TIME ebola

This Texas Judge Is Fighting Fear and Ebola in Dallas

First Ebalo case diagnosed in the United States
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins speaks to the media during a press conference on the status of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, on Oct. 2, 2014. Larry W. Smith—EPA

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tells TIME about the challenges of an Ebola emergency in America

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is the first local elected official in the world to oversee the emergency response to a case of Ebola diagnosed outside of Africa. From the moment he took charge of coordinating the Dallas response, after a man visiting from Liberia tested positive for the disease, he’s found himself with responsibilities he never anticipated. He made a point of visiting the home of the infected man without protective clothing, took the responsibility for driving his quarantined family to their new home, and has been doing what he can to coordinate the state and federal response, while keeping his voters calm.

None of that means he had to miss this week’s Cowboys game. During a moment of relative calm away from the Emergency Command Center that hums with activity from 7 in the morning to around 10 at night, TIME caught up with Jenkins in his downtown office Sunday at the old Texas School Book Depository, across the street from Dealey Plaza and the grassy knoll. He was wearing a black shirt with “Homeland Security” emblazoned on it, meeting with staff and catching the end of the NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans. They were tied 17-17. I sat with my back to the TV so Jenkins could watch the game as we spoke about the moment on Tuesday September 30 that he heard Ebola might be in Dallas.

“We’ve got a hospital with 10,000 employees, I’ve got a county with 6,000 employees and I’m the highest elected official in that county, so things are happening all the time and that’s one data point that was happening,” he said. “I wasn’t envisioning that an instant command structure would be requested by our federal and state partners and that I’d be all that involved in that, at that point.”

Judges in Texas are the highest administrative officials in each county, with extraordinary powers that are a vestige of the Old West when a rural judge could make a claim as broad as “I am the law” without being too far off the mark. In Dallas today, the County Judge has two main responsibilities: get truant children back into school and, in the event of a disaster, lead the county’s response as the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

A Democrat first elected to office in 2010, Jenkins cut his teeth in emergency response with an outbreak of West Nile virus in in 2012. Earlier this year he stirred up controversy by offering Dallas County facilities to house undocumented immigrant children flooding across the U.S.-Mexico border. He’s up for re-election in just a few weeks.

By Wednesday afternoon, after Ebola test results came back positive and following a series of meetings between officials from Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House, Jenkins was firmly in charge. That night he and others began sorting through the immediate challenges ahead: getting the infected man Thomas Eric Duncan’s potentially-toxic belongings out of the North Dallas apartment where he’d been staying, identifying and monitoring every person with whom Duncan may have come in contact, and, Jenkins said, finding a better living situation for Duncan’s partner Louise Troh and the three young men who had been placed under quarantine with her in the apartment. Law enforcement officers stood outside the door blocking the family’s exit from a home where they were forced to stay with linens stained with the sweat of a man infected with one of the most deadly diseases known to man.

“One of the first things we wanted to do is move the family,” Jenkins said. “The problem is that when you’ve got Ebola, it’s very difficult to find somebody that wants to open up a shelter or a home or rent to you even if you want to pay for it.” Jenkins said his office called the Greater Dallas Apartment Association, the Dallas Housing Authority and “basically called through every listed renter in Dallas.” All turned them down.

As much as with Ebola itself, Jenkins has been doing battle a contagion that can under the wrong circumstances turn just as deadly: fear. If people with the sniffles convinced they have Ebola start overfilling the Dallas-area’s already stressed emergency rooms—Texas has the highest rate of uninsured citizens in the country—perfectly treatable infirmities could become more lethal. If scared parents keep their kids out of school too long, it creates a whole separate problem in the education system—one, as it happens, that Jenkins would also be responsible for fixing.

That is why Jenkins obsessively reminds anyone who will listen of Ebola’s achilles heel: it isn’t contagious unless a person is showing symptoms of the disease. It’s the key both to stopping pandemic fear from disrupting day to day life and to defeating Ebola itself. Isolate and monitor the health of everyone who might be infected for a 21 day incubation period and, if they are symptom free, they’re healthy and you’ve beaten the disease.

To get this point across, Jenkins has employed some unorthodox tactics over the past week, like walking into an apartment where an Ebola patient had been staying without protective gear. Clearing the apartment of both contaminated linens and the symptom-free people in it was delayed by permitting issues and “that’s when I went out to see Louise and the young men,” Jenkins said, “to go into their apartment and see them as human beings and explain to them the situation.” But by entering the apartment Jenkins was also, at least as importantly, sending the message to the wider world that hazmat suits milling around or not these people, lacking any symptoms, were incapable, even if infected, of passing along Ebola.

Unsuccessful in finding anywhere else for Louise and the young men to stay, Jenkins said he called a local faith leader. “What I told them is there is literally no more room at the inn and I need your help,” he said.

The same impetus that led him to enter the apartment helps explain Jenkins’ decision to drive the family himself to their new home. Philip Haigh, a member of Jenkins’ executive staff, was initially set to drive the Ford Explorer while Jenkins rode along and spoke with the family but when they couldn’t all fit because a seat couldn’t be raised out of the down position Jenkins took the wheel and Haigh rode behind in a police cruiser.

“The sheriff’s deputy that I ended up riding with initially didn’t shake my hand because he was afraid that I had gotten too close to the scene,” Haigh told TIME. By driving the car himself, Jenkins sent the same message as before to first responders: until a person show’s symptoms, Ebola isn’t contagious and fear itself is the greater enemy.

Jenkins drove Troh and the three men to their new temporary home, where, according two people who have spoken with her on the phone, Troh is comfortable and understandably glad to be away from the apartment in which she was imprisoned the better part of a week. “They can go outside, they have room to roam,” Jenkins said. “It’s the kind of place that a young man can go out and exercise and even explore. Walk around. It’s a large premises away from other people.”

After dropping off the family Jenkins spoke to the press. “I’m wearing the same shirt I was when I was in the car for 45 minutes today with that family,” he said. “If there was any risk, I wouldn’t expose myself or my family.”

For now, pandemic fear has not gripped the better part of the Dallas area. Life goes on as before, except among the Liberian community here, where rumors fly about stigmatization at work and school and people typically prone to warm embraces keep their distance even from each other. With Louise Troh and the boys in a safe place and everyone who Duncan may have interacted with identified, Jenkins’ office must now wait and hope: that Thomas Eric Duncan survives and that no one else gets sick.

In the meantime, there was some good news. The Cowboys won Sunday with a field goal in overtime.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Supermodel Andreja Pejic on the Reaction to Her Gender Transition

Andrej Pejic is seen in Soho on Sept. 8, 2014 in New York City.
Andreja Pejic is seen in Soho on Sept. 8, 2014 in New York City. Raymond Hall—GC Images/Getty Images

And life as a transgender Serbian refugee

Before she started filming a documentary about her male-to-female gender transition, before she appeared on the cover of New York magazine or became an international supermodel prized for her androgynous look, even before she was discovered by a talent scout while working at a McDonald’s in Australia, Andreja Pejic was known to the world as Andrej, a little boy growing up in a Serbian refugee camp during the Bosnian War.

She has since rocketed to fashion stardom and is now embarking on a new, and largely unprecedented, adventure: transitioning from male to female while working as an international supermodel in the public spotlight.

