Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Jill Stein – Tablet Magazine

“At a time when a third of Sanders supporters still haven’t committed to backing Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in the general election, where every percentage point will matter, Stein’s candidacy looms larger. Many good people are only just discovering her campaign, and wondering if she might be worthy of their vote. Which is why it’s time for responsible political observers to say what has been commonly understood among those who have followed Stein for years: Friends don’t let friends vote for Jill Stein.”

Read the full article here: Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Jill Stein – Tablet Magazine

FACT CHECK: NRSC Tries to Distract From Heck’s Voting Record & Support for Donald Trump

Today, Washington Republicans launched their latest false attack against Catherine Cortez Masto. Previous attacks from Congressman Heck’s numerous special interests allies have been called falsehighly misleading, and “B.S..” The reality is: Washington Republicans are trying to distract voters from Congressman Heck putting his party ahead of the safety of Nevadans.

“Washington Republicans are desperate to change the subject from Congressman Heck’s support of Donald Trump for President,” said Zach Hudson, spokesperson for Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate. “The truth is: while Catherine Cortez Masto spent eight years as Attorney General protecting Nevadans from predators, Congressman Heck has voted twenty four times to allow suspected terrorists to buy guns and wants to put Donald Trump in charge of our nation’s nuclear launch codes. Congressman Heck’s support of Donald Trump as our Commander-in-Chief demonstrates he doesn’t have the judgment to be Nevada’s next Senator and will put partisan politics ahead of the safety of Nevadans.”

View the facts on Washington Republicans’ latest false attack against Cortez Masto below:

PUSHBACK 8/12/16: NRSC AD  “NO CONCERN” – 

CLAIM RESPONSE
VOICEOVER: Catherine Cortez Masto supports President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and refused to name any concerns with it.

 

REALITY: WASHINGTON REPUBLICANS CONTINUE THEIR PATTERN OF FALSE AND MISLEADING ATTACKS ON CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO THAT HAVE BEEN REPEATEDLY DEBUNKED BY INDEPENDENT FACT-CHECKERS

Washington Post Fact Check Gave NRSC Three Pinocchios For False Claims About Cortez Masto Support For Iran Deal. [Washington Post Fact Check, NRSC Ad “There’s No Going Back,” 10/6/15]

Washington Post Fact Check: NRSC “Exaggerated Charges” And Used “Misleading Language” To Frighten Voters Into Thinking Cortez Masto Made A Foreign Policy Blunder By Supporting Iran Deal. In September 2015, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote, “This is an ad designed to frighten voters into thinking that Masto has made a tragic foreign-policy blunder that will lead to nuclear conflict. But the images would be justified only if the case were as compelling as the NRSC suggests. Instead, the organization has exaggerated the charges and used misleading language to make its case. With a few tweaks in the wording and less stark images, the NRSC could make a reasonable argument that supporting the nuclear deal is a mistake. But this effort is a miss.” [Washington Post Fact Check, NRSC Ad “There’s No Going Back,” 10/6/15]

Washington Post Fact Check: NRSC Ad “Incorrectly” Suggested Iran Deal Allows The Financing Of Terrorists. In September 2015, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote, “Iran has billions of dollars in assets that are frozen in foreign banks around the globe, and this deal would unlock those funds. No one quite knows how much money is at stake, but estimates range from $29 billion to $150 billion, with $100 billion the figure most often used. The Treasury Department has estimated that once Iran fulfills other obligations, it would have about $56 billion left. That’s certainly ‘billions.’ But remember, this is already Iran’s money; it is not being ‘given’ any kind of signing bonus. […] The ad, however, incorrectly suggests that the agreement directly allows the financing of terrorists.” [Washington Post Fact Check, NRSC Ad “There’s No Going Back,” 10/6/15]

Washington Post Fact Check: NRSC Ad Used “Misleading Language” To Make It Appear That Arms Controls Were Being Weakened. In September 2015, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote, “‘Arms controls’ refers to U.N. Security Council sanctions limiting nations from supplying Iran’s weapon programs. Iran had wanted the sanctions lifted immediately, but as a compromise the deal called for the embargo on ballistic missiles to be lifted after a maximum of eight years. Sanctions on conventional weapons would be lifted after five years. The time frame could be shortened if the International Atomic Energy Agency determines that Iran’s nuclear program was only for peaceful purposes. Here, again, the ad uses misleading language. This nuclear deal is an arms-control agreement, but ad makes it appears as if ‘arms controls’ are being weakened. Supplies for Iran’s ballistic missile program were under sanctions, but there were never agreed limits on the number of Iran’s ballistic missiles, as is typical in an arms-control agreement.” [Washington Post Fact Check, NRSC Ad “There’s No Going Back,” 10/6/15]

Washington Post Fact Check: Despite NRSC Ad Claims, All Of Iran’s Nuclear Sites Will Have Continuous Monitoring And IAEA Officials Insisted Verification Was “Not Compromised.” In September 2015, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote, “Under the deal, all of Iran’s declared nuclear sites, such as the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, will be under continuous monitoring by the IAEA. For 10 years, Iran will have limits on the uranium enrichment permitted at Natanz; the IAEA will be able to keep close tabs on the production. The deal also allows IAEA monitoring of Iran’s centrifuge production and storage facilities, the procurement chain, and the mining and milling of uranium — verification measures that many experts say exceed those under previous negotiated nuclear deals with other nations. So what is the ad talking about? It is referring to sites that have not been declared as nuclear, such as sensitive military locations. Under a side agreement between Iran and the IAEA, Iran will help collect samples at Parchin, which Tehran says is a conventional military facility, though the IAEA believes explosive triggers for nuclear weapons may have been tested there. The IAEA sought access to the site to determine whether there had been a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. News reports have given contradictory information on what took place during a September visit to Parchin by the IAEA. Officials have said that Iranian technicians played a role in obtaining the samples — possibly without IAEA officials present — but insisted that the verification process was not compromised. Still, officials have conceded that the arrangement was a departure from the way the IAEA normally conducts inspections. In any case, the ad again greatly simplifies a complex issue.” [Washington Post Fact Check, NRSC Ad “There’s No Going Back,” 10/6/15]

PolitiFact: NRSC Ad “Mostly False” Because Crime Statistics Were A Crude Way To Measure Safety And Nevada Had Several Quirks That Inflated Numbers. “Experts agree that crime statistics are a crude way to measure safety, and Nevada has several quirks that inflate the numbers. The ad claims that Cortez Masto ‘couldn’t keep us safe,’ but crime statistics have more to do with local law enforcement agencies than the state’s attorney general. The NRSC offers no proven link connecting her actions as attorney general to a swing in murder, robbery and rape. The statement contains an element of truth but leaves out important details. We rate the statement Mostly False.” [PolitiFact, 8/10/16]

PolitiFact: No Proof That Cortez Masto Had Anything To Do With Decline Of Crime In First Term Or Subsequent Increase In Second. “That’s a serious charge, and there’s no concrete proof she had anything to do with the decline in crime in her first term or the subsequent increase in her second. Crime was at an historical low in 2011, and it’s hard to say why. The crime report itself cautions police agencies against drawing any conclusions about a specific department given the variety of factors that can affect crime trends. ‘Because of other assigned duties, the peculiar cycle of crime and clearances, and different community factors that normally affect crime statistics, no conclusions regarding individual departments should be made without consulting directly with the agency being analyzed,’ the report states.” [PolitiFact, 8/10/16]

PolitiFact: No Proof That Cortez Masto Caused Nevada’s Ranking Third In Ten Most Dangerous States. “Similarly, there is some truth that Nevada took the third spot in a ranking of the 10 most dangerous states. Again, however, it’s not proven what Cortez Masto had to do with it, and the source is not as credible as the FBI. The NRSC cites a list published in January 2015 from 24/7 Wall Street, a website that covers financial news. The list indeed ranks Nevada third, but the data relies on both crime data and socioeconomic factors, such as the poverty rate and the percentage of adults with a high school diploma. No attorneys general, in Nevada or elsewhere, play much of a role in setting educational policy or promoting programs to get people out of poverty.” [Politifact, 8/10/16]

PolitiFact: NRSC Cherry-Picked Handful Of Crime Statistics To Portray Cortez Masto As Weak On Crime. “The NRSC ad says Nevada was ranked as the third most dangerous state by the time Cortez Masto left office, and that “murder went up 11 percent, robbery went up 28 percent, rape 51 percent” during her second term. The NRSC cherry-picks a handful of short-term crime statistics to portray Cortez Masto as weak on crime enforcement. But the argument is flawed.” [PolitiFact, 8/10/16]

PolitiFact Nevada: NRSC Claim That Cortez Masto Took Pay Increases Is “A Highly Misleading Claim.” “The NRSC said Cortez Masto ‘was happy to line her own pockets with taxpayer dollars when state employees were slammed with frozen salaries,’ but this is a highly misleading claim. The state increased Cortez Masto’s salary during a time of pay freezes for Nevada’s state workers. She was unable to legally reject the pay increase, so she donated $38,000 back to the state during her last four years in office. We rate the claim Mostly False.” [PolitiFact Nevada, 2/3/16]

PolitiFact Nevada: It’s Clear That As Attorney General, Cortez Masto Didn’t “Pad Her Pockets” While State Workers Suffered – She Received Essentially The Same Salary During Her Eight Years In Office. “According to information collected from TransparentNevada.com and records request from the state Controller’s office, PolitiFact Nevada put together this spreadsheet of salaries, donations and what percentage of salary was donated back to the state. As shown, it’s clear that as Attorney General, Cortez Masto didn’t ‘pad her pockets’ while state workers suffered — rather, she received essentially the same salary (not counting benefits) during her eight years in office when donations are subtracted out.” [PolitiFact Nevada, 2/3/16]

Jon Ralston: Freedom Partners Uber Ad Is “Bullshit” – Uber Is Still Here. In June 2016, Jon Ralston tweeted: “@FreedomPartners digital ad on @CatherineForNV is brutal but BS: It says she ‘drove them out of town,’ but Uber is still here.’ [Twitter, Jon Ralston, 6/24/16]

Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Sebelius On Uber Ad: Cortez Masto Had The Gall To Actually Enforce The Law. In June 2016, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius tweeted: “Shorter @FreedomPartners on @CatherineForNV: ‘As attorney general, she had the gall to actually enforce NV transpo laws as written!’” [Twitter, Steve Sebelius, 6/24/16]

Headline: Politifact: Freedom Partners Ad Attacking Cortez Masto On Uber “Mostly False.” [Politifact, 7/7/16]

Politifact Rated The Uber Attack Ad Mostly False “Because The Ad Takes Things Out Of Context.” ” Freedom Partners got a couple of the details right in the amount of taxi industry donations and Cortez Masto’s aggressive legal actions against Uber. But there’s a convincing argument that Uber at the very least bent the rules, and it’s clear that Cortez Masto didn’t have some sort of individual vendetta against the ride-hailing company — her office was working with state regulators who specifically requested the attorney general take action. The ad also neglects to mention how Uber only temporarily left town. The ridesharing service is very much up and running through Nevada a year after its initial skirmish with the state. Because this ad takes things out of context, we rate it Mostly False.” [Politifact, 7/7/16]

