Friday, July 22, 2016

Why, You Ask, Am #IWITHHER? Here's Why!

I've been asked many times over the years why I appear to "know so much" about politics and how I "decided to become a Democrat." Sometimes I think the questions are sincere. Other times I'm pretty sure I am being mocked.

My usual response involves an acknowledgement that I quit watching cable and TV news a long time ago (other than C-Span when I've got a little caffeine in me), a list of reputable news periodicals that I voraciously read which involve international publications and the Associated Press (no, I don't have an unlimited amount of time on my hands; I typically spend several hours a night in bed reading, resulting in less sleep); a humbling admission that I allow myself to cheat at times and read clearly biased opinion pieces because, well, because I'm human and still have a school girl type crush on Jon Stewart (KNOWING they are biased is the key) and then I refer the inquiring person to the Democratic platform. Because that is obviously WHY I am a Democrat.

Nobody ever wants to read the platform, sigh. Too long?

The point of this blog, though, is that I get asked. And lately I've been getting asked how I can support Hillary Clinton.

I've started some form or other of this blog many times over the last six months. Someone wisely recommended that I should share positive things about her rather than negative beliefs about her opponent so I'm going to try. Here's the rub though.

It takes time to list all of the reasons I support her because the details matter.

The details really do matter.

They may not matter to the media or to Americans who like their news served up quickly, provocatively and with two teams always in opposition. The details may seem boring and mundane to a population looking for a bad guy, ready to interrupt any form of detailed explanation with a "yes, BUT!!!" They may not be of importance to a generation weaned on reality television and visual stimulation.

They matter to me though. Which is why I not only support Hillary Clinton but I've actively volunteered with the campaign.

I'm known for being wordy, writing and talking too long. I'll try to be concise, clear and to the point. I'll try to include links to evidence supporting my position, all the while knowing and understanding that for those of you who within your soul of souls openly, viscerally and passionately hate her (yeah, that really isn't too harsh of a word considering some of you openly wish to see her executed) you won't read this and, if you do, you will be frothing at the mouth ready to pounce.

Let's jump right in, though, and get Benghazi out of the way first.

A bad thing happened in a dangerous country, to one of our embassies. It has happened before. In 1983 in Kuwait, in 1983 in Beirut when 63 died, in 2004 in Uzbekistan, in 2006 in Karachi (one of our diplomats died), again in 2006 in Damascus, in 2007 in Athens, and in 2008 in Serbia and in Yemen.

Two details and then we can move on.

First, none of those attacks resulted in a single investigation.

Benghazi has resulted in more investigations than the Boston Marathon bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks, and the U.S.S. Cole attack combined. 3,184 Americans died during these combined attacks and well over 6,000 were injured.

Second, there have been eight separate (one ongoing) investigations that included two Senate and six GOP dominated House committees. Within these committees there have been 32 separate hearings. Thirty two. 32. Let me say it again, in case you didn't understand. THIRTY TWO HEARINGS.

$7 million and two years later the investigations found no evidence of negligence or wrongdoing by the state department.

This is why I do not engage, debate or argue with people who are still hanging on to Benghazi.

Moving on.

The emails.

Previous Secretaries of State used their private email accounts. Yes, there were differences vis-a-vis the server. Hillary is notoriously not tech savvy. Neither am I. Which is why I looked at the situation a little more closely. She was allowed to use it. She admitted, in hind site, it wasn't the best choice. Technology changes quickly and she had asked to be allowed to use her Blackberry (meaning requesting tighter security on it) because she was comfortable and familiar with it and had been denied.

The FBI investigated. The did not find a case that would support bringing criminal charges. The final statement as it relates the investigation: "Opinions are irrelevant, and they were all uninformed by insight into our investigation, because we did the investigation the right way. Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way."

By many estimates, $20 million and a over a year later the Federal Bureau of Investigation found no evidence of criminal conduct.

This is why I do not engage, debate or argue with people who are still hanging on to the emails.

Moving on. more thing. I have to assume that those of you who just CAN'T get past these many, many investigations must be FBI investigators yourselves or on the Congressional Hearing committees and somehow are aware of things that the rest of the general population and, dare I say it, even those who made the findings in both situations, are not aware of. If so, please speak up. Seriously. We want to know what you know that the people who spent years investigating her don't know.

