Martin O’Malley: GOP refrain on regulations ‘bulls—‘

— Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley called the Republican Party’s assertion that overly-burdensome regulations are contributing to inequality “patently bulls—.”

In an interview with NPR “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep that aired Monday, O’Malley, who is openly contemplating a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, responded to questions concerning the GOP’s crusade against regulations.

He said he didn’t see “any truth” to the argument from Republicans that too many government regulations can prevent Americans from advancing economically they’re unable to hire the lawyers to navigate them. O’Malley went on to agree that large corporations can navigate regulations in a way small businesses can’t, saying “our tax code’s been turned into Swiss cheese.”

“And certainly the concentrated wealth and accumulated power and the systematic deregulation of Wall Street has led to this situation where the economy isn’t working for most of us. All of that is true,” he said.

“But it is not true that regulation holds poor people down or regulation keeps middle class from advancing. That’s kind of patently bulls—.”

They were some of the strongest words yet from the former governor, who has been working to frame himself as a progressive alternative to former secretary of State Hillary Clinton if he enters the race, as is expected.

O’Malley insisted he hasn’t made a decision, and said he will by the end of May, but sounded like a candidate in the interview, promising to lay his policies out “when I get into the race.”

He said he would draw a contrast with Clinton as a “progressive executive with a record of accomplishments,” versus Clinton’s “experience as a legislator and secretary of state,” and also suggested there would be a “perspective difference” between the two.

“I see, having spoken to younger people, people under 40, where our country’s headed. And it is not the sort of siloed and bureaucratic and ideological world of many of us baby boomers and our older siblings. It is a more connected world and it is a more collaborative and open and transparent world,” he said.

The former Maryland governor has avoided criticizing Clinton outright, but has emerged as master of critical innuendo, last week hinting at an attack on Clinton’s shift on gay marriage. He refused to directly criticize that move in the NPR interview, but offered another pointed non-answer when asked whether Clinton could win the presidency if nominated.

“Both of those decisions, the nomination and the ultimate election are up to the people of the United States,” O’Malley said. “I think she would be a far better president than any of the candidates I’ve so far seen emerge in the Republican Party.”


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The Secret Service taught Malia Obama to drive

— Secret Service agents have one of the toughest jobs in Washington: They are expected, if necessary, to put their lives on the line in the protection of the President and his family.

They’ve also had to teach a teen to drive.

First Lady Michelle Obama revealed this week that her older daughter, 16-year-old Malia, was taught to drive by the Secret Service and occasionally drives outside the White House grounds on her own.

“The Secret Service [taught her], actually, because they wouldn’t let me in the car with her,” Obama told television host Rachael Ray in an interview that’s set to air Thursday.

It’s a good thing, too, as the First Lady told Ray she hasn’t driven in seven or eight years, and admitted earlier this week she’s forgotten some of the basics.

During a Monday interview on “Live! With Kelly and Michael,” Obama said that when Malia asked her for advice on how to park in a public lot, the First Lady wasn’t sure.

“I barely know now too so I have to check with other sources,” she said.

Obama said that while Malia is typically covered by a security detail, she has driven on her own.

“She always has security around. But in order for her to learn how to drive, she had to drive on her own. So once she was legally permitted to drive on her own, she gets in her car,” she said.

Allowing Malia to drive, Obama told Ray, is part of her parents’ effort to give their kids as normal a life as possible, despite their unusual upbringing.

“Driving for Malia, I think, gives her a sense of normalcy, like the rest of her friends are doing. And my kids have got to learn how to live in the world like normal kids,” she said.

Oscars stage becomes liberal political soapbox for stars

— Hollywood stars turned the stage into a soapbox at the Oscars on Sunday night, advocating on issues ranging from NSA surveillance to equal pay; the Voting Rights Act to immigration reform.

Even before the stars hit the main event, the red carpet was tinged with political protest, with actress Reese Witherspoon taking to Instagram to call for entertainment reporters to ask questions with more depth than the usual, “Who are you wearing?” of female stars.

Gender equity got another star turn with perhaps the most well-received speech of the night, given by Patricia Arquette for her Best Supporting Actress win from “Boyhood.” She called for women to be paid the same as men, a reference to the fact that Congress hasn’t passed the Fair Pay Act, which remains divisive with Republicans.

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” Arquette said, reading from prepared text. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

The audience went wild, and gifs of Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez’s delighted responses blew up across social media. Pro-women’s rights groups, including EMILY’s List and the Center for American Progress, along with a handful of Democratic lawmakers, tweeted support.

“.@pattyarquette THANK YOU for using your special moment to stand up for #equalpay for women! Congratulations on your Oscar!” tweeted Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Immigration reform got its moment on stage as well when Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won Best Director for “Birdman” and cracked a joke about the fact that last year’s Best Director winner, Alfonso Cuaron, was also Mexican.

“Maybe next year the government will inflict immigration restrictions,” he said. “Two Mexicans in a row. That’s suspicious, I guess.”

And the documentary exploring the story of government whistleblower Edward Snowden, “CitizenFour,” nabbed an expected win for Best Documentary. The film’s director, Laura Poitras, was joined on stage by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who also helped interview Snowden for the doc. Poitras praised Snowden and “all the other whistleblowers,” and he, in return, congratulated her through a statement released by the ACLU.

“When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant,” he said. “I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received.”

The win prompted a joke from show host Neil Patrick Harris, who quipped, “The subject of ‘Citizenfour,’ Edward Snowden, could not be here tonight for some treason.”

That win was more divisive among political Twitter, with Rep. Justin Amash, a frequent critic of government surveillance programs, showing his approval with a retweet of the news and a tweet linking to an earlier interview he did praising Snowden.

But on the other side of the debate, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker tweeted his displeasure with the win.

“Academy applauds Edward Snowden, who even Sen. Dianne Feinstein says committed ‘an act of treason,'” he tweeted.

The night’s politics didn’t end with Snowden, however. After performing their song “Glory” from the civil rights movement epic “Selma,” John Legend and Common turned their acceptance speech for the song into a political plea, focused on the racial unrest that’s rocked the nation in recent months.

“We say that ‘Selma’ is now, because the struggle for justice is right now,” Legend said. “We know that the voting rights act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justices where we live in the most incarcerated country in the world.”

It was a speech that drew praise from many lawmakers, including Sen. Cory Booker, who tweeted that he was “proud” of the two musicians.

Stars often throw politics into the mix at awards shows, and this year’s Grammys featured an array of political protests peppered throughout the powerhouse performances as well.

Live from New York, Sharpton pushes Palin run

— Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s receiving encouragement to run for president from an unlikely source — Rev. Al Sharpton.

The MSNBC host and civil rights leader tweeted that during a meeting on the red carpet at the 40th anniversary episode of Saturday Night Live on Sunday, he encouraged Palin on Twitter to make a bid for the White House — but not with the intention of winning.

He also tweeted a pic of the two, glammed up on the red carpet and posing for photographers.

Palin hasn’t shut the door on a run, but after skyrocketing to conservative stardom following her failed VP bid alongside Sen. John McCain, her standing within the GOP has recently diminished.

She’s still the stuff of late-night comedy shows, however, and on Sunday got in on the joke. Host Jerry Seinfeld turned to the audience and took a question from Palin, initially pretending to mistake her for Tina Fey, who impersonated Palin on SNL.

“No, it’s Sarah, Sarah Palin,” Palin said. “How much do you think Lorne Michaels would pay me if I were to run in 2016?”

“I don’t think there’s a number too big,” Seinfeld replied.