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Hillary Clinton Is Pro Gun Control, But She's Also Big on Arms Deals

Dieter Holger   |   December 8, 2015    5:32 PM ET

2015-12-07-1449463258-6132653-HillaryClintonArmsDealsFlickr.jpgFlickr

While touting her gun control record and lambasting rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' firearm policy, Hillary Clinton keeps under wraps her heavy-handed involvement in the arms trade during her time as America's top diplomat. Sanders, although never Secretary of State, hasn't advocated for major arms deals between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, or any other warmongering country for that matter.

According to an investigation by journalists David Sirota and Andrew Perez of the International Business Times, Clinton not only rubber-stamped major weapon deals with 20 countries that donated to her and her husband's philanthropic arm, the Clinton Foundation, but also approved nearly double the amount of arms sales to those same 20 countries as the State Department of George W. Bush's second term.

Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton's term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush's second term.

The investigation, which came out in May of this year, caused chatter online, but didn't result in Clinton facing any questions about her arms dealing record in the first two Democratic debates. It's important now, especially as we discuss mass violence at home, to ask Clinton if she'll pursue a reduction of firearms not only domestically but internationally.

Judging by her fierce pursuit of a $29 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, a country which Human Rights Watch criticizes for violently oppressing women, it seems unlikely. According to the same International Business Times report, the Saudi deal's success was "personal" to Clinton.

At a press conference in Washington to announce the department's approval, an assistant secretary of state, Andrew Shapiro, declared that the deal had been 'a top priority' for Clinton personally. Shapiro, a longtime aide to Clinton since her Senate days, added that the "U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army have excellent relationships in Saudi Arabia."

As Sanders' gains in the polls have tightened the race for the Democratic Party's nomination, Clinton has strategically shifted criticism away from Wall Street, where Sanders' campaign has momentum, to the Vermont senator's gun control record, going so far to imply Sanders was sexist during a DNC Women's Leadership Conference.

"I've been told to, and I quote, 'stop shouting' about gun violence," Clinton said. "First of all I'm not shouting. It's just sometimes when women talk people think we're shouting."

The question is, will the countries that come looking for weapons that take countless innocent lives hear that shouting?

Why Senator Sanders Won the Second Debate

David Edmund Moody   |   November 16, 2015   12:57 PM ET

Let's face it: the criteria by which the media and most people judge winners and losers in the presidential candidate debates are superficial and misleading. The conventional criteria for winners are: who talks more; who speaks most forcefully; who exhibits poise and confidence; who launches zippy one-liners; and who effectively puts down their opponents.

Now let's consider what reasonable and valid criteria would look like. Does the candidate actually answer the questions asked? Are the answers given cogent and comprehensible? And, above all, are the answers good answers: reasonable, appropriate, insightful?

By the former, superficial criteria, Hillary Clinton probably won the second debate. She certainly spoke the most. She has a highly polished style of debating, full of poise and confidence. She is knowledgeable and well-prepared.

But who gave the best answers? On these grounds the winning debater was clearly Senator Sanders. On issue after issue, he gave the most direct, cogent, reasonable, and insightful replies to the questions posed.

How do we meet the challenge of ISIS? We insist that the Muslim nations get directly involved in the fight; and we re-design our military to address the modern world, not the Cold War. Only Sanders made these two fundamental points.

What is the right level for the minimum wage? In all fairness, who can seriously argue against a fifteen-dollar minimum wage, unless they are Republicans? Only Senator Sanders got this right.

In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, which is the greater threat today: terrorism or climate change? Who but Senator Sanders would meet this issue head-on and state firmly and forthrightly that climate change is the greater threat? Any informed and objective observer of the scientific facts would agree; most politicians lag far behind in this understanding. But Sanders went further in his answer: he pointed out that climate change is destined to greatly exacerbate terrorism itself, among many other things, as a result of the famine, drought, and conflict it will engender. To back this up, he cited a good (and unexpected) source: the CIA.

Needless to say, when the conversation turned to Wall Street, Sanders won the debate hands down. His whole campaign highlights the gross inequities in income and campaign contributions. This one was an easy call on behalf of Senator Sanders. "Why has Wall Street been the greatest contributor to Secretary Clinton's campaigns over the course of years?" "The business model of Wall Street is greed and fraud." Governor O'Malley got in a good point on this issue too: Clinton's financial recommendations were rightly labelled "weak tea." Case closed.

Eventually we came to the issue of guns. This is one on which Clinton scored points against Sanders in the first debate. How did it turn out this time? Clinton said we have to go after the gun lobby. Sanders agreed and expanded the point to include a ban on assault weapons, and he emphasized the need for consensus to get results. Let's call this one a draw.

Finally, let's look at the big picture. What was Senator Sanders' take-away line? He said we need a "political revolution." He explained what he meant: we have to break up the stranglehold of Wall Street and billionaires on the economy and the political process. This is his number one point. What is Hillary's number one point? Who knows? She doesn't have a number one point. At the end of the day, Secretary Clinton simply does not have Senator Sanders' penetrating acumen and focus.

