junior senator

Not What We Mean When We Say Foreign Service

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

A protester holds a photo of journalist Jamal Khashhoggi, later acknowledged to have been slain by the Saudi government. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Annieli, at Daily Kos, writes:

Those who wonder why we should care about Khashoggi’s death should ask whether we want an autocratic thug to be directing US foreign policy? Why is America’s president covering up a brutal extra-territorial murder? All this whabboutery serves MBS. Is that what we want?

And this is an important question: All of President Trump’s equivocation and excuses serve foreign interests.Remember that Donald Trump still thinks he is doing business, and this is reflected in conservative language; among Republican excuses for the President’s behavior, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), often seen as a critic of the administration, mewled and rolled over:

A key consideration in the administration’s mind, according to Republican Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), is the belief that the crown prince can salvage Kushner’s stalled peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians. “A lot of the Middle East peace plan is based upon their support. They feel like they have a lot of equity there,” Corker said.

(Dawsey, Hudson, and Gearan)

“Equity” is a curious word. Certes, the Trump family has invested tremendous “political capital”. There are a handful of Congressional Republicans willing to speak against President Trump, and the general criticism runs that tweeting disapproval is pretty much all they do compared to their voting records. And in this moment, Mr. Corker, the retiring U.S. Senator, is lending his voice in aid and comfort to presidential pandering on behalf of foreign interests. The Washington Post goes on to explain:

Trump allies acknowledged that the White House’s equivocations would probably result in growing calls from Congress for a more credible accounting of events from Saudi Arabia, but they doubted it would damage the president politically.

Equity. This is just an investment. And if Sen. Corker, a Republican, wishes to be seen in opposition to President Trump, “equity” is the wrong word. Consider an actual Trump ally, such as evangelical preacher Pat Robertson:

“We’ve got to cool the rhetoric,” Robertson said. “Calls for sanctions and calls for punitive actions against the Saudis is ill-advised … You’ve got a hundred billion dollars worth of arms sales—which is, you know, that’s one of those things—but more than that, we’ve got to have some Arab allies. We have to have it! We cannot alienate a biggest player in the Middle East who is a bulwark against Iran.”When Robertson’s co-host Wendy Griffith argued that we cannot have governments killing critical journalists with impunity, Robertson dismissed those concerns.”We’ve had so many people killed,” he responded. “We’ve had CIA people killed in Lebanon. People have been taken hostage over the years. I know it’s bad, but we’ve had all kinds of stuff, but you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person. I mean, I’m sorry.”

(Mantyla)

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The Hook (Hillary Under the Sun)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 14, 2015. (Detail of photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

And there is the hook:

Sen. Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack remain two of the leading contenders for Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential pick, but Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is also under active consideration, according to a Democrat with knowledge of the process.

Booker, a freshman senator and former mayor of Newark, has drawn relatively little attention throughout Clinton’s vice-presidential selection process but remains a serious prospect. He was among the roughly half-dozen potential running mates who met with Clinton at her home in Washington on Friday, a fact first reported Thursday by Politico.

(Wagner and Gearan)

Please let this be the hook.

On Sen. Booker (D-NJ): It is easy enough to say if not Warren then Booker. But neither is Mr. Booker a second choice for lack of better. Nor, in that context, should we view Sen. Kaine (D-VA) or Sec. Vilsack (D-IA) so poorly. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Photo by Jake Rosenberg/The Coveteur. But in the case of the latter, Hillary Clinton can at least perceive the need for someone less institutionally ensconced than either of these stalwart political résumés offer the powerful left-flank movement asserting policy influence, a bloc whose votes and continued support she needs.

