Month: October 2016 (page 1 of 4)


She’s put women’s rights on the same level as global security.

Day 91 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
She effectively created her own doctrine – The Hillary Doctrine – and it’s all about women, on a global scale.
Hillary first stepped out of Bill’s shadow when she declared in China, “that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”
The Hillary Doctrine, as outlined in a 2011 Newsweek article of the same name, allies women’s rights with international security. At a TEDWomen event, Clinton elaborated: “Give women equal rights, and entire nations are more stable and secure. Deny women equal rights, and the instability of nations is almost certain. The subjugation of women is, therefore, a threat to the common security of our world and to the country.”
By tying women’s rights to the fundamental need for global security, Hillary has elevated the effort to stand with the most critical and essential of initiatives. She further adds development to security as an essential element and suggests women’s rights is the underpinning to both. A flourishing economy typically provides stability; stability, more often than not, delivers security. And it’s tough to have either if half the population is subjugated.
As SoS, Hillary introduced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which established priorities over a four-year horizon versus the typical year-to-year planning tied to budgets. Women and girls are mentioned 133 times within the 220 pages of the inaugural QDDR document, signifying their prominent place in the mission and plans for the State Department at that time.
About the same time, the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) was reintroduced. Like the Hillary Doctrine, I-VAWA links development with security in the name of women’s rights. Ironically (or not), it hasn’t passed, in part, because it would discriminate against men.
By aligning global women’s rights with the ability to achieve true security, she has turned up the volume and made it impossible for the world community to ignore its importance.
(The Newsweek article on the Hillary Doctrine is well worth the read.)

Raising the minimum wage would shrink the income gap and save money for all of us.

Day 90 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Hillary wants to raise the minimum wage to help close the inequality gap.
The federal minimum wage has failed to keep pace with both the cost of living and the median wage in the labor market. That means even working full-time at the minimum wage does not allow families to escape poverty or attain economic self-sufficiency.
This issue is not about teenagers flipping burgers, 89% of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase to $12 per hour are 20 or older, and 56% are women.
You may have noticed the word “federal” several times already. The federal government determines the minimum wage for the country; however, municipalities and states may enact their own minimum wages – and many do. Thirty-seven states had state minimum wages exceeding the federal level in 2007 prior to the most recent federal increase. In the debates between Bernie and Hillary, there was some confusion over whether she supported a $12 minimum wage or $15. The fact is, she supports both: $12 federally and $15 for more expensive cities and states, e.g., NY and LA. She also thinks we need to step our way up there from the current $7.25/hour so as not the shock the system.
Why is this important? Wages for the bottom half of the population rose only in the late 1990s during high unemployment. As a result, the top 90th percent’s real wages grew by over 30% between 1973 and 2011, while the median and lowest 10 percent’s real wages grew by less than 5% over the same period – in part, creating the income gap.
Won’t raising the minimum wage kill small business, increase unemployment and hurt taxpayers?
Raising the wage by even small amounts for workers in the bottom three earning brackets, which an Economic Policy Institute report describes as “those who earn up to $12.16 an hour,” could reduce the amount taxpayers spend on government programs. Per the report: “For every $1 that wages rise among workers in the bottom three wage deciles, spending on government assistance programs falls by roughly $5.2 billion. This estimate is conservative, as it does not include the value of Medicaid benefits.”
The Department of Labor kills a few more myths:
Myth: Increasing the minimum wage is bad for businesses.
Not true: Academic research has shown that higher wages sharply reduce employee turnover, which can reduce employment and training costs.
Myth: Increasing the minimum wage is bad for the economy.
Not true: Since 1938, the federal minimum wage has been increased 22 times. For more than 75 years, real GDP per capita has steadily increased, even when the minimum wage has been raised.
In a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders urging a minimum wage increase, more than 600 economists, including 7 Nobel Prize winners wrote, “In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.”

What we really know about Hillary’s emails.

