth Warren-for-prez hype fails to drum up cash

Matt Stout, Kimberly Atkins

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is dabbling again with the idea of running for president but that has yet to help funnel cash to the grass-roots group trying to draft the Bay State senator for the 2016 national race.

The Ready for Warren PAC, an early backer of the star of the liberal wing, raised less than $58,000 as of Sept. 30, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

By contrast, the Ready for Hillary PAC for presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton pulled in $2 million in the third quarter of this year, bringing the total receipts to more than 
$10 million, records show.

Despite the apparent lag in financial support for the movement to nudge Warren into the race, the senator spurred speculation that she may consider a presidential run in a People magazine article.

According to the article, Warren “wrinkled her nose” when asked if she was on board with a run at the White House — but then followed with an answer that didn’t shoot it down.

“I don’t think so,” she said in an interview at her Cambridge home that will appear in this week’s issue. “If there’s any lesson I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s don’t be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open.”

Warren’s answer represented a marked shift from past interviews, when she has flatly said she had no designs to run. Last December, for example, she told reporters she planned to finish her six-year term, which would wrap in 2019.

“I am not running for president,” she said then — and has repeated since.

But yesterday, a spokeswoman said Warren has not changed her mind. “Nothing has changed,” spokeswoman Lacey Rose told the Herald.

The magazine’s story — which included a headline “Elizabeth Warren for Treasury Secretary?” — noted it’s possible she could seek other posts beyond president in the future.

“Right now,” Warren said in the interview posted yesterday, “I’m focused on figuring out what else I can do from this spot” in the Senate.

Hispanics, US citizens and otherwise, join campaigns for close midterm fights. Print E-mail

Arizona immigration rally

Hispanics, US citizens and otherwise, join campaigns for close midterm fights.

Paul Lewis

This year’s midterms are taking place against a backdrop of Latino frustration at dithering candidates over immigration issues.

An estimated 11 million people in America are barred from voting in the midterm elections because of their immigration status. Abel Perez is one of them.

The 24-year-old was recently knocking on doors in the Colorado town of Longmont with a list of 150 Latino residents who, unlike him, are eligible to cast a ballot.

If no one answered the door, Perez left a leaflet warning the resident about the anti-immigrant policies of the Republican Senate candidate, Cory Gardner.

“If I can get them to vote, it is like they are voting for me,” he said.

Perez is not alone. He is among a rapidly growing army of young Latino activists who are canvassing or registering voters before the midterms, even though they themselves do not have a vote.

For the first time, many of these activists can be paid for their efforts because of their enrolment in a program created by the Obama administration that suspends deportations of young people who were brought to the US illegally as children, and gives them a permit to work.

Mi Familia Vota, the largest Latino voter-registration organisation in the country, revealed that about 100 paid staff – roughly one in five of its employees – are enrolled in the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The administration began receiving applications under the DACA program in August 2012, meaning very few activists were enrolled in time for the last election cycle. They are a political force that didn’t exist in 2012.

“This is my first job,” said Perez, who received his DACA status earlier this year. “Making sure that Cory Gardner doesn’t make it to the Senate.”

The Secret of Success Print E-mail

The Secret of Success

By Galen Guengerich, Ph.D.

Often the most important things in our lives remain hidden in plain sight, obscured by the rush of routine or the pull of progress. Sometimes, the most we can do is simply focus on the next thing, whatever is most urgent. In so doing, we slowly become oblivious to what’s most important.

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