Critique of the 2nd Democrat Debate, from all sides

By Suzanne Price – When Hillary spoke after the debate, she announced to the small gathering, “The other side (meaning the Republicans) does not want young people to be involved, they don’t want young people to register and vote, they don’t want people of color, they don’t want elderly people, they want to prevent you from voting because they are afraid of the way you will vote.”

That is not true. Hillary is flat out telling a ‘Lie’, she knows it is a lie. Republicans have never said any of that. But really, can we expect anything but lies from her? (Benghazi). The Left preaches these untruths over and over to their flock and are not questioned as to their validity.

The Republicans do want the young, do want people of color, do want the elderly to register and to vote. What the Republicans do not want, is for groups such as Acorn (who helped get Obama elected) and other left-wing organizations to allow them to abuse the system and have the young, the people of color and the elderly to vote more than once.

There are many take aways from Saturday night’s Democrat debate. But the question is, can America afford to have even one more term any democrat as President, especially now? I think not. Not if we are to remain a free nation. If they can not tell the truth while running for public office and they want that job, what could we expect from these three after being elected?

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stretched the truth when facts are checked, and some reports claim Bernie Sanders actually won.

FactChecking the Second Democratic Debate

By Brooks Jackson, Robert Farley, Lori Robertson, D’Angelo Gore and Eugene Kiely – MSN

Summary

The three Democratic presidential candidates faced off on a Saturday night, and made several inaccurate claims:

  • Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said that in President Reagan’s first term, the highest marginal income tax rate was 70 percent. But Reagan signed a bill in his first year dropping that to 50 percent, and it dropped again to 28 percent in his second term.
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said that the U.S. “has more income and wealth inequality than any major country on earth.” But Israel, Brazil and Chile have both greater income and wealth inequality, and more countries beat the U.S. in one of the measures.
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrongly said that wages “haven’t risen since the turn of the last century.” Real average weekly earnings of rank-and-file workers rose 7.2 percent since 1999.
  • Sanders repeated his talking point about billionaires paying “an effective tax rate lower than nurses or truck drivers.” That may be the case for some in those professions, once we factor in payroll taxes, but it’s not accurate for all.
  • When Clinton cited Princeton economist Alan Krueger’s support for her minimum wage proposal, O’Malley called him a Wall Street economist. He’s not.
  • O’Malley boasted that Maryland was “the only state” to freeze college tuition four years in a row. This year, Maine did so as well.

Analysis

Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley met at Drake University in Iowa for the debate, which was hosted by CBS News, KCCI-TV in Des Moines and the Des Moines Register.

O’Malley on Top Tax Rate Under Reagan

O’Malley said that in President Ronald Reagan’s first term, “the highest marginal [income tax] rate was 70 percent.” That was true only briefly. In Reagan’s first year in office, he signed a bill reducing the top rate to 50 percent. And in his second term, he reduced it again, to 28 percent.

O’Malley cited the top marginal tax rate during the debate to make the point that upper-income taxpayers should be paying more, and historically have.

O’Malley: And may I point out that under Ronald Reagan’s first term, the highest marginal rate was 70 percent. And in talking to a lot of our neighbors who are in that super wealthy, millionaire and billionaire category, a great number of them love their country enough to do more again in order to create more opportunity for America’s middle class.

As a matter of history, the top marginal tax rate of 70 percent was established in 1964, when Congress passed a tax cutbacked by President John F. Kennedy. In the decades before that, the top rate was much higher — hovering around 90 percent.

So 70 percent was the top rate when Reagan took office in January 1981. Eight months after taking office, Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which cut the highest marginal tax rate to 50 percent.

In his second term, Reagan signed a bill in 1986 that lowered the top marginal income tax rate to 28 percent.

Sanders Off on Inequality and Poverty

Sanders continued to peddle some false claims about U.S. inequality and child poverty:

Sanders: This country today has more income and wealth inequality than any major country on earth. …  We have the highest rate of childhood poverty. …

Regarding income inequality, we noted back in May that World Bank statistics list at least 41 countries with greater income inequality than the U.S. — including Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina.

And as for wealth inequality, the share of wealth held by the top 1 percent in the U.S. puts it in 11th place among 37 nations listed in the 2015 edition of the Global Wealth Databook. The top 1 percent in Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, China, Czech Republic and Israel each hold a greater share of their nation’s wealth, according to that publication.

Finally, the rate of child poverty is far worse in many other countries, including several with industrialized economies. The campaign told us the senator was referring to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, but that report ranks the U.S. seventh in “relative childhood poverty” among the 38 countries listed.

Turkey, Israel, Mexico, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria all had higher rates of child poverty than the U.S., in the OECD’s ranking.

It’s also worth noting that “relative poverty” is a measure of household disposable income relative to others in that country.

Clinton Wrong on Wages

Clinton erred when she said real wages haven’t risen in nearly 15 years.

Clinton: [W]ages adjusted for inflation haven’t risen since the turn of the last century.

That’s not true, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Real average weekly earnings of rank-and-file workers were 7.2 percent higher in September than they were in December 1999.

Furthermore, real weekly wages have jumped 2.3 percent in the most recent 12 months alone.

