2nd Democratic Debate: Paris Attacks Shift Focus to National Security

Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

After a moment of silence in honor and recognition of the horror there, it was a chief topic generating questions and conversation addressing voting records, political actions taken by someone like former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the opinions of fellow candidates looking at history’s past, decisions made, strategies undertake by the current administration relating to the war on terror, the ongoing fight against ISIS and continued efforts to prevent the carnage in Paris from ever happening in America, stop anything looking remotely like another 9-11. Including hard hitting questions on what is America’s role, place in the world, on the world stage, where and how are we most effective in meeting the goals of not only keeping our people safe, but making the entire globe, in the era of globalization, safer; did we underestimate ISIS, wasn’t the lesson of Iraq to have a plan, a strategy for after, moves such as toppling a dictator? Grounded perspectives on how difficult it is to build sustainable democracies, invest in sustainable development accounting for the failures, “mess” currently comprising the Middle East. Martin O’Malley calling for new thinking from elected Washington leadership, almost pleading with those in power to understand what we see is the new face of warfare and conflict in the 21st century. Bernie Sanders emphasizing the need for a coalition heavily comprised, dependent upon Arab, Muslim countries not affiliated, interested in radicalism saying they are going to have to get their hands dirty, provide troops on the ground. Hillary Clinton on the same page calling it not America’s fight, but the region’s fight, largely up to the people living there with the U.S. taking a support position; reminding fellow candidates and debate viewers there were terror attacks on America, reasons for terror against America prior to Iraq and having a strategy doesn’t guarantee, with any certainty, positive outcomes. Each explained why they choose the language radical jihadist to describe terrorist launching attacks against the west and western ideals; independent republican criticism on not being able to name the enemy correctly also means not being able to target it correctly, or so called being soft on naming these people what they are is being soft, weak in approaches to combating, defeating them, it is a bad idea to use Islam, the name of a major world religion, this way. Elaborating, calling ISIS, other terror groups, lone wolves Islamic extremists, Islamic radicals, Islamic terrorists, then attempting to enlist the cooperation, help of peaceful Muslims toward resolving instability in the Middle East is blatantly asking for the exact opposite. Still there were parts of the debate that seemed to be on a repeat loop from the last one; domestically candidates all hammered their finest talking points. Bernie Sanders on countering Wall Street, breaking up big banks, making the wealthy pay their fairer share in taxes, eliminate allowing businesses to hide huge sums of money in the Cayman Islands, using that to pay for free programs for everyone else. Scrap Obama care for a ‘Medicare for all’ type system removing ideology from the equation currently blocking Medicaid expansion in GOP lead states. Clinton arguing for support of the Affordable Care Act especially among democrats to fight republicans determined to repeal, building on the ACA to make it better, reining in pharmaceutical companies, advocating free community college tuition, debt free public college, raising minimum wage. O’Malley using his time as governor of Maryland as the blueprint for what he would do on a bigger scale nationally, how they halted tuition hikes in his state, where he increased taxes, on which bracket of the state’s wealthiest citizens, and what he was able to do with those funds. Immigration centered around a path to citizenship for illegals committing no other crime than their immigration status interjecting some proportional perspective versus their political counterparts; O’Malley asserting ‘what we won’t here from that carnival barker Donald Trump.’ Subjects conspicuously absent during recent republican debates but present once more in democratic ones, gun control and race relations, criminal justice reform for Sanders. Debate noticeably subdued not just due to the tragedy in Paris, rather the seriousness given to issues, questions asked, the sophistication, thought put into answers provided. Not the entertainment the public apparently craves, what one reporter described as a food fight, outlandish statements, verbal brawls for talk time and who can insult others the most, instead the medicine, the reality they desperately need.

Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton essentially spent the night sparing over foreign policy leaving behind a, analyst purported, out of his depth Bernie Sanders; still Bernie Sanders throughout the debate doing a stellar job of pivoting questions back around to his key campaign markers, far better than Marco Rubio did on the republican side. Whether it was telling viewers how climate change and terrorism are undeniably linked; terror acts will increase as climate changes instigate more fights over limited land and water resources, a part of the war on terror often forgotten. Or expanding talk on Syrian refugees commenting how little of our military spending goes toward combating terrorism funneled instead into maintaining a nuclear arsenal, saying the cold war is over. Agreeing with his fellow candidates on the pushing talk regarding forming a coalition, allied groups of stable, Arab, non-radical countries to telling the public, and any of them watching, they are going to have to get their hands dirty, get involved, choose a side.  Similarly agreed by all candidates, they too need to take their fair share of Syrian refugees along with ourselves; certainly we need appropriate screening processes for those who want to come here, the Islamophobia needs to stop and we need presidential candidates to cease and desist putting forth possibilities of religious tests to immigrate here, to hold office, ideas heralded by the opposition. Yet why are they trekking thousands and thousands of miles, crossing an ocean by the hundreds of thousands while there are stable Arab countries available within which they can make a life? Arab countries where they would arguably be more comfortable owing to congruent, complimentary, even identical cultures, cultural factors, a better understanding of Islam sans the radical element. Stable Arab countries equally capable of, equipped to, defend their own boarders from any potential ISIS retaliation for harboring displaced persons, and committing their own troops, intelligence, facilitating a more secure world right next door to where they, not we, are. Sanders confronting America’s place in the world bolstering the strong argument that it be supportive alone, using sobering statistics on the costs of war to the human beings who fight it. Roughly 500,000 returning home with PTSD and traumatic brain injury poignantly parlayed into a statement on abysmal veteran care, promises to rectify that when elected. Looking at the Clinton O’Malley matchup, sections of universal consensus among participants, how can you not agree with all parties on stage other nations, particularly the moderate Muslim, or non-Muslim ones in the region should not be shamed, cajoled into cleaning up their own back yard mess? Here republicans too agree; difference is in the tone, they think they will be able to achieve their cooperation, involvement with bravado and threats, economic incentives or punishing sanctions. Democrats believe in at least attempting diplomacy, understanding and laying out mutual benefits. O’Malley continually chastising current administration, current politicians, stage mates for a lack of vision, lack of anticipating potential terror threats and estimating consequences of planned actions. While Martin O’Malley is right about this being the new face of warfare and no longer solvable by sending in the 3rd marine division, he is wrong in claiming we roam the world seeking another dictator to topple. Wrong, the greatest failure of the last 10-15 years isn’t a lack of cultivated human intelligence, failure of effective leadership leveled at president Obama by both republicans, and to a lesser extent now him, it is the failure of the rest of the world, specifically the non-radicalized Arab world, to participate in global events affecting them most. When questions kept being raised about lessons learned in Iraq, Afghanistan, as a voter, I kept thinking isn’t that a republican problem not a democratic one; George W. Bush was the guy who stood in front of a banner reading mission accomplished when it clearly wasn’t, his administration that seemed to lack a sufficient understanding of the aftermath, unintended consequences to both countries he invaded, didn’t possess the far reaching, forward thinking to see what came next. Not democrats who have deftly threaded the needle between fulfilling our responsibility, role as a world power and not overextending us any more than we already are cleaning up past mistakes. Republicans are the ones who wrote a borderline seditious letter to Iran and repeatedly beat the drums of war here at home. Clinton plainly and truthfully underscoring that having a plan doesn’t mean things go according to your laid out sequence of desired milestones, benchmarks; was there realistically a way to predict the Arab spring, what Libya devolved into post the people toppling their oppressive dictator, post successful free elections? Moreover, was there anything we could do about it considering increasingly isolationist republicans, a war weary citizenry and lessons learned even O’Malley acknowledges on how hard it is to rebuild these areas from a psychological, mentality, ideology standpoint, not just brick and mortar, restoring roads, bridges, providing a place for business? Honestly his comprehension related to foreign policy sounds too philosophical, too theoretical to be of any practical use. Further, ‘because it will destabilize a region,’ AKA is too complex, is not a sufficient reason to leave a dictator in power making use of rape rooms and mass genocide to rule, but Bernie Sanders doesn’t like regime change never quite answering the question on a viable alternative. One of the reasons Syria today is a quagmire within a quagmire, to quote Sanders, is that we didn’t get involved when we probably should have, learning who the true rebels were and assisting them before ISIS became intermingled in the resulting chaos, vacuum, oh.

