TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Rand Paul Bashes Hillary Clinton At CPAC

Rand Paul touched on Hillary Clinton, Obamacare, and his proposed reforms for Congress in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Watch #RealTIME to hear what he had to say, and read more here.

TIME

CPAC: Republicans Rediscover Their Old Hawkish Message On Foreign Policy

Rand Paul speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Rand Paul speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.

The threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria looms large

Rand Paul took the stage like a conquering hero Friday, his shirtsleeves rolled, his regular laconic manner turned fiery. The audience stacked with young libertarians gave him a standing ovation. But Paul, who became the reigning prince of the Conservative Political Action Conference partly by preaching his signature brand of non-interventionist foreign policy, had a new twist in his stump speech.

Paul tamped down his famous skepticism of military adventures, and replaced it with the more conventionally muscular rhetoric of Cold War conservatism. “Without question, we must now defend ourselves and American interests,” he said, in comments about the fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). When it came to the question of federal spending, he added, “for me, the priority is always national defense.”

Paul was hardly the only presumptive presidential candidate to focus on the perils brewing abroad. The annual confab of conservative activists, held this week outside Washington, has showcased the Republican Party’s new embrace of its old hawkish foreign policy. It’s a dramatic shift from recent years, when CPAC has been a forum for the party to air its grievances about the sprawling U.S. surveillance state. But for the past two days, speaker after speaker has sought to demonstrate their steeliness, earning reliable cheers by taunting ISIS and slamming President Obama for seeking a deal with Iran while snubbing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Likely 2016 candidates, from Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina, all roused the crowd by promising a tougher brand of foreign policy than the one practiced by Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Former Senator Rick Santorum, the runner-up for the Republican nomination in 2012, called for 10,000 U.S. ground troops in the middle to battle ISIS and urged “bombing them back to the seventh century.”

This view is increasingly popular within the party. A mid-February poll conducted by CBS News found that 72% of Republicans favor sending U.S. ground troops into Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS militants, an increase of seven percentage points since only October. That leap comes as the issue replaces the brightening economy at the top of newscasts.

According to aides to several candidates, the increased focus on foreign policy in stump speeches reflects increasing public concern as well as the belief among several campaigns that Republicans will have an edge with voters on security issues in a race against Clinton.

“Folks are getting beheaded over there,” says an adviser to one likely candidate. “People are seeing the failure of this president’s foreign policy on TV every day.”

The shifting political winds have heartened the hawkish groups who watched the GOP’s isolationist turn—and Paul’s rise—with alarm. “Rand and his acolytes hoped that if we left the world alone, the world would leave us alone. But experience is a cruel teacher, and beheadings and Iranian nukes focus the mind,” says Noah Pollak, the executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. “To their credit, many of the conservatives who flirted with the Rand and Obama foreign policy are changing their minds after seeing what happens when America withdraws from the world.”

The view was a popular one at an event that is a revealing—if imperfect—glimpse of the GOP’s current zeitgeist. “National security issues must be at the center of the 2016 presidential debate,” former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton declared onstage, and it seemed few of his potential rivals for the nomination disagreed.

Fiorina blistered Obama and Clinton for dithering: “While you seek moral equivalence,” she said, “the world waits for moral clarity and American leadership.” Walker, who has risen in the early primary polls by positioning himself as a conservative fighter, suggested he would take an aggressive stance on foreign policy. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” Walker said. (A spokeswoman for Walker’s political-action committee later clarified that the governor was “in no way comparing any American citizen to ISIS.”)

But it was Paul, who was most notable for having freshened his message. Back in 2011, he came to CPAC to call for cuts in military spending. “If you refuse to acknowledge that there’s any waste can be culled from the military budget, you are a big-government conservative and can you not lay claim to balancing the budget,” he said. This year he claimed “a foreign policy that encourages stability, not chaos.” His many fans here say they still believe his more restrained approach will bear political fruit. Daniel Jenkins, a 28-year old Iraq veteran and Paul supporter at Charlotte School of Law, says the senator’s foreign policy will have broad appeal in the general election. “It may not be the strongest point here among these conservatives,” Jenkins says, “but I think with Independents and in the big picture, it’ll catch on.”

