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Not another Bush or Clinton: political dynasties reach for ‘regular Joe’ status

Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush – the US is overflowing with dynastic ambition. Why are Americans still getting the same names on the ballot?

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George Bush Sr, George W and Jeb play golf at the Cape Arundel club in Maine in 2001. Photograph: Corbis/Reuters

Dan Roberts in Kennebunkport, Maine

 

A short stroll from Walker’s Point, where the ancestral estate of the Bush dynasty juts out commandingly into the Atlantic ocean, there is a political campaign slogan in urgent need of fresh clarification.

“Barbara’s husband for president,” joked the original badge from George HW Bush’s 1992 campaign – still proudly on display in the Bush family’s local lobster restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine.

That is, at least, until someone helpfully scrawled over the word ‘husband’ and added ‘son’ instead; updating the joke when George W Bush ran for the White House eight years later.

Within days, it will be time to update it again, to “Barbara’sother son”. Jeb Bush is set to announce – against his mother’s initial advice – that he will be joining the family tradition and seeking the Republican party nomination for president.

The Bush predilection for power is nothing new. Jeb’s grandfather, Prescott, was a US senator. Great-grandfather George Herbert Walker, developer of the Kennebunkport promontory that still bears his name, also founded a Wall Street bank.

But New England is overflowing with enough dynastic ambition right now to make even scions of the gilded age blush.

In nearby New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton has been retracing the steps of her husband in the Democratic primary race.

Ahead in the polls by more than 50 points over a clutch of possible rivals who haven’t even confirmed yet if they will dare run against her, the former first lady is touring furniture factories in towns like Keene, where, she confides, she once celebrated her 44th birthday helping Bill in a campaign that ultimately kicked Barbara’s husband out of office.

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“My husband was here 15 years ago,” Clinton was overheard telling kitchen workers at a Concord technical college as she tries to break the ice.

With Clinton’s experience as a secretary of state, senator and previous candidate, there is much more to her presidential résumé than the family name, but even Clinton’s biggest fans admit she lacks her husband’s common touch when it comes to retail politics.

Combine this with a tactical decision to withhold any major policy pronouncements until later in the campaign, and Clinton’s heavily manicured tour for now takes on more of the appearance of a royal visit than anything as grubby as appealing for votes.

“The press will have plenty of time to ask her questions,” her campaign chairman, John Podesta, told PBS recently, after complaints she was too aloof to even field enquiries from the media. “She wants to go directly to voters to listen to their stories, to understand what the challenges of their lives are, and that’s why she’s back in the van and on her way to New Hampshire.”

Driving to small-town venues – in a vehicle nicknamed the Scooby van by her campaign staff, but a good deal smarter in reality – is central to an effort to defuse the effects of family fame and associated reputation for snootiness.

It is hard to imagine many other politicians worrying about the optics of flying, but America’s new aristocrats appear more aware than most that privilege and fame is both their biggest asset and an awkward handicap.

“Everybody knows me as George’s boy. Barbara’s boy. W’s brother,” Bush complained to party activists in New Hampshire the previous Friday. “We’re not always like our brother or sister or mom and dad. We all have our own unique DNA and our own life experiences.”

But rather than run from the family name entirely, the former Florida governor is appealing instead to his party’s sense of noblesse oblige – crafting a new version of his brother’s somewhat faded brand of compassionate conservatism.

“I am blessed … It turns out I won the lottery, and I wish that everybody would have the kind of upbringing I had,” Jeb Bush explains at the event in Nashua. “My set of values believes that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line, not in the back of the line. And Republicans, I think, do better when we show our consciousness to do the exact same.”

Even those explicitly running as outsiders – crusaders against the “Washington machine”, as Kentucky senator Rand Paul puts it – have family connections to thank for their prominence.

Senator Paul’s father, Ron, may not have made it as far in his presidential campaigns as the two Bushes and Bill Clinton, but he bequeathed to his son a powerful legacy of goodwill among libertarian-leaning voters, without which it is hard to imagine him getting as far as he has done.

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Rand Paul with his father Ron at a campaign event in 2011. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

Ironically, all three of these dynastic candidates are seeking to distinguish themselves by stressing their credentials as cheerleaders for social mobility and change.

“Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” says Clinton.

Bush argues that America will succeed only if “more and more and more people have a chance at earned success”.

“So often, we pick politicians who all look alike,” adds Paul, also in Nashua. “They all sound alike. They all dress alike. And guess what? Nothing ever changes!”

It is true that the clans of 2016 are hardly the first political families to repeatedly seek high office. John, Robert and Ted Kennedy also collected two Senate seats and a presidency between them.

Last November’s midterm election witnessed an extraordinary array of established political dynasties vying for seats in Congress: the Nunn and Purdue families of Georgia, the Begichs of Alaska, the Pryors of Arkansas, the Landrieus of Louisiana and the Lundergans in Kentucky – to name just the races in swing states.

But the very real chance of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush both winning their parties’ presidential nominations in the same year is another leap entirely, raising the prospect of voters having no choice but to choose from members of two families that have already clocked up two decades at the top of US government since 1988.

Such unprecedented elitism in a country that prides itself as the “exceptional” democracy has begun to provoke uncomfortable comparisons from unlikely quarters.

“If the presidency were to pass back and forth between two or three families in any Latin American nation, we would call it an oligarchy,” wrote Gary Hart – a Democrat who might well have beaten George Bush Sr were it not for a sex scandal.

It has not gone unnoticed abroad, either. Clinton’s campaign has already become a source of endless fascination for the foreign media – attracting 140 journalists from around the world so far and adding another public relations headache for aides who have been forced to dramatically ration reporting space inside her events.

Yet the response in Washington has been strangely muted.

Though some presidential rivals, such as Republican Marco Rubio, are deliberately selling themselves as fresh faces, the consensus among Beltway pundits is that it might even help Bush and Clinton if the other ran – since their dynastic handicaps would cancel each other out.

A more cynical explanation might be that the incestuous political media world is too full of its own privilege to be that shocked. Prominent examples of family connections certainly abound: NBC’s congressional reporter is the son of the influential Meet the Press host Tim Russert; MSNBC’s flagship morning show is co-hosted by the daughter of former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski; and CNN’s morning rival is co-hosted by the son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo and the brother of current New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

But the cosiness of Washington’s political and media class may just as easily be regarded as a reflection of modern America.

One of the reasons Bush and Clinton have stressed the need to focus on “everyday Americans” is a growing consensus in both parties that the American dream is in trouble – that rising income inequality is choking off social mobility.

Could the current lack of mobility among presidential families simply be an extreme manifestation of the very thing they claim to want to tackle?

Academics who have studied the relationship closely say the reality is more complicated than the soundbites of this year’s presidential campaigns suggest. Widening income inequality in US is real enough – though more so among the very rich than the very poor – but evidence that this is leading to reduced chances of people climbing the social ladder, perhaps even all the way to the White House, is harder to come by.

“There are a bunch of papers now that show the United States isn’t all that different from Germany, France, Britain or even Sweden,” says Christopher Jencks, a leading social policy professor in the field at Harvard University.

“The revisionist line on this is going to end up being that there really isn’t that much evidence that we are much worse than these other countries.”

Which is not to say that politicians cannot or should not do anything about rising inequality for other reasons.

For Jencks and other liberal academics studying social mobility, the biggest area of potential concern is how soaring student debt is deterring poorer families from going to college and earning more in future: precisely the area that Hillary Clinton is being pushed hardest to address by those on the left of her party who want bold promises to subsidise tuition fees.

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Hillary and Bill Clinton step across the South Lawn at the White House in September 1998. Photograph: Richard Ellis/Zuma Press/Corbis

It may also simply be the case that the peculiarities of choosing presidential candidates say more about America’s broken political system than they do about whether the American dream is broken, too.

One factor in the swift rise of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in 2016 has been their ability to draw on advisers and donors built over many years by their predecessors.

Though her campaign is officially only a few days old, Clinton’s team has already been able to assemble more staff on the ground in New Hampshire than almost all the Republicans combined. Some 19 of the 21 experts identified as helping Jeb Bush on foreign policy worked for his father and brother.

