iOS app Android app More

For Clinton, Leaving Lessig out of the Debates Would Be Dumb

Brian Boyko   |   October 25, 2015    8:40 PM ET

If I’m Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former co-chair of the Clinton campaign and now DNC Chairwoman, and I want Clinton to have as smooth a path to the Presidency as possible, I’d make damn sure that Lawrence Lessig was in the second Democratic debate.  

Not because it’s the “right thing to do.”  Not because to not invite someone who by every conceivable metric qualifies (or would qualify, if not for Schultz’s failure to recognize Lessig’s candidacy leading to him being left off as an option on the polls) makes a mockery of the small-d democratic process, and makes it damn clear to every school kid in America that you have to be part of a political or economic dynasty to be president.

No. Leaving him out would be dumb. It would be counterproductive to Schultz’s own goal of getting Hillary Clinton elected President.

If Lessig were to be in the debates, yes, Clinton would be forced to answer some hard questions about how she raised the money to run for President. She would have to explain her change from opposing a major bankruptcy bill which hurt the middle class as First Lady, to supporting that same bill as Senator from New York. She would have to explain why Uranium One’s chairman started giving multi-million dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation and President Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to speak in Moscow right before her State Department approved the sale of American uranium reserves to Russian business Rosatom, which has close ties to Putin’s Kremlin.

She would have to make clear her plans -- if there are any -- towards giving the machinery of change back to the citizens of America.

But she would have to answer those questions eventually anyway in the general election against a Republican. There’s a case to be made that the sooner she deals with these issues, the less likely they are to hurt her. More than that, would Lessig be able to parlay two hours of TV time into a credible threat to her campaign? Especially with Bernie Sanders also still in the race? The chances of that are slim to none.  

On the other hand, excluding Lessig from the debates gives Lessig the perfect excuse to run an independent campaign, as someone who “tried to play nice” and “tried to work with the Democratic Party” and was “not even given the opportunity to run as a Democrat.”

If Lessig were to run an independent campaign after being deliberately and maliciously excluded from the Democratic party, it shows determination, character, and a willingness to do what is right, not what’s politically convenient. It’s “presidential.” He wouldn’t launch an independent campaign if he was in the debates and lost to Clinton. He’d be seen as a sore loser.  

Of course, what would happen if Lessig launches an independent campaign is that Clinton would lose. Handily.

In order to get elected, Clinton will eventually need to win back the Sanders/Warren wing of the Democratic Party. That can only happen if Clinton is the lesser of two evils - because she’s certainly not going to be the least of three. Lessig would almost certainly pick up enough Sanders supporters - supporters any Democratic nominee would need - to cause Clinton’s defeat in the general election.

And to tell the truth, even if it means (ugh) a President Trump, many, including myself, would be  okay with that. After all, how much worse would a Trump administration be than a Clinton administration?  They’re both willing to do anything and say anything in order to grab onto money and the power it brings.

Brian Boyko is the author of "Importing Democracy," and is one of the co-creators (along with Lawrence Lessig) of the Mayday PAC, a campaign-finance reform initiative that is the largest non-profit crowdfunding campaign to date. Boyko, however, is not a member of, nor coordinating with, the Lessig campaign.

Mehreen Kasana   |   October 23, 2015    8:52 AM ET

If in January 2017, Hillary Clinton is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, historians may well point to this month as the moment her campaign turned around.

Why Sanders Won the Debate

David Edmund Moody   |   October 14, 2015    2:48 PM ET

Bernie Sanders won the Democratic Presidential debate before the first question was even asked. He won it in the first ten minutes, when the five candidates were each asked to introduce themselves. The other four candidates all considered this an opportunity to talk about themselves. They each bragged about their background, their credentials, and their family. Hillary Clinton fit right in with this self-centered approach, right down to touting her grandmother and grandchild.

Only Bernie Sanders broke this mold. He used his entire two minutes to talk not about himself, but about the issues that matter: income inequality, campaign finance, climate change, and the excessive incarceration of blacks and Latinos. His positions on the issues themselves were his introduction to the people. He spoke with passion and clarity. He set himself apart, above and beyond the conventional approach of the other four candidates. The entire rest of the debate was nothing but an extended series of footnotes to this decisive moment.

Why, then, did all the Washington insiders declare that Clinton won the debate? They did so because they evaluated it by the same conventional, superficial standards which Clinton abided by. Was she friendly and personable? Check. Was she at times tough and aggressive? Check. Was she confident and in command of her facts? Check. But was she decisively dedicated to articulating passionate positions on policy, rather than to making a "good impression"? No way. As palatable as she made herself seem, she was nothing more than vanilla ice cream, through and through. Sanders was chocolate rocky road, the authentic personification of progressive values, and the difference was unmistakable.