Sen. Warren (D-MA) seems the obvious choice, but truth told there is a fine argument for what she can do from the Senate, but this also presumes enough pressure on Democratic leadership in the Senate to buck future Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (NY) and Whip Richard Durbin (IL). It’s a tough proposition, but the Senate Democrats under Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray (WA) or Amy Klobuchar (MN) would be a powerful majority caucus; as a minority, it seems an easy suggestion that they would be more effective than what Mr. Reid (NV) has managed in the face of Republican intransigence. It’s all speculation, though. The bottom line is determined by Hillary Clinton, this time; she can perceive the need, but how will she address and reconcile it?

Elevating Sen. Booker as her running mate is one of the things she can do. And should anyone find cause to doubt we are getting civil rights president out of this, selecting Mr. Booker would put that question to rest.

(more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (Epilogue)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), accidentally struck his wife, Heidi, twice after announcing the suspension of his failed presidential campaign during a speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, 3 May 2016.So did you hear the one about how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrapped up his speech today, after announcing the suspension of his failed presidential campaign? Nick Baumann’s headline for Huffington Post sums it up well enough: “Ted Cruz Accidentally Punches And Elbows His Wife In The Face After Dropping Out”.

No, really. It really was an accident.

Still, though, it’s pretty emblematic of both Ted Cruz and his useless presidential bid.

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Image note: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), accidentally struck his wife, Heidi, twice after announcing the suspension of his failed presidential campaign during a speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, 3 May 2016.

Baumann, Nick. “Ted Cruz Accidentally Punches And Elbows His Wife In The Face After Dropping Out”. The Huffington Post. 3 May 2016.

The Ted Cruz Show (Cancelled)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) launched his failed 2016 presidential campaign 23 March 2015, at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  (Detail of photo by Chris Keane/Reuters)

Cruz is out:

Facing an increasingly narrow path to the nomination and failing to thwart Donald Trump’s dominance, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) withdrew from the 2016 presidential race on Tuesday.

“Tonight, I’m sorry to say that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz said in a speech Tuesday night in Indianapolis, “but the voters chose another path.”

“We are suspending our campaign,” he added.

(Fang)

A note to the junior U.S. Senator from Texas: You were never going to be president. You are never going to be president.

It wasn’t a good run.

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Image note: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) launched his failed 2016 presidential campaign 23 March 2015, at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Detail of photo by Chris Keane/Reuters).

Fang, Mariana. “Ted Cruz Drops Out Of The 2016 Presidential Race”. The Huffington Post. 3 May 2016.

The Marco Rubio Show (Rookie Hijinks)

Detail of photo by Jason Reed/Reuters.

“In essence, not voting for it is a vote against it.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

This is the Marco Rubio Show:

For months, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio has been dogged by questions about his rampant absenteeism from the Senate. On Friday, the senator from Florida missed another vote. This one stood out more than most―for the legislation’s scope and the extent of Rubio’s criticism of it.

Rubio was one of just two senators who did not vote on on a sweeping tax and spending bill that passed with bipartisan support. His three Republican Senate colleagues running for president each cast votes.

(Sullivan)

The thing is, Mr. Rubio said on Thursday he knew “enough to say we’re going to oppose it, and I know enough to say that we should use every procedural aspect that we have to slow it down and perhaps force some changes on these things that we’ve been discussing”.

Or, as Steve Benen of msnbc put it:

But when Rubio said “we,” he wasn’t referring to himself. In fact, he did not take any steps to pursue his goal: the Republican didn’t show up on Capitol Hill to try to delay the process, and a day later, Rubio also didn’t show up to vote against the bill he wanted to kill.

(more…)

Clowntastic

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“The truth is that Republicans are at a crossroads. What we are seeing is a surrogate battle to determine whether the GOP will be a sort of populist/protectionist party, or a more cosmopolitan and compassionate one. And if those are the two world views that will eventually clash, Cruz and Rubio are much better representatives than, say, Trump and Bush.”

