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2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

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WASHINGTON, DC – (FNN News) – Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal dealt a significant blow to President Obama in his efforts to secure approval from Congress on his signature trade agreement, saying on Wednesday she could not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation trade pact that she bolstered as secretary of state and that liberals in the Democratic Party have vehemently opposed.

After months of delicately avoiding expressing an opinion on the controversial trade deal, Mrs. Clinton said the agreement in its current form did not meet her high bar for protecting American workers, the environment and advancing national security.

Her opposition to the trade pact comes just before next Tuesday’s first Democratic presidential debate and represents the latest and most potentially damaging break with Mr. Obama.

In recent weeks, Mrs. Clinton has taken a series of stands important to the liberal wing of the party, which has been increasingly swept up by the insurgent candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. Last week, she proposed doing away with the so-called Cadillac tax on certain health care plans, aligning herself with labor unions on undoing a key part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Last month, she came out against the Keystone XL pipeline, which the administration has not yet decided on.

But while Mrs. Clinton’s opposition to the trade pact could do much to appease Democratic voters and labor unions that have seized on the deal as a symbol for the perils of globalization, her decision to repudiate a major legislative goal of Mr. Obama’s — one she initially supported — carries significant political risks.

In a statement, Mrs. Clinton said she was still studying the details of the pact — the largest regional trade deal in history and aimed at bringing together nations representing two-fifths of the global economy.

“But based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement,” she wrote. “The bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”

As soon as Mrs. Clinton made her opinion known her opponents seized on her apparent inconsistency on the issue.

In a 2012 speech in Australia, Mrs. Clinton had said the trade pact, which would bring together the economies of countries from Chile to Canada to Japan, “sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open, free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”

“Wow! That’s a reversal!” said Martin O’Malley, a former governor of Maryland who is also seeking the Democratic nomination. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, called Mrs. Clinton’s position “a case study in political expediency.”

And, as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. contemplates his own run for the presidency, Mrs. Clinton risks alienating Mr. Obama’s coalition of African-American supporters, partly drawn to her candidacy because of her loyal service in the Obama administration.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Biden have similar records on many issues, but by rejecting policies like the trade pact, Mrs. Clinton can draw a distinction with him in anticipation a potential challenge.

Mr. Biden said in a statement Wednesday that he supported the deal and would help Mr. Obama pass it in Congress. But during an event with organized labor at the White House, he stressed the need for greater collective bargaining to help workers. “Folks in the other team argue it’s all about globalization,” he said.

Courtesy: PSB interview with Hillary Clinton

On Wednesday, hours before Mrs. Clinton first made her opinion known in an interview with PBS, the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, hinted at displeasure inside the West Wing about Democratic opposition to Mr. Obama. He said he hoped Democrats would “remain open to the strong case we have to make.”

Now that Mrs. Clinton has made her views known, Mr. Obama is in the awkward position of pushing a deal that could cement his economic and foreign policy legacy and that he says would “rebalance” relations between the United States and eastern Asia as his former secretary of state campaigns against it.

Because of late concessions to the pact, Mr. Obama has likely lost the support of some key Republicans in Congress, putting added pressure on him to appeal to Democrats who may be less inclined to get behind the deal now that the party’s most prominent presidential candidate has spoken out against it.

“I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in the statement.

She specifically criticized the agreement for lacking sufficient protections against currency manipulation, which she said “kills American jobs,” and provisions that benefit global pharmaceutical companies over patients.

But the current version of the pact is far more attuned to these issues than it was in 2012, when Mrs. Clinton supported the deal.

After the last two rounds of negotiations, in Atlanta and in Maui, concessions were made to cut back on the number of years drug companies could receive intellectual property protection and to ensure that tobacco companies could not use the agreement’s adjudication procedures to sue countries over their antismoking efforts.

On Wednesday, the White House released a report citing the economic benefits of the trade agreement, saying it would eliminate 18,000 taxes that other countries impose on the sale of goods produced in America.

Mrs. Clinton’s adroitly worded statement appeared to leave an opening for her to change her mind, should the deal continue to morph.

“I still believe in the goal of a strong and fair trade agreement in the Pacific as part of a broader strategy both at home and abroad, as I did when I was secretary of state,” she wrote.

The cautious rejection of the deal had echoes of Mrs. Clinton’s complicated approach to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which former President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993 and which still enrages labor unions and liberals.

In the 2008 Democratic contest, Mrs. Clinton tried to gingerly oppose Nafta, a central piece of her husband’s economic legacy. “The fact is, she was saying great things about Nafta until she was running for president,” Mr. Obama said of Mrs. Clinton during their 2008 nominating fight.

2016 Election

[OPINION] We Need More Saturday Night Live, Especially This Election Season

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Saturday Night Live has graced American television for almost 50 years, please continue.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – We need political comedy, not political correctness. SNL is the answer.