This is why the focus groups of actual voters on CNN, Fox, and elsewhere declared Sanders the winner of the debate, not Clinton. Actual voters are not looking for conformity to a conventional standard, however appealing it may appear. Actual voters want the real thing, not the appearance of it. Sanders' authenticity was unmistakable.

How Secretary Clinton Undermined Feminism Last Night

Hareem Mannan   |   October 14, 2015    1:08 PM ET

*settles into couch with apple turnover in one hand and remote in the other, turns on Democratic Debate, tuning in right in the middle of Secretary Clinton's introduction*

During the course of the evening tonight, I'll have a chance to lay out all of my plans and the work that I've done behind them. But for me, this is about bringing our country together again. And I will do everything I can to heal the divides -- the divides economically, because there's too much inequality; the racial divides; the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community -- so that we work together and, yes, finally, fathers will be able to say to their daughters, you, too, can grow up to be president.

Wait, what? After listing all the policies she hopes to implement one day, Secretary Clinton closes her opening statement with that? What on earth does that have to do with anything? I decide I'll let this superficial attempt to appeal to women slide. After all, anyone just looking at the stage (four men and one woman, front and center) can tell that she was -- and is -- breaking barriers for women all over the U.S.

Fast forward to Anderson Cooper asking the candidates what makes each of them different from President Obama. "Well, I think that's pretty obvious," she pauses for a second while the audience (and I) laugh. "Being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we've had, including President Obama."

Um, okay? So you're telling me that the defining feature that would make you different from our current president is not an idea, a policy, a skill -- but instead, your gender?

In this, Secretary Clinton has undermined feminism.

And ironically, it was a male who brought this to my attention. Last night, my colleague, AbdelRahman Murphy, national activist and speaker, reminded me that the underlying ideology of feminism is rooted in the idea that a woman can be just as successful (or more successful) than her male counterpart socially, economically, intellectually, and politically.

What then, he asked, was Clinton doing by producing the ultimate red herring: touting her gender as though it adds to her credibility in some way, or perhaps, using it as a superficial means to garner votes? Either way, it is fundamentally despicable, and it sets women actually working to receive recognition based on their own merit back a great many years.

I am absolutely not going to vote for Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb or Lincoln Chafee because of their gender. In fact, if any one of them flaunted their gender on stage as a reason to vote for them, we would be in uproar. So what if you're a man? What does that bring to the political table? How are you going to affect immigration reform, systematic racism, gun violence- anything, really, through your gender?

That's the thing about feminism: gender has nothing to do with it.

As women we argue every single day to be taken seriously because gender has nothing to do with our capacity to succeed. We present our work, talent, and skills, as just that: our work, our talent, our skills, independent of gender, because gender has nothing to do with them. And we are constantly trying to make space for ourselves in a world that has been largely accommodating to men since the beginning of time, because gender should have nothing to do with it.

By appealing to her womanhood, Hillary Clinton has undermined the very essence of feminism. She is actively attributing her uniqueness to her gender and not her merit. Again, this is not to say that her being a woman running for president again is anything short of historic. But why not let that speak for itself?

Dana Liebelson   |   October 9, 2015    2:49 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter advocates on Friday in Washington, D.C., to discuss racial justice and law enforcement reform. Attendees said Clinton talked more frankly about racism and the long legacy of slavery than she does in public, and they characterized the meeting as tough and productive.

Clinton and her top competitor for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have courted Black Lives Matter activists while seeking to distinguish themselves on criminal justice reform. Prominent members of the movement released a platform called Campaign Zero in August, which addresses issues such as the use of body cameras and police demilitarization.

Clinton met with a number of activists, including DeRay Mckesson, Brittany Packnett, Johnetta Elzie and Samuel Sinyangwe, all of whom are on the Campaign Zero planning team and are affiliated with the group We the Protesters. Those present from the Clinton camp were national political director Amanda Renteria, senior policy adviser Maya Harris and African-American outreach director LaDavia Drane, attendees said.  

“In the end, I felt heard,” Mckesson said. “It was a tough conversation, and we didn’t agree about every approach or everything. But she was willing to be pushed, and it was a candid conversation, and that’s important.”

Clinton spoke directly about the continuing effects of racism and slavery, which attendees said she called America’s “original sin.” Elzie said she is curious to see if Clinton will begin speaking more frankly about racism in public. Clinton “would listen and acknowledge that her experience was totally different than any of the black people at this table,” Elzie said.

