Saturday, January 30, 2016
All these crises have their share of irrational actors, and there is a risk any one of them might spiral out of control.
All these crises have their share of irrational actors, and there is a risk any one of them might spiral out of control.
Most people think the Iowa caucuses are just the first presidential primary in the nation — a chance for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to see how they're really doing with voters. And while that's wrong, it's also partly true.
The Iowa caucuses do involve voting and Iowa is the first state to do any voting, but that's kind of like saying hosting Thanksgiving dinner only involves eating at a table. With the caucuses, there's a much more involved and longer process — especially for Democrats.
And to take the Thanksgiving analogy a step further, the word "caucus'' actually comes from a Native American Algonquian word meaning a gathering of tribal leaders.
Here' a quick primer on how they work as we zero in on the Iowa caucus date.
1. No voting booths to hide in, no levers to pull.
Instead of going to voting booths, people gather together at a library or a high school gym or even private homes to speak their mind and support their chosen candidates. In Iowa, there are 1,681 such precincts for GOP voters to gather.
2. For Republicans, the caucus is a pretty simple affair.
GOP voters use secret ballots, and then tally their votes to see who'll attend the party's county, state and national conventions. The Iowa GOP has 27 Republican delegate positions awarded proportionally based on the statewide vote. Overall, Iowa will send 30 to the GOP convention.
3. For Democrats, it gets a bit more complicated
After an hour of hearing candidates' volunteers make their case about why they should vote for them, the precincts hold an unofficial ballot as a test of opinion, called a "straw vote," so-named because you can tell which way the wind is blowing by looking at a field of straw. Sometimes this gets done by a show of hands or by dividing themselves into groups according to candidate.
Candidates who don't get at least 15 percent of the vote are considered out of the running.
In rural precincts where the population is so small they only elect a single delegate, the selection is done by majority vote on a paper ballot.
Those caucusing for these remaining qualifying candidates then seek to persuade each other to support for their candidate and get the most votes.
In Iowa, you can register to vote right up till caucus day, and many do. In rural precincts where the population is so small they only elect a single delegate, the selection is done by majority vote on a paper ballot. Although sometimes that means just a scrap of paper stuffed into a shoebox, it actually works.
Iowa Democrats will elect 29 delegates at the district level. In all, the state will send 52 to the convention.
4. There's another step after the caucuses
Regardless of whether it's a Democratic or GOP caucus, the district results get reported to each of Iowa's 99 counties' conventions, and the county votes get reported to the Iowa state convention.
5. Where it ends up
Finally, the state results are used to determine how the parties' convention delegates are divvied up among the candidates.
#IowaCaucus - Bill Clinton's Former Adviser: Hillary Is The Most Qualified Candidate Since Washington
James Carville, the well-known political adviser to former President Bill Clinton, is a bit baffled that more donors have given to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) than to Hillary Clinton, especially given the former secretary of state's résumé.
"I don't mean to be cranky, but what in the hell is that all about?!," Carville wrote in a fundraising email for Clinton Saturday. "We've got the best chance we've ever had to put a woman in the White House, and oh, by the way, she just happens to be the most qualified candidate maybe since General George Washington himself!!"
The number of contributions to the Sanders campaign topped 3 million as of Saturday morning.
Clinton has had a remarkable amount of experience to prepare her for the presidency. Before serving as secretary of state during President Barack Obama's first term, she served as a U.S. senator representing New York for eight years and as first lady of the United States before that. Sanders also has a wealth of political experience: he was elected the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for over a decade and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
Washington served as the commander in chief of the continental army and president of the 1787 constitutional convention.
According to HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates publicly available polling data, the race between Sanders and Clinton is extremely close in Iowa ahead of the state's caucuses on Monday.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that no Russian aircraft had violated Turkish airspace, adding that neither Russian air defense in Syria, nor Syrian radards had detected violations of Turkish borders by a Russian Su-34 warplane as Ankara claimed earlier in the day.
Voters have the chance to choose one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.For the past painful year, the Republican presidential contenders have been bombarding Americans with empty propaganda slogans and competing, bizarrely, to present themselves as the least experienced person for the most important elected job in the world. Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, after a substantive debate over real issues, have the chance to nominate one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.
