Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Schumer’

Schumer wants fentanyl to be part of talks with China

May 14, 2018

Chinese-made fentanyl that is being trafficked in New York should be the main speaking point when U.S. negotiators sit down with their Chinese counterparts this week, a top lawmaker said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said China produces over 90 percent of the world’s fentanyl and its government does nothing to stop Chinese drug king-pings and manufacturers from cooking it up and illegally pushing it to Americans.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than heroin. Schumer said opioid overdoses in New York jumped from 2,166 in 2015 to 3,009 in 2016.

White House trade negotiators are expected to meet with Liu He, one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s closest advisers, to iron out the straining economic trade ties between the countries.

Schumer said the health of Americans should be part of the negotiations.

“I am demanding negotiators impose real pressure on China to stop the export of fentanyl. As the scourge spreads and addiction grows, China’s authorities continue to turn a blind eye,” he said.

“Negotiators must not leave the table without addressing the export of fentanyl. This issue must be a major priority because too many lives have been lost and too many others are at stake, especially here in New York.”

Schumer said the opioid crisis has become one of the country’s top economic challenges and treating the addiction cost $500 billion in 2015.

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Backlash against liberals is growing — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing

May 13, 2018

Liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way.

I know many liberals, and two of them really are my best friends. Liberals make good movies and television shows. Their idealism has been an inspiration for me and many others. Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think.

And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected.

By Gerard Alexander

Mr. Alexander is a professor of political science at the University of Virginia.

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Credit Illustration by Alvaro Dominguez; Photographs by ZargonDesign/E+, via Getty Images, and Renaud Philippe/EyeEm, via Getty Images
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People often vote against things instead of voting for them: against ideas, candidates and parties. Democrats, like Republicans, appreciate this whenever they portray their opponents as negatively as possible. But members of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture.

Take the past few weeks. At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, the comedian Michelle Wolf landed some punch lines that were funny and some that weren’t. But people reacted less to her talent and more to the liberal politics that she personified. For every viewer who loved her Trump bashing, there seemed to be at least one other put off by the one-sidedness of her routine. Then, when Kanye West publicly rethought his ideological commitments, prominent liberals criticized him for speaking on the topic at all. Maxine Waters, a Democratic congresswoman from California, remarked that “sometimes Kanye West talks out of turn” and should “maybe not have so much to say.”

Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.

In fact, liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way. I’m not talking about the possibility that jokes at the 2011 correspondents’ association dinner may have pushed Mr. Trump to run for president to begin with. I mean that the “army of comedy” that Michael Moore thought would bring Mr. Trump down will instead be what builds him up in the minds of millions of voters.

Consider some ways liberals have used their cultural prominence in recent years. They have rightly become more sensitive to racism and sexism in American society. News reports, academic commentary and movies now regularly relate accounts of racism in American history and condemn racial bigotry. These exercises in consciousness-raising and criticism have surely nudged some Americans to rethink their views, and to reflect more deeply on the status and experience of women and members of minority groups in this country.

But accusers can paint with very wide brushes. Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.

In their ranks are people who sincerely consider themselves not bigoted, who might be open to reconsidering ways they have done things for years, but who are likely to be put off if they feel smeared before that conversation even takes place.

It doesn’t help that our cultural mores are changing rapidly, and we rarely stop to consider this. Some liberals have gotten far out ahead of their fellow Americans but are nonetheless quick to criticize those who haven’t caught up with them.

Within just a few years, many liberals went from starting to talk about microaggressions to suggesting that it is racist even to question whether microaggressions are that important. “Gender identity disorder” was considered a form of mental illness until recently, but today anyone hesitant about transgender women using the ladies’ room is labeled a bigot. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women.

Pressing a political view from the Oscar stage, declaring a conservative campus speaker unacceptable, flatly categorizing huge segments of the country as misguided — these reveal a tremendous intellectual and moral self-confidence that smacks of superiority. It’s one thing to police your own language and a very different one to police other people’s. The former can set an example. The latter is domineering.

This judgmental tendency became stronger during the administration of President Barack Obama, though not necessarily because of anything Mr. Obama did. Feeling increasingly emboldened, liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors. Discourses and theories once confined to academia were transmitted into workaday liberal political thinking, and college campuses — which many take to be what a world run by liberals would look like — seemed increasingly intolerant of free inquiry.

It was during these years that the University of California included the phrase “America is the land of opportunity” on a list of discouraged microaggressions. Liberal politicians portrayed conservative positions on immigration reform as presumptively racist; Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, once dubiously claimed that she had heard Republicans tell Irish visitors that “if it was you,” then immigration reform “would be easy.”