Heck Supporter And Former Nevada Transportation Authority Chairman Said It’s Possible Cortez Masto Could Have Ignored The Will Of The State, But It Would Have Been Highly Unusual, “I Couldn’t Foresee The AG Or Any AG Not Enforcing State Law.” “Former Nevada Transportation Authority chairman Andrew MacKay said the massive size of Uber’s workforce dwarfed the enforcement capabilities of state regulators, meaning the only real maneuver available was a court-ordered restraining order. MacKay, who disclosed that he’s supporting Republican Joe Heck in the state’s Senate race, detailed some of the issues with Uber in a three-page affidavit describing the more stringent requirements of Nevada’s cab companies. […] MacKay, chairman of the state’s ‘client’ in the case against Uber, said it’s theoretically possible that Cortez Masto could have ignored the will of the state and not filed suit, but it would have been highly unusual. ‘I couldn’t foresee the AG or any AG not enforcing state law,’ MacKay said.” [Politifact, 7/7/16]

Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Sebelius: Two Recent Ads From The Koch Brothers-Backed Freedom Partners Action Fund PAC Targeting Cortez Masto Arranged Perfectly True Facts To Lead To A False Conclusion. “Anybody who’s ever been to a courthouse knows its possible to arrange perfectly true facts to lead a jury to a false conclusion. It’s no different in the court of public opinion. Take two recent ads from the Koch brothers-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund PAC targeting Democratic former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who’s now running for Senate. The ads allege she hired a well-connected Washington, D.C., law firm to sue Bank of America during the foreclosure crisis. The firm earned millions in fees. Partners in the firm later gave Cortez Masto campaign contributions. Therefore, corruption!” [Las Vegas Review Journal, Column, 5/10/16]

Las Vegas Review Journal’s Steve Sebelius: “Sounds Much More Like Cortez Masto Doing Her Job Than Cozying Up To A Washington Special Interest For Personal Profit.” “So, while it’s true Cortez Masto recommended the hiring of a law firm that earned money representing the state and whose partners later contributed to her campaign, it’s also true the firm successfully forced one of the largest banks in the country to pay the state millions to compensate for alleged wrongdoing. That sounds much more like Cortez Masto doing her job than cozying up to a Washington special interest for personal profit. In fact, you’d have to very carefully arrange the facts to lead people to that conclusion. That’s why you always have to wait until you’ve heard the entire story, in court and out.” [Las Vegas Review Journal, Column, 5/10/16]

VOICEOVER:
But the deal gets billions to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism
THE TRUTH: MILITARY & NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERTS AGREE: IRAN DEAL IS THE BEST PATH FORWARD
75 Arms Control And Nuclear Nonproliferation Experts Endorsed The Iran Deal. “Dozens of arms control and nuclear nonproliferation experts have signed a statement endorsing the Iran nuclear deal, the latest salvo in a lobbying campaign battle ahead of a congressional vote next month on President Barack Obama’s landmark agreement with Tehran. The Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan group based in Washington, will release the statement Tuesday morning. It declares the deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief ‘a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.’ Story Continued Below Among the 75 signatories are the former CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, prominent opponents of the Iraq War. Others include Hans Blix, a former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Morton Halperin, a foreign policy veteran of three administrations; and Thomas Pickering, a retired diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Israel.” [Politico, 8/18/15]

Three Dozen Retired Generals And Admirals Called The Agreement “The Most Effective Means Currently Available” To Prevent Iran From Getting The Bomb. “Three dozen retired generals and admirals released an open letter Tuesday supporting the Iran nuclear deal and urging Congress to do the same. Calling the agreement “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” the letter said that gaining international support for military action against Iran, should that ever become necessary, ‘would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance.’” [Washington Post, 8/11/15]

More Than 100 Former U.S. Ambassadors Praised The Iran Deal For Preventing The Spread Of Nuclear Weapons In The Middle East. “More than 100 former American ambassadors wrote to President Obama on Thursday praising the nuclear deal reached with Iran this week as a ‘landmark agreement’ that could be effective in halting Tehran’s development of a nuclear weapon, and urging Congress to support it. ‘If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East,’ said the letter, whose signers include diplomats named by presidents of both parties.” [New York Times, 7/16/15]

Former Republican National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft Said The Iran Agreement Will Prevent “The Possible Spread Of Nuclear Weapons” And Stabilize The Middle East. “Congress again faces a momentous decision regarding U.S. policy toward the Middle East. The forthcoming vote on the nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) will show the world whether the United States has the will and sense of responsibility to help stabilize the Middle East, or whether it will contribute to further turmoil, including the possible spread of nuclear weapons. Strong words perhaps, but clear language is helpful in the cacophony of today’s media.  In my view, the JCPOA meets the key objective, shared by recent administrations of both parties, that Iran limit itself to a strictly civilian nuclear program with unprecedented verification and monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Security Council. Iran has committed to never developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon; the deal ensures that this will be the case for at least 15 years and likely longer, unless Iran repudiates the inspection regime and its commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Additional Protocol.” [Washington Post, Brent Scowcroft Op-Ed, 8/21/15]

Former U.S. Ambassador To Israel Under President Reagan, Thomas Pickering, Endorsed The Iran Agreement. [Arms Control Association Press Release, 8/17/15]

Former Senators Richard Lugar And Sam Nunn: Rejecting The Deal Will “Severely” Damage U.S. Leadership, Diplomacy, And Credibility. “Finally, and perhaps most importantly, members of Congress must think long and hard about the consequences if this agreement is turned down. There is no escaping the conclusion that there will inevitably be grave implications for U.S. security and for U.S. international leadership in the decades ahead. Sanctions allies will go their own way, reducing the effectiveness of our financial tools and leaving Iran in a stronger position across the board.  Any future effort by this president or the next to assemble a “sanctions coalition” relating to Iran or other security challenges will be weakened. U.S. leadership, diplomacy and credibility, including efforts to achieve support for possible military action against Iran, will all be severely damaged.” [Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, Politico, 8/30/15]

Former Republican Senator Nancy Kassenbaum Endorsed The Iran Deal. “A bipartisan group of 60 former U.S. government officials are encouraging Congress to support the nuclear deal with Iran and warning that rejecting it could pose a greater risk to U.S. security. […] Former lawmakers who signed the statement include Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle (S.D.), Gary Hart (Colo.), Carl Levin (Mich.), George Mitchell (Maine), Donald Riegle (Mich.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Tim Wirth (Colo.), and former Republican Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (Kansas). Former Democratic Reps. Lee H. Hamilton (Ind.) and Jim Slattery (Kansas) also signed the statement.” [The Hill, 7/20/15]

REALITY: IRAN SANCTIONS ON TERRORISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS REMAIN IN PLACE AND COULD BE INCREASED

Iran Deal Kept In Place U.S. Sanctions Against Iran For Terrorism And Human Rights Abuses. “The United States imposed additional sanctions when, in January 1984, the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah, an Iranian client, was implicated in the bombing of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut. That year, the United States designated Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The designation, which remains in place, triggers a host of sanctions, including restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on arms transfers, and export controls for dual-use items. Sanctions related to sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses were not affected by the nuclear deal.” [Council On Foreign Relations, 7/15/15]

President Obama Promised To Maintain Or Increase Sanctions To Punish Iran For Terrorism, Human Rights Abuses. “To reward Iran for imposing constraints on its nuclear program, the United States agreed to lift many of the crippling sanctions that have blocked the country’s integration into the world economy. But to win over wary Democrats, Mr. Obama promised that he would maintain — and perhaps even increase — sanctions to punish Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses and other ‘destabilizing activities in the region.’ Many lawmakers have indicated they would like to go further, and they are considering legislative proposals that include renewing the current sanctions against foreign companies that invest in Iran’s energy industry. Mr. Obama would waive them as long as Iran complied with the nuclear accord, but these sets of actions would be a signal that Iran is not to be trusted and that sanctions could be restored rapidly.” [New York Times, 9/11/15]

THE TRUTH: INTERNATINAL ARMS RESTRICTIONS WILL REMAIN IN PLACE FOR THE NEXT FIVE TO EIGHT YEARS

Iran Deal Kept International Restrictions On Conventional Arms For Five Years And On Ballistic Missiles For Eight Years. “The Pentagon exerted key influence over one major sticking point in the final hours of the nuclear negotiations with Iran, according to current and former U.S. officials and diplomats: when to relax the international embargo on advanced military weapons to the Islamic Republic. […] But while economic sanctions will be lifted and billions of dollars in assets unfrozen under the deal reached Tuesday, the restrictions on conventional arms sales will remain in place for five years — and for ballistic missile technologies, which worry the U.S. military commanders the most, for eight years. ” [Politico, 7/14/15]

  • Politico: Arms Restrictions Came As “Surprise To Many” And Was Seen As A “Major Win” For The U.S. Because Iran Had Insisted On Immediately Lifting The Arms Embargo. “The Pentagon exerted key influence over one major sticking point in the final hours of the nuclear negotiations with Iran, according to current and former U.S. officials and diplomats: when to relax the international embargo on advanced military weapons to the Islamic Republic. As the talks entered the final stages, U.S. negotiators were under enormous pressure — from Russia and China, as well as some European allies — to immediately lift the United Nations embargo that was put in place in 2010 as punishment for Iran’s nuclear weapons development, they said. Iranian diplomats, meanwhile, were insisting on immediate relief in exchange for forgoing the nation’s nuclear ambitions. But while economic sanctions will be lifted and billions of dollars in assets unfrozen under the deal reached Tuesday, the restrictions on conventional arms sales will remain in place for five years — and for ballistic missile technologies, which worry the U.S. military commanders the most, for eight years. That came as a surprise to many. And it was seen as a major win for the U.S. military establishment, which had argued both publicly and behind the scenes that allowing Iran to rearm quickly — before any confidence could be built that it was living up to the terms of the nuclear pact — was a dangerous prospect given Tehran’s recent record of destabilizing military behavior in the region.” [Politico, 7/14/15]
VOICEOVER: Paves the way for Iran to build a new your bomb and rewards a country whose leaders chant death to America. THE TRUTH: CORTEZ MASTO CALLED FOR AN END TO PARTISAN BICKERING, VOWED TO HOLD IRAN ACCOUNTABLE

Cortez Masto: We Need To Stop The Partisan Bickering And Move Forward As A United Front With This Agreement. In September 2015, Catherine Cortez Masto stated: “That part of this is that we need to project to Iran as a united front, that we are going to take action, that we are going to stop this bickering over the position—over this agreement. Once it’s an agreement, now we need to move forward and that’s where it’s going to be, and so, no, I think, again we’ve got to get back to a country where we’re leading and we’re fighting as a united front here and that’s what I’m talking about when we move forward with this agreement.” [Ralston Live, Catherine Cortez Masto interview, 9/14/15]

Cortez Masto: “If Iran Were To Violate The Agreement, Then We Take Immediate Military Strike Or Action.” In September 2015, Catherine Cortez Masto stated: “Most importantly, to ensure that if Iran were to violate the agreement, then we take immediate military strike or action. They need to know they are going to be held accountable.” [Ralston Live, Catherine Cortez Masto interview, 9/14/15]