“Running for president now starts a lot earlier and it requires this enormous organisation,” argues Jencks. “If you have already got relatives who have done a lot of this stuff, your ability to put that organisation together is a lot greater. The existence of these primaries makes inheriting the machine more of an asset because the primaries are playing a bigger role since the 1970s.”

Above all, the family name is a shortcut to national recognition, something that the Marco Rubios of the race may need months and many millions of dollars to match – although the inherited advantage may evaporate as fast as Clinton’s did in 2008 if newcomers can gain enough momentum to turn voters against the dynasties. That is a factor Barack Obama used to great effect and Rubio and others will try to emulate this time.

“Brands have become more important,” adds Jencks. “It’s a huge advantage to have everyone know who you are. You don’t have to spend as much money to get there.”

Back in Kennebunkport, it’s certainly clear that the Bush dynasty has a brand. Much of the town’s thriving tourism industry trades off its proximity the family summer residence.

Yet the Bush ties to socially liberal Maine have also helped balance out the family’s more conservative roots in Texas.

In the Kennebunkport general store, HB Provisions, there is still a surprised delight that George HW Bush agreed to serve as a witness at the same-sex marriage of its two owners, Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, in 2013 – a scenario that has flummoxed many candidates in the current crop of conservatives.

But the biggest shock is that a family dynasty that has proved so ruthlessly effective at capturing political power can otherwise prove so “surprisingly normal”.

“We were just chit-chatting away,” recalls local baker Ellen Hansbury. “Then someone came up to me and said: ‘Hey, do you know who that is? That’s Jeb Bush’s wife!’”

A clue, perhaps, to the next campaign badge being readied.

 

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Earth Day: The History of a Movement

Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.

The Idea

 

The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

Earth Day Today

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.

The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

“Frequently Asked Questions”

When is Earth Day?

Earth Day is honored around the world on April 22, although larger events such as festivals and rallies are often organized for the weekends before or after April 22. Many communities also observe Earth Week or Earth Month, organizing a series of environmental activities throughout the month of April.

Why do we need an Earth Day?

Because it works! Earth Day broadens the base of support for environmental programs, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism around the world through a broad range of events and activities. Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. More than a billion people participate in our campaigns every year.

What can I do for Earth Day?

The possibilities for getting involved are endless! Volunteer. Go to a festival. Install solar panels on your roof. Organize an event in your community. Change a habit. Help launch a community garden. Communicate your priorities to your elected representatives. Do something nice for the Earth, have fun, meet new people, and make a difference. But you needn’t wait for April 22! Earth Day is Every Day. To build a better future, we all must commit to protect our environment year-round.

What is Earth Day Network?

Founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network (EDN) promotes year-round environmental citizenship and action, worldwide. Earth Day Network is a driving force, steering environmental awareness around the world. Through Earth Day Network, activists connect, interact and impact their communities, and create positive change in local, national, and global policies. EDN’s international network reaches over 22,000 organizations in 192 countries, while the domestic program assists over 30,000 educators, coordinating thousands of community development and environmental protection activities throughout the year.

 

 

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The bench is out there: Democrats hunt for a new generation – and Clinton’s VP

 

As 40-something conservatives line up for the White House and Hillary Clinton stumbles over issues that swing young voters, liberals swear help is on the way

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Julian Castro is seen as an early contender to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate. “She needs a little tomorrow to offset yesterday,” a longtime friend tells the Guardian. “He provides a perfect complement if she needs one.” Photograph via hudopa / flickr

 

The campaign for US president is barely a week old, but 43-year-old Marco Rubio added a new wrinkle with three words: “Yesterday is over.”

In declaring his candidacy the day after Hillary Clinton began the race for the White House in earnest, the Florida senator previewed a key line of attack that Republicans are already using against the 67-year-old Clinton, casting her as a “leader of yesterday”.

Analysis Hillary Clinton: six big questions liberals want her to answer – now

Immigration reform, LGBT rights and dark money are sources of concern for many on the left as the Democrat’s campaign gets off the ground

But in contrasting himself – and what on Friday night he called people “like myself” – with the decades-old familiarity of a potential Clinton-Bush redux election that could have symptoms of early-onset voter fatigue, Rubio was also demonstrating a broader argument from Republicans about what they say no star Democrat has right now: youth.