And this is why, notwithstanding whatever the media and the majority may say, Senator Sanders won the second debate.

Presidential Candidates on Supporting Women in the Workforce

Rana Florida   |   November 11, 2015   12:36 PM ET

2015-11-18-1447882695-9831486-FullSizeRender.jpeg Attempting to work from my home office with a 3 week old.

Sheryl Sandberg notwithstanding, more and more U.S. women are leaning back and out. America's ranking for female workforce participation has declined from seventh among the advanced nations to twentieth. Ironically, this is happening at a time when women are more likely than men to hold Bachelors degrees, and when formal barriers to career advancement are falling. As US Trust's Joseph Quinlan noted in a recent article in Business Insider, "wealthier and healthier, influencers and creators -- women now represent one of the most powerful economic cohorts not only the in United States but also the world." But only 50 percent fully participate in the economy world-wide, and just 60 percent do in the US, a "colossal waste of talent and a huge forfeiture of demand/spending."

I see it happening all the time -- women who went to Ivy League schools, Columbia, Princeton, you name it, and who held highly-demanding, high-status, high-pay jobs -- deciding to stay at home after they have a baby. They all thought carefully about their decisions, weighing the pros and cons. Instead of the prison of a 9 to 5 (or 8 to 9, more likely) work culture, they preferred to keep their brains sharp and stay connected by volunteering and sitting on boards.

And the fear of leaving a newborn in someone else's care is terrifying. As Amber Scorah wrote recently in the New York Times on the death of her infant son, "Why, why does a parent in this country have to sacrifice her job, her ability to provide her child with proper health care --- or for many worse off than me, enough food to eat -- to buy just a few more months to nurture a child past the point of vulnerability?" She describes the U.S. culture as one that, "places very little value on caring for infants and small children." And argues that:

Parental leave reduces infant death, gives us healthier, more well-adjusted adults and helps women stay in the workforce. If we truly valued the 47 percent of the work force who are women, and the value of our families, things would look different. Mothers could go back to work after taking time off to recover physically from birth and bond with their young children.

Yet antiquated government policies and inflexible work schedules, relics of the industrial age, hurt companies more than they realize.

As Gail Collins put it in the New York Times, "women falling out of the work force is....a huge deal. It reduces family standards of living and puts a crimp in the economy." A McKinsey Global Institute report found that if women participated equally in the economy with men, global GDP would increase by 26 percent or $28 trillion by 2025 -- the equivalent of adding another China and US to the world. If all countries simply matched the progress towards gender parity of the fastest-improving nations in their region, GDP would rise by $12 trillion, which is roughly equivalent to Japan, Germany and the UK combined.

Why is this happening? Four reasons:

1. Equal Pay. Though women are advancing over men in skills and education, they still only make 79 cents on the dollar on average. In some fields, the discrepancy is much worse.

2. Antiquated Family Leave Acts. 98 countries offer 14 weeks of paid maternity leave or more; the US currently grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave, thanks to the Family Leave Act of 1993. Papua New Guina and Oman, are the only other countries in the world that offer no paid maternity leave at all.

3. High Costs of Daycare. Add to that the skyrocketing costs of quality care, whether it's a fulltime nanny or a reliable drop-off facility. "It's incredible that we've built a society that relies on women in the labor force yet makes no discernible effort to deal with this problem," Collins continues. "And infant care is impossible. In most states infant care is more expensive than college tuition."

4. Inflexible Workplaces. Most law-makers don't have the progressive mindset to pass laws granting parents more control over their schedules. Nor do major leaders of companies and organizations. Of course some jobs require the worker to be in place at a set time, but most knowledge workers can work from anywhere, anytime. As long as workers can be trusted to deliver their work, there is no need to chain them to their desks. Women, want the flexibility to manage their time and schedules without having to ask for permission every time they need to accompany a child on a field trip or take them to the doctor's.

This is not just a problem for women; it's contributing to the decline of America as an economic powerhouse.

The current crop of presidential candidates have a lot to say about the crises we face in the areas of climate change, guns, immigration, ISIS, and the Middle East. Some of them have very strong feelings about Planned Parenthood. But what about the crisis of women in the workforce--and the productivity gap that their low participation is causing?

It's clear that Clinton, Sanders and O'Malley take the lead. The infographic and list below tell you where they stand on two of the four issues where government can weigh in:

2015-11-16-1447704541-238359-Untitled.png
Family and Medical Leave Act

Marco Rubio (R)
He wants to avoid the federal government getting involved but encourages companies to give at least 4 weeks by offering them a 25% tax credit.

Martin O'Malley (D)
He is a big supporter of the FAMILY Act because he believes that paid leave for both genders will help close the gender pay gap.

Ted Cruz (R)
He supports them personally but doesn't think it's government's job to mandate.

Bernie Sanders (I)
He is a big supporter and is a cosponsor of the Family Act.

Carly Fiorina (R)
She believes companies will do the right thing and that government shouldn't interfere with the private sector.