Pejic isn’t the first internationally successful, high-profile transgendered model. But she does seem to be the first to start a career identifying as one gender, and then transitioning to another in the public eye. She’s raising money now to fund a documentary about her transition, and about how the fashion establishment reacts. She spoke to TIME about the project, life as a transgendered Serbian refugee and how the industry has reacted to her transition so far.

TIME: Was a refugee camp a challenging place to grapple with gender identity issues as a child?

Andreja Pejic: I had to learn how to navigate and how to hide it from certain people. I was lucky in that I didn’t have an aggressive Balkan father, because my parents were divorced when I was very young and usually it’s the father in that region that says “You can’t do that” and “I don’t want my son playing with dolls.” So I could get away with it sometimes. I just learned in what situations it was OK and in what situations it wasn’t. When you’re really young people think you’re going to grow out of it. They’re almost like, let the kid have fun and he’ll grow out of it or she’ll grow out of it. Or, it’s just a passing phase. Obviously that didn’t happen.

When did you learn about what it meant to be trans, about the possibility of living publicly as a woman?

At the age of 13 with the help of Google. I would dream about being a girl. I would imagine it all the time, daydream about it a lot. But I didn’t know it was exactly possible. I would talk to my mom about it and she didn’t really know. She was like, “Oh you don’t want to be a woman. It’s so much harder for a woman. You can achieve so much more as a man.”

I didn’t know there were medical terms to describe my feelings, that there were doctors and a whole international community of people and resources and forums. When I learned that it was very eye-opening. I was able to define myself.

Did you ever think maybe making this transition to isn’t a good idea? You went from a refugee working at McDonald’s to an international supermodel. That’s a lot to risk.

It was more about timing. It’s not a desire that you can really get rid of. It’s not really a choice like, “Is it a good idea or not?” It’s not an aesthetic decision either. It’s a constant need. Unless you can fill that need it just grows stronger and you feel that you aren’t living a completely truthful life and the longer you live it like that the harder it gets. Could I have lived in my previous days for the rest of my life? I could have. But I wouldn’t have been nearly as happy and I didn’t want to keep wondering for the rest of my life what it would be like to live as a woman. And I just felt like life’s too short. We are in the 21st century and there are medical advancements. They’re available and why should I not take that opportunity? I definitely delayed my transition. I was originally going to do it after high school but the opportunity to go out into the world and earn some money was definitely great. Modeling became a great opportunity. So I put off the transition but it was always going to happen.

Who do you look to for inspiration?

On a personal level my mom is by biggest inspiration. She’s always been an idol for me. I used to dream about growing up and being like her. She really sacrificed her life for her kids and I really appreciate that. I definitely did look back into the past when I was a teenager for transgender icons, like a famous model called Tula in the 1970s-80s who starred as a Bond girl. She was a leading model when The News of the World outed her. She wrote two very great books. And past models like April Ashley, Bobby Darling. I think that it’s important to recognize the ones who came before.

The unique thing about your story is that you transitioned in the public eye. What has the reaction been so far?

I never thought I would do it this way. I always thought I would leave the life and do it as privately as possible. So when I decided to go public with it there was definitely a fear of rejection and I think it’s something that every person fears before they transition. It’s one thing to have family support and another thing to have the world accept you. I definitely didn’t know what was going to happen and I thought it was important to document it and that’s why we started a documentary. I thought it was important to tell my story.

I have to say the reaction has been pretty positive. I think there’s a level of respect that didn’t exist when I was growing up, definitely, toward these issues. Because I grew up with, you know, Jerry Springer, and that was the only representation of transgender people, and how horrible is that? I think we’re all doing this to tell a story that we hope will inspire other people, in the hope that they won’t have to hide and possibly educate parents and give hope to transgender youth and anyone that felt different.

Read TIME’s Cover Story on Transgender Activist Laverne Cox

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Wendy Davis on the Filibuster That Mattered to Her Most

Wendy Davis
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis presents her new education policy during a stop at Palo Alto College in San Antonio on Aug. 26, 2014 Eric Gay—AP

It's not the one you think, the Texas gubernatorial candidate tells TIME

In June 2013, Wendy Davis made headlines across the country while standing on the floor of the senate chamber in the Texas legislature.

A member of that chamber’s embattled Democratic minority, Davis donned a pair of pink running sneakers under her otherwise business-as-usual attire and staged an 11-hour filibuster against a bill that included stiff restrictions on abortion across the state.

She ultimately lost that fight — the measure eventually passed and its constitutionality is now being fought over in the courts — but the episode became a viral sensation. Even those running shoes became Internet famous; “Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy” wrote one Amazon.com reviewer of the sneakers.

Davis was propelled to national prominence overnight, and she’s now making a long-shot bid for governor of Texas. But before her 2013 filibuster — which, she tells TIME, is not even the most important filibuster she’s staged — Davis was the daughter of a single mom and a single mom herself, experiences she has written about in her memoir Forgetting to Be Afraid, released this week.

She speaks to TIME about her struggle to get a college degree, her fight for reproductive rights and her favorite ice cream (it’s Rocky Road).

Your memoir is called Forgetting to Be Afraid. What inspired the title?
It was inspired by a Lady Bird Johnson quote. She was asked at least on one occasion by a group of young women how it is that she pushed through fear to do things, because she was inherently a very shy person. She advised them that you have to get so wrapped up in something you forget to be afraid. My whole life story can be captured through that idea. I had to make a way out of no way for myself and my daughter. Due to the fact that I was so wrapped up in trying to do that, I forgot to be afraid of doing it. Along every step of my journey I think that that sentiment really captures how it is that I’ve pushed through fear, put my head down and done what I needed to do.

Are you inherently shy yourself?
I was a very shy child. And I talk in the book about moving from being very shy to being a fighter, and that shift really came from the need to fight first for myself and my daughter and then next in the public-service arena for people who don’t have the same opportunities that I had in a myriad of ways.

In your book you write about your decision to terminate two pregnancies for medical reasons. Did that motivate your filibuster against the Texas abortion bill?
Honestly my personal experience in that regard was part of what I want people to know about me in hopes that it might help people struggling with the same situation. But my stand for reproductive rights in Texas was primarily motivated by my understanding of the harm that would come to women across our state if they were denied access to safe reproductive care. I have always firmly believed that women should be trusted to make decisions for themselves with their family, their faith, their doctor, and that the government has no business intruding in that most private arena. I fought that day for women, and men who love them, whose voices had been cut out of the process. In committee hearings at the state legislature, there were so many people that had signed up to speak and been told after several hours that their testimony was repetitive and they were cut off. I wanted to give voice to the people who felt like they’d not been heard.

But those restrictions were eventually passed. In fact, restrictions on abortion have been tightened across the state.
The first provision, which required that doctors have admitting privileges (to a hospital) within 30 miles of an abortion clinic was implemented right away. It immediately caused 21 of the 40 clinics in Texas to close. The second provision was set to go into effect on [Sept. 1], but a federal judge ruled the law in its entirety unconstitutional. As a consequence of that and while it’s on appeal at the Fifth Circuit I know that some of those health centers are considering reopening, some are waiting to see what the Fifth Circuit will do.

