mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Rubio Recycles Romney’s Risible Rubbish”: Shockingly “Uninformed” About International Affairs And Security Issues

Marco Rubio used to consider immigration his signature issue. When that didn’t turn out well, the Florida senator decided national security would be his new area of expertise.

Maybe he should keep looking. Consider this line from last night’s debate.

“Today, we are on pace to have the smallest Army since the end of World War II, the smallest Navy in 100 years, the smallest Air Force in our history. You cannot destroy ISIS with a military that’s being diminished.”

It’s amazing to me that Rubio, for all of his purported interest in the subject, still doesn’t understand the basics.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said his party’s national candidates “don’t know what they’re talking about” and maintain a “level of dialogue on national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler.” Why Rubio is so eager to prove Gates right is a mystery.

As we discussed over the summer, when the senator first started pushing this line, this was actually one of Mitt Romney’s more embarrassing talking points.

Indeed, this was the basis for arguably the biggest takedown of the 2012 presidential campaign. In the third debate between President Obama and Romney, the Republican complained, “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917…. Our Air Force is older and smaller than at any time since it was founded in 1947.”

Romney had used the same argument many times on the stump, and the prepared president pounced. “Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed,” Obama explained. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities?”

It was a rough moment for the Republican, whose canned talking points were made to look ridiculous. And yet, Rubio insists on repeating them.

Bloomberg Politics had a good piece on this a while back, noting that the GOP senator’s arguments “don’t add up.”

[T]he numbers of ships and planes don’t define U.S. military capabilities. Modern warships, notably aircraft carriers and submarines, are far more effective and lethal than their World War II predecessors.

The Air Force is preparing to field the costliest jet fighter ever built, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, and already has the second generation F-22 with stealth characteristics. Advances in precision guidance and intelligence collection make even older aircraft such as the F-15 and F-16 far more capable than the jets that preceded them.

Romney at least had a decent excuse – he had no foreign policy experience, no national security experience, no working understanding of how the military operates, and he hadn’t even held public office for the six years leading up to the 2012 campaign.

But Rubio claims to be his party’s most impressive expert on matters of national security – the Republican authority on keeping Americans safe. So why is he relying on discredited talking points from a candidate who failed four years ago?

Of course, this was just one example from last night’s debate. Slate’s Fred Kaplan described the entire Republican field as “clueless” and “shockingly uninformed” about international affairs and security issues.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 29, 2016

January 31, 2016 Posted by | Immigration Reform, International Affairs, Marco Rubio, National Security | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Graham Snubs Rubio Over Immigration ‘Cut and Run’”: His Snub Was Personal. Rubio Hung Him Out To Dry

Just a few weeks after ditching the presidential race, Lindsey Graham tried to shake it up Friday by snubbing a close Senate colleague.

The South Carolina senator and Sunday show perma-guest endorsed Jeb Bush this Friday morning, popping into a meeting room in a North Charleston DoubleTree hotel to praise the former Florida governor. And, since no Bush event would be complete without a discussion of Marco Rubio, the governor’s rival came up throughout.

Bush has done little to hide his disapproval of Rubio’s presidential politicking but Graham’s decision to get on board with the Marco-bashing surprised some. After all, Rubio and Graham are cut from identical ideological cloth when it comes to foreign policy, and Graham joined with Rubio in 2013 to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

So why did Graham opt for a low-polling former governor saddled with a problematic last name instead of teaming up again with his Senate ally? There are a host of interesting theories, but immigration was the most prominent issue at the press event where Graham announced the endorsement.

Flanked by other supporters and addressing national media, Bush charged that Rubio’s abandonment of his immigration reform efforts—the Florida senator decided to oppose his own bill a few months after it passed—reflected poorly on his character.

“Marco cut and run, plain and simple, for whatever reason,” the former governor said. “There may be legitimate reasons, but he cut and run. He asked for my support on a bill and he cut and run. He cut and run on his colleagues as well.”