THE TRUTH: U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO LIFT INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS IN EXCHANGE FOR STOPPING IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

U.N. Security Council Voted Unanimously To Lift International Economic Sanctions Against Iran. “The United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution that creates the basis for international economic sanctions against Iran to be lifted, a move that incited a furious reaction in Israel and potentially sets up an angry showdown in Congress. The 15-to-0 vote for approval of the resolution — 104 pages long including annexes and lists — was written in Vienna by diplomats who negotiated a landmark pact last week that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for ending the sanctions.” [New York Times, 7/20/15]

The Deal Limited Iran’s Nuclear Capability And Imposed Strict Monitoring In Exchange For Lifting International Economic Sanctions.  “The United States and other world powers reached a historic agreement with Iran here Tuesday, aimed at preventing the Islamic republic from building a nuclear weapon in return for the lifting of sanctions that have isolated the country and hobbled its economy. President Obama, after announcing the agreement in Washington, quickly turned to what may be the more arduous task of selling the deal to skeptical lawmakers and U.S. allies in the Middle East. […] In Vienna news briefings and Washington conference calls, senior administration officials joined the president in hailing the agreement — which limits Iran’s nuclear capability and imposes strict international monitoring in exchange for lifting international economic sanctions — as a way to make America and the world more secure.” [Washington Post, 7/14/15]

REALITY: INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS WILL SNAPBACK IF IRAN CHEATS

Obama Administration Vowed That Iran Would Not Be Allowed To Bankroll Terrorism And Sanctions Would Be “Snapped Back” Quickly If Iran Cheats. “Obama administration officials told lawmakers on Wednesday that sanctions relief under the Iran nuclear deal will not be allowed to be used to bankroll terrorism and said the sanctions can be ‘snapped back’ quickly if Tehran violates the agreement. […] If Iran were to violate its commitments under the deal, U.S. sanctions could be reimposed ‘in a matter of days,’ he said. Sherman repeatedly reminded the panel that the military option remains on the table and insisted the deal was the best alternative to war.” [Reuters, 8/5/15]

International Sanctions Against Iran Would Automatically Resume If The U.S. Or Western Allies Believe Iran Violates The Deal. “The so-called snapback mechanism to renew United Nations sanctions is one of the most unusual parts of the deal. In the event that Iran is perceived as violating it, the agreement allows the full raft of penalties to resume automatically, without a vote on the Council that would risk a veto by one of its permanent members — namely, Russia, Iran’s closest ally on the Council. Preventing a resumption of sanctions would require a vote by the Security Council. Instead, the snapback mechanism allows any of the six world powers that negotiated the deal to flag what it considers a violation. They would submit their concerns to a dispute resolution panel. If those concerns remained unresolved, the sanctions would automatically resume after 30 days, or ‘snap back.’ According to the draft Security Council resolution, this means that the previous penalties ‘shall apply in the same manner as they applied before.’ Preventing a resumption of sanctions would require a vote by the Security Council. That in turn can be vetoed by those who would want the sanctions resumed, presumably the United States and its Western allies.” [New York Times, 7/16/15]

U.N. Security Council Resolution Allowed U.S. To Block Future Attempts At Sanctions Relief If Iran Cheats And Sanctions Are Reimposed. “The U.S. circulated a U.N. Security Council resolution Wednesday that would endorse the nuclear deal reached with Iran and lift most U.N. sanctions over the next decade. The resolution would allow the U. S.—or any other permanent member of the Security Council—to use its veto to restore the measures if Iran is seen to be violating the nuclear deal, a U.S. official said. […] At any time, the U.S. or any of its partners in the deal could bring an allegation of violations of the agreement to a new dispute-resolution mechanism. If that fails to resolve the issue, the U.S., for example, could ask the Security Council for a vote on whether to continue sanctions relief. Thus if the U.S. wanted to ‘snap back’ the U.N. sanctions, it could use its veto and the sanctions would be restored. The entire process would take a maximum 65 days.” [Wall Street Journal, 7/15/15]

VOICEOVER: No concern? Cortez Masto Nevada should be concerned very concerned THE TRUTH: FROM 2004 TO 2015, OVER 2,000 SUSPECTED TERRORISTS WERE ALLOWED TO PURCHASE FIREARMS…

Between 2004 And 2015, No Fewer Than 2,265 People On The Terrorist Watch List Passed A Federal Gun Background Check – A Successful Purchase Rate Of Over 90 Percent. “‘Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives under current federal law,’ as the Government Accountability Office concluded in 2010. And indeed, plenty of people on these watch lists do purchase firearms: Between 2004 and 2015, people on the terrorist watch list passed federal gun background checks no fewer than 2,265 times. At least three of those background checks involved the purchase of explosives. Only 212 attempted purchases were blocked, a successful purchase rate of over 90 percent.” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

  • In 2015 Alone, 223 Of 244 People On The Terrorist Watch Successfully Attempted To Purchase Guns. “Last year alone, people on the terrorist watch list attempted to purchase guns 244 times. Of those, 223 attempts were successful.” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

… BUT CONGRESSMAN HECK VOTED 24 TIMES AGAINST DEBATING A BILL TO BAN SUSPECTED TERRORISTS FROM PURCHASING FIREARMS, EVEN AFTER TERRORIST ATTACKS IN ORLANDO & SAN BERNANDINO

Heck Voted 11 Times Against Democratic Measures To Close The Terrorist Gun Loophole After The San Bernardino Terrorist Shooting. “Republicans in Congress made it clear Thursday that they will not be moving quickly to bring up new gun control legislation in the wake of Wednesday’s shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. […] Obama said Wednesday that Congress should, at a minimum, take up legislation that would bar anyone on the federal terrorist watch list from buying a gun. He told CBS News ‘some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can’t get on planes but those same people who we don’t allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there’s nothing that we can do to stop them. That’s a law that needs to be changed.’ But House Republicans have rejected several Democratic attempts to use a procedural motion to bring that legislation to the House floor this week.” Heck voted 13 times against motions to bring forth the “No Fly, No Buy” bill that would close the terrorist gun loophole. [USA Today, 12/3/15;  H.R. 3662, Vote 36, 1/12/16; H.R. 581, Vote 21, 1/7/16; H.R. 580, Vote 4, 1/6/16; H. R. 579, Vote 2, 1/6/16; H.Res. 560, Vote 690, 12/11/15; motion to table H.R. 1076, Vote 688, 12/10/15H.R. 2130, Vote 685, 12/9/15H.Res. 556, Vote 682, 12/9/15; H Res 546, Vote 666, 12/3/15; H Res 542, Vote 653, 12/2/15; H Res 539, Vote 646, 12/1/15]

Heck Voted 13 Times Against Closing The Terrorist Gun Loophole After Democrats Staged A Sit-In To Try To Force The U.S. House To Vote On The “No Fly, No Buy” Measure After Orlando Shooting. “House Democrats are trying to force a vote on several gun control measures, but are being shut down by the GOP majority. For the second time in two weeks, Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) sought to be recognized on the House floor Tuesday night so he could bring up two gun-related bills on expanded background checks and the so-called ‘No fly, no buy’ proposal. That measure states that anyone on the FBI’s ‘No Fly’ list cannot purchase a gun. But Republicans refused to allow Clyburn to move forward.” Heck voted 11 times against motions to bring forth the “No Fly, No Buy” bill that would close the terrorist gun loophole. [Politico, 6/21/16; H.Res. 783, Vote 304, 6/15/16; H.R. 5053, Vote 299, 6/14/16; H J Res 88, Vote 337, 6/22/16; H Res 796, Vote 343, 7/05/16; H Res 793, Vote 345, 7/05/16; H Res 794, Vote 347, 7/05/16; H Res 803, Vote 352, 7/06/16; HR 4361, Vote 375, 7/06/16; H Res 809, Vote 387, 7/07/16; H Res 820, Vote 406, 7/12/16; H Res 89, Vote 408, 7/12/16; H.R. 2130, Vote 415, 7/12/16; H Res 822, Vote 439, 7/13/16]

 VOICEOVER: NRSC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

 

REALITY: WASHINGTON REPUBLICANS ARE TRYING TO DISTRACT FROM CONGRESSMAN HECK’S SUPPORT FOR DONALD TRUMP…

Heck: “I Have High Hopes That We Will See Donald Trump Become The Next President.” “‘I have high hopes that we will see Donald Trump become the next president,’ he said. ‘Though I don’t necessarily agree with how he talks about women and minorities and all of his policy positions, but if he wants to make America great again by bringing jobs back to America, then I am willing to help him achieve those goals and hold him accountable. And as the next U.S. senator from Nevada, I will make sure I stand as a check against anything that is not in our best interest.’” [Pahrump Valley Times, 6/1/16]

KTNV: Heck “Swatted Away Suggestions” That Trump’s Rhetoric And Immigration Policies Would Hurt His Chances. “Heck also swatted away suggestions that Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric and plans to deport 11 million undocumented migrants would hurt his chances, saying that he won his demographically diverse congressional district by increasingly larger margins over the last three elections.” [KTNV, 3/14/16]

Heck On Donald Trump: “He’s Out There Talking About What He Needs To Talk About To Run For President.” “So, what does Congressman Joe Heck, Nevada’s Republican candidate for US Senate, think of the guy at the top of the GOP presidential polls? ‘I don’t talk about Donald,’ Heck told News 3 after a morning event put on by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. ‘He’s out there talking about what he needs to talk about to run for President,’ Heck added after ‘Eggs and Issues,’ the Chamber’s breakfast debrief with local newsmakers. The Thursday event was held at Vdara in CityCenter.” [KSNV, 8/27/15]

…AND TRUMP’S DANGEROUS AND RECKLESS FOREIGN POLICY THAT WOULD PUT AMERICA’S NATIONAL SECURITY AT RISK

Headline: USA Today Editorial: “Trump’s Unreal Foreign Policy.” [USA Today, Editorial, 4/27/16]

Headline: Washington Post Editorial: “Trump’s Incoherent, Inconsistent, Incomprehensible Foreign Policy.” [Washington Post, Editorial, 4/28/16]

Headline: National Review Editorial: “Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy.” [National Review, Editorial, 7/21/16]

Former U.S. Diplomat Under George W. Bush Nicholas Burns: “Donald Trump’s Foreign-Policy Ideas Are Dangerous.” [Market Watch, Nicholas Burns Opinion, 4/30/16]

NATO

  • Trump Set Off Alarm Bells Among U.S. Allies By Suggesting He Would Not Honor Core Tenet Of NATO’s Military Alliance – Comments That Were Perceived By Some Analysts As Carte Blanche For Russia To Intimidate NATO Allies. “Donald Trump set off alarm bells in European capitals Thursday after suggesting he might not honor the core tenet of the NATO military alliance. Trump said the U.S. would not necessarily defend new NATO members in the Baltics in the event of Russian attack if he were elected to the White House. He told The New York Times in an interview published Thursday that doing so would depend on whether those countries had ‘fulfilled their obligations to us’ in terms of their financial contributions to the alliance. ‘You can’t forget the bills,’ Trump told the paper. ‘They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.’ Trump’s comments were perceived by some analysts as carte blanche for Russia to intimidate NATO allies and a potential harbinger of the alliance’s collapse were Trump to be elected.” [NBC News, 7/21/16]
  • Trump Questioned The Need For NATO, The Backbone Of Western Security Policy Since The Cold War. “Donald Trump outlined an unabashedly noninterventionist approach to world affairs Monday, telling The Washington Post’s editorial board that he questions the need for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has formed the backbone of Western security policies since the Cold War. […] Trump said that U.S. involvement in NATO may need to be significantly diminished in the coming years, breaking with nearly seven decades of consensus in Washington. ‘We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore,’ Trump said, adding later, ‘NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money.’” [Washington Post, 3/21/16]

TORTURE

  • Headline: McClatchy: “Trump’s Call To Bring Back Torture Alarms Professional Interrogators.” [McClatchy, 2/12/16]
  • Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Strongly Reject Trump’s Torture Remarks, Saying They Did Not Represent American Values. “Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford indirectly but strongly rejected Thursday the campaign statements of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump that ‘torture works.’ Put on the spot about Trump’s remarks by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota, Dunford didn’t respond directly but made clear that torture was out of bounds for a military that embodies American values. ‘One of the things that makes me proud to represent this uniform is that we represent the values of the American people,’ the general said in testimony before the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. While he never mentioned Trump’s name, he said, ‘When our young men and women go to war, they go with our values.’” [Military.com, 2/25/16]
  • Trump Said He’d Force U.S. Military To Commit War Crimes. “In an answer at Thursday night’s presidential debate, tycoon Donald Trump said he would force the U.S. military to commit war crimes. Mr. Trump has suggested that he’d order the U.S. military to kill families of Muslim terrorists and institute interrogation techniques worse than waterboarding, itself widely condemned as torture. Torture and retaliatory executions are both war crimes under international law. […] ‘They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me,’ he said. ‘If I say do it, they’re going to do it.’” [Washington Times, 3/3/16]

AFGHANISTAN

  • Trump Tweeted That Afghanistan Was A Mistake And That The U.S. Should Pull Its Troops Out. “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense!  Rebuild the USA.” [@realDonaldTrump, 1/11/13]
  • Trump On Afghanistan: “We Made A Terrible Mistake Getting Involved There In The First Place.” “But a review of the transcript from his October 6 interview with Cuomo makes clear that Trump was indeed labeling Afghanistan a mistake, since he was comparing the situation there with that in Iraq. Though Trump and Cuomo were initially discussing the situation in Iraq and Syria, the host switched gears to talk about Afghanistan, mentioning the country by name twice. […] He continued, ‘We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place.’” [CNN, 10/21/15]

ISRAEL

  • Times Of Israel: Trump Says He’ll Make Israel Pay For Defense Aid. “During a press conference in Washington, Trump was asked whether he believed the Israeli government should pay for American defense, as he had called for other US allies such as South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia to do. ‘I think Israel will do that also, yeah, I think Israel do—there are many countries that can pay and they can pay big league,’ responded the billionaire businessman.” [Times of Israel, 3/22/16]

NORTH KOREA

  • New York Times: North Korea Applauded Trump’s Threat To Withdraw Troops From South Korea. “On Wednesday, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party published a commentary praising Mr. Trump’s threat to pull American troops out of South Korea if elected president, unless Seoul pays more for their presence. It said the threat had shocked South Korean policy makers, who it characterized as servants of America, a standard theme of the North’s propaganda. […]In a March interview with The New York Times, Mr. Trump accused South Korea of not contributing enough toward the cost of keeping tens of thousands of American troops in the country, suggesting he might withdraw them if elected.” [New York Times, 6/1/16]
  • Trump Said He Would Be Willing To Withdraw U.S. Forces From Japan And South Korea If They Did Not Substantially Increase Their Contributions To Maintaining Troops. “He also said he would be open to allowing Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear arsenals rather than depend on the American nuclear umbrella for their protection against North Korea and China. If the United States ‘keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway, with or without me discussing it,’ Mr. Trump said. And he said he would be willing to withdraw United States forces from both Japan and South Korea if they did not substantially increase their contributions to the costs of housing and feeding those troops. ‘Not happily, but the answer is yes,’ he said.” [New York Times, 3/26/16]
  • North Korea Claimed Advancements In Ballistic Missile Technology And Called For Further Nuclear Warhead Tests. “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed a key advance in ballistic missile technology and called for further missile and nuclear warhead tests ‘in a short time,’ the latest in a string of recent threats aimed at creating fear of war in the U.S. and South Korea. Mr. Kim observed a simulation of a ballistic missile warhead’s ability to withstand the heat and pressure of its descent to target, according to a report from the nation’s state news agency published Tuesday. The date of the test wasn’t given.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/14/16]

THE TRUTH: WASHINGTON REPUBLICANS ARE SPENDING MILLIONS TO PROP UP CONGRESSMAN HECK AFTER HE VOTED NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN WITH HIS PARTY BOSSES

Outside Groups Linked To The Koch Brothers And Mitch McConnell Have Already Spent Nearly $10 Million On Heck. “In the race to replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), groups supporting Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) spent $9.8 million compared to $2.5 million for those in support of former Lt. Gov. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). […]The top spenders in all of these races are the same. On the Republican side, support comes from groups connected to the billionaire Koch brothers ― including Freedom Partners Action Fund, Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America ― as well as from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and One Nation, a nonprofit group connected to both Karl Rove and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).” [Huffington Post, 7/13/16]

Headline: Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Burst Of ‘Dark Money’ To Boost Heck On TV, Radio.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/22/15]

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Heck Received A “Big Boost” With Ads From A Dark Money Groups. “U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Joe Heck is getting a big boost from One Nation, a nonprofit group with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. One Nation has launched a $792,000 ad buy that will run on Las Vegas TV and radio stations. The 30-second clip will run for 20 days, the group said in a press release Thursday.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/22/15]

Heck Has Voted With His Party 90 Percent Of The Time. According to CQ, Heck voted with his party 87% of the time in 2014, 93% of the time in 2013, 89% of the time in 2012, and 90% of the time in 2011. [CQ Vote Studies, Accessed 5/18/16]

Roll Call: Heck Was On The “Good Side” Of The More Conservative Wing Of The Republican Party. “Heck has managed to stay on the good side of the more conservative wing of the Republican Party, which could help him fend off a serious primary challenge from the right. Republicans hope to avoid the situation they faced in 2010, when a crowded, messy primary resulted in the nomination of Sharron Angle, a flawed and gaffe-prone candidate who lost what was seen as a winnable race against Reid.” [Roll Call, 5/11/15]

MSNBC: Heck Voted For A “Far Right” Budget Scraping Medicare, Opposed Minimum Wage Increases, Was A Staunch Opponent Of Reproductive Rights, And Called Social Security A Pyramid Scheme. “Republican Rep. Joe Heck is a prominent U.S. Senate candidate in Nevada, and at first blush, the conservative congressman, running for an open seat, appears to be well positioned. Nevada is a fast-growing swing state with a diverse population, and Heck has previously won with fairly broad support. But it won’t be easy. Heck voted for a far-right budget plan that tried to scrap Medicare; he’s opposed minimum-wage increases; the GOP candidate is a staunch opponent of reproductive rights; and he’s even condemned Social Security as a pyramid scheme.” [MSNBC, 9/2/15]

THE TRUTH: CYNICAL GOP STRATEGY TO POLITICIZE IRAN DEAL OVERREACHES AND SABOTAGES U.S. FOREIGN POLICY

GOP Strategy To Politicize Iran Deal Largely Relies On The Agreement “Failing Spectacularly.” “Republicans are plotting to make Democrats pay dearly for backing an agreement the GOP argues hinges on an historic enemy of the United States playing nice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to return to the floor next week to force Democrats to take more votes Republicans say they’ll regret as soon as Iran violates the terms of the deal or sponsors terrorist attacks, which critics believe is just a matter of time. After that will come the attack ads, national GOP officials say. It’s expected to be a key cog of Republicans’ electoral strategy: some GOP senators are already comparing it to Obamacare in its scope and potential to damage Democratic supporters politically. […] But the GOP strategy largely relies on the Iran agreement failing spectacularly. Democrats acknowledge they cast a risky vote but say that Republicans almost seem to be hoping for something bad to happen in order to reap the political benefits.” [Politico, 9/10/15]

Headline: Vox: “Republicans Are Crossing A Dangerous New Line: Sabotaging US Foreign Policy.” [Vox, 3/9/15]

Republicans Have Brought Their Unprecedented Tactics Of Obstructionism And Sabotage To Foreign Policy. “Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans in Congress have deployed a strategy that has worked remarkably well for them: oppose, obstruct, and sabotage the Obama administration at every turn. ‘The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,’ Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, then the Senate minority leader, said in 2010. A few months later, McConnell acknowledged that Republicans had decided to deny President Obama any bipartisan support, not because they necessarily opposed each and every initiative, but to hurt Obama politically. ‘We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals,’ he said. ‘Because we thought — correctly, I think — that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan.’ This strategy led Republicans to adopt largely unprecedented tactics of obstructionism and sabotage. But no matter how far they went, there was one line they always avoided crossing: undermining US foreign policy.” [Vox, 3/9/15]

  • GOP Iran Letter Was An Unprecedented Congressional Meddling In The President’s Foreign Policy. “Democrats say there’s an opportunity for them, too, to make something of what they call the GOP’s reflexive opposition to the agreement. They also point out that GOP incumbents running for reelection signed on to a controversial letter to Iranian leadership earlier this year that was seen as unprecedented congressional meddling in the president’s foreign policy.” [Politico, 9/10/15]

New Analysis: Nevada Could Add 94,000 Jobs Under Clinton, Lose 31,000 Under Trump

Findings Emphasize Contrast Between Clinton’s Plan to Invest in Good-Paying American Jobs and Trump’s Reckless Proposals

Hillary-NVHillary for Nevada today is announcing new analysis that shows Nevada could add 94,000 jobs under Hillary Clinton’s economic plans, while it could lose 31,000 jobs under a Donald Trump presidency. The findings are based on two recent reports by Moody’s economist and former John McCain adviser Mark Zandi. The analysis showed that under Clinton’s plans, the economy overall would create 10.4 million jobs nationwide while under Trump, the economy would lose 3.4 million jobs and the nation would plunge into a “lengthy recession.”

Clinton has pledged to make the largest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II in her first 100 days in office. This plan would grow jobs in Nevada by making the boldest investments in infrastructure since President Eisenhower built the interstate highway system, investing in Nevada manufacturing, and cutting taxes and reducing red tape for Nevada’s small businesses, among other provisions.

“Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with a bold vision and a real plan to create new jobs and make our economy stronger,” said Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the
. “Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, we emerged out of one of the deepest economic recessions in our history, but we still have so much more work to do. Hillary knows that we need an economy that works for everyone, and she will lead us by making major investments in our infrastructure, small businesses, manufacturing, technology and clean energy. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s plan would work against all the progress we’ve made over the last eight years and take us back into another recession.”

“As one of the states hit the hardest by the recession, our communities continue to face economic stress. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who has a plan to help Nevada families step out of poverty,” said Assemblywoman Dina Neal.

Tanden and Neal held a media conference call today, along with Henderson Councilwoman Gerri Schroder. A full fact sheet on today’s analysis of Zandi’s findings and additional details on how Clinton’s 100-Days jobs agenda would benefit Nevada and create jobs is attached. The estimated job gains and losses in Nevada under Clinton’s plans and Trump’s plans were calculated by distributing Zandi’s national projections evenly among the states in proportion to their populations.

 

###

While The Buffoon on the Right Puffs His Chest About Veterans ….

VAThis morning, Mr. Trump once again puffed his chest and sucked up all the wind in the room touting how he’s the only one supporting Veterans.  Really? I’m sorry, but the inadequately vague brief set of plans outlined on his website clearly demonstrate his clear lack of understanding of the breadth of issues facing active duty service members, their families and veterans.  Similarly, Bernie’s website, even though he has previously served as chair of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee is also a bit light on that breadth of issues. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, actually has detailed plans that will support both active duty service members and their families as well as Veterans who have served our nation.

As one who has served our nation, I can attest to how important it is that our next President clearly understands the support our military members, their families and our veterans need. As a nation, we have an enormous investment in the education and training of those who serve our nation.  Many of needed changes and support she is proposing would have made a big difference for my late husband and I choosing to stay, rather than leave military service, my husband after 12 years and me after more than 8 years, and that was nearly 30 years ago. In all that time, those needed changes have gone unaddressed.  It’s time that we, as a nation, finally make good on our promises to those who serve us and many who have given life and limb.

Here’s Hillary’s plans as listed on her campaign website:

Hillary Clinton believes that supporting our veterans is a sacred responsibility. By fulfilling that responsibility, we not only ensure that veterans receive the opportunity, care, and support they earned by serving our country.  Prioritizing their reintegration also ensures that they bring their unique skills and experience to the success of their communities and our nation after their service is over.  Yet too often, we as a nation failed to uphold our end of the bargain.  As Commander-in-Chief, she will personally commit to fulfilling America’s promise to our veterans, our troops, and their families – a commitment driven by her recognition not just of the extraordinary sacrifices they make, but also of how essential that promise is to our long-term national security and our vitality and prosperity at home.

Secretary Clinton has fought for our veterans throughout her career.  This issue is deeply personal for her, and her approach is rooted in her upbringing as the daughter of a World War II veteran and decades of experience working with military members and their families.  As First Lady, she fought to have Gulf War Syndrome recognized.  As Senator on the Armed Services Committee, she fought to establish new services for military members and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  She regularly worked across the aisle to expand military benefits, including to ensure that all members of the Reserves and National Guard and their families had access to health benefits; to expand benefits afforded to surviving spouses; and to broaden protections afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act to the family members of wounded service members.  And as Secretary of State, she was at the table in the Situation Room, providing advice to the President on the most grave decision a Commander-in-Chief makes: whether and how to send our military personnel in to harm’s way.

Secretary Clinton is committed to a strong and resilient military, built by the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve and the families who serve alongside them.  And she believes that issues affecting current service members and veterans are inseparable.  As President, she’ll continue to support the needs and talents of all who have served and who serve us still, whether Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen, including active duty, reserve, and National Guard, and every race, creed, gender, and sexual orientation.  And she will have no tolerance for failure to put veterans first.

Secretary Clinton’s comprehensive plan will:

  • Fundamentally reform veterans’ health care to ensure veterans’ access to timely and high quality health care and block efforts to privatize the VHA
  • Modernize and refocus the full spectrum of veterans’ benefits across the federal government
  • Overhaul VA governance to create a new veteran-centric model of excellence
  • Empower veterans and strengthen our economy and communities by connecting their unique skills to the jobs of the future
  • Sustain and strengthen the all-volunteer force
  • Strengthen services and support for military families

Veterans Agenda

The systemic failures of the VA to uphold its core mission underscore the need for fundamental reforms and focused leadership.  Long wait times for health care, crippling claims backlogs, and lack of coordination among agencies represent government at its worst.  Secretary Clinton recognizes the gravity of these challenges, and as President will pursue a veteran-centric reform agenda that tackles problems head-on and revitalizes the VA.  She will end the excuses and ensure our veterans receive the timely health care they deserve. She will oppose the privatization of the VA system, which would undermine our veterans’ ability to get the unique care that only the VA can provide while leaving them vulnerable to a health care market poorly suited to their needs.  And she will lead a national effort to invest in and empower veterans to apply their considerable skills in their communities.

ENSURE VETERANS’ ACCESS TO TIMELY AND HIGH QUALITY HEALTH CARE

Veterans must have access to a system that puts their needs first. But in order to build such a system, prepared for the unique and growing needs of the twenty-first century, we cannot simply throw more money at the problem or tell veterans to go get private care, as the VA’s implementation of the Veterans’ Choice Act has shown.  We also cannot throw our veterans at the mercy of the private insurance system without any care coordination, or leave them to fend for themselves with health care providers who have no expertise in the unique challenges facing veterans. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) must embrace comprehensive process and systems integration across its health care enterprise to ensure a fully-networked and financially-sustainable organization that is dedicated to best practices and continual improvement in everything it does. Specifically, Secretary Clinton will:

Create a new framework for VHA health care delivery by refocusing, reorganizing, and streamlining the VHA to best serve veterans in the 21st century.  The VHA must be transformed from primarily a provider of services into an integrated health care system that responsibly balances its role as health care provider, partner, and payer for veteran-directed care.  And it must have the health care providers necessary to ensure it is able to provide quality and timely care.  At the same time, the VA must maintain the ultimate responsibility of coordinating and ensuring comprehensive and quality health care for every veteran and the specialized services that they deserve – critical functions that would disappear if the VA were privatized.  The VHA must:

  • Refocus as a veteran-centric provider of service-connected care. The VHA should focus its resources on what it can do best, particularly health care for service-connected conditions. This is especially important in areas where veterans lack access to the necessary care outside of the VHA, such as prosthetics and traumatic brain injury.
  • Synchronize and coordinate VHA care with other available programs, including coverage already provided to veterans, such as private or employer-provided insurance, TRICARE, Medicare, federally-qualified health centers, Indian Health Service, and the Affordable Care Act, to ensure the most responsible use of taxpayer dollars;
  • Strategically purchase private-sector care when it makes sense to do so, such as for some specialty inpatient or surgical procedures, expanded access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, or when the VA cannot provide timely access to necessary care.  Secretary Clinton would present and advocate for legislation that allows the VA to pursue provider agreements to do this in the most effective and efficient manner;
  • Establish a VHA Strategic Oversight and Governance Board of health care and management leaders. In line with the best practices of modern hospital systems across the country, the board will be empowered to provide oversight of VHA management processes, monitor accountability, promulgate best practices, and ensure the VHA remains true to its mission of putting veterans first.  This Board would include strong veterans representation.

Personally convene the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense regularly in the Oval Office and direct them to develop, execute, and report on an effort that integrates their health care operations to create a more efficient and a sustainable system. She will direct them to:

  • Streamline the DoD-VA health care footprint by identifying opportunities to co-locate and better coordinate inpatient services across federal health delivery programs, while stripping out costly and redundant bureaucratic functions, and developing a plan to ensure the VA has the facilities needed to provide 21st century care;
  • Synchronize procurement to find cost savings by negotiating and procuring a single formulary of pharmaceuticals along with medical and office supplies and information systems to ensure compatibility and eliminate waste and redundancy;
  • Streamline VA and DoD IT, ending the years of delay in developing an electronic health record (EHR) system that is fully interoperable. The VA has over 100 different versions of its own EHR system, making it difficult enough to communicate between different VA clinics, let alone with DoD.  DoD and VA must also eliminate bureaucratic barriers to seamless coordination and information-sharing.  And the new system must also link to private sector providers to enable full information sharing, care coordination, and integrated billing and payments.

Improve health care for women at the VHA to ensure all veterans are fully and equally supported after serving our nation. Women veterans are the fastest growing population served by the VA, highlighting the importance of proactively addressing the VHA’s ability to meet their needs. Secretary Clinton would work to pass bipartisan legislation that requires VA medical facilities to meet the health care needs of women veterans. In addition, Secretary Clinton calls for:

  • New funding to ensure women equal and respectful, going beyond simply modifying facilities and increasing the number of OBGYNs employed by the VHA, to include expanding provider training, ensuring culturally-competent VHA staff and policies, and providing other gender-specific health services – including mental health services;
  • Requiring the provision of reproductive services across the VHA to ensure women have access to the full spectrum of medical services they need;
  • Broadening initiatives to provide childcare at VA medical facilities so that parents, particularly single mothers, don’t have to choose between taking care of their child and taking care of their health.

End the veteran suicide epidemic and ensure that every veteran has access to world-class medical and counseling services whenever and wherever they are needed. To do this, Secretary Clinton will:

  • Increase funding for mental health providers and training to ensure timely and ongoing identification and triage of mental health issues, and ongoing access to quality mental health care and substance abuse treatment, particularly for alcohol and opiate abuse, including private-sector care when necessary.
  • Expand programs targeted at providing effective mental health treatment for veterans that have participated in classified or sensitive missions without compromising non-disclosure requirements,working with Congress to pass needed legislation;
  • Promote better prescriber and treatment practices by promulgating guidelines that recommend treatments for pain management other than opioids, so that prescribers can consider those alternatives, particularly for patients without chronic physical pain;
  • Ensure that Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is acknowledged as a valid form of PTS, setting a burden of proof for MST that is no higher than for any form of trauma, and that men and women who suffer from it are uniformly eligible for disability compensation and treatment;
  • Educate and encourage state veterans affairs departments to include veteran mental health programs in state requests for federal grants as part of Secretary Clinton’s initiative to combat drug and alcohol addiction;
  • Provide proper legal assistance to review and upgrade other-than-honorable discharge categorizations for service members who were improperly separated from service due to service-connected mental health and cognitive issues, such as TBI, PTS, and addiction.

Continue efforts to identify and treat invisible, latent, and toxic wounds of war that continue to affect veterans, family members, and caregivers long after their service.  This includes Agent Orange, Gulf War syndrome, burn pits, and – two issues that Secretary Clinton has long worked to better address – PTS and TBI. Secretary Clinton will:

  • Maintain presumptions of service-connection for latent and invisible wounds from the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq war, and Afghanistan war while directing the VA to consider additional presumptions of service connection for disabilities arising from toxic exposure;
  • Expand the current VA burn pit registry to become a comprehensive registry for all post-9/11 deployment veterans exposed to environmental dangers, toxic hazards, and other conditions.
  • Dedicate research funding and provide mechanisms for collaborative efforts to facilitate the development and expansion of evidence-based diagnostic tools and treatments for veteran-centric conditions, including mental health issues and other invisible, latent, and toxic wounds of war, and direct the VA, HHS, and DoD to collaborate and integrate portfolios when it makes sense to do so.
MODERNIZE AND REFOCUS THE FULL SPECTRUM OF VETERANS BENEFITS ACROSS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM BY IMPLEMENTING A “NEW BRADLEY PLAN”

In the years following World War II, 16 million returning service members were able to rely on the health care and educational opportunities afforded by an adaptable VA organization, headed at the time by General Omar Bradley. General Bradley worked effectively with Congress and stakeholders to build the system that cared for those returning troops. In a similar spirit, aimed at address the VA’s current limitations, Secretary Clinton will direct a national, multi-sector effort to streamline and modernize the veterans’ benefits system. The “New Bradley Plan” will address the shortcomings of today, while ensuring the nation can meet the needs of tomorrow’s veterans. To implement this plan, Secretary Clinton will:

End the disability benefits and appeals backlog through overtime work, productivity improvements, and new initiatives. Secretary Clinton will:

  • Streamline and simplify the claims process by integrating DoD and VA medical evaluations, using “fully developed claims” from private providers, allowing rules-based automatic adjudication for the simplest of applications, and by ensuring veterans have an effective appeals process to make sure the VA gets it right.
  • Improve the VA’s partnership with DOD to anticipate and prepare for future waves of VA claims across the government, and surge resources to the system before claims backlogs grow out of control.
  • Launch an Innovation Initiative led by a team with diverse backgrounds and expertise to connect the VA with leaders in the nation’s leading businesses, universities, and non-profits to develop innovative solutions for sustainably managing the claims and appeals process and to address unforeseen challenges.

Bring Sustained and Focused White House Leadership and Attentionto coordinate the programs supporting our veterans across the U.S. government, ensure continued consultation and engagement with the veteran community, and leverage the private sector to ensure the entire nation is mobilized to meet this challenge.  To do so she will:

  • Create a standing President’s Council on Veterans, coordinated by a Senior White House official responsible for Veterans Integration. The council will be an all-of-government approach to supporting veterans, comprised of the heads of all 17 agencies involved in this mission to synchronize and integrate the patchwork of programs and benefits.
  • Conduct an end-to-end evaluation to optimize the full scope of benefits afforded to our veterans and provide recommendations to ensure that greater investments in services and support for veterans are smart, effective, and will best meet the needs of veterans today and for generations to come;
  • Convene a White House Summit on Veterans to personally address progress on veterans’ issues with all stakeholders directly, meet early and regularly with a cross-section of veterans to understand their needs and ensure we meets our promises, and work with state governors to ensure that veterans and National Guard issues are addressed at the state level given their important role;
  • Continue to engage private and philanthropic sectors with this effort by ensuring that companies know the value of hiring veterans and by amending federal ethics and acquisition regulations to allow VA, DoD, and other federal agencies to effectively partner with the private and nonprofit sectors, including better data sharing, more open access to federal facilities, and sharing of resources.

EMPOWER VETERANS BY CONNECTING THEIR UNIQUE SKILLS TO THE JOBS OF THE FUTURE

Secretary Clinton recognizes that America’s veterans are an enormous asset for the future of the country and our economic growth.  Veterans bring unique skills from their time in the military that can move America’s economy forward.  From their commitment to service and teamwork to specific job skills from computer science to welding, investment in our veterans can power a workforce for the future.  Secretary Clinton is committed to the programs and supports that will strengthen pipelines of veterans and service members into higher education and industry.  Specifically, Secretary Clinton will:

Support and broaden initiatives that provide educational benefits, job training, and support for veteran entrepreneurs.  Secretary Clinton will build on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative with a national push to improve the pipeline of our nation’s veterans into the workforce.  To do this, she will:

  • Make the Post-9/11 GI Bill a lasting part of the nation’s social contract with those who serve, working with Congress to pass legislation that solidified existing benefits, preserves and extends family transferability (including to non-traditional families), and expands qualified uses for use in the 21st century economy, such as at approved coding academies, entrepreneurship programs, and apprenticeship programs with America’s leading companies and labor organizations;
  • Expand tax credits for veterans’ employment through reauthorizing and making permanent the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans and expanding it to provide credits to businesses that hire disabled veterans.
  • Improve concurrent certification and credentialing programs by increasing funds available to state and local governments to process military certificates, and by expanding the concurrent credentialing program to all appropriate military career fields, to ensure that our veterans can seamlessly transfer their skills from the military to the community;
  • Strengthen veteran entrepreneurship programs, including expanding the efforts of the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development to provide entrepreneurship training and counseling and small business loan guarantees;
  • Create pathways and platforms for service members to enter growing career fields, including jobs in clean energy, cyber, and information technology, and areas of critical need by improving integration between these opportunities and the military’s Transition Assistance Program;

Protect veterans from discrimination and predatory companies that unfairly target veterans and their families, in the spirit of Secretary Clinton’s broader efforts to protect consumers and bolster the middle class, she will:

  • Fight back against schools that prey on veterans, including through legislation that closes the 90-10 loophole exploited by for-profit schools, and by banning schools from receiving federal student aid (including DoD tuition assistance and VA GI Bill funding) if they are found guilty of fraudulently recruiting students;
  • Enforce zero tolerance for firms that overcharge service members and veterans by banning bill collectors and loan servicers from contracts to service federal loans, and help defrauded students discharge debt from fraudulent schools;
  • Strengthen non-discrimination laws protecting veterans and military families by expanding the Uniformed Services Reemployment and Readjustment Act (USERRA) and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), adding veteran status to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to protect veterans from discrimination in the housing market.

Move decisively to end veteran homelessness by building on successful initiatives and expanding programs that help ensure long-term success.

  • Increase funding for reducing homelessness while expanding public-private partnerships, with an emphasis on regions with the greatest need. Leverage federal resources to support community-based organizations, including by reallocating excess and unused federal property for use by veteran-focused non-profit organizations;
  • Expand complementary programs and services including outreach, especially in locations involving high densities of homeless veterans, and programs that prepare veterans for independent living to prevent recidivism, such as counseling, job training, disability benefits, and transportation;
  • Address the needs of homeless women veterans and homeless veteran families by clarifying language in the Fair Housing Act that removes ambiguities in the law regarding gender and family-specific housing, and providing shelter options that account for local demographic conditions.

Support Veterans Treatment Courts nationally using block grants to state and local governments while also directing the VA to expand its current pilot programs for “medical legal partnerships” to offer space to community legal organizations in VHA clinics.  Veterans Treatment Courts provide an alternate to the traditional criminal justice system for veterans with minor offenses aggravated by mental health or substance abuse issues, ensuring these veterans are rehabilitated while getting the treatment they need.

Recognize the honorable service of LGBT veterans by proactively reviewing and upgrading discharge records for veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation; and honoring their service by continuing efforts to improve the support and care they receive at the VHA to ensure respectful and responsive health care.

OVERHAUL VA GOVERNANCE TO CREATE NEW VETERAN-CENTRIC MODEL OF EXCELLENCE

Fulfilling the nation’s duty of taking care of our veterans requires effective performance by the VA and other federal agencies that support veterans. As part of a broader effort to promote good governance, Secretary Clinton will reform management within the Department of Veterans Affairs, ensure fair and transparent accountability, and set us on a path to excellence for our nation’s veterans for generations to come. Secretary Clinton will:

Create a culture of accountability, service, and excellence at the VA.Secretary McDonald has done a commendable job of refocusing the VA on its core mission: putting veterans first. But Secretary Clinton believes more must be done to reform and improve the VA from the top-down, and from the bottom-up. Secretary Clinton supports legislation that will:

  • Hold every employee accountable for their performance and conduct. From the top leadership to mid-level managers to entry-level employees, everyone at the VA must embody the highest workplace standards. Supervisors must be empowered to suspend or remove underperforming employees in accordance with due process not only for the good of the organization, but in service of our nation’s veterans.
  • Revamp the performance evaluation system to recognize and advance high-performing employees to create a thriving, effective, and sustainable organizational culture, while also establishing processes to ensure managers are held accountable for taking action to deal with poorly performing employees.
  • Bolster critical whistleblower protections. Individuals who sound the alarm over wasteful programs or question inefficient practices embody the spirit of reform and management excellence that the VA must champion. Whistleblower protections are key to ensuring these employees are empowered and their voices heard, not silenced.

Provide budgetary certainty to facilitate reforms and enable long-term planning. The recent budget deal reached between the Congress and the White House is a promising first step in providing government agencies with much needed fiscal stability. But we must go further by ending the sequester for both defense and non-defense spending in a balanced way, and prioritizing full-funding and advance appropriations for the entire Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ensure our veterans are buried with the honor, distinction, and integrity they deserve, directing the VA to clean up problems that have led to unacceptable indignities for our veterans and their families.

Military Personnel and Families Agenda

Our obligation to our veterans cannot be separated from our broader commitment to take care of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen –active duty, reserve, and National Guard – and their families. Our men and women in uniform have volunteered to put their lives on the line to serve our country in operations that keep our people safe and ensure peace and security across the globe.  As President, Secretary Clinton will make sure the United States supports the men and women who make the US military the best-trained, best-equipped, and strongest military the world has ever known.

Secretary Clinton believes that no individual should have to choose between serving their country and taking care of their family, while on active duty or afterward.  She will continue to work with civilian and military national security leaders to ensure that our nation’s armed forces are trained, equipped, and ready for the full spectrum of challenges they will face, including those still over the horizon.

SUSTAIN AND STRENGTHEN THE ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE

The All-Volunteer Force (AVF) has been stressed by fourteen years of continuous combat and is endeavoring to rebuild and reset, while facing growing instability and complexity around the world, reduced end-strength, and an uncertain fiscal environment.  Secretary Clinton is developing a broad strategy on DOD budget and reform measures grounded in permanently ending the damaging sequester while making smart reforms in both defense and non-defense spending.  Included in that plan will be military personnel policies that support and promote total force readiness by:

Supporting smart compensation and benefits reform that attracts the best and brightest new recruits to the AVF. Secretary Clinton’s unwavering commitment to our military men and women includes policies that will:

  • Ensure reforms to military compensation and retirement benefits improve readiness and quality-of-life, and working with Congress and the services to ensure that ongoing improvements to the system, such as plans to modernize the commissary system, are accomplished in a smart and comprehensive manner, guaranteeing the strength and sustainability of the force for generations to come.
  • Modernize the military health system by ensuring service members, military retirees, and their families robust access to health care by changing the incentive structure of the TRICARE contracts to produce better health outcomes with better patient satisfaction, expanding access to mental health care through telemedicine and non-traditional treatments, and ensuring the health needs of military women – including reproductive health care – are fully supported.

Adopting modern and inclusive personnel policies that serve to bolster and enhance the finest fighting force the world has ever seen. Secretary Clinton’s plan will both take advantage of America’s strengths while embodying its values. This includes:

  • Attracting millennials to military service by building on ‘force of the future’ initiatives, to include emphasizing military opportunities in science and technology and promoting smarter and more flexible DoD policies on tour lengths and assignments, which give military families greater stability and increase retention.
  • Aggressively Combat Military Sexual Assault and Harassment by strengthening protections to ensure that our women and men in uniform can serve without fear of sexual assault or harassment, and without fear of retaliation for reporting.
  • Welcoming women to compete for all military positions provided they meet the requisite standards, in line with the ongoing DoD policy review. From piloting fighter jets to serving on submarines to earning respect as an Army Ranger, merit and performance should determine who serves in the military’s combat specialties and units, not gender.
  • Supporting the DoD policy review on transgender service, anticipating that transgender people will soon be allowed to serve openly alongside their comrades in arms in a military where everyone is respected enough to let them serve with dignity.

STRENGTHEN MILITARY FAMILY SERVICES AND SUPPORT

Secretary Clinton recognizes that military family readiness is a critical part of total force readiness, and she understands that military families face unique concerns and challenges, especially after fourteen years of continuous deployments. To tackle these challenges, Secretary Clinton will:

Promote family policies that provide military families with additional opportunities and much-needed flexibility in juggling multiple challenges. This includes:

  • Increasing access to child care both on- and off-base, including options for drop-in services, part-time child care, and the provision of extended-hours care, especially at Child Development Centers, while streamlining the process for re-registering children following a permanent change of station (PCS);
  • Creating flexibility around military moves by allowing families to continue receiving their housing allowance for up to six months after a military member’s PCS move under common-sense circumstances; for example, when the service member has a spouse enrolled in a degree-granting program or one or more children enrolled in a local school;
  • Expand military spouse employment initiatives by developing resources and high quality portable or work-from-home positions for spouses while expanding public hiring preferences and credentialing programs to assist military spouses.

Champion efforts to care for our military members and families, and ensure that our nation honors and respects them throughout their service and beyond. Secretary Clinton will:

  • Ensure continued focus on mental health for military members and families by enhancing DoD programs to help remove the stigma of mental health issues and by developing a comprehensive whole-of-life approach with the DoD Suicide Prevention Office that includes education, training, counseling resources, and family outreach;
  • Remain committed to extended leave policies that are critical to military families, whether preparing for a service member’s deployment or caring for a wounded warrior, and expanding paid maternity and paternity policies across all of the services;
  • Continue to support Gold Star Families and recognize their sacrifice through enhanced gratuity payments to surviving spouses and ongoing access to benefits in recognition of their sacrifice.

The Year of the #T_Rump

The Donald wasn’t the worst thing about 2015, but he was the most irritating.

Donald KaulIs 2015 over yet? Is it safe to come out now?

What a bummer. Mass shootings, cops using unarmed civilians for target practice, the Middle East in rubble, terrorist attacks, Donald Trump.

Trump wasn’t the worst of it, perhaps. But he certainly was the most irritating.

It was a spectacle worthy of Tennyson — “Trump to the right of us, Trump to the left of us, Trump in front and behind. Into the valley of Trump rode the 300 million.”

A year ago he was a loud-mouthed reality show host who moonlighted as a developer of ugly buildings. Now he’s the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

donald-trump-immigration-racism-xenophobia-statue-of-liberty-cartoon

Statue of Trumperty, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

To any patriotic American with a sense of history, it’s embarrassing. We are a country of 320 million people — many of us smart, some informed and reasonable. And the best we can do is Donald Trump?

I used to marvel at the Italian propensity for electing ludicrous buffoons to high public office — people like Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi. How could so civilized a place treat the vote so lightly?

But, I reasoned, the Italian national pastime is the opera: the province of great, outsized, slightly ridiculous characters. Their politics seemed to be an extension of that.

Trump’s supporters don’t suffer traditional opera gladly. They’re more the Grand Ole Opry type, a different thing altogether.

It’s as though the Republican Party, a year ago, took an ad in The Wall Street Journal which read:

“Wanted: energetic self-starter to run a large, diverse organization. No experience necessary. As a matter of fact, experience is probably a disqualification.

“Nor is any knowledge required, particularly in the fields of science and arithmetic. A complete ignorance of history would be welcome, too.

“What we’re really looking for is someone who believes. The specific content of the beliefs required will be given to the applicant once he or she wins the job, but a passionate belief in God and the free market will be paramount among them.

“The job offers a handsome six-figure salary, free housing, and a liberal vacation allowance (that’s the only thing liberal about it), as well dynamite retirement benefits.

“Candidates must be prepared to spend the better part of the next two years telling people what they want to hear. Integrity is optional.”

It’s as though they ran the ad and, lo and behold, applicants began crawling out from under their rocks all over the country. And the loudest, most outrageous of the rock dwellers was Donald Trump.

So-called political experts like myself have been predicting Trump’s demise ever since he flashed upon the scene insulting war heroes, women, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, the mentally ill, and worst of all, journalists.

We all thought that, politically speaking, he’d be sleeping with the fishes by now, along with more plausible candidates like Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and that Democrat from Virginia whose name no one bothered to learn.

Well, to make a long story short, that’s not the way it rolled.

Ted Cruz, the meanest kid on the block, is gaining in Iowa, but the Donald is still leading in national polls.

Is it possible that, against all odds, this joke goes on into the general election — with Trump carrying the Republican banner into battle with Hillary Clinton?

I still say no. Not possible. We are not Italy. I refuse to believe that one of our major parties — the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower — would pick a clown like Trump to represent it. Ronald Reagan was bad enough, and Trump makes him look like Thomas Jefferson.

I don’t know who the GOP candidate will be, but not Trump.

On the other hand, one of the pluses of last year was Barack Obama awakening from his six-year slumber to begin acting like the president we elected, actually doing things despite the relentless opposition of the Republican Congress.

It wasn’t nearly enough. But, in the land of Trump, every ray of sunshine is welcome.


 

OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. OtherWords.org.

Border Boondoggle

The GOP’s “just build a wall” simpletons don’t know what they’re talking about.

Jim HightowerGood fences, wrote Robert Frost, make good neighbors.

But an 18-foot high, 2,000-mile wall? That’s another story. It just antagonizes your neighbor — and shows your own fear and weakness.

Yet this is what self-described conservatives running for president propose to build to stop migrants from coming across our country’s southern border. Simple, right? Just fence ’em out!

Haven’t we already tried this?

In 2006, Congress mandated the construction of a wall along the 1,954 miles of our border with Mexico. A decade later, guess how many miles have been completed? About 650. It turns out that erecting a monstrous wall isn’t so simple after all.

U.S.-US-Mexico-border-crossing-fence-wall

Tony Webster / Flickr

First, it’s ridiculously expensive — about $10 billion just for the materials to build from the tip of Texas to the Pacific, not counting labor costs and maintenance.

Second, there’s the prickly problem of land acquisition: To erect the first 650 miles of fence, the federal government had to sue hundreds of property owners to take their land. Odd, isn’t it, that right-wing politicos who loudly rail against government overreach now favor using government muscle to grab private property?

Third, it’s impossible to fence the whole border. Hundreds of miles of it lie along the Rio Grande’s flood plain, and more miles cross the steep mountainous terrain of southern Arizona.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and the other “just build a wall” simpletons either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to dupe voters.

Before you buy a 2,000-mile wall from them, take a peek at the small part already built. Because of the poor terrain and legal prohibitions, it’s not one long fence, but a fragment here and another there, with miles of gaps. Anyone wanting to cross into the United States can just go to one of the gaps and walk through.

But when they’re just trying to stir up fear of foreigners, what’s honesty have to do with it?


 

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower LowdownOtherWords.org

Merry Christmas — Have Yourself Some Anti-Refugee Hysteria

Chris ToensingThis holiday season, politicians are taking aim at some of the most helpless people on earth.

— by Chris Toensing

As holiday shoppers empty their wallets to buy presents for family and friends, there’s been an outbreak of miserliness among our politicians — directed at some of the world’s most helpless people.  At least 30 Republican governors, and one Democrat, are vowing to bar Syrian refugees from their states. One family was actually turned away at the Indiana state line when the local resettlement agency got a nasty phone call from the authorities.

In Washington, 47 House Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to pass a bill requiring each and every Syrian applying to enter the United States to be personally approved by the heads of three intelligence agencies. That would include “widows and orphans,” says President Barack Obama, who rightly opposes the measure.

It’s not just an American affliction. In late November the European Union signed a deal with Turkey offering that country nearly $3.2 billion to clamp down on refugees trying to exit across its borders. The EU has such pacts with Libya and Morocco, too.

What’s with the mean spirits? It’s supposed to be the season of generosity.

Global Panorama/Flickr
Global Panorama/Flickr

The immediate trigger is fear, prompted in part by false reports that one of the terrorists who attacked Paris on November 13 was a recent Syrian migrant. In fact, almost all of the assailants identified so far were Belgian or French citizens. But it’s only too easy for demagogues like the Republican presidential candidates to dream up nightmare scenarios about a jihadi militant or two sneaking into America disguised as an asylum seeker.

Sure enough, after the terrible mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Rand Paul put forward a measure in Congress that would have imposed an “immediate moratorium” on visas for refugees from “high-risk” countries. Neither of the killers was a refugee — one was born in America and the other grew up in U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia. And they obtained every piece of their enormous arsenal right here in the US of A, legally.

Paul’s opportunism taps into deep currents of anti-Muslim prejudice that politicians have been stirring up for years.

When Donald Trump says that mosques should be under permanent surveillance and that Muslims should be barred from entering the country, or when Jeb Bush says that Syrian Christians can move here but not Muslims, they send a clear message: They believe all Muslims are potential terrorists.

This dark hint isn’t just the opposite of charity. It’s racist — and downright perverse.

Syrian refugees are fleeing from terrorism, whether by the regime of Bashar al-Assad or his radical Islamist opponents, among them the Islamic State. Over half of Syria’s 22 million people have been displaced from their homes over the course of the dreadful civil war — now a proxy war — that has raged there since 2011.

The pace of flight has increased with the Russian airstrikes on the side of the regime. In October alone, the UN reported, 120,000 people were forced to leave areas that had previously been spared the worst of the fighting.

Syrians run first to relatives in other provinces, then to neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. But those front-line nations lack the resources to absorb the refugees indefinitely. So, more and more, Syrians are spending their savings to head westward via dangerous smuggling routes. Far too many are dying along the way.

Ben Carson, another GOP White House hopeful, visited a refugee camp in Jordan and claimed that most of the residents want to return home rather than come to America. He’s not wrong, exactly — anyone would rather live in familiar surroundings than in a strange country across the ocean.

But Carson left out the important part: Syrians only want to go home when it’s safe. That day, sadly, is a long way off.

In the meantime, the United States and Europe can save lives by easing the restrictions on formal, legal refugee resettlement. We should welcome as many escapees from the Syrian catastrophe as possible.

‘Tis the season of giving, not barring the door.


Chris Toensing is editor of Middle East Report, published by the Middle East Research and Information Project in Washington, DC. MERIP.org.  Distributed by OtherWords.org

The Right-Wing’s UnAmerican Rhetoric

Hitler1aFrankly, I’m ashamed of the anti-islamic rhetoric being spewed forth by those on the right (or should I say wrong) side of the political spectrum.  With Republican candidates calling refugees nothing more than rabid dogs (Ben Carson), espousing registration of anyone who is a Muslim (Donald Trump), saying that we should take in ‘Christian’ refugees but not ‘Muslim refugees (Bush) and stomping the crap out of our constitutional right to freedom of assembly (Marco Rubio), I truly hope Americans start waking up to what the Republican party has apparently become — the party of Hitler.

