November 25, 2019 3:29PM

Women Too Gutsy for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have a new book out, The Book of Gutsy Women. The publisher says they “share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them — women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done.” They certainly tell the stories of some inspiring women — Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Maria Montessori, Marie Curie, and more. But I couldn’t help noticing some women who didn’t make it into the book’s 432 pages.

  • not Margaret Thatcher, who fought every day to make her way up in an almost totally male‐​dominated political system;
  • not Ayn Rand, who fled the Bolshevik revolution to become a bestselling novelist of ideas in her third language;
  • not Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, who became the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II;
  • not Anne Hutchinson, who fought the Puritan theocracy of Massachusetts and was banished from the colony;
  • not businesswomen such as Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, and Estee Lauder, all of whom climbed out of poverty and built major cosmetics businesses;
  • not Marva Collins, Virginia Walden Ford, and Eva Moskowitz, who fought to give poor families alternatives to failing public schools;
  • not Lilli Vincenz and Barbara Gittings, who came out of the closet and fought for gay and lesbian rights when doing so could mean losing one’s job, family, or life;
  • not Deirdre McCloskey, who as a successful 53‐​year‐​old economist in 1995 decided to recognize her female identity and transition.

I suppose these women were just a bit too gutsy for the authors. Thatcher too capitalist, Rand too individualist, Rankin too antiwar, and so on. These women epitomize the line from historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: Well‐​behaved women seldom make history. And they don’t quite fit the parameters of Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s East Coast Establishment woke‐​but‐​not‐​too‐​woke liberalism.

June 21, 2018 5:20PM

Pro‐​business? Wilbur Ross Channels Hillary Clinton

On Wednesday members of the Senate Finance Committee questioned Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross about the costs to American businesses of the administration’s tariffs. Ross was unsympathetic:

When Thune warned that the drop in soybean prices (caused by China’s retaliatory tariffs) was costing South Dakota soybean farmers hundreds of millions of dollars, Ross responded by saying he heard the price drop “has been exaggerated.”…

Ross told Sen. Mike Enzi (R‑Wyo.) that he’s heard the rising cost of newsprint for rural newspapers “is a very trivial thing,” and he told Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D‑Md.) that it’s tough luck if small businesses don’t have lawyers to apply for exemptions: “It’s not our fault if people file late.”

That reminded me of then‐​First Lady Hillary Clinton’s response in 1993 to a small businessman about how her health care plan might raise his costs:

“I can’t go out and save every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America.”

Seems like lots of Washington operators don’t care much about the burdens that taxes, regulations, mandates, tariffs, and other policies impose on small businesses and their employees.

November 15, 2016 5:10PM

The Enemy Gets a Vote

Resolute Desk

In the week since election night, foreign policy watchers (myself included) have rushed to speculate about the effects that President Trump’s administration will have on the world. The most dramatic effect is the potential upending of the international order that the United States built after World War II. Of course, at this point it is impossible to determine whether or not such a consequence will come to pass, but it deserves consideration.


Baked into the idea that Trump will tear down the international order is the assumption that Hillary Clinton would have maintained the order if she was president. Jeffrey A. Stacey argued as much in Foreign Affairs when he wrote, “The world’s challenges require a determined use of U.S. leadership, not isolationism. And in the areas where Obama’s restraint has failed, the more activist Hillary Clinton Doctrine…could likely prevail.” However, the idea that the United States can influence events through “leadership” ignores the fact that in foreign policy the enemy gets a vote. In other words, the growing relative power of America’s adversaries will still pose a challenge to the international order, regardless of what actions the United States takes or who sits in the Oval Office.


America’s ability to rein in the bad behavior of other states has diminished, not because the United States is in decline, but rather because the power of our adversaries has grown. In East Asia, for example, the two most important challenges to the security status quo are North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and China’s improving conventional military capabilities. Both developments threaten the regional order in East Asia, and resist American attempts to stop them. Multilateral and bilateral sanctions efforts have failed to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which has come a long way with minimal external assistance.


China’s growing military power enables more assertive behavior in the South and East China Seas, despite displays of resolve by the United States and its allies. While many have criticized the Obama administration for not doing more against China, the simple fact is that as its military grows strong it becomes harder to deter China from using it. Beyond East Asia, after years of neglect following the Cold War, the Russian military is fielding new capabilities and pushing back against NATO expansion to countries along its border.


The growing relative power of America’s adversaries does not make the president obsolete, but the individual behind the Resolute desk is not omnipotent. They cannot always prevent changes in the balance of power or maintain the international order by dialing up the “leadership” they demonstrate. We don’t know what impact Donald Trump will have on the world, but the threats America faces would exist regardless of who won the election. The assumption that Hillary Clinton would be able to prevent negative outcomes through greater leadership on the international stage disregards the growing power and agency of America’s challengers. 

September 27, 2016 10:03AM

Clinton back to Debt‐​Free — Not Tuition‐​Free — College?

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Education didn’t come up much in last night’s debate, but Hillary Clinton regularly uses “college” with some form of “free” after it to illustrate how she would help middle‐​class families, and she did so again last night. Whenever she did, she referred to “debt‐​free” college, not “tuition‐​free.”


This sounds like a reversion to her old college proposal before she adopted more of the Bernie Sanders model—some suggest to clinch his support at the Democratic convention — which would spend federal money to induce states to spend their own money to make public college tuition‐​free for all but roughly the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans. It’s a plan that would presumably have greater appeal for people planning to go to college — why settle for no debt if you could have no tuition at all? — though the devil is in the details. Depending on how you structure it, “debt‐​free” could be even more generous than “tuition‐​free” if you promise to make sure no one has to take on debt not just for tuition but also fees and living expenses. Still, “tuition‐​free” probably sounds better intuitively, and Clinton’s campaign website talks about being both debt‐ and tuition‐​free. Maybe the idea is to sound more or less fiscally responsible, depending on the audience.