Matt Lewis

Conservative stalwart Matt Lewis offers an intriguing commentary considering the real potential of a marquee showdown between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The junior U.S. Senators from Florida and Texas respectively enjoy competitive positions in the polls, and thus stand out as leading candidates to ascend as Dr. Ben Carson tumbles and pretty much everyone else wonders when Trump will follow. The Roll Call op-ed opens:

“The two people to watch are Cruz and Rubio,” Charles Krauthammer declared on Tuesday’s episode of Fox News’ “Special Report.” Call it wishful thinking or conventional wisdom (or both), but there is an assumption that this clash of titans might eventually occur—and I, for one, am rooting for it.

And we can skip ahead to the ending, a pretense of obvious afterthought―that both Cruz and Rubio can win the general against Hillary Clinton―long enough to remember that Lewis is, after all, a conservative pitch man. Cruz can’t win; Rubio has a chance if he can overcome the deer and headlight air of youthful inexperienceα he often demonstrates so aptly when rattling through talking points that thoroughly defy his comprehension. That is to say, we can attend the pretense of afterthought long enough to dismiss it.

Nonetheless, Mr. Lewis offers an insightful analysis that includes the benefit of also sounding reasonable:

Most people I know think a Trump candidacy would be disastrous, but there is division regarding just how freaked out we should be. Some, like statistician Nate Silver, argue that we are putting too much stock in these early polls showing Trump ahead for a variety of reasons, including the fact that “the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet.”

Others argue that this is fantasy. All the previous predictions about a Trump collapse were premature, and besides, he’s a paradigm-shifting candidate; the old rules no longer apply.

Having said all that, it’s not absurd to believe that voters will finally come to their senses, and that Cruz and Rubio might eventually emerge as representatives of their various “lanes” to face off in a sort of championship battle to determine who will represent the GOP in the general election.

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The Marco Rubio Show (Fabulous Retro Chic)

Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gestures while speaking in Davenport, Iowa on 11 November 2015. (Detail of photo by Charlie Niebergall/AP Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) would like American society to please turn back the clock.

Marriage equality, for example, is already the law of the land in the United States, but Right Wing Watch flagged Rubio’s new interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where the senator made clear he’s not done fighting against equal marriage rights, calling the status quo “current law,” but “not settled law.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it―not ignoring it, but trying to change the law.

“And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here. I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.”

For most of the country, there’s a realization that there is no credible proposal to turn back the clock. Rubio didn’t elaborate on how, exactly, he wants to “change the law” to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, and if he tried, he’d likely fail.

But the key here is understanding just how far the Florida senator is willing to go with the culture war. For Rubio, it’s still not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws.

Steve Benen of msnbc also reminds of Mr. Rubio’s odious regard for women; we are already familiar with the Florida junior’s nonsense, but neither should his absurdity about marriage equality overshadow his desire to forcibly insert the government between women and their doctors.

(more…)

The Marco Rubio Show (Mansplanation)

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, heads to the Senate floor for a vote on July 9, 2014. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Obviously, my faith has a teaching that governs me in my personal life on these issues. But I think our laws on those issues are different.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

There really is a lot going on, but we also just need to get this one out of the way:

Rubio also said that he does not support measures to ban emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices (IUD), which some anti-abortion groups contend cause abortions.

“I don’t want to ban any contraceptive efforts,” Rubio said. “Obviously, my faith has a teaching that governs me in my personal life on these issues. But I think our laws on those issues are different.”

(Richardson)

Just … okay, work with me, here. Please.

If your religious faith resolved as such to govern your decision in such a fashion that it is acceptable for you to use an IUD, Mr. Rubio, then what, exactly, would you do with it?

The problem with the Florida junior’s sort of evasion is that the maneuver involves digging a hole in very unstable ground. There is no good way out.

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Richardson, Bradford. “Rubio vows to end Iran agreement if elected”. The Hill. 9 August 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Deeply Invested)

TedCruz-bw-banner

Ladies and gentlemen, this is The Ted Cruz Show:

Ted Cruz for President 2016 logo.Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that doing everything possible to thwart the Iran deal should include states exploring imposing their own sanctions.