“It took her awhile to get there, but she got there. So I’m hopeful that she will continue to have this educational conversation with herself to acknowledge her privilege,” Elzie said. Sanders was much quicker to acknowledge his position in the world, she noted.

“You saying that you know that you’re white, you know that you have power, and you know that you are wealthy is not the same as seeing it and knowing that the way that police interact with you is completely different than how they will ever interact with us,” Elzie said. “I felt like Bernie understood that.”

Mckesson said Clinton, like many Americans, also seemed to struggle with the notion that “police don’t actually always make people feel safe” and that Americans don’t all share the same conception of the police.

Both Elzie and Mckesson said they were disappointed that Clinton seemed resigned to the fact that the federal government doesn’t play a major role in local policing.

“She kind of downplayed the role of the federal government and placed it all on state and local government,” Elzie said.

“I think she can take a harder stance on how she understands the role of the federal government in protecting the rights of people of color and pushing and modeling for local and state governments,” Mckesson said.

The activists said they pressed Clinton on providing economic support to racially marginalized communities, establishing national use of force standards and changing the role the federal government plays in law enforcement reform.

At one point, Cherno Biko, a transgender activist, spoke about trans women of color who have been killed this year. Biko discussed approaching the killers of those women with love, rather than locking up more people and contributing to a system of mass incarceration.

In a moment captured on video, Clinton told Biko, "You're a better person than me wanting to love folks who kill somebody." She added, "Listen, I will forgive them, but I'm not going to love them."

Clinton is pushing for an end to mass incarceration, but skeptics point to her history of advocating for tough-on-crime policies with her husband in the 1990s. When the presidential candidate met in August with other Black Lives Matter activists, the exchange was viewed as terse. "Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws," she said at that meeting.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Friday's meeting.

The Campaign Zero team met with Sanders in September. Afterward, they said he was open to being pushed on criminal justice issues, but expressed concerns that working in an overwhelmingly white state may cause him to be out of touch with the concerns of black voters. Packnett said she came out of that meeting "still thinking about where I will put my vote and not yet having an answer."

"In both meetings we had frank conversations," Packnett said Friday. After the meeting with Clinton, "I still don't know where my vote's going," she said. "That's significant, because there are still many conversations and bridges to build with communities like mine."

Mehreen Kasana   |   October 8, 2015    9:57 AM ET

In 2008, Hillary Clinton was running against an inexperienced, untested young senator named Barack Obama. Clinton was known as one of the most serious policy wonks to ever run for president, and her network included most of Democratic Party's top policy staff, many of whom had worked directly for her or her husband.


Chloe Angyal   |   October 4, 2015    8:04 AM ET

Hillary Clinton appeared on "Saturday Night Live" on Saturday, and used it as an opportunity to mock Donald Trump and to make fun of her own reticence on issues like marriage equality and the Keystone XL pipeline.

In a standard "SNL" setup, the show's fake Clinton, played by Kate McKinnon, came face to face with the real thing. The former secretary of state and front-runner in the Democratic presidential race played a wise and straight-talking bartender named Val, who counsels McKinnon's Clinton over vodka, sings a few bars of "Lean on Me," and then disappears into thin air.

In the sketch, Clinton briefly impersonates Donald Trump -- "Uh, you're all losers" -- and joins in with the skewering of her own reputation for overt ambition and robotic campaigning.

"You give off such a young, cool vibe," Val says to McKinnon's Clinton. "You must work in Brooklyn."

It was one of several references to Clinton's efforts to appeal to younger voters and to counter her public image as removed and emotionally uninspiring. "You are really easy to talk to," McKinnon's Clinton tells Val. "That's the first time I've ever heard that," Clinton replies.

The most pointed moments, however, came when Clinton conceded that she should have publicly supported marriage equality earlier than she did. "You supported it pretty soon," says Val. "Still, could have been sooner," McKinnon's Clinton responds. "Fair point," nods the real Clinton.

Clinton endorsed same-sex marriage in March 2013, echoing her watershed speech at the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995: "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," she said in a video she made as secretary of state.

Before filming the sketch last night, Clinton addressed the board of the LGBT rights group the Human Rights Campaign, pledging to make LGBT rights a central issue in her administration, if elected. “I’m running for president to stand up for the fundamental rights of LGBT Americans," she said at the HRC's annual gathering Saturday.

In the sketch, Clinton also defends how long she took to come out against the Keystone XL pipeline, saying, as Val, "nothing wrong with taking your time -- what's important is getting it right." Clinton broke her silence on the issue and announced her opposition to the controversial project only a few weeks ago.

On "Fox and Friends" on Sunday morning, Trump was asked about Clinton's impersonation of him. He said that he enjoyed it, but that Clinton's hair -- for decades a topic of political chatter and analysis -- was "terrible."  