Saturday Night Live has been a staple of American comedy for almost 50 years. Founded in 1975, it’s hilarious skits, songs, and other performances have become iconic in entertainment history.

Many a famous actor has gotten his and her start as an SNL cast member, with many celebrities starring as guest performers. Here is a short list of some of the talent that has graced the SNL set:

  • Tina Fey
  • Will Ferrell
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Andy Samberg
  • Jimmy Fallon
  • Bill Murray
  • Adam Sandler
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Steve Carell
  • And so many more!

SNL is notorious for its election season performances, which become viral overnight.

In the 2016 election, several cast members had recurring roles throughout the election. They spent months spoofing debates, press conferences, interviews, and campaign events as their respective characters.

Take Alec Baldwin, whose Trump impression is unmatched. He has appeared in more than a dozen shows portraying the President, and has even won an Emmy for the role.

Kate McKinnon took on the role of Hillary Clinton and knocked it out of the park, also winning an Emmy.

Other characters included Larry David as Bernie Sanders, Beck Bennet as Mike Pence, and Cecily Strong as Melania Trump.

The 2016 election season was glorious, with some of the funniest ever performances. In my opinion, there is nothing more bipartisan than laughing at the faults of political candidates.

Democrats and Republicans alike can laugh at the hilarious goofs, one-liners, and relationships between Trump, Hillary, and all the other candidates and big players.

We all understand that politics and elections are serious business, but sometimes we all need to step back and take it all a little less seriously.

In our time of political correctness, the acceptable limits of comedy are shrinking drastically, which is unfortunate. Any joke that has anything to do with race, ethnicity, gender, age, weight, or religion is strictly prohibited.

Of course, no one wants to be attacked or discriminated against, but we’ve lost the ability to laugh at ourselves and to take a joke.

It’s one of the large divides between generations, with young people being offended at older jokes while not understanding the different mentality behind them.

Maintaining the freedom to joke about our political candidates is essential to keeping us light-hearted and united. It’s so easy for both parties to dig in their heels and attack each other ruthlessly, but if we can stop and just relax for a minute, we’ll see how much we have in common.

All I’m saying is that I give SNL and any other comedy group permission to go full steam in the coming election. With everything happening in 2020, we could use a good laugh!

Here are a few of my favorite 2016 SNL Election videos:

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Marcos Barrios is a Florida National News contributing writer. The avid writer and musician is passionate about politics and entertainment in Florida and abroad.

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2016 Election

[OPINION] POLITICS AT ITS WORST… It’s not just a DC thing!

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Randy Ross and his mother Betty. Photo credit: Randy Ross

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Recently I reported on social media a verbal assault my mother and I experienced while leaving local downtown eatery. A total stranger screaming his hate of President Trump in my direction while I pushed my mom in a wheelchair from the restaurant. While unpleasant, I chalked it up to my being as close as many can get to express their dislike of our President.

On Saturday, while returning home from an assignment here in Orlando the hate reared its head again. While traveling on I-4 I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize. Traditionally I would not answer such a call, but the nature of the project I was working on warranted answering the call to ensure it wasn’t work related.

Me: “Hello.”

Voice on the other end: “This is [not disclosing] from the Florida Department of Children and Families. I’m sitting here with your mother Betty. We are investigating a complaint of elder abuse in your home.”

Me: “I’m sorry. Is this some type of joke? Who are you?”

The gentleman on the other end reconfirmed. At this point I’m sure I begin breaking the speed limit to get home. I mean, I have cared for my mother for nearly 30 years. He continued, “There was an accusation that you had thrown your mother down a flight of stairs.” I immediately said, “Ok, I’m 10 minutes from home. However, I need you to step outside the home until I get there.” He agreed.

I had no idea what truly was going on and what to expect when I arrived. He could have been anyone holding her hostage or something.

In the interim, I immediately called my friend and Attorney Roger Scott and explained the situation. He confirmed I had the right to ask him to leave the home and didn’t even have to allow him to come back in. However, I expressed to Roger that when I got to the house I was going to speak with the representative and would determine from his demeanor whether to allow him back in. After arriving home and a few minutes of speaking with the representative I quickly realized he too felt the anonymous allegation was false. I then contacted my attorney and had him listen to the conversation, via speaker phone, between the representative, my mother, and me.

Now keep in mind, Roger is not a Trump supporter. We both are very clear in our politics. However, he also knows when something smells rotten. Roger further clarified that he’s heard the same allegation before on social media and that, if true, my mother and her medical advisors ad physicians would have stepped in long ago. Scott said, “I have personally been in the Ross home and witnessed the love and care he gives his mother. This is clearly politically motivated.”

After wrapping up the call with my attorney, the representative shared he would be talking to my neighbors, Mom’s doctors, and my sister in Indiana. He stated, “I feel this is something that will be wrapped up quickly. If so, I’ll call you in a few days and alert you to my decision.”