Was the filibuster your defining moment as a politician?
A lot of the people know about my filibuster last summer but as important if not more to me was my filibuster in 2011 to try to stop $5.5 billion from being cut from our public schools and try to stop a dramatic reduction in financial assistance for our students trying to go to a state university. Access to opportunity comes through education, and that is my primary passion and fight. And it’s why I’m running for governor.

You have daughters aged 32 and 25. Do you feel hopeful about their future?
What I see when I look at them is the fact that their mother broke through and got a college degree created a path for them to logically follow. I think about how fortunate they are that they have the ability to do that and I think about all of the other young girls in Texas who are those first-generation college students like me who don’t have the same path available to them. It’s that concern that motivates me most.

According to your book, your mom worked at the ice cream chain Braum’s. I love Braum’s! I grew up in Tulsa.
You did? Well, Texas is all about Whataburger. Oklahoma is all about Braum’s.

But your mom worked at Braum’s! Does this make you a traitor to Braum’s?
No, I still crave a Braum’s hamburger every now and then for sure.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Won’t Name Colleague Who Called Her ‘Porky’

Senators Discuss Legislation To Counter Sexual Assaults On Campus
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) participates in a news conference about new legislation aimed at curbing sexual assults on college and university campuses at the U.S. Capitol. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Her book is a call for women to run for office, though she says she has no current designs on the nation’s highest office

She still considers herself the “loud mouth” and “fog horn” her father teasingly called her as a child, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Monday that she is not going to say which colleague called her “porky” after the birth of her second child, or which elderly senator told her not to slim down too much because he likes “my girls chubby.”

Those disclosures in her book, “Off the Sidelines,” which is due out Tuesday, made waves when they were printed in People Magazine last week. While taken aback by the clamor to disclose her critics’ names, Gillibrand says she knew that chapter—the one about her struggles with her weight—would be “the one every women’s magazine would excerpt,” she tells TIME. “I use these illustrations as an example of much larger point. It’s important to have a debate about how women are treated in the workplace. I’m not alone in having someone say something stupid. It’s less important who they are than what they said.”

The New York Democrat is using her book to promote her push to engage more women in politics. She holds her own life up as an example of finding a way to have it all: the big career, two young sons and loving marriage. “We need new and better policies that support women and allow all women to rise,” Gillibrand writes. “We need to end the cycle of women studying hard, starting careers, climbing through the ranks, taking time off to care for children, and never again finding a job as good as the one they left.”

Gillibrand is frank about the hardships: dispiriting credit or criticisms over her appearance, being unable even now to afford full time help and coming home from Congress to clean the bathroom when you have three men in the house (boys, apparently, don’t have great aim). But she also waxes poetic about the good she feels she has been able to accomplish: passing health care for the 9/11 first responders, tackling sexual assault in the military and on college campuses and repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Gillibrand emphasizes that her flexible schedule in the Senate is what allows her to do it all. “These challenges that I face are common and not surprising, and I have it so much easier than working moms,” says Gillibrand, whose husband works in New York and lives up there for most of the week, leaving Gillibrand to care single-handedly for their two young sons in Washington. “I don’t have to be at work at a certain time.”

She writes about the importance of being unabashedly ambitious without the fear of seeming like, well, a bitch. “I was nicknamed Tracy Flick, the aggressive, comical, and somewhat unhinged blond high school student played by Reese Witherspoon in the movie Election,” Gillibrand writes. “It was a put down to me and other ambitious women, meant to keep us in our place. Yes, I’m competitive. I fight for what I believe in, and I drive hard toward my goals. Does that make me ruthless and crazed? No.”

Too many women, she argues, sit on the sidelines because they fear ambition. She says she timed the book to come out just before the midterm elections because she hopes to inspire more women to go out and vote, and to realize that political ambitions of their own are more achievable than they may think. But, when asked if she has further political ambitions in life, Gillibrand is clear about being happy where she is—and that her legislative plate is full with a reauthorization of the 9/11 First Responders bill and another pass at getting prosecution of cases of sexual assault in the military removed from the chain of command. Her bill fell six votes short of breaking a filibuster earlier this year.

She says she doesn’t want to run for governor and hasn’t the slightest intention of seeking the Democratic nomination for President in 2016 against presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton, her predecessor in the Senate and who wrote the glowing forward to Gillibrand’s book (“For Kirsten,” Clinton writes, “public service isn’t a job. It’s a calling.”).

But the book tour still means she gets asked questions about her future ambitions.

“Will you run for President?” I asked her on Monday.

“No,” she said.

“What if Hillary doesn’t run?”

“No.”

“Are you ruling it out?”

“Ask me in 10 years.”

“How about in 2020?”

“No.”

“2024?”

“No.”

“Which will come first, a third kid or running for President?”

“Oooh,” Gillibrand said, “That is such a hard question. I think they’re both off the table. Probably having a third—probably have a third would come first if I could convince my husband. I’d love having a third.”

TIME hackers

Founder of America’s Biggest Hacker Conference: ‘We Understand the Threat Now’

Black Hat founder Jeff Moss speaks during the Black Hat USA 2014 hacker conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas
Hacker Jeff Moss also known as The Dark Tangent speaks during the Black Hat USA 2014 hacker conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, August 6, 2014. Steve Marcus—Reuters

The hacker who has presided for 22 years over what is today the biggest hacker conference in the United States talks to TIME about Edward Snowden, Dorian Gray and hackers' changing role in society.

For one weekend every year, thousands of the world’s best—or worst, depending on your point of view—hackers meet in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Defcon. It’s one of the biggest hacker conferences on Earth, with about 15,000 attendees this year. It’s an event that some feel pushes the boundaries of legality, as hackers teach one another skills from lock picking and password cracking to evading government surveillance. The weekend is a celebration of hackish whimsy, the right to privacy and radical freedom of expression.

The light-up electronic badge needed to get into the conference can only be purchased with cash, and organizers collect no information about attendees’ identity. The place is rumored to be teeming with cybercriminals and federal agents alike, plus hordes of hackers trying to crack each other’s systems. Using the Wi-Fi is highly discouraged by some, for good reason: One room is home to an electronic bulletin board called the “Wall of Sheep,” which lists the user ID and partial password of any hapless hacking victim at the conference.

While covering the 22nd annual Defcon, TIME caught up with the founder and patriarch of the conference, Jeff Moss — better known by his hacker handle, “The Dark Tangent,” more commonly rendered simply as “DT.” With his pink t-shirt, short curly black hair, thin-framed rectangular glasses and a bouquet of badges dangling from his neck, DT looked the part of a pasty chieftain presiding over an ancient rite in digital dystopia. He doesn’t give out his age (Wikipedia places it at 39, which seems close enough).

This interview has been edited for length.

TIME: You’re ageless.

DT: I know. But I’m afraid at one point it’ll all come crashing down. What’s the horror movie where when the painting on the wall burns and everybody ages?

Do you have a Dorian Gray painting somewhere?

That’s my concern.

This conference has a nefarious reputation. Is that fair?

Oh yeah. I think there’s a little bit of nefariousness. The nefariousness is really more of an irreverence. You’re judged on what you know and what you can do, so it’s really kind of a put up or shut up culture, and you’re judged on what’s in your head, not how you look or what kind of watch you own. Sometimes people don’t know how to deal with that.

Is the Wi-Fi here safe to use?