These are the reasons I support Hillary Clinton, as succinct and brief as I can be.

Her 2002 vote in the Senate was to give President Bush the leverage she believed would help finish the negotiations between Saddam Hussein and the United Nations and I truly believe her thoughtful and deliberate speech from the Senate floor reflected what every good leader should do: research thoroughly their decisions. There are details within that speech, very important historical details, that help clarify and elaborate why she voted the way she did. Although President Bush used his ensuing authority in a way that resulted in thousands of American deaths through war I was impressed with her deliberation and strength in making such a tough decision. Remember, there was no crystal ball and we were reeling as a nation following the attacks of 9/11; an attack that happened in her very own Senate District.

Some may disagree with the vote but there is no denying she laid out her reasons clearly and voted based upon her knowledge of Iraq's threat rather than her gut or on impulse. Okay, I realize there may be a FEW of you out there who maybe DO have crystal balls and somehow, because of that, you must have private evidence that she secretly KNEW President Bush was going to immediately rush to war. Maybe you are the ones continuing to push the false narrative that she loves war. If so, share your insight with the rest of us. Truly.

Hillary has first and foremost been a proponent of diplomacy and her efforts to bring about a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel is a prime example. She's already forged respected relationships with Israel, Egypt and Palestine.

Speaking of relationships with foreign nations, Clinton's exhaustive travel resulted in her meeting with more countries than any previous Secretary of State. Her fingerprints are on many international policies, including securing the bipartisan supported START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) ratification with Russia, the release of political prisoners from Myanmar in 2012, and her participation in the Iranian nuclear agreement means she will already be in a firm and knowledgeable position to apply pressure from the oval office if she becomes President. With regard to Iran, she has been extremely firm as Senator but then accused of being soft while representing President Obama's stance; during the Iran deal she was able to work with China and Russia as well in joining the United States. Bottom line: regardless of a person's agreement on how firm she should or shouldn't have been there is nobody running for President in a better position to step into office on day one and deal with Iran. She has on the job experience in a way that can't be simply studied for or handled based upon an individual's whims or gut feelings depending upon the day. I trust her.

Secretary Clinton was also a pivotal player behind the scenes in opening relations with Cuba, something the Pope has even been a part of.

Let me pause for a moment and share something.

I didn't support Hillary when she ran for President in 2008. From the moment I heard Barack Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 I began following him. He was my guy in 2008 and nothing Hillary could've done was going to change that.

I remember thinking and even saying "I think she's brilliant and experienced but it's not her time." As if I had any qualifications to determine when it was or wasn't her time. In all honesty, the real truth was probably that he spoke to me on a deeper level and, in hindsight, I didn't research her history. I just LIKED him more. This time I did research Hillary. Thoroughly. And what I found left me humbled for not realizing how amazing she really is. How in awe of her I am. How sick it makes me when I read the hate and vitriol online or when I hear "lock her up" chants or a call for her to be executed. It baffles me on a deeply profound level.

Moving on.

Her history with trade is complex, as international trade is known to be, and she's dealt with each trade situation case by case. But hey, "case by case" isn't a sexy two word sound bite, is it?

As Senator, she voted on 10 trade deals with a "yes" to six and "no" to four. An example of a "no" was CAFTA because she didn't feel it protected American jobs. She has always maintained that each needed to be looked at individually and, as with TPP, as more information is available a stance can logically change. With regard to TPP, though, folks often forget that she was representing the Obama administration as Secretary of State, not voting on it as a Senator. The roles are very different. She is opposed to it now and she has the freedom to be. When I look at her history I always try to explore what her job was at the time and what her responsibilities were. A Senator and a Secretary of State are different. A similar situation occurred with the Keystone Pipeline. As Secretary of State she was also representing the administration; because of this, she said they were inclined to back it but QUALIFIED (I know, not sexy) by noting that analyses wasn't complete and they hadn't taken a final position. Frankly, that is all she said until 2015 when she opposed it based upon that "further" analyses.

Sorry to do this, but let me pause again.