Sanders on Truck Drivers’ Tax Rates

Sanders repeated one of his campaign trail talking points: “But we are going to end the absurdity, as Warren Buffet often remind us … that billionaires pay an effective tax rate lower than nurses or truck drivers.” That’s the case for some in those professions — compared with billionaires who earn their money through investments — but it’s not accurate for all. In fact, a truck driver would have to earn more than the median salary to pay a higher effective rate.

We previously ran the calculations for several different hypothetical nurses and truck drivers (and firefighters and police officers, who have also been part of this Sanders claim), comparing total effective tax rates, including payroll taxes, to what an investment fund manager would pay if only paying capital gains tax rates on earnings.

The billionaire fund manager would pay 23.8 percent — the top capital gains rate for income above $413,200 for individuals — and a 3.8 percent Medicare surcharge tax on investment income for those earning more than $200,000. A truck driver earning the median income for the profession ($39,520) wouldn’t pay a higher rate then the fund manager’s 23.8 percent.

demon debate

But if that truck driver earned a higher salary — such as the average pay in Peabody, Massachusetts ($57,250) — and was single with no dependents, he or she would pay an effective tax rate of 26 percent, higher than the fund manager. If that truck driver had one dependent child, however, the rate would drop to 21 percent.

As for nurses, the median salary is much higher — $66,640. A single nurse with no dependents would have a 28 percent effective tax rate with that salary. But once we add a dependent child, or a nonworking spouse, or both, the nurse’s rate sinks below that of the wealthy fund manager.

If the billionaire fund managers’ earnings were taxed at regular income tax rates, he or she would pay a higher rate. Most marginal income tax rates are higher than capital gains rates, with individual income between about $37,000 and $90,000 at the 25 percent rate for 2015. The top income tax rate is 39.6 percent, which starts after income surpasses $413,200.

Krueger Not a Wall Street Economist

O’Malley lumped Princeton economist Alan Krueger in with what he called “economists on Wall Street.” Krueger is not a Wall Street economist.

O’Malley made his remarks when he had a disagreement with Clinton over how much to raise the minimum wage. O’Malley supports raising it to $15 per hour. Clinton has proposed $12 per hour, and she cited Princeton economist Alan Krueger’s support for her proposal and concern for increasing the minimum to $15 per hour.

O’Malley: I think we need to stop taking our advice from economists on Wall Street …

Clinton: He’s not Wall Street.

O’Malley: … And start taking advice …

Clinton: That’s not fair. He’s a progressive economist.

O’Malley is wrong about Krueger’s background. It is entirely in academia and education.

Krueger graduated with a doctorate in economics from Harvard University in 1987. “Since 1987 he has held a joint appointment in the Economics Department and Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University,” according to his biography on the university website.

Krueger also has held top positions in government, including chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama and chief economist at the Department of Labor under President Bill Clinton. His full curriculum vitae can be found here.

O’Malley’s Outdated Tuition Boast

O’Malley claimed that Maryland was the only state that went four consecutive years without an increase in college tuition. That’s no longer the case.

O’Malley: We were the only state to go four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition.

Yes, as governor, O’Malley did sign bills implementing a tuition freeze at public universities in Maryland that lasted from 2007 until 2010. But Maine has now matched what Maryland once achieved.

In March of this year, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees again voted to freeze in-state tuition at its seven member schools. That means the school system has now gone four years without an increase in tuition at its public universities.

Sources

Geewax, Marilyn. “JFK’s Lasting Economic Legacy: Lower Tax Rates.” NPR. 14 Nov 2013.

Tax Foundation. Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library. The Second American Revolution: Reaganomics.

GovTrack.us. H.R. 3838: Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Credit Suisse Research Institute. “Global Wealth Databook.” Oct 2015.

World Bank. “GINI index (World Bank estimate).” Data accessed 15 Nov 2015.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “Chart CO2.2.A. Child income poverty rates, 2012.” Data accessed 15 Nov 2015.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National); Average Weekly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees, 1982-1984 Dollars.” Data extracted 15 Nov 2015.

Robertson, Lori. “Hedge Fund Managers’ Tax Rates.” FactCheck.org. 8 Sep 2015.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014. 53-3032 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers. accessed 15 Nov 2015.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014. 29-1141 Registered Nurses. accessed 15 Nov 2015.

O’Malley for President. “Raise the Minimum Wage.” Undated.

Krueger, Alan B. “The Minimum Wage: How Much Is Too Much?” New York Times. 9 Oct 2015.

Princeton University. “Alan B. Krueger, Biography.” Undated.

 

"Clinton May Have Exposed State Secrets" – Gedrich

Editor’s Note – The Author of the following article is an SUA ‘Kitchen Cabinet” founding member and he is a foreign policy and national security analyst and served in the departments of State and Defense.

He visited more than 50 U.S. overseas diplomatic posts on official missions.

After its release this morning, Jen Psaki, the State Department Spokesperson finally admitted that Hillary Clinton did not sign a OF-109 separation form after all:

Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson: State Department Has ‘No Record’ Of Clinton Signing Separation Statement
Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson: State Department Has ‘No Record’ Of Clinton Signing Separation Statement

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday the agency is “fairly certain” that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not sign a separation statement upon her departure from Foggy Bottom.

“We don’t have record of it,” Psaki admitted.

She was quick to point out that her two immediate predecessors had no signed form on record either, but that is trivial in comparison to the deep hot water Clinton should be in.