When Mr. Obama remarked, behind closed doors, during the presidential campaign in 2008, that Rust Belt voters “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” it mattered not so much because he said it but because so many listeners figured that he was only saying what liberals were really thinking.

These are the sorts of events conservatives think of when they sometimes say, “Obama caused Trump.” Many liberals might interpret that phrase to mean that America’s first black president brought out the worst in some people. In this view, not only might liberals be unable to avoid provoking bigots, it’s not clear they should even try. After all, should they not have nominated and elected Mr. Obama? Should they regret doing the right thing just because it provoked the worst instincts in some people?

This is a limited view of the situation. Even if liberals think their opponents are backward, they don’t have to gratuitously drive people away, including voters who cast ballots once or even twice for Mr. Obama before supporting Mr. Trump in 2016.

Champions of inclusion can watch what they say and explain what they’re doing without presuming to regulate what words come out of other people’s mouths. Campus activists can allow invited visitors to speak and then, after that event, hold a teach-in discussing what they disagree with. After the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states had to allow same-sex marriage, the fight, in some quarters, turned to pizza places unwilling to cater such weddings. Maybe don’t pick that fight?

People determined to stand against racism can raise concerns about groups that espouse hate and problems like the racial achievement gap in schools without smearing huge numbers of Americans, many of whom might otherwise be Democrats by temperament.

Liberals can act as if they’re not so certain — and maybe actually not be so certain — that bigotry motivates people who disagree with them on issues like immigration. Without sacrificing their principles, liberals can come across as more respectful of others. Self-righteousness is rarely attractive, and even more rarely rewarded.

Self-righteousness can also get things wrong. Especially with the possibility of Mr. Trump’s re-election, many liberals seem primed to write off nearly half the country as irredeemable. Admittedly, the president doesn’t make it easy. As a candidate, Mr. Trump made derogatory comments about Mexicans, and as president described some African countries with a vulgar epithet. But it is an unjustified leap to conclude that anyone who supports him in any way is racist, just as it would be a leap to say that anyone who supported Hillary Clinton was racist because she once made veiled references to “superpredators.”

Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.

Those prejudices will be validated even more if Mr. Trump wins re-election in 2020, especially if he wins a popular majority. That’s not impossible: The president’s current approval ratings are at 42 percent, up from just a few months ago.

Liberals are inadvertently making that outcome more likely. It’s not too late to stop.

Gerard Alexander is an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this article appears in print on  of the New York edition with the headline: Liberals, You’re Not As Smart as You Think.

Trump seeks to lower drug prices

May 12, 2018

President Donald Trump on Friday laid out a series of plans to make pharmaceutical companies more competitive, accusing them of “getting away with murder” with high out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

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President Donald Trump, joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, outlines his administration’s plan to lower prescription drug costs for Americans in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

“The drug lobby  is making an absolute fortune at the expense of American consumers,” Trump said in a speech at the White House Rose Garden. “But under this administration, we are putting American patients first.”

Among the strategies the White House is pursuing to drive competition include advancing biosimilars and generic drugs, including prices on drugmakers’ advertising, increasing transparency through the Medicare drug-pricing dashboard and eliminating “gag rules” that prevent pharmacists from advising patients on how they can pay less out of pocket.

Trump also said he wants to reduce “regulatory burdens” and eliminate “middlemen,” third-party pharmacy benefit managers who negotiate between pharmacies and drug manufacturers on prices and discounts.

“Our plan will end the dishonest double-dealing that allows the middleman to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed on to consumers and patients,” Trump said.

Trump also spoke against lobbyists, on which he said pharmaceutical companies spent nearly $280 million in 2017, more than tobacco, oil and defense contractors combined.

“Everyone involved in the broken system — the drug makers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, and many others — contribute to the problem,” he said. “Government has also been part of the problem because previous leaders turned a blind eye to this incredible abuse.”

Trump has said reducing the cost of prescription drugs, by allowing drug companies to introduce cheaper versions of medications already on the market, would have the side benefit of reducing the cost of health insurance without intensive government regulations.

The president promised that his administration would work with Congress in the coming weeks to pass legislation executing his proposals.

“We will work every day to ensure all Americans have access to the quality, affordable medication they need and they deserve,” Trump said. “And we will not rest until the job of unfair pricing is a total victory for the USA. It will happen, and it’s going to happen quickly.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump for not targeting the pharmaceutical companies more aggressively and for his stance that other countries that currently pay less than Americans for the same drugs should pay more.

“Unfortunately, the president’s proposal hardly puts patients first. The idea that asking Germany to charge their citizens more for drugs will help Americans is a cop-out and the height of absurdity that nobody believes,” Schumer said.

