Q&A: Jailed Nun Voices No Regret for Trespassing at Nuclear-Arms Facility

Prior to infiltrating the Y-12 facility grounds last year, Megan Rice poses with fellow activists Michael Walli, left, and Greg Boertje-Obed. In a written interview, Rice expressed no regrets about the July 2012 nuclear-weapons protest, for which she and her two accomplices each face up to 30 years in prison.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
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Diane Barnes
Dec. 22, 2013, 11:02 p.m.

Megan Rice, an 83-year-old nun in cus­tody in Ocilla, Ga., says she was mak­ing a state­ment.

In an un­usu­al ex­change of ques­tions and an­swers with a re­port­er, Rice said the peace­ful demon­stra­tion she staged last year with two oth­er act­iv­ists in­side the Y-12 Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Com­plex in Ten­ness­ee un­der­scored a need for world­wide dis­arm­a­ment by ex­pos­ing the danger of nuc­le­ar ar­sen­als in stark terms.

Rice and her ac­com­plices each face a pos­sible three-dec­ade pris­on sen­tence for their Ju­ly 2012 ac­tion at Y-12, which handles sens­it­ive ma­ter­i­als and com­pon­ents for nuc­le­ar weapons.

Writ­ing from the Ir­win County De­ten­tion Cen­ter, where she awaits sen­ten­cing on Jan. 28 with the two men who joined her in il­leg­ally en­ter­ing Y-12 grounds, Rice said a max­im­um pun­ish­ment would only fur­ther be­ne­fit their cause. It could chal­lenge “con­sciences to act” crit­ic­ally to­ward ar­gu­ments that nuc­le­ar weapons are ne­ces­sary tools for coun­tries to help en­sure sta­bil­ity and de­fend their in­terests.

“I ex­pect only a life sen­tence to con­tin­ue to live in truth, com­pas­sion and love for all of God’s cre­ation,” Rice said in her hand­writ­ten re­sponse, which soun­ded spir­itu­al themes and spelled out a deeply ideo­lo­gic­al per­spect­ive in re­sponse to nearly every ques­tion. “Keep your eyes on the prize: a healed, peace­ful plan­et.”

Joined by vet­er­an peace act­iv­ists Greg Bo­er­tje-Obed and Mi­chael Walli, Rice hiked through the woods of the 8-square-mile Y-12 cam­pus, loc­ated in east­ern Ten­ness­ee, in the pre­dawn hours of Ju­ly 28, 2012.

After cut­ting through four peri­met­er fences and en­ter­ing Y-12’s “Pro­tec­ted Area” — where guards are au­thor­ized to use leth­al force against in­truders — the three act­iv­ists re­portedly fo­cused their protest on the first build­ing they saw: the store­house where the United States holds highly en­riched urani­um cap­able of fuel­ing nuc­le­ar bombs.

The group pro­ceeded to spray-paint an­ti­war slo­gans, hang mock po­lice tape and throw con­tain­ers of hu­man blood on the 110,000-square-foot Highly En­riched Urani­um Ma­ter­i­als Fa­cil­ity. When a lone guard ar­rived to in­vest­ig­ate, the act­iv­ists read to him a state­ment of their an­ti­nuc­lear views and proffered peace­mak­ing items — candles, flowers, a Bible — pri­or to their ar­rest.

The news that the un­armed pro­test­ers had in­filt­rated a sens­it­ive nuc­le­ar fa­cil­ity in­ten­ded to with­stand a co­ordin­ated ter­ror­ist as­sault stunned those who ima­gined the com­pound to be vir­tu­ally im­pen­et­rable. Se­cur­ity faults noted years earli­er had ap­par­ently gone un­fixed, pos­sibly help­ing the trio to reach the urani­um stor­age fa­cil­ity. The struc­ture stands at the north­ern edge of a 1.3-square-mile cluster of build­ings, with little more than a road and sev­er­al fences di­vid­ing it off from the sur­round­ing trees.

Rice her­self re­called feel­ing “amazement” that it was “so easy” for her to enter the se­cured site with Bo­er­tje-Obed and Walli, who were re­spect­ively 57 and 63 at the time.