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Trump was commenting on Clinton's hair; he was referring to the wig of another actor impersonating him. It also incorrectly stated that Clinton was hosting the show. Miley Cyrus was hosting.

Samantha Lachman   |   September 1, 2015   11:13 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- At the end of a press conference Tuesday in which conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe unveiled a new sting video about Hillary Clinton, one reporter had just one question:

"Are you sure it's not a joke?" she asked.

Project Veritas Action, O'Keefe's infamous nonprofit sting outfit, had promised reporters a "new undercover video exposing illegal activity conducted by high-level employees within Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign." But many in the audience assembled at the National Press Club were bemused to find that the transaction at issue was a gift of campaign swag, or at worst, what O'Keefe's attorney called "akin to jaywalking" in a world where more legitimate claims of campaign finance violations go unpunished by a nonfunctional Federal Election Commission. In the footage, Clinton's campaign takes a $75 donation from an American on behalf of a Canadian.

The Democratic hopeful's campaign has been vigilantly watching for Project Veritas' attempts to catch staff members and volunteers engaging in illegal activity, telling Time that it had already rejected multiple entrapment schemes. O'Keefe was sentenced to three years of probation in 2010 after he pled guilty to breaking into former Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) office. A year earlier, O'Keefe had released sting videos that helped Republicans in Congress drag down ACORN, a now-defunct community organizing and anti-poverty group.

In O'Keefe's latest video, an unnamed Canadian from Montreal asks if she may purchase some merchandise from the campaign at the June event where Clinton announced she was running for president. 

Molly Barker, the campaign's marketing director, immediately says that since the woman is Canadian, they can't take her money. 

"Do you have a green card or U.S. passport?" Erin Tibe, the campaign's compliance manager, asks.

"No, why would I?" the Canadian says. "I'm Canadian."

Tibe explains that the campaign is legally barred from accepting donations from foreign nationals. "We can't take contributions from anyone that is not a citizen of the United States," she says.

At that point, the Canadian in the video may have walked away and gone back to her country, where there's an uncharacteristically exciting election happening at this very moment, had an undercover staffer with Project Veritas not stepped in. 

"But she traveled all the way from Canada to support Hillary," the staffer says in the footage. "You could give her, she's paying cash." 

O'Keefe said at the press conference that this was a "spontaneous" event, and that the two women in the video had never met.

"When I go back to Canada, I will be talking about this," the Canadian says in response.

The Canadian then suggested that the Project Veritas staffer could take her $75 to buy the merchandise on her behalf, asking, "She's American, can she buy it for me?" 

"Canadians can't buy them, but Americans can buy it for them?" the Project Veritas staffer also asks. 

"Not technically," Barker says. "You would just be making the donation." The Project Veritas staffer then hands the money over. 

The Clinton campaign told The Washington Post Monday that the video was in no way incriminating. 

“This video shows a Project Veritas operative yet again unsuccessfully trying to entrap campaign staffers who very clearly rejected any foreign donation," said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign. "Our staffers understand and follow the law, as demonstrated even in their selectively edited video. Project Veritas, on the other hand, has been caught trying to commit fraud, falsify identities and break campaign finance law—not surprising, given that their founder has already been convicted for efforts like this."

Watch Project Veritas Action's video below: 

O'Keefe said at the press conference that his group has "a small group" of "highly trained" and "experienced" people embedded with various campaigns. The Project Veritas undercover strategies have inspired copycats, like those behind the heavily edited sting videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood engaging in the sale of fetal tissues. (Multiple state investigations into the Planned Parenthood allegations have ended with no evidence of any wrongdoing.)

Following successive election cycles in which the group's attempted stings of various Democratic Senate campaigns were discovered before they could have any impact, and allegations of voter fraud were easily disproven, O'Keefe has found himself on the defensive. Benjamin Barr, O'Keefe's attorney, said that Project Veritas is sending a letter to the Clinton campaign Tuesday asking for a refund of $75 for the staffer, though Barr admitted that the staffer facilitating the donation from the Canadian was "a technical violation of the law." The group has not referred the incident to the FEC. 

Though O'Keefe was probed twice Tuesday to elaborate on whether the roll-out of the video was a joke, he claimed there are more Clinton videos coming. He added that this footage should be taken seriously, since the campaign responded to The Washington Post's request for comment Monday. 

"This is just the beginning," he said "You're just going to have to stay tuned."  