I'm married to an engineer. He painfully ponders every decision and may change his mind on something multiple times as new information becomes available and as he explores how different details work together within this new information. Because of this, I feel safe. I feel like I can trust him to never go off half cocked and put our family's finances, safety or future at risk. Maybe that is why I LIKE that Hillary has, at times, changed her mind depending upon her role and depending upon new analyses of information.

Moving on.

Haiti & Honduras are examples of two different situations that she was involved with. As UN special envoy in Haiti she helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars after the 2010 earthquake and as Secretary of State she visited multiple times and helped facilitate the securing of billions of dollars for the country. Honduras was far more complicated but at the end of the day was an Obama administration's call. Hindsite is always 20/20 and declaring a coup immediately would've shut off all international aid. The administration feared a civil war and loss of life. To intervene or not to intervene was the dilemma. When I talk about "on the job training" this is what I mean. She's got it.

Volunteering for the campaign has allowed me to meet a number of people who know her personally and they all say the same thing: she is at her best when visiting a third world country, bending down and talking to children. It is her ability to be nurturing in these situations when the spotlight isn't on her but, yet, strong and commanding when in a position of having to take a very difficult or controversial stance that makes me admire her even more.

She worked for children, farmers and veterans when First Lady of Arkansas and was behind the CHIP program which resulted in thousands of low income children receiving health care. She set the stage for healthcare reform in this country. Her speech on women's rights in Bejing is still honored today and is considered a game changer internationally. She walked through the rubble after 9/11 and worked to secure services for first responders and to rebuild. While Senator, she was respected across the aisle and it seems to be only when she is running for office that so much ugliness is directed at her. Her amazing work for foster children is actually one of the things I love the most about her and even more impressive is that she worked so closely with GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in order to draft policy. One of the thing Americans are most frustrated with when it comes to Washington is the inability of both sides to work together. Hillary can and has worked very closely across the aisle with Republicans; they just won't admit it during a campaign season.

She trusts no one outside of her inner circle and I don't blame her. She's been followed, attacked and belittled for decades. Rumors and conspiracy theories abound but she stands strong. She stared down hours and hours of questions before Congress with no wrong doing to be found and, yet, people still repeat the rumors, the lies, the exaggerations, the stories devoid of specifics that would clarify or explain, and the right wing propaganda machine.

The speaking fees? She was paid because of her knowledge. It is her intellectual property, she was no longer in office, and there is absolutely no, nada, zero evidence that any "favors" were granted as a result nor that they would be. People with desired experience get paid to speak but it only seems to be a problem the handful of times SHE did it.

Before I wrap this up, in case some of you Hillary haters have made it this far, let me just address one more thing that I've taken the time to explore. The books about her. The juicy stories about throwing things or yelling profanities. David Brock, author of "Troopergate", has since admitted that he isn't certain of the truthfulness of his sources and regrets writing the book. Other supposed quotes in other books have no identified sources, often take her words out of context and, in some cases, make claims about her statements that by date and claimed places simply are not possible. These types of books I put in the "conspiracy theory" category.

In the 90's I wondered why she stayed with President Clinton after the scandal but then I married and had children. I realized I had been harsh to have questioned a decision so private, so personal and I continue to wonder how average citizens, with flaws and family secrets, can have judged her so harshly. Everything she has ever done she's had to do better, longer and with a thicker skin all while wearing heels, makeup and enduring comments criticizing her wardrobe, her figure, her hair and voice. And, yet, she continues to fight for what she believes in and for this country. She is stronger than I could ever be and she is a pivotal female role model for my daughter. She is not perfect but, then, who is? I don't know her personally and I don't want her to be my friend. I want her to be my President. I want her knowledge, experience and intelligence leading us.

Hillary is made of nails. She's prepared in a way that probably no other candidate has ever been prepared to step into the oval office on day one, look at our domestic and international issues with a fully discerning and pragmatic lense, able to act with deliberate thought and sense and not emotion or impulse, and she is, no question, the best choice for this country.

I don't always agree with her but I'll sleep soundly at night knowing she will get that 3 am wakeup call.

So the next time someone asks me why I support Hillary I will simply send them this link. Feel free to do the same and proudly proclaim #imwithher!!