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How a Petty Snub Led to Clinton's Government Shutdown—and the Lewinsky Affair

December 12, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

In November 1995, . “[But] you land at Andrews [Air Force Base] and you’ve been on the plane for 25 hours and nobody has talked to you and they ask you to get off the plane by the back ramp… You just wonder, where is their sense of manners? Where is their sense of courtesy?”

Gingrich said that the fact that the president didn’t speak to him during the trip was “part of why you ended up with us sending down a tougher” interim spending bill. “It’s petty…but I think it’s human.”

Indeed. The next day, the New York tabloid Daily News ran the front-page headline “CRY BABY” with a cartoon of Gingrich crying in a diaper and holding a bottle and the headline. “NEWT’S TANTRUM: He closed down the government because Clinton made him sit at back of plane,” the front page stated.

Polls showed that Americans blamed Congressional Republicans more than Clinton for the standoff. And it also didn’t help that a few weeks later, in mid-December, Gingrich triggered another shutdown that lasted for 21 days—the longest government shutdown on record. Overall, these shutdowns were a political victory for Clinton. But Clinton also made his own missteps during the November shutdown that would damage his presidency in the long term.

“When the government shutdown happened, instead of 450 normal employees who staffed the White House on a regular day, there was a skeletal crew of 90,” says Monica Lewinsky in the A&E docu-series The Clinton Affair. “So all of the interns, not being employees of the government, stepped in.”

Lewinsky was actually supposed to start a staff job in the White House’s East Wing around this time, but the shutdown put that on hold. She ended up being sent to the West Wing to help answer thousands of phone calls that were overwhelming White House operators.

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky with President Bill Clinton at a White House function.

“Many of us found ourselves in parts of the White House and surrounded by people that we normally never interacted with,” Lewinsky contines. This included Clinton, who didn’t really have anything to do while the government was on hiatus, and began socializing with a lot of staff and interns he didn’t usually see very often.

While Lewinsky was walking to her desk on the evening of November 15, Clinton motioned her into the empty office of George Stephanopoulos, his …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Thorns in the president’s side: Here are 5 House Democrats who could make life miserable for Trump

December 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

It's been a long time coming.


President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence received a big dose of reality on Tuesday, Dec. 11, when they met face-to-face with two of the leading Democrats on Capitol Hill: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2019, Schumer will still be part of the minority party in the Senate, where Republicans achieved a net gain of two seats in the 2018 midterms. But when Trump spoke to Pelosi in the Oval Office, it was obvious that his days of enjoying one-party rule on Capitol Hill will soon be coming to an end. Democrats enjoyed a net gain of 40 seats in the midterms, and Pelosi made it clear that the Democratic House majority won’t be rubber-stamping legislation that Trump favors — for example, a costly wall stretching from California to Texas along the U.S./Mexico border.

Pelosi, who appears likely to become House speaker in 2019, sounded like she was ready for battle as she sat alongside Trump, Pence and Schumer in the Oval Office. But Pelosi is hardly the only Democrat in the House who is getting ready to make life difficult for the president next year.

Here are five Democrats who stand to be major thorns in President Trump’s side in 2019.

1. Rep. Maxine Waters

Rep. Maxine Waters, who has been nominated to head the House Committee on Financial Services, knows that she’s doing her job well whenever Trump insults her on Twitter—the more the president uses Twitter to demonize the 80-year-old California congresswoman, the more obvious it is how much she’s getting to him. And Waters, who will be an even bigger thorn in Trump’s side in 2019, has been paying very close attention to what Special Counsel Robert Mueller has to say about Deutsche Bank and its ties to Russian oligarchs and Trump associates. On Dec. 1, Waters sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to request information on Deutsche Bank. And Waters will no doubt be taking an even closer look at Trump’s relationship with Deutsche …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Google Is a Tricky Case but Conservatives Please Stay Strong — Reject the Temptation to Regulate the Internet

December 12, 2018 in Economics

By John Samples

John Samples

Everyone involved in politics has bad days, when one’s interests
conflict with one’s ideals. Some conservatives had a bad day on
Tuesday when Google CEO Sundar Pachai appeared before Congress to
respond to allegations of anti-conservative bias at Google.

Since at least the presidency of Ronald Reagan, conservatives
have stood for limited, constitutional government. That commitment
has not always been easy. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
voted to protect flag burning as free speech even though he hated
the desecration of the flag. If conservatives don’t stand strong
— even in tough cases — for limited government, who
will?