Senator Bernie Sanders Possible Demo Nominee

Jay Weston   |   August 27, 2015   12:28 AM ET

IMG_4179 all photos by Jay from TV

Every weekday I videotape an early-morning show from New York called " Morning Joe," which features a loud-mouthed Republican, Joe Scarborough, and an attractive but overwhelmed Democrat, Mika Brzezinski (daughter of the former National Security Advisor) who debate politics and many other subjects for three hours, usually accompanied by a coterie of interesting guests. I watch it late at night (running through the commercials) before I turn to Charlie Rose's show and bed. Lately I have been noticing a rising clamor on this topical show about Hillary Clinton, her candidacy and her growing email and foundation scandals. I still think she is the most qualified of all the Presidential candidates, but there is a rising possibility that she may face unexpected obstacles to locking in her nomination. At the same time, I watched the Junior Senator from Vermont, bespectacled disheveled 73-year old Bernie Sanders, stand on the grass in front of the Capital Building and declare that he is running for President of the United States....and that he is confident he can actually win the election. Then last weekend I spent 90 minutes watching Sanders give a speech.....and I was stunned! Stunned 'cause I agreed with everything that he said....everything.

sen. elizabeth warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren is the liberal standard-bearer.

There is no question in my mind that voters want a candidate who is centered on the economy and the plight of the disappearing midde class. All other questions are secondary and will not determine who will be the next Chief Executive. Now there are two more people in politics whom I relate to, admire and would vote for because they represent the economic values which I personally seek...Senator Elizabeth Warren, of course, and Bernie Sanders. I have written here on Hufffington several times about Senator Warren and how much I admire her grit, determination and savvy common-sense approach to our dire economic plights. But she keeps saying that she is not a candidate and will not run. (Although she did meet this weekend with V.P. Joe Biden, who took the Amtrack to Washington just to spend an hour in a private meeting with her. What a ticket that would make! But it won't happen.)

So I must look elsewhere for the answers I seek....and Bernie Sanders is giving them to me. Hillary also, to a degree, who traveled in a van nicknamed Scooby to Iowa and New Hamprshire, talked about millionaires and hedge-fund guys not paying their fair share of taxes but seems to be back in the pocket of those same Wall Street guys. The smart writer at Rolling Stone called this "fake populism." He said that nothing will really change with tax loopholes if she is elected. As I indicated, I have been listening to and reading about Vermont's bad boy Senator Sanders and he really lays it into those special-interest people with savage abandonment. As someone wrote, "he is a hit with supporters who are hip to the differences between a politician stomping for votes and true advocate for working people." On Saturday once again I heard him lay out his platform, and tears welled as I heard him promise to push for a $15 hourly minimum wage, to introduce legislation which would make public colleges tuition-free, and then he capped it with a promised bill to invest $1 trillion for infrastructure improvements across the country, you know- fix those rotting bridges and decrepit schools and which would create 13 million new jobs. I heard him promise that - if elected - he would fight to break up those six big Wall Street banks which almost brought us down in 2008. He said in his speech that these banks control some $10 trillion in assets and hold almost half of the mortgages and credit card debt in the country. Six banks! Incidentally, I have researched his environmental record and it is spotless. He fought the Keystone Pipeline from the moment it was announced, and continues to do so. Obama, Clinton....not so. His official statement included this: "The peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet." That's our Bernie. Enviromentalist Wiliam McKibben said that Bernie Sanders isn't running against Hillary Clinton, he is running against the Koch Brothers, the richest two men on the plant, and their oil-and-gas interests. "Vulnerable people across the country are awfully happy to have a loud Brooklyn-accented voice demanding real fundamental change. Run, Bernie, run!"


It should be noted that Bernie's home state, the feisty second-smallest Vermont, does not have party registrations for its politicians. He has been an Independent socialist for as long as I can remember, but he does vote with the Democrats and will be fighting for the Democratic nomination in the primaries. Which means that he will participate in all of the debates! So even if he does not win the nomination - he's still a long shot - he will certainly influence the party politics and the party line, much as Elizabeth Warren has done with Hillary's camp thusfar. (On the trade bill, for example.) New Hampshire, the first primary and one of the most important, has always had a warm spot for Bernie....and I suspect he will make a strong showing there. Those people like to dig in and get some candid answers, his specialty.

Watched the rally in Los Angeles, where 27,000 people turned out downtown to cheer him on. In Phoeneix, 28,000 devotees turned out. Crowds like these are not being seen by any other candidate but the dangerous despot, Donald Trump. On Charlie Rose, Sanders pounded away at the imbalance between the ultra-rich and the ordinary people. The top ½ of 1% has more wealth that the bottom 90%. He called it "unacceptable that in an era of unprecedented new technology, American are working longer hours for lower wages while multinational corporations and the wealthiest families are doing phenomenally well." I vividly remember his comment: "From 2013 to 2015, the 14 richest Americans increased their wealth by $157 billion and the Waltons - of Walmart fame - own more wealth than the bottom 42% of Americans." He told Charlie that the greed of the wealthiest families in America is a "psychiatric" issue and compared their desire to accumulate more wealth to drug and alcohol addicts who always want more. "Income inequality in the U.S. is one of the defining moral issues of th era."

