Barack Obama

Obama: ‘I Think The Equal Protection Clause Does Guarantee Same-Sex Marriage’ In All States

He nailed it!

The Constitutional scholar and Commander-In-Chief nails it…

The same Equal Protection Clause that helped desegregate the south applies to same sex marriage.  Their advocates have been saying this all along…their right to equal protection under the law was being violated for decades in our country.

The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama seems to have changed his tune on gay marriage, telling The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin he believes same-sex couples in all 50 states should be allowed to marry under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Obama first publicly backed gay marriage in May 2012, but noted he thought the issue should be left to the states. Speaking with Toobin for the Oct. 27 issue of The New Yorker, Obama said the best Supreme Court decision since he took office was the recent rejection of gay marriage appeals from five states, a move the president said is “a consequential and powerful signal of the changes that have taken place in society and that the law is having to catch up.”

While Obama said the high court “was not quite ready” to “indicate an equal-protection right across the board,” he personally believes same-sex marriage is protected under that clause. From The New Yorker:

Obama opposed marriage equality until May of 2012. He told me that he now believes the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex marriage, an argument that his Administration has not yet made before the Supreme Court. “Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states,” he said. “But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that’s pretty rare. And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting.

“The bulk of my nominees, twenty years ago or even ten years ago, would have been considered very much centrists, well within the mainstream of American jurisprudence, not particularly fire-breathing or ideologically driven,” Obama went on. “So the fact that now Democratic appointees and Republican appointees tend to vote differently on issues really has more to do with the shift in the Republican Party and in the nature of Republican-appointed jurists … Democrats haven’t moved from where they were.”

The federal government has extended federal benefits to same-sex married couples in states where gay marriage has been legalized, most recently giving benefits to those in the five states where the gay marriage appeals were rejected.

Read Toobin’s entire piece on Obama at The New Yorker.

Obama’s 2008 Backers: We’re Ready for Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren | Chip Somodevilla/Getty

I am so on board with the idea of Elizabeth Warren as the Progressive/Democratic candidate for 2016…

The Daily Beast

The Massachusetts Senator says she’ll sit out 2016. But some Democratic diehards won’t take no for an answer, and are already building a campaign for her.

She is, she insists, not interested, telling The Boston Globe, “There is no wiggle room. I am not running for president. No means no.”

But for the organizers behind Ready for Warren, the SuperPAC trying to draft the Massachusetts senator into the 2016 presidential race, the door remains open for a potential run. So the group is staffing up in key early primary states and raising money in what they say will be an all-out blitz after the midterm elections designed to show Warren that there is a groundswell of support behind her.

And if many of the organizers and early supporters of the Warren for President seemed unfazed by the notion that Hillary Clinton is an all-but inevitable Democratic nominee, perhaps that is because many of them have seen this process play out before—when they backed a previously unknown freshman senator from Illinois named Barack Obama who went on to topple the Clinton machine.

“I was in the Obama world,” said Erica Sagrans, who is helping lead the draft Warren effort and who served as northeast digital director of the Obama re-election campaign in 2012 after working for the pro-Obama outfit Organizing for America in 2009. “There are a lot of people in that world who are Warren fans, who really like Warren. But this is still a moment when people aren’t entirely comfortable coming forward.”

A number of veterans of Obama-world, however, are now out and proud Warren-ites. There is Kate Albright-Hanna, most recently a spokesperson for Zephyr Teachout’s upstart New York gubernatorial primary against Andrew Cuomo, and who joined the Obama effort way back in 2007 as the director of online video. Now she is preparing to take an as of yet undefined role with Ready for Warren.

“I am interested in building the progressive movement,” she said, citing a campaign continuum that stretched from Howard Dean in 2004, through Obama in 2008 and Teachout in 2014. “Getting involved in Elizabeth Warren is just continuing along that same branch. “

She said that the excitement around Warren now was similar to that around Obama in 2007.

“Before ‘change’ became such a cliché and everybody became disillusioned, there was a moment where people got excited and thought that we can actually change the way politics is conducted. We don’t have to be beholden to entrenched interests. All of that was epitomized in the early days of the Obama campaign, and there is the same sense now, that we don’t have to settle for what we have been given.”

As for Clinton, Albright-Hanna said, “We can’t go back to the 1990’s.”

Deborah Sagner raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaign. Now, she calls herself one of the “first funders” of the Warren effort, having donated $20,000 to Ready for Warren already.

“I have a history of not supporting Hillary Clinton that goes back to 2007,” Sagner said. “I have never been particularly inspired by her. And I was very inspired by Barack Obama.”

Sagner said that she was concerned that Clinton was too hawkish and close to Wall Street, but added a point repeated by many Warren supporters: that robust debate, and a spirited primary, is good for the Democratic Party.

“I think it is good for the Democratic Party to have a progressive wing that challenges business as usual.”

And if Warren seems like an unlikely upstart now, so did Obama at this time eight years ago.

“[That campaign] made me think that it’s possible that this could happen. There are some parallels. And these things can just catch on and get going.”

There are also, of course, several non-parallels. Clinton, for one thing, is in a far stronger position than she was in 2000, back when voters still remembered her husband’s administration for its scandals rather than for its economic record, and back when Hillary was still paying for her Iraq War vote. Early polling shows her with a commanding—if not outright prohibitive—lead among Democratic voters. Additionally, Ready for Hillary, the SuperPAC supporting her effort, has already raised $8 million, and the bulk of the Democratic establishment has signed on, including some of the party’s most well-known political operatives.