Graham, of course, was one of those colleagues. And when reporters pressed him on the issue, he didn’t have kind words for his erstwhile ally.

“I’m not here to talk about Marco Rubio’s commitment to immigration reform,” he said. “I’ve seen Jeb has been consistent. All I can say is that I worked hard to pass a bill. You can always make the bill better. I never cut and run.”

Graham allies, speaking anonymously because Graham didn’t authorize them to talk, argued that the South Carolinian sustained more political injury because of his consistent immigration stance and Rubio hung him out to dry. They say Florida’s growing Hispanic population means Rubio could have stayed the immigration-reform course without seriously jeopardizing his political future. Graham, meanwhile, won the “Lindsey Grahamnesty” nickname from Rush Limbaugh because of his work on the issue, and faced two tricky primary elections because of his pro-reform stance.

In their view, Rubio’s repudiation of his own bill—four months after he voted for it—didn’t exactly make him a profile in courage.

And it seems to have made Graham’s decision to join Team Bush just a tad easier.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, January 15, 2016

January 17, 2016 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP’s Dead End On Immigration”: GOP Candidate Don’t Know The Issues, Just Relying On High-Altitude Slogans

The debate over immigration has become a huge problem for the GOP.

Donald Trump started things off earlier this year when he promised mass deportations for those who had entered the country illegally, after building a wall on the southern border and “making Mexico pay for it.” Trump later softened his position, promising to allow “the good ones” to re-enter the U.S. immediately, presumably ahead of those already waiting in line for legal entry. His actual policy proposal makes no mention of mass deportation at all; the only reference to deportation in Trump’s position paper is to “illegal aliens in gangs” such as MS-13. But like many of Trump’s statements, the policy matters much less than venting the frustration felt by voters.

Long ago, the 9/11 Commission declared the southern border (and the northern border as well) a national security risk in our new age of radical Islamist terrorism. The report also warned about serious flaws in the management of visas, an issue raised once again by the failure to vet one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, who entered the U.S. on a K-1 “fiancé” visa in July 2014. That track record of failure has Americans understandably angry about our impasse on immigration policy, and Trump’s simplistic and broad pronouncements both reflect and empower those voters.

But if Trump offers simplistic slogans, then the rest of the Republican presidential field gets too cute by half on immigration policy. For the last couple of weeks, the debate apart from Trump has focused on the semantics of “legalization” and whether it amounts to amnesty.

All Republican candidates in this cycle agree that the first steps on immigration policy are to build a wall and overhaul the visa program, both long overdue after the 9/11 Commission warnings in 2005. Without that sequencing, the U.S. risks exacerbating its illegal immigration problem in the short and long term, as we saw after the 1986 compromise that left border and visa security practically unchanged. When those first goals are accomplished, the question of how to deal with the undocumented immigrants remaining in the U.S. — perhaps 11 million or more — becomes acute. This debate over their final status erupted in a clash of claims between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio at last week’s debate.

Cruz and Rubio have emerged from the pack to become serious challengers to Trump, and both are jockeying to be his prime alternative. In many ways, the two senators are similar in policy, but Cruz opposed Rubio’s “Gang of Eight” effort in 2013 to create a bipartisan solution to immigration reform. Cruz latched onto the process by which longstanding immigrants here illegally would gain legal status in the U.S., and declared that he “did not intend” to allow legalization. Rubio then accused Cruz of changing his position, highlighting an amendment Cruz had offered to the Gang of Eight bill that would have blocked citizenship but not legal-resident status. Ever since, the two have jousted over the parsing of the language in the bill and public statements each has made.

This spat, like Trump’s statements, acts more as a signal of muscularity on immigration than a serious policy debate. Cruz wants to gain credit for being more serious than Trump but more assertive and trustworthy than Rubio, while Rubio wants to undermine trust in Cruz to jump over him to challenge Trump. A serious policy debate, though, would ask whether legalization alone would work, let alone refusing it.

