The Clinton Plan For America

The Clinton Plan For America

Hillary Clinton has accumulated enough support to secure victory in the Democratic primary, advancing to face a Republican opponent almost no one predicted at this time last year. Her long primary-campaign battle with Bernie Sanders pushed her to more liberal positions on a handful of issues, most notably the minimum wage and international trade, but neither it, nor the expected dynamics of her general election contest with Donald Trump, appears to have fundamentally changed the issue set that Clinton hopes to ride to the White House.

Clinton kicked off the 2016 campaign talking about inequality, corporate greed and the struggling middle class. She’s still talking about those issues and still framing many of them through a set of often-wonky policy proposals that often focus on what you might call “kitchen-table issues” for families. Her ideas rely on a combination of added government regulation, particularly in labor markets, and increased federal spending, in areas such as education and child care.

She has said what two of her top priorities would be — overhauling the immigration system and spending hundreds of millions more on infrastructure — and has hinted strongly that they would be joined, at the top of her list, by policies that would affect working women in particular, such as mandatory paid family and medical leave.

Unlike Trump, who has offered few specifics on his agenda and has at many times taken contradictory positions on issues, Clinton has laid out a consistent and largely detailed agenda, although some questions remain (such as what top corporate tax rate she favors). It is well described as an extension of President Obama’s agenda — with a notable deviation on trade — and because she has put flesh to it, it is easier to summarize and to critique than Trump’s.

Here are the highlights of her plans:

Family leave

One of Clinton’s goals is to help workers take time off the job to care for loved ones. Under her plan, every worker would be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and an additional 12 weeks of paid medical leave. While on leave, the government would pay these workers two-thirds of what they make on the job in order to replace their wages. The money would come from increased taxes imposed on the wealthy.

That last point is a difference between Clinton and Democrats in Congress. They have proposed a similar program but one that would be funded through an increase in the payroll tax, one that all workers would pay.

Early education

Early education is another component of Clinton’s plan to help families get by. Clinton has called for additional federal funding for education for young children, funding that would be administered by the states under her plan. She has said that her goal is for no family to have to spend more than 10 percent of their income on child care.

Many economists argue that quality education in early childhood can help children succeed later on in school and in adulthood, and that too often, older children and young adults who grew up with disadvantages early in their lives can’t catch up to their peers. They say early education is one of the most profitable investments society can make in the economy of the future.

Minimum wage

Clinton has said she thinks the federal minimum wage should be increased, but she has only gone as far as endorsing a $12 hourly minimum. While she has said that local governments should be free to set minimums above that level if they choose, her position has been a disappointment for activists who have campaigned for $15 an hour.

In a recent debate, Clinton did say she would be willing to sign a bill setting the federal minimum at $15 an hour if Congress presented her with one, but it is not the policy she prefers.


Clinton has said that one of her immediate priorities, if elected, would be to extend President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, giving a broad group of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to apply to law enforcement for a reprieve from deportation.

The courts, however, have stymied Obama’s most recent effort to give temporary relief to several million undocumented immigrants. Whether Clinton would be able to do any more depends on whether the courts agree that the president has the authority to do more.


Another immediate priority next year for Clinton would be asking Congress to make a major investment in roads, bridges, railways, airports, water systems and other physical infrastructure. Her aides have suggested she’ll ask for at least $275 billion.


Clinton has withdrawn her support for Obama’s international trade deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she helped negotiate when she served as his secretary of state. In general, though, she has said that she is willing to support trade agreements if they satisfy certain conditions.

“I did say, when I was secretary of state three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard,” Clinton said at a debate in October, referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn’t meet my standards, my standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans.”

Wall Street

Hillary Clinton has said that the largest banks should be dissolved if they pose a risk to the economy, repeating what has been a rallying cry for the progressive movement in the Democratic Party and for her rival in the primary, Bernie Sanders.

What breaking up the banks would mean in practice isn’t completely clear. As president, Clinton could try to appoint regulators who would take a hard line with the banks, using the authority that Congress granted them in the Dodd-Frank financial reform in 2010 to force them to dissolve. Doing so would involve declaring the banks a grave risk to the economy or deeming them unable to withstand a crisis in an orderly way.

Clinton has also proposed a graduated tax on banks’ liabilities, which would penalize the largest institutions and counteract the advantages that they arguably receive from their size. In addition, she favors stricter requirements to force banks to rely on shareholders rather than depositors and other banks to fund their operations, so that in the event of a crisis, losses would be contained to shareholders.


Another problem with Wall Street, according to Clinton is that corporate managers and investors focus too much on immediate gains as opposed to making investments that will be profitable over the long term. She has proposed increasing the tax on capital gains so that investors get a larger break the longer they hold onto their investments.

She has also called for a 4 percent surcharge on those with incomes above $5 million a year, which is about 0.02 percent of taxpayers. She argues the increase is necessary to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.

In all, Clinton would raise $1.1 trillion in additional taxes over the next decade, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Criminal justice

Last year, the first major speech of Clinton’s presidential campaign was on criminal justice. She called for an “end to the era of mass incarceration.”

“There is something profoundly wrong when African American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts,” Clinton said.

In addition to commenting favorably on bipartisan efforts in Congress to reduce prison terms for nonviolent federal offenders, Clinton called on police to adopt strategies that foster trust among civilians. She also argued that disparities in criminal justice often reflect broader social inequities — disadvantages in terms of education and economic opportunity.

Foreign policy

In international affairs, Clinton has taken a more hawkish tone than Obama, Sanders or the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Clinton was one of the most important advocates for the intervention in Libya, and she has also argued for military intervention in Syria, which her former boss rejected.

Clinton has also said, though, that she supports Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Under the agreement, Iran will reduce the number of its centrifuges and the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran also agreed not to move toward enriching weapons-grade uranium for another 15 years and to submit to regular inspections by U.N. officials.

Social Security

Clinton has promised not to reduce benefits for Social Security, and she has also said she wants to expand the program. The former secretary of state has not, however, published a detailed proposal on Social Security, leaving unanswered questions about how she would address its financial problems over the long term.

Analysts project that Social Security will be unable to continue paying benefits in full beginning in about 2034. Clinton has said that to address this shortfall, she would ask wealthy Americans to contribute more to the program, and she has mentioned an increase in the limit on taxable income as one possibility. Social Security was designed as a middle-class program, and annual income above a certain amount is neither taxed nor counted toward workers’ benefits from Social Security when they retire.

Yet while eliminating the limit on income taxed for Social Security would go a long way toward solving the program’s fiscal challenges, Social Security’s actuaries project that more money would still be needed. Many economists have argued that the payroll tax should be increased to come up with the funds, but Clinton has eschewed increases in taxes on ordinary families.

Clinton has also proposed expansions to the program, although without offering details. She has said she wants to increase benefits for the poorest retirees and that workers who take several years off to care for their families should be able to earn credit toward Social Security for their work outside the formal labor market.

“When the Social Security program was started in the 1930s, not very many women worked, and women have been disadvantaged ever since,” Clinton said at a debate in Milwaukee. “They do not get any credit for their care-taking responsibilities.”

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee. Follow @MaxEhrenfreund
Jim Tankersley covers economic policy for The Post. He’s from Oregon, and he misses it. Follow @jimtankersley

Hillary’s Anti Second Amendment Agenda…

…is an attack on the Constitution and an assault on Common Sense. She would like to do away with the Second Amendment and the entire Bill of Rights if she could.

  • Our 1st Amendment rights to participate in the political process are – or at least should be – inviolate, even if some politicians think they can magically legislate away our rights to political speech.
  • Hillary’s Anti Second Amendment Agenda...Our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms is – or at least should be – inviolate, even though many politicians want to curtail our ability to defend ourselves.
  • Our 4th Amendment right to block the government from spying on us without a search warrant is – or at least should be – inviolate, even though it has been unfortunately narrowed.
  • Our 5th Amendment rights against the government taking our life, liberty, and property without due process are – or at least should be – inviolate, notwithstanding politicians who want more power for government.

As a lawyer, Hillary Clinton should these simple facts about the Bill of Rights.

But if this tweet is any indication, she must have slept through those lectures while at law school.

Hillary Clinton on Twitter

It’s absurd that people with suspected terrorist links can buy a gun in America, no questions

Yup, her position is that you lose your constitutional rights if some bureaucrat puts you on a secret list. Sort of like the Department of PreCrime from Minority Report.

If you wonder why this matters, check out Congressman Trey Gowdy’s brilliant evisceration of one of Obama’s political appointees.

Though it’s important to note that this isn’t – or shouldn’t be – a partisan or ideological issue. There are some honest folks on the left who very much support the right to due process and are very critical of the White House’s agenda.

For what it’s worth, at least some pro-gun control politicians admit that the Constitution is an obstacle.

As reported by the Washington Examiner, Senator Manchin of West Virginia is honest about his desire to run roughshod over the Bill of Rights.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Thursday that due process is one of the “big problems” standing in the way of lawmakers passing legislation that would keep suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms, and argued that the Fifth Amendment is “killing us right now.” “The problem we have, and really the firewall we have right now, is due process. It’s all due process,” he said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Then again, if Hillary and her supporters think that merely being a suspect of wrongdoing is sufficient to take away people’s rights, then perhaps this sarcastic response to Mrs. Clinton should be a serious proposal.

Ashe Schow on Twitter

It’s absurd that people under investigation for mishandling classified state secrets can run for president. …

By the way, the Orlando terrorist apparently wasn’t on the no-fly list, according to Bloomberg, so Obama, Clinton, and others don’t even have a factual basis for this latest assault on the Bill of Rights.

Interestingly, the White House admitted late last year that no mass shootings would have been stopped by any of the Administration’s anti-gun proposals, and it appears that is still the case today.

Now let’s look at the practical case against more gun control, especially with regards to the campaign against so-called assault weapons (which, other than some cosmetic features, are the same as traditional rifles).

John Lott and Larry Correia already have produced very powerful evidence in defense of these weapons.

Now here’s a video on the topic from a former Navy Seal.

The Wall Street Journal also is appropriately dismissive of calls for additional gun control.

Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have called for reinstating Bill Clinton’s ban on “assault weapons.” If her version works as well as her husband’s did, the terrorists will have won. From 1994 to 2002 Congress barred the sale of 18 types of rifles and shotguns that had “military style” attributes. This definition was purely political…the ban had a negligible impact on gun crime. So-called assault rifles accounted for about 2% of gun crimes prior to the ban, and the percentage of murders committed with rifles today (2% in 2014) is less than the 3% in the last year of the ban. …numerous studies, including one commissioned by the Department of Justice, …found no link to the ban and reduced crime.

Hillary’s Anti Second Amendment Agenda...For what it’s worth, places with lots of gun control (such as Europe) don’t get good results.

The media this week are full of stories about gun-death rates, without bothering to note that most of the surge is occurring in cities like Chicago that have the strictest gun laws. …As for stopping terrorism, California is among the states that continued to ban assault weapons after the federal version expired. But that didn’t stop the San Bernardino killers, who used modified rifles that violated the law. France’s strict gun laws also didn’t stop the Paris assailants.

Also writing for the Wall Street Journal, a lawyer from Florida, Ms. Ashley Lukis, is understandably irked by those who want to use terrorism as an excuse for gun control.

Instead of blaming the perverse militants who have formed a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, who are burning people alive, who are raping and murdering women and children, and who are engaging in an aggressive global propaganda campaign to encourage precisely the murderous behavior that we saw in Orlando, in San Bernardino, in Brussels and in Paris—many Americans are attacking other law-abiding citizens who happen to hold a different interpretation of the Constitution. …We are dealing with terrorism.

We are talking about evil individuals who will happily strap bombs to their bodies or hijack a commercial airliner or set off homemade explosives in the middle of a crowded street. And the best solution you can come up with is domestic gun control? …The solution to terrorism is not to pass imperfect laws that will palliate the masses until next time. Nor is the solution to look inward, to make speeches, to tweet about your grief or start a hashtag. The solution to terrorism is not to blame the gun lobby.


But let’s not stop there, because there are some people who deserve to be blamed.

Kevin Williamson’s National Reviewcolumn is must reading. He starts by dismissing the left’s proposals.

The Democrats’…proposal — having police agencies compile secret lists of possible subversives and revoking their legal rights with nothing resembling due process — is plainly unconstitutional, and wouldn’t withstand five minutes’ legal examination. …they’re talking about: keeping a list of people who have been identified by police agencies as possible threats, but who never have been charged with, much less convicted of, any crime, and rescinding their ordinary constitutional rights without so much as a court hearing.

We cannot prohibit people from buying guns with no due process for the same reason we cannot subject them to arbitrary incarceration or hunt them for sport. …Study after study after study has shown that the assault-weapon ban had zero effect on violent crime when it was in effect, and it almost certainly wouldn’t have one now, either. …Democrats keep saying that they don’t want to take away our guns, but that is, in fact, what this policy would demand.

But what we can do – but don’t – is actually enforce existing laws.

Such as those against “straw buyers.”

These cases are lots of work and generally don’t ensnare big-time criminals, but rather the idiot nephews, girlfriends, and grandmothers of big-time criminals. Putting those people in federal penitentiaries for ten years isn’t going to win anybody any friends. But they are the people who render our current background-check laws ineffective against the criminals who have turned parts of Chicago into a free-fire zone. Putting a few dozen of them away for a few dozen years might provide a strong disincentive for other would-be straw buyers, particularly those who (as is not uncommon) engage in straw buying as a commercial endeavor.

Or when the government botches the background check.

In tens of thousands of cases each year, the FBI discovers, after the fact, that the sale should not have proceeded. At this point, it issues an alert to the ATF, which in most cases then . . . does nothing at all. In a study of the 2000 data, there were about 45,000 sales that the FBI wrongly allowed to proceed, and in about 38,000 of those cases, no effort was made to recover the firearm. …Picking up wrongly sold guns isn’t that big a chore. In fact, since most of these prohibited buyers have committed a serious crime in buying a gun (though many of them may not have known it — otherwise, why go to a licensed dealer?) a strongly worded letter (“Return your gun to the dealer or go to federal prison”) and a bit of follow-up ought to do the trick.

And that gets us to Kevin’s main point.

The government does a crappy job of stopping bad guys for the simple reason that government does a crappy job of doing anything.

…killers and future killers are on the street committing their crimes because our criminal-justice system, with its vast resources, does not do its job. The police, the prosecutors, the jailers, and the parole-and-probation authorities all must answer for the fact that such a large share of our murders are committed by people already well known to law enforcement. …a fair number of crimes that could be prevented, if the people we pay to prevent them were willing to do the old-fashioned police work necessary: running down criminals, prosecuting unglamorous cases, properly managing parolees. But those jobs are entrusted to government employees, whose unions are irreplaceable benefactors of Democratic political campaigns. …expecting the generously compensated and gorgeously pensioned employees of the public sector to do their goddamned jobs…is, if you’re a scheming, opportunistic lowlife like Chuck Schumer, unthinkable.

Exactly. As Mark Steyn has noted, what’s the point of having a bloated and sclerotic public sector if it doesn’t even do the small handful of things that are legitimate functions of government?

No wonder researchers have found that small government is more efficient.

P.S. In addition to the gentleman cited above, there are other honest folks on the left.

In 2012, I shared some important observations from Jeffrey Goldberg, a left-leaning writer for The Atlantic. In his column, he basically admitted his side was wrong about gun control.

Then, in 2013, I wrote about a column by Justin Cronin in the New York Times. He self-identified as a liberal, but explained how real-world events have led him to become a supporter of private gun ownership.

P.P.S. If you like pro-Second Amendment videos, here’s a great collection.Hillary’s Anti Second Amendment Agenda...

June 16, 2016 by Dan Mitchell of The Cato Institute.

Bernie Sanders Wins Key Concessions

The Democratic primary may be over, but Bernie Sanders has secured seats at the table where he’ll push for “the most progressive platform ever passed by the Democratic Party” – including on foreign policy.
Sanders May Have Lost the Primary, But He’s Already Won Key Concessions on Foreign Policy

Bernie Sanders has accepted he’s lost the war but, having won key battles, he’s the one negotiating the terms of his surrender.

The Vermont Independent senator turned Democratic presidential contender met with presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton for two hours behind closed doors at a Washington hotel Tuesday night as the polls closed in the last primary of the Democratic nominating contest. A truce is taking shape between the former Senate colleagues, with Sanders and Clinton vowing in recent days to work together to defeat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November.

Still, Sanders came to the summit with a list of demands for reforming the Democratic Party, including a vow to push for “the most progressive platform ever passed” by the party. He’s already staked out positions well to the left of Clinton’s foreign policy on issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to the war against the Islamic State, setting the stage for potentially bitter fights.

Clinton has a well-documented record of pushing President Barack Obama to surge more troops into Afghanistan and launch a U.S.-led military intervention in Libya. And in many respects, Sanders has not forced her to substantially alter the relatively hawkish approach she’s demonstrated in her years in public office.

Still, he has succeeded — and even exceeded observers’ expectations – in forcing the Democratic Party to re-evaluate its long-held assumptions about the use of military force abroad. Clinton embodies many of those views, and Sanders won millions of votes by coming at her from the left and arguing for a less interventionist foreign policy.

The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign declined to comment on what contributions Sanders may have made to the foreign policy debate during the Democratic primary. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs also did not respond to a request for comment.

Sanders’s campaign announced he will give a video address from Burlington, Vermont, on Thursday, raising expectations that he will formally abandon his quest for the nomination — and yet, the email announcing the address was titled: “The political revolution continues.”

Sanders launched his campaign with a laser-sharp focus on domestic issues like universal health care and an expanded social welfare system. By the end, though, he had succeeded in putting Clinton on the defensive on issues like Libya’s unraveling, the ongoing carnage in Iraq, and international trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she came out against despite backing it countless times as Obama’s top diplomat.

While often deflecting questions on the specifics of his foreign policy, Sanders sought to undermine Clinton’s far deeper experience by questioning her judgment — a strategy Trump has already begun to emulate in his general election campaign.

And Sanders also forced concessions from the DNC that could have a lasting impact on the party far beyond its convention in Philadelphia in July. Due to Sanders’s undeniable success in mobilizing Democratic voters and bringing new ones — particularly young people — into the party, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave him five seats on the powerful committee charged with drafting the party’s platform. Clinton, who ultimately won 3 million more votes than her rival, received just one extra seat.

Even before the picks were named, Sanders’s national security advisors saidhe should’ve focused more on foreign policy, believing him to be more closely aligned with the Democratic base on the issue than Clinton. Several promised to push for a platform with more liberal foreign policy proposals than she has espoused, particularly in calling for more “evenhandedness” toward Palestinians in language about the long-stymied peace process.

Jim Zogby, a foreign policy advisor for Sanders who was named to the drafting committee, credited the Vermont senator for pushing Clinton to talk more about Palestinian rights and whether Israel had used disproportionate force in retaliatory strikes.

“Ending the taboo about discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a measured and balanced way was historic,” Zogby told Foreign Policy on Tuesday. He has said he will push for the word “occupation” to be included in the platform to describe the nearly five-decade Israeli presence in land Palestinians claim for a future state.

Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, has been part of the DNC’s executive body for a decade, including as co-chair of the resolutions committee and co-founder of its “Ethnic Caucus.” He’s hoping Sanders’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will have a trickle-down effect on the party’s platform, leading to a “demilitarization of our foreign policy,” including avoiding nation-building and using force as a last resort.

When Foreign Policy noted that some of those critiques sound as if they could have come from Trump, Zogby pushed back: “Donald Trump may pick up a phrase here or there [from Sanders], but that is in no way, shape, or form the same thing.”

For one of her own picks on the drafting committee, Wasserman Schultz selected Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 authorization that serves as legal foundation for the “war on terror” — both Sanders and Clinton and Clinton voted yes. Lee told Foreign Policy Wednesday she’ll continue to withhold her endorsement, because neutrality will give her a better bargaining position “if we get stuck on some of the big issues.”

She’ll personally push for issues such as an updated authorization for the ISIS fight and auditing of the Pentagon, but allowed Israel-Palestine could potentially be one on which the committee gets stuck. Still, she added, “A very volatile debate is always good.”

In going after Clinton’s judgment on foreign policy, Sanders pulled from Obama’s successful 2008 playbook. Then Sen. Obama constantly hit the woman who would become his first secretary of state for her 2002 vote for the Iraq war, and won.

In the run-up to Clinton’s clinching of the nomination, Democratic leaders’ growing calls for Sanders to tone down his criticism reflected their fears that the judgment attack would hand Trump a ready-made response to questions about his own credibility.

And it has.

Rather than fade away with Sanders’s campaign, Trump has given the judgment attack a second life. In recent weeks, he has parroted Sanders’s language and even invoked his name, wielding the word “judgment” some half a dozen times in as many days in late May and early June.

Lee said of Sanders’s tactic, “I could question his judgment,” referring to his vote for the 2001 authorization. “But I’m not going to say that,” she laughed, “questioning another’s judgment is pushing it a little bit.” Still, she doesn’t think it will hurt Clinton in the general election, particularly against Trump who “has no foreign policy.”

She said Sanders did succeed in raising “an alternative vision on foreign policy: The fact that Democrats can be strong on national security and care about global peace, without continuing to use the military option as a first resort rather than the last.”

It remains too soon to tell how enthusiastically Sanders will campaign for Clinton and what else he would be willing to do to help defeat Trump. The senator continued to withhold his endorsement following Tuesday night’s meeting, though many outside observers believe he will eventually throw his support behind her.

Wasserman Schultz said in a statement timed with the meeting: “Now that our 2016 primaries are officially at their end, Democrats are ready to unify and take on both Trump and the Republican Party that he represents.”

Sanders has long accused Wasserman Schultz of being in the tank for Clinton and replacing her is one of his primary demands, though she insists she’s staying put.

Still, Briggs, the Sanders spokesman, told reporters earlier Tuesday that the senator will not drop out “today, or tomorrow, or the next day” and “plans to stay in this through the Democratic convention.”

Photo credit: MARK WILSON/Staff

BY MOLLY O’TOOLEJUNE 15, 2016, for Foreign Policy

Discovery from Clinton Email Scandal

First Testimony from Clinton Email Discovery

The court-ordered discovery to uncover details about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email system has produced the first testimony from her top aides.

This week we released the deposition transcript of Ambassador Lewis Lukens, former deputy assistant secretary of state and executive director of the State Department’s executive secretariat.  The transcript is available here.  We deposed Amb. Lukens as part of the discovery granted to Judicial Watch by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving Clinton’s unsecured, non-government email system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)).

Lukens testified that he thought it was not unusual that Mrs. Clinton did not ask him to create a State Department email account for her.  He testified that he understood that her BlackBerry use was only to “stay in touch with friends and family.”

Lukens, according to his testimony, saw Clinton “maybe a half a dozen times” positioned “in the hallway outside the SCIF [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility] standing there looking at her BlackBerry.” Lukens testified that he saw Mrs. Clinton with her BlackBerry on foreign trips and that her aide Huma Abedin carried around two BlackBerrys.

Lukens also testified about his 2009 email exchanges with Cheryl Mills in 2009 in which he offered to set up a separate computer on non-State Department network to allow Mrs. Clinton to check her email:

Lukens also testified about his 2009 email exchanges with Cheryl Mills in 2009 in which he offered to set up a separate computer on non-State Department network to allow Mrs. Clinton to check her email:

  1. After your conversation with Ms. Mills, Ms. Mills e-mailed you, and it talks about – I’m sorry, the quality of the e-mail is a little difficult to read, but it says: “Let’s set up the office across the hall for her to use. It needs a phone, et cetera, so she can go across the hall to check her BB,” her BlackBerry.

You mentioned that you talked about setting up a computer in her office. Do you know why Ms. Mills seemed to prefer having the computer set up in the office across the hall?

  1. This wasn’t for a computer setup; this was to create a space for her to go check her BlackBerry.
  2. Okay. In the Secretary’s office, is that what’s considered a SCIF?
  3. The Secretary’s office is in a SCIF, which encompasses a lot more of the seventh floor.
  4. Okay. And the office that’s across the hall is outside that area?
  5. Correct.

Lukens also testified about his idea to set up a separate computer and network for Mrs. Clinton. Cheryl Mills and Lukens discussed the email issue in early 2009:

  1. So the crux of the issue was that BlackBerrys and iPhones are not allowed in the Secretary’s office suite, so the question was, how is the Secretary going to be able to check her e-mails if she’s not able to have the BlackBerry at her desk with her.
  2. And so what did you — did you propose a solution at that point?
  3. So my proposal was to set up a computer on her desk, a standalone computer, for her to be able to access the Internet to check her e-mails.


  1. Do you know if this setup would have been any different from the setup of other employees?
  2. Yes, this would have been different.
  3. How would it have been different?
  4. My understanding is that most of the employees’ computers in the State Department are connected through the State Department’s OpenNet e-mail system, Internet system.
  5. So this one would have been separate from the OpenNet system?
  6. Correct.

Ultimately, according to his testimony, the computer was not set up for Mrs. Clinton.

Lukens is the first of seven depositions of former Clinton top aides and State Department officials that we have scheduled over the next four weeks.  Also to be deposed are Cheryl Mills (her deposition is happening today, in fact) and Huma Abedin, as well as top State Department official Patrick Kennedy, and former State IT employee Bryan Pagliano.  In granting the discovery, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan noted that “based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary.”

It is noteworthy that this key State Department witness was insistent that he didn’t know Clinton was using emails and computer equipment for government business.  It suggests the agency is seeking to distance itself from Mrs. Clinton’s conduct.

The War Against Cash

GAINING ATTENTION these days is the idea of abolishing high denominations of the dollar and the euro. This concept graphically displays the astonishing stupidity–and intellectual bankruptcy–of today’s liberal economic policymakers and the economics profession.

Larry Summers, a former Treasury Secretary and Harvard president, is pushing the U.S. to ban $50 and $100 bills. There’s a lot of chatter, too, about prohibiting the €500 note.

The ostensible reason is to help in the fight against terrorists, bribers, drug dealers and tax evaders by making it more inconvenient for these bad guys to move around and store their ill-gotten cash.

The War Against Cash

Benjamin Franklin on a U.S. $100 bill. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)

The Benjamin is the most popular currency note in the world, with more than 10 billion in circulation. The notion that such evildoers as the Mexican drug cartels and ISIS will be seriously disrupted by the absence of the Benjamin–”These sacks of cash are too heavy now. Let’s surrender!”–is so comical that one has to wonder if Summers et al. are auditioning to write gags for Saturday Night Live.

Monetary expert Seth Lipsky pithily points out in the New York Post, “When criminals use guns, the Democrats want to take guns from law-abiding citizens. When terrorists use hundreds, the liberals want to deny the rest of us the Benjamins.”

If the Obama Administration really wants to deny resources to terrorists, why is it giving tens of billions of dollars back to the globe’s terrorism central, Iran?

The real reason for this war on cash–start with the big bills and then work your way down–is an ugly power grab by Big Government. People will have less privacy: Electronic commerce makes it easier for Big Brother to see what we’re doing, thereby making it simpler to bar activities it doesn’t like, such as purchasing salt, sugar, big bottles of soda and Big Macs.

The move to destroy cash feeds into the economic commissars’ fantasy that they can better control the economy. Policymakers in Washington, Tokyo and the EU think the reason that their economies are stagnant is that ornery people aren’t spending and investing the way they should. How to make these benighted, recalcitrant beings do what they’re supposed to do? The latest nostrum from our overlords is negative interest rates. If people have to pay fees to store their money, as they do to put their stuff in storage facilities, then, by golly, they might be more inclined to spend it. To inhibit cash hoarding–when Japan announced it was imposing negative interest rates, the sale of safes soared–the authorities will want to do away with large notes.

We kid you not. The highly credentialed author of a paper advocating the prohibition of large currency denominations declared, “Introducing negative interest rates would create a powerful incentive to hold deposits in cash, most likely in higher denominations. Eliminating high-denomination notes, so that saving in cash was more inconvenient, would mitigate this problem.”

Manipulating the value of money and controlling interest rates, i.e., the price of money, never works. Money measures value. It is a claim on services and is a tool for facilitating commerce and investing.

The reason economies around the world are in the ditch–which is fueling anger, discontent and ugly politics–is structural, government-created barriers: unstable money, suffocating rules and too-high rates of taxation.

By Steve Forbes on Steve Forbes’ new book, Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed Will Restore Hope and Prosperity.)

For more from this issue’s Fact and Comment see here: Why The Germans Stuck With Hitler

GOP to Trump: Stop alienating Latinos

donald_trump-GOP to Trump: Stop alienating Latinos

Washington (CNN) Top Republican officials and donors are increasingly worried about the threat Donald Trump’s attack on a judge’s Mexican heritage could pose to their party’s chances in November — and about the GOP’s ability to win Latino votes for many elections to come.

Trump is under fire for repeatedly accusing U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit involving Trump University, of bias because of his Mexican heritage. Those concerns intensified Sunday after Trump said he would have the same concerns about the impartiality of a Muslim judge.
House and Senate GOP leaders have condemned Trump’s remarks about Curiel, while donors have openly worried that losing Latino voters could doom them in key down-ballot races. Other important party figures, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, are urging Trump to change his combative, confrontational style before it’s too late.
Veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson warned this weekend that GOP leaders who have endorsed Trump “own his politics.”
“You own his politics,” Wilson wrote in a column for Heatstreet, adding later, “You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth.”
The GOP’s deepest fear: A Barry Goldwater effect that could last far longer than Trump’s political aspirations.
Goldwater, the Arizona senator who was the 1964 GOP nominee and a leader of the conservative movement, alienated a generation of African-American voters by opposing the Civil Rights Act — opening the door for Democrats to lock in their support for decades. Republicans fret that Trump could similarly leave a stain with Latino voters.

GOP: ‘Concerned’

“I am concerned about that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday.
“America is changing. When Ronald Reagan was elected, 84% of the electorate was white,”McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This November, 70% will be. It’s a big mistake for our party to write off Latino Americans. And they’re an important part of the country and soon to be the largest minority group in the country.”
“I hope he’ll change his direction on that,” said McConnell, who first made the Goldwater comparison last week in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
That hasn’t happened yet. In interviews Sunday, Trump wouldn’t back away from his assertion that Curiel’s parents’ birth in Mexico has left the judge angry over Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and biased in the legal case over Trump University. Trump even went further, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he’d have similar concerns over a Muslim judge, since he has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump’s remarks led to condemnations from the same leading Republicans that in recent weeks have embraced him — and accepted that the party’s fate in November is inextricably linked to his.
“I don’t agree with what he had to say,” McConnell said.
“This is a man who was born in Indiana,” McConnell said of Curiel. “All of us came here from somewhere else. Almost all Americans are either near-term immigrants like my wife, who came here at age 8 not speaking a word of English, or the rest of us whose ancestors were risk-takers who came here and made this country great. That’s an important part of what makes America work.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, just a day after announcing his endorsement of Trump, bashed him on a Wisconsin radio station.
“Look, the comment about the judge, just was out of left field for my mind,” Ryan said Friday on WISN in Milwaukee. “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to, I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”
The criticism from McConnell and Ryan was predictable: Both preside over GOP majorities that are threatened thanks to competitive races in Latino-heavy states like Arizona, Nevada and Florida.
More surprising was the condemnation from Gingrich, who has transparently jockeyed for a spot on Trump’s ticket.
“I don’t know what Trump’s reasoning was, and I don’t care,” Gingrich told The Washington Post. “His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable.”
Gingrich was even sharper on “Fox News Sunday,” calling Trump’s remarks “inexcusable.”
Trump responded to Gingrich’s critique on Monday, telling “Fox and Friends” that the former House Speaker’s comments were “inappropriate.”

‘One of the worst mistakes’

“This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made,” Gingrich said.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman who has provided key Republican support for Trump’s foreign policy stances and is also often named as a prospective vice presidential candidate, rebuked Trump’s comments about the judge on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I think that he’s going to have to change,” Corker said of Trump’s overall behavior and campaign tactics.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who has been outspoken about his opposition to Trump, tweeted Monday: “Public Service Announcement: Saying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of “racism.”
Trump’s campaign downplayed the impact of his assertion that the judge’s Mexican heritage could preclude him from delivering fair rulings in the Trump University case.
Another campaign adviser laughed when asked if Trump officials can talk to the candidate about watching what he says.
Alberto Gonzales, who led the Justice Department under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Saturday that Curiel’s Mexican heritage shouldn’t be enough to disqualify him from overseeing the case. But, Gonzales said, Trump is entitled to a fair trial, and the appearance of impropriety could be enough for him to reasonably request that Curiel recuse himself.
Trump thanked Gonzales for his support.
Inside the Republican Party, campaigns and donor circles, fear over the damage Trump’s remarks could do to the party’s relationship with Latino voters was palpable.
“Awful,” a top Republican official said of Trump’s attack on the judge. “We are all beside ourselves.”
The official went on to say that “you have to feel for Paul Ryan,” who had just announced his support for Trump.

Depth of concerns

In a series of interviews with donors, fundraisers and congressional officials, the depth of the concerns about what Trump’s latest attacks underscore become clear.
“Honestly? My worst fear. Call me stupid — I was one of the guys who figured he’d do the whole pivot thing,” said one donor, referring to an often-used strategy of moving more to the middle after securing the nomination.
The donor, who had been active for several candidates during the primary, said he was “ready to get in line” once Trump signed the joint-fundraising agreement last month with the RNC. The bold names associated with the joint agreement — people like businessman Woody Johnson — were enough of a sign, the donor said.
Now? “Not so much.”
But it may be bigger than that, according to several GOP officials. Republicans are defending 24 seats in the Senate while holding a slim four-seat majority. While the House majority is significantly more robust — 58 seats — there are members in that chamber who saw their seats move into riskier positions the day Trump locked up the nomination.
The solution — one that top GOP officials on Capitol Hill have been repeating in the weeks since — has been to make sure top donors dump cash into the down ballot races.
Up to this point, they’ve done just that. One fundraiser with ties to one of the two primary GOP congressional super PACs said donors have been “burning up the phone lines” trying to figure out how to help protect GOP majorities in Congress.
The primary Senate GOP super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, had more than $16.3 million on hand at the end of April, the last time numbers were reported with the FEC. The group raised more than $4 million in March and April alone — a number that, according to the fundraiser, will increase “significantly” in the months ahead.
The top House super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, nearly doubled its 2015 fundraising in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
“The concern is — do we get to the point that all the money in the world doesn’t matter?” asked another donor, who said his whole goal this cycle was to protect House and Senate candidates. “We’re obviously not there right now, but stupid s— like this really makes you wonder.”
Democrats are certainly trying to make each Trump comment sting. The party’s House and Senate campaign committees are firing out a steady clip of press releases attempting to tie each vulnerable candidate to Trump. Democrats make clear those comments will be featured heavily in the fall in attack ads.
Perhaps more noticeably, over the weekend, talks between top GOP figures about the future of the party have become more urgent. Several Republican officials pointed to McConnell’s comments to Jake Tapper on CNN last week, where he first voiced concern about Trump’s effect on Latino voters mirroring that of Goldwater’s effect on black voters.
Yet those same officials watched McConnell go to great lengths not to say that Trump’s attacks on the judge in the Trump University case were racism.
“That was just painful,” said one Republican official who served in George W. Bush’s administration. The official added that the reality is McConnell — and Ryan and every Republican in a leadership position or facing an election challenge — “will be stuck dealing with the latest Trumpism every interview of every day, of every month until November.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated which committee Sen. Bob Corker is the chairman of. It is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Voters are perplexed

The voters are perplexedThis article was reported by Katie Zezima in Indiana, Robert Samuels in New Jersey, Ed O’Keefe in Nevada, Vanessa Williams in North Carolina, Isaac Stanley-Becker in Virginia and Karen Tumulty in Washington.

The name of this town north of Terre Haute may be Clinton, but it is Donald Trump country — the kind of place where, on a perfect late-spring day, Tim Donna and two buddies could be found taking turns shooting AR-15s at an outdoor firing range.

Donna, 53, voted for Trump, as did 70 percent of the Republicans who cast primary ballots here in Vermillion County. But in the weeks since, he has grown less thrilled about the prospect of a Trump presidency. Although Donna said he would never cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton, he worries about Trump’s foreign policy — which Donna said “will suck” — and he has watched with alarm as the mogul-turned-presumptive Republican nominee has claimed that an Indiana-born federal judge’s Hispanic heritage made him biased.

“I’m afraid his mouth is gonna get us in trouble,” Donna said of his preferred candidate.

Returning home from a walk close to her gated golfing community near Gainesville, Va., Sue Munson, 67, sounded as if she is practically Donna’s mirror opposite.

An independent, she expects to vote for Clinton, though she has trepidation about the former secretary of state. Munson worries that Clinton, with all her years of public controversy, is “very divisive.”

But mostly what drives her toward Clinton is her feeling that Trump is a “threat to democracy” who would leave America “so tarnished we would never recover.”

With the wildest primary season in memory coming to an end and the two major parties having settled on their nominees, it seems fair to say that the state of our union is . . . perplexed.

As voters turn to the real choice that is ahead, they are having trouble getting to yes with either candidate.

In dozens of interviews across the country — from heavily white small towns in Indiana to black neighborhoods in Charlotte, from retirement communities in suburban Virginia to Hispanic and Muslim enclaves in Las Vegas and New Jersey, respectively — voters sounded far more passionate talking about why they could not vote for one of the two candidates than in making a positive case for either.

A phrase that came up more than any other was, “the lesser of two evils,” reflecting the fact that Trump and Clinton have higher unfavorability ratings than any two candidates the two parties have put forward since polling began.

On the night six states including California and New Jersey went to the polls, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vowed to continue “the struggle,” even as rival Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had pivoted to thanking supporters and slamming Republican Donald Trump. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

The reality that Trump, the blunt outsider who slew the Republican establishment, could be president is finally hitting some who voted for him in the primary.

Since his candidacy announcement a year ago this week, Trump has seemed immune from the fallout of his outrageous comments, in part because he was playing to a Republican electorate and running in a crowded field.

But now that he has won his spot at the top of the ballot, the context has shifted. Even Trump supporters said they have been alarmed by his unpresidential behavior lately, particularly his sharp attacks on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a civil fraud lawsuit involving Trump University.

With Clinton, their reservations are the opposite, in some ways, from their fear of a Trumpian unknown. In her case, it is that voters think they know her too well.

She, too, won a spirited primary campaign — in her case, against an opponent who did surprisingly well by painting her as everything that is wrong about the status quo.

At a time when Americans want change and are fed up, can the ultimate insider shake off the accumulated ambivalence that has been built up around her since she stepped on the national stage a generation ago? The controversy over her use of a private email system when she was secretary of state has only reinforced their concerns about her trustworthiness.

“It’s a clown show. I’m pretty much embarrassed to be an American citizen,” said Tim Spendal, a registered Democrat who owns a meat market in Clinton and who hasn’t decided how he will vote in November.

“I’m probably going to wait until they hash it out. Watch a debate,” Spendal said. “I want to know if Trump can speak without being racist and pissing people off.”

Interviews across the country suggest that the problems afflicting Trump and Clinton are unsettling many of their potential supporters, but in most cases are not yet disqualifying. This dynamic is the backdrop for the intense and nasty battle ahead.

The time-honored playbook for running against an unpopular opponent is to make the election about that other person. Trump and Clinton probably will seek to mobilize their own supporters with aggressive attacks on each other, while each also is likely to try to peel voters away from the other by stoking the doubts already present in their minds.

Polls indicate that only about one-quarter of the public thinks that the country is on the right track.

“I look around, and I see our nation is hurting. Something’s gotta change, or else we’re not gonna have nothing,” said Samantha Barber, 31, who works at a food-processing plant in Mooresville, Ind., and who worries about what the future holds for her three elementary-school-age children.

But when this undecided voter considered the standard-bearers that the two parties will be putting at the top of the ballot in November, she said: “I don’t like any of them. It’s just a big game.”

For minority communities in particular, this year is a far cry from the euphoria of 2008, with its prospect of making then-Sen. Barack Obama the first black president.

But for many nonwhites, Trump’s candidacy may have ignited a new sense of purpose. His talk of building a wall on the Mexican border and temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country has elevated the stakes in what the current polls show to be a tight presidential race.

“It’s woken up an immense giant, and it’s giving us that boost that we needed to understand the value that we have in the community, and helped us realize that if we don’t unite and we don’t turn out, we’ll lose,” said Nelson Araujo, 28, a Nevada state assemblyman who represents some of the most heavily Hispanic parts of Las Vegas. “It is a big election cycle, but the severity and consequences could be really grave, at least for our community, should Trump come out successful.”

On the other side of the country, in South Brunswick, N.J., Azra Baig, who was attending a mosque for the final prayers of the night during Islam’s holy month, expressed a similar sentiment.

“We don’t need to just watch, we need to get out and vote,” said Baig, a 43-year-old registered nurse who was the first female Asian American voted to the school board in South Brunswick. “This is a dangerous man; we don’t know what he’s capable of. That’s what makes it so scary.”

Dealing with doubts on Trump

Three times a week, Norma Quinn, 90, watches the squabbling and name-calling on cable news as she undergoes dialysis in Prince William County, the fast-growing exurban area that is considered a bellwether in battleground state Virginia.

“In the beginning, I was warming up to Trump — he doesn’t talk like a politician, which was refreshing,” she said. “But he has made such a fool of himself. His conduct has disturbed me, and I don’t think I want him to lead our country.”

Nor does she think much of his ideas.

Build a wall along the Mexican border? “Not possible,” Quinn said.

And those comments about Curiel, the judge? “Clearly racist. He has to apologize.”

Trump often notes how his candidacy produced record numbers in the Republican primary, and predicts that he can bring out voters — and win states — that do not usually end up in the GOP column.

“That’s a very important part of our strategy,” his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an interview. “Now, we’ve got a clear choice; there’s a clear dichotomy in this election.”

But if Cathy Horn of Brooklyn, Ind., is any indication, Trump still has some work to do within his party, winning over those who voted for other GOP candidates.

Horn, 66, has worked at a steel mill for 44 years and supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the primary. As she sat in her Saturn SUV the other day in Brooklyn, she pondered her choice for the fall.

“I don’t want to see either of them in there,” Horn said. “Mr. Trump does not have the finesse to be president. Hillary is getting in because of her husband and because she’s female.”

Horn was horrified to hear Trump’s comments about Curiel, and cannot understand why GOP leaders such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) can denounce what he said and still support him.

On some level, Horn said, she is simply mystified: “I feel as though I don’t know what’s going on in our country.”

Steve Dowling, 53, is another Kasich voter who feels torn. A district sales manager in Stow, Ohio, he was visiting for a conference.

He will be closely watching the GOP convention in his home state in July for signs that Trump is up to the job.

But he also said he is open to an alternative to the two major-party standard-bearers.

“I’m hopeful someone comes in and is a stronger candidate,” he said at an Applebee’s restaurant in Camby, Ind. “I don’t know if we needed it in the past, but if these are the candidates, it is going to open the door for a third party.”

Jeff Cooprider, a 67-year-old retiree, cast his vote in the Indiana primary for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). He forgives Trump’s comment about Curiel but has another concern: his temperament.

“I think we’re headed for a war if we get Trump in there,” Cooprider said at a McDonald’s in Terre Haute, Ind. “Not just over there, but over here, with all the protesters.”

But, he added, “I just can’t make myself vote for Hillary, so that leaves Trump, I guess.”

Others say they voted for Trump, and remain glad they did.

Gary Shay, 71, was nursing a cup of coffee in Clinton at Benjamin’s restaurant, a .38 Special on his hip.

“I want to bring this country back to where it used to be,” Shay said. “It all comes back to basics: He’s a Christian. God, guns and guts. And patriotism.”

Finding their way to Clinton

Carmen Blackmon, 54, runs an after-school program in Charlotte, where African Americans and Hispanics make up 40 percent of the population.

Those two groups also propelled Clinton toward the presumptive nomination. Clinton won 78 percent of African American voters and 60 percent of Latinos. Among whites, Sanders narrowly edged her out in exit polls across the primaries.

Blackmon likes the idea of electing the first female president. But, she said, “I am nowhere near as happy or excited as I was when President Obama was running.”

Torn between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary, “I finally settled for Hillary, because the main thing for me was, well, who really does have the greatest experience? Who really will be able to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump?” Blackmon said. “I can’t say that I’m excited about her being my choice, but there’s no way — I cannot vote for Donald Trump.”

There was a similar tone of resignation at Mariana’s SuperMarket, which is 5 1/2 miles northeast of Las Vegas’s famed Strip and Trump’s gold hotel tower there.

In 106-degree heat, a Democratic organizer was trying to sign up new voters as part of the party’s goal of adding 16,000 people from this neighborhood to the rolls by the time registration ends in October.

Ericka Morales, a 19-year-old Army reservist, stopped and took a clipboard.

“I was kind of hoping it was going to be Bernie,” she said. Morales does not think that all of Trump’s ideas are bad, but immigration is her top concern, because she has family members whom he would round up and deport.

As for Clinton: “She’s kind of taken the wrong side. But she’s a woman. She’s going to represent me a little more.”

Jose Macias, 27, was voting early Wednesday, ahead of this week’s Nevada primaries for local and congressional elections. The national debate over immigration policy is very real to him. His father is eligible to stay in this country under Obama’s delayed-action program for parents of Americans, which Republicans have argued is an unconstitutional abuse of executive power; his mother died of a stroke two years ago because she was too scared, as an undocumented immigrant, to call an ambulance.

