Monday, March 14, 2016

Hillary News & Views 3.14: AIDS Activism, CNN Town Hall, Ohio Democratic Party Dinner


Today’s Hillary News & Views begins with Clinton’s lengthy expansion of her apology for crediting Nancy Reagan with AIDS activism.

First, some background, via Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:
Earlier today, at Nancy Reagan's funeral, Hillary Clinton said: "It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan—in particular Mrs. Reagan—we started a national conversation, when, before, nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and, you know, that, too, is something that I really appreciate—with her very effective low-key advocacy, but it penetrated the public conscience, and people began to say, 'Hey, we have to do something about this, too.'"

This is aggressively wrong.

President Ronald Reagan pretty famously did not even publicly say the word "AIDS" during the first seven years of his presidency, despite the fact that AIDS (then called GRID) was identified in 1981, his first year in office.

It was only after HIV/AIDS activist and actress Elizabeth Taylor persuaded President Reagan to attend an event, nearly two years after their mutual friend Rock Hudson had died of AIDS, along with more than 20,000 other Americans, that he finally said the word aloud.

It's tough to "start a conversation" about something you refuse to even say, or acknowledge the existence of.

Further, Clinton's contention that "nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it" is a gross erasure of all the HIV/AIDS activists and patients who sure as shit were talking about it and doing everything they could about it, including pleading with the Reagan administration (for a start) to do something about it.

The problem wasn't so much that it was "difficult for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s," but that the people in power found it "difficult" to listen. Or care.

And insomuch as it was difficult for people with HIV/AIDS to talk about it, that was because of the stigma around HIV/AIDS that persists to this day. Which the Reagan administration was key in facilitating and maintaining with their silence and hostility.
Clinton offered a succinct apology later the same day, but it didn’t indicate that she knew the issue wasn't just praising Reagan, but also disappearing the activists who did the heavy lifting, which is an ongoing issue in progressive circles.

Clinton did a lot better on Saturday, writing for Medium:
Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS. Since then, I’ve heard from countless people who were devastated by the loss of friends and loved ones, and hurt and disappointed by what I said. As someone who has also lost friends and loved ones to AIDS, I understand why. I made a mistake, plain and simple.
I want to use this opportunity to talk not only about where we’ve come from, but where we must go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day.
The AIDS crisis in America began as a quiet, deadly epidemic. Because of discrimination and disregard, it remained that way for far too long. When many in positions of power turned a blind eye, it was groups like ACT UP, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and others that came forward to shatter the silence — because as they reminded us again and again, Silence = Death. They organized and marched, held die-ins on the steps of city halls and vigils in the streets. They fought alongside a few courageous voices in Washington, like U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, who spoke out from the floor of Congress.
Then there were all the people whose names we don’t often hear today — the unsung heroes who fought on the front lines of the crisis, from hospital wards and bedsides, some with their last breath. Slowly, too slowly, ignorance was crowded out by information. People who had once closed their eyes opened their hearts.
If not for those advocates, activists, and ordinary, heroic people, we would not be where we are in preventing and treating HIV and AIDS. Their courage — and their refusal to accept silence as the status quo — saved lives.
We’ve come a long way. But we still have work to do to eradicate this disease for good and to erase the stigma that is an echo of a shameful and painful period in our country’s history.
This issue matters to me deeply. And I’ve always tried to do my part in the fight against this disease, and the stigma and pain that accompanies it. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, when my husband accepted the nomination for president, we marked a break with the past by having two HIV-positive speakers — the first time that ever happened at a national convention. As First Lady, I brought together world leaders to strategize and coordinate efforts to take on HIV and AIDS around the world. In the Senate, I put forward legislation to expand global AIDS research and assistance and to increase prevention and education, and I proudly voted for the creation of PEPFAR and to defend and protect the Ryan White Act. And as secretary of state, I launched a campaign to usher in an AIDS-free generation through prevention and treatment, targeting the populations at greatest risk of contracting HIV.
The AIDS crisis looks very different today. There are more options for treatment and prevention than ever before. More people with HIV are leading full and happy lives. But HIV and AIDS are still with us. They continue to disproportionately impact communities of color, transgender people, young people and gay and bisexual men. There are still 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, with about 50,000 people newly diagnosed each year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost 60 percent of people with HIV are women and girls. Even though the tools exist to end this epidemic once and for all, there are still far too many people dying today.
That is absolutely inexcusable.
I believe there’s even more we can — and must — do together. For starters, let’s continue to increase HIV and AIDS research and invest in the promising innovations that research is producing. Medications like PrEP are proving effective in preventing HIV infection; we should expand access to that drug for everyone, including at-risk populations. We should call on Republican governors to put people’s health and well-being ahead of politics and extend Medicaid, which would provide health care to those with HIV and AIDS.
We should call on states to reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws. We should increase global funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. And we should cap out-of-pocket expenses and drug costs—and hold companies like Turing and Valeant accountable when they attempt to gouge patients by jacking up the price of lifesaving medications.
We’re still surrounded by memories of loved ones lost and lives cut short. But we’re also surrounded by survivors who are fighting harder than ever. We owe it to them and to future generations to continue that fight together. For the first time, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. As president, I promise you that I will not let up until we reach that goal. We will not leave anyone behind.