Please read on:

With Private Storage, Clinton May Have Exposed State Secrets To International Cyber Crime

By Fred Gedrich – Breitbart

ABC News recently reported that House Speaker John Boehner will soon be announcing a new congressional investigation into the dubious way former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton controlled her official State Department emails during the four years she served as the nation’s top diplomat and the two years since leaving office.

By storing the emails in an isolated server outside of State Department control in a private personal computer system, Mrs. Clinton and the State Department were able to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests from Congress and the media on sensitive topics such as Benghazi. Her actions may also have compromised national security.

Hillary Clinton Speaking at the U.N. - The Associated Press
Hillary Clinton Speaking at the U.N. – The Associated Press

Addressing the recording-keeping and record-custody issues does not address the potential national security implications of what the former Secretary did. After the President and Vice-President, the Secretary of State is the highest position in the executive branch of the U.S. Government.

The Secretary carries the President’s foreign policies and participates as a key member of the President’s National Security Council, providing advice and assistance to the President on the most important and urgent foreign policies and national security matters.

Therefore, the Secretary is an automatic target of those seeking to learn as much as possible about what is going on inside the highest levels of the U.S. Government through various forms of espionage activities.

In a hastily-arranged recent press conference at the United Nations to respond to a story published by the New York Times, the former Secretary of State discussed the unique way she stored her official government emails and presented the circumstances as more or less no big deal.

Former Justice Department officials Shannen Coffin and Dan Metcalfe and Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, in articles appearing in National Review and Politico, disagreed with her.

In their essays on this subject, among other things, Coffin wondered whether the former Secretary falsely certified the return of all records upon her departure from the State Department; Metcalfe, a retired government FOIA expert, opined that the former Secretary’s email defense is laughable; and McCarthy argued that the former Secretary is still violating the law and the Justice Department should take custody of her server.

Being able to access any of the Secretary’s official or private communications– whether they are classified, sensitive or otherwise– would be an intelligence coup for U.S. foes and friends engaged in espionage, and could be used by them for such nefarious activities as waging economic, military and political sabotage and warfare against the United States, or mere blackmail.clinton-emails

And it is naïve for anyone to believe that U.S. adversaries like China, Russia and others – skilled in state-of-the-art electronic cyber-theft and eavesdropping and who can intrude into computer systems without detection – wouldn’t try to take advantage of a situation like this if they knew the Secretary of State’s emails were being stored in a private server.

The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security serves as a firewall in preventing U.S. enemies and others from gaining access to U.S. classified as sensitive information, whether it is the Secretary of State or anyone else employed by the State Department.

Among other things, DS security engineers monitor and negate electronic threats, while its intelligence and information security experts educate employees on counterintelligence and possible vulnerabilities that might be exploited by foreign intelligence agencies.

To mitigate these threats, DS continually develops, tests, and updates security standards as necessary for all State Department’s computer systems and requires everyone leaving the agency, under penalties of law, to turn over all government records when their appointments or employment expires (see U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 12 – Diplomatic Security Form OF-109, PDF).

One can easily understand why the State Department’s security folks are so concerned about espionage prevention. China’s cyber-spies on several notable occasions (e.g., Titan Rain and Mandiant) successfully breached the U.S.’s most sophisticated security-protected computer systems at U.S. government agencies, sensitive military bases, defense contractors, aerospace companies through internet email intrusion. For skilled cyber-spies, hacking into someone’s private computer system requires little effort.

The responses from the former Secretary and State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, on this subject to date have been far less than forthcoming, especially regarding the security aspect. As Congress looks further into this matter, it might want to consider asking key current and former officials within the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security to formally testify before Congress and ask them the following questions:

  1. Did DS know and approve of the manner in which former Secretary Clinton, and her closest State Department colleagues Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, were storing their State Department-related emails in a private computer system outside of the State Department’s span of control? If the answer is yes, did DS evaluate and certify the former secretary’s personal computer system met State Department security standards?
  2. Did DS require the former secretary to sign the State Department’s Separation Agreement, OF 109, which requires by U.S. Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 12 – Diplomatic Security, in part, that former State Department persons like Mrs. Clinton, Miss Abedin, and Miss Mills to turn over all government-related records, including emails, at the conclusion of their appointments and/or employment? If the answer is yes, does DS have a copy of the signed documents? If the answer is no, did DS officials waive the requirement to do so for these individuals?
  3. Did DS give the former secretary permission to delete more than 30,000 emails from her personal computer system before DS or a neutral arbiter could examine them?

While this list of questions is not all-inclusive, the answers to them will provide substantial insight into whether the former Secretary, her closest State Department associates, and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security complied with some important applicable laws and regulations pertaining to the maintenance and disposition of official State Department records and applicable security standards. The American public deserves to know the answers.

 

 

Hillary, The NY Times Called, What Successes?

Editor’s Note – It amazes us at SUA that people across the land still consider Hillary Rodham Clinton as a viable Presidential candidate anymore. The reasons must follow that too many people are still ill-informed, have willingly suspended disbelief, have a cognitive estrangement with the truth, and/or are so deeply ideological, even her failures do not count.

In fact, even she cannot cite any successes for which she is responsible in her years as Secretary of State or as a Senator from New York. When the New York Times points these issues out, it surely is time for America to take notice, peel the scales from their eyes, and come back to reality.