CPAC is still Paul’s crowd, rippling with the young libertarians who form a cornerstone of his base. And the two-time defending champ of CPAC’s symbolic straw poll is likely to make it a three-peat when the event wraps up Saturday evening. But the annual confab has also signaled the challenges that lie ahead for the Kentucky Republican.

With reporting by Sam Frizell

Read next: Jeb Bush Pitches Skeptical Conservatives at CPAC

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME 2016 Election

Jeb Bush Pitches Skeptical Conservatives at CPAC

Jeb Bush speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Jeb Bush speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.

In the first pitch of his unofficial campaign to the GOP grassroots activists, Jeb Bush cast himself as a full-spectrum conservative who was in sync with the party’s base on economic, social and foreign-policy issues.

Describing himself as a “practicing, reform-minded conservative,” Bush made a game effort to ingratiate himself with Republicans who are leery of a third Bush presidency. Still, he encountered a raw dose of the disappointment that still lingers around the Bush brand.

Speaking on a low stage in a jam-packed ballroom split between hostile opponents and backers bused in from D.C., Bush drew a raucous mix of cheers, boos and intermittent heckling. “I’m marking them down as neutral,” Bush joked of the booers, “and I want to be your second choice.” A small number of opponents staged a walkout during the speech. Outside, costumed activists started a chant of “No More Bushes!”

The reception appeared to rattle Bush during the first minutes of his question-and-answer session with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, but the former Florida governor recovered quickly to enumerate the merits of his record.

Bush defended his support of Common Core education standards. “The federal government has no role in the creation of the standards,” Bush said. He noted that as governor, he championed school vouchers and ended affirmative action in the Sunshine State’s public universities.

Tackling the other main policy obstacles looming in the GOP primary contest, Bush blistered President Obama’s executive orders on immigration as an overreach that he would reverse as president. “The courts are going to overrule that,” he said. Asked how he would’ve handled the tide of unaccompanied minors who arrived at the southern border last summer, Bush said they should have been sent home. Defending his call for comprehensive immigration reform, he said there should be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “The simple fact,” he said, “is there is no plan to deport 11 million people.”

Citing his record amassed as the former two-term governor of Florida, Bush sought to rebut the “moderate” tag that critics have applied. “It’s a record that may be hard for people to imagine,” he said, “because it’s a record of getting things done.”

Bush painted himself as a fiscal conservative who slashed taxes, grew the economy at a faster rate than the rest of the U.S., left his successor with a $9.5 billion rainy day fund and issued so many line-item vetoes that his opponents dubbed him “Veto Corleone.”

Like other potential presidential candidates at CPAC, Bush laid out a muscular foreign policy position that reasserted America’s place in the world. “This total misunderstanding of what this Islamic threat is is very dangerous,” he said, adding that “the American people are going to reject what President Obama is trying to do with Iran.”

Bush suggested he was in step with movement conservatives on social issues as well. Responding to a Hannity question, Bush said he had no regrets about his reaction to the Terri Schiavo controversy, and noted he was a pro-life governor who believes in “traditional marriage.”

Democrats hammered Bush for the remarks, noting he has cast himself as a rare Republican candidate capable of bridging the party’s deficit with Latino voters. “Jeb Bush isn’t a new type of Republican, and he certainly isn’t looking out for everyday people in America,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Ian Sams. “Instead, he’s the same Jeb Bush who, as governor, supported slashing funding for urban schools and higher education, while giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations. Bush may say he can bring Latino voters into the GOP fold, but with priorities like these, that’s really hard to imagine.”

After Bush’s remarks, hundreds of supporters waited in line for a closed-press reception with the former governor. Aides handed out red “Jeb ’16” T-shirts and baseball caps. To enter the event, supporters were required to register their contact info with Bush’s Right to Rise political-action committee.

Bush took the microphone at the event to the theme song from “Rocky.” Of the question-and-answer session, he said “that was raucous and wild and I loved it.” He then argued for expanding the Republican tent: “There are a lot of conservatives out there in America who just don’t know it yet.”

TIME Terrorism

Why Terrorism Works: Jihadi John and the Fear Premium

Alan Henning
AP This frame from a video released by Islamic State militants purports to show 'Jihadi John' before the alleged killing of taxi driver Alan Henning, released on Oct. 3, 2014.