Clinton participated in yet another televised Town Hall last night.

CNN reports:
Clinton accused Trump of "political arson."
"He has lit the fire and then he throws his hands up and claims that he shouldn't be held responsible," she said.
"He has been incredibly bigoted towards so many groups," Clinton continued. "You don't make America great by tearing down everything that made America great."
Clinton played up her tenure as secretary of state in arguing that Trump's incendiary rhetoric undermines "our standing in the world."
"I'm having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me and stop Donald Trump," she said.
She reminded the audience that so far in the primary process, she's received more votes than anyone else -- including Trump and Sanders.
And she said she's the best bet to stand up to Trump in the general election because the Republicans who have "been after me for 25 years" have already thrown the entire book at her.
"In the course of dealing with all of this incoming fire from them, I have developed a pretty thick skin. I am not new to the national arena, and I think whoever goes up against Donald Trump better be ready," Clinton said.
In the middle of her comments about creating jobs in rural, predominantly white portions of the United States, Clinton uttered a line that Republicans will be more than happy to run again and again.
The clip that will make it into attack ads: "We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."
The broader context is that Clinton introduced that comment by saying she is "the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean, renewable energy as the key into coal country," and that she has a plan to help those who stand to lose jobs.
"We're going to make it clear that we don't want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health -- often losing their lives -- to turn on our lights and power our factories. Now we've got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don't want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy which we relied on."
During a debate in Miami last week, Clinton said she is "not a natural politician" in the same vein as Presidents Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Sunday, she explained the comment, saying that soaring rhetoric will never be her strong suit.
"I am much better when I actually have a job to do," Clinton said, "rather than trying to get the job."
Clinton also spoke at a state dinner for Ohio Democrats. reports:
Clinton had much more time than Sanders and began her speech by thanking a list of Ohio elected officials -- statewide and local. Clinton mentioned Tamir Rice and also spoke at length about trade and the auto industry bailout, which played well to the pro-union crowd.
The loudest applause of the night came when Clinton indirectly mentioned Senate Bill 5, the 2011 law that would have curtailed collective bargaining rights in Ohio.
"When the chips were down, you did not let Gov. John Kasich drown out the voices of Ohio's public servants," Clinton said to the loudest applause of the night. "Now let's stand up for all unions nationwide because when unions are strong, families are strong, the middle class is strong, and America is strong."
"The difference between Sen. Sanders and I debating and disagreeing about issues is we're both presenting ideas," Clinton said. "The other side is presenting insults that get us nowhere."
Clinton said presidential candidates owe it to voters to offer "a credible strategy designed for the world we live in now," referring to Sanders' plans for free college and universal healthcare.
"America is a big, complicated country facing big, complicated challenges," Clinton said. "We can't afford a single issue strategy or a single-issue president. Knocking down barriers means we can't just talk about economic inequality, we also have to take on racial inequality."
Time reports:
“I want to be very clear. I know there’s been a lot of discussion in the last week or so about trade. And I’d like to take the opportunity tonight to set the record straight,” Clinton said, challenging Sanders’ efforts to cast her as a job-exporting enemy of unions.
“To every worker in Ohio, and every worker across America, let me say this: If I am fortunate enough to be your President, I will stand with you and I will have your back and I will stop dead in its tracks any trade deal that hurts America and hurts American workers.”