Today’s abysmal results of her foreign policy efforts on behalf of her boss, Barrack Obama, are telling to say the least. When we look at the current state of Ukraine, Iran, Israel/Palestine, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, China, Myanmar, Venezuela, Cuba, and many more corners of the Earth; each display daily a cause of major concern. It is not a good time to be an ally of the United States – we are no longer to be trusted; we are less than a paper tiger.U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pounds her fists while testifying on the Benghazi attacks during Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington

Failure is the only consistent thing in her resume, going all the way back to the Whitewater scandal when her husband was Attorney General and then Governor of Arkansas and into his first campaign for the Presidency, then through the Travel Office Scandal when he took office, to Benghazi and beyond. Let’s not forget her allegiance and sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood through her assistant Huma Abedin and the Clinton Global Initiative that is supported by these types.

“At this point, what difference does it make?”

Remember, she was the one who chose Christopher Stevens as Ambassador to Libya and watched idly as he and three others died horribly, as well as leaving over 30 other people at risk that day. We must point out one nefarious fact, her only success there was the jailing of a man who made a silly video.

We can cite one major accomplishment, she ranks at the top of the most traveled Secretaries of State ever – all with no positive result. If numbers of countries visited, miles traveled, or fuel burned, were what counted, at least those she is compared against at those levels had a major impact in keeping America’s reputation and influence at a continued high level, most unlike our standing today.

Hillary Clinton Struggles to Define a Legacy in Progress

By MARK LANDLER and AMY CHOZICK – New York Times

WASHINGTON — It was a simple question to someone accustomed to much tougher ones: What was her proudest achievement as secretary of state? But for a moment, Hillary Rodham Clinton, appearing recently before a friendly audience at a women’s forum in Manhattan, seemed flustered.

Mrs. Clinton played an energetic role in virtually every foreign policy issue of President Obama’s first term, advocating generally hawkish views internally while using her celebrity to try to restore America’s global standing after the hit it took during the George W. Bush administration.

But her halting answer suggests a problem that Mrs. Clinton could confront as she recounts her record in Mr. Obama’s cabinet before a possible run for president in 2016: Much of what she labored over so conscientiously is either unfinished business or has gone awry in his second term.

Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's right hand - and that hand is Muslim Brotherhood aligned
Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s right hand – and that hand is Muslim Brotherhood aligned

From Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the grinding civil war in Syria to the latest impasse in the Middle East peace process, the turbulent world has frustrated Mr. Obama, and is now defying Mrs. Clinton’s attempts to articulate a tangible diplomatic legacy.

“I really see my role as secretary, and, in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race,” Mrs. Clinton finally said at the Women in the World meeting, promising to offer specific examples in a memoir she is writing that is scheduled to be released in June. “I mean, you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton.”

The relay metaphor has become a recurring theme for Mrs. Clinton during this year of speculation about her future. She did her part, it suggests, but the outcome was out of her hands. And so Mrs. Clinton is striking a delicate balance when discussing a job that would be a critical credential in a presidential race.

On the one hand, she wants credit for the parts of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy that have worked, like the pressure campaign against Iran over its nuclear program, which she helped orchestrate and which has pulled Iran to the bargaining table.

On the other, she is subtly distancing herself from the things that have not worked out, like Mr. Obama’s “reset” of relations with Russia. She recently likened President Vladimir V. Putin’s annexation of Crimea to actions by Hitler in the 1930s, and posted on Twitter a photograph of herself with members of Pussy Riot, the protest group that is Mr. Putin’s nemesis.

Mrs. Clinton’s Republican opponents, losing no time in trying to define her, note that she gave Russia’s foreign minister the infamous mistranslated red plastic button to reset relations. It said “overcharge,” not “reset.” They have been tireless in raising questions about the deadly attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

While Republicans are likely to make her part of a broad critique of the Obama administration’s approach to national security, Mrs. Clinton’s hawkish views could also be a problem in ensuring the support of liberals in her own party, who are weary of foreign entanglements.

In one sense, though, the cascade of foreign crises that now bedevil Mr. Obama could play to Mrs. Clinton’s advantage. By presenting herself in her book and in any possible campaign as the toughest voice in the room during the great debates over war and peace, she could set herself apart from a president who critics charge has forsworn America’s leadership role in the world.hillary-russian-reset-button

Mrs. Clinton has scrupulously avoided publicly criticizing Mr. Obama; White House aides said he still called her for advice. And much of the administration’s foreign policy still bears her imprint, like the Iran sanctions and a more confrontational stance toward China, which she pioneered and Mr. Obama has embraced.

But in recent interviews, two dozen current and former administration officials, foreign diplomats, friends and outside analysts described Mrs. Clinton as almost always the advocate of the most aggressive actions considered by Mr. Obama’s national security team — and not just in well-documented cases, like the debate over how many additional American troops to send to Afghanistan or the NATO airstrikes in Libya.

Mrs. Clinton’s advocates — a swelling number in Washington, where people are already looking to the next administration — are quick to cite other cases in which she took more hawkish positions than the White House: arguing for funneling weapons to Syrian rebels and for leaving more troops behind in postwar Iraq, and criticizing the results of a 2011 parliamentary election in Russia.