Day 89 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Ok, let’s REALLY talk about the emails again.
In light of yesterday’s revelation, or non-news, depending on whether we think what Huma did with her computer is relevant to Hilary’s qualifications as president, I want to bring to everyone’s attention some important pieces of James Comey’s original statement on his investigation of Hillary. Very few people have actually read what he said. So, here is a sampling of – what I think – are important pieces of his statement.
“From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.
“…With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. There were no additional Top Secret e-mails found. Finally, none of those we found have since been “up-classified.”
“…I should add here that we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her e-mails, so it is not surprising that we discovered e-mails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 e-mails to the State Department.
“…It could also be that some of the additional work-related e-mails we recovered were among those deleted as “personal” by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her e-mails for production in 2014.
“…The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails, as we did for those available to us; instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related e-mails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total e-mails remaining on Secretary Clinton’s personal system in 2014. It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server.
“…We have conducted interviews and done technical examination to attempt to understand how that sorting was done by her attorneys. Although we do not have complete visibility because we are not able to fully reconstruct the electronic record of that sorting, we believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct in connection with that sorting effort.
“…Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.
“…In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”
I hope this clarifies some of the findings. What Hillary did was stupid, but understandable. It is worth noting that the State Department’s technology was hopelessly outdated when Hillary was SoS. The latest “scandal” came about because Huma found it easier to print emails for Hillary from home than the office because of the quality of the output and the timing. It is also worth noting that, despite the incredible ability of hackers to crack the DNC, the RNC, THE STATE DEPARTMENT, and too many others, they have not been able to hack Hillary’s server. Unsecure? Not so much.

Because black lives do matter.

Day 88 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Because black lives do matter.

UPDATE — I need to amend this. It hasn’t been sitting right with me ever since I posted it. It feels patronizing and doesn’t say what I really want it to say. What I wanted to say was that Hillary got BLM wrong first, going with the neutralizing “All Lives Matter,” which entirely misses the point. But, after being protested by BLM activists, she did what she does and met with BLM activists. Some of the conversations were very uncomfortable and unsatisfying for both sides.


However, she listened. She processed. (Which is what she does.) And she met again. And talked some more. In light of the oh-too-many misperceptions of what BLM is really about and why — yes — Black Lives Do Matter (no qualification required or wanted), and the conflation with Blue Lives Matter, it is challenging for a politician to align him or herself with the movement. Too few people actually get the point, which means, as a talking point, it’s not an easy alignment. Once she understood it, Hillary not only attached herself to the movement, she made a point of bringing some of its issues to light. She massaged some of her policies to address the issues presented to her. And she tried to find a balance so she could say, “Of course I don’t want cop killings, but I’m also tired of us killing our black citizens and we need to remedy the things that make it a too common occurrence.” [The quotations are mine; I’m paraphrasing her position.] ok, carry on.


And Hillary knows it. She is also walking the oh-so-delicate balance between Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter – which is where most of us live. One of the pictures that spoke to me loudest last summer was that of a young black woman protesting in NY with a sign that read, “Last week I protested killing blacks. Today I protest killing cops.” How about we just stop slaughtering people?
But Hillary’s a funny person. In an exchange that may explain why we respect her, but struggle sometimes to like her, in this emotionally charged arena, she landed on the side of practical reason rather than cultural change.
“I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton told Julius Jones (a BLM activist) in a candid moment backstage after a campaign event. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts, and change some systems, and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them.”
I’ve already covered many of her plans to train police, highlight police departments who get it right, change sentencing laws and attempt to address systemic racism, so I’m not going to revisit those issues. I’m shining light on her invitation to mothers of black children killed by police and caught in the crossfire of inner-city violence to the Democratic convention.
And I’m introducing her “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda,” to create good-paying jobs, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and connect housing to opportunity in communities that are being left out and left behind. DeRay McKesson (BLM activist), in his endorsement of Hillary, specifically cited it as an important piece of her platform and his endorsement. Some of its initiatives are:
• Create jobs through programs targeted at inner-city youth and formerly incarcerated people.
• Earmarking money dedicated to rebuilding infrastructure to neglected communities, e.g., Flint.
• Create a matching fund for mortgage down payments for people who earn less than local median incomes.
• “Ban the box.” Prohibit companies from asking about criminal history until after interviews, so those with a record have a chance.
And I don’t mean to suggest that black lives and inner cities are analogous, but — more often than not — the black lives that have been cut way too short have also been economically disadvantaged. Confronting the violence along with the voices that are not amplified by money can change hearts.
So, although these are largely economic efforts, in concert with working with law enforcement and the judicial system to eradicate racism, it’s what’s needed to change, and what she can do to improve the reality facing too many people of color in the US. Hillary does not have Barack’s ability to move people rhetorically. She’s a policy wonk and is playing to her strengths in approaching the issues on policy rather than heart.

She wants to take on the bullies and help the victims.

Day 87 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Hillary wants bullying to stop. (Me too.)
A week ago, Hillary participated in Spirit Day, an annual event to raise awareness and combat bullying of LGBT youth. She tweeted, “This #SpiritDay, let’s take a stand for LGBT youth and send a clear message to all our kids: In the end, bullies always lose,” along with a purple version of her campaign logo.
While one of the most vulnerable, the LGBT community is only one group to suffer at the hands of bullies. Muslims, women, people of all colors, and the disabled are just a few of those who are targeted regularly.
Today, she launched “Better Than Bullying,” to deliver $500 million in new funding to states that develop comprehensive anti-bullying plans; they will be eligible to receive $4 of federal support for every $1 of new resources they commit.
There are multiple, intersecting pieces to this plan, largely working with schools and the Department of Education to create behavioral and remedial programs designed to educate and reform bullies while offering support and counseling to victims.
Clinton will fight to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act to require federally funded school districts to adopt codes of conduct that explicitly prohibit bullying on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.
She will dramatically increase funding for School Climate Transformation Grants from $23 million in FY 2014 to $200 million annually and will include an incentive for school districts to hire School Climate Support Teams for the first year of the grant. School climate will become one of the factors in evaluating and rating schools.
It’s a hot topic, made hotter by the current climate. Here’s to a remedy, or, at least, some action.

Her faith informs her social justice efforts.

Day 86 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Hillary relies on her faith to inform her social justice efforts.
I’m not a particularly religious person (ok, not at all), mostly because I have seen too many ways in which organized religion and actual spirituality fail to intersect.
Hillary was raised Methodist and, by all accounts, is a true believer. When it comes to how this informs her political stances, it is worth noting the pillars of Methodism. The four pillars are Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. That reason and experience are so central to the theology encourages me.
As a very young woman, she met Don Jones, a Methodist youth minister who took Clinton under his wing. At Jones’ memorial in 2009, Clinton attributed her pursuit of social justice to Jones’ teaching.
“He taught me the meaning of the words ‘faith in action’ and the importance of social justice and human rights,” she said at the time. Jones taught Clinton how “Jesus would deal with social issues,” said William Chafe, a professor of history at Duke University who has studied Clinton extensively.
“He took Hillary and the youth group into the slums of Chicago, had them interact with poor blacks and Puerto Ricans, and brought them to hear (Martin Luther King, Jr.) preach,” Chafe said. He pushed them to question their faith, arranging a debate with an atheist about the existence of God. He took them to Jewish synagogues to introduce them to different religions.
Some of her success as a Senator came about because she joined a bible study group and participated in weekly Senate prayer breakfasts. The connections she made with the other Senators enabled them to work together more openly and concretely.
Despite my lack of affiliation with an organized religion, I am heartened when people use their faith to commit themselves to social justice and kindness. I included a link below to a talk Hillary gave to the United Methodist Women’s Assembly in 2014. It is worth noting, she refused a fee and paid her own expenses to attend the event.

She’s using taxes to combat income inequality.

Day 85 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Hillary looks to narrow the inequality gap with a fairly progressive tax plan.
Everyone making less than $250,000 will not see a change in their taxes under Clinton (assuming she can get her tax plan through Congress). However, those making more will see a hit on that portion over $250k; this means 97% of taxpayers will not be affected.
Some of the loopholes that Trump enjoyed will be closed, as well as a few that benefit the hedge fund and private equity folks, and those inheriting significantly will see less. For those who think that Hillary is in the pocket of Wall Street, this should serve as an indication that she will bite the hand that feeds her if it supports her social policy.
In addition to setting up a “middle out” economic expansion (as opposed to “trickle down”), this will fund her various social proposals. And it addresses the federal debt: “By 2028, the PWBM (Penn Wharton Budget Model) indicates that GDP would be larger than it would have been without the plan, because smaller budget deficits would free up savings to finance private investment, and the federal debt would decrease by $5.4 trillion by 2036.”
Personally, Bill and Hillary (and Chelsea) will also take a significant hit. This is putting your money where your mouth is.

Hillary is a long-time advocate of stem cell research and all it can achieve.