“The good jobs of the future are either going to end up in Asia, or Europe or here,” Clinton said. “I will tell you: We not only want them, but we will make sure that the jobs end up right here in Ohio and in the rest of our country.”
She then cast Sanders as “a single-issue candidate.” “I think we need a President who is not just opposed to trade,” she said. “We need a President who knows how to compete against the rest of the world, and win for America and win for America’s workers.”
Clinton may well lose Ohio, a state she carried during her 2008 race against Obama. But it’s clear she’s already preparing to be the nominee thanks to an advantage among the delegate count that puts her at a distinct advantage.
“What we’re hearing from Donald Trump is something else entirely. Donald Trump is running a cynical campaign of hate and fear to get votes. He’s encouraging violence and chaos to get votes. He’s pitting Americans against each other to get votes,” Clinton said before heading to Illinois and North Carolina. She was set to watch the results in Florida, which also votes on Tuesday.
She urged her supporters to vote down his approach. “At our best, Americans have rejected demagogues and fear-mongers. You don’t make America great by getting rid of everything that has made America great in the first place,” she said. “Donald Trump is not who we are.”
Kansas City Star endorses:
She brings the most stellar resume of any candidate in either party.
Clinton served eight years in the U.S. Senate, where she gained a reputation for digging deep into issues and policy. After Barack Obama took office in 2009 he tapped Clinton, his primary opponent, to be his secretary of state. She represented the nation admirably in that capacity and honed invaluable foreign policy experience.
Calling for a political revolution, as Sanders does repeatedly, is not the same as presenting a plan. Clinton’s contention that she is the candidate who can best get things done seems legitimate.
As a former first lady, Clinton understands the demands and pitfalls of the presidency. Her attempt during her husband’s first term to reform the U.S. health care system, though hugely unsuccessful, gives her a thorough understanding of a complex topic that will continue to be front and center in the next presidency.
Anita Finlay writes:
The New York Times editorial board, after penning a glowing endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, now chastises her for going hard at her opponent Bernie Sanders at last Sunday’s debate.  If I have this correctly, Sanders can daily infer she is a corrupt oligarch – obfuscating her excellent record – and she must stand there while he does it, never attack him and make sure to be the “unity candidate” to boot.  Sanders promised not to run a negative campaign. That went out the window as soon as 1) he got addicted to the roar of the crowd and 2) saw that despite his huge rallies, he was losing.  Why isn’t The New York Times telling Senator Sanders to rein it in with baseless character attacks on the likely Democratic nominee?
This is yet another of the sexist hoops Hillary has to jump through in order to be considered acceptable to the mainstream press.
As well, reporters like MSNBC’s Chris Hayes have recently taken to handwringing about the endorsements of unpledged super delegates  (comprised of senior party officials), likely because Hillary has 461 of them and Sanders has 25.  Yet in 2008, super delegates are the reason that then-Senator Obama was able to lay claim to the nomination at the end of a long, razor close primary contest, as neither he nor Hillary had enough pledged delegates to claim the nod outright.
Hillary now leads Sanders by far more pledged delegates than Obama led Hillary at any point in 2008. Yet there was no handwringing as to the outcome then. In fact, Hillary and her supporters were told in no uncertain terms by every mainstream media outlet and pundit to sit down, shut up and “play by the rules.”  She did, insisting her supporters follow suit. In fact, she proposed Senator Obama be nominated by acclamation at the Convention, not only surrendering her near 2,000 delegates, but later making 180 campaign appearances to help get him elected. Mainstream media has not given her credit for the same, many still besmirching her as “ego driven and power hungry.”
Why are women candidates expected to serve up softballs when men can go for the jugular without reproach? Pundits like to pretend Hillary is “dull,” while at the same time excoriating her for not playing “mommy” and cleaning up after everyone else. They criticize her for being a hausfrau and get pissy when she doesn’t act like one. Goldilocks’ porridge will always be too hot or too cold.
When David Axelrod, Bob Woodward and others criticize her “tone”, her voice, her “shouting,” once I stop steaming, I take it as a compliment – clearly this means they have so little to criticize in terms of her preparedness and policies, they must resort to nitpicking and identity politics.
Focused on minutia that will never matter a damn to the American people, tony pundits can afford to be elitist.  We cannot.
Maybe it’s time we started appreciating our embarrassment of riches with a more than capable candidate and stop allowing media to exercise outsize influence over our elections. The expectations game hurts us, not them.
Via Aphra_Behn, an article from Irish America that recalls Clinton’s role in Ireland’s peace process, back when she was the First Lady:
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in the Irish peace process is often underestimated but there were few people more important.
Hillary Clinton played a leading role in creating the links between the White House and leaders on the ground that would be so important in subsequent years.
Her visits to the Falls and Shankill Roads in Belfast to meet working-class women from both communities were especially important. She helped empower key women at a time in the conflict when women’s voices were hardly heard. She played a major role in setting the groundwork for the formation of parties such as the Women’s Coalition, which was to play an essential role in cross-community bridge building in the vital years when the peace process was being bedded down.
On her first visit to Northern Ireland in 1995 she made the acquaintance of Joyce McCartan, an extraordinary Protestant woman married to a Catholic, whose own son had been killed in the Troubles.
As her biography noted, McCartan lost 17 members of her wider family during the Troubles including, in May 1987, her youngest son, Gary, who at age 17 was murdered in the family home by loyalist paramilitaries. McCartan herself heard the shots.
The incredible personal tragedy fueled McCartan’s desire to find a way to stop the violence. She founded The Lamplighter drop-in center, which became a guiding light amid the encircling gloom for families weary or fearful of the Troubles who wanted to talk and mingle.
In November 1995, McCartan, the center, and its Lamplighter Cafe, were in the world’s spotlight when First Lady Hillary Clinton dropped in for tea and a chat with a group of women from varying backgrounds.
Hillary later described how after the chat and tea, McCartan “gave me an old battered aluminum teapot – which kept the tea very warm, which is what I first noticed about it – that I took with me to the White House where I used it every single day in the second-floor private kitchen.”
The teapot story was often subsequently referenced by Hillary. She established the Vital Voices initiative in the North, which brought mostly, but not exclusively, women at community level together and provided a powerful forum for groups with little or no voice.
It cannot be underestimated just how few women were in any positions of power in the North back then, and Hillary went about changing that from the grassroots up.
As she stated in 1999, Vital Voices was “certainly part of a larger effort that I have been privileged to view firsthand, since my husband and I first came in 1995. And that is the way that the people here have pulled together to make peace real in our lives and in our time.”
Inez McCormack, the late beloved trade union organizer and human rights activist community worker, told me in a Belfast restaurant that Hillary had single-handedly empowered women in the Northern Ireland  conflict, which had a profound impact.
McCormack quoted to me her own definition of success: “When I see a glint in a woman’s eye who believed she was nobody and now knows she is somebody.”
Hillary, she said, led the way for Northern Irish women to see that breakthrough.
Beginning the process of peace by working with mothers who have suffered loss is not a new approach for Clinton. No doubt these ladies will be at the decision-making table in a Hillary Clinton administration:


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