Ready for Warren, meanwhile, has raised between $50,-100,000 according to organizers, and although it’s still preparing to open offices in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, it has so far signed up a few hundred volunteers. But there are as of yet no prominent political supporters, and perhaps its most well-known advisor is Billy Wimsatt, a longtime progressive political activist and the author of the cult classic Bomb The Suburbs.

“This is an inside/outside effort,” said Sagrans “There are people that have connections and roots in the DC political world, and there are people that are grassroots activists around the country.”

The group, however, recently bombarded the Harkin Steak Fry in Iowa, where Hillary made what many observers saw as her triumphant return to the national political stage. They are in discussions with several polling firms, and are planning a nationwide night of phone-banking later this month on behalf of Senate candidates that Warren has endorsed. They know that 2016 activity is on hold until November, but are aware that once the midterms are over, the presidential primary process begins in earnest. And if Warren is to feel that there is support out there for her, than the Ready for Warren team has a very short window to show it.

This means kicking up their fundraising in a major way. The group has already hired Bulldog Finance Group, a fundraising outfit founded by Scott Dworkin, who served on Obama’s inaugural committee in 2009, and which is staffed by another vet of the Obama 2008 campaign.

“We are helping Ready for Warren with two main goals,” said Jerald Lentini, vice-president of the firm and a former staffer with the AFL-CIO. “The first is encouraging Elizabeth Warren to run for president, because she is absolutely the best progressive out there. And the second is to build an organization that can help Senator Warren win when she decides to run.”

But the early Warren supporters are not just pulled from the ranks of people who helped derail Clinton’s ambitions in 2008. Audrey Blondin served on Hillary’s campaign in Connecticut in 2008, and as the elected state Democratic committeewoman, also worked on the campaigns of such establishment figures as Al Gore and John Kerry.

“That was then. This is now,” she said. Blondin is a bankruptcy lawyer, like Warren, and has known her for decades. She held a house party for Ready for Warren over the summer, and said she was unswayed by the senator’s denials.

“I understand that she says she is not interested in running. I have been in politics 35 years. I know what happens. You think she is not watching what we are doing? Of course she is. And that is going to make a difference. It’s all about timing and she is in the right place at the right time with the right message. In a few months it is going to take off. She won’t be willing to buck the tide that is carrying her forward.”

And if she does buck that tide, it does not necessarily mean that it is end of the Warren for President boomlet. According to Daniel Buk, a political consultant who raised $40,000 for Obama in 2012 but has given $20,000 to Ready for Warren this year, there is already talk of keeping the group together through the 2020 election cycle.

“There is real excitement here,” Buk said. “And there is a real potential, should Senator Warren reveal her plans.”

The new dynamics of protecting a president: Most threats against Obama issued online

A Secret Service agent watches as U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands after speaking about jobs and the economy during a visit to Millennium Steel Service as part of Manufacturing Day in Princeton, Indiana October 3, 2014.

© Reuters/Kevin Lamarque A Secret Service agent watches as U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands after speaking about jobs and the economy during a visit to Millennium Steel Service as part of Manufacturing Day in Princeton, Indiana…

Having dealt first hand with one of those online threats to the POTUS, I have my opinion about The Secret Service’s ability to curb such threats.  I may be wrong or things may have improved in the last few years but when I was documenting a disturbed person who accused the POTUS of many things and was extremely angry with him, the Secret Service seemed to gently handle him and his threats (which were numerous.)

The Washington Post via MSN 

More than 60 percent of the threats against President Obama are made online, according to the Secret Service, posing a new set of challenges for an agency under fire for a series of critical security lapses.

Lawmakers and private security officials question whether the Secret Service has sufficiently adapted to a new social-media landscape in which it must sort through a blizzard of online references to the president, investigate those that raise flags and then reconcile them with the intelligence they are gathering on the ground.

“I don’t know if they’ve adapted to these new threats,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security. “The attacks are going to come, no matter what. Are there new and creative ways of detecting them? I’m not convinced they’ve tied those loops.”

Chaffetz noted that he was “pleasantly surprised” that in 2011 agents were immediately able to pick up a tweet a D.C. woman posted about a man shooting at the White House. But he questioned why that piece of evidence was not used to corroborate suspicions among several officers that shots had been fired. Instead, the agency forwarded the report to the U.S. Park Police for further investigation, and it would be four days before it was discovered that bullets had hit the White House.

“Why didn’t that show up in the system?” Chaffetz asked about the tweet.

During Obama’s first run for the presidency, the issue of clearest concern was his race, which made him a magnet for threats from people who thought it disqualified him from the office.

As Obama nears six years in the White House, the number of overtly racist threats have subsided but the threats in general continue. Today, the dominant theme of grievances against the president is government overreach, according to current and former Secret Service officials, as critics suggest Obama is abusing his power and trampling the Constitution.

Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said the agency has adjusted to the fact that most threats against the president now occur online.

“The capability is there, and we have to evolve with technology as well,” he said, adding that the number of threats against Obama “did spike a few months after the [2008] election, but they declined back to a level that is consistent with his predecessors, and they still are.”

Other sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Obama received triple the number of threats than previous presidents during his initial candidacy and first year in office. That number has declined significantly since then, they said, but is still elevated compared with Obama’s predecessors

What constitutes a threat?

Members of the protective intelligence division consider even the most minor suggestions of harm to the president worthy of investigation. One agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency operations, described being instructed to interview people who were intoxicated in a bar and were overheard describing how they would like to hurt the president.

Since Obama took office, at least 65 people have been indicted on charges of threatening to harm him. In January, Daniel L. Temple, who had tweeted “im coming to kill you” and “so I gotta kill barack obama first,” was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty.