The Republican presidential candidate from Texas was asked at a raucous town hall-style forum here about the prospects of states taking action to impose sanctions on the money the Obama administration has agreed to release as part of the deal regarding the country’s nuclear development.

“I think that states should act and lead to do exactly that,” Cruz said.

You may, of course, proceed to laugh yourself to emergency surgery if you are so inclined, but the Texas junior isn’t done yet, as Niels Lesniewski makes clear for Roll Call. Mr. Cruz recalled an occasion when, as solicitor general, he rebuffed an attempt by President George W. Bush to force Texas to apply the authority of the International Criminal Court. Roll Call On the Road.Without drawing any connection to his proposition that states conduct geopolitics, Cruz reminded, “The court further concluded that no president, Republican of Democrat, has the constitutional authority to give up U.S. Sovereignty. So I think states ought to go down that road.”

We might suggest to wonder what that actually means, but such a question also demands wondering if we might ever find out. Ted Cruz is deeply invested in nonsense.

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Lesniewski, Niels. “Ted Cruz to States: Impose Your Own Iran Sanctions”. Roll Call. 9 August 2015.

The Rand Paul Show (Chainsaw, Chuckle, and Sigh)

'Now why was that?'

This is … well, okay, we might suggest this is interesting, but only the way an obvious joke might be when it occurs that you haven’t yet recognized it. A brief chuckle, then a sigh.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) released an intense new video on Tuesday where he appears to be literally destroying the US tax code.

Paul has made tax reform central to his presidential campaign. To draw attention to his plan, Paul is asking his supporters to vote how they want to see him shred the current tax system.

The options for his supporters are: chainsaw, fire, and wood chipper.

(Campbell)

2016 GOP presidential nomination campaign advert showing Sen. Rand Paul using a chainsaw to destroy the tax code.  The junior Republican senator from Kentucky is asking fans to vote for how he should destroy the tax code, by fire, chainsaw, or wood chipper.  (21 July 2015)There really isn’t much to add. After all, it’s Rand Paul doing something stupid to beg for everyone’s attention while he reminds us how much he hates taxes. Maybe next time he could try being a bit more original. Like, you know, having a point. Or being something other than a predictably petulant brat. I mean, he could try being intelligent for once, perhaps … if, you know, that isn’t asking too much of the man.

Or, you know, perhaps that’s not fair. In the reality television show known as the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination Super Fun Happy Patriot Time Show … er … ah … yeah, we’ll work on that title. That is to say, this year spectacular is the new black.

Goddess grant, that sounds even worse than usual. You know, can we finally be done with assertions of the new black? I mean, black is black is black, and the only reason orange, or pink and silver with brown, or whatever the season demands, must necessarily be the new black is because we can’t be bothered to think of anything more intelligent to say.

To wit, the point being that the theme of this year’s Republican nomination contest would seem to have something to do with necessary sensationalism. It’s kind of an open thesis right now, observing the question of candidates playing to national polls instead of early state voters, and also the fact that Donald Trump is in the race and pretty much basking the overwhelming chatter and noise drowning out his competitors. Some might wonder about the dignity and assertion of presidential demeanor about publicity stunts involving maniacal wielding of chainsaws, but this is also the 2016 Republican presidential nomination contest. Spectacle is the rule of thumb, and watch the candidates pander for attention. In a way, Rand Paul chainsawing the tax code makes perfect sense. Nor is that a justification; Republicans did this to themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Rand Paul Show.

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Image notes: Top ― “Now, why was it?” Mamimi loses her train of thought. (FLCL, episode 1, “Fooly Cooly”) Right ― Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wields a chainsaw for a campaign advertisement, 21 July 2015.

Campbell, Colin. “Watch Rand Paul literally shred the US tax code with a chainsaw”. Business Insider. 21 July 2015.