The protest ac­tion, which they dubbed “Trans­form Now Plow­shares,” promp­ted a short-term sus­pen­sion of all nuc­le­ar op­er­a­tions at Y-12. In the months that fol­lowed, the U.S. gov­ern­ment moved to re­place the fa­cil­ity’s private op­er­at­or and re­vamp se­cur­ity over­sight at nuc­le­ar-arms sites across the na­tion.

The in­tru­sion also spurred de­bates in Con­gress and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on the pos­sible need for deep­er re­forms, such as boost­ing over­sight of the En­ergy De­part­ment agency re­spons­ible for op­er­a­tions at Y-12 and oth­er U.S. nuc­le­ar-weapons fa­cil­it­ies.

Rice, Bo­er­tje-Obed and Walli were each con­victed in May of two felony counts of in­ter­fer­ing with na­tion­al se­cur­ity and dam­aging gov­ern­ment prop­erty. The three act­iv­ists had served pris­on time for past protest ac­tions, and their entry at Y-12 was one among dozens of demon­stra­tions car­ried out by the Plow­shares peace move­ment since 1980.

“Build­ing nuc­le­ar weapons is a war crime and a griev­ous sin,” Bo­er­tje-Obed told Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire in a let­ter mailed in Oc­to­ber from the Ocilla jail fa­cil­ity where the three act­iv­ists are be­ing held pri­or to sen­ten­cing. “The Nurem­berg Prin­ciples state that pre­par­ing for a war crime is a war crime, and thus we have a right and a duty to take steps to in­ter­vene.”

In a sep­ar­ate Oc­to­ber let­ter, Walli linked their protest to the an­ti­nuc­lear views of Mar­tin Luth­er King Jr.

Walli lamen­ted that the group is be­ing held “sub­stan­tially farther” from King’s graves­ite in At­lanta than from Kings Bay, the East Coast home to the U.S. fleet of Ohio-class bal­list­ic mis­sile sub­mar­ines.

“Dr. King had a vis­ion,” Walli wrote. “Pres­id­ent Obama of­fers a night­mare.”

Rice has less pris­on ex­per­i­ence than her two ac­com­plices, but did serve sev­er­al months be­hind bars for her act­iv­ism pri­or to the Y-12 protest. Her par­ti­cip­a­tion in non­vi­ol­ent demon­stra­tions over sev­er­al dec­ades also led to her brief ar­rest on dozens of oc­ca­sions.

As a child, she ap­par­ently had little sense of the polit­ic­al views she would de­vel­op later in life. While at­tend­ing a Cath­ol­ic school in New York City dur­ing World War II, Rice read re­li­giously groun­ded de­fenses of pa­ci­fism and judged them to be “very con­tro­ver­sial,” she re­called in a 2005 in­ter­view.

“None of us were really anti-Amer­ic­an gov­ern­ment,” Rice said then. “Twenty, 30 years later, we began to real­ize the oth­er side. It took a while.”

She re­called com­plet­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree in bio­logy at Bo­ston Col­lege and in 1962 mov­ing to Ni­ger­ia, where she spent her first years teach­ing math­em­at­ics and sci­ence to girls in a se­cluded board­ing school without elec­tri­city or run­ning wa­ter.

Rice be­came in­volved in the U.S. an­ti­nuc­lear move­ment dur­ing stints away from Africa, where she con­tin­ued to teach off and on in Ni­ger­ia and Ghana un­til 2003.

While vis­it­ing New York City in the 1980s, she met with Ja­pan­ese atom­ic-bomb sur­viv­ors and demon­strated against nuc­le­ar weapons as part of a large-scale protest. She later joined the Nevada Desert Ex­per­i­ence, a group op­posed to atom­ic-arms ex­per­i­ments and de­vel­op­ment.

In her 2005 re­marks for an En­ergy De­part­ment-fin­anced col­lec­tion of in­ter­views with act­iv­ists and gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees tied to the Nevada Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Site — a Cold War-era nuc­le­ar test­ing ground — Rice ar­gued that the United States has sought to main­tain nuc­le­ar-weapons su­prem­acy in an ef­fort to “be­come the [only] su­per­power.”

“We are still [un­til] today, this very day, not men­tion­ing the real nuc­le­ar powers when we pose the threat of nuc­le­ar buildup in … rogue coun­tries,” she said in the En­ergy-sponsored in­ter­view.

Sev­en years later, she would help carry out what the New York Times called “the biggest se­cur­ity breach in the his­tory of the na­tion’s atom­ic com­plex.”

Ed­ited ex­cerpts of GSN ques­tions and Rice’s Septem­ber mailed re­sponses, which in­clude re­peated ref­er­ences to the in­spir­a­tion she draws from her Cath­ol­ic faith, fol­low:

GSN: How did your group de­cide that break­ing in­to a nuc­le­ar weapons fa­cil­ity was the best way to com­mu­nic­ate its anti-nuc­le­ar-weapons mes­sage?

Rice: … There is no “best way” to com­mu­nic­ate any­thing that is true. … We pre­pared by per­son­al and shared pray­er, dis­cern­ment, study, con­sulta­tion with ex­per­i­enced and wise ex­perts, and by [col­lab­or­at­ing] with the wider peace com­munity work­ing to­wards the rule of law about nuc­le­ar dis­arm­a­ment.

We did not plan “to break in­to,” but to enter through il­leg­al — non­func­tion­ing — fences around sites of known crim­in­al activ­ity [that in­clude] pro­du­cing, stor­ing, re­fur­bish­ing [and] threat­en­ing to use … il­leg­al weapons of mass de­struc­tion. These weapons place at risk and are cap­able of ex­tin­guish­ing all [life]. …

We are ob­liged by our con­sciences to act when we know are free to do so. … As long as one nuc­le­ar bomb or en­ergy fa­cil­ity ex­ists, all of life re­mains its po­ten­tial vic­tim.

GSN: How did you per­son­ally de­cide that you wanted to take part in this un­armed in­tru­sion at Y-12?

Rice: By pray­er, dis­cern­ment, ex­am­in­a­tion of con­science, and weigh­ing my pri­or­it­ies and re­spons­ib­il­ity [to ad­dress] root causes of suf­fer­ing in our world. I en­gaged in con­sulta­tion with people of con­science and in­teg­rity who are aware of the is­sues, and of my per­son­al strengths and lim­it­a­tions. I was ap­poin­ted to con­tin­ue my re­search in­to the pos­sib­il­it­ies of elim­in­at­ing nuc­le­ar­ism as a ma­jor cause of war and world poverty on many levels.

I knew of the [U.S.] gov­ern­ment’s policies to mod­ern­ize [the] nuc­le­ar [ar­sen­al] and re­fur­bish ex­ist­ing weapons of mass de­struc­tion rather than ful­fill … ex­ist­ing in­ter­na­tion­al laws, bind­ing prin­ciples, [and] treat­ies call­ing for nuc­le­ar dis­man­tle­ment in good faith.

… Private for-profit con­tract­ors [have sup­por­ted] this il­leg­al policy through [U.S.] plans, already failed and enorm­ously waste­ful, to build a new “plutoni­um pit fact­ory.” Its pur­pose was to en­sure [a] cap­ab­il­ity of adding 80 new ther­mo­nuc­lear weapons to the ar­sen­al of thou­sands, per year.

We chose to bring our mes­sage of truth to the em­ploy­ees. We de­cided Y-12 em­ploy­ees needed to know the truth that [there are al­tern­at­ives] to the un­law­ful, death-caus­ing work of con­struct­ing com­pon­ents for more nuc­le­ar war­heads.

GSN: You were 82 years old at the time of the Y-12 ac­tion.  What pro­vi­sions did you ar­range be­fore­hand, if any, for the pos­sib­il­ity that armed guards might have severely in­jured or killed you dur­ing the in­tru­sion?

Rice: I had [an] ex­pert and thor­ough med­ic­al as­sess­ment with ad­vice [on] diet, ex­er­cise [and] ad­equate habits of rest and re­cre­ation from work. I had time to pre­pare for an ex­ten­ded time from my usu­al min­is­tries.

Part of the pre­par­a­tion by [group] pray­er and dis­cern­ment … gave me con­fid­ence that the task was one worth giv­ing … my life [to ac­com­plish]. We were as­sured [we had] faith­ful sup­port­ers who were will­ing and able to meet our needs. …

GSN: What mind­set did you have be­fore­hand that al­lowed you to take such risks with your life?

Rice: Great ex­pect­ancy [and] trust, with ten­a­cious hope that we could bring truth and heal­ing … Things can al­ways be trans­formed in­to means for fos­ter­ing life, not des­troy­ing it, when used with mod­er­a­tion, wis­dom and cre­ativ­ity for the com­mon good.

GSN: Did you have a spe­cif­ic role to play on the team that broke in­to the Y-12 cam­pus? If so, what was it?

Rice: I ac­tu­ally con­ceived the name for our Plow­shares ac­tion: “Trans­form Now Plow­shares.” Just as each nuc­le­ar bomb ever used … has been giv­en a unique name, each Plow­shares ac­tion is giv­en a name.

I also car­ried and hung the “Cau­tion — Nuc­le­ar Crime Scene “¦” tape around three pil­lars in front of the — later known to us — Highly En­riched Urani­um Ma­ter­i­als Fa­cil­ity. …

We each as­sisted in la­beling the build­ing with spray-paint state­ments … and [in] sym­bol­ic­ally [pour­ing] two baby bottles of real hu­man blood on the build­ing. [We poured the blood] in sol­emn re­mem­brance of the lives lost [in the atom­ic-bomb­ings of] Hiroshi­ma and Na­ga­saki, and also of [our] will­ing­ness to give up our lives to pre­vent the con­tin­ued ex­ist­ence of nuc­le­ar weapons or en­ergy on this plan­et. …

GSN: As best you re­call, what thoughts were go­ing through your mind as your team cut through the first wire fence and tres­passed onto the fa­cil­ity’s grounds?

Rice: Def­in­itely, thoughts of grat­it­ude — not without a de­gree of amazement — that this was so easy and un­ob­served. These emo­tions in­creased as we were [able] to pass neatly through each of the three re­main­ing chain-[link] fences in less than 10 minutes.

[I also thought,] we were meant to do what we are do­ing. Carry on! …

GSN: Are there oth­er de­tails about what happened that day — be­fore, dur­ing or after the tres­passing — that have not yet been re­vealed pub­licly but that you would like to share with us?

Rice: Per­haps the fact that we were able to ac­com­plish all that we had hoped to do by means of visu­al, sym­bol­ic mes­sages. …

We also were giv­en time [to] sing peace hymns and ac­tu­ally read aloud jointly, [a] writ­ten [state­ment to] the first se­cur­ity guard [of our] in­ten­tions to bring love, truth, peace and friend­ship for all who work at this dan­ger­ous fa­cil­ity.

Also, [we named] the ac­tu­al laws — in­ter­na­tion­al and na­tion­al — “¦ which are broken by en­ga­ging in [the] pro­duc­tion and hand­ling [of nuc­le­ar weapons]. …

GSN: How has your time in cap­tiv­ity been? What activ­it­ies and thoughts have been filling the hours?

Rice: Re­spond­ing to … hun­dreds of let­ters [in sup­port of] the total elim­in­a­tion of these il­leg­al weapons and the re­dir­ec­tion of [funds now used] to store, pro­lif­er­ate or mod­ern­ize nuc­le­ar weapons.

[I have also been work­ing] to re­mind people [that after] 70 years … nuc­le­ar-weapons pro­duc­tion has not ended.

… Real, ur­gent needs [are] now be­ing largely neg­lected. Through care­fully de­signed, wise policies, we can re­dir­ect al­loc­a­tions [to] re­form … edu­ca­tion, trans­port­a­tion, health care, hous­ing, ag­ri­cul­ture, em­ploy­ment, en­ergy, etc.

Aware­ness con­tin­ues to grow about the [tril­lions of dol­lars] which [have] been en­tirely wasted through the failed nuc­le­ar-weapons in­dus­tri­al com­plex, [filling] the pock­ets of war­mon­ger­ing prof­it­eers [and] lob­by­ists. … By liv­ing with and build­ing re­la­tion­ships [among] those most vi­ol­ated by … a mil­it­ary-based cul­ture of vi­ol­ence, we are mu­tu­ally en­er­gized to work for trans­form­a­tions in mind and heart. …

GSN: How have you been treated by pris­on of­fi­cials and oth­er in­mates?

Rice: With genu­ine hon­or and re­spect for the ne­ces­sity of re­spons­ible ac­tion for peace. …

Most of the in­mates have been awakened to the root causes of dys­func­tion in the sys­tem of in­justice which per­vades the so-called justice [sys­tem] and pris­ons. … Pris­on of­fi­cials have re­cog­nized the im­port­ance of res­ist­ance to …  nuc­le­ar­ism as a means of false se­cur­ity. …

We do ex­per­i­ence bless­ings of non­vi­ol­ence at work where there is [typ­ic­ally] vi­ol­ence, and many pos­it­ive signs for hope, the longer we [pray to­geth­er] for peace. …

But we also ex­per­i­ence [a] heart-[rend­ing] edu­ca­tion as we share life in all its as­pects … with the vic­tims of … im­per­i­al­ist­ic wars. The men­tal­ity of mil­it­ary vi­ol­ence and dis­em­power­ment by tor­ture and fear per­vades as fal­lout of the nuc­le­ar-in­dus­tri­al com­plex. …

GSN: The pub­lic re­ac­tion to the break-in has fo­cused over­whelm­ingly on ques­tions it raised about the se­cur­ity of the U.S. nuc­le­ar stock­pile. Your group, however, has been clear that the ac­tion was in­ten­ded as a call to elim­in­ate all nuc­le­ar weapons. To what de­gree are you sat­is­fied with the pub­lic re­sponse? Are there any re­spects in which you would prefer it to have been dif­fer­ent?

Rice: … The ex­pres­sion “break-in” is a mis­rep­res­ent­a­tion. It im­plies vi­ol­ent de­struc­tion of a real prop­erty. We leg­ally entered by vir­tue of [our] re­spons­ib­il­ity to op­pose and ex­pose non­vi­ol­ently known crimes.

We ac­ted in obed­i­ence to the re­quire­ments of the Nurem­berg Prin­ciples and U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion Art­icle 6. Many in­ter­na­tion­al laws and treat­ies call for the elim­in­a­tion of all nuc­le­ar weapons in good faith. Yet the U.S. has con­tin­ued for 70 years in secrecy and fraud­u­lent prof­it­eer­ing in con­struct­ing more than 70,000 nuc­le­ar war­heads. …

The pub­lic re­sponse was more than we ima­gined, but surely not yet as ef­fect­ive as we see is truly called for after 70 years of faith­ful res­ist­ance by many people of con­science.

I would hope to see … en­act­ments [of] laws such as H.R. 1650, the re­vised 2013 le­gis­la­tion pro­posed by D.C. [Con­gres­sion­al Del­eg­ate] Elean­or Holmes Norton, which calls for dis­arm­a­ment in good faith and real­loc­a­tion of funds to­ward ad­dress­ing the blatant so­cial needs in the coun­try.

GSN: How do you re­spond to the ar­gu­ment that dis­mant­ling a single na­tion’s nuc­le­ar force could leave that coun­try’s people vul­ner­able to a dev­ast­at­ing at­tack?

Rice: The very pres­ence of nuc­le­ar weapons … evokes the re­sponse of mis­trust, ter­ror­ism, an­ger and the mo­tiv­a­tion to vi­ol­ent means by the ter­ror­ized parties.

Dif­fer­ences [should] be settled by good-faith ne­go­ti­ations between parties. The trust must be earned by cre­at­ing trans­par­ent, just, re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships between all ne­go­ti­at­ing parties so that real dia­logue, with com­pas­sion­ate listen­ing, can take place.

Fear must nev­er be a weapon for wield­ing power between equal par­ti­cipants for dia­logue. Fear is driv­en out by genu­ine love and com­pas­sion.

Let us be real­ist­ic. War is nev­er a solu­tion.

GSN: Do you dis­agree with the con­ten­tion that nuc­le­ar de­terrence helped pre­vent a World War III, in a way that non-nuc­le­ar de­terrence was un­able to do in the first two world wars? Please briefly ex­plain the basis for your view.