Clinton and other prospective contenders for the 2016 Democratic nomination, such as vice-president Joe Biden, former Virginia senator Jim Webb and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, are all within a few years of 70, critics have warned. Now,as a historically young Republican field shapes up alongside Clinton in New Hampshire this weekend, many voters are wondering not just about who else might run against her but where all the young, rising liberal politicians have gone.

Thirtysomething aides in Washington and political veterans across the country, however, swear the Democrats don’t have an age problem – the next generation, they say, is simply waiting in the wings.

Indeed, as Clinton’s confidantes and campaign wranglers try to fend off concerns that the former secretary of state will struggle connecting with young voters, one of the left-wing leaders emerging from Barack Obama’s administration is already favored in some circles to be her running mate.

“It’s a bit of mythology that the Democrats don’t have a bench,” a national Democratic operative told the Guardian, insisting that the party’s candidates-in-waiting are not just young but also diverse. “There are folks out there, but there isn’t an opening in the primary in a way that there was even in 2008. [Clinton] is very popular with primary voters and cleared the field by nature by that.”

The operative, who requested anonymity to speak freely about national Democratic priorities, added that young voters are “the ultimate values voters” – preferring issues over parties.

“Hillary Clinton is very popular with young voters in poll after poll and it’s because of where she stands on the issues, plus there is the historic nature about her candidacy that young people gravitate towards as well,” the operative said.

The historic appeal of a first woman president

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Hillary Clinton posed for selfies and visited a community college in Iowa during her first week on the campaign trail – and found herself on the defensive regarding issues like immigration and same-sex marriage, which can make young voters susceptible to switching allegiances. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Neera Tanden, a longtime Clinton adviser and president of the Center for American Progress, honed in on that history – the potential for a first woman president – as a generational change of its own.

“I’ve always marveled about how we’ve talked past Hillary’s gender – it’s also representative of diversity and inclusiveness to have a woman president,” Tanden told the Guardian. “I don’t think we should just quickly cast a woman president as not being a fundamental change.”

Polling shows that voters, particularly those aged between 18 and 29, are warming up to the historic element of Clinton’s candidacy – an element many Clinton watchers believe she downplayed to her detriment in the 2008 campaignbut that her team has openly embraced this time around.

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New Jersey senator Cory Booker, 45, video-chats with college students about net neutrality. Photograph via sencorybooker / flickr

Clinton also wallops every potential primary opponent for president in most polls, an advantage that has kept many challengers at bay – including younger politicians who have plenty of time to make a run for the White House.

Democratic aides, who strongly dispute the charge that their party lacks younger candidates who might seek the White House or a powerful Senate seat in leading a potential majority comeback in Congress, listed off a host of prolific Democrats under the age of 50: New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and his brother, Texas representative Joaquin Castro.

Had Clinton not entered the race on Sunday, they argued, any one of those names could have entered the fray.

The threat of issue-addicted young voters

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Hillary Clinton, as her campaign launch video presented her – and as Saturday Night Live did. Photograph: YouTube; NBC

Democrats also pointed out that Republicans have struggled to appeal to so-called millennials because of their positions on women’s reproductive rights as well as same-sex marriage and immigration.

While the majority of young voters lean Democratic, some political watchers and pollsters have warned that Clinton doesn’t necessarily have millennials wrapped up in 2016 after struggling in 2008 with a voting bloc that twice proved critical in boosting Obama.

The more younger voters get to know a candidate, pollsters say, the more susceptible they become to switching allegiances. And what many know of Clinton is largely drawn from the image projected in the media – less cable news than the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, which last saw a Clinton impersonator growling in a “selfie” video to voters.

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Martin O’Malley, 52, at a marriage equality event while Maryland governor in 2012. “I’m glad Secretary Clinton’s come around to the right positions on these issues,” he told the Guardian on Thursday. Photograph via governoromalley / flickr

Getting out ahead of the skepticism, Clinton kicked off her campaign on a two-day listening tour with voters in the early battleground state of Iowa; she will head to New Hampshire for similar events next week. In addition toembracing a more populist rhetoric with echoes of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, she has also shifted her stance on same-sex marriage and immigration reform.