The criticism of the Russian election led Mr. Putin to accuse her of fomenting unrest, and left some senior Obama aides unhappy. “Some at the White House thought she overstepped,” said Michael A. McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia, who supported her view.

At the same time, Mrs. Clinton’s instincts were curbed by her innate caution, her determination to show loyalty to a rival-turned-boss and her growing pains in the job. Still, dissecting her record yields tantalizing clues about what kind of foreign policy she might pursue as president. “Hillary unbound,” people who worked with her say, would be instinctively less reluctant than Mr. Obama to commit the military to foreign conflicts.

“It’s not that she’s quick to use force, but her basic instincts are governed more by the uses of hard power,” said Dennis B. Ross, a former White House aide who played a behind-the-scenes role in opening secret direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program.

Leon E. Panetta, who forged close ties to Mrs. Clinton as defense secretary and C.I.A. director, said she was a stalwart supporter of the C.I.A.’s activities in Pakistan — read, drone strikes — and an influential voice in advising Mr. Obama to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

“The president has made some tough decisions,” Mr. Panetta said. “But it’s been a mixed record, and the concern is, the president defining what America’s role in the world is in the 21st century hasn’t happened.”

“Hopefully, he’ll do it,” Mr. Panetta said, “and certainly, she would.”

The Mideast Peace Process

Mrs. Clinton’s hawkish inclinations were well established in her bitter 2008 Democratic primary campaign against Mr. Obama, when she famously criticized as naïve his willingness to talk to America’s adversaries without preconditions. But when he persuaded her to join his “team of rivals,” she submerged her views and worked hard to establish her loyalty — all of which has added to her problems in promoting her record.

hillary_obama_glare_reutersA case in point is the Middle East peace process, in which secretaries of state from Henry A. Kissinger to John Kerry have tried to make their mark. “There’s core-course curriculum, and then there’s extra credit,” said Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff. “This is always seen as a core requirement for a secretary of state.”

Mrs. Clinton’s marching orders from the White House were to demand that Israel cease the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a way to lure the Palestinians into talks, and she did so with a fervor that surprised Mr. Obama’s advisers. But they had conceived the strategy, and Mrs. Clinton privately had qualms with it, which proved well founded.

“We did not make it sufficiently clear that this was not a precondition but part of an effort to create an overall atmosphere in which negotiations could succeed,” said George J. Mitchell, the former Middle East envoy who left in 2011 after failing to break the logjam.

Mr. Kerry has tried a different approach to peacemaking, with little to show for it so far. But he seems determined to keep trying, while some veterans of Middle East diplomacy say Mrs. Clinton gave up too easily. In a recent interview with Time magazine, former President Jimmy Carter said that “she took very little action to bring about peace.”

Today, when Mrs. Clinton’s aides talk about the Middle East, they barely mention the Israeli-Palestinian talks, preferring to discuss the cease-fire she brokered in November 2012 between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, where she twisted arms to avoid escalating violence.

Building Pressure on Iran

Mrs. Clinton was more successful in dealing with Iran. As with the Middle East, she was skeptical that Mr. Obama’s initial strategy — reaching out to Iran’s leaders — would work. So when he shifted to sanctions, she was eager to build pressure on what she called a “military dictatorship.”

It was a tough job against long odds, said Tom Donilon, the former national security adviser, because it meant pressing allies in Europe and Asia, huge trading partners of Iran, to agree to steps “that had a real cost.”

Mrs. Clinton delivered her stern message with a smile. In June 2010, the day before the United Nations voted on strict new sanctions against Iran, Mrs. Clinton invited China’s ambassador to Washington, Zhang Yesui, to a hotel bar in Lima, Peru, where both were at a conference.AP_hillary-yang_6Sept12

Drinking pisco sours, the potent local cocktail, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Zhang went over an annex to the Security Council resolution line by line as she tried to clinch Beijing’s agreement to withdraw investments in Iran by Chinese banks and state-owned enterprises.

The sanctions, Mrs. Clinton likes to remind audiences, crippled Iran’s oil exports and currency, setting the stage for the election of Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, as president and for Iran’s renewed interest in diplomacy.

Mr. Obama had first proposed direct talks in a letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in 2009. Mrs. Clinton authorized Mr. Ross, then her special adviser, to explore a back channel to the Iranians through the Arab sultanate of Oman.

In January 2011, Mrs. Clinton stopped in Oman on a tour of the Persian Gulf that was notable because she gave a speech, on the eve of the Arab Spring, warning leaders that they risked “sinking in the sand” if they did not reform their societies. Less noticed was her meeting with the sultan, in which he offered to facilitate a meeting with the Iranians.

After some exploratory meetings with a delegation from Tehran, Mrs. Clinton sent two of her top lieutenants, William J. Burns and Jake Sullivan, to Oman for more intensive negotiations. That opened the door to the nuclear talks now underway in Vienna. But what her colleagues remember most is her steadfast conviction that Iran would deal only under duress.

“She was skeptical that it would produce anything, or at least anything quickly, and in a way she was right because it took several years to get to that point,” said Mr. Burns, a deputy secretary of state.

With China, too, Mrs. Clinton set the stage for a more confrontational approach, though that was not the policy she followed at the outset. When she made her first trip as secretary of state to Beijing, she stumbled by suggesting that the United States would not offer lectures on human rights as much as it had in the past.