Hillary Clinton has it right again in not naming the conflict in the middle east, correcting the destabilization of the Middle East, Iraq and the U.S. invasion of Iraq aside, America’s fight. If these people want to be free of terroristic neighbors they need to take responsibility for that freedom, make the efforts they can aiming for that goal; if they are seeking democracy, independence to choose their governing body, governing structure, they too are going to have to give some thought to after, to beyond just removing their dictator. Our job in that context is to figure out how best to facilitate said thinking, facilitate free, democratic rule, muscles we don’t know how to flex and should learn how to flex pretty fast considering where the world is. Naming it America’s fight not only scares the American people into thinking we are poised to lose more of our young people, you will send off more of their sons and daughters to die, but, beyond feeding stereotypes of our apparent selfish nature, having our own problems now needing serious, immediate attention, plainly not possessing the resources to expend toward military efforts and nation building abroad, desperate need to use those resources at home. It increases the perception of America as meddling bullies trying to force their values, way of life on people who don’t want it. And, allows regional leaders, the rest of the international community, fellow western nations too, to abdicate responsibility. Ultimately leading to prolonged civil unrest when intervening forces trying to render aid and assistance have such a negative historical connotation with the area, tribal, religious and other longstanding conflicts unique to the Middle East were not amicably resolved by the people, entities directly impacted by them. Here is the forward thinking O’Malley accuses his fellow candidates, the current Whitehouse of not having. She is also correct, along with Mr. O’Malley, when she uses the phrase radical jihadist rejecting radical Islam to denote terrorists. Because any time you relate the religion of Islam and by default, extension, all Muslims to terrorism you anger otherwise moderate, peaceful people possibly to the point of extremism and violence. Secondly their choice solidifies the idea to America, its people we are not at war with Islam, we are not at war with Muslims, all persons who identify themselves as such are not created equal, as in evil, are not to be painted with the same brush, the enemy, monsters who deserve to die, or at the very least, be run out of your neighborhood, school, community center, state, country. Thus distinguishing between radical jihadists, terrorists using religion as a reason to engage in violence and those who calmly practice Islam cuts down on shunning, persecution, harassment, violence perpetrated against them here only escalating hatred on all sides, escalating global distain for the west as a whole, not limited to America. Cuts down on the consuming fear every person wearing a burka, head scarf, turban, looking Arab, possessing ‘that’ accent is a silent, hidden threat, cuts down on peripheral violence enacted against unrelated groups from that part of the world. Who could forget the Sikh temple shooting conducted because the shooter mistook them for Muslims? Words matter senator Sanders and the term used to define terror groups, terrorist individuals important precisely because how we define them colors how they define us. Yes it’s true radical jihadists want to destroy the west and its bastion America, true they believe in the subjugation of women, varying forms of child abuse and are unequivocally a danger to modern society; however, the same could be, and has been, said about Christianity, variations of Christianity. We, therefore must be extremely careful in walking the line between standing up for values, fighting radicalism, extreme conservatism housed in the perversion of the Muslim faith and Muslim religious freedom, how people from there choose to live their lives as a sign of spiritual purity, religious piety. A coalition is a hard enough sell without angering them by denigrating their religious beliefs; step one in actually getting that coalition’s parties to the table to talk about formation of an allied group with a goal of preventing, irradiating radicalization is changing our vocabulary to accurately reflect those we mean and those we don’t. Words matter haphazardly attaching Islam to existing terror groups because they use it as a cloak to do horrible things is asking for an indignant, insulted no. Disconnecting terror exclusively from the word Islam also allows room in our thinking, citizen to government official, for potential terrorism not committed by jihadist, religiously motivated groups, lone wolf radicalized persons.