Hillary Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party. She served as a senator from a major state (New York) and as secretary of state — not to mention her experience on the national stage as first lady with her brilliant and flawed husband, President Bill Clinton. The Times editorial board has endorsed her three times for federal office — twice for Senate and once in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary — and is doing so again with confidence and enthusiasm.
Mrs. Clinton’s main opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, has proved to be more formidable than most people, including Mrs. Clinton, anticipated. He has brought income inequality and the lingering pain of the middle class to center stage and pushed Mrs. Clinton a bit more to the left than she might have gone on economic issues. Mr. Sanders has also surfaced important foreign policy questions, including the need for greater restraint in the use of military force.
In the end, though, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.
The third Democratic contender, Martin O’Malley, is a personable and reasonable liberal who seems more suited for the jobs he has already had — governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore — than for president.
Mrs. Clinton is a strong advocate of sensible and effective measures to combat the plague of firearms; Mr. Sanders’s record on guns is relatively weak. Her economic proposals for financial reform reflect a deep understanding of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act, including the ways in which it has fallen short. She supports changes that the country badly needs, like controls on high-frequency trading and stronger curbs on bank speculation in derivatives.
Mr. Sanders has scored some rhetorical points against Mrs. Clinton for her longstanding ties to Wall Street, but she has responded well, and it would be comical to watch any of the Republican candidates try to make that case, given that they are all virtually tied to, or actually part of, the business establishment.
One of the most attractive parts of Mrs. Clinton’s economic platform is her pledge to support the well-being and rights of working Americans. Her lifelong fight for women bolsters her credibility in this area, since so many of the problems with labor law hit women the hardest, including those involving child care, paid sick leave, unstable schedules and low wages for tipped workers.
Mrs. Clinton is keenly aware of the wage gap for women, especially for women of color. It’s not just that she’s done her homework — Mrs. Clinton has done her homework on pretty much any subject you’d care to name. Her knowledge comes from a commitment to issues like reproductive rights that is decades old. She was well ahead of Mr. Sanders in calling for repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which severely limits federal money to pay for abortions for poor women.
As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton worked tirelessly, and with important successes, for the nation’s benefit. She was the secretary President Obama needed and wanted: someone who knew leaders around the world, who brought star power as well as expertise to the table. The combination of a new president who talked about inclusiveness and a chief diplomat who had been his rival but shared his vision allowed the United States to repair relations around the world that had been completely trashed by the previous administration.
Mrs. Clinton helped make it possible to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, which in turn led to the important nuclear deal now going into effect. She also fostered closer cooperation with Asian countries. She worked to expand and deepen the dialogue with China and to increase Washington’s institutional ties to the region. Mrs. Clinton had rebuked China when she was first lady for its treatment of women, and she criticized the Beijing government’s record on human rights even as she worked to improve relations.
In January 2011, before the Arab Spring, Mrs. Clinton delivered a speech that criticized Arab leaders, saying their countries risked “sinking into the sand” unless they liberalized their political systems and cleaned up their economies. Certainly, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis deepened during her tenure, but she did not cause that.
Mrs. Clinton can be more hawkish on the use of military power than Mr. Obama, as shown by her current call for a no-fly zone in Syria and her earlier support for arming and training Syrian rebels. We are not convinced that a no-fly zone is the right approach in Syria, but we have no doubt that Mrs. Clinton would use American military power effectively and with infinitely more care and wisdom than any of the leading Republican contenders.
Mrs. Clinton, who has been accused of flip-flopping on trade, has shown a refreshing willingness to learn and to explain, as she has in detail, why she changed her mind on trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She is likely to do more to help workers displaced by the forces of trade than previous presidents have done, and certainly more than any of the Republicans.
Mrs. Clinton has honed a steeliness that will serve her well in negotiating with a difficult Congress on critically important issues like climate change. It will also help her weather what are certain to be more attacks from Republicans and, should she win the White House, the possibility of the same ideological opposition and personal animus that President Obama has endured. Some of the campaign attacks are outrageous, like Donald Trump’s efforts to bring up Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity. Some, like those about Mrs. Clinton's use of a private email server, are legitimate and deserve forthright answers.
Hillary Clinton is the right choice for the Democrats to present a vision for America that is radically different from the one that leading Republican candidates offer — a vision in which middle-class Americans have a real shot at prosperity, women’s rights are enhanced, undocumented immigrants are given a chance at legitimacy, international alliances are nurtured and the country is kept safe.