In a sign that Clinton herself could be vulnerable to a challenge from the left on those two issues, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, perhaps her leading potential Democratic opponent, has now taken his first thinly veiled swipe at Clinton by confronting her shifting positions on them.

“I’m glad Secretary Clinton’s come around to the right positions on these issues,” O’Malley said on Thursday, in response to a question from the Guardian about Clinton’s sudden evolution on same-sex marriage as a constitutional right and documentation for illegal immigrants. “I believe that we are best as a party when we lead with our principles and not according to the polls.

“Leadership is about making the right decision, and the best decision before sometimes it becomes entirely popular.

The tomorrow progressive – and a vice-presidential option

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Julian Castro, 40, at a Department of Housing and Urban Development event this month with vice-president Joe Biden, 72. Photograph: hudopa / flickr

Some argue Clinton could go a step further than issue-by-issue messaging by roping in a younger Democratic up-and-comer at the top of her ticket. Many have already focused on 40-year-old Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor who delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention – the same speech that brought Obama into the national spotlight eight years earlier.

Now the youngest member of the Obama cabinet as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Castro is already seen as an early frontrunner for the coveted spot of Clinton’s running mate.

“She needs a little tomorrow to offset yesterday. He provides a perfect complement if she needs one,” Evan Smith, who has known Castro for over a decade and serves as the editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, told the Guardian. “He presents a fresh face to counter what many perceive as an unfresh face.”

People who view Clinton as too captive of the center might like to have Castro on the ticket – he’s a progressive.

Evan Smith

While Clinton must contend with her image as a creature of Washington, Castro has a compelling personal story – similar to the one that endeared Obama to voters in 2008.

 

Castro and his brother were raised by a single mother who was a prominent activist in San Antonio. It represents “a compelling narrative with regard to his ability to represent a new generation,” said Walter Wilson, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas-San Antonio. “That’s part of what people see in him, in addition to the fact that he’s simply well-spoken and attractive as a candidate.”

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Castro has already emerged as a favorite in Democratic circles for his record on issues such as poverty, education, healthcare and workforce development. At HUD, he has focused on extending housing vouchers to domestic abuse victims and ending veteran homelessness.

“People who view Secretary Clinton as too captive of the center might actually like to have Julian Castro on the ticket – he’s a progressive,” said Smith.

Castro has deflected questions on his political ambitions, but many have viewed his move out of Texas and directly into the Obama administration as a hop-step introduction to national politics.

 

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ISIS Camp found near Texas border, possible attack plot on Fort Bliss

Terrorists taking advantage of the porous border between the U.S. and Mexico has always been of great concern.  Yesterday, this fear became more real when the Mexican Army discovered an ISIS compound just a few miles from El Paso, Texas.

According to a report by Judicial Watch, the terrorist base was discovered in an area known as “Anapra,” which is only eight miles from the United States border.  This area has been long associated with Cartel activity and it is believed they could have established some sort of relationship with them.

During the joint raid last week, Mexican Army and law enforcement discovered plans/maps of Fort Bliss, documents in Arabic, and prayer rugs.  According to Mexican law enforcement, the Anapra area is controlled by the Juárez Cartel which has made patrolling and monitoring the area difficult and almost impossible.

According to the report:

“According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.”

Mexican intelligence agencies believe that ISIS intends to use railways and airports around Santa Teresa, NM (a US port) to penetrate the United States.  Supposedly ISIS has been conducting reconnaissance of many U.S. targets such as the White Sands Missile Range, Fort Bliss, nearby universities, power plants, and other government facilities near Alamogordo, NM.

Despite Judicial Watch sourcing their information from a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector, the Mexican authorities have disputed the findings.

“The government of Mexico dismisses and categorically denies each of the statements made today by the organization Judicial Watch on the alleged presence of ISIS’s operating cells throughout the border region, particularly at Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua – El Paso, Texas,” Ariel Moutsatsos-Morales, Mexico’s minister for press and public affairs, told The Washington Times.