Nicholas Savino was sentenced in March to a year in prison for posting this on the White House Web site in August 2013: “President Obama the Anti-Christ, As a result of breaking the constitution you will stand down or be shot dead.”

Police, who arrested Savino a few days after he posted the statement, found three guns and about 11,000 rounds of ammunition in his apartment and car.

Agents briefed on protective intelligence for presidents and presidential candidates say that the rise in threats has much to do with the advance of the technological age, with the agency now receiving a much larger number of electronic communications that contain threats.

Today, racially based threats constitute 5 to 10 percent of the those made against the president, said people familiar with the matter.

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said her group has found that physical threats against Obama and racial remarks on white-supremacist sites peaked in 2008 and 2009.

During the early days of Obama’s initial candidacy and the first year of his presidency, according to several people familiar with the matter, many of the threats against him had a frightening racist quality.

“If you had seen the stuff we were reading, it would have made your jaw drop,” said one former agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic.

Mayo said her group continues to see “a tremendous amount of anger against Obama,” adding that much of it focuses on assertions that he has overstepped his constitutional authority.

Some critics do turn violent. Jerad Miller had called for Obama’s impeachment on hisFacebook page; in June he and his wife, Amanda, shot two police officers in a pizza restaurant in Las Vegas. They placed a swastika and a “Don’t tread on me” flag on one officer’s body and a note on the other’s that read, “This is the start of the revolution.” Miller died in a shootout with police, while his wife committed suicide.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors white-supremacist organizations, said in an interview, “The fact that all of this is online makes the job in some way easier and in some way harder.

“All this ugliness is exposed to the light of day,” Potok said. “On the other hand, you typically have no idea who are the people posting on these sites, because they’re anonymous.”

Steve Atkiss, who served as special assistant for operations under President George W. Bush and is now a partner at Command Consulting, said his firm’s private and government clients are looking for ways to mine social media for these kinds of threats.

“One thing those clients have been clamoring for, for several years now, is a tool that would sort through the 50,000 tweets per second that are flying through cyberspace to find what is meaningful to them,” said Atkiss, adding that his firm has recently found software that puts keywords in context. “It’s been a struggle.”

One of the biggest challenges is finding the context to any violent or negative reference to the president, especially if agents are trying to track a plot in progress. In June, the Secret Service issued a work order seeking software that could detect sarcasm and identify social-media influencers online.

Early fears for Obama

Before Obama was elected president, the threats his Senate office received were so vituperative that Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) asked the Secret Service to review whether he needed federal protection. Then-Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told Congress that the agency was going to have to “pick him up” earlier than any presidential candidate in history, with the exception of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had an existing detail because of her husband’s time in the Oval Office.

The prospect of the first African American president being assassinated was such a serious concern among some black voters that the Obamas addressed it directly in the campaign. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he discussed the matter with Michelle Obama after a high school teacher in his home town of Sumter told him that some of her African American students “were not going to support him. They did not want to see him elected, because somebody would kill him.”

Michelle Obama — who privately talked to Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., about the possibility of a presidential assassination before her husband was elected — gave an answer similar to one she gave in a 2007 interview with CBS’s Steve Kroft: that her husband was just as vulnerable as a private citizen.

“I don’t lose sleep over it, because the realities are, as a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station, you know,” she said in the interview. “So you can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibilities of what might happen. We just weren’t raised that way.”

Secret Service officials also ask aides to Cabinet members to notify the agency if they receive any menacing communications that have racial overtones and mention the president, according to people familiar with the matter.

Government overreach has been a major theme in this year’s midterm campaigns as Republicans have accused Obama of overstepping the bounds of his executive authority. It also has had a violent tone at times, such as Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s campaign to take up arms against Bureau of Land Management officials who sought to round up his cattle after he refused to pay federal grazing fees for years.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of anti-government militia groups in the United States — which reached 858 during the Clinton administration — had dipped to a low point of 131 in 2007 under Bush. But it rose to 1,096 last year, a nearly tenfold increase since Obama took office.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said in an interview that “there’s a meanness in American society today that reminds me of the period in our history, the civil rights period, where it was dangerous to speak up and speak out.”

But Lewis, who spoke with the Obamas at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s recent annual dinner, said the revelations about potential vulnerabilities in the White House’s security system did not seem to be affecting the first couple.

“I don’t think they live in fear. None of us live in fear,” Lewis said, referring to prominent African American political figures. “You’re not preoccupied with what might or might not happen. You just do what you have to do.”

Republicans brace for 2016 free-for-all

Top row, left to right: Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are shown. Middle row, left to right: Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are shown. Bottom row, left to right: Rob Portman, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan are shown in this composite. | AP Photos

There is no clear Republican frontrunner. | AP Photos

Politico

The message from Republican officials has been crystal clear for two years: The 2016 Republican primary cannot be another prolonged pummeling of the eventual nominee. Only one person ultimately benefited from that last time — Barack Obama — and Republicans know they can’t afford to send a hobbled nominee up against Hillary Clinton.

Yet interviews with more than a dozen party strategists, elected officials and potential candidates a month out from the unofficial start of the 2016 election lay bare a stark reality: Despite the national party’s best efforts, the likelihood of a bloody primary process remains as strong as ever.

The sprawling, kaleidoscope-like field that’s taking shape is already prompting Republican presidential hopefuls to knock their likely rivals in private and, at times, publicly. The fact that several candidates’ prospects hinge in part on whether others run only exacerbates that dynamic. Ultimately, the large pack won’t be whittled for many months: Republicans have no idea who will end up running, and insiders don’t expect the field will gel in any way until at least the spring of next year.

“It feels like a big traffic jam after a sporting event,” said Craig Robinson, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “There’s a lot of competition for every segment of the party.”

At least 15 Republicans are weighing campaigns, with no clear front-runner. Contrast that with Clinton, who has solidified her Democratic support to a deeper extent than any candidate in recent memory.

There’s no indication that the reforms suggested by the national Republican party to protect the eventual nominee — fewer debates, friendlier moderators and a truncated primary calendar — have necessarily altered how potential candidates are thinking about campaigning against other Republicans. In fact, they already are jockeying to define themselves — and their opponents — in sharp terms.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is a prime example. Seeking to expand his base of support beyond tea party conservatives, Cruz, who has been working donors and elites aggressively, has routinely dismissed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in private conversations as the “Rudy Giuliani of this cycle,” multiple sources told POLITICO. (A Cruz adviser noted that the senator has often praised Christie.) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) denounced Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an establishment avatar, in a Senate floor speech last month over what turned out to be an Internet hoax, a photo that falsely identified the senator meeting with Islamic State militants. When outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry attacked Paul’s foreign policy views, Perry responded in kind.

The desire in some quarters for a new tenor in the Republican primary is a visceral reaction to the party’s bitter 2012 loss, and Clinton’s commanding position on the Democratic side.

“I think because we’ve been frozen out of the White House for two terms here, I think Republicans by and large are going to be really focused on winning the general election and not wanting to do things to handicap your eventual nominee,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told POLITICO. He said that there will be “pressure this time around to ask candidates to play nice with one another so that we can make sure we can focus on the general election.”

In an interview, Christie said, “It’s always important for us not to destroy each other — it’d be nice.”

“I think that after eight years in the wilderness, we should all be focused on winning,” he said. “That would help. And I think if we did that, people will conduct themselves” in a positive way.

Yet Christie and Paul spent a good chunk of 2013 savaging each other. And several Republicans point to a simple reality: After the GOP’s tea party wing notched big wins in the 2010 and 2012 congressional elections, and establishment forces battled back successfully this year, both sides are primed for a fight.

Newt Gingrich, one of the short-lived insurgent front-runners in the 2012 primary, dismisses the party’s desire to avoid bloodletting as “nonsense.”

“There’s a wing of the Republican party which would like life to be orderly and dominated by the rich,” said Gingrich, whose own candidacy was enabled by a super PAC funded by $21 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. “And so they would like to take all of the things that make politics exciting and responding to the popular will and they would like to hide from it. The fact is, if you can’t nominate somebody who can win debates and come out of the contest stronger, they wouldn’t have a chance to beat Hillary in the general.”

For his part, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus pushed through major changes for 2016, including a condensed primary calendar and fewer debates.

“What I can do is follow through on what I can control,” Priebus said in an interview. “Limiting the process from a six-month slice-and-dice festival to 60-plus” days. Priebus added that he senses a “greater spirit of cooperation” among candidates who understand that the party is “not going to get ahead by killing each other.”

Continue here…

 

Reports: Armed Convict Got On Elevator With Obama Two Weeks Ago

It was a violation of Secret Service protocols, the Post noted.

The Post reported that the incident happened on Sept. 16 when Obama went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to deliver remarks on the country’s response to the ongoing crisis concerning the Ebola virus.

Secret Service agents asked the contractor to stop using a camera phone he had to videotape Obama while in the elevator, the Post said. Secret Service agents did question him and checked a database to find out out about his criminal background.

A supervisor for the private security firm learned about the Secret Service agents’ concern with the contractor and the contractor was then fired. He agreed to hand over his gun as well, which surprised agents who did not know until then that he had been armed while he was near Obama.

Elements of this were first reported by The Washington Examiner.

The new report comes as the Secret Service is already under scrutiny over a man scaling the White House fence and making it deep into the White House before being tackled by an off-duty agent.

Eric Holder Replacement Will Be A Woman, Says Longtime Friend Charles Ogletree

The Huffington Post

As the dust settled after the abrupt announcement of Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation, the speculation around who will assume the role as the nation’s top justice official has started to swirl.

According to someone who knew Holder well, prognosticators should trim their likely candidates — it will be a woman.

In an interview with MSNBC on Saturday, Holder’s longtime friend and Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree repeatedly referred to the potential replacement as “she.” Pressed by MSNBC’s Alex Witt to reveal his pick for a replacement, Ogletree said, “I’m not gonna put her name out,” reasoning, “I don’t want her to not be able to be confirmed by the Senate.”

Ogletree, who is also considered a mentor to President Barack Obama, had earlier told Witt of his undisclosed pick, “she would be a great attorney general. I think we’re gonna have a long way to go to figure out who she will be — and I hope it will be a woman.”

Holder announced on Thursday that he would step down from the head of the Justice Department, a position he has held since 2009, as soon as a replacement is selected. Obama has yet to announce a replacement for Holder, who was also one of the president’s close friends. There have been many names floated as possibilities, including Former White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, and University of California System President Janet Napolitano.

There are many issues that await the next Attorney General, including security amid the threat of ISIS, concern over government surveillance, and prosecuting misconduct in the financial sector. But first, Obama’s eventual nominee must clear confirmation in a divided Senate, which would be all the more challenging should Republicans take control of the chamber after midterm elections.

(H/T BuzzFeed)

This Is What Eric Holder’s Legacy Will Be

The Huffington Post

Attorney General Eric Holder, the first African-American to hold the top law enforcement position in the United States, announced on Thursday that he plans to step down from his position as soon as a successor can be confirmed. If he remains in office until December, Holder will become the third longest-serving Attorney General in the history of the United States. Here are some key components of his legacy.

He decided not to defend DOMA

The Obama administration initially defended the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages. At first, Holder maintained that while the administration disagreed with the law, it was the Justice Department’sresponsibility to defend the laws that Congress had passed. (Some of the briefs written by Justice Department lawyers arguing that DOMA was constitutional were considered offensive by gay rights organizations.)

But Holder’s analysis changed. He announced in February 2011 that the Justice Department would no longer defend components of the statute because DOMA “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution’s) Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.” Ultimately, the Supreme Court agreed, ruling in June 2013 that key portions of DOMA were unconstitutional.

He lost the fight to bring the Sept. 11 trial out of Guantanamo Bay and into New York City

In one of the biggest disappointments of his tenure, Holder ultimately lost the fight to try the key perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks in federal court in New York City. The plan, first announced by Holder in Nov. 2009, faced stiff resistance from many politicians in New York who feared the impact a high-profile trial would have on the city. Others objected because they believed that a military commission was a more appropriate venue for the terrorism trial. Holder ultimately announced he was reversing his decision to try the cases in New York and moved them back to the military commission in Guantanamo.

While the process in Guantanamo has hit numerous roadblocks, Holder’s Justice Department has gathered a string of wins against other terror suspects in federal court. Holder has remarked that the Sept. 11 defendants “would be on death row as we speak” if the case had been allowed to proceed in federal court.

He helped turn around the Civil Rights Division and fought for voting rights

The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was heavily politicized during the Bush administration. A 2008 inspector general report found the conservative leadership had hired lawyers with little to no civil rights experience into positions due to their ideological beliefs. The environment caused a massive exodus in the Civil Rights Division: more than 70 percent of its attorneys left between 2003 and 2007. Holder, who has long made civil rights a top priority, was widely credited with overseeing the turnaround of the division.

“I think Eric Holder put the ‘J’ back in DOJ, and in particular he restored the luster of the crown jewel which is the Civil Rights Division, and I had the privilege of having a front-row seat for that,” Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who headed the Civil Rights Division from 2009 to 2013, told The Huffington Post after Holder’s announcement on Thursday.

Holder oversaw several of the Justice Department’s successful voting rights lawsuits during President Barack Obama’s first term, as well as the agency’s continued efforts after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. DOJ is currently involved in several voting rights cases, including high-profile suits against voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas.

He addressed racism head on.

Shortly after his confirmation in 2009, Holder delivered a speech to Justice Department employees at an event commemorating Black History Month. In his remarks, he called out the U.S. as a “nation of cowards” when it comes to addressing race. He said Americans believe that “certain subjects are off-limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one’s character.”

Those words echoed throughout Holder’s tenure at the DOJ as he fought back against laws that suppressed voting and defended the Voting Rights Act. He stepped in to request federal oversight of the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-friskpolicy, a program that has overwhelmingly targeted black and Latino individuals. More recently, he ordered a civil rights investigation into the largely white police force in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson.

“Will we yet again turn a blind eye to the hard truths that Ferguson exposed?” Holder asked during a speech this week, echoing his 2009 remarks. “Or will we finally accept this mandate for open and honest dialogue?”

He oversaw a crackdown on leaks and disappointed civil liberties advocates

Under Holder, the Justice Department has aggressively — some would say obsessively — pursued government leakers. Eight have been charged with violating the draconian Espionage Act of 1917, more than under all previous administrations combined. Journalists have also come under the gun: Holder’s DOJ subpoenaed AP reporters’ phone logs in a leak investigation, named a Fox News reporter as an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in another case, and is still trying to force Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about his sources under threat of jail time.

All of that led Risen to call Holder’s boss, Obama, “the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

One of the leakers charged, Edward Snowden, revealed another disappointment for civil liberties advocates: the DOJ’s intimate role in coming up with the legal rationale that underlies the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone records.

The FBI’s frayed relationship with Muslim communities, meanwhile, has seen little improvement under Holder. The bureau has continued to use sting operations, which critics say are tantamount to entrapment, to arrest Muslims involved in bogus terror “plots.” And NPR reported on Wednesday that the racial profiling guidelines set to be released soon will still allow the FBI to “map” the demographics of Muslim communities.

Perhaps most worrying for many across the spectrum, it was Holder’s DOJ that came up with the “drone memos” — the legal justification that the Obama administration leaned on to kill al Qaeda propagandist and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen without a trial.

He released the so-called “torture memos,” but didn’t go after their authors — Shadee

Two months after assuming office in 2009, Holder moved to publicly release a series of previously classified “torture memos” from the Bush administration that sanctioned specific acts of torture, including waterboarding, for CIA use against al Qaeda suspects.

“There is no reason we cannot wage an effective fight against those who have sworn to harm us while we respect our most honored constitutional traditions,” Holder said in March 2009 after releasing nine previously classified Justice Department memos.

Despite the release, which faced significant pushback from senior intelligence officials, the attorney general’s office never brought criminal charges against any government officials investigated for their involvements in over 100 cases of severe prisoner abuse.

While crediting Holder in other areas, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero issued a statement on Thursday noting “profound disagreements with the Attorney General on national security issues.”

“During his tenure, DOJ approved the drone killing of an American far away from any battlefield, approved the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, failed to prosecute any of the Bush administration torturers, and presided over more leak prosecutions than all previous Justice Departments combined,” Romero said.

He became the first-ever cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress

In 2012, Holder became the only sitting cabinet member in history to be held in contempt of Congress after the White House claimed executive privilege over documents subpoenaed in relation to Operation Fast and Furious, a botched federal investigation intended to combat gun smuggling. The documents that the Justice Department refused to turn over related not to the actual operation, but rather to how DOJ responded once Congress began investigating the matter.

Holder later dismissed the vote — led by the Republican-controlled House — as political theater, calling it “a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people.”

The White House also indicated in 2012 that Holder would not face any criminal charges in the matter since the documents being sought were protected by executive privilege.

He took on “draconian” drug sentences and slowly but surely scaled back the war on drugs.

In what Obama described as a “gutsy speech” in front of the American Bar Association in 2013, Holder outlined his plan for “sweeping, systemic changes” to how the Justice Department prosecutes drug-related offenses. While Holder initially faced a lot of internal resistance from career federal prosecutors as he attempted to rein in the so-called war on drugs, he pressed ahead, pushing for changes like allowing low-level and nonviolent drug offenders to avoid “draconian” mandatory minimum sentences and permitting the early release of some elderly defendants.

He continued to push for sentencing reform in March, lending his support to aproposal that would reduce penalties for some drug offenders and help cut prison costs.

“This overreliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable, it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate,” he said.

Holder has also urged first responders to carry the heroin overdose antidote naloxone.

He oversaw a crackdown on marijuana shops, but allowed state legalization to move forward

During the first term of the Obama administration, Holder oversaw an expansive federal crackdown on hundreds of state-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries in states like Colorado and California, which was spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Agency and several U.S. attorneys.

But in a historic step, Holder announced in 2013 that DOJ would allow for Colorado and Washington to implement their groundbreaking new laws legalizing and regulating the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana.

While Holder never explicitly came out in favor of legalization or decriminalization, he has been more open to rescheduling marijuana, which is still classified by the federal government as a Schedule I substance like heroin. Holder said the Obama administration would be “more than glad” to work with Congress to re-examine how cannabis is scheduled federally. He even said in April that he’s “cautiously optimistic”about how the historic changes in marijuana law were working out in Washington and Colorado.

And now, as he plans to step down from his post, he appears to be more open than ever to the possibility of classifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug. He said in an interview just this week that “we need to ask ourselves, whether or not marijuana is as serious of a drug as heroin” adding that science should be used to make that determination.

He reached big settlements on pollution cases

The DOJ reached a record $4 billion settlement with BP in November 2012 over criminal charges stemming from the 2010 oil spill, which dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That included charges related to the deaths of 11 workers on the rig and the “misconduct or neglect of ships’ officers.” The DOJ is still pursuing civil charges related to the spill, but the agency recently scored a big win when a federal judge ruled that BP was grossly negligent in allowing the spill to occur — a ruling that opens the door to up to $18 billion in civil penalties that could be levied against the company.

The DOJ topped its own record fine this year, however, with a $5.15 billion settlementin April 2014 with Anadarko Petroleum over a decades-long legacy of pollution left by one of its subsidiaries.

He failed to hold Wall Street accountable for the financial crisis

Holder’s legacy is likely to be marred by what critics view as DOJ’s lax approach to investigating and prosecuting the alleged crimes that sparked, or exacerbated, the 2007-09 financial crisis.

Few Wall Street firms, and even fewer senior financial executives, were officially charged with breaking the law for conduct related to the crisis, despite what experts contend is a wealth of evidence — thanks to civil lawsuits brought by aggrieved investors, prior investigations by state authorities, and probes by Congress and the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — that at the very least should have prompted the Justice Department to investigate further.

Holder’s approach to crisis-era wrongdoing stands in stark contrast to the playbook followed by federal prosecutors contending with the fallout of the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 90s.

“In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high-level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears likely that none will be,” Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan wrote earlier this year in the New York Review of Books.

The lack of public evidence that Holder’s Justice Department thoroughly investigated crisis-era wrongdoing has contributed to the perception — one eagerly promoted by the defense bar — that perhaps few crimes were even committed in the runup to the financial crisis.

“But if, by contrast, the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud,” Rakoff wrote, “the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years.”

Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz

 is pictured. | AP Photo

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: The party has lost confidence in her as a unifying leader and a party spokesperson. | AP Photo

She has never been my favorite spokesperson for the DNC…

Politico

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.

Long-simmering doubts about her have reached a peak after two recent public flubs: criticizing the White House’s handling of the border crisis and comparing the tea party to wife beaters.

The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.

She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.

“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster,” said John Morgan, a major donor in Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida.

(Also on POLITICO: DNC chief rips Christie on Bridgegate)

The stakes are high. Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming.

One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe.

In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign headquarters in Chicago.

She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser — and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop. (Jarrett said she does not recall that conversation.) One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

(Also on POLITICO: DNC chief walks back Walker ‘words’)

Wasserman Schultz denies that she ever tried to get the DNC to pick up her clothing tab. “I think that would be a totally inappropriate use of DNC funds,” she said in a statement. “I never asked someone to do that for me, I would hope that no one would seek that on my behalf, and I’m not aware that anyone did.”

Tracie Pough, Wasserman Schultz’s chief of staff at the DNC and her congressional office, was also involved in making inquiries about buying the clothing, according to sources. Pough denies making, directing or being aware of any inquiries.

But sources with knowledge of the discussions say Wasserman Schultz’s efforts couldn’t have been clearer. “She felt firmly that it should happen,” said a then-DNC staffer of the clothing request. “Even after it was explained that it couldn’t, she remained indignant.”

This story is based on interviews with three dozen current and former DNC staffers, committee officers, elected officials, state party leaders and top Democratic operatives in Washington and across the country.

(Also on POLITICO: DWS: Walker gives ‘back of his hand’)

Many expect a nascent Clinton campaign will engineer her ouster. Hurt feelings go back to spring 2008, when while serving as a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Wasserman Schultz secretly reached out to the Obama campaign to pledge her support once the primary was over, sources say.