Yesterday, Tuesday, October 9th, that call came. “Mr. Ross, I wanted to let you know I’m closing the case and that we saw no proof of your mom being thrown down the stairs or elder abuse after speaking with neighbors, your mother’s doctors and your family.” I simply said, “Thank you,” and hung up. That’s when the reality of the situation hit me… I realized whomever had made this accusation had been successful in one thing…humiliating me and my family. It could have stopped there. But that’s not how I roll. I wanted to speak up and out for all Americans that happen to have a voice and support our President.

Here’s the reality. Since I accepted the role of Orange County Chairman for Trump in 2015 I have faced enormous pushback from former friends and the community of people who don’t like our President. It was seemingly impossible for them to believe you can be a gay conservative, let alone one that supports President Trump.

Trust, I’ve heard it all. False allegations that I drugged and raped multiple people. I’ve received more death threats and threats of violence towards me than I care to mention. One threat in particular suggested, “I hope to wipe the blood of your crippled mother on the streets of downtown Orlando.” See a pattern? I’ve heard pretty much anything and everything horrible that could be said, all categorically false. But I don’t think I ever expected someone would go so far as to make such a false allegation regarding my mother. One that had a different representative with a different agenda showed up at my home could have gone strikingly different. In fact, as the representative mentioned, “We could have your mother removed from your home.” My mom, who is 76 years old, 85 lbs soaking wet, frail, with severe rheumatoid arthritis, never had anything more dramatic in her life but a speeding ticket, could have been taken from my home, via a false allegation… and all because I support President Donald J Trump? Is this really the state of politics in America? Then again, I know my mother… she would not have gone quietly. And I’m pretty sure my sister and brother in law would have taken the next jet from Indianapolis to get here and straighten them out. Quickly.

I decided to utilize the various platforms of influence I have to bring awareness that I, like basically anyone with high profile support of our President, am a target. But let me be perfectly clear: I am not a snowflake. The silent majority is simply tired of being silent.

No, I’m not President Trump and I certainly can’t imagine the attacks Justice Kavanaugh must have endured, however, I’m realizing how pathetic those that disagree with my politics have become. You can’t even eat dinner without some nut job trying to interfere under the direction of “Chief Derangement Officer” Maxine Waters. But this?

I, and my entire family for that matter, support President Trump unapologetically and will continue to no matter the barbs and attacks sent our way. Imagine if some of that hate and negative posturing was utilized to actually make the change you seek? I guess that would require too much real work.

I’m not sure what will be the next attempt the left, or possibly those in my own party, will throw in my direction because of my successful support for our President. But one thing’s for sure: You’re messing with the wrong American. Elder abuse is a very, very serious issue. The idea that anyone would ignore the needs of a senior is unimaginable to me. However, using the fact that I care for a senior, who happens to be my mother, as a tool for political gain? Well, there’s a special place in hell for people like that!

_________________________________________

Randy Ross is a political contributor for Florida National News.

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2016 Election

Trump travel ban partly reinstated; fall court arguments set

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to go forward with a limited version of its ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries, a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency.

The justices will hear full arguments in October in the case that has stirred heated emotions across the nation. In the meantime, the court said Monday that Trump’s ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts.

The administration has said the 90-day ban was needed on national security grounds to allow an internal review of screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries. Opponents say the ban is unlawful, based on visitors’ Muslim religion. The administration review should be complete before Oct. 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.

A 120-day ban on refugees also is being allowed to take effect on a limited basis.

Three of the court’s conservative justices said they would have let the complete bans take effect.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, said the government has shown it is likely to succeed on the merits of the case, and that it will suffer irreparable harm with any interference. Thomas said the government’s interest in preserving national security outweighs any hardship to people denied entry into the country.

Some immigration lawyers said the limited nature of the ban and the silence of the court’s liberals on the issue Monday suggested that the court had not handed Trump much of a victory. They said relatively few people would fall under the ban because people coming to study, work or visit family members in the United States already have sufficient relationships with others already is in the country.

Trump, though, hailed the high court’s order as a “clear victory for our national security.” He said in a statement that his “number one responsibility” is to keep the American people safe.

The court’s opinion explained the kinds of relationships people from the six countries must demonstrate to obtain a U.S. visa.

“For individuals, a close familial relationship is required,” the court said. For people who want to come to the United States to work or study, “the relationship must be formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course, not for the purpose of evading” the travel ban.

The opinion faulted the two federal appeals courts that had blocked the travel policy for going too far to limit Trump’s authority over immigration. The president announced the travel ban a week after he took office in January and revised it in March after setbacks in court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination. That court also put a hold on separate aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees in the current government spending year that ends September 30.

Trump’s first executive order on travel applied to travelers from Iraq and well as the six countries, and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports over the last weekend in January as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out whom the order covered and how it was to be implemented.

A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy.

In March, Trump issued the narrower order.

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