It costs a lot to identify future threats

What’s it worth it to keep the world safe from “Jihadi John”? In theory, the vast economic resources and intelligence power of the West should make identifying, tracking and detaining a single, brutal terrorist worth the cost.

But ease of travel, availability of low-tech weapons and our inability to identify future threats from the vast pool of potential terrorists make neutralizing bad guys before they become high-profile killers difficult. The calculation becomes even harder when you realize the enormous cost of counterterrorism investments and how many lives can be saved in other areas of life for the same money.

On the surface, it seems like a simple thing. Mohammed Emwazi, who was identified by the Washington Post Thursday as the ISIS executioner “Jihadi John”, had been questioned and released by British authorities long before he went to Syria to join the group, according to the BBC. Not surprisingly, some are already asking how such a notorious killer could have slipped through authorities’ hands.

For starters, it’s hard to know whom to watch. Investigations into the July 7, 2005 terrorist bombings in London that killed 52 people and injured 700 confirmed that the UK’s domestic security service, MI5, had previously come across some of the members of the plot. But the investigations [pdf] concluded that the huge amount of threat information before MI5 and the lack of evidence of an imminent threat meant “it would not be right or fair to criticise the Security Service for the fact they did not pay greater attention” to the plotters.

Similarly, after the Paris attack at the satirical weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo, French authorities were criticized for not doing a better job tracking the killers beforehand. Both men had been on U.S. terrorist watch lists, and the French Prime Minister admitted “failings” by intelligence services after the attack. But some estimates say it costs millions to monitor just one terrorism suspect, let alone the hundreds that French authorities say they would have to track to foil every possible future attacker, assuming one could even create a reliable and useful list of suspects.

Some have tried to calculate the total cost of such an effort. A 2014 study by John Mueller of Ohio University and the CATO Institute and Mark Stewart of the University of Newcastle in Australia, did a “back of the envelope” estimate to compare the cost of attacks to the cost of prevention. The authors assumed what they say is a common valuation of a human life of $6 million-$7 million and factored in their calculations the consequences of an attack, its likelihood of success, the risk reduction of terrorism measures and their costs.

Their conclusion: based on an estimated $75 billion increase in annual counterterrorism spending in the wake of 9/11 by the U.S. government, authorities would have to stop “150 Boston-type attacks per year, 15 London-type attacks each year, or one 9/11-type attack every three years” to justify the expense.

Such numbers are more polemical than scientific, of course: dollar costs aren’t the only consequences to factor into the equation. We may decide to pay extra to feel safe from foreign threats, or to fight back against those who directly challenge our political and social structures. We may value humanitarian intervention against terrorists who embrace genocide. Or we may think that the costs of current terrorist attacks could rise dramatically if, for example, bad guys got nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

National security hawks argue that we should pay with diminished privacy to leverage America’s technical superiority in electronic surveillance, which gives a lot of coverage for relatively little money. Mueller points out that the “Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Air Marshal Service and its full body scanner technology together are nearly as costly as the entire FBI counterterrorism budget,” which delivers a regular stream of arrested potential future jihadis.

Ultimately, if all we’re doing is paying extra because we’re afraid, though, Mueller’s numbers highlight the premium that fear factor represents. It costs a lot more to protect you from a terrorist attack that is statistically extremely unlikely to kill you than to minimize many other daily dangers, like auto accidents, gun deaths and falls by seniors.

That of course is the asymmetric idea as far as terrorists are concerned–use cheap but scary methods to trick opponents into costly, ineffectual countermeasures. In other words, terrorism works.

See our cover story this week, “The ISIS Trap” for more on the current calculation before the Obama administration.

TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Donald Trump Weighs a 2016 Run At CPAC

See highlights from his speech

Business tycoon Donald Trump shared his views on ISIS, Obamacare, and immigration at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, and talked about a possible presidential run in 2016.

Watch #RealTIME to see what he said, and read more here.

TIME Education

Ghost of Common Core Haunts Conservative Gathering

CPAC Conservatives Republicans Chris Christie
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME New Jersey governor Chris Christie on stage at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 26, 2015.

For the politicians speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington this week, it’s usually pretty easy to give the grassroots audience the red meat it craves. Abortion? Against it! Taxes? Lower them! Obama? Don’t like him!

But one hot-button issue was trickier than usual for some of the politicians, especially the governors who are likely to run for president in 2016: Common Core.