Hillary Clinton (D)
She supports a mandatory 3 month leave.

Rand Paul (R)
He has not commented on the issue.

Chris Christie (R)
He too hasn't formally commented on it but believes we need to remain competitive.

Jeb Bush (R)
He thinks it's a state decision not a federal one.

Donald Trump (R)
He told Fox News that America needs to remain competitive and that we should be careful of it.

To Those Of You Who Feel the Bern

Laura J. Akers   |   October 29, 2015    2:14 PM ET

To my progressive and liberal friends who support Bernie Sanders: I'm starting to get a little worried. You see, I see some of you spending a lot of time talking about Hillary Clinton as though she is the enemy. And I get why you're concerned about her in the primary. I really do.

I understand why you prefer Bernie to her as president. In a better world, I would too. His values line up with mine better than Hillary's do when it comes to economic issues. It should be pretty clear that I'm every bit the Democratic Socialist. We only disagree in how effective someone of Bernie's temperament and self-identification could be in the job.

What has me worried is that there's so much on which Bernie and Hillary agree and which I think we agree is important: education, reproductive issues, the Voting Rights Act, immigration, campaign finance reform, gay rights, gun control, equal pay, minimum wage hikes, protecting Social Security and Medicare, strengthening/improving the ACA, Affirmative Action, pursuing hate crimes, medical marijuana, climate change, Keystone, subsidized child care, TPP, NAFTA (yes, they were BOTH against it, check the record), Citizens United, veterans' issues, the list goes on.

These are all issues on which these two are in agreement, but the gulf between them and the Republicans is vast. Much as the gulf between what you want and what the Republicans say they will do on these issues is vast. And yet, what I am hearing is that Hillary Clinton is the enemy and that she must be stopped at all costs.

Really?

Maybe that's not what you mean when you talk about her as though she is single-handedly responsible for the abuses of Wall Street. As though she created a complex system of laws which protect the 1 percent and the corporate interests that chew the rest of us up to feed the gaping maw that is rampant capitalism.

As though she alone is responsible for the crimes committed against those who spoke out in the last decade. As though she is the only prop holding up the system of economic oppression that has been grinding away at us since... well, think about it. How far back would you trace it? Because as far as I can tell, its roots are prehistorical.

Am I apologizing for her positions on Wall Street? Hell, no. I don't like them. I don't support them. And I think having Bernie stand up and articulate in a clear voice what's wrong with them is doing this country a public service for which I would like to thank him personally. I respect the man greatly for what he is doing and I do not have a single criticism of him. Not one. In fact, I will likely vote for him in the primary.

But he will likely lose that primary. (You may disagree, and that's fine, that's a different discussion, as you'll see in a moment.)

And that's why I'm worried.

Because throughout this campaign, Bernie and Hillary have been careful not to criticize each other too much, and there's a reason for that. They understand that, regardless of who wins the primary, a Democrat -- someone who will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Citizens United -- must win the White House.

They know that whether it means Bernie's outright, in-your-face-Democratic Socialism or Hillary's too-lax oversight of the banks, one of them must be in the White House to stop the systematic disenfranchisement of black, Hispanic, and poor Americans. They get that one area of disagreement does not negate the many, MANY areas in which they have been working together for years and in which they have very similar visions for America -- visions similar to your own.

2015-10-27-1445976198-6137763-bernie.jpg

So when, instead of talking about why you like Bernie, you vilify Hillary and talk about why voting for her is just as bad as voting for Bush or Trump or some other Republican, I'm scared. Because not only do you seem to be misrepresenting both Hillary and the GOP's very divergent stances, but you're actually misrepresenting Bernie's own stance.

He's not attacking Hillary like that. He's not saying the things you are about her. Not just because they largely aren't true -- but because he has already said that, if he loses the primary, he will not run as an independent. He will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination, and if it's not him, it will be Hillary.

And every curse that Bernie's supporters have hurled at Hillary during the primary will be used by the GOP to try to take her down. She's weathered a lot. She might weather that.

What she will not survive is the thing that has me so frightened: that Bernie's supporters -- that you -- will not follow Bernie's example, and vote for the Democratic nominee. That you will believe all the rhetoric you have been spinning about how she's no different than the Republicans. That it doesn't make a difference if it's her or another Bush in the White House for the next four or eight years.

Because, while I agree with you that our economic policies are of vital importance, they are not the only issues in this election. They are not the only things that create misery in this country. They are not the only injustices that have gone on too long. They are not the only things that need fixed and need fixed now.

So please, support your candidate. Sing his praises to the sky. Talk about his track record and his vision and what he could do for this country. But remember that the primary is not the whole game.

In fact, remember that this is not a game.

That this is not about your guy winning or taking your ball and going home. This is about making our country -- all of it, in a lot of different arenas -- a better place. And that either of them will be far better for the majority of this country than the alternative.

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!"

bernie

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, OpenSecrets.org, 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 jayweston@sbcglobal.net

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.