Content moderation at big tech companies certainly looks like a
tough case. On the one hand, conservatives have long supported a
free market where entrepreneurs and CEOs, not politicians, decide
how to run businesses.

If conservatives don’t
stand strong – even in tough cases – for limited government, who
will?

On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg, noted earlier this year that
the people who work in Silicon Valley generally lean to the left.
So do university employees, and conservatives are well aware of the
problems posed by the left’s dominance on campuses.

So conservatives are tempted to use the tools of big government
to make sure Google and Facebook don’t restrict speech that
their employees do not like. We saw some conservatives giving in to
temptation during the Pachai hearings.

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said Congress should make sure
Google’s search “is never used to unfairly censor
conservative viewpoints or suppress political views.” I
thought the Fairness Doctrine was done away with during the Reagan
administration because that conservative president believed in free
speech! The conservative ideal of the free market in searches and
speech means Mr. Pachai is accountable to his customers — not
to Congress.

Rep. Steve King, R.-Iowa, demanded that Congress have access to
the social media history of content moderators at Google. He
continued, “If that doesn’t solve this problem, the
next step then is to publish the algorithms. If that doesn’t
happen, then the next step down the line is Section 230.”
(Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides liability
protections which prevent social media firms from being held
legally responsible for user-generated content.)

Let’s be clear here. Rep. King is saying the federal
government should force private individuals to disclose their life
online to achieve “fairness.” If that fails, the
federal government should take control of private property (the
code for Google’s search function) and make it public,
thereby destroying much of its value. Finally, if all else fails,
Rep. King wants to end that part of current law (Section 230) which
experts say has protected speech from …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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‘The people would revolt’: Here are 5 key takeaways from Trump’s latest claim of 'presidential harassment'

December 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump told Reuters


As special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation moves along and a new Democratic majority gets ready to take over the House of Representatives in January, the word “impeachment” often comes up in political conservations. 

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has asserted that if Michael Cohen (confessed felon and Trump’s former personal attorney) made hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal on direct orders from Trump in 2016, it would be an “impeachable offense.” Trump, however, has denied having extramarital affairs with either Daniels or McDougal and maintained that Cohen was acting independently—not on orders from him—if he made any hush money payments two years ago. And when Reuters reporters asked the president about the possibility of impeachment during an oval office interview on December 11, Trump responded that “the people would revolt” if he were impeached. He additionally claimed he would not work with Democrats if they continue to support the speccial counsel investigation and are “going to do presidential harassment.” 

Trump’s “people would revolt” comment indicates that he continues to exaggerate his overall popularity, but at the same time, impeachment proceedings against the president could fire up his hardcore base—even if a lot more bombshells come from Mueller’s probe. 

Here are five takeaways from Trump’s “the people would revolt” comment.

1. Trump is in denial about his low approval ratings

More than a month after the 2018 midterms, Trump’s overall approval is weak: on December 9, he enjoyed 40% approval in Gallup’s tracking poll. In other words, six out of ten Americans disapprove of his performance as president. That 40% is better than President George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when Bush’s approval in the Gallup tracking poll fell to 31%. But it’s hardly stellar. Trump’s approval, according to Gallup, has fluctuated between 35% and 45% since he took office in January 2017. Trump remains an incredibly divisive figure—still popular …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Kellyanne Conway after the White House aide said she 'doesn’t seem to know much about anything'

December 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Republicans can't stop themselves from attacking her.


Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been a frequent target of right-wing tirades, but she has shown that she does not let the attacks diminish her stature. In fact, she seems to capitalize on the vitriol, using the disproportionate attention she receives from Republicans as a platform to promote her views and her own political stardom.

The most recent attack against her came from one of President Donald Trump's most prominent media trolls, Kellyanne Conway.

On Tuesday, Conway lashed out at Ocasio-Cortez and called her a “29-year-old congresswoman who doesn’t seem to know much about anything.” This broadside came in response to the incoming representative's demand for outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), whom he once egregiously and falsely insulted on behalf of Trump.

Ocasio-Cortez said Kelly demonstrated “cowardice.”

“For her to even use a slur against him yesterday — and I won’t repeat her name or the slur — but let me stand up for Gen. John Kelly,” Conway said Tuesday on Fox News. “He’s done a magnificent job for this country for almost 50 years, and that includes here at the White House as our chief of staff for about a year and a half.”

But on Wednesday, the Democrat hit back.