With one notable exception, the speakers at CPAC were against the state education standards, saying they hurt local control of education and took the power from parents and teachers.

On Thursday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal demanded the immediate repeal of Common Core. That same day, Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon-cum-presidential hopeful, slammed it for eliminating parental choice, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz questioned the conservative credentials of anyone who doesn’t actively attempt to dismantle the program. “If a candidate says they oppose Common Core, fantastic,” said Cruz. “[But] when have they stood up and fought against it?”

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took turns condemning Common Core for being poorly implemented and impinging on state control.

That was all well and good–anti-Common Core lines tend to earn hoots and applause from the grassroots—but whenever the questioning on Common Core probed ever so slightly deeper, everyone seemed to cringe.

That’s because, just three years ago, the majority of Republican politicians—including Govs. Walker, Jindal, Christie and Jeb Bush—not only supported the implementation of Common Core, they outright championed it. In early 2011, 40 states, including nearly all Republican-led ones, voluntarily signed on to the shared standards. In the next two years, five more followed suit.

In 2011, Walker included Common Core in his first state budget, explicitly instructing the state education chief to come up with a Common Core-aligned state test for Wisconsin kids.

In 2012, Jindal told a crowd of business leaders that Common Core “will raise expectations for every child.”

In 2013, Christie told a crowd of educators that he was sticking with Common Core regardless of the “knee-jerk reaction that is happening in Washington” among Republicans who will simply disagree with anything President Obama supports. “We are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue,” he said boldly.

But as the politics around the issue have shifted, driven largely by a grassroots base of Tea Party conservatives, all of them have tip-toed backwards, either distancing themselves or outright condemning the standards.

All of them, that is, except Jeb Bush.

The former Florida governor has, in the past two years, earned the ire of the conservative base by not only refusing to condemn Common Core, but by continuing to support it. That’s awkward.

Some at CPAC responded to this rift by ignoring it entirely. In a panel about Common Core on Thursday—entitled “Common Core: Rotten To The Core?”—a group of vehemently anti-Common Core educators simply avoided saying Bush’s name. “Entire Common Core panel at CPAC happened without mentioning the words ‘Jeb’ and ‘Bush,'” tweeted Igor Bobic, a politics editor at the Huffington Post.

But others, including Laura Ingraham, who has made no secret of her dislike for the former Florida governor, came at Bush swinging. This morning, the conservative radio host told the crowd that there really wasn’t any difference between Bush and potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, citing the two politicians support for Common Core as among their similarities. “So I’m designing the bumper sticker,” she said. “It could be, Clush 2016: What difference does it make?”

TIME

#AskTIME Subscriber Q and A: David Von Drehle

Welcome to TIME’s subscriber Q&A with editor-at-large for TIME, David Von Drehle, who wrote this week’s cover story, The ISIS Trap. He is the author of four books, including Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year and Triangle: the Fire That Changed America. His other stories can be found here.

You need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q & A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

flfoghorn asks, David, why does there seem to be a disconnect between journalists and “pundits”? Journalists get severely punished when they err while pundits say what they want whether it’s true or not and get off unscathed. Why would anybody want to be a serious journalist anymore?

Hi, and thank you all for reading TIME and Time.com. It’s an honor to write for you and I’m glad to take your questions. Here’s my advice for a happier life: Stop watching 24-hour cable “news.” You know, most people don’t watch it. At any given moment, roughly 99 percent of Americans aren’t watching cable news. So they aren’t listening to hours of analysis from the pundits who, as you point out, don’t necessarily know what they are talking about. If you must watch, then I suggest one simple rule: the more you see a person on TV, the less you should pay attention. Almost nothing newsworthy ever happens inside a television studio. So people who spend all their time in studios probably don’t know much about the news. As for being a serious journalist—I am lucky enough to know a lot of them, and they are some of the most interesting people I know. It can be very hard work, especially the part about keeping an open mind. But for the right person it is a dream job and always will be.

deconstructive asks, David, thanks for your previous books, especially Triangle. As an architect (albeit an unemployed one, but I digress), I tend to study human disasters like fires, etc. where business greed is enabled by design flaws to create tragedy – like Triangle, Iroquois Theater, Titanic, Coconut Grove, Hamlet chicken factory fire, Beverly Hills Supper Club, etc. (Hint – means of egress, people!) While safety laws are now in place, alas, lax enforcement can still create problems, but at least we now have rules that did not always exist back in Triangle’s day.