 

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Iranian president says no nuclear agreement without end to all sanctions

Hassan Rouhani statement comes as Barack Obama agrees that US Congress should have power to review any deal with Iran

Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech: ‘If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement.’
Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech: ‘If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement.’ Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP

The Iranian president has said Tehran would not accept a comprehensive nuclear deal with major powers if all sanctions imposed on Tehran were not lifted, state television has reported.

“If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,” Hassan Rouhanisaid in a televised speech on Wednesday. “The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran.”

Iran wants sanctions that include nuclear-related UN resolutions as well as US and EU nuclear-related economic sanctions to be lifted immediately. The US says sanctions against Iran will be removed gradually.

In what was seen as a setback for Barack Obama, the US president agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review any deal with Iran, backing down to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party.

The move blocks Obama’s ability to waive many US sanctions on Tehran while Congress reviews the deal. It also allows Congress a final vote on whether to lift sanctions imposed by US legislators.

Rouhani said this was an internal issue for Washington. “What the US Senate, Congress and others say is not our problem. We want mutual respect … We are in talks with the major powers and not with the Congress,” Rouhani said, adding that Iran wanted to end its isolation by having “constructive interaction with the world and not confrontation”.

The Israeli intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, said on Wednesday that his country was pleased with the Congress deal. Israel was critical of a preliminary accord reached between Iran and world powers on 2 April, saying it would not prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, but it has never welcomed intrusive inspections and has in the past kept some sites secret.

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for scheduled technical talks, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

Talks with the IAEA are parallel to Iran’s nuclear negotiations, with the powers seeking a permanent agreement on curbing the country’s nuclear activities by 30 June. Iran and major powers will resume talks on 21 April.

 

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16 Years of Clinton Presidents? 16 years after his impeachment trial, SHE’S BACK!

Hillary Clinton launches second presidential bid

Hillary Clinton put an end to months of speculation on Sunday by officially announcing her candidacy for president, giving the former secretary of state another shot at cracking the highest glass ceiling in American politics.

The initial word came in an email to supporters from John Podesta, a longtime Clinton ally, thena video launched on YouTube and a newly minted Facebook page.

“I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president,” Clinton said in the video. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion — so you can do more than just get by — you can get ahead. And stay ahead. Because when families are strong, America is strong. So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote, because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”

The video was shot last week, a campaign official told CNN. Clinton’s part was shot in New York with the rest of the video shot in places including Iowa and New Hampshire, a campaign official told CNN.

Clinton was at her home in New York for the launch of her campaign. She will be making some calls to top Democrats Sunday, as will her senior staff, according to a campaign official.

Who is Hillary Clinton?

Who is Hillary Clinton?

INTERACTIVE: Hillary Clinton tries again

Following the video release, the Clinton campaign sent our a press release detailing her next steps.

“She’s committed to spending the next six to eight weeks in a ‘ramp up’ period where her team will start to build a nation-wide grassroots organization, and she will spend her time engaging directly with voters,” according to the release. “In May, once her supporters in all 50 states are organized for house parties or to watch over live streams, Hillary will hold her first rally and deliver the speech to kick off her campaign.”

She’ll travel to Monticello, Iowa on Tuesday before heading to Norwalk on Wednesday, according to a campaign aide.

Clinton’s second presidential run is another chapter in a life that has seen the former first lady go from a child raised in a conservative home outside Chicago to one of the most recognizable women in the world. Clinton became a household name in 1992 when her husband, Bill Clinton, won the presidency.

Since then, Hillary Clinton has become a force in her own right, serving in the Senate for eight years, unsuccessfully running for president in 2008 and leading the State Department from 2009 to 2013.

Over the coming months, Clinton’s campaign will plot how to reintroduce the former first lady — on her own terms — to the American people. Democrats close to Clinton have started to call her the most unknown famous person in the world. Their argument is that people know of Clinton — she has near 100% name recognition in most polls — but they don’t know her story.

A Mr. and Mrs. President?

A Mr. and Mrs. President?