On domestic issues the economy, healthcare, immigration it was an exact mirror of the last debate an, albeit civil, back and forth about how to pay for aids to the middle class, bettering minimum health, opportunity encompassing all, getting slightly more interesting. For it being his area of expertise, his reason for running Bernie Sanders really fell down on the job, hampered his chance at being the nominee unable to tell the wealthiest Americans exactly how high he would raise their taxes only remarking it would not be as high as Eisenhower’s 90%, a turns out factual number. He even botched numbers on the wealthiest nation’s income disparity gap during his closing statement claiming America held the largest income difference; expect there are several according to USA Today’s fact checking team. Contrast Hillary Clinton who explained exactly how she would keep rising prescription drug costs from being passed to the consumer, pushing for the legal right of Medicare to negotiate for lower prices; advocated building on the ACA to improve it, what exceedingly needs to be done as opposed to confusing the public repeatedly with yet another new system. Plus a Medicare for all plan requires eliminating Medicaid and the full coverage needed by the poorest, the sickest persons and families; better would be to legally mandate the Medicaid expansion being stalled in GOP lead states due to ideology, a visceral hatred of Obama. Clinton who reiterated why simply breaking up the big banks won’t cut it, doubling down on the reality they weren’t the only ones American taxpayers bailed out, the only ones who need proper monitoring. No there is no proof Mr. Sanders that Wall Street played by the rules and the feeling, if not the factual representation, is that their business model is fraud; all the more reason to enact new, different rules adequately regulating them. Every country requires a financial sector, a stock index; what they do after that is up to their rules and choices. She made her points on debt free college versus completely free college, the unfairness of the taxpayer, public programs paying for Donald Trump’s kids to attend school. Speaking of college, Martin O’Malley didn’t help himself, his presidential run not updating his information on tuition freeze states, since his is no longer the only one, Maine joining Maryland in the movement. Hillary Clinton sounding off about the minimum wage and wage stagnation not changed the past 15 years, though not entirely accurate in that wages have risen 7% during her specified timeframe, it goes to the growing trend of wage stagnation, marginal, hardly noticed in the average paycheck, definitively not enough to improve quality of life, pay an extra bill monies given to workers. The research driven fact that wages aren’t keeping up with inflation; people are working longer and longer hours, taking on second, sometimes third, jobs and not getting ahead. Worth mentioning too, commenting on the on stage battle over dollar amount increases to minimum wage, her hammered for 12 over their 15; her sole rational is 15 places us in utterly uncharted territory housing no international comparison. Shouldn’t we err on the side of caution eying political opposition, the backlash if it in any way, shape or form goes wrong, should lead to any measurable job loss? If we don’t, workers won’t see pay increases for decades and we don’t want to be Australia who raised their minimum wages too high too fast, we don’t want to be the EU who learned the hard way austerity measures to the degree they were implemented don’t work.  Obvious as well, states containing a substantially higher cost of living will have a substantially higher minimum wage, in the near future surpassing 15, that proportionality Ben Carson was trying to get across in his last debate, as they always have. Higher minimum wage advocates aren’t trying to bring down states already seen fit to raise theirs, only provide a living wage to workers more than supplying themselves with youth oriented luxuries, those for whom this is their main, steady employment on which they must survive. Immigration brought out a strange fact that net immigration from Mexico last year was zero; former governor O’Malley openly daring people to fact check him. Now before you go jumping up and down, tempted to write angry letter to Donald Trump, tell your conservative relatives the immigration debate is a load of crap, calculating the numbers is complicated; figures derived from the number of people coming to the United States from Mexico compared to individual, families here going back to Mexico. Direct, indirect measuring or not, spotlight on immigrant crime or not, eyebrow raising too, that number, the process to get it has remained virtually flat for years epitomizing the need for better immigrant population data, better immigrant traffic data. All in all kind-a taking some of the wind out of Trump’s sails, making immigrant rhetoric ring hollow similar to news outlets suddenly checking the immigration status of criminals after Kate Stinely’s unfortunate death. Flubs and fibs apparent, examining the nature of the lies they create an entirely different picture than republicans; they were labeled fibs primarily because no one that Saturday night said anything outrageous, completely off the wall. They didn’t manufacture ‘facts,’ say things off the top of their head or whatever suited them in the moment; their slightly off statements came from existing facts misquoted. They didn’t deny their recorded statements, records of votes, actions taken, weren’t in trouble for embellishing their life story and yelling media bias when they didn’t like a question. Analytical bodies agreed Hillary Clinton would have been better off widening her timeline; wage stagnation a common theme on both sides of the political aisle, differing wildly on how they want to fix it. Martin O’Malley not knowing another state had engaged in tuition freezes takes on a different connotation than Carly Fiorina’s, even Mitt Romney’s 92% of jobs lost were lost by women comment because it wasn’t just president Obama bashing Monday morning quarterbacking a situation they couldn’t have better dealt with. Democratic lies not destined to leave the country a worse place in the coming 4 years because the candidate elected fundamentally misunderstands data on key issues, exactly what would happen to an elected republican currently running.