“Democrats have offered #ABetterDeal on prescription drugs through true transparency, Medicare Part D negotiation, and a cop on the beat to police and stop exorbitant price hikes. We hope the president will get tough on the rising cost of drugs, and work with us on real solutions,” he added.

A report released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in March said brand-name drug prices were increasing at 10 times the rate of inflation.

The report found prices increased an average of 12 percent every year for the top 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs under the Medicare Part D program from 2012 to 2017.

UPI

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2018/05/11/Trump-seeks-to-make-pharmaceutical-companies-competitive-lower-drug-prices/3431526048458/?utm_source=fp&utm_campaign=ls&utm_medium=1

Gina Haspel’s hypocritical critics

May 10, 2018

Senate Democrats gave President Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel a fierce grilling Wednesday over the post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program, which is fair enough. The question is, how many will vote against her — after they voted to confirm President Barack Obama’s CIA pick, John Brennan, back in 2013?

 

Brennan, after all, was also deeply involved in the use of waterboarding and other now-controversial techniques to gain vital intelligence from captured terrorists. That’s why the American Civil Liberties Union opposed his confirmation (as it has Haspel’s), citing his “complicity” in the program.

In fact, Brennan praised it in 2007, telling CBS: “A lot of information . . . has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has, in fact, used against the real hard-core terrorists . . . It has saved lives.”

Yes, he later walked back those comments while serving as Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser — and as point man in the also-controversial use of drones to kill terrorists, and sometimes bystanders as well.

Fifty Senate Democrats voted to confirm Brennan; 36 remain in office. That includes five current Intelligence Committee members, as well as New York’s Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Haspel told the committee she wouldn’t restore the program, even if Trump so ordered. Yes, she refused to call it “immoral” — and rightly so: that would be a cheap concession to political grandstanding.

After all, the CIA fully briefed Nancy Pelosi and other key Democrats in Congress on what it was doing in those scary early days of the War on Terror, and none objected.

Haspel was plainly doing her job when (as chief of staff for the CIA leader who actually made the call) she played a role in destroying videos of interrogations in order to prevent them from being leaked (as similar info then was) and so endangering the lives of men and women who’d been trying to protect this country.

A 30-year veteran already serving as acting CIA chief, Haspel would be the first woman to lead the agency and the first director in decades who’s spent her entire career there. She has the enthusiastic support of pretty much anyone who’s ever worked with her, including several top Obama officials who are now loudly anti-Trump.

Any Democrats voting against her, especially those who voted to confirm Brennan, ought to give a good explanation why. They could cite the statement opposing her from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed…

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 https://nypost.com/2018/05/09/gina-haspels-hypocritical-critics/

Donald Trump Sounding Like a Gun Control Democrat — Joins the overwhelming majority of Americans — Will Republican lawmakers follow?

March 1, 2018
Donald Trump urges Congress to back tougher gun controls
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US president accuses lawmakers of being too fearful of the National Rifle Association
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President Donald Trump speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington, during a meeting with members of Congress to discuss school and community safety. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

By Barney Jopson in Washington
February 28, 2018

Financial Times (FT)
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Donald Trump has made his strongest call yet for restrictions on gun sales, urging US lawmakers to take action in the wake of the recent Florida school shooting.

In a televised White House meeting with Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday evening, the US president urged lawmakers to back measures such as expanded background checks for gun buyers, even though they have been opposed for years by some in his party and the National Rifle Association.

“We can’t wait and play games and nothing gets done,” Mr Trump said at the start of a freewheeling session with 17 House and Senate lawmakers. “We want to stop the problems.”

Mr Trump was holding his fourth gun policy discussion since 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Teenage survivors of the shooting have added extra momentum to the push for reforms.

Mr Trump accused lawmakers of being afraid of the NRA that has exercised strong influence over Republican lawmakers in the past and campaigned strongly against any weakening of constitutional protections of gun ownership.

“They have great power over you people. They have less power over me. I don’t need it,” he said, according to Reuters.

Mr Trump said he was still a “big” fan of the NRA. “These are great people, these great patriots. They love our country.” But he added: “That doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything,” he said.

Citing the absence of big changes to gun laws under previous administrations, Mr Trump sought to portray himself as a bridge-building leader who could bring the two parties together — a promise he made frequently on the campaign trail but has rarely fulfilled.

“It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everyone could support,” he said. “It’s time that a president stepped up.”

A similarly freewheeling public debate on immigration in January raised hopes that Mr Trump could forge a deal by showing sympathy to Democratic views and persuading Republicans to make concessions. But since then, the two sides in Congress have remained deadlocked.

The US has seen episodes of intense pressure for legislative action on guns before — most notably after the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre that killed 26 — only for the moment dissