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.”


Five lies Clinton told in the debate

Maybe you’re like me and have grown used to Presidential debates giving no information at all. Turns out we’re wrong though: Hillary Clinton told these five lies in Saturday’s debate. By seeing what she’s lying about, we can get an idea of what her agenda is, or what she thinks her weaknesses are.

Photo by Marc Nozell on Flickr

Photo by Marc Nozell on Flickr

1. “I have a strategy to combat and defeat ISIS without getting us involved in another ground war”

That’s a lie. Secretary Clinton has no plan. It’s tautology:

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 12.44.03 PM

Saying that your plan to defeat ISIS is to crush ISIS, is saying that you have no plan at all to defeat the Islamic State, but you just want to signal to voters that you care. It’s the new “Message: I care” about the Islamic State.

She later goes on to explain that prong three of her plan to keep us safe is to, yup, “thirdly, to do more to keep us safe.” There’s no plan here, it’s empty words to duck the fact that there’s no daylight between Clinton’s foreign policy, and Obama’s failures.

2. “We have to do the best possible job of sharing intelligence and information.”

Clinton and Obama opposed CISPA, the idea Republicans have repeatedly supported in Congress to heighten information sharing between government and the private sector, about threats.

Private business are on the front lines every day. They are on the Internet bearing continuous attack from China, Russia, Islamists, and of course domestic anarchists. Getting them information about attacks, and letting them share what they’re seeing, is a no brainer, but she opposed it.

3. “We lose 33,000 people a year already to gun violence”.

This statistic is your classic lie with statistics. She wants you to imagine that’s 33,000 murders a year, but this includes accidents and suicides.

Given that we lose a similar number of people to automobile-related incidents every year, it’s easy to see that this misleading logic could lead to all sorts of nanny-state solutions.

4. “We also have to figure out how we’re going to deal with the radicalization here in the United States.”

Given that Clinton refuses to recognize, and in fact flatly denies that we are in a clash of civilizations, it’s hard to see how she’s at all prepared to deal with “radicalization” at home. If you’re not willing to accept that the ideology of Islam is one that is fundamentally incompatible with western values of liberty, equality, and opportunity, then you’re just paying lip service. You don’t mean the words coming out of your mouth.

5. “So we always have to balance liberty and security, privacy and safety, but I know that law enforcement needs the tools to keep us safe.”

What Clinton proposed at the debate is that we give government a “back door” into every encryption tool in America, essentially ending technological privacy in America. Any back door government can use, bad actors can get a hold of. So she’s not talking about balance. She’s talking turning the dial all the way toward government, back to the old Clinton administration’s “Clipper chip” ideas.

Key escrow is a great idea for encryption within an organization, such as the US government or a corporation. But for private citizens, it’s a bad idea. It’s a fundamentally dangerous idea as it eliminates the very idea of privacy, rather than simply threatening it. No more secrets.

Clinton just can’t tell the truth. But it’s no wonder when all she wants is to turn back the clock to the ideas Americans have been rejecting ever since she and her husband last left office.

Hillary Clinton: What Has She Done?

Hillary Clinton at Senate Benghazi hearingIt seems that many Democrats think that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a slam-dunk for the Democrat Presidential nomination in 2016. According to their narrative, it’s time to clear the field of all other pretenders to the throne of Obama and begin the coronation. How ridiculous. What has she done during her long time in the arena of ideas?

Let’s start at the beginning with her early attempt at HillaryCare, known officially as the Health Security Act. Proposed by the new administration in January 1993, it was a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for all Americans. Bill Clinton quickly set up the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, headed by his wife, to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for all Americans.

This sparked the first controversy when their opponents sued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit over her participation. Although the Clinton’s won in court it set the stage for the rest of the controversial proceedings.

After 18 months of hearings, negotiations and compromises, the attempt failed when Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell announced that their weren’t enough Democrat senators supporting the bill. This was followed by the disastrous 1994 mid-term elections where the GOP seized control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time since the 83rd Congress of 1953–1954.

Then, of course we had the TravelGate scandal in May 1993. Critics contended the firings were done to allow friends of the Clintons to take over the travel business and that the involvement of the FBI was unwarranted. It sparked a cascade of events that began with the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster on July 20, 1993.

Then the Whitewater land deal scandal erupted and sucked all of the oxygen out of the Clinton administration. The appointment of a special prosecutor guaranteed that the investigation would be never-ending. Mrs. Clinton was believed to have had a central role in the land deals although she did avoid prosecution.

In 2000, Clinton was elected to the United States Senate from her newly adopted state of New York. During her first term she had very little impact as a very junior senator. She was a reliable vote in the Democrat caucus who caused few waves in the chamber.

In fact most of her impact was outside the boundaries of Congress. Looking to establish a “progressive infrastructure” to rival that of American conservatism, she played a formative role in the 2003 founding of former Clinton administration chief of staff John Podesta‘s Center for American Progress; advised David Brock‘s creation of Media Matters for America, and following the 2004 mid-term elections, successfully pushed new Democrat Senate leader Harry Reid to create a Senate war room to handle daily political messaging.

During her shortened second term, Mrs. Clinton began to sharpen her approach in order to establish herself as the leading contender for the Democrat Presidential nomination. She opposed the 2007 troop surge in Iraq and voted against it in a cloture vote that failed in the Senate. In fact, she became an ardent critic of the Iraq War, voting against a number of measures.

Who can ever forget her attack on General David Petraeus during Senate hearings in September 2007, when she said, “I think that the reports that you provide to us really require a willing suspension of disbelief.” She then added to the insult by voting against a Senate resolution condemning personal attacks on Petraeus, which passed 72-25.

Once she began to campaign for the nomination, Mrs. Clinton’s appearances in the Senate became spotty. She missed several important votes in the chamber. Although her approval ratings in New York were very high, it was to be expected from a deep blue state like New York.

Once thought to be the odds-on favorite for the nomination, Mrs. Clinton was beaten badly by Barack Obama. Although she won the popular vote during the primaries primarily due to large pluralities in several states, Obama won where it counted and took the delegate count by a margin of 2,285.5 to 1,973.

Although that seems close, let’s put the results into perspective. Mrs. Clinton was a veteran of the campaign war with eight years as First Lady and eight years in the Senate. Barack Obama was a first-term Senator who gave a good speech. And yet, Obama won the nomination going away.

Mrs. Clinton’s consolation prize was her appointment as Secretary of State. Brit Hume of FoxNews called her tenure at State as “competent” but not great. Hume opined on the following.

Are Arabs and Israelis closer to peace? How about Iran and North Korea and their nuclear programs? Have they been halted or seriously set back? Has the reset with Russia, which she so famously introduced with the photo-op in Moscow with the reset button, has they lead to a new and more cooperative relationship? Is there a Clinton doctrine that we can identify that she has articulated and formed as secretary of state? Are there major treaties that she has undertaken and negotiated through to a successful conclusion? I think the answer to all those questions is that she has not.

Her final act as Secretary of State was her complete failure to lead during the Benghazi crisis. Remember her commercial in 2007 about the 3 o’clock phone call? Well, Mrs. Clinton failed the one time it was necessary to answer that phone and four Americans died in Benghazi. There are no explanations that she can make to excuse that dereliction of duty.

Mrs. Clinton then avoided the press and Congressional questions by sending out U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice with a set of ludicrous talking points blaming everything on a badly-done video that few people had even viewed. She was certainly not a Profile in Courage. When she finally did testify months later, she more than likely perjured herself on the issue of supplying arms to Syria via Turkey.

Four years from now, Mrs. Clinton will be approaching 70 years old. In an age where politicians seem to be getting younger, she will be in the evening of her life. By comparison Marco Rubio will be 45, Paul Ryan 46 and Rand Paul 54. We have no idea how good or bad the U.S. economy might be in 2015. We have no idea what crises might occur between now and then. Let’s deal with what we have on our plate before we begin thinking about the next President.


Changing The Future in 2016

Secretary of State Hilary ClintonIt’s not often that you can change the future and take a prospective candidate for President out of the race four years in advance. The Republicans have just such a chance and they ought to take the golden opportunity to remove Hillary Clinton from any future consideration for the Presidency in 2016.

Without her the Democrats have a very thin bench. Many in the Democrat leadership are in their 70’s and their governors are an unimpressive group.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is being talked about for the Presidency, mostly by the chattering classes that surround Washington. He comes from one of the most liberal states in the country. How do you think he’ll play in Red State America?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a doctrinaire liberal who passed strong gun control measures that in their haste need to be revised. He presides over a state that is being supported by a small percentage of its citizens while the rest are on the public dole.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen is a rising star in the House who will be 58 in 2016. He is the top ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee after previously serving in a variety of leadership positions. But he’s still a member of the House, not exactly a stepping stone to the Presidency.

Of course, the Democrats might come up with a new star but it’s hardly likely at this stage of the game. No, Hillary is the best chance that they have for extending their rule in Washington. To paraphrase Louis XIV, “Apres mois, le deluge.” 

With the deep Republican bench of potential candidates to choose from the Republicans have a wealth of riches. Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio lead the Washington pack, while governors, such as Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell and numerous others are in the hinterlands.

That leaves an aging Hillary Clinton who’ll be 69 just before the 2016 election as the Democrats best shot. Which brings us to how the Republicans can change the future.

Do you remember Hillary’s outrageous testimony in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? During that testimony she had this exchange with Senator Rand Paul regarding arms shipments to Turkey in an effort to aid the Syrian rebels.

During the recent hearings over the Obama administration’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Clinton was directly asked about alleged U.S. weapons shipments out of Libya. Clinton claimed she did not know whether the U.S. was aiding Turkey and other Arab countries in procuring weapons.


Paul asked Clinton: “Is the U. S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?”

“To Turkey?” Clinton asked. “I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.”

Continued Paul: “It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that may have weapons, and what I’d like to know is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?”

Clinton replied, “Well, Senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex. I will see what information is available.”

“You’re saying you don’t know?” asked Paul.

“I do not know,” Clinton said. “I don’t have any information on that.”

It now appears that Hilary’s story is unraveling along with the entire Obama administration narrative about Benghazi. The New York Times earlier this week reported that since early 2012, the CIA has been aiding Arab governments and Turkey in obtaining and shipping weapons to the Syrian rebels.

Middle Eastern security officials have said U.S.-aided weapons shipments go back more than a year, escalating before the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi. In fact, the Middle Eastern security officials describe the U.S. mission in Benghazi and nearby CIA annex attacked last September as an intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels in the Middle East, particularly those fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The sources stated that the aid was being coordinated by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and, of course, Turkey.

The plan mirrors one the Times reported last month in a separate article that was proposed by Clinton herself. The Times described Clinton as one of the driving forces advocating for arming the Syrian rebels. Indeed, the New York Times reported Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus had concocted a plan calling for vetting rebels and arming Syrian fighters with the assistance of Arab countries.

It would appear that Hillary Clinton told a fib at the Senate hearing and now it’s time for the Republicans to build their case against her. Now, since the Senate is controlled by the Democrats, as is the Department of Justice, the Republicans will have to argue their case in the court of Public Opinion. This is their chance to make a serious attempt at ending Mrs. Clinton’s career here and now. They’d better not blow it!