By 2010, however, she sounded more like the woman who had cut her teeth on the global stage in 1995 with a defiant speech on women’s rights at a United Nations conference in Beijing. Attending a summit meeting in Vietnam, she thrust the United States into a tangled dispute between China and its neighbors over the South China Sea.

The Chinese government was enraged by her meddling, but her actions set a new context for the relationship. By insisting that China adhere to international norms and by shoring up American alliances with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, Mrs. Clinton moved Washington away from the China-centric model favored by previous presidents.

“Secretary Clinton strongly pushed for a 21st-century conversation with China and resisted occasional Chinese efforts to engage in a secretive, 19th-century diplomacy,” said Kurt M. Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs.

When the State Department proposed sending 2,500 Marines to Australia to underline America’s commitment to Southeast Asia, the Pentagon, Mr. Panetta said, latched on to the idea, because “it fit the new defense strategy we were developing.”

Mrs. Clinton became the most visible and energetic exponent of the president’s “Asia rebalance” — so much so, in fact, that her aides complained to Mr. Donilon at one point that she was not getting enough credit for it. In a lingering sign of Mrs. Clinton’s influence, Mr. Obama will visit the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea next week.

Kim Beazley, Australia’s ambassador to Washington, credits her with reversing a laissez-faire approach to the Pacific Rim that dated from the Nixon administration. “She was metronome perfect,” he said.

A Different Standard

As Mrs. Clinton’s aides shape her legacy, one of their biggest frustrations has been explaining that the most publicized work of her tenure — her emphasis on the rights of women and girls — was not a safe or soft issue, but part of a broader strategy that strengthens national security. Mrs. Clinton may be the only diplomat, they say, who is criticized for being simultaneously too dovish and too hawkish.

“You can’t have it both ways,” said Thomas R. Nides, a former deputy secretary of state who is now a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley. “You can’t say that she’s about soft power, women and girls, and hospitals and ribbon cuttings, and simultaneously maintain that all she cares about is drones, missiles, going to war.”

Because of her celebrity and her potential political future, Mrs. Clinton’s advocates say, she is held to a different standard than other secretaries of state. More than ever, they say, the job is defined not by clear victories but by a dogged commitment to the process.

“We have sort of a heroic vision of diplomacy,” said James B. Steinberg, who served as deputy secretary of state. “But it’s really easy to overwrite the traditional role of leader-to-leader diplomacy.”Hillary-Clinton-2016

Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning at the State Department, said, “I think of her as being extraordinarily resourceful within a set of constraints.” She noted, for example, that Mrs. Clinton had to spend three months apologizing for the undiplomatic remarks in the secret cables disclosed by WikiLeaks.

Mrs. Clinton’s memoir will allow her to give her view of WikiLeaks, Benghazi and smaller missteps like the Russia reset button — a stunt she nevertheless liked enough that she later gave one to Mr. McDonough to smooth over friction with the White House over personnel issues.

Mrs. Clinton’s vision of 21st-century diplomacy mirrors what her allies say is a vision of a more engaged America. The question is whether that vision will be appealing to a nation that, after 12 years of war, is weary of foreign adventures. Liberal critics may have no other choice for a candidate.

“Although there will be a good number of folks in the Democratic Party who are uncomfortable with her hawkishness, they will ask themselves, ‘Where else can we go?’ ” said Paul R. Pillar, a former C.I.A. analyst who now teaches at Georgetown University and supports Mr. Obama’s more cautious view of the American role abroad.

Mr. McDonough, one of Mr. Obama’s closest foreign policy advisers, declares himself a great admirer of Mrs. Clinton. But he was on the other side of the internal debate over providing weapons to the Syrian rebels, and, like his boss, is cautious about the use of American force. However harrowing the conflict, he said, “you have to be disciplined about where you invest this country’s power.”

“We’re leaving an era where the country gave the president a lot of leeway, in terms of resources, in terms of time,” Mr. McDonough said. “It will be a long time before a president has the kind of leeway in this space that President Bush had.”

Hold John Kerry Accountable – Gaffney

By Frank Gaffney, Jr. – Center for Security Policy

Members of the United States Senate are surely tempted to give their insufferably arrogant colleague from Massachusetts a pass in confirmation hearings for his nomination to become the next Secretary of State.  Quite apart from the tradition of senatorial courtesy practiced in the exclusive club once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” most of them must be anxious to see John Kerry leave it.

There are, however, compelling reasons to resist this temptation and ensure that Sen. Kerry is subjected to rigorous scrutiny with respect to his past conduct, his judgment and his policy predilections.

Conventional wisdom holds that he is certain to be confirmed.  Whether that proves to be the case or not, Senators have a duty to serve as the Framers had in mind– as a means of ensuring quality control with respect to cabinet-level and other senior presidential appointments and with respect to the treaties that a secretary of state in particular is wont to promote.

A number of topics cry out for such scrutiny.  Herewith a few of the more important:

For starters, there is the question of John Kerry’s integrity.  His conduct during and immediately his service in the Vietnam War– much of it compellingly documented by his former comrades-in-arms in the Swift Boat community– suggests a serious deficit in this personal quality. Senators could usefully revisit Mr. Kerry’s damning indictments of the U.S. military’s conduct of the war, including his depiction of its alleged “war crimes,” his fraudulent Winter Soldier testimony and his treating with the North Vietnamese enemy in the midst of hostilities.

Mr. Obama also observed that Sen. Kerry will not require “a lot of on the job training” because of his extensive dealings with foreign leaders, including in his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Among those with whom he has consorted are Syrian despotBasher Assad and Nicaragua’s Sandinista revolutionaries during their conflict with the United States in the 1980s. As the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady put it last week: “Mr. Kerry’s record of promoting American values abroad is dismal. It isn’t that he opposes U.S. intervention – far from it. The trouble is that he has a habit of intervening on behalf of bad guys.”

As Jim Kouri of the Law Enforcement Examiner pointed out recently, Senator Kerry has also been suspected by the FBI of problematic dealings with the Communist Chinese.  Kouri cites revelations by Judicial Watch in 2004 based on government records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The investigative organization’s president, Tom Fitton, said: “These disturbing FBI documents raise further questions about Sen. Kerry’s involvement in what looks like a quid pro quo (cash for meetings) with the Communist Chinese.”

Senators will want to examine closely John Kerry’s promotion of the United Nations and various treaties that would increase its stature, influence and/or power at the expense of U.S. sovereignty.  Cases in point are his support for the Disabilities Convention recently rejected by the Senate, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty rejected by it in 1999 and the Law of the Sea Treaty that Senators may reject this year.

Because the Senate has actually been performing its constitutional quality control function with respect to such defective accords, there is growing concern that the Obama administration may pursue its goal of denuclearizing the United States through unilateral action.  As John Bolton and John Yoo observed in the Wall Street Journal, a Secretary Kerry would likely support the findings of

a State Department advisory group headed by former Defense Secretary William Perry suggest[ing] that Mr. Obama ignore Congress. Its November report urges that America and Russia reciprocally reduce nuclear weapons without any international agreement: ‘Unilateral and coordinated reductions can be quicker and less politically costly… relative to treaties with adversarial negotiations and difficult ratification processes.'”

Senators should seize this chance to make clear their strong objection to such a strategically reckless and constitutionally unacceptable disarmament strategy.

Speaking of the Constitution, the Kerry nomination would be a good time for a debate about the Obama administration’s practice of dispensing with its requirements.  A December 30th op.ed. by a law school professor at Georgetown published in the New York Times under the controversial title “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution” seems to track with the practice of the former law school professor at Chicago who is now  president of the United States.

Of particular concern is a priority of Mr. Obama and the outgoing Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton – namely their efforts to appease Islamists determined to circumscribe our First Amendment right to free expression. Will John Kerry as America’s top diplomat continue to pursue this agenda in the so-called “Istanbul Process,” or stand up for our sovereignty and freedoms?

The Kerry confirmation process offers an opportunity to examine both the nominee’s fitness to serve in high office and the security policies President Obama and he will be pursuing, all other things being equal.  This chance must not be squandered in the interest of realizing as quickly as possible his colleagues’ understandable desire to get John Kerry out of the Senate.

____________________

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.

John Kerry as Sec State – our allies' views

Editor’s Note – As many report on the likelihood that John Kerry will be our next Secretary of State, and so many remind us of the clear problems with this appointment, its important to take into account what our allies and others think of the nomination.

John Kerry’s history is widely known, and a great many people feel he is not only unqualified but that he is a true enemy of the nation who openly consorted with our enemies in the past.

When all of his previous activities were vetted and aired when he ran for President and lost we should have realized then that he would forever be unfit for higher office, especially as the top diplomat representing the united States over seas.

The Vietnam Veterans have much to be upset about again, you be the judge:

In 1984, Kerry met with Communist Nicaraguan Dictator Daniel Ortega in an effort to frustrate the anti-Communist policies of Ronald Reagan.

Kerry Was Obama’s Envoy to the Muslim Brothers and Hamas

Simply put, Kerry is an Arabist, but his ‘Arabism’ tends to favor the more extremist Arabs.

By Yori Yanover From the Jewish Press

On Friday afternoon, President Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as secretary of state. “John has played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years,” Obama told the press at White House. “As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we’ve got to harness all elements of American power and ensure that they’re working together – diplomatic and development, economic and political, military and intelligence – as well as the power of our values which inspire so many people around the world.”

The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Kerry is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and should be easily approved by that same body.

But if Senators who consider themselves friends of Israel objected stubbornly to the appointment of Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Secretary Clinton, they should be practically throwing themselves at the committee chamber’s doors to block Kerry’s nomination.

Simply put, Kerry is an Arabist. Except that while in the past an Arabist meant you promoted the view that the U.S. should favor Saudi interests over those of Israel – pretty much the Dept. of State’s fundamental policy – Kerry’s Arabism tends to favor the more extremist Arabs.

As such, Senator Kerry served as a reliable go-between for Obama in his developing relationship with the Muslim Brothers.

Back in June, 2009, Khaled Hamza, editor of the Muslim Brotherhood website, told reporters that 10 members of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc received official invitations to attend Obama’s speech at Al Azhar University in Cairo.

Also in 2009, the Egyptian daily Almasry Alyoum reported on an Obama meeting with U.S. and European-based representatives of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood insisted that the meeting be publicized, and stated that they had shared with the president their support for democracy and the war on terror.