Let’s start with Cruz’s position. Denying a path to legal status would eliminate the incentives that would drive illegal immigrants to self-identify, which would allow the U.S. to run background checks and reduce the scope of national-security efforts to find potential troublemakers. In fact, that position gains nothing, and looks more like Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” position that got roundly rejected in 2012. It would leave millions in a black-market status, perpetuating an underclass that would increase the issues immigration reform would seek to reduce, especially crime and security. In that sense, Trump’s statements are more internally coherent than Cruz’s — and perhaps as pragmatic.

What about legalization without naturalization? That does create incentives to come out of the shadows, and proposals to deny broad classes of the population an option for naturalization do have some precedent. However, this also cuts across conservative demands for assimilation over obsessive multiculturalism, which is important both culturally and politically. Legalization without an eventual path to citizenship would provide a powerful disincentive to assimilation. In the long run, it would also be almost impossible to sustain politically, especially as that population becomes much more mainstream.

Also missing from this discussion is the foreign-policy aspects for immigration, especially over the long term. Thanks to the sharp increase in focus on ISIS in the GOP primaries, we have had some debate on how best to incentivize Middle East regimes to deal with the problem. However, we have had no discussion at all on how prospective presidents would do the same with Mexico and Central American nations to reduce the flow of economic refugees into the U.S. How do we put pressure on these nations to reform their economies, their governments, and their use of capital to create environments where their people have reasons to stay put? The only mention at all in this direction has come from Trump and his insistence that he’ll get Mexico to pay for our border wall.

The lack of substantive discussion on immigration highlights the fact that there are no easy answers, no simplistic solutions. People of integrity and principle on all sides have legitimate reasons for their positions, be it an adherence to the rule of law or the need to welcome the poor and downtrodden. Voters are not angry because those positions have not been amply represented; they’re angry because few are looking for pragmatic and systemic solutions rather than talking points and slogans, and that Washington has had more than a decade and is still no closer to a solution.

The next Republican nominee had better start working on the former and dispensing with the latter. Signaling might make sense in a primary where little real difference exists between the candidates. In a general election, voters will want solutions and a sense that a candidate knows the issues rather than relies on high-altitude slogans. And that applies to more issues than just immigration.

 

By: Edward Morrissey, The Week, December 22, 2015

December 27, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Questions About Why Rubio Is So Soft On Immigrants”: The Irony In Marco Rubio And Ted Cruz’s Argument Over “Amnesty”

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are for now the only real candidates with a chance to become the Republican nominee for president (granting that Donald Trump, whatever his chances, is an utterly unreal candidate), and to Rubio’s chagrin, they are engaged in a dispute over immigration that grows progressively more venomous.

This complex policy challenge has been reduced to the question of which of them is more fervently opposed to “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, but the debate obscures an odd fact. Though Cruz is getting the better of the argument, the substance of Rubio’s position on the issue—which he is now desperately trying to justify—is actually more popular with Republican voters. But in this atmosphere, when fear and resentment are the order of the day, even that isn’t enough to help him.

A brief bit of background. In 2013, Rubio joined with a bipartisan group of senators called the Gang of Eight to write a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate but died in the House. Along with increasing border security and beefing up the E-Verify system through which employers check their employees’ immigration status, it provided for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But it was an extremely lengthy path. They would have to register, pay a fine, pass a background check, and at that point they would be granted provisional legal status. After waiting ten years, paying another fine, and showing that they had learned English, they could apply for a green card. Then if they got the green card, they could apply for citizenship three years after that. So it could be fifteen years or more before someone who is currently an undocumented immigrant became a citizen.

As for Ted Cruz’s part, he offered an amendment at the time stripping out the path to citizenship but allowing undocumented immigrants to get work permits. Rubio charges that this means Cruz supported legal status for the undocumented (horrors!), while Cruz says that his amendment was just a poison pill meant to sabotage the bill.