Meanwhile, the Obama team was so serious about replacing her after 2012 that they found a replacement candidate to back before deciding against it, according to people familiar with those discussions.

Obama and Wasserman Schultz have rarely even talked since 2011. They don’t meet about strategy or messaging. They don’t talk much on the phone.

Instead, the DNC chairwoman stakes out the president of the United States at the end of photo lines at events and fundraisers.

“You need another picture, Debbie?” Obama tends to say, according to people who’ve been there for the encounters.

(QUIZ: How well do you know Debbie Wasserman Schultz?)

Chairing the DNC should be a political steppingstone — Ed Rendell, Terry McAuliffe and Tim Kaine all went on to bigger things, and even Howard Dean used the post to rehabilitate himself from the man who yelped his way out of a presidential campaign.

And without a doubt, the Florida congresswoman has had plenty of successes. She has overseen the integration of key elements of the Obama campaigns, including its voter file and data programs. After being left with $25 million in bills from the Obama campaign, the DNC enters the fall with the debt cleared and over $7 million on hand. She’s started new efforts to build relationships with labor and small business leaders and prioritized the DNC’s outreach to female voters.

“My tenure here is not about me,” Wasserman Schultz said in an interview with POLITICO at DNC headquarters. “I like to help build this party. That’s what I love and that’s what I focused on.”

She rejects the idea she is over-extended.

“I have always taken on a lot. It’s what I love to do. I don’t do anything halfway,” she said, dismissing any worries that she’s overextended. “In some cases, it’s sniping; in other cases people are worried about me. I have a lot of Jewish mothers out there that I think very kindly say, ‘My god, she’s doing so much.’ It’s OK.”

(Also on POLITICO: Wasserman Schultz and Pelosi split)

SPLIT WITH OBAMA

The White House is staring at two years of life under a GOP-controlled House and Senate. The DNC chair, however, isn’t involved in the strategy talks with the president.

They don’t want her there.

For even the occasional Obama briefing by the heads of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, she is not invited. That includes a key session on July 31, the last day the House was in town before the August recess, when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), DCCC Chair Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and DCCC executive director Kelly Ward sat on the couches in the Oval Office running through the political landscape for the president.

Wasserman Schultz described her relationship with the president as speaking to him on an “as-needed basis, whenever I have a need to talk to them or give them a sense of what’s going on, but also, as it happens, as we connect on the trail.” She declined to provide details of how often, where or when.

When Kaine was DNC chairman during the president’s first year in office, he had a monthly lunch with Obama on the calendar (although not all of the lunches actually occurred as planned). Wasserman Schultz demurred when asked if it would be fair to characterize her as speaking “regularly” with the president.

(Also on POLITICO: DWS, O’Malley agree on border kids)

“The best way to describe it is: as often as we need,” she said.

According to multiple people familiar with the president, Obama’s opinion of Wasserman Schultz was sealed back in 2011. Shortly after becoming chairwoman, she pushed hard for a meeting with the president that she kicked off by complaining that she had been blocked from hiring the daughter of a donor — who’d been on staff in her congressional office — as a junior staffer to be the DNC’s Jewish community liaison.

Obama summed up his reaction to staff afterward: “Really?”

Asked about the relationship between the president and Wasserman Schultz, the White House issued a statement praising the chairwoman and DNC staff.

“The president’s foremost political goal is helping Democrats do well in the midterms — and Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is doing a great job in that effort,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “The president is grateful for all of the hard work being done by the entire team at the DNC. He fully recognizes the value of their work, and that’s why he has worked so hard to support them.”

Continued:    2    3

U.S. Will ‘Degrade and Destroy’ ISIS Militants, Obama Says

Isis fighters parade through Raqqa

Isis fighters parade through Raqqa is Syria. Photograph: AP

NBC News

President Barack Obama vowed to “degrade and destroy” the Islamist militant group behind the beheading of a second American journalist. “We will not be intimidated,” Obama told reporters during a visit to Estonia on Wednesday. “Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

Obama said that Americans were “repulsed” by the slaying of Steven Sotloff by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants, adding that such “horrific acts only unite us as country.” He also vowed that the U.S. would continue to lead the battle against “the kind of barbaric and empty vision that [ISIS] represents.” He said that mission would “take some time but it is going to get done,” adding: “We will degrade and destroy [ISIS] so that it is no longer a threat to Iraq, the region and United States.” A video showing Sotloff’s beheading surfaced days after the journalist’s mother pleaded with ISIS for mercy. Its release followed the murder of James Foley, who had also been held hostage by the Sunni extremists. The president said that Sotloff “deeply loved the Islamic world” and had risked his life traveling in the Middle East to “tell the story of Muslim men and women demanding dignity. ” He added: “Steven’s life stood in sharp contrast to those that murdered him so brutally.”

Watch video report here…

IN-DEPTH

The Magical President doesn’t exist: What the left must really do to defeat the wingnuts

The Magical President doesn't exist: What the left must really do to defeat the wingnuts

Barack Obama (Credit: Reuters/Jim Young)

Progressives need to pay attention and read this ASAP.  Kudos to Salon‘s Joan Walsh for putting this out there…

Salon – Joan Walsh

The myth of a president who can solve our problems alone is inane. The big task right now? Rescue these midterms

Labor Day marks the traditional kickoff to election season, and all Democrats can say for themselves about the coming midterms is: Things look bad, but they could be worse. Republicans will almost certainly gain Senate seats, and could very well take it over, though their chances diminish every time we hear new audio of Mitch McConnell and his GOP cronies sucking up to the Koch brothers at their last retreat. But traditional low midterm Democratic turnout could make McConnell the Senate majority leader in January nonetheless.