It’s funny. It used to be you wouldn’t use our secured network because nobody really trusted it, they’d use their phone. Now everybody’s hacking the phones and intercepting phone calls and SMS messages, and nobody trusts their phone thanks to Snowden and all, and they want to use our secured Wi-Fi.

The last Defcon happened just after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden was first granted temporary asylum in Russia. Where does he fit into the zeitgeist of this community?

I think the cult of personality around Snowden has been replaced by concerns about what he revealed. Last year, there was sort of this sense of impending doom. It was like, “My God, what are you going to tell us next?” Now it’s like, “Ok, we understand the threat now. We understand what’s going on due to the revelations.”

Last year, it was just this sense that offense was so totally overwhelming, defense is helpless, what are we going to do, woe is me, the sky is falling. Now we’ve had a year, and you can see what the reaction has been: more energy than ever from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the [American Civil Liberties Union]. Hackers like Josh Corman [an Internet security expert] trying to make a contribution to make things more secure. IETF [the Internet Engineering Task Force, which develops the protocols on which the Internet is based] has decided that pervasive Internet surveillance is a threat and needs to be taken into account for all future Internet protocols. You see Google and Microsoft investing money to create foundations to audit software. Everybody’s responding in their own way, so this year it feels much more hopeful. I think that’s a much more healthy response. We feel like we’re trying to take our own future into our hands.

Nothing changed before or after Snowden’s revelations. The security researchers knew that of course that’s what the NSA or any government can do. If you talked to the hackers last year it was like, “Of course you can do that. I’ve been doing that for 10 years.” But now that it’s sunken in at a more policy level you can have the conversation. Before you would say something to your parents and they’d be like, “Oh hahaha. You’re paranoid.” Next thing you know your parents are like, “Oh my God. You were not crazy. You’re not my paranoid son.” Now we’re at a place where people can relate and that’s a much more healthy place for us to be.

Do you have any demographic information on the people who attend this conference?

We don’t collect anything. Just the number of people. This is clearly a record. We plan for 5% growth or something and we exceeded that. Nobody saw the growth coming and there’s just this dot com feeling of people piling in more than ever.

I mean, this is the first Defcon TIME Magazine has attended.

Yeah! Do you know who else is here? C-SPAN!

…Really…

Yeah!

First time, huh?

First time. First it was just hackers talking to hackers, and then companies came in, and then it was other verticals, like telecoms. Now all of a sudden we’ve got medical, we’ve got policy, government. Just when we think we’ve gotten as many people who care about what we do here, all of a sudden a new greenfield [in engineering terms, a new creative frontier] room pops open and it’s airplanes, pacemakers and smart cars. That’s why I feel like there’s this energy. It’s like, “Oh my god, they’re listening to me! There’s a new avenue. I can do something new, try a new skill, develop my software.” It’s like greenfield again. Last year it sucked and this year it’s awesome.

TIME 2014 Election

Republican California Dreaming: Candidate For Governor Neel Kashkari Charts New Course for GOP

California Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari Interview
California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari pauses during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Kashkari, former head of the U.S. Treasury's bank bailout program, discussed his decision to run for governor in California. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

TIME sat down with the candidate to talk about his stint as a homeless man and how the GOP is going to stop their decline in California

Neel Kashkari is not yet a name most Republicans would recognize, and he holds policy positions many Republicans abhor. But the former banker who spearheaded the 2009 bank bailout may also be the Republican Party’s best hope for salvaging its brand in the nation’s most populous state.

In June, Kashkari came in second in the California governor primary with 19% of the vote. That makes him the single man standing between Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who won 54%, and what is assumed to be Brown’s impending, unprecedented fourth term. Kashkari, however, says he refuses to let Brown coast to victory again. “He thinks he’s entitled to the governorship because his daddy was governor,” Kashkari told TIME, when asked about Brown. “It’s like a coronation. So, okay, this is a democracy. I’m gonna make him answer.”

A native Ohio son of two immigrant parents, Kashkari is not a typical Republican, which may prove to be his most threatening feature in the increasingly blue Golden State. He’s a fiscal conservative, and a former Goldman Sachs financier, who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage. He voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but has also been endorsed by Mitt Romney, whom he strongly supported in 2012. The 41-year-old has never held an elected office, unless you count being elected to lead the finance club at Wharton Business School (which he, half-jokingly, says was a very stiff competition). With coffers dwarfed by Brown’s $22 million war chest, and $2 million of his own money already sunk into the race, Kashkari has been finding creative ways to win the spotlight.

In July, he spent a full week living homeless on the streets of Fresno, playing out an experiment wherein he tried his best to find work and failed, sleeping in parking garages and eating at homeless shelters. It was an attempt to point out that things could be better in California, and he made a video to prove it.

This week TIME sat down with the candidate. Here is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.

The California GOP seems to be on the decline. There are fewer than ever registered Republican voters. A Republican hasn’t won a statewide office in eight years. The legislature is controlled by Democrats. Where did the party go wrong?

I can’t point to any one thing and say this is where they went wrong, or where we went wrong. I think it’s been a gradual decline. But that’s part of my mission. California is obviously a unique state, right? And probably the most diverse in the whole country. And I don’t think our party has done a good job reflecting that diversity, which is why I feel I have such a great opportunity to show the state, and show the country, that there’s a Republican party, a Republican candidate, that can reflect that diversity and reach out into the diverse communities and unite everyone.

So there’s embracing more diverse groups. Is that just one prong in a larger reinvention that needs to happen for the California GOP?

I don’t think it’s reinvention. One of the things that the Republican party has done a lousy job of nationally is explaining how our economic ideas help regular families. That’s part of why I did what I did a couple weeks ago in Fresno … We’re down to 28% registered Republicans. That data is right there. We’re not going to win another election if we just win the 28% of registered Republicans. So we have to grow our party. And what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half is reaching out into Latino communities, African-American communities, Asian communities and learning, What do you want? And you know what they want? A good education for their kids and good jobs.

Do Republicans at large need to be embracing the LGBT community more?

Absolutely. A few weeks ago, I marched in a gay pride parade, and the LGBT press said it was the first time a Republican gubernatorial candidate had done that. And my reaction was, Well, why wouldn’t I? They’re an important part of California, and I want to help them achieve their dreams. And you know what their dreams are? They want good jobs and they want good education for their kids, the same as everybody else. I’m working extra hard to reach out into every community, especially ones that have historically come to believe that Republicans don’t care about them.

Do you support same-sex marriage or believe, from a libertarian perspective, that it simply should not be banned by the government?

To me it’s the same thing. I support same-sex marriage. And I think the government shouldn’t be getting into any of our business. People should be free to live the lives that they want to lead, as long as they’re not hurting anybody else. I was asked about reparative therapy recently, which I think is absurd. The idea that you’re going to convert a gay person to a straight person. You’re as likely to convert me to being gay … People should be allowed to marry whomever they want.

There’s been a lot of controversy about the law banning reparative therapy in California. There’s also been controversy over a new law that allows K-12 transgender students to access sports teams and bathrooms that align with their gender identity. What’s your take on that?