“Kellyanne Conway has been engaged in a War on Facts since Inauguration Day,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet. “Leveraging those who belittle my capacity is exactly how I defeated a multi-generation, multi-million $ political machine. GOP is even weaker bc their bias has no self-control.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Why it’s so hard for most countries to be economically independent from the West

December 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Justin Podur, Independent Media Institute

Western countries insist both on “free trade” with poor countries and farm subsidies for themselves.


Why is it so difficult even for huge countries with large, diversified economies to maintain independence from the West?

If anyone could have done it, it was Brazil. In the 19th century it was imagined that Brazil could be a Colossus of the South to match the U.S., the Colossus of the North. It never panned out that way.

And 100 years later, it still hasn’t happened. With a $2 trillion GDP (a respectable $9,800 per capita), nearly 200 million people, and a strong manufacturing base (the second largest in the Americas and 28.5 percent of its GDP), Brazil is far from a tiny, weak island or peninsula dependent on a patron state to keep it afloat.

When Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva won a historic election to become president of Brazil in 2003, it seemed like an irreversible change in the country’s politics. Even though Lula’s Workers’ Party was accused of being communists who wanted to redistribute all of the country’s concentrated wealth, the party’s redistributive politics were in fact modest—a program to eradicate hunger in Brazil called Zero Hunger, a family-based welfare program called the Family Allowance, and an infrastructure spending program to try to create jobs. But its politics of national sovereignty were ambitious.

It was under Workers’ Party rule (under Lula and his successor, president Dilma Rousseff, who won the 2010 election to become president at the beginning of 2011) that the idea surged of a powerful BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) alliance that could challenge the ambitions of the U.S.-led West. Brazil took steps to strengthen its manufacturing, and held its ground on preventing pharmaceutical patent monopolies. Lula’s Brazil accused Western countries of hypocrisy for insisting both on “free trade” with poor countries and farm subsidies for themselves. Brazil even moved in the direction of building an independent arms industry.

Contradictions remained: The Workers’ Party government sent Brazilian troops to command the UN force that enacted the U.S.-impelled occupation of Haiti—treating the world to the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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If You Thought Scrooge Was Bad, Consider the Victorian Home

December 12, 2018 in Economics

By Chelsea Follett

Chelsea Follett

We owe many popular Christmas traditions to
Victorian England, from carols and decorated trees to gift-giving.
These cheerful traditions stand in stark contrast with our
recognition of the nightmarish working conditions at the time. In
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, for example, the
miserly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge exemplifies the alleged spirit
of the Victorian age: heartlessness, he maintains, is good for
business.

Underneath the veneer of destitution and exploitation of the
era, however, things were changing for the better. The unlikely and
seldom acknowledged benefactor of the poor in 19th century Britain
was the factory.

When asked to picture a scene of horrifying working conditions
during the Victorian era, most people conjure up the image of a
19th century factory. Yet the life of a housemaid was, at that
time, far bleaker than that of most “factory girls.”
That is one of many surprising insights that can be found in Judith
Flanders’ fascinating book, Inside the Victorian Home:
factories helped improve working conditions, especially for
women.

Why, for young women
especially, factory work was preferable to domestic labor in
Dickensian times.

In 1851, one in three women between the ages of 15 and 24 in
London worked as a domestic servant. Their work was often
excruciating, and it is no wonder that many of them rushed at the
opportunity to join factories and leave domestic service.

First, consider how health conditions differed for factory and
domestic workers. An average housemaid “had less fresh air
than a factory worker,” according to Flanders. The kitchens
and sculleries of well-to-do Victorian homes, where the servants
spent much of their time, were particularly unhygienic. Rats were
tolerated, as servants focused their efforts on the more numerous
threat: bugs. The typical “kitchen floor at night
palpitate[d] with a living carpet” of cockroaches, and the
typical kitchen ceiling was crawling with beetles. When the author
Beatrix Potter visited her grandparents’ home in the summer
of 1886, her servants “had to sit on the kitchen table [while
working], as the floor heaved with cockroaches.”

As if the health hazards weren’t bad enough, consider the
exhausting working hours. A typical housemaid “did at least
twelve hours of heavy physical labor every day, which was two hours
more than a factory worker (four hours more on Saturdays).”
Also, unlike most factory workers, house servants rarely had
Sundays off. A typical servant’s workday began at six
o’clock in the morning at the latest, no later than
five-thirty in the summer, and didn’t end until ten at night
— at the earliest. Working from five in the morning until
midnight was not unheard of. Servants faced an almost
impossible-to-complete list of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Salacious Letters That Helped Bring Down Mary, Queen of Scots

December 12, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

In 1567, a tempestuous, unhappy queen picked up her pen and wrote a passionate sonnet to her lover. “My love for him is not an empty show,” she wrote, “But purest tenderness and constancy.”