Democrats were the only ones to bring up race relations or gun control, the mass carceral state, the protests on the University of Missouri campus regarding racism concerns other than to laugh at it when asked or call the resigning presidents at that institution weak. Donald Trump declaring he should have been president of the university and bombastically trumpeting there would be no resignations; Marco Rubio telling reporters he still didn’t know what those involved were fired for. To be clear, no one was firing rather looking at public pressure and submitting their resignations; Trump would not have resigned but would he have done what needed to be done to address student concerns, calm realistic fears, handle existing problems? As if we haven’t seen enough evidence, this year alone, police brutality and racial tensions aren’t going away, only intensifying; just before the debate more stories surfaced depicting police, via dash cam footage, contributing to the death of yet another black man, Linwood Lambert Jr. A situation that had nothing to do with the Ta-Nehisi Coats’ theory it’s what we send police in to do that generates so many problems. Because, though the man was initially escorted by police for acting paranoid, possibly delusional, subsequently admitted to having smoked crack, they were taking him to the hospital for psychological services, evaluation, observation; he was not under arrest. They had already made it to the hospital, pulled into the parking lot at the time Mr. Lambert became extremely agitated kicking out the police cruiser window, was even running toward the hospital to evade police; further, he was also handcuffed at the time he became combative. Officers next move, instead of retrieving hospital personnel to admit the potentially disturbed person, possibly high and having a bad drug reaction man they previously ascertained needed help, was to tase him repeatedly, violating department policy and every scrap of research from every corner of the research community saying doing so increases risk of death. Placing him back in the squad car, driving away, back to the police station to be booked on charges related to the broken car window; no one noticing he was unresponsive to the point of not breathing. Next Minneapolis erupted in protests over the death of Jamar Clark allegedly interfering with EMT’s on the scene of a reported assault, there was a struggle, a shot was fired and hit him. Witnesses state, once again following a pattern, Clark was already in handcuffs shot above his left eye. FBI dispatched to the city to investigate and calm protest tensions; the DOJ (department of justice) here too following a recent pattern, already investigating the city’s police force owing to similar incidents and recurring protests. Less than 2 weeks later, post-debate Chicago police released the dash cam video of their shooting one LaQuan McDonald, where he was shot 16 times by a single officer, none of the several other officers and cars present seeing fit, seeing the need to so much as draw their weapon forget fire. LaQuan’s story not new to so called liberal media first reported on in 2014 when he died and the city expediently paid out a settlement to his family. Perhaps too expediently, representing one of the oddities in his case alongside why it took over a year to charge the officer responsible for his death, why it took a court order to release the controversial, protest causing video, did the prosecutors charge of first degree murder, mandating a premeditated intent to do harm, have an ulterior motive of looking solid on such brutality while actually throwing the case?  Part of restoring functional race relations, positively effecting gun control is getting these psychologically unfit to wear the badge cops off the street; because, while being brought up on charges and having them stick is a step in the right direction, being charged is no guarantee of conviction. Remember the Ohio officer who stood on the hood of a car firing 15 shots into it and its 2 occupants acquitted by a judge; remember, everyone could sympathize with George Zimmerman’s fear of a potential thug, criminal, thief, violent individual, none more so than juror B-37, but not 17 year old Trayvon Martin walking home to his dads house in the dark, new neighborhood, being followed by a creepy white man. Fitting an all too familiar pattern as well, the officer who shot LaQuan McDonald had numerous complaints against him 18 to 20; George Zimmerman, though not a cop, was known as a nuisance caller to 911. And it isn’t just race relations impacted for the better by removing poorly trained, incapable officers off the street; it too reduces the mass carceral state beyond officers writing up nonsense violations, using traffic fines to fill city coffers,  picking on an ethnicity because you don’t like them. Take the case of Christopher Few and his 6 year old son shot dead in the course of an arrest sparking outrage, officers attempted to pull Few over for a supposed outstanding warrant, leading to a chase, ending in the shots fired killing the little boy; problem, state police say that no such warrant ever existed.  How about the female officer found not guilty after repeatedly tasing a man who ‘refused’ to show his hands to the officer then shot him in the back; clearly seen to viewers, the man’s hands keep ‘disappearing under his body’ due to the Taser shock going through him, instinctual response to cradle, reach for injured or painful part of your body. Still, she was found not guilty of murder; all examples of people who don’t belong on the street, wearing a uniform administering authority aimed at public safety.

Again, definite voter in 2016, Hillary Clinton gets my vote not because of my democratic political persuasion, although looking at the state of the Republican Party, how can you not have a democratic political leaning? Not because Bernie Sanders exhibited analyst highlighted weakness on foreign policy, has a completely different reason for running for president, not because Martin O’Malley’s answers on terror, international relations we’re good; he didn’t have a point on being more long sighted and forward thinking in dealing with the rest of the world. It was that her answers were better; not just in terms of clever word play and what makes a snazzier debate answer, but in solving given problems. The cold war may be over but maintaining nuclear arsenals and facilities, power and so forth prepares us for the other treats on the globe Russia, North Korea and Iran to be exact, keeps us from becoming the next Fukushima, for those old enough Chernobyl, prevents negligence with nuclear waste rendering large swaths of the planet uninhabitable, dooming humanity far more than climate change ever will. Hillary Clinton won on foreign policy for me by providing details, demonstrating an understanding of the complexities exerted on the Middle East, the intricacies involved in the war on terror, combating and defeating ISIS, her willingness to use the words, concepts of the political opposition in George W. Bush’s assertion we are not at war with Muslims, because she believed it correct, it articulated her point and showed it not to be something new. Domestically while Sanders and O’Malley may have an appealing point or 2, even this early O’Malley’s poll numbers are abysmal, he doesn’t generate the enthusiasm needed to win the nomination never mind the election and finally, the state of Maryland is not the whole of the United States limiting his comparisons and effectiveness in a time where we have to get it right. Sanders by now should be able to ball park how high he would raise wealthier taxes or explain why he doesn’t have the numbers; he shouldn’t be making flubs on income disparity regarding other nations compared to ours or be smart enough to limit his comparisons to westernized nations emerging nations to the world stage. Modifying, building on the ACA is not only less confusing, more feasible but something that was always supposed to happen; it was never meant to be a final draft of healthcare coverage, healthcare law in America from now until dooms day. Like the constitution really it was meant to be fluid, flexible according to need; public comment, concern and candidate response indicating we’re ready for the next step in an ongoing process. Sanders once more talked about what would happen when millions of people rose up saying the country belongs to all not singularly millionaires and billionaires, spoke to the need to restore hope in our democracy thus improving voter turnout, voter participation; things not handled from a presidential bully pulpit rather from a grass roots stance he should be running now and filing for president in 4 years. Juxtapose her, Clinton’s caution on the minimum wage, it is warranted and doesn’t mean more data won’t influence her decision getting us to 15 sooner than later; her statements on college tuition ring true as well as her approach to Wall Street. Nor is this a one issue election for me, not even 2 or 3 points of focus when listening to debate broadcasts; I’m looking for, of course, who talks most about the things I care about, but also who has their ear to the ground on current problems, potential solutions to those problems. Combining the 2 debate performances Hillary Clinton has the best overall package for me to win the nomination, the election and run the whole country all its facets, functions and relations to the globe well, fix things long ignored within our own boarders regarding wealth, inequality work and education so that people from now on have a better chance than I did.

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About Natasha Sapp

Proclaiming an edgy voice of reason to America,while bringing back the common sense to social issues.

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