This political season opens against a backdrop of profound pessimism, captured in an August Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that found that 71 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. The president’s approval rating is at an all-time low, but so is that of congressional Republicans. Even worse, the two big stories dominating the end-of-summer headlines – the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. and the rise of ISIL – only deepen the political gloom, because they reflect two enormous American problems that are coming to seem almost unsolvable: profound and persistent racial injustice, and the shape-shifting chaos that is Iraq.

These problems are particularly vexing for people who subscribe to the Magical President theory of politics — which includes too many of us, including me sometimes – because those are two issues Americans thought we’d “solved,” or at least responsibly addressed, by electing our first black president, who’d famously opposed the “dumb” Iraq war and promised to end it. Now race relations are arguably worse than when Obama took office, and so is Iraq, and this is a rare case where you can fairly say people on “both sides” blame the president — mostly wrongly.

Cornel West is now slipping deep into Maureen Dowd territory: a formerly incisive, moderately influential social critic (a genuinely important one, in West’s case) driven to cruelty and irrelevance by Obama hatred. The National Journal’s Ron Fournier is a consistent proponent of what some deride as the “Green Lantern” approach to the presidency: If only Obama would justlead, our problems would solve themselves, though Fournier doesn’t stoop to channeling Abraham Lincoln or Aaron Sorkin when he criticizes Obama. But even fair and sober observers are frustrated with some of Obama’s moves.

You can certainly criticize the president on the margins – I have, and I’m sure I will again. Personally, if I worked for him, I’d probably have suggested not golfing after his moving statement on journalist James Foley’s execution, and not equivocating as much in his Ferguson remarks, which Michael Eric Dyson fairly laments. But those are issues more of stage management than statecraft.

Still, even for people who respect Obama, it’s hard to see us mired in what feels like ancient, intractable conflict in both Ferguson and Iraq. It hurts. Yet I would argue (after having been demoralized about both issues) that the unrest in Ferguson is in fact a kind of social progress: Within hours of Mike Brown’s awful shooting a network of new and seasoned activists came together to demand justice, pushing both Gov. Jay Nixon and the president to take action to rein in abusive local cops and drive the investigation into what happened.

Even the ugly situation in Iraq represents political progress, because as painful and outrageous as Foley’s execution was, and as disturbing as it is to see ISIL gain power in Iraq and Syria, the vital debate over what the U.S. can and should do there has actually been strengthened by the existence of intervention skeptics on the left and the right. Obama has repudiated the neocon approach, but he’s still wrestling with Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn doctrine: If you break it, have you really bought it? Certainly, we’ve already paid for it, many times over.

Let’s be clear: There is neither a Democratic nor a progressive consensus on what is to be done there. All we have is a profound skepticism, and I’ll take that over a cynical Cheneyesque certainty, built on lies to the American people. Disagreement, even deadlock, is preferable.

The belief that somehow Obama can lead us out of our summer of misery reflects Magical President thinking. Which leads me back to the rapidly approaching and dispiriting midterms.When I reviewed Rick Perlstein’s “Invisible Bridge,” I noted that the major political difference between the right and left seems to be that when defeated and disillusioned, the right gets back to the nuts and bolts work of electoral politics. The left, or some of it, disintegrates, a flank here promoting direct action over electoral politics (a debate that’s understandably renewed by events in Ferguson); a flank there preaching about a third party; and one over there fantasizing about the perfect left-wing challenge to the mainstream Democratic candidate, like that dreamy African-American senator who opposed the war in Iraq who looked so magical eight years ago. Meanwhile, Republicans count on division on the left, and low turnout by the Democratic base of younger, poorer non-white voters, to help them take back the Senate.

And when they do, Mitch McConnell has promised only more obstruction and gridlock. I should point out, this isn’t just a byproduct of Republican victories, but one of the goals. It’s become obvious in the GOP’s approach to Obama that obstruction is at least partly intended to demoralize the reluctant, occasional voters in the Democratic base. For if there’s no action on those “gosh darn” issues, in McConnell’s words, like a minimum wage hike, student loan relief or extended unemployment insurance, let alone immigration reform or climate change, even after Obama became the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win more than 50 percent of the vote twice, those of us who say that voting is the most reliable path to social change sound either foolish or dishonest. People say, why bother?

The cause isn’t helped by spineless Democrats who try to blur their differences with Republicans instead of heighten them. Right now Karl Rove is attacking Democratic senators like North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Arkansas’s Mark Pryor for endorsing Obama’s Simpson-Bowles commission report, which recommended cuts to Medicare and Social Security. But nobody could have predicted anyone would use entitlement cuts as weapons, right? Except many of us did. Again and again.

On the other hand, Hagan, Pryor and also-vulnerable Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are doing better than expected, either leading their GOP opponents or tied, at least partly because during this election year, they’ve been feistier and more progressive, particularly when it comes to defending the Affordable Care Act. And Kentucky voters may yet make Mitch McConnell pay for sucking up to the Kochs. He shouldn’t be redecorating the Senate majority leader’s office, at any rate.

Democrats have two months to make sure this election doesn’t turn out like 2010 did. It’s not about the president right now, and we shouldn’t wait until 2016 for a new magical president. The kind of thoroughgoing change we need won’t happen in eight years, or even 80. It’s an eternal battle, the constant effort to expand the realm of human freedom to everyone, against the constant crusade by the wealthy to ensure that the trappings of human dignity – education, leisure, family life, childhood itself – are reserved for those who can afford to pay for them. The Kochs and their allies are trying to repeal the 20th century. Progressives can’t just suit up for that battle every four years.