I read a blog,, which dug into the Clinton and Sanders financial campaign records. Hers were enormous sums from major Wall Street players while Sanders' top donors were all unions representing working people - teachers, pubic employees, postal workers and the like. They noted that his top donor, the Machinist/Aerospace Workers Union, has only given him $95,000 in the 17 years of his political career. He told the Wall Street Journal this week: "The kind of response we're getting really stuns me." He went on to say that in the 3½ months he has been running, some 400,000 people donated an average of $31 to his campaign. That would be a blob on Hillary's record. At his Capital speech, he said that he has never solicitated or taken any corporate money and he will not do so during his run. I suspect we will continue to see a groundswell of small donations from all left-leaning folks as his campaign gets into its swing. It will just be a drop-in-the-bucket of what Hillary and Jeb will spend...but it's honest money from working people. On Gwen Eiffel's Washington TV show, the savvy panel said that once the Elizabeth Warren people realized that she really isn't running, many moved into Bernie's camp, from the more casual to the top professional political leaders: Kurt Ehrenberg, the Run Warren Run political person in New Hampshire, and Blair Lawton, the point person in Iowa, are now both working for Sanders. Today's Time on its last page has an interview with Bernie: "The United States has a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality where the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, where almost 20% of our childen are living in poverty, 40 percent of African-American children are living in poverty. We are moving rapidly toward an oligarchic form of society where a small number of families control not only the economy but our political system as well. It is imperative that we develop a strong political movement that says to the billionaire class they can't have it all."

If Sanders' message of economic populism wins over New Hampshire's notoriously fussy Democratic voters, he will be a viable challenge to Hillary's nomination. Am I shouting into the wind? Perhaps...but as my esteemed colleague William Bradley said here on Huffington, if Sanders were to defy the odds and win the nomination with his truly people-oriented platform which directly challenges the corrupt system, it would be a historic victory for working people across America.

So, yes, Senator Bernie Sanders is worthy of serious consideration.

To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at

Here's to 80 More Years of Keeping Seniors out of Poverty

Kevin Prindiville   |   August 21, 2015    5:59 PM ET

As Social Security turns 80 this year, we celebrate it as the nation's most successful anti-poverty program in history. In 80 years, it has lifted millions of our families out of poverty and never missed a payment. But millions of the seniors in our communities still live in poverty today.

There are currently 6.4 million older Americans living in poverty, and with 10,000 people turning 65 every day, that number is likely to grow over the next decade. Over the last several decades changes in our economy have made it harder for all of us to be financially prepared for retirement. Pensions are disappearing and wage stagnation has made it more difficult to save. This is particularly true for women who we know make less than men for working the same jobs and for people of color who are less likely to have benefited from growth in the economy. For many who had been able to save some money or develop equity in their home, those assets were lost or significantly depleted in the recent, persistent recession. In addition, due to rising housing, health care, and long term care costs, it is more expensive than ever to grow old.

Those of us in the field of aging know the statistics and the reasons why poverty persists and is growing among older adults. And we see the real life impact that poverty has on seniors like the women in this video . Now a number of the Presidential candidates are talking about this reality and calling for Social Security to be protected and expanded.

Senator Bernie Sanders has long advocated for strengthening and expanding Social Security benefits. He has even acted to help seniors living in deep poverty by introducing improvements to the little-known Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that serves 8.4 million older adults and people with disabilities who live below the federal poverty level. He recently sponsored, with Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and others, the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2015 (S 1387 and HR 2442). Martin O'Malley has also come out strong in support of expanding Social Security.

And now, Hillary Clinton is talking about improving Social Security benefits as well. Clinton told the AFL-CIO via a questionnaire back in April (that was recently made public) that she wants to both "improve how Social Security works for women" and to "enhance benefits for our most vulnerable seniors."

And it is not just the candidates from one party. Mike Huckabee has also come out saying that he doesn't believe in cutting Social Security benefits. Even Donald Trump, not known for his empathy or firm grasp of the needs of everyday low and middle income people, has said that he wouldn't cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

It is likely that Social Security will continue to be a big issue throughout the long, and at times bewildering, Presidential campaign season. Some candidates will undoubtedly ignore the rising levels of economic insecurity among older adults and call for cuts to the program. And yes, don't be fooled, changing the formula for cost of living adjustments or raising the retirement age are benefit cuts for all of us that hurt low-income seniors and people with disabilities the most. Others will look at the economic reality facing older adults and continue to push proposals that would provide additional help to our poorest seniors that include expanding Social Security and restoring the SSI program.

In Social Security's 80th year, I hope to see more politicians of all stripes embracing its promise to be there for every American when they need it. I'd like to see more sentiments like this one from President Gerald R. Ford, "We must begin by insuring that the Social Security System is beyond challenge. [It is] a vital obligation each generation has to those who have worked hard and contributed to it all their lives." I'll go a step further and say that Social Security should be expanded to meet the growing and changing needs of seniors in today's economy.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child: Michael Fay's Caning in Singapore

  |   August 19, 2015   10:09 PM ET

Read More:

5 Ways Leaders Survive Election Season at Work

Chester Goad, Ed.D.   |   August 18, 2015    2:55 PM ET

Do you have friends or a co-workers who are hyper-political, easily offended or overly charged when it comes to politics? Do the folks on your team argue over state or national elections? Maybe the most opinionated person is you? It's disconcerting when your coworkers are overzealous but what's even more problematic is the hyper-political leader. You may have cheered in November when the mid-term elections ended, but make no mistake the campaign isn't over. On the contrary, if you haven't noticed, a new presidential election cycle has begun.

Political discourse at the right place, in the right company, and on the right time is a good thing. But we all know freedom of speech is never really free. Often there is a cost involved. While the right place and right time may be debatable, over-sharing your political ideologies in any work place is not best practice. Remember the old adage, "Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial"?

Yes, election season is upon us, and believe it or not, it is possible to survive election cycles with your leadership integrity and the trust of your team intact. Use these five practical tips to avoid sabotaging your team's success with your own personal political biases.

Political Self-Sabotage Protection Plan

Silence Your Walls (and your desk): Don't let furniture, frames, or bulletin boards scream at your team. Would you wear a politically charged t-shirt to work? Then why would you tack that same message to your walls? How you choose to decorate your office speaks volumes to those who visit there. A poster that reads "Visualize Whirrled Peas" is one thing, but "Vote Right or Die" or "Vote Left or Die" is never a proper welcoming message (whether 50 percent of people agree with you or not). Party pins, bumper stickers and political propaganda are better left for other venues than the professional setting. Not only can a simple bumper sticker incite negative feelings or cause mistrust in the office, it can cost you friendships, customers, clients, partners and even profits. Purposefully placed negativity in any form has no place in the leader's toolbox.

Cut the Snark: Know when to zip it and nip it. It's ok to have opinions. This is where the wisdom of your parents comes in handy. Remember: "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." or "If you don't have something nice to say, then say nothing at all." Saying nothing at all has become a challenge for many people. Don't assume everyone agrees with you and don't give the impression that the team must think like you. Some of your team members may withhold sharing valuable work ideas or opinions because they think you may not value their opinions. A diverse team is a productive and creative team.

Reverse Your Forward Habit: Resist the urge to forward politically charged emails: That cartoon, video or meme may have made you LOL, but others may not find it so funny. Protect yourself from crossing the line or losing respect of others or even your job. Over simplifying complex problems by verbally or visually accosting those with opposing views is a bad idea. Leave that to the newspapers.

Say No to Politicking and Say Yes to Voting: The leader sets the tone. Know your policies, preferences, and best practice and discuss them with your team. Rather than focusing on specific candidates or issues during election cycles, encourage the importance of voting and good citizenship. Most people will agree that it's important to vote. As the leader, go vote, encourage your team to do the same and leave it at that. Set a goal for 100 percent voting in your office, and celebrate the freedom we have to do so.

Mute the Media: Turn off TVs and radios or consider choosing a streaming service without the negative ads. Leaving the office tv on in the throes of election season is only asking for trouble and decreased productivity. Remember: The media no longer wants your undivided attentions. Your divided attentions are much more lucrative. Don't fall prey to media campaign ratings games.

To be certain, there's always another election around the corner. In order to avoid unnecessary divisiveness, choose to protect your team, your mission and your sanity. Doing anything otherwise will only serve to damage team trust, your leadership integrity, and quite possibly your bottom-line. None of that is worth the risk just for the sake of "being right" or "making political points".

Who Withdrew From Iraq? Was It Bush or Obama and Clinton?

John A. Tures   |   August 17, 2015    8:22 AM ET

Jeb Bush has claimed that President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were responsible for withdrawal from Iraq. But is that true? A look at the evidence, including George W. Bush's own words and White House website, shows who was really responsible for America's departure, contributing to the rise of ISIS.