But today, while fire is not the greatest threat to worker safety, what do YOU think is, especially to the poorest workers at the bottom of the social ladder – like similar to the poor young women at Triangle? Also note that economic harm is still a threat to the bottom workers thanks to decades of low wages, though some states’s rising minimum wages and most recent moves by employers like Walmart and TJ Maxx – however reluctantly – may help turn the tide. But what other threats are still out there and not adequately addressed? Thanks.

Thank you so much! March 25 will mark the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Fire, and I agree with you completely as to the legacy of that horrible event. American workplaces are much safer than they were a century ago—and where they are unsafe, we have laws in place and we can address the problem through enforcement. I hope that the same will soon be true of factories in the developing world, where working conditions often resemble ours of the bad old days.

To me, the greatest danger facing today’s workers is retirement savings. Life expectancy is longer. Health care is more expensive. But the idea of working a full career for one employer and retiring with a defined pension is slipping into the past. I would love to see more creative thinking around the problem of how we can continue to grow the economy while enabling working-class and middle-class Americans to save more money.

PaulDirks asks, It is a well documented peculiarity of human beings that they are absolutely terrible at evaluating risk. Certainly the massive Ebola outbreak in America taught us as much. It seems to me that ISIS snuff videos are relying on the same phenomenon. Do you, as a journalist, consider it one of your responsibilities to tamp down on panic when it manifests itself or is it more important that your competitors are fanning the flames, so it’s in your interest to ‘follow the trends’ wherever they may lead?

I think one of our most important jobs is to help TIME’s readers make sense of the world and understand what are the real threats and opportunities. I and my colleagues certainly tried to do that during the Ebola epidemic. In that case we tried to focus on the danger faced by West Africans, the unsettling failure of established public health agencies like the World Health Organization, and the importance of a competent response in our globalized world. We’re trying to do the same now with the ISIS problem, where the immediate danger is not to American cities, but to the future of the Middle East.

deconstructiva asks, David, thanks to you and Alex Altman for covering the Ferguson protests. Alas, that area has not been significantly rebuilt and redeveloped – and as other St. Louis journalists like Sarah Kendzior has noted, nor have many other declining areas of the St. Louis area – so do you see an eventual repeat of more government problems, police injustice, and thus more protests – either in Ferguson or nearby St. Louis areas with same problems? Or as we saw in NYC and elsewhere, will other cities also “face their turn” of social unrest as social injustice remain unresolved? Or just go back into a hibernating mode and let problems simmer until the cycle repeat? Given government inaction thanks to GOP obstruction at national and state levels, I don’t see problems being solved on a mass scale for a long time.

I appreciate the shout-out for Alex, who did a wonderful job of reporting from Ferguson. To my first questioner: there’s a fine, young, and serious journalist for you.

I hate covering riots, and you have put your finger on the reason why. They are so destructive of the very neighborhoods and communities where they erupt. Over a lot of years as a reporter, I’ve covered riots from Miami to Los Angeles, from Brooklyn to St. Louis. And I have yet to see a community that wasn’t worse off when it was over. Businesses don’t want to locate to a riot zone. Families don’t want to move to one.

You earlier mentioned my book about the Triangle Fire. A main point of that book was that disciplined, patient political organizing can produce lasting change. You could tell the same story by writing about the Civil Rights struggle, or Mandela, or William Wilberforce and abolition—any of a huge number of reform movements. Riots are negative, even nihilistic events. Positive change comes from positive action.

MrObvious asks, Have any reporter ever reminded a politician that passing legislation that forbids Sharia Law or promotes Christianity that it’s a waste of time since it’s illegal according to the constitution?

Well, we try. Sometimes, in my experience, we find that grandstanding politicians are not really interested in the fine points of Constitutional law.

deconstructiva asks, David, thanks for your earlier book on Lincoln. Now, naturally using that as a lead-in to today’s politics, we know that today’s Republican party is not the same as the party that Lincoln led back in his day. Simply put, what happened along the way? We know that for a long time the GOP has been in bed with corporate interests, has long had racist overtones with the Southern Strategy, and now has teavangelical interests embedded as Establishment old-school GOP members infight with the Tea Party. This wasn’t what Lincoln had in mind, no? So what do you think went wrong? Thanks.