According to Alyoum, Brotherhood members told Obama that, once they took power in Egypt, they would abide by all the agreements Egypt had signed with foreign countries, meaning the peace treaty with Israel.

John Kerry has made repeated visits to Syria, meeting with Assad five times between 2009 and 2011.

At some point, the Muslim Brotherhood came up with the idea of a “renaissance project,” comprising short-, mid- and long-term visions for Egypt’s administration, education program, health problems and economy.

It is unclear whether the project was conceived independently by the young professionals and technocrats at the second leadership tier of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brothers parliamentary entity—or was the brainchild of the White House, which has been painfully aware of the miserable conditions of the majority of Egyptians under Hosni Mubarak’s rule—or both. But it’s more than conceivable that the Obama Administration had been plotting with the Brotherhood years before the first Egyptian yelled out the first slogan in Tahrir Square.

In 2011, before anyone knew for sure that the old regime was done for, the Brotherhood tasked Khairat al-Shater, a deputy to the movement’s boss, Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, with preparing the Renaissance project. Egypt Independent reported at the time that al-Shater was hiring consultants from Turkey, Malaysia, South Africa and Singapore, in addition to Egyptian experts, to devise the project.

The Independent’s source said a large budget had been allocated to this project, which would capitalize on Singapore’s experience in improving its administration, South Africa’s experience in creating a national dialogue, and Turkey and Malaysia’s experience in encouraging investment, achieving development, and improving its educational system and economy.

Any guesses as to where the unspecified “large budget” had come from?

In May of this year, Al Ahram reported about Kerry’s meeting with Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi. The Brotherhood was on its way to capturing power in Egypt, and Obama was sending his most trusted man to make sure things were working according to plan.

Khaled Kazzaz, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, told Al Ahram at the time: “The visit comes in the context of the U.S. government’s concern over Egypt’s democratic transition, witnessing the evolution of the political scene in the transitional phase, becoming familiar with the FJP’s presidential candidate and reviewing the renaissance project.”

Practically since the beginning of Obama’s term in office, the Mubarak regime was complaining about U.S. involvement in fomenting revolution in Egypt. But there’s a big difference between keeping in touch with opposition leaders in a given country, and actually plotting to unseat a government. Add to that the idea of what seems like a nation building project, and the emerging image of President Obama starts to match the worst nightmares of some of his voters.

One of the men behind the Renaissance Project is Essam al-Haddad, a member of the Brotherhood’s business association, created to attract investment in Egypt’s economy. He is head of the Office of the President; and member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Office. With a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Birmingham, England, he has been influential in the Brotherhood’s outreach to the West, according to the Washington Institute. He met with U.S. assistant secretary of state Michael Posner in January 2012, and organized the Freedom and Justice Party’s participation in the Carnegie Endowment’s conference on democratic change in North Africa, held in Washington in April 2012. At the same time, literally, he became Muhammad Morsi’s campaign manager and, in early May, 2012, accompanied him to Alexandria to meet with prominent Salafist Sheikhs.

Besides his close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Senator Kerry also knows the ins and outs of Gaza. Back in February, 2009, Foreign Relations Chairman Kerry was touring the devastation in Gaza after operation Cast Lead, and met with officials from the UN Works Relief Agency, the main provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza. According to CNN, during the visit “Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas passed Sen. John Kerry a letter for President Obama.”

John Kerry, 27-year-old former navy lieutenant who heads the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), receives support from a gallery of peace demonstrators and tourists as he testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C., April 22, 1971. (AP Photo/Henry Griffin)

Frederick Jones, the committee’s communications director, told CNN at the end of Kerry’s meeting with UNRWA chief Karen Abu Zayed that “she handed [Kerry] a letter addressed to the president of the United States along with other materials.”

Kerry spokesman Frederick Jones said the senator was not aware that the letter was from Hamas when he accepted it from Abu Zayed, and only heard media reports of its origin, which prompted him to relinquish it. The Israeli embassy commented that Kerry should not have acted as mailman for a group labeled as a terrorist organization by the United States.

But that’s what Kerry has done over the past four years. Oh, and there’s his immortal Wikileaks statement about Israel returning to Golan Heights to Assad, who is now “ready for change.”

It reads like an Onion item:

In November, 2010, a U.S. State Department cable leaked on the Wikileaks website, quoted Kerry as saying he believed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights to Syria into a formula for peace. Kerry made the statement to the Emir of Qatar in a February meeting between the two.

Kerry was referring to the Emir’s position that peace between Israel and the Palestinians could only be attempted once a Syria-Israel peace had been achieved, and that the Golan Heights was paramount in attaining that peace.

Kerry then added that he believes Syrian President Bashar Assad wants change, but that he must compromise and act like more of a statesman in order to attain it.

Also, Assad should try to avoid the kind of change that results in an abrupt cessation of breathing due to the adverse effect of a noose.

As Secretary of State we should expect more of the same, including the kind of in-depth judgment that would have made Israel give up one of its most precious strategic assets to a mass murderer about to be ousted in a bloody civil war. And including the subterranean efforts to undermine old allies of the U.S., replacing them with enemies of the West and of Israel. And including the efforts to legitimize Hamas as the real Palestinian authority – because Kerry has stated on numerous occasions that he does not believe Abbas has got what it takes.