While Rubio has backed away from the bill—he now says he learned that comprehensive reform is impossible, and the answer is to do it piece by piece, with the enforcement pieces coming first—he still says he supports an eventual path to citizenship. But he’s always careful to stress how long it would be before that would even be discussed, much less implemented.

So right now, Rubio is defensively answering all kinds of questions about why he’s so soft on immigrants, while Cruz is the one attacking (and Rubio’s counter that Cruz is kind of an amnesty supporter too has fallen short). Yet Rubio’s position on the path to citizenship question—yes, but after a lengthy process—is quite popular within the party.

It matters a lot how you ask the question, but polling shows that, as a group, Republican voters are perfectly open to letting undocumented immigrants stay in the United States. When Pew asked recently if undocumented immigrants who “meet certain requirements” should be allowed to say, 66 percent of Republicans say yes, with 37 percent supporting citizenship and 28 percent supporting permanent residency.

But the more specific you make the question, the more open Republicans are to citizenship. When pollsters have asked whether undocumented immigrants should be able to apply for citizenship if they pay fines and learn English, clear majorities of Republicans say yes: 72 percent in a January 2014 CNN poll; 69 percent in an October 2013 CBS poll; 63 percent in a February 2013 Fox poll (those and others are collected here).

Those results demonstrate that if you can assure people—even Republicans—that undocumented immigrants will pay a price and assimilate, they have no problem with a path to citizenship. And that’s exactly what the Gang of Eight bill did.

So why isn’t Rubio winning on this issue? One reason is that his position is complex, while Cruz’s position is a rather simpler “He loves amnesty!”—and simpler messages usually prevail. Another reason is that the candidates aren’t actually appealing to all Republican voters, but the somewhat smaller and more conservative group that will actually vote in primaries. And finally, Donald Trump’s campaign, not to mention the general atmosphere of fear stirred up by the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, has made anything resembling rational discussion on this issue all but impossible. Ted Cruz is capitalizing on that atmosphere with an enthusiasm bordering on the gleeful; he’s now airing an ad claiming that the Gang of Eight bill “would have given Obama the authority to admit Syrian refugees, including ISIS terrorists. That’s just wrong.” It should go without saying that his claim is absolutely ludicrous.

It’s possible that each passing day in which Donald Trump is on TV talking about border walls and excluding Muslims has the effect of nudging the Republican electorate to the right on anything that has to do with foreigners. But the polling results of the last few years show that Republicans are not a monolith, and there should be a market for a position like Rubio’s.

There’s another truth we should acknowledge in this debate. What a President Cruz would actually do on immigration is almost identical to what a President Rubio would do: not much. The last few years have proven that the Republican House has no appetite for comprehensive reform, no matter what the circumstances. And today’s GOP caucus is even more conservative than it was in 2013, after the sweep of 2014 brought in a whole new class of ultra-right members. Most Republicans hail from safe Republican districts, where they fear only a challenge from the right, so there’s no reason why they’d embrace comprehensive reform. The Republican Party itself may want to reach out to Hispanic voters, but your average Republican member of Congress has little reason to; indeed, all his interests run toward vehement opposition.

And if a Republican does somehow win the presidency, the urgency in demonstrating any goodwill toward Hispanics will be gone. So what will happen? The Republican Congress will pass a bill or two hiring more Border Patrol and ICE agents and building some more fences, the Republican president will sign those bills, and they’ll all call it a day—whether the public, including even Republican voters, would favor a path to citizenship or not.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, December 21, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Amnesty, Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Rubio-Schumer Gang Of Eight Bill”: How Ted Cruz Will Try To Destroy Marco Rubio

Imagine you’re Ted Cruz. Things are proceeding according to plan — you’re in second place nationwide and ahead in some polls in Iowa, you’re consolidating the support of evangelicals, most of your opponents are falling behind or falling away, and, after treating you like a fringe figure for so long, the media is finally taking seriously the idea that you might be the party’s nominee. There are only two guys standing in your way. The first is Donald Trump, and who knows what he’s going to do or say. The second is Marco Rubio and, if you can take him out, it’ll be down to you and The Donald — at which point even the party establishment that so despises you will probably rally to your side.

So how can you sweep Rubio aside and make it a two-man race? The answer Cruz has seized upon is immigration, Rubio’s soft and vulnerable underbelly.

This tactic came out in Tuesday night’s debate, when Cruz said, “You know, there was a time for choosing, as Reagan put it. When there was a battle over amnesty and some chose, like Senator Rubio, to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan.” He even called a bill that Rubio co-wrote the “Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight bill,” which is pretty low.

This attack isn’t surprising; that Gang of Eight bill has been just waiting to be exploited. Back in 2013, Rubio joined with a bipartisan group of senators to write the comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate and then died in the House. Even though the bill had a lot of what Republicans wanted, Rubio was immediately excoriated by the very Tea Partiers who had championed his election in 2010, called a traitor and an alien-coddler because the bill included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Rubio has since distanced himself from the effort, but it clings to him still.

Why is it such a big deal? Well, as Rubio knows, immigration is one of the main reasons so many white, older Republican voters feel out of place in a changing America. It was the subject of endless conflicts between the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress. Obama’s executive actions on immigration are the evidence conservatives hold up to support their assertion that the president is a tyrant who ignores the law. Those executive actions were the cause of one of our many government shutdown crises. And it has been one of the main sources of conflict between the party establishment, which believed that the GOP needs to support comprehensive reform in order to make an opening with Latino voters and thus have a chance at winning the White House, and the base voters and conservative members of Congress who say, “Hell no.” So, as complex as the issue is, it isn’t hard for Rubio’s opponents to say that there’s a right side and a wrong side on immigration, and the senator is (or at least was) on the wrong side.

Cruz himself has been moving steadily to the right on this issue over the course of the campaign, though his precise position on the question of undocumented immigrants has at times been hard to pin down. While he has always opposed a path to citizenship, at various points he has seemed to support work permits that would allow the undocumented to stay in the country legally. This is what Rubio is referring to when he says that Cruz supports “legalization.”

But Cruz is now backing away from that position, saying in the debate, “I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization.” Ask him about it now, and he’ll talk only about border walls and deportation. He has even come out in favor of repealing birthright citizenship, the constitutional principle that anyone born in the United States is a United States citizen.

When he gets asked about his work on the 2013 bill, Rubio has a long, detailed answer, one he’s repeated many times. It hits all the appropriate notes — slamming the Obama administration, talking about how border security must be accomplished first, noting that the E-Verify system has to be in place so employers don’t hire the undocumented, and explaining the lengthy process that would be required for an undocumented person to get citizenship, a process that could take as much as a couple of decades. His basic point is that once we do all the things Republicans want, then we can get around to thinking about a path to citizenship — but it’s so far down the road, it would be after he served even two terms as president.

But after Rubio gives that long, detailed answer, Cruz can just point to him and say, “Nope, he supports amnesty.” Which, depending on how you define it, is true.

Had the Gang of Eight bill managed to pass the House, Rubio would have been hailed in many quarters as a hero, someone who had broken the logjam, found a solution to a complex policy problem, and delivered the GOP something it desperately needed, a chance to win over one of the fastest-growing parts of the electorate. But as it is, that 2013 bill is a millstone around Rubio’s neck, one that someone like Ted Cruz is happy to pull on to make Rubio’s burden even heavier.

In the context of this primary campaign, it’s far better to have never tried to accomplish much of anything on policy, like Cruz. Rubio did try, and Cruz is going to make him pay. While the issue of terrorism may fade in the coming weeks and months, immigration will always be there in this campaign. And as long as they’re both in the race, Ted Cruz is going to pound Marco Rubio on it without mercy, until one of these two sons of immigrants leaves the race.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, December 17, 2015

December 19, 2015 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: