Mrs. Clinton Takes a Risk

1 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hillary Clinton was part of the mass-incarceration problem. Can she really be the solution?.

A lot of people who have been supporting criminal justice reform for much longer than Hillary Clinton are feeling very conflicted about her speech at Columbia University yesterday embracing the cause. When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, South Central Los Angeles was ablaze in response to the acquittal of four white police officers who had viciously beaten a black man named Rodney King.

Did then senator Hillary Clinton change her position on the India-US nuclear deal in 2008 and vote in its favor in return for payments to her family trust and campaign?“You’re singing my song!” Hillary Clinton told students and educators at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa, near the end of her first official event of the 2016 presidential campaign.Hillary Clinton swung big in her 2016 policy debut, declaring on Wednesday that “we have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance” and vowing to end the “era of mass incarceration.” Given how few particulars she offered (getting body cameras to every police department, cutting off federal funding for military equipment and mandatory minimum-sentencing reform), she should talk to 3 Bs: Bill her husband, Bill her City Hall frenemy and her old boss Barack about just how tough it is to rebalance the system. She did, according to a new yet-to-be-released book that has raised questions about funding of the family-run Clinton Foundation, accessed by Politico, a news publication.

High school students had been talking about how they were getting a leg up, taking college-level courses at the school and getting both high school and college credits for their work. First, President Clinton, who in 1994 signed a landmark crime bill, with $30 billion for new cops and prisons and harsher sentences for drug offenders. After all, as recently as 2008 Clinton was attacking Barack Obama for his opposition to mandatory minimum sentences, using it as an example that he was too liberal to win the Democratic nomination.

Bill Clinton, whose popularity with black voters is legendary, went to black churches and promised to work for racial healing and equal opportunity if elected. But the publication also said that a study of the Senator Clinton’s voting record on the deal showed “two key facts in (the book’s) argument on the topic are false”. One young woman said she was going to a four-year college next year and would be able to finish in two because of the credits she’d already accrued—thus cutting her college loans in half. Hillary didn’t mention that in her speech, nor did she note that the steep rise in imprisonment that bill led to came just after the peak of a 30-year era of rising crime rates that decimated cities. It’s precisely because crime rates have plummeted in the two decades since, that the new national conversation about policing’s dark side has emerged.

Bill Clinton championed a 1994 law that, among other things, has increased untold numbers of prison sentences (by encouraging states to drastically reduce or eliminate parole and early release). This does not matter much once a political leader has left office and hit the global-grandee circuit—a lucrative world of paid speeches, charity work and discreet consulting gigs. It only takes a quick look at Hillary’s actual voting record and statements to see that this conspiracy theory doesn’t even come close to passing the smell test.” The highly anticipated book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Help Make Bill and Hillary Rich”, is due for release next week. In New York City, not only was the drop in crime much steeper than it was nationally, but it coincided with a falling incarceration rate — what one sort of Brooklynite might call artisanal incarceration.

But the problems and omissions in Clinton’s speech shouldn’t blind us to the fact that it’s a remarkable piece of political rhetoric, both in its own right and for what it says about American politics in 2015. The allegations pertaining to the nuclear deal come in a chapter titled, “Indian Nukes: How to Win a Medal by Changing Hillary’s Mind”, which was obtained by Politico, the publication said. Two days after riots in Baltimore—at a time when most of the presidential field is either silent or contemptuous—Clinton has stepped out front with a forward-looking agenda on bringing people out of prison, a definitive rebuke to the “law and order” politics used by her husband throughout his career. Behind the snark, there are two big questions: Why should we believe Hillary Clinton suddenly cares about criminal justice reform? and Has Hillary Clinton really learned from her mistakes? But the report did not directly link his donations to Clinton changing her mind, which, according to the same report, she actually didn’t even though she may have had reservations about some aspects of it. “Clinton actually publicly stated her support for the deal in 2006,” said the Politico, adding, “and in fact voted against a “killer amendment” that the book reports she supported.” The book’s author, Peter Schweizer, said in a TV interview past week,“In 1998 the Indian government conducted nuclear tests, Bill Clinton imposed restrictions on the export of U.S. nuclear technology, because this violated the nonproliferation treaty — Hillary Clinton supported that position,” He added: “In 2005, the Indian government wanted those restrictions lifted.

There’s indeed a national crisis of confidence in policing and justice, but it’s less clear there are national solutions outside of halting the war on drugs — which Clinton didn’t directly mention. In a statement responding to Clinton’s speech, he offered faint praise, suggesting she was trying to distance herself from her husband’s policies that have contributed to the United States having one of the world’s highest incarceration rates, but added: “We welcome her to the fight.” Several other top GOP presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Of the 600,000 prisoners who re-enter society each year, roughly 60 percent face long-term unemployment.” We have to do more than release nonviolent offenders to solve mass incarceration, but this at least shows that Clinton is thinking in broad terms.

Unlike the Brits, who treat Tony Blair as a pariah these days, Americans do not necessarily think it outrageous that a former head of government should become rich. After 2005, a number of Indian interests, including an Indian politician that admits now that his donation to the Clinton Foundation wasn’t even his money, those donations flowed. And it seemed to me that this was a perfect way to launch her campaign, doing something she loved to do—something profoundly unphony—-promoting a program that could really help middle-class Americans.

Chris Christie and Scott Walker, of New Jersey and Wisconsin respectively, and former governors Jeb Bush (Florida) and Rick Perry (Texas), also are talking up reform measures that would scale back mandatory sentencing laws and seek alternatives to locking up nonviolent offenders. Clinton didn’t offer much by way of policy proposals, apart from body cameras for police and “community mental health centers.” “I don’t know all the answers,” she said. “That’s why I’m here—to ask all the smart people in Columbia and New York to start thinking this through with me.” But she was clear about the goal of turning many prisoners loose: “It’s time to change our approach. Some of these are diplomatically phrased and some less so, like this tweet from longtime criminal justice journalist Liliana Segura, now writing for the Intercept: Whenever a politician suddenly flip-flops on an issue, especially after decades spent on the other side, it makes sense to wonder whether the conversion is genuine.

We need a true national debate about how to reduce our prison population while keeping our communities safe.” The Democratic Party’s core policy agenda in a post-Obama—and post-Obamacare—era is resolving the ills of poverty, inequality, substance abuse, and the broken criminal justice and mental health systems. In the speech, she promises to make sure that “federal funds for state and local law enforcement are used to bolster best practices, rather than to buy weapons of war that have no place on our streets.” She calls for body cameras on all police—a major goal of the “Black Lives Matter” movement—supports better, “swifter” probation programs, and stresses help for mental health patients. “You and I know that the promise of de-institutionalizing those in mental health facilities was supposed to be followed by the creation of community-based treatment centers. Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal called it “the most inept, phony, shallow, slickily-slick and meaningless launch of a presidential candidacy I have ever seen.” Others were less charming.

In 1994, he signed an omnibus crime bill that included some popular measures, such as a ban on assault weapons and stronger laws against domestic violence. Every life matters.” For many in the Democratic Party, particularly in minority communities, that is the great unfinished business of the Obama presidency, the promise that must still be fulfilled.

A Hillary Clinton who believed she needed working class whites to win is not a Hillary Clinton who would embrace this agenda for police reform, or use this rhetoric. But unlike Bill, she is now attempting something hard: to reverse her passage through the money door, quit the life of the global grandee and reinvent herself as a tribune of the people.