Day 84 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Hillary supports stem cell research.
I have an in vitro-born nephew. After he was born, my sister was informed that the “extra” stem cells would be destroyed. My sister wanted to donate them for research. She couldn’t because it was the same year that President Bush limited all stem research to a small group of existing cells. So, they were destroyed.
Had they (and many others like them) been saved and used, they were potentially capable of treating Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and MS (two people I adore have MS and I would love to know we were doing all we could to find better treatment).
Clinton co-sponsored legislation in 2001 and 2002 that would have expanded stem cell research and co-sponsored a bill in 2005 that would have banned human cloning while protecting the right of scientists to conduct stem cell research.
After much controversy, the Bush administration vetoed the bill (despite the fact that it passed both the House and the Senate), and declared that taxpayer money could only be used for research using certain already-created embryonic stem cell lines.
At the time, referencing this legislation, Hillary said, “Despite the enormous promise of stem cell research, the Administration has pursued ideology over innovation and continually restricted federal funding, limiting the ability of our scientists to aggressively pursue avenues that may lead to breakthroughs for many chronic, debilitating, and ultimately fatal diseases. We cannot afford any additional delay in supporting research that has the potential to save millions of lives.
“Restricting funding for stem cell research also hurts our ability to remain the world’s leader in medical research. It is critical that we increase federal support for stem cell research in order to maintain the ability of our nation’s scientists to remain at the forefront of biomedical innovation and attract and retain top-notch scientific talent to its laboratories.”
Hmmmmm – jobs and saving lives – feels like a winning proposition to me.
President Obama expanded the number that qualify, a move that survived court challenges, but we are still not where we ought to be. I am emphatically in favor of supporting carefully legislated stem cell research reform and hope that Hillary will continue the work she started decades ago. (For those who worry about cloning and misuse, please read the bill [link below] to see the safeguards.)

Hillary and business — it’s a tightrope, but she’s still on the line.

Day 83 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
Hillary seems to thread the needle with corporations.
This is a tricky one. Hillary’s relationships with Wall Street, Walmart and business in general are complex and potentially problematic. I have complained that the Clintons both tread too close to the line for my tastes, and to many – both left and right – her relationships with corporate America is one of those walks.
But (to carry a metaphor too far), she seems to toe the line. Hillary served on the Walmart board for six years while Bill was governor of Arkansas. She was the first woman on their board. By all accounts, she pushed hard for more women in management and pressed the corporation to follow a more environmentally friendly path than they had. However, she has had her feet held to the fire for her reluctance?, inability?, to push for a more union-friendly practice at Walmart.
Her relationship with Wall Street is even murkier. She has taken hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, in speaking fees, yet promises to rein them in and ensure we don’t have another financial meltdown. It’s a cozy relationship.
And then there’s the Clinton Foundation and the accusations of “pay to play.”
For those who have been paying attention to this space, you may recall my many references to Hillary’s call for corporate partnerships to create jobs for: veterans, coalminers, women, physically and mentally handicapped, ex-cons, and, well, just about everyone.
There’s also been a lot of talk this election cycle about shipping jobs overseas, what we pay our workers versus foreign competition and how to right the balance of trade.
To achieve any of this, one needs corporate connections. So, how does one create and implement these programs without some understanding of the corporations, what they need, how they work, and who can make it happen? You can’t.
While there is always the whiff of inappropriateness – so far – there is no concrete evidence that Hillary has compromised herself in favor of corporate connections. She made pharmaceutical companies change their testing and recommendations on children and has worked to keep pricing in line. Her past and present stand on banking and financial industry regulation is surprisingly progressive and restrictive.
Do I wish Hillary had been more forceful about unions on Walmart’s board? Sure. However, she was the first and, at the time, only, woman on the board. She was young. She needed the money. So she picked her battles. And I’m happy about her efforts on behalf of women and the environment.
Would an organization like the Clinton Foundation be better equipped to continue to do the good work it does if there weren’t the appearance of “pay to play?” Yup. However, even according to the WSJ (not historically a supporter of the Clintons), there is no evidence that she stepped over that line.
Do I wish some in the financial industry paid a higher price (oh heck, any price) for their role in the financial crisis? Hell, yes. But so does Hillary – even more than Obama. Did you know that? I didn’t.
This is too nuanced an issue to be easy fodder for an ad or a debate, but – from what I can see – she is working to harness the power of corporations while holding them to account on other issues. All of these issues demand vigilance, but when you really look into reality versus perception, the reality is that, more often than not, she has, yes, compromised, but, in the end, landed on the right side of the line. Let’s keep it that way, while applauding the work she has done.
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