Here’s a few of the headlines that make me wonder exactly “what” the Republicans want to “take our country back to.”

Articles from the right

Articles from the left

Meanwhile, newly anointed Speaker Ryan pushed forth legislation (HR 4038) that would pretty much put a halt to resettlement of any Syrian refugees on U.S. soil claiming “It’s a security test, not a religious test. This reflects our values.”  HR4038, which was passed by the House yesterday, was introduced shortly after the terrorist attacks by the fear mongerers of the right-wing.  Never mind that the attacks in Paris were NOT conducted by Syrians, but by homegrown radicalized French and Belgian domestic terrorists.  So while any French or Belgian domestic terrorist could present their official EU passport, travel to the U.S. and commit an act of terrorism in the U.S., we’ll be preventing non-violent Syrian refugees from being able to escape the horrors of terrorism for themselves and their family.

Speaker Ryan has portrayed our current vetting process as being seriously broken, Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD5), on the other hand, claims he’s wrong. “The bill rests on a faulty assumption that the European refugee screening process is similar to the United States screening process. This is entirely inaccurate,” he wrote in today’s Daily Whip. Rather than improve security, Hoyer said that HR4038 would prevent refugees from entering the country by making the vetting process overly inefficient. He described the bill as a “knee-jerk reaction” to a situation in Europe dissimilar to our own.  Unfortunately, even with Democratic leadership against the bill, one-fourth of Democrats succumbed to the hysteria and voted to pass it in the House vote.

Under existing law, the United States vets refugees for one-and-a-half to two years before allowing refugees to enter the country. If enacted (President Obama has vowed to veto it), this bill would likely halt the screening process.  Just as the Republicans have never gotten around to proposing any alternative to the Affordable Care Act, and as they’ve passed one bill after another to nullify any actions taken by the EPA to protect our environment, they’d likely pass yet another bill to nullify any actions taken to rectify their ‘vetting’ concerns.

The Paris attacks have sparked deeply troubling, abhorrent anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-immigrant policy proposals from the Republicans in Congress that not only don’t represent our American values, but they’re contrary to the principles outlined in our U.S. Constitution.  I just hope that Americans, especially those new citizen immigrants, all across our nation are paying attention. Enough is enough!  It’s time for us to cast our votes FOR American values and AGAINST those who have clearly demonstrated they would trample them in a heartbeat.

An Open Letter to Paul Ryan

AnnWernerAs a nation, we must stand up and call out those who betray what it means to be an American.

Dear Paul Ryan,

Shame on you. Shame on your Party for succumbing to the absolute worst in human nature. Shame on you for wanting to legislate turning our back on people who are fleeing for their lives. Shame on you for fomenting fear and hatred. Shame on you for accusing our president of politicizing the refugee crisis.

What has he said? He said he will veto the bill Republicans have cooked up to stop us from accepting a mere handful of Syrian refugees. Because he is abiding by our constitution, President Obama is politicizing this crisis? Is that what you’re saying? His statement “this is not who we are” is politicizing this crisis? This is “remarkably unpresidential?”

I’ll tell you who is politicizing it. You, and the people in that sorry excuse for an American political party, the GOP. The people who are always yelling about the Constitution and upholding the principles in it.

Donald Trump is on TV calling for shutting down every mosque in the United States. He has gone so far to say we should require all Muslims carry identification. What’s next? Making them wear star and crescent patches in a replay of what the Nazis did to Jews in Hitler’s Germany? Members of your party are calling for a religious litmus test: Christians only. Members of your Party want to round up Muslims in this country and put them into internment camps. Members of the GOP would have us believe that 5-year-old children and their mothers pose a threat and that every male Muslim is a terrorist. If left to your own devices, you would build a wall around this entire country and throw out everyone who doesn’t look like you, think like you and hate like you. One of the most hurled around “insults” of our president from your irrational, xenophobic, lying brethren is that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim and a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, bent on destroying America.

How dare you accuse the president of politicizing this crisis when that is all members of the Republican Party have done since the onset of the worst refugee situation since World War II? How dare you impugn his patriotism? I don’t even want to hear the word Constitution coming out of your mouth. You and the members of your backwards Party have betrayed every single value our country was built upon. I will remind you of the symbol that stands in New York Harbor. It’s a damned shame that I have to remind you. You, after all, are Speaker of the House, and one would think you would remember what we stand for, but since you don’t here is a refresher course:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”

For once in your stingy, privileged, Ayn Rand worshipping life, think about what you are doing and saying. You have forgotten what it means to be an American. You have betrayed the values Republicans used to respect. You have betrayed the values that made this country great. You and those like you are spitting on the Constitution you claim to want to uphold. You and the right wing members of your Party are a national embarrassment. More than that, you are a national disgrace.

Sincerely,
Ann Werner


Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things. Visit her at Ann Werner on the Web

Follow Ann Werner on Facebook and Twitter

This letter was originally posted at LiberalsUnite

Hair Force of One

The Mis-Education Of The Republican Party
— by CAP Action War Room

The GOP presidential field needs an education, but for the moment their only teacher is Donald TDebaterump. With President Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One casting a shadow over them, eleven GOP candidates spent three hours debating largely about Donald Trump and failing to address the many key issues facing working families. On education, raising wages, and health care, the GOP candidates said close to nothing, instead doubling down on attacks on immigrants, women’s health, working families, and the Iran nuclear deal. Over three grueling hours of television, the Republican candidates mentioned “middle class” just three times, “health care” twice, and “students” just once.

What the GOP Candidates Failed to Mention:

Ensuring Access to an Affordable, Quality Education. Families are finding it harder and harder to access an affordable, quality education. Between 2000 and 2011, the cost of higher education grew three times faster than overall inflation and students are being saddled with debt. However, the Republican candidates were silent on whether they would support measures such as allowing Americans to refinance their student loans and restoring public investment in education. Not only did Republicans ignore the plight of students seeking a higher education, they also ignored the needs of our youngest learners. High-quality public preschool programs range from $6,500 to $11,000 across the country—putting them out of reach for many families. But on solutions like providing universal pre-school, the Republicans were mum.
Raising Wages for Working Families. Higher wages are what working families need most. Instead of seeing their incomes improve, middle class households saw their incomes fall 2 percent between 2000 and 2011. However, the Republican presidential contenders overwhelmingly failed to offer, or support, real solutions that would improve incomes for families, such as raising the minimum wage or reforming overtime rules.

A Plan to Improve Access to Health Care. On a day when new data became available showing that the number of Americans lacking health insurance dropped by more than eight million people in 2014, Republicans once again attacked the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but offered no alternatives. Before the implementation of the ACA, health care costs were skyrocketing. From 2002 to 2012, health care costs paid by a family of four with an average employer-sponsored PPO plan rose by 85 percent. The ACA, however, has helped control rising health care costs. At the same time, the ACA has improved access to health care. Overall, 15.8 million people have gained coverage since the ACA’s marketplaces opened. Republicans, however, have offered no ideas on how to keep improving upon the successes of the ACA, instead continuing to call for repealing the ACA.

What the GOP Candidates Did Say:

Follow Trump’s Lead on Immigration. Trump’s extreme rhetoric on immigration is often credited with putting immigration right at the center of the GOP presidential primary. But at the debate on Wednesday night, several Republican candidates went out of their way to show that they stand with Trump on his extreme positions.

  • Trump doubled down on his claim that birthright citizenship isn’t settled in the Constitution, saying, “Well, first of all, the — the 14th Amendment says very, very clearly to a lot of great legal scholars — not television scholars, but legal scholars — that it is wrong.” Trump wasn’t alone–Rand Paul, the author of a constitutional amendment to repeal birthright citizenship, restated his support for ending it.
  • Trump again raised his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to deter illegal immigration, even though the border is more secure than ever. The other GOP candidates, however, raced to outdo Trump: Chris Christie jumped at the opportunity to say that he would push to establish “more than just a wall,” pledging “electronics” and “drones,” while Ben Carson said he would turn off the “spigot that dispenses all the goodies so we don’t have people coming in here.”

Defund Planned Parenthood. During the debate, the GOP candidates spent much of their air time attacking women’s health. In rushing to declare that they support defunding Planned Parenthood, they ignored the fact that Planned Parenthood provides critical health care services for millions of women.

  • Jeb Bush believes “that Planned Parenthood should[n’t] get a penny from the federal government.” This is not a surprising statement from a man who previously said he was “not sure we need a half billion for women’s health issues.” However, Planned Parenthood helps millions of women—in 2013 alone it served more than 2.7 million patients and provided 10.6 million services, including the treatment of chronic diseases and authorization for hospital care.
  • Ted Cruz called Planned Parenthood a “criminal enterprise” and says he’s “proud to stand for life.” But 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activity is preventive care. Defunding Planned Parenthood would limit women’s access to lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and more.

Give Tax Breaks to the Wealthy Few. Several GOP candidates talked about their tax plans and records on taxes at the debate, but their rhetoric was the same rehash of tired Republican talking points: cut taxes on the wealthy to boost the economy. That didn’t work before, and it won’t work again.

  • Bush promoted the $19 billion in tax cuts he pushed as Governor of Florida, but analysis of his time in Florida show that he catered his tax cuts to the wealthy. What’s more, Bush’s tax plan, just released last week, would be a massive giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, would blow a hole in the deficit, and give Bush a personal tax savings of $774,000.
  • Walker claimed that under his watch, Wisconsin passed $4.7 billion in tax cuts “to help working families, family farmers, small business owners and senior citizens,” but the richest 20 percent reaped a full half of the benefits of his income tax package — all while Wisconsin ranked 44th in the country in middle class income growth under Walker.
  • John Kasich boasted about having the “largest amount tax cuts of any sitting governor,” but he neglected to mention that his so-called “tax cuts” benefited wealthy Ohioans. Under Kasich’s tax proposals, the average tax bill went up for the bottom 60 percent of taxpayers, while the top one percent of taxpayers saw an average tax cut of nearly $12k.

Tear Up the Iran Deal. Last night, many of the GOP candidates offered much of the same, similar-sounding bluster we have heard on the campaign trail: tear up the Iran deal on “day one.” Their empty rhetoric presented no real leadership, just more partisan attacks on a tough-minded deal.

  • Cruz claimed that the Iran deal “will only accelerate Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons.” He continued to say that if elected, he would “rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.” Far from being a bad deal, the agreement cuts off all pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon and is verifiable through rigorous international inspections of Iran’s nuclear supply chain and facilities. This accord proves that American diplomacy — and not war — can bring meaningful change to make our homeland and the world safer and more secure.
  • Walker casually remarked, “I’d love to play cards with this guy because Barack Obama folds on everything with Iran.” That is simply not true. The Iran deal is the result of years of tough-minded American diplomacy and a comprehensive strategy. The deal is backed by our partners and allies across the world, but conservative GOP candidates are putting politics over patriotism.

BOTTOM LINE: The eleven GOP candidates had an opportunity last night to offer real solutions to the key issues they face. But on education, working families, and health care, the GOP candidates came up empty. Instead, they spent their stage time fighting with each other and catering to the most extreme wing of the Republican Party. What we need are real leaders ready to tackle the problems facing working families, not panderers who are alienating entire communities of Americans.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.


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