BBC News reported that at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Jeb Bush said

"So eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers," Mr Bush said of Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton. "It was a case of blind haste to get out and to call the tragic consequences somebody else's problem. Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous."

But were Obama and Clinton responsible for the withdrawal?

Here's the transcript from the George W. Bush White House Archives site, and his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in December 2008. And here are the details of the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement with Iraq, also on the Bush White House Archives site. Here are the details of the deal Bush signed, or you could read it yourself at the link.

"The Security Agreement also sets a date of December 31, 2011, for all U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq. This date reflects the increasing capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces as demonstrated in operations this year throughout Iraq, as well as an improved regional atmosphere towards Iraq, an expanding Iraqi economy, and an increasingly confident Iraqi government."

Perhaps it was Jeb Bush's brother who was so eager to be the history-maker, and sign the deal in December of 2008, so he could get credit for the withdrawal.

When confronted with this, Jeb Bush said that Obama didn't try hard enough to keep American troops in Iraq.

Obama did try to negotiate an extension, but Iraq's al-Maliki government would not give American troops immunity from Iraq law, something the U.S. President called "the deal breaker." And Iraq's decision not to provide such immunity was criticized by Republican conservatives.

When made aware of these arguments, Jeb Bush tried one last time to pin it all on Obama. In 2009, the "mission was accomplished," the former Florida Governor insisted.

Mission...Accomplished. Those were ironically the same words that President George W. Bush used to insist that the war was over in 2003, when in reality, we were unprepared for a brutal war, and the deaths of thousands of American military personnel at the hands of domestic insurgents and international terrorists.

Jeb Bush was attempting to deflect attention from George W. Bush and his Iraq policies. Instead, he reminded us not only who was in charge of the Iraq War and withdrawal, but how eerily similar the two brothers are about so many things. One may never think of one without thinking of the other.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at

Carter and Clinton: A Tale of Two Presidents

Peter Van Buren   |   August 14, 2015    5:11 PM ET

With the sad news that Jimmy Carter has cancer, it is time to take a look at what Carter, and another former president, chose to do with their lives after leaving the White House.

Seen the latest front-page Carter Center scandal? Hear about the six figure fees former president Jimmy Carter pulls in from shady foreign companies? Maybe not.

Take a moment to Google Jimmy Carter. Now do the same for Bill Clinton. The search results tell the tale of two former presidents, one determined to use his status honorably, the other seeking new lows of exploitation for personal benefit.

Carter's presidency carries an uneven legacy. Yet his prescient but unwelcome 1979 warning that the country suffered a crisis of confidence, preventing Americans from uniting to solve tough problems, anticipated the faux bravado and true spiritual emptiness of Reagan's "Morning in America."

Many feel Carter has been a better ex-president than he was a president. His Carter Center focuses on impactful but unglamorous issues such as Guinea worm disease. When Carter left office, the disease afflicted 3.5 million people. Now it's expected to be only the second disease, after smallpox, to ever be eradicated worldwide.

Carter, 90, still donates a week of his time each year to Habitat for Humanity. Not a photo-op, Carter goes out without the media in tow and hammers nails. Carter also tirelessly monitors elections in nascent democracies, lending his stature as a statesman to that work over 100 times already. Summing up his own term in office, Carter said "We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. We never went to war."

He is the last president since 1977 who can make that claim.

Bill Clinton pushed the NAFTA agreement through, seen now by many as a mistake that cost American jobs. He pointlessly bombed Iraq and sent troops into Somalia (see Blackhawk Down.) Clinton is remembered most of all, however, for his oral affair with an intern, then fibbing about it, and ending up one of only two American presidents ever impeached as a result.

As a former president, Clinton is nothing if not true to his unstatesman-like form. Bill makes six-figure speeches to businesses seeking influence within the U.S. government, earning as much as $50 million during his wife's term as secretary of state alone. TD Bank, the single-largest shareholder in the Keystone XL Pipeline, was also the single-largest source of speaking fees for Bill Clinton. He used a shell company to hide some of the income.

His own charity, humbly known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Global Foundation, is a two billion dollar financial tangle. It spent in 2013 the same amount of money on travel expenses for Bill and his family as it did on charitable grants. Instead of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Bill takes his big donors on executive safaris to Africa. Many of those same donors also give generously to the Hillary Clinton campaign and its constellation of PACs.

Voters should judge a candidate not just on examples of past competency, but with an eye toward the core things that really matter: character, values, honesty, humility and selflessness. Perhaps this tale of two presidents has a lesson in it for 2016.