“I don’t want to wake up in a country where Trump is my president,” Macias said. But he also acknowledged that, as a Sanders supporter, he is not without misgivings about Clinton.

“She never really inspired me, and right now, I’m at a point where I don’t know if I trust her,” he said, adding that one way she could remedy that is to add Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to her ticket.

At the South Brunswick mosque, worshipers were also coming to grips with the fact that a major political party is getting ready to nominate a presidential candidate who would ban people of their faith — temporarily, Trump says — from coming to the United States.

“Anyone but Trump,” said Nouran Shehata, 21, a recent graduate from Rutgers University. “Hillary Clinton was not my preferred choice, but we recognize the big risk.”


Where Will Party Members Turn?

Where Will Party Members Turn?

The Republican and Democratic parties are facing an interesting dilemma this year. How do party members get behind their respective nominees and their campaigns and vote for them even if they have strong feelings against the nominee’s positions and their perceived lack of personal integrity? In an election year when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have favorability ratings close to that of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV after he killed Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, will party members vote the party line or will they defect to a third party or even the opposition party?

For party members, voting for your party’s nominee isn’t a simple decision and it’s creating a moral dilemma for politicos on both sides — especially for the Republican Party. Trump’s recent comments about the Mexican heritage of the American-born judge presiding over the Trump University case has caused several prominent Republicans to withdraw their support for Trump and to strongly condemn his comments.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been one of the loudest critics. He was asked by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, “Are you comfortable with a potential president attacking a federal judge for his heritage?” Gingrich, who many have speculated was on Trump’s list of possible running mates, responded by saying his comments were “inexcusable.”

“No. This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it’s inexcusable,” Gingrich said. “He has every right to criticize a judge, and he has every right to say certain decisions aren’t right, and his attorneys can file to move the venue from the judge. First of all, this judge was born in Indiana. He is an American, period. When you come to America, you get to become an American, and Trump, who has grandparents who came to the U.S., should understand this as much as anybody.”

Gingrich blasted Trump for not acting like a potential leader of the United States, saying the primary season was over and he needed to act like a leader.

Other Republicans that took convincing to support Trump publicly, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have begun to withdrawal their support based on these recent comments as well. And others such as House Speaker Paul Ryan have had to publicly defend their support of Trump.

So what does a Republican Party member do? Do Republicans stick with the party’s nominee or do they abandon “The Party of Lincoln” because of Trump’s recent comments or do they support him to keep the White House from another Clinton? And do the preferences of either of our two established parties matter as we have become a nation of independents?

A Nation of Independents

In Gallup’s most recent poll on party affiliation in the U.S., likely voters were asked, “As of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, Democrat, or Independent?”

The results showed that independent voters represent 45% of likely voters which dwarfs both Republicans (27%) and Democrats (28%). This is why many believe that independents and swing voters control the electorate. Independent voters haven’t committed to a specific platform or party and are able to vote their conscience and have no set party ties. In some cases, independent voters have been locked out of state primaries due to not being members of a specific party and haven’t yet been able to vote for the candidate of their choice.

The Future of Third Parties is Bright

One thing that we will see in future election cycles is the formation of new political parties and the rise of organizations similar to the Reform Party of 1992 that put Ross Perot on the ballot. Bernie Sanders supporters have already formed a new organization, Brand New Congress, to organize and support electing congressional candidates in key races that support the Sanders agenda. The Libertarian Party has also received a boost in voter interest and is getting behind Gary Johnson, who is approaching the 15% thresholdfor inclusion in the Presidential debates.

With a large number of both Republicans and Democrats not likely to support their party’s nominee and independents not being tied to a specific party, will this be the presidential election that puts a third party in the White House? I leave you with that question… because I for sure don’t have the answer.

U.S. Foreign Policy Is Still Dominant

 Does U.S. foreign policy matter? Of course it does, but how much? The United States has a reputation for driving the course of world affairs — but it doesn’t necessarily deserve it.

These days, both proponents and critics of America’s omnipresent role in the world tend to portray U.S. foreign policy as the single most important factor driving world affairs. For defenders of global activism, active U.S. engagement (including a willingness to use military force in a wide variety of situations) is the source of most of the positive developments that have occurred over the past 50 years and remains critical to preserving a “liberal” world order.

By contrast, critics of U.S. foreign policy both at home and abroad tend to blame “U.S. imperialism,” the “Great Satan,” or mendacious Beltway bungling for a host of evil actions or adverse global trends and believe the world will continue to deteriorate unless the United States mends its evil ways.

Both sides of this debate are wrong. To be sure, the United States is still the single most influential actor on the world stage. Although its population is only about 5 percent of humankind, the United States produces roughly 20 to 25 percent of gross world product and remains the only country with global military capabilities. It has security partnerships all over the world, considerable influence in many international organizations, and it casts a large cultural shadow.

The United States, in short, is hardly the “pitiful, helpless giant” that Richard Nixon once feared it would become. At the same time, it deserves neither all of the credit nor all of the blame for the current state of world politics. Let’s unpack these competing claims and see where each one goes astray.

For defenders of the U.S.-led “liberal world order,” America’s global role is the source of (almost) All Good Things. As Samuel P. Huntington put it more than 20 years ago, U.S. primacy is “central to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world.” Or as Politico’s Michael Hirsh once wrote(possibly after one too many espressos), “the role played by the United States is the greatest gift the world has received in many, many centuries, possibly all of recorded history.”

Hyperbole aside, that self-congratulatory worldview is almost a truism within the U.S. foreign-policy establishment. In this version of recent world events, America’s “Greatest Generation” defeated fascism in World War II and then went on to found the United Nations, lead the global campaign for human rights, spread democracy far and wide, and create and guide the key economic institutions (World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc.) that have produced six decades of (mostly) steady economic growth. By leading alliances in Europe and Asia and deploying its military force far and wide, the United States has also ensured six decades of great power peace. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright captured this narrative perfectly when she famously said the United States was the “indispensable nation” that sees further than others do, and all three post-Cold War presidents embraced and endorsed that view as well.

There’s more than a grain of truth in some of these claims, but defenders of American “leadership” badly overstate their case. Yes, we’ve seen 60-plus years without a direct clash between major powers, but the nuclear revolution probably has as much to do with the reluctance of great powers to fight each other as with the global military presence of the United States. Moreover, as John Mueller has argued, the past few decades of peace may also be due to cultural and attitudinal changes occasioned by the destruction and brutality of the two world wars. Nor should we forget Europe’s own efforts to build a supranational organization — beginning with the original European Coal and Steel Community and culminating in the European Union — that was explicitly intended to prevent a return to the bloodlettings of the past.

The point is that we do not really know why the past 60 years have been more peaceful than the decades that preceded them, but U.S. leadership was probably only one factor among several.

Furthermore, this peaceful “world order” was actually quite limited in scope and hardly covered the entire globe. As American historian Andrew Bacevichmakes clear, the pacifying effects of U.S. leadership did not prevent costly wars in Korea or Indochina, did not prevent India and Pakistan from fighting in 1965 or 1971, and did not stop millions of Africans from dying in recurring civil and international wars. The United States did help end the brief Middle East wars in 1956, 1967, and 1973, but it did little to prevent them from breaking out and didn’t get serious about genuine peace efforts until it helped broker the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in the 1970s. Washington did nothing to stop the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), and U.S. leaders actively fueled conflicts in Central America and Southern Africa when they seemed to serve broader strategic purposes. U.S. aid to the Afghan mujahideen may have helped bring the Soviet Union down, but it also helped wreck Afghanistan and gave birth to the Taliban and al Qaeda. More recently, American “leadership” has produced failed states or worse in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. As an agent for peace, in short, the United States has a decidedly mixed record.