Using small, controlled events with everyday people, the campaign will hone in on Clinton’s personal story, using themes such as her Midwestern upbringing, her mother’s perseverance in the face of neglectful parents and Clinton’s own time raising a daughter to cast the presidential hopeful in a more favorable, softer light than she was seen during much of her 2008 presidential run.

Clinton’s candidacy has been widely anticipated. Even since before Clinton left the State Department in early 2013, speculation that she would take another shot at the White House has followed her.

For her part, Clinton willingly teased those expectations for the better part of the last two years as she crisscrossed the country delivering paid speeches, selling her new memoir and stumping for Democrats during the 2014 midterm elections. Throughout all of it, Clinton was consistently peppered with questions about her presidential ambitions and plans for the future. She was reluctant to tease a bid in early 2014 — telling an audience in New Orleans that she wasn’t even thinking about a run — but grew less coy this year when she began to embrace the expectations around her.

Social media reacts to Clinton’s announcement (and that new logo)

Prohibitive favorite

Clinton, the first to enter the Democratic presidential field, enters the race as the prohibitive favorite for the nomination, even though some of her poll numbers have slipped of late, likely because of a nagging email controversy.

A CNN/ORC International poll in March found that Clinton held a 50-point lead over her closest competitor, Vice President Joe Biden. What’s more, the three Democrats most actively teasing a presidential run — former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — all received no more than 3% support among Democrats and independents that lean Democratic.

Clinton’s dominance in the polls — along with the work of a number of outside pro-Clinton organizations — has helped freeze the Democratic field. But a dozen or so Republicans may ultimately line up for the chance to take Clinton on.

Ahead of her expected announcement, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released a YouTube video Sunday attempting to connect Clinton to the “failed big government policies” of President Barack Obama.

Though she just announced her candidacy on Sunday, she is already surrounded by a sizable Democratic operation; Clinton has had around 30 people “volunteering” on her behalf in recent weeks.

Podesta, her anticipated campaign chairman, and Robby Mook, her expected campaign manager, began assembling a campaign apparatus this year, and a number of political operatives moved to New York in March and April to work for the nascent campaign. All of the new hires, however, have been considered volunteers until this point, meaning they have not been paid for weeks of work.

The road to Clinton’s second presidential run has been far from flawless.

Democrats close to Clinton say the former first lady had preferred waiting until summer to make her presidential ambitions official and had a number of top aides discouraging her from getting into the race at all. But once Clinton decided to run, the start of 2015 — a period defined by multiple controversies around the former first family — crystallized for Clinton and her team why a campaign apparatus was critically needed.

Her family’s foundation, the Clinton Foundation, came under fire this year for not properly vetting foreign donations while Clinton was secretary of state. The controversy was a headache for Clinton aides and supporters who were caught somewhat flat-footed, and provided Republicans a tailor-made opportunity to charge the former first family with cronyism and selling access.

Clinton resigned from the foundation’s board on Sunday.

Emails

March found Clinton at the center of her own controversy over her exclusive use of private — rather than official — email during her time running the State Department. Republicans seized on the news and Clinton was forced to respond in a quickly organized press conference at the United Nations.

“With respect to any sort of future issues, I trust the American people to make their decisions about political and public matters,” Clinton said in response to a question about her presidential aspiration at the press conference. “I look forward to having a discussion about that.”

Republicans are near certain that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. On a surrogate call preparing Republicans for her announcement, Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee communications director, said that he felt Clinton losing the nomination was as likely as him “getting struck by lightning riding a unicorn.”

Republicans have been near solely focused on Clinton for more than a year, knocking the former secretary of state on different controversies and looking to cast her as an out-of-touch plutocrat unable to connect with the needs of everyday Americans.

Clinton’s recent controversies over the foundation and her emails have already featured prominently in attacks against her. After news broke on Friday that Clinton was announcing, the Republican National Committee spent more than $100,000 on a web ad that hits Clinton for her recent controversies. The ad is targeted at independent voters in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa.

Our attacks “ultimately have to lead to questions that Hillary can’t answer,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and a longtime Clinton foil. “I think if we keep her in a situation where she can never do a press conference and she can never take questions, she shrinks. … I am pretty optimistic that she will shrink steadily throughout the next year.”

 

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Building Online Presence – a Guide for Authors

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By Corrin Foster, Greenleaf Book Group

Nearly 1.47 billion people utilize social media worldwide. Authors now have the unique opportunity to create a platform and generate buzz for their book by tapping into an engaged and passionate demographic of readers. As social media continues to evolve and new platforms are introduced, it can be daunting to identify which social networks an author should use to promote their brand and how best to engage with the community active on those channels.

By taking the time to identify, build, and engage with a community through blogging and social media, authors can discover where the conversation is happening, become an integral part of the conversation, and generate a loyal and engaged following all their own.

Blogging
Authors should think of their online presence as a wheel. Their blog is the hub of the wheel and their social networks form the spokes radiating out from the center.

As the hub of an author’s online presence, a blog should include original and timely content to establish their expertise, highlight links to all social media channels, feature prominently a way for readers to subscribe to a feed or newsletter, and include a call to action welcoming comments and opinions for each post.

Blogging is no easy task, but the most important thing to remember when creating blog content is consistency. When readers know what to expect (expert content organized around a central theme) and when to expect it (posting on a regular schedule), they begin to seek out that expert content and share it with their community.

Social Media
Once an author has established their blog as content hub and has been blogging consistently, it’s time to get the wheel moving with social media.

Before becoming overwhelmed by the number of social networks and their intricacies, know that authors don’t need to be everywhere—they just need to be where the conversation is happening.

Begin by evaluating each social network; Pew’s Social Networking Fact Sheet is an invaluable resource for evaluating social media usage trends and user demographics. Here is a snapshot of the basic demographics:

  • Facebook skews female at 76 percent of users; fastest growing demographic is adults aged 65+; 77 percent of users earn less than $30,000/year
  • Twitter skews primarily male; 36 percent of users engage multiple times daily; and 27 percent of users earn more than $50,000/year
  • LinkedIn is more popular than Twitter among adults; accounts for 50 percent of college-educated internet users; only 13 percent of users engage daily and those users tend to be executive level
  • Pinterest is dominated by women; most active users are aged 18–29; income levels are split between limited and affluent

Based on those statistics, LinkedIn is a natural fit for a leadership expert because of the direct access to managers and C-suite executives. Those same managers and executives probably aren’t browsing Pinterest, so spending valuable time and resources developing that platform may not be necessary.

Authors can also harness the power of the hashtag to review conversations on various social networks. Verify that the conversations you wish to be part of are truly happening and determine how you can add value to those conversations.

Connect with Your Core Audience
Once an author has identified which social networks they should utilize to reach their core audience, it’s time to build more momentum in the wheel by optimizing profiles, connecting with relevant influencers, and starting to share content.

It’s critical that authors familiarize themselves with the best practices of their social network(s) of choice. Use great resources, such as The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, and Friends with Benefits by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo, to help you navigate.

Above all, remember the 80/20 rule of sharing—80 percent of what is shared should be promoting others and 20 percent should be self-promotional. Social media at its best exists to foster conversation and engage new people and audiences, not to toot horns.

Engage Your Community
At this point, an author should have a firm grasp of where their core audience is engaging, how to establish a robust and consistent presence on those networks, and how to be comfortable sharing content. Now it’s time for others to hop on that wheel. Here are some things to remember about engagement:

  • Follow back and interact. If someone makes the first move to connect, be responsive and reciprocate. This is how relationships are formed.
  • Be proactive. Monitor conversations and don’t be afraid to make the first move. When establishing a social media presence, remember that the conversation won’t just come to you—you must go to the conversation.
  • Offer help. Answering a question or providing a resource is the quickest and easiest way to establish expertise. Everyone loves a content concierge.

The Golden Takeaway
There’s a community out there for every author and expert. By establishing a consistent and content-rich blog as your hub and giving that content and messaging momentum through the spokes of thoughtfully selected social media networks, you’ll be able to take your brand where you want to go.

Corrin Foster is Marketing Manager at Greenleaf Book Group, a publisher and distributor specializing in the growth of independent authors and small presses. Learn more at www.greenleafbookgroup.com.

 

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