No matter what the plan, nothing with “free” in it is a good idea for higher education. None of this would be free to taxpayers, of course: the Clinton tuition‐​free plan has been estimated to cost the feds $500 billion over 10 years, and would cost state taxpayers billions more if states matched the spending increases to get federal bucks. The debt‐​free plan was estimated to cost the feds $350 billion over 10 years, also with state matching. Of course the “wealthy” would pay for all this, likely removing money from more productive uses.


Wait. More productive than education? Yes, because the evidence — to borrow from Donald Trump — is YUGE that current subsidies already fuel massively wasteful, counterproductive demand for college. Greater subsidies would likely exacerbate the giant non‐​completion problem from which we already suffer—barely half of students finish a two‐ or four‐​year program within six years — and driving even worse credential inflation. Already about a third of bachelor’s degree holders are underemployed, while earnings for degree holders have been largely stagnant for about two decades. Maybe most important, it doesn’t seem people actually learn all that much in college, with dropping literacy rates for degree holders and only tiny gains in critical thinking while in school. And isn’t learning kinda the point?


Hillary Clinton may be pivoting back to her old college plan. But it’s still a move in the wrong direction.

September 23, 2016 4:44PM

Clinton’s Domestic Surveillance Policy: Duplicitously Neocon As It Ever Was

The Guardian has a story out today outlining--to the extent that the Clinton campaign would do so--what the ex-Secretary of State would do vis a vis national security policy if she becomes the next occupant of the Oval Office. For those concerned with our out-of-control, post-9/11 Surveillance State, these three paragraphs should give you pause:

Domestically, the “principles” of Clinton’s intelligence surge, according to senior campaign advisers, indicate a preference for targeted spying over bulk data collection, expanding local law enforcement’s access to intelligence and enlisting tech companies to aid in thwarting extremism. 

The campaign speaks of “balancing acts” between civil liberties and security, a departure from both liberal and conservative arguments that tend to diminish conflict between the two priorities. Asked to illustrate what Clinton means by “appropriate safeguards” that need to apply to intelligence collection in the US, the campaign holds out a 2015 reform that split the civil liberties community as a model for any new constraints on intelligence authorities. 

The USA Freedom Act, a compromise that constrained but did not entirely end bulk phone records collection, “strikes the right balance”, Rosenberger said. “So those kinds of principles and protections offer something of a guideline for where any new proposals she put forth would be likely to fall.”

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September 20, 2016 11:17AM

Gerson: If Trump Wins, Blame ObamaCare

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Washington Post columnist and former Bush 43 speechwriter Michael Gerson has not always been charitable toward libertarians. He has been pretty good on Donald Trump and ObamaCare, though, and today he ties the two together:

Only 18 percent of Americans believe the Affordable Care Act has helped their families…A higher proportion of Americans believe the federal government was behind the 9/11 attacks than believe it has helped them through Obamacare…


Trump calls attention to these failures, while offering (as usual) an apparently random collection of half‐​baked policies and baseless pledges (“everybody’s got to be covered”) as an alternative. There is no reason to trust Trump on the health issue; but there is plenty of reason to distrust Democratic leadership. No issue — none — has gone further to convey the impression of public incompetence that feeds Trumpism.

Read the whole thing.

September 12, 2016 9:11AM

Was Hillary Clinton Fired from the Nixon Impeachment Inquiry?

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler gives a maximum Four Pinocchios to the claim that Hillary Clinton was fired during the Watergate inquiry, which has gotten a lot of circulation on social media. He makes a detailed case that there is no evidence for such a firing. However, along the way he does note some unflattering aspects of her tenure there:

In neither of his books does Zeifman say he fired Clinton. But in 2008, a reporter named Dan Calabrese wrote an article that claimed that “when the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation.” The article quoted Zeifman as saying: “She was a liar. She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”…


In 1999, nine years before the Calabrese interview, Zeifman told the Scripps‐​Howard news agency: “If I had the power to fire her, I would have fired her.” In a 2008 interview on “The Neal Boortz Show,” Zeifman was asked directly whether he fired her. His answer: “Well, let me put it this way. I terminated her, along with some other staff members who were — we no longer needed, and advised her that I would not — could not recommend her for any further positions.”

So it’s pretty clear that Jerry Zeifman, chief counsel of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate inquiry, had a low opinion of the young Yale Law graduate Hillary Rodham. But because she reported to the chief counsel of the impeachment inquiry, who was hired separately by the committee and did not report to Zeifman, Zeifman had no authority over her. He simply didn’t hire her for the permanent committee staff after the impeachment inquiry ended.


Kessler also notes that Clinton failed the D.C. bar exam in that period. She never retook the exam (passing the Arkansas exam instead) and concealed her failure even from her closest friends until her autobiography in 2003.


And then there’s this:

Zeifman’s specific beef with Clinton is rather obscure. It mostly concerns his dislike of a brief that she wrote under Doar’s direction to advance a position advocated by Rodino — which would have denied Nixon the right to counsel as the committee investigated whether to recommend impeachment. 

That brief may get some attention during the next few years, should any members of the Clinton administration become the subject of an impeachment inquiry. Also in Sunday’s Post, George Will cites James Madison’s view that the power to impeach is “indispensable” to control of executive abuse of power.