My issue with that law is not the substance. My issue is the way it was done. There was never a discussion statewide. Parents were, frankly, not consulted. And all of a sudden this is passed, seemingly in the middle of the night. This is a real issue, and kids need to be protected from bullying … [But] we’re 46th out of 50 for education. This is the biggest issue that the governor and the legislature is focused on in education? We’ve got this Vergara case that just happened in June, finding that the civil rights of minority kids are being violated. To me, it’s a question of priorities. Let’s go fix our schools so that every kid—gay, straight, transgender—every kid gets a good education.

In the California GOP platform, unnecessary spending on social programs is derided. Are you prepared, when you’re addressing these issues of homelessness, poverty, lack of jobs, to spend money on social programs?

We’re spending a lot on social programs today. Those, in my view, are meant to be a bridge, a bridge to a job. But when you just push social programs, social programs, social programs, and there’s no destination at the end of the bridge—it’s a bridge to nowhere—you accomplish nothing. And that’s my big beef with both the policies that the Democrats and Jerry Brown have pursued and, frankly, President Obama has pursued nationally. Unemployment benefit extensions, more food stamps, more welfare. But to what? To what end?

Where does inequality rank in terms of California’s problems?

It’s an output. Income inequality and poverty are products of a failure in our policies, education policies and economic growth policies. If we get a lousy education, stuck in a failing school, we get left behind when the economy grows. And income inequality just expands. More people get left behind in failing schools. And that’s why this Vergara case is landmark. Because finally a judge has said education is a civil right, and we need to look at it through the lens of civil rights.

In a way these are issues that have been around since Proposition 187, and before. What are your thoughts about what happened then and how it relates to now?

To me, that’s old news. I always go into every community with the same message. I want your kids to get a good education. I want you to get a good job. And people say to me, Well, what about immigration? I say, Look, I’m the son of immigrants. I believe immigrants add tremendous value to our country. We’re a nation of immigrants, and we need to embrace immigration. But we also need to update our laws to provide the workers our economy needs. In Silicon Valley, they need engineers. Farmers need farm workers. Let’s prioritize those workers that we need. And then we need to enforce the law. There’s no point to having any laws that are utterly unenforced, whether it’s gun laws or immigration laws.

To drill down on one specific point, what kind of public services should undocumented immigrants have access to?

I don’t have a laundry list in my head of ‘These are what’s appropriate, and these are not.’ I don’t think that people are coming to this country or coming to this state in pursuit of such services. I think they’re coming here in pursuit of jobs. And the more we can grow the economy, the better off everyone is going to be.

It’s easy to draw a comparison with some former GOP candidates, like Meg Whitman, who came into the race with a fortune of their own. Is there a disconnect between talking about poverty so much and coming from a background that was relatively privileged?

Compare my background to Jerry Brown’s. My parents were immigrants. I grew up middle class, mowing lawns and bagging groceries. Jerry Brown grew up in the governor’s mansion. He’s worth way more money that I am. I said, Okay Governor, you want to talk about who’s rich? Let’s release your taxes. You want to do one year? I’ll do one. You want to do five, I’ll do five. You want to do 10, I’ll do 10. Do you know what he’s said since then? Nothing. So if I’m not allowed to talk about poverty, and he’s not talking about poverty by choice, who’s going to talk about it?

What do you think about the sort of anti-politician stance Brown’s been taking in recent months?

I think it’s the height of arrogance. He thinks he’s entitled to the governorship because his daddy was governor. It’s like a coronation. So, okay, this is a democracy. I’m gonna make him answer.

Have you interacted with Brown or met him?

No.

In other interviews, you’ve acknowledged that in some ways the state is better off since he took office. Unemployment is down, though still not ideal. Exports are up. The economy is growing. How bad are things in California now compared to when he took office?

Look at how bad things are now in an absolute sense. I went to Fresno for seven days looking for a job. I did not see a single ‘Help Wanted’ sign. But virtually all the fast food restaurants now accept food stamps. It’s in the windows. If you want to just hang out in the Bay Area, you’re right, things are great. But if we travel around the rest of the state and see where most of California lives, a lot of people are struggling.

Your stint of homelessness has gotten you a lot of national media attention. What was that like on the ground?

It was literally seven days, six nights, of walking miles and miles and miles each day, going into diners, hardware stores, auto dealerships, saying, ‘Hey, I just got into town. I’m looking for work. I’ll wash cars, wash dishes, pack boxes, anything.’ And the closest I got to a job was with one woman, who runs a Mexican restaurant, who said she was looking for a cook. And I said, ‘Great, I’ll be your cook.’ And she said I needed at least a year’s worth of cooking experience for Mexican food. I didn’t know what I’d find. I didn’t know if after two days or a day, maybe I’d get a job and then I’d spend four or five days living as a working poor. Or I didn’t know if after one or two days this might be so hard, I run out of money, I run out of food, that I have to pull the plug. But after three or four days, when I was running out of money, it was other homeless people who said, ‘Oh, you can go to this homeless shelter.’ So that’s what I ended up turning to for food.

What has Jerry Brown failed to do to address homelessness and poverty that you would do?

Here’s a Democratic governor with a Democratic super-majority in the state senate and the state assembly. And he’s making incremental changes. He’s tinkering around the edges. He should be Nixon going to China. He should be the guy saying, ‘You know what, as governor, I’m going to go fight for the civil rights of poor kids. And I don’t care if my union bosses are mad at me for it.’ That’s what a bold leader would do. Is he doing it? No. He doesn’t want to upset the apple cart. The thing that angers me the most is if anybody in California has the power to make big changes, it’s Jerry Brown. He’s not lifting a finger … In the face of record poverty, schools that are near the worst, and unemployment that’s near the worst, he does what’s politically expedient for him. That’s a hell of a record.

Now that you’re a few months out of the primary and 20 points or so behind Brown, and he has a huge war chest, what do you think your chances are of winning?

I was at 2% in March. And all the press said I was done. It was over. And we won the primary with 19% on June 4. And we’re now at 33%. So we’ve come a hell of a long way in just a few months. So Jerry doesn’t want to debate. We’re having the debate now without him. Jerry’s gonna hide under his desk. Let him keep hiding.

Have you heard back about debates?

We’ve received four or five different debate requests from media outlets around the state, and we’ve accepted all of them. And he’s hiding. Look, if my legacy were 24% poverty [a number that comes from an alternative analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data], I wouldn’t want to debate either. He thinks he can just cruise, not have to talk about poverty, not have to talk about education, not have to talk about jobs, and get away with it. Because it’s the coronation of Jerry.

In a lot of ways the bailout can be considered a success. A lot of people, of course, hated it, seeing it as the regular guys bailing out the rich guys. Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently with the bailout or that the government should have done differently?

We hated that we had to do it. We wanted to let all the banks fail. Because they deserved to fail. So for a year, they had been calling us, saying they’re in trouble. And we said, Flush the toilet. You made a lousy investment. You own it. Nobody owes you anything. But when we faced the Great Depression scenario, that’s when ultimately we said we didn’t have a choice. We’re gonna step in. There are lots of little things I wish we could do differently with the benefit of hindsight. But in the big picture, the collective actions that we took were the right things to do.

So you’ve obviously been getting creative with your tactics of late, crashing a Jerry Brown event and living on the streets of Fresno. What else do you have up your sleeve?

I can’t tell you. [Laughs.] The issues I’ve been talking about since the first day of this campaign are poverty, lack of jobs, failing schools, income inequality, canceling the high speed train because it’s a big waste of money, and investing in water instead. Those are the issues we’re going to keep talking about because those are the most important issues facing the state. We’re going to come up with every creative way we can. … And I’m going to make Jerry Brown answer for his silence.

TIME

Eric Holder: Obama’s Use of Executive Power Has Been Limited

US-JUSTICE-RIGHTS-HOLDER
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at Howard University in Washington on July 15, 2014 Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

Ahead of an expected lawsuit from the House of Representatives, Attorney General Eric Holder defended President Obama’s use of executive power and said it was a fraction of what other Presidents have done. Speaking to TIME on Tuesday, Holder said Obama had used executive orders far less than Teddy Roosevelt, and said that the Justice department had approved all his orders before hand for legality.

“I was looking the other day just at a list of presidents and Teddy Roosevelt issued about 1,000 executive orders,” he said. “So in terms of magnitude this president has not used this authority nearly as much as his critics would say.”

Holder also addressed his ongoing review of administration immigration policies, including consideration of expanding protection from deportation to include not just unaccompanied minors but adult undocumented immigrants as well. Holder also said he believes that westerners traveling to Syria and Iraq, where they can come into contact with skilled bomb-makers from al Qaeda offshoots, represent a grave threat to U.S. national security.

The interview has been condensed and edited for space.

Has there been actual direct contact between western Jihadis and terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq?

The short answer to that question is yes. We are seeing I would say an alarming rise in the number of American and European Union nationals who have been going to Syria to help extremist groups. I think it’s just a matter of time before we put Iraq in that same category. We have opened dozens of investigations into Americans who have been traveling there. At this point we have eight open cases in various stages of people who have traveled to Syria.

I would characterize it as a grave threat to our security. Every morning I start my day going over the threat assessment for the previous 24 hours over at the FBI, and increasingly the topic of individuals traveling from the United States to Syria and Iraq—Iraq is starting to crank up—that has become a real issue. We estimate there are about 7,000 foreign fighters in Syria, from the EU, North Africa, and some from the United States. They go there, they can become radicalized, and they can return home with the intent to commit violence. And they have the know-how to do it on potentially a mass scale.

Is that your greatest worry on the national security front?

Core al Qaeda has really been weakened, there’s no question about that. But these offshoots, even those organizations that have split from al Qaeda, are of great concern and the brew that is potentially in the mix there between these groups, getting together, sharing expertise, whether its Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the expertise they possess with regard to the creation of bombs, marrying them up with other groups. It’s the combination of these offshoots plus these foreign fighters. Those are the things that really give me concern.

How much of your time do you have to spend worrying about, thinking about and addressing the pressure from the Hill to constrain the executive branch?

We’ll have to see. There’s a very tangible thing we’re going to potentially have to deal with, which is the lawsuit that I think the House is going to file at some point. And the Justice department will obviously be involved in that. But in terms of the use of executive action, the president has appropriately used executive authority as other presidents have. He’s used executive action, around 180 times, something like that. I was looking the other day just at a list of presidents and Teddy Roosevelt issued about 1,000 executive orders. So in terms of magnitude this president has not used this authority nearly as much as his critics would say. But when executive action is proposed it is something that is reviewed here by the appropriate components within the Justice department and a legal determination made that the President can act in that way.

Have you reviewed the issue of expanding the president’s powers to grant reprieve from deportation proceedings for a broader number of people, not just children?

I’d say we’re reviewing that. The president has asked me and Secretary Jeh Johnson from Homeland Security to look into a wide range of things. So I’d say that we are reviewing the specific one that you had mentioned, but we are more broadly looking at the whole immigration portfolio.

Do you take a position on the philosophical debate over the purpose of incarceration, whether it is for rehabilitation or for retribution?

The purpose of sentencing, there’s a variety of factors: deterrence, punishment, rehabilitation. That’s all a part of what a good sentence is all about. But when done well it tends to focus on looking at the individual. I was a judge for five years here in Washington, DC, and it’s a combination of art and science.

 

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Joe Lieberman: Obama Administration “Has Gone Off The Track” On Israel

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-CT., during a press conference in the Senate Studio in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on December 31, 2012.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-CT., during a press conference in the Senate Studio in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on December 31, 2012. Douglas Graham—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

The former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee-turned-independent also says he is watching the rise of Rand Paul "with concern."

After 24 years representing Connecticut in the Senate, Joe Lieberman left Washington in Jan. 2013 as a man without a party—a Democrat-turned-independent-turned-GOP-endorser.

Speaking to TIME 18 months later, Lieberman is content with his decision to quit the Senate, but still has doubts about Washington’s handling of domestic issues and global crises. “I do feel that the Obama administration has gone off the track in the efforts to broker a ceasefire,” he says, saying that the reported terms of a U.S.-offered agreement would have left Hamas stronger from its ongoing conflict with Israel.

The former Democratic vice presidential nominee said he takes issue with the growing “neo-isolationism” within the Democratic and Republican parties, saying he’s watched the rise of Sen. Rand Paul “with concern.” “The world suffers and the American people suffer eventually both in terms of our security and our prosperity—and ultimately our freedom—if we’re not engaged in problems elsewhere,” he says.

Lieberman said he has yet to make a decision about who to endorse in 2016, after drawing fire from Democrats for his outspoken support for Sen. John McCain over then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. But he said he believes former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would keep the Democratic Party engaged in the world.

Lieberman was recently named the inaugural Joseph Lieberman Chair in Public Policy and Public Service at Yeshiva University where he will deliver lectures and teach in the upcoming academic year. Lieberman says he hopes to convince young people to pursue public service despite the gridlock in Washington.

The following conversation has been lightly condensed and edited:

Looking at the dysfunction in Washington today, are you glad you left Congress? How do you plan on encouraging young people to go into public service in this political climate?

I didn’t leave because of the partisanship and the lack of getting anything done, but it made it a lot easier to leave. I will tell you that my last two years was the least productive of my 24 for me and for the Congress really. And I watch it needless to say from here with a sense of, oh, disappointment, frustration, and in some sense embarrassment because I still feel an identity with the institution. And I know how important it is that it gets some problems solved.

Notwithstanding all of that, or maybe in some sense because of all the dysfunction in the federal government and government generally, but the federal government particularly, people like me have to try to convince students that it’s worth getting involved and that they can still make a difference and maybe together with others of like mind and heart they can actually change things for the better. I look back on my years in public service with a lot of gratitude for the various things that I was able to do. Part of my message to the students at YU is going to be I never got, honestly, anything significant done without the support of people in the Republican Party. In other words, I never felt that I could do it alone as a Democrat, and obviously in my last term as an independent I needed support of people in both parties. It’s all about a willingness to put—as formalistic as it sounds—to put the interests of country ahead of the interests of party or ideology.

How do you view the turmoil in the world today and the American response, particularly to the conflict in Gaza?

These events have occurred of their own momentum. They have a life of their own. On the other hand, I’m afraid that the U.S. has sent a message that we’re going to be less engaged in the world than we have been at other times in our history and I’m afraid that encourages some others to try to take advantage of us and our allies. It’s not just President Obama and the U.S. government, I think in many ways it’s the Europeans as well. And I’m afraid that may have encouraged Putin to seize the moment and seize Crimea. So the world suffers and the American people suffer eventually both in terms of our security and our prosperity—and ultimately our freedom—if we’re not engaged in problems elsewhere. So that’s a general statement.