Thank you for reading Rise to Greatness. You are right that the Republican Party, like the Democrats, have been through a lot of shifting coalitions over the past 150 years. Lincoln surely would have been surprised to know that his party would one day become the dominant party among white voters in the former Confederacy. But he was never one to say no to any votes.

What was most important to Lincoln was that the United States live up to its promise to be a place where every human being has an opportunity to make his or her own destiny. Born into poverty and denied an education, Lincoln understood that for most of human history, his beginnings would have been his fate—a life sentence in the prison of poverty and ignorance. The United States was a new creation, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” He also knew that political liberty is rooted in economic liberty—the right, as he put it, to eat the bread that comes from the sweat of one’s own brow. To the extent that either party today is dedicated to those principles of economic liberty and political equality, Lincoln would approve.

Mantisdragon asks, Why does the GOP House hate America and want to see it attacked?

House GOP Stands Defiant Against Senate Plan To Avoid DHS Shutdown

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders are refusing to support legislation that funds the Department of Homeland Security without imposing immigration policy restrictions, a sign that the department is headed for a partial shutdown Friday night. The legislation is all but guaranteed to pass the Senate. But in the House, it’s a very different story.

I wish everyone in Washington would swear off the habit of playing Russian roulette with funding bills. And also the habit of exaggerating their criticism of their opponents.

Yogi asks, If the Kurds continue performing the leading role of military, police, and governing force in northern Iraq, including their lead in ground troops in the offensive in Mosul, do they finally have the power to initiate independence? Will the US ever change their stance and allow Kurdish independence?

This is a great question. It has been pretty obvious for quite a few years—at least to me—that an independent Kurdistan would very quickly emerge as one of the best-governed states in the region. However, the idea is anathema to Turkey, and Turkey is an increasingly critical piece of the geopolitical puzzle. I think presidents from both parties are likely to move with extreme caution in doing anything to endanger the stability of Turkey.

sacredh asks, Do you think that the GOP candidates will damage each other enough in the primaries that Hillary will have a relatively easy time of it or do you think that this might be a close election?

I think we are a pretty evenly divided country, with the GOP enjoying a slight edge in the down-ballot races and the Democrats having a head start in presidential races. So I will always bet on a fairly close race. That said, if Senator Clinton could create a wave around the idea of electing the first woman president, I think it could be quite powerful in an electorate where women voters outnumber men.

deconstructive asks, David, after watching ISIS tragedies and then stepping back and looking at broader picture of Middle Eastern fighting over time, I wonder how much ties in with the fundamental split between Sunnis and Shia fighting over the ages (as opposed to simple foreign invasions). Do you think their split will remain practically forever? While their permanent split into two different Islamic religions may seem unlikely, it did happen to the Christian faith thanks to Martin Luther. Of course, when Protestantism was born, wars literally broke out all over Europe. Now today, Protestants and Catholics are no longer fighting with bullets (except for past events like Northern Ireland, and that ended too). Might we see Sunnis and Shia finally stop fighting too, either through peaceful resolution or just going their separate ways as two religions, or other means? Or is that region doomed to indefinite pain?

I have been surprised and saddened to see how deep and violent the division is between Sunnis and Shia. Even worse, though, is the deeply cynical abuse of those divisions that many Middle East rulers employ to hold power. Divide and conquer is the first rule of government in far too many regional capitals. If we could somehow begin to see a more enlightened and positive brand of government take root there, maybe the religious strife could be cooled. But it is certainly boiling now, alas.

Thanks again for the questions! Keep reading!

TIME 2016 Election

What the Walk-Up Music for 2016 Candidates Tells Us

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, MD on Feb. 26, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

Like Major League Baseball players getting ready for their turn at bat, presidential candidates have their own walk-up music.

Most of the likely 2016 Republican contenders spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week near Washington, D.C., and while they didn’t choose the songs, the picks gave a hint of what people are thinking about their campaigns.

Here’s a look at the songs introducing the 2016ers.

Hillary Clinton

The Song: “I’m Every Woman,” by Chaka Khan

What it Means: Clinton’s campaign is reportedly going to play up the historic nature of being the first female president in 2016, much more than it did in 2008. So it makes sense that she took the stage at a recent event in San Francisco to Khan’s funk-inflected 1978 hit, which has become part of the feminist pop canon.

Bottom Line: She wants every woman’s vote.

Chris Christie

The Song: “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica

What it Means: After hitting a rough patch, Christie is attempting a comeback by emphasizing his outspoken nature and taking jabs at his opponents. He came on stage at CPAC to heavy metal band Metallica’s intense 1991 hit about children’s nightmares.

The Bottom Line: He wants to be Hillary’s worst nightmare.

Scott Walker

The Song: “Coming Home,” by Avenged Sevenfold

What it Means: After Walker took heat from the Dropkick Murphys for using their song at an earlier event, it was probably a good idea for Walker to come on stage to a more generic riff. It doesn’t hurt that Avenged Sevenfold, while not a Christian band, takes its name from Genesis 4:24.

The Bottom Line: It’s not going to be the Dropkick Murphys again.

Ted Cruz

The Song: “Wave on Wave,” by Pat Green

What it Means: At CPAC this year, Republicans mostly took the stage to either country or heavy metal. Cruz came on to the former, a song from a popular Texas musician that was also used by George W. Bush’s re-election campaign.

The Bottom Line: He’s the candidate from Texas.

Marco Rubio

The Song: “Cruise,” by Florida Georgia Line

What it Means: Like Cruz, Rubio came on stage to a local country act. One of the members grew up in Florida (the other in Georgia, hence the name) and the duo, who met at a campus worship group in college, are heavily influenced by Christian music.

The Bottom Line: He wants take his Florida act north.

Rick Perry

The Song: “Back in Black,” by AC/DC

What it Means: Perry’s 2012 campaign suffered because he didn’t get enough sleep. It’s no surprise that he’d take the stage at CPAC to heavy metal’s ultimate comeback anthem, written in honor of former singer Bon Scott, which even has the lyrics “back in black, I hit the sack.”

The Bottom Line: He’s tanned, rested and ready.

Bobby Jindal

The Song: “Country Must Be Country Wide,” by Brantley Gilbert

What it Means: Jindal is pitching himself as the ultimate political strategist for Republicans. At CPAC, he came on stage to a song about how there are country music fans all over the United States, or as the songwriter put it, “there are rednecks everywhere.”

The Bottom Line: He’s ready to serve country, er, his country.

Carly Fiorina

The Song: “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams

What it Means: The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is running at the back of the pack, but she hopes her ability to bring the heat to Clinton will help her break out. At CPAC, she came on stage to a song that went from being buried on the “Despicable Me 2″ soundtrack to being the hit of the summer.

The Bottom Line: She’s planning on being a happy warrior.

Ben Carson

The Song: “Life is a Highway,” cover version by Rascal Flatts

What it Means: Carson made a name for himself among conservatives with fiercely partisan rhetoric, hitting President Obama hard on issues like religion and healthcare. But his speech at CPAC was more subdued, starting with the song he came on stage to, a mainstream country cover that was on the soundtrack to Pixar’s Cars.

The Bottom Line: He’s moving into the center lane.

TIME 2016 Election

RNC Chair Turns ‘3 A.M.’ Attack on Clinton

Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, participates on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Md.
Ron Sachs—CNP/AdMedia/Corbis Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, participates on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Md., March 8, 2014.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus turned one of Hillary Clinton’s signature attack lines against her Friday, previewing a GOP theme in advance of the 2016 election.

Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference, Priebus criticized Clinton for allowing her foundation to accept money from foreign governments while she was service as Secretary of State.

“Taking money from countries like Algeria and Oman while she was Secretary of State,” Priebus said. “Which makes you wonder: How will those donations affect her answer to that 3 a.m. phone call?”

“I can hear it now: ‘Don’t worry, sultan, just send 10 million to the Foundation, and it’ll all work out,'” he added.

The 3 a.m. attack is a reference to one of Clinton’s most biting hits on then-Senator Barack Obama, questioning the first-termer’s ability to handle complicated foreign policy questions.

Tying Clinton to the Obama administration’s foreign policy record is a central component of the GOP’s strategy to take her on. Priebus’ attack is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

TIME 2016 Election

Watch Live: Jeb Speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference

Jeb Bush is set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Watch the speech live above.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser