US Opinion and Commentary

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Meddling from Moscow?

Posted September 8th, 2016 at 9:57 am (UTC-4)
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned Russia against meddling with the “democratic process” in the U.S. and other Western nations.
Carter’s warning comes on the heels of a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are looking into what Russia might be doing to interfere with the American election.
The F.B.I. is already looking into whether Russians were behind the computer hack of Democratic National Committee computers. Intelligence agencies know Russian hackers tried to get into those computers last year. Russian president Vladimir Putin denied the accusations, but said the WikiLeaks revelations of the DNC documents was a public service.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is making this a campaign issue, trying to link her Republican foe, Donald Trump, to Russia and Putin
How much of an issue is this? How can Russia manipulate the election?

Trump, Mexico & Immigration

Posted September 1st, 2016 at 5:14 pm (UTC-4)
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Expectations had been raised by some close to Donald Trump that the Republican presidential candidate would be softening his strident rhetoric ahead of Wednesday night’s policy speech about immigration.
And when it was announced he was accepting an invitation to meet with Mexico’s president Wednesday afternoon, expectations were further raised: Could Trump reverse the criticism that he cannot act presidential?
By all accounts, Trump comported himself in a manner one would expect from a world leader, standing side by side with President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City, delivering readouts of their meeting.
Responding to a question from a reporter, Trump said they did not discuss who would pay for the wall Trump, if elected president, vows to build between the two countries — and make Mexico pay for it.
After Trump left Mexico, Peña Nieto tweeted that he began the meeting by telling Trump Mexico would not pay for the wall.
And once he got to Phoenix, Arizona to deliver his immigration policy speech, it was vintage Trump, outlining a 10-point plan to aggressively attack illegal immigration, including making Mexico pay for a wall.
It was a day that left many Republicans wondering which Trump to expect.

The Foundational Criticism of Hillary Clinton

Posted August 31st, 2016 at 12:09 pm (UTC-4)
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The controversy over the connection between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation continues to hound her as she runs for president.
E-mails surfaced this month indicating some donors to the foundation asked for — and were granted — meetings with Secretary Clinton.
Donald Trump called it “pay for play” and says the Clinton Foundation ought to be shut down with a special prosecutor appointed to investigate.
There’s been no evidence, so far, to support the “pay for play” charge. Clinton dismissed the criticism, telling CNN “there’s a lot of smoke and no fire.”
An open letter on the foundation’s website from former president Bill Clinton outlines steps that would be taken to limit donations and separate himself and his wife from the foundation if Mrs. Clinton wins the election.
Large donors usually have loud voices when it comes to political campaigns. Is this corrupt practice or politics as usual?

What the World Could Lose in America’s Presidential Election

Posted August 29th, 2016 at 1:23 pm (UTC-4)
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The global impact of a Donald Trump presidency would be disastrous. But even a Hillary Clinton win won’t help reverse the worldwide retrenchment in democracy and human rights unless she brings change in policy from the current administration. If all of that strikes you as a bit too breathless, consider what’s happened over the past decade.

Trump’s Economic Blueprint

Posted August 9th, 2016 at 5:15 pm (UTC-4)
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Donald Trump tried to turn the page on a week of political controversies with a speech outlining his economic policies.

In Monday’s address to the Detroit Economic Club, Trump embraced tax rates that congressional Republicans have proposed, which includes a large cut for the wealthiest Americans. He also proposed a reduction in the corporate tax rate from from 35 percent to 15 percent. Trump said he favors tax deductions and credits for child care, eliminating the inheritance tax and a freeze on regulations that Republicans say stifle economic growth.

At least for a day, Trump seemed to be in step with most in the party he represents.

Hacking the Election

Posted August 3rd, 2016 at 1:52 pm (UTC-4)
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Imagine. It’s the day after the election….the victor’s triumph rests on close results in five or six states, where the winner had a few thousand more votes. Assume also that each of these states used — at least partially — electronic voting. Assume then that the loser alleges that cyber-tampering stole the election.

Neither Clinton nor Trump Will Be Able to Fix the Pentagon’s Budget

Posted August 3rd, 2016 at 11:14 am (UTC-4)
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[A] Clinton or Trump administration will find itself facing a budget deadline just 254 days after taking the oath of office on Jan. 20. Pentagon officials are already warning of cuts that would come to the military if the budget caps return.

Gold Star Family Feud

Posted August 2nd, 2016 at 5:51 pm (UTC-4)
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After saying Donald Trump is “unfit” to succeed him as president, Barack Obama asked prominent Republicans “if you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John McCain among other Republican icons have denounced Trump’s reaction to criticism leveled by the Gold Star parents of an American Muslim soldier who was killed while protecting fellow soldiers and civilians in Iraq.

Khizr Khan, with his wife at his side, addressed the Democratic National Convention last Thursday, saying “if it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.”

Trump’s tweets and remarks in an interview afterwards has consumed the political atmosphere for five days now. On Monday, Trump said U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan would not have been killed 12 years ago if he were president then because he wouldn’t have gone to war with Iraq back then.

When asked whether anything useful will come out of this feud with Trump, Khan told VOA “It really, really has come out that a significant larger number of Republicans are asking him to tone down, change those derogatory remarks about minorities, not only just Muslims but other minorities.”

The political fallout from all this is still being calculated.

Putin, Trump & Clinton

Posted August 1st, 2016 at 5:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Television interviews of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over the weekend created more controversy for both candidates on issues that have dogged them so far this campaign season.

In an interview with FOX News, Clinton said the FBI Director backed up her claims that she did not send any classified information over her private email server. The Washington Post’s fact-checker begs to disagree with the Democratic nominee.

Meantime Trump doubled down on an feud with the parents of an American war hero. Capt. Humayun Khan was killed in 2004 by a suicide car bomb in Iraq. He was awarded the Bronze Star for saving his unit and Iraqi civilians.

And Trump’s responses to questions about Russia and Ukraine just added to last week’s controversy about his suggestion that Russia try to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email to find the 33,000 emails that she deleted from her private server.

Add to the intrigue a new report detailing the connections between the Clinton Foundation and a U.S.-Russia cooperative effort to create an Silicon Valley-like “innovation city” in Russia while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

And there are just 99 days to go before Election Day.

The U.S. Steps Back from the World Stage, and the Consensus for Leadership Dissolves

Posted August 1st, 2016 at 12:34 pm (UTC-4)
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As the United States withdraws from the world, in other words, the world grows messier and uglier — and that only confirms for many Americans that any involvement is foolish and futile. This feedback loop fuels the kind of isolationism we’ve seen this year from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Thanks to Trump, We Will Remember Humayun Khan

Posted August 1st, 2016 at 12:01 pm (UTC-4)
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by Barbara Slavin In the year since he announced his candidacy for U.S. president, Donald Trump has insulted Mexicans, war heroes, women, disabled people, the children of immigrants and Muslims. So perhaps no one should have been surprised when he denigrated the parents of an immigrant Muslim American war hero, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, killed […]

Conventional Clinton Takes on Trump

Posted July 29th, 2016 at 5:23 pm (UTC-4)
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Americans have been fed a steady diet of political rhetoric over the past two weeks, trying to convince them that two people they have known for decades — and generally do not like — should be their next president.

Hillary Clinton finished off this week’s Democratic National Convention with a speech in which she had to walk a fine line to mollify Bernie Sanders’ supporters while reaching out to independents and Republicans who are looking for change, but are wary of Donald Trump.

Polls conducted in the days ahead will show us how the Democrats’ message has been digested. Meantime, reviews and comparisons of the two conventions are coming in. And the acceptance speeches of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton can be found below, a way to pass the 102 days still to come before Election Day.

Trump, Putin and NATO

Posted July 29th, 2016 at 11:42 am (UTC-4)
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by James Kirchick Once again, Donald Trump has unsettled America’s allies and brought joy to its adversaries. In an interview last week with the New York Times, the Republican Party presidential nominee reiterated his shoddy understanding of how international alliances and deterrence strategy work. Asked if the United States would come to the defense of […]

The Makeover of Hillary Clinton

Posted July 27th, 2016 at 4:25 pm (UTC-4)
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When you’ve been in the public eye for 25 years and your unfavorable ratings are an average of 17 percentage points higher than your favorable ratings, what do you to try to change things?

Hillary Clinton’s re-branding effort reached its peak Tuesday night with a lineup of speakers who shared personal stories about her impact in their lives.

The most personal came from her husband, former president Bill Clinton. By reflecting on their courtship, parenthood and her commitment to public service, Clinton the former president did his best to humanize Clinton the wannabe president.

While accentuating the positive, he left out the negative challenges the couple faced, which wasn’t lost on the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

Trump has his own 17-percentage point deficit in favorability ratings. Who did a better job to close the gap will be played out over the next few weeks.

Foreign Visitors Admire U.S. Conventions and Fear Trump Isolationism

Posted July 27th, 2016 at 10:56 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton has made history as the first woman nominee for president of a major U.S. political party after a hard-fought primary campaign and a bumpy beginning to the Democratic National Convention. Die-hard supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have either stopped their booing any mention of her name or walked […]