I think in the Hamas-Israel conflict, which is just one of a broader series of conflicts going on in the middle east, the administration has been strong in supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against the Hamas missile attacks and the Hamas terrorist attacks. But lately, I do feel that the Obama administration has gone off the track in the efforts to broker a ceasefire, as much as everybody would like to see the violence stop. Because I think those efforts, if they had been pushed any harder—it seems like they have fallen by the wayside now—would have really allowed Hamas to emerge from this much stronger than they went into it and they began this. Israel is our ally and Israel is a democracy and Israel is governed by the rule of law. Hamas is a terrorist organization that is a declared enemy of the U.S. as well as Israel. And the last proposal made by Secretary Kerry, who I greatly admire and like, but nonetheless if the proposal was as it was reported, it really would have strengthened Hamas and weakened Israel. And in some sense coincidentally strengthened Qatar, Turkey, and Iran who are backing Hamas and weakened our other allies in the Arab world like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and the Palestinian Authority who don’t want to see Hamas strengthened. So I think it was a mistake and I’m glad it seems to have fallen by the wayside and I hope the Secretary tries again but with another plan.

Looking ahead to the 2016 election, what do you make of the field. Many Democrats are coalescing around former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, do you think you will as well?

I don’t know yet. It’s good to be out of active politics and watching it. I’ve known Secretary Clinton for a long time. We met briefly, though I got to know President Clinton much better, when they were both at Yale Law School. And I’ve known them well. So I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton and some of the things that I’ve worried about in both the Obama administration and the drift of the Democratic party which is away from American international leadership, I hope and believe would not be true with Hillary Clinton as the candidate, and if she’s elected, as the president. But it’s much too early for me, anyway, to decide what or whether or if anybody cares I will do in this campaign. The more fascinating part of the campaign, of course, will be the Republican presidential primaries.

What do you make of the rise of Sen. Rand Paul and the Republican Party’s isolationist wing.

I’ve watched it with concern, because honestly, as a pro-defense Democrat, there’s a way in which I relied for some period of time on the Republicans—and some Democrats, but not other Democrats—to support strong defense, muscular foreign policy, etc. Now there is a certain attrition happening on the Republican side, mostly among the so-called libertarians and to a certain extent among tea party people who are so focused on reducing taxes that they seem more willing than Republicans have in recent years to cut back on support of America’s defense. There is—I don’t think any of us have found the right word for it, so I opt for neo-isolationism. There is a kind neo-isolationism, certainly a retrenchment from internationalism going on in both parties and to me it’s troubling. It’s troubling for the future of the country.

How did this appointment come about? What are you hoping to accomplish?

It ended up with an unexpected result. Richard Joel, the president of YU, reached out to me last year about wanting to do something in my name at YU in public policy. For the obvious reason, I suppose, that I am both Orthodox Jewish and was involved in public service. I was touched and honored by that. Because I hoped and still do that it’s going to be a permanent, endowed chair, but then they surprised me toward the end of the process asking me to be the first occupant of the chair, which I’ll do for a while as long as it’s working for me and the students, but i’m exciting about it. It’s very much part time. I’m going to give three public lectures in the fall semester in various schools of the university, probably starting with one Yeshiva College, one at Stern [College for Women], and then one at Cardozo [Law School]. And then in the second semester I will teach an undergraduate course in public policy, public service. So I’m looking forward to it. I actually taught this last semester at Columbia law School and I’m going to repeat that course this fall and I enjoyed it immensely, more than I expected actually. It was just very rewarding to try to convey what I experienced and learned to the next generation of students, some of whom, hopefully, will consider public service.

I’ve taught college courses way back to the late 70s and early 80s at Yale. So those were residential college seminars and I enjoyed that too. But I must say that I’m at a different stage of my life. I finished my time in elected office, I look back at it with great gratitude that I had the opportunities I did. There is no question I was influenced by people who were in once sense or another teachers of mine. So I view this as an opportunity both to try to inform students today about public policy, but also to hopefully attract some of them into public service.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

President of Honduras Expects Mass Deportations of Minors From U.S.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, July 17, 2014. Ross McDonnell for TIME

The problem of violence driving Central American migration has its roots in U.S. drug consumption, President Juan Orlando Hernández says in an exclusive interview with TIME

(TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras) — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has been warned by U.S. officials to expect a enormous wave of deportations from the United States, he told TIME in an interview at the presidential palace in the Honduran capital on July 17. “They have said they want to send them on a massive scale,” he said.

Before another planned visit to the United States beginning Thursday, Hernández said his country is preparing to receive the returnees but the United States needs to support him in building security in this Central American nation. He took power in January to confront what may be the biggest migration crisis in his country’s history, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children captured on the border in the United States.

Honduras has suffered with the world’s worst murder rate in any country outside a war zone, as street gangs known as maras have become increasingly linked to drug traffickers moving cocaine from the Andes region to the Unites States. Hernández said his government has worked hard to reduce this murder rate in his first months in office, but said violence is still a major problem driving the youth migration.

To combat the criminals, Hernández calls for a security plan with U.S. support, akin to Plan Colombia in which U.S. aid helped the South American nation battle drug traffickers and cocaine-funded guerrillas. The United States has a responsibility to help Honduras, Hernández says, because U.S. drug consumption is driving the violence.

The following exchange has been edited for brevity.

The wave of migration has generated a strong debate in the United States. How do explain this rapid rise in child migrants?

I believe there is a combination of factors. One is the lack of opportunities in Central America and we have to build opportunities here more quickly. Two is the issue of violence, because if you look, you will see that in the case of Honduras, the highest level of migration is in the places with the most conflict, particularly in the neighborhoods where the street gangs have become the armed wing of drug traffickers and kill each other for territorial control. . . . But the other factor, that we shouldn’t forget, is the lack of clarity of U.S. immigration policy. When the immigration debate goes on, disgracefully, the coyotes [the human smugglers] come and say, “Now is when you can bring your child from Central America.” . . . So my call to the United States is that it defines these rules with clarity.

The violence in Honduras is complex. What drives it more, drug cartels or street gangs?

What is happening in Honduras is that drug traffickers partnered with the street gangs so that the gangs did the violent work of extortion and kidnapping. What happened? When the huge packages of drugs arrived at the coast or landed in a plane, the drug traffickers said to Hondurans, “Move these drugs to Guatemala or Mexico, but I am going to pay you with drugs and you finance the operation.” So the street gangs carried out extortion and sold the drugs, contaminating society.

For this reason, I call for the principle of shared responsibility between those who produce [drugs] and those who consume them in the North. In the United States, many officials see the drug problem as basically one of health, as how much it costs to treat an addict and stop them getting involved. But for us it is life and death. That is the difference. . . .

I want to remind the North American people what happened before Mayor Giuliani in New York, how drugs, among other factors, combined to make a very difficult security situation. This happened in Los Angeles when the street gangs also moved drugs; it happened in Miami. But the fight against it was successful. [Americans] have suffered violence in their territory from drug trafficking. Well, now it is happening to us, but in much higher rates. Never in Central America, particularly in the northern triangle and in Honduras has there been so much loss of life as in this decade. Never. Never in history. And look, disgracefully, this is a not an issue that originates in Honduras.

If in the United States, there is a move to change the law to deport a minor without a court hearing would you oppose it?

I would like to ask congressmen and senators and those who make political decisions in the United States that they think first in the interest of the child, because the child as well being a human being, is more vulnerable than the adult. But also they [children] go with the very human, very natural desire to be with their parents. . . .

On the other side, if there is a child without a family member in the United States, and the law says they have to return, we are working with this. Like never before in Honduras, we are investing resources to warmly receive our countrymen, with psychologists, doctors, giving them different options that we have for job opportunities, or farming financing. We are also guiding them spiritually, because they are families that are destroyed inside. They sold everything before leaving, and they arrive frustrated. We have to reintegrate them. We are making this effort.

What has the U.S. government said to you about the issue of migration? Have they told you they are going to deport many more people?

Yes, they have said they want to send them on a massive scale. We told them that number one, we have to respect the principle of giving priority to the child. Two, in the case that a family has children that don’t have relatives in the United States, that they don’t deport them along with adults that have committed crimes there. We don’t want them to be mixed. They [U.S. officials] have understood that part, and we, knowing there are large quantities, more than usual, have had to prepare ourselves to receive our countrymen.

Are you optimistic this is the start of something better, or will it be a long, dark difficult time ahead?

It is a difficult situation. It is a humanitarian crisis that the world needs to see. How long will it last? Will it get more complicated? This depends on support from countries such as the United States and Mexico. In Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras we are working hard.

If they help us, because this is a problem they generate, I repeat, because of the connection between the drugs they consume in enormous quantities in the United States that are produced in the south and pass through Central America, generating violence, generating this migratory flow—if they help us I am sure we will be on the route to resolves this in a short time.

TIME

Jim DeMint: Bank Reveals Washington’s ‘Rot and Corruption’

Jim DeMint
Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md. on March 8, 2014. Cliff Owen—AP

The conservative leader talks to TIME about the relevancy of the Tea Party and why conservatives hate the Export-Import bank

Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina senator and influential conservative leader, has made a risky bet.

While he was once focused on the President’s well-known and unpopular health care law, DeMint, who today leads the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think thank, has now picked a far more obscure target: the 80-year-old Export-Import bank, a little known financial institution that Congressional conservatives would like to see shut down when it is up for reauthorization in September.

Last year, the bank financed the purchase of more than $37 billion of American exports. DeMint would like the bank, which he calls “socialist,” to become a top target for Republicans this fall.

“Certainly there are issues of more long-term fiscal importance, but [there are] few issues that reveal the rot and corruption of Washington more clearly than this,” DeMint says.

Conservative leaders, including the leaders of the anti-tax Club for Growth, Tea Party-supporting FreedomWorks and Heritage’s political arm Heritage Action, have all called for the expiration of the bank’s charter at the end of September. This would block the bank from backing new loans. Earlier this year at the Heritage Foundation, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a potential candidate for the next House Speaker, called the reauthorization of the bank a “defining issue” for the GOP.

Republicans are divided over the bank’s future, but there is enough Republican support in both chambers of Congress to reauthorize the bank’s charter, according to a TIME analysis. The pro-buisness Chamber of Commerce has heralded the bank for supporting 200,000 jobs while reducing the deficit without raising taxes (it charges fees for its services). While DeMint, Hensarling and other conservatives call the bank a prime example of crony capitalism and corporate welfare, the Chamber notes that small- and medium-sized businesses account for more than 85% of Ex-Im’s transactions.

In an interview with TIME, DeMint described why conservative groups like his own are making such a great deal over a little-known bank.

Is there any issue greater than Ex-Im on the minds of conservatives today?

Certainly there are issues of more long-term fiscal importance, but [there are] few issues that reveal the rot and corruption of Washington more clearly than this. Ex-Im issues taxpayer-subsidized loans for the politically connected that are rife with cases of fraud and waste. It’s symptomatic of so much that is wrong with Washington. It’s not necessary. It’s expensive. It puts taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars. It threatens American jobs, and it should be ended.

Conservatives believe in opportunity for all and favoritism to none. Ex-Im exists to provide subsidies to some of America’s biggest corporations. It has led to allegations of kickbacks and bribes, with over 70 documented cases of corruption in recent years. Allowing the bank’s charter to expire could build momentum for even greater reforms.

We can safely assume the Democratic-controlled Senate will include Ex-Im funding in their end of the year spending package. Would you prefer House Republicans shut down the government or pass the bill with the Ex-Im funding?

I don’t assume anything about what Congress will do on Ex-Im, but what is clear is that this is terrible economic policy that should end. Economists across the political spectrum acknowledge that subsidies, in general, and Ex-Im, in particular, do more harm than good. The vast majority of U.S. exports—98 percent—do not receive any assistance from Ex-Im, and America does not need to adopt socialist policies to compete with Europe or any other countries.

Would you support House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy if he allows a vote and Ex-Im passes, even if McCarthy himself opposes the bill?

If leaders in both parties put more focus on taxpayer concerns than special interest lobbyists, it’s an easy call to end this corporate welfare. It was refreshing to hear a newly appointed leader like Mr. McCarthy join with Americans opposed to wasteful government programs. Our focus is on better policy, not politics. Allowing the Ex-Im charter to expire and ending the unnecessary subsidies to major corporations is sound policy.

If you were still in the Senate and you saw Republicans take back the chamber in the midterm elections, would you vote for Senator Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader?

That’s a decision for politicians. At Heritage we’re focused on developing policies that improve the lives of all Americans regardless of party.

Would you prefer to see Rep. Jeb Hensarling or Rep. John Boehner as Speaker of the House?

These are decisions for members of Congress. Jeb is a strong conservative who should be applauded for leading on so many issues that put the interests of taxpayers ahead of special interests.

Do you believe the President should be impeached, as former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has advocated? Do you agree with the House Republicans’ choice to sue the Obama Administration over delaying the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate?

We’ve not called for impeachment, but Congress and the public are right to be deeply troubled by President Obama’s blatant disregard of the law. Time and time again, he has simply ignored laws he doesn’t like. Any suit by the House of Representatives relating to this misconduct would certainly face procedural hurdles, but there’s a strong case to be made if a judge were to reach the merits of a challenge.

Why is the GOP establishment winning in most of the primary races this year? Has the influence of the Tea Party peaked?

Heritage is not involved in elections and doesn’t endorse candidates. Conservatives want sound policies, and a vibrant debate helps to lead us there. The grassroots push to make Washington listen to the needs of Main Street instead of Wall Street have been a very helpful part of that debate. Tea Party groups have certainly given a voice to concerns shared by a majority of Americans about Washington’s wasteful spending and debt, and they’ve had an enormously positive impact since 2010.

Will there be a conservative backlash to the Highway Trust Fund agreement reached by House Republicans and the President?

The highway program taxes drivers in all states and then diverts a huge amount of the revenue to boutique projects, like mass transit, in a few favored states. It should instead be focused on maintaining actual highway infrastructure—roads and bridges—throughout the country. The most efficient and effective means of doing just that is to keep gas tax revenues in the states, and allow states to decide spending priorities. Instead of bailing out mismanaged and wasteful Washington programs, we should be moving more dollars and decisions to the states where there’s more accountability.

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