His conclusion: “If this is the Hillary Clinton that hits the campaign trail for the next 18 months, she’ll be a far more formidable candidate than the halting speaker who struggled to articulate a raison d’être in 2008.” About the politics of Mrs. Virginia Sapiro and David Canon, in their book “Race, Gender and the Clinton Presidency,” cite the former president’s cultural fluency with African Americans, as well as his having appointed a record number of black cabinet members and vocally defending affirmative action, for his ability to keep that important bloc of Democratic voters. Barack Obama joked that the economy had got so bad for some people that: “I have one friend, just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year, and now she’s living out of a van in Iowa.” In a recent fundraising letter to small donors she talked of her immigrant grandfather who worked as a child in the lace mills of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and thundered that “The deck is still stacked for those at the top.” Meanwhile, news outlets posed awkward questions about her family’s pursuit of wealth since leaving the White House 15 years ago. One such instance was his condemnation of the rapper Sister Souljah over comments she made two months after the L.A. riots that seemed to dismiss the slayings of some white people during the six days of violence. In her remarks Wednesday, Hillary Clinton scolded “those who are instigating further violence in Baltimore … setting back the cause of justice.” But she seemed to stand with protesters who, during the past several months, have demanded action on dismantling mass incarceration, building trust and respect between police and citizens and better education and economic opportunities for poor communities.

But many of those policies grew out of the crackdown on drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses that took place before and during Bill Clinton’s presidency 20 years ago. There is the Clinton who is cautious to the point of paranoia, who surrounds herself with sketchy sycophants and launches scorched-earth campaigns against anyone who would doubt her. As political scientist Jonathan Bernstein wrote for the Washington Monthly in 2012 (and Jamelle Bouie of Slate pointed out on Twitter yesterday), research shows that campaign promises are actually a lot more important than you might think: Jeff Fishel looked at campaigns from John F. Clinton’s spokesman Jesse Ferguson on the defensive. “Spoiler Alert,” he tweeted: “HRC policy on internet might also be different than WJC policy in 1994.

Not b/c he was wrong but b/c times change.” (We gather that means she has another speech in the works renouncing her husband’s support for Internet freedom.) I learned this firsthand as a young attorney just out of law school—at one of those law schools that will remain nameless here at Columbia. What he found was that presidents invariably attempt to carry out their promises; the main reason some pledges are not redeemed is congressional opposition, not presidential flip-flopping. One of my earliest jobs for the Children’s Defense Fund . . . was studying the problem then of youth, teenagers, sometimes preteens, incarcerated in adult jails. The question, of course, is what counts as a promise — political insiders and the media are often quick to dismiss things like Clinton’s Columbia speech as campaign rhetoric, and that shapes what history remembers as a commitment.

The Clinton Foundation—which seeks to reduce childhood obesity, lower the cost of HIV drugs and other good things—has announced that while Mrs Clinton is running for office it will accept donations only from foreign governments that are already funding programmes. The charges leveled against the Clintons by Peter Schweizer in his book Clinton Cash, and confirmed by a raft of mainstream publications in recent weeks, cannot be dismissed as a right-wing hack attack. But when advocates think a politician has promised them something, it gives them an opportunity to put public pressure on that politician when she doesn’t deliver. Political scientists are not sure whether that level of participation will continue once Obama’s name is no longer on the ballot, but the challenge for Clinton will be to minimize any drop-off.

This burst of interest in the Clinton family’s finances follows revelations about Mrs Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server throughout her time as secretary of state, allowing her to delete tens of thousands of e-mails as she saw fit rather than preserve them in government archives. Not just because Clinton has made the commitment, but because she’s sent a powerful signal to other Democrats (and even some Republicans) to treat police reform as a mainstream issue. But immigrant activists did, and they resorted to increasingly public protests to hold him accountable — by calling on him to both champion reform and to take executive action.

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, told conservative radio that he saw “every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20% of America’s uranium production to Russia,” and that e-mails were later erased to cover up the scandal. Democrats loyal to the Clintons closed ranks, telling media outlets that partisans are confecting allegations out of nothing, and that all charges will prove unfounded. I must admit it also brings up feelings of anger and disappointment at the failure of Hillary Clinton, and other candidates, and so many other ostensible leaders to acknowledge that they were willing and even eager proponents of the very policies that produced America’s records-breaking rates of incarceration. The laws and policies we embraced back in the 1980s and 1990s, they’re all saying in one way or another, were the right thing at the time — but now we just need to roll them back now that times have changed.

That said, at least some liberals will agree with Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “It doesn’t matter if its [sic] sincere or not . . . it matters that she’s making a public commitment to an issue.” The filling of American prisons has become so powerful for voters that both Democrats and Republicans are trying to tackle it in Washington. No doubt, the lad was chuffed to be in the presence of Bill Clinton; no doubt, he made his contributions to the CGI in recognition of its excellent work. But even the closest thing Bill Clinton’s offered to an apology (in an essay book from the Brennan Center about reducing mass incarceration) is still along the lines of “a good thing that went too far”: We acted to address a genuine national crisis.

There would appear to be a feedback loop here: The high crime of the 1970s and 1980s heightened public vigilance and led to tougher crime policies, of the sort Mr. That reduced crime, so that the public became less vigilant and more open to arguments about excesses of criminal justice. (Therein lies the appeal of the Butterfield Fallacy.) But while crime statistics may look considerably better in 2015 than they did in 1990, the images on television—riots in Baltimore, and earlier in Ferguson, Mo.; lawless disorder in other cities, including New York—have the potential to change public opinion, too.

You would have to assume a high-mindedness that surpasses all understanding to argue that these speeches, and the generosity of their funders, had not even a subliminal impact on the mind of the Secretary. That’s an indication that the Clintons — and more broadly, former “tough-on-crimers” now embracing reform — aren’t actually looking at the extensive body of evidence out there about what worked and what didn’t. Perhaps the most egregious, confirmed by the New York Times, was sponsored by Russian oligarchs—Schweizer claims some of them had KGB ties—for $500,000 as Clinton Global Initiative donors were selling their uranium-mining company, including U.S. assets, to the Russians.

I believe that the Obama Administration’s “reset” with Russia was more than a shell game to enrich the Clintons, but you have to ask: What on earth was Bill Clinton thinking when he took the $500,000 from the friends of Vladimir Putin? During the tough-on-crime era, however, the opposite was the case: if you cared about black America, it was assumed that you should care about fighting the crime and illegal drug use that was devastating black communities. A majority of the Congressional Black Caucus voted for the 1986 law that created the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine; Congressman Charlie Rangel, in particular, championed the bill and other anti-drug measures. But Dinkins’s term also saw repeated outbreaks of disorder and rioting—in Flatbush (Brooklyn) in 1990, Crown Heights (Brooklyn) in 1991 and Washington Heights (Manhattan) in 1992.

One suspects nonideological voters are more apt to see them as a sign of failed leadership—which, after two terms of a Democratic president, would translate into an advantage for the GOP. It’s hard to say no when a “friend” invites you to his vacation home, all expenses paid, to rest and relax after all that tough work saving the world. Tragedies allow us to ride our hobby horses and to repackage the same arguments we were advancing before the first stone was thrown and the first fire set.”—E.J.

This quarter was only the fourth in 60 years on record with three or more snowstorms sufficiently severe to be rated by the National Climatic Data Center’s Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). The historical relationship between weather and first-quarter growth suggests that weather may have reduced annualized growth by about a full percentage point this quarter. . . .

This observation at least partially reflects generally worsening weather over the past decade, which may not yet be accounted for in seasonal-adjustment algorithms. Meanwhile, reports that “a new regulation from the Chinese Meteorological Administration bans amateurs and enthusiasts from publicizing their own weather reports, saying that only official authorities are allowed to offer such forecasts.” The president must be envious. (Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Ethel Fenig, Macrena Sailor, Michele Schiesser, Bob Roenigk, David Hallstrom, Alan Jones, Debbie Wells, John Schoenecker, Miguel Rakiewicz, Jeff Bliss, Todd Crampton, John Tierney, Irene DeBlasio, Kris Tufts, Dave Nemzek, John Williamson, Kyle Kyllan, Bruce Goldman, Darin Zimmerman and Michael Murk.

Then I ask them: Let’s leave the politics aside; how do you feel about the way the Clintons ran their foundation? “Nauseated,” said one. “Atrocious,” said another. “It’s no surprise,” said a third. It’s near impossible for Hillary Clinton to go around saying, with a straight face, much less a sense of outrage, that the “deck is stacked against” everyday Americans when Bill’s partying with the deck stackers.

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