Rice: Yes, I dis­agree with the fact that nuc­le­ar­ism is ever or could ever be a de­terrence to war.

Any nuc­le­ar war des­troys both sides — launch­ers and re­spon­ders and the en­tire plan­et. …

GSN: How do you re­spond to the con­cern that in the case of glob­al nuc­le­ar dis­arm­a­ment, a single cheat­er with even just one il­li­cit nuc­le­ar weapon could ef­fect­ively black­mail the rest of the world, and per­haps be un­deterred by the solely con­ven­tion­al arms that re­main?

Rice: Every nuc­le­ar weapon is il­li­cit, and can mo­tiv­ate the ac­quis­i­tion of non-nuc­le­ar states to [ac­quire their own nuc­le­ar weapons].

But … ex­ist­ing con­ven­tion­al arms are also un­eth­ic­al and im­mor­al. War is im­mor­al and un­eth­ic­al and can­not ef­fect­ively settle dis­agree­ments. … Com­pas­sion cre­ates and main­tains mu­tu­al re­spect­ful re­la­tions, nev­er “con­ven­tion­al” weapons.

Glob­al nuc­le­ar dis­arm­a­ment has nev­er been tried, [and] hence has nev­er failed. Each ex­ist­ing … nuc­le­ar weapon does ef­fect­ively “black­mail” the rest of the world be­cause of the risk [it cre­ates]. …  Threat to use is im­plied in its con­struc­tion, [vi­ol­at­ing] in­ter­na­tion­al hu­man­it­ari­an and in­ter­na­tion­al laws.

“Solely con­ven­tion­al arms” can also [in­dis­crim­in­ately des­troy] lives and prop­erty, [and] hence [are] also im­mor­al. …

GSN: In your view, what is ne­ces­sary to cre­ate the polit­ic­al will around the world to ne­go­ti­ate the elim­in­a­tion of all nuc­le­ar weapons? Is it just a mat­ter of in­creas­ing pub­lic pres­sure in coun­tries where free speech al­lows for that?

Rice: … Edu­ca­tion, com­mu­nic­a­tion and trans­par­ency, re­veal­ing and re­cog­niz­ing that all are equal in [their] right to life. …

In­di­vidu­als and na­tion-states are equally and uni­ver­sally [re­spons­ible for] cre­at­ing, ac­cord­ing to their ca­pa­cit­ies, the “polit­ic­al will” to cre­ate and main­tain the … edu­ca­tion, com­mu­nic­a­tion and re­la­tion­ships which can ef­fect­ively elim­in­ate nuc­le­ar weapons. … Where there is the will there is a way.

GSN: How do you re­spond to the view that break­ing in­to Y-12 was an act of treas­on against the United States?

Rice: … Those con­trolling [Y-12’s] il­leg­al activ­it­ies are [des­troy­ing] life with­in and bey­ond the U.S., and con­sequently are treas­on­ous … against the stated pur­pose of the U.S.: To be a gov­ern­ment of, for and by the people.

Y-12 has robbed the people of their share in their justly earned tax dol­lars which have built and main­tained the il­leg­al activ­it­ies at Y-12 since 1943, when it was secretly con­struc­ted. …

GSN: You now face a pos­sible life sen­tence for the Y-12 in­tru­sion. How would you most like your ac­tion, and your dec­ades of pri­or dis­arm­a­ment act­iv­ism, to be re­membered?

Rice: I think there are enough wise people of con­science and leg­al pro­fes­sion­al­ism in this coun­try [to] ef­fect­ively re­store justice in the court sys­tem. If not, the al­tern­at­ive [out­come would] be­stir their con­sciences to act [in de­fense of] the fu­ture of [the] Earth. …

So I ex­pect only a life sen­tence to con­tin­ue to live in truth, com­pas­sion and love for all of God’s cre­ation. … Keep your eyes on the prize: a healed, peace­ful plan­et. …

[Wheth­er] free or un­justly in­car­cer­ated … one is al­ways free to “act justly, love ten­derly and be humble.” …

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

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Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

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STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
22 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

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PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

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CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

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