We should be equally cautious in crediting America with the past six decades of economic growth. To be sure, the original Bretton Woods institutions performed reasonably well in their day, and U.S. support for trade liberalization helped reduce global tariffs and fueled the post-World War II recoveries. But U.S. “leadership” of the world economy was hardly an unbroken string of successes: U.S. Middle East policy helped cause the punishing oil crises of the 1970s, and the 2008 financial crisis from which the world economy is still recovering began right here in the United States.

My point is not that the U.S. role in the world has been consistently negative; the point is that those who believe U.S. leadership is the primary barrier to a return to anarchy and barbarism are overstating America’s positive contributions. It is far from obvious, for example, that the United States needs to garrison the world in order to maintain a healthy U.S. economy, because it is free to trade and invest wherever profitable opportunities arise. Or as Dan Drezner has noted: “The economic benefits from military predominance alone seem, at a minimum, to have been exaggerated in policy and scholarly circles.”

But if defenders of American hegemony give U.S. leadership too much credit, some critics of U.S. foreign policy make the opposite error. I’m often critical of U.S. foreign policy — and especially its overreliance on military force, indifference to the deaths it causes, self-righteous hypocrisy, and refusal to hold officials accountable — but my criticisms pale in comparison to those offered up by the extreme left and extreme right and by many foreign opponents. Blaming all the world’s ills on the United States is not merely factually wrong; it lets the real perpetrators off the hook.

For example, though it is clear that unthinking U.S. support has sometimes enabled allies to misbehave in various ways, these states acted as they did for their own reasons and not because they were following Washington’s orders. The United States did not want Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons or back the Taliban, for example, and it does not want Israel to keep expanding settlements or pummeling Gaza for no good reason. Nor did Washington want Saudi Arabia to spend millions of dollars spreading Wahhabi ideology or want other key allies to sign up for China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. U.S. leaders did not do all they could to stop these (and other) activities, but even a global superpower cannot control everything its allies do.

Similarly, the United States did not launch the uprisings against Muammar al-Qaddafi or Bashar al-Assad, did not start the long civil conflict in Yemen, and cannot be blamed for the Sunni-Shiite divide that is now polarizing the Middle East. The financial meltdown on Wall Street may have triggered the euro crisis, but the United States is not responsible for the foolish decision to create the euro in the first place, and Washington didn’t tell the Greek government to cook its books or tell German banks to make foolish loans. The Turkish, Polish, and Hungarian governments aren’t drifting toward authoritarianism today because Washington encouraged them, and they will almost certainly chart their own course no matter what U.S. leaders advise.

Instead of seeing the United States as all-powerful and either uniquely good or evil, therefore, it makes more sense to see it as pretty much like most past great powers. It has done some good things, mostly out of self-interest but occasionally for the benefit of others as well. It has made some pretty horrific blunders, and these actions had significant repercussions. It has done bad things for the usual reasons — overconfidence, ignorance, excessive idealism, etc. — and, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, “just because it could.”

As I’ve noted in the past, U.S. foreign policy works best when it puts diplomacy first and views the use of force as a last resort. Its military power is often very effective at deterring large-scale aggression and especially when vital U.S. interests are obviously engaged. As the 1991 Gulf War showed, the United States can also be effective at reversing aggression, especially when it combines force and diplomacy and has clear and feasible political goals. The United States can sometimes promote human rights and other liberal values, but success is more likely when the United States is patient and works in tandem with local forces (as it did in South Korea, the Philippines, or Myanmar). When Washington tries to do social engineering at the point of a gun — as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a few other places — the results are not pretty.

And what worries me — and should worry you, too — is that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump appears to get this. Clinton remains an unapologetic liberal interventionist, whose judgment has frequently led her astray but who appears to have learned little from the experience. Trump, on the other hand, is a modern-day descendant of the 19th-century “Know-Nothings,” a man who seems unconcerned by his own ignorance and who probably thinks Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would make a good U.N. ambassador. Given that there are more than 150 million native-born Americans over the age of 35 (and thus eligible to be president), it’s depressing to think our choices — realistically speaking — are coming down to this.

Photo credit: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images

Written by BY STEPHEN M. WALT for Foreign Policy.

Trump Plays the Bernie Card

Trump Plays the Bernie Card on Hillary

Hillary Clinton put to bed many ghosts that have haunted her campaign when she claimed both the Democratic presidential nomination and a primary win in California early Wednesday. But an especially stubborn one staggers on: “judgment.”

Democratic Party leaders are outright pushing Clinton rival Bernie Sanders toward the exit now that the former secretary of state has blown past the necessary number of delegates for the nomination. But even as the Vermont senator’s impassioned campaign against economic inequality that surprised pundits and inspired voters comes to an inevitable end, one of his primary attack lines against Clinton — that she’s shown poor judgment on foreign policy — lives on in an unlikely host, Donald Trump.

On Tuesday night, Clinton marked her history-making moment in an emotional speech to a raucous crowd in New York, eight years to the day after she conceded the 2008 Democratic primary to then-Sen. Barack Obama. But she didn’t miss the opportunity to hit the general election strategy she launched last week against Trump in a sharp address focused on national security.

“Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander in chief,” Clinton said Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

As the presumptive GOP nominee for weeks, Trump already has honed a retort, questioning the former secretary of state’s judgment. He’s barraged her vote for the Iraq war and blamed her push for intervention in Libya with the current “mess,” as Obama himself put it last week.

In his own Tuesday night speech, reading off a teleprompter, Trump described his “America First” neo-isolationist foreign policy prescriptions as “the opposite of Hillary’s foreign policy, which invaded Libya, destabilized Iraq, unleashed ISIS, and threw Syria into chaos” — just to name a few.

Notwithstanding Trump’s spelling of the word “judgment,” his attacks sound all too familiar.

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president because her judgement has been proven to be so bad! Would be four more years of stupidity!

In 2007, then-candidate Obama undermined Clinton’s far more extensive experience on foreign policy by seeking to highlight the unintended but disastrous consequences of some of her policy decisions, primarily her 2002 vote for the Iraq war as a New York senator.

“Even at the time, it was possible to make judgments that this would not work out well,” Obama said of her Iraq vote the day after he announced his candidacy.

Obama, conveniently not in Congress at the time of the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in favor of invading Iraq, made it a linchpin of his campaign and an albatross for Clinton’s. She eventually said she regretted her “yea,” based on intelligence later proved to be false, but she struggled to shake it.

History repeated with Sanders. His constant invocation of Clinton’s vote, contrasted with his own “nay,” became his go-to response to foreign policy questions throughout the 2016 campaign, papering over his own lack of details for how his national security strategy would differ from hers, or Obama’s.

“The major foreign policy issue in the modern history of this country was the war in Iraq. I voted against the war in Iraq; she voted for the war in Iraq,” hetold Foreign Policy in January. “So I’m not going to apologize to anybody about my judgment on foreign policy.”

In April, when Sanders and Clinton exchanged fire over foreign policy in a bitter debate before the key New York primary, Sanders explicitly outlined the strategy.

“Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president? Of course she does,” he said. “But I do question her judgment.”

Democratic leaders fretted that Sanders’s argument could do lasting damage to the party’s likely nominee in the general election, and set up an easy play for Trump.

He’s happily obliged.

Of course, after the at-times acerbic 2008 Democratic primary, Obama asked Clinton to be his first secretary of state, a point that she has repeatedly made in answer to Sanders’s foreign policy attacks in 2016.

But against Trump, the same counterstrike may not be effective, as the real-estate magnate who’s never been elected to public office seeks to tie her to a spate of foreign policy crises that have dogged the second Obama administration.

Instead, Clinton is pulling from a grab bag of controversial statements that the infamously inconsistent Trump has made on foreign policy. It’s a preview of a general election in which her best attack lines against the presumptive GOP nominee may be his own.

Photo credit: Getty Images/Foreign Policy illustration

By Molly O’Toole for Foreign Policy