Or did she?

The sonnet was one of 12. And those documents were part of a larger hoard called the casket letters, explosive papers that played a part in the bizarre story of the tragic end of Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage to her second husband, the chaotic beginning of a new union, and the events that would cause the Scottish throne to slip through her fingers.

But though the casket letters would be used against Mary, their authenticity have always been in question. Were the letters really penned by Mary Stuart? Or were they the fabrication of the enemies determined to tear down her rule and even have her killed?

READ MORE: The Wildly Different Childhoods of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary Stuart had technically been queen of Scotland since she was six days old. But her grip on the Scottish throne had always been threatened by her political enemies, many of whom resented the Catholic queen.

The most serious threat to her rule broke out in 1567 with the murder of her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. He had been recuperating from smallpox when the house in which he was staying was bombed. Later, it was found that barrels full of gunpowder had been hidden beneath his bedroom. But the bombs didn’t seem to be what killed Lord Darnley. Rather, he appeared to have been strangled.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

Lord Darnley’s bizarre death was interpreted as evidence of a plot to kill him, and suspicion soon turned toward Mary herself. It had been common knowledge that she didn’t love her husband, had been appalled by his arrogance and carousing, and had differed with him about matters political and personal. He had also infuriated her by attempting to rule equally alongside her. In 1566, when she was four months pregnant, Darnley had worked with a group of anti-Mary conspirators to murder her friend and private secretary, David Rizzio, in front of her. The assassination had been the last straw. She convened a meeting of advisers to figure out how to divorce her husband.

But did she conspire to murder him?

Mary’s cousin Elizabeth I, queen of England, apparently wondered as much. …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Da Vinci notebook sells for over 5 million

December 12, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1980, American oil tycoon Armand Hammer pays $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci.

The manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety of subjects. It contained 72 loose pages featuring some 300 notes and detailed drawings, all relating to the common theme of water and how it moved. Experts have said that da Vinci drew on it to paint the background of his masterwork, the Mona Lisa. The text, written in brown ink and chalk, read from right to left, an example of da Vinci’s favored mirror-writing technique. The painter Giuseppi Ghezzi discovered the notebook in 1690 in a chest of papers belonging to Guglielmo della Porto, a 16th-century Milanese sculptor who had studied Leonardo’s work. In 1717, Thomas Coke, the first earl of Leicester, bought the manuscript and installed it among his impressive collection of art at his family estate in England.

More than two centuries later, the notebook–by now known as the Leicester Codex–showed up on the auction block at Christie’s in London when the current Lord Coke was forced to sell it to cover inheritance taxes on the estate and art collection. In the days before the sale, art experts and the press speculated that the notebook would go for $7 to $20 million. In fact, the bidding started at $1.4 million and lasted less than two minutes, as Hammer and at least two or three other bidders competed to raise the price $100,000 at a time. The $5.12 million price tag was the highest ever paid for a manuscript at that time; a copy of the legendary Gutenberg Bible had gone for only $2 million in 1978. “I’m very happy with the price. I expected to pay more,” Hammer said later. “There is no work of art in the world I wanted more than this.” Lord Coke, on the other hand, was only “reasonably happy” with the sale; he claimed the proceeds would not be sufficient to cover the taxes he owed.

Hammer, the president of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, renamed his prize the Hammer Codex and added it to his valuable collection of art. When Hammer died in 1990, he left the notebook and other works to the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at the University of <a target=_blank …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Mona Lisa recovered in Florence

December 12, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

Two years after it was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Mona Lisa is recovered inside Italian waiter Vincenzo Peruggia’s hotel room in Florence. Peruggia had previously worked at the Louvre and had participated in the heist with a group of accomplices dressed as Louvre janitors on the morning of August 21, 1911.

Leonardo da Vinci, one of the great Italian Renaissance painters, completed The Mona Lisa, a portrait of the wife of wealthy Florentine citizen Francesco del Gioconda, in 1504. The painting, also known as La Gioconda, depicts the figure of a woman with an enigmatic facial expression that is both aloof and alluring, seated before a visionary landscape.

After the recovery of The Mona Lisa, Peruggia was convicted in Italy of the robbery and spent just 14 months in jail. The Mona Lisa was eventually returned to the Louvre, where it remains today, exhibited behind bulletproof glass. It is arguably the most famous painting in the world and is seen by millions of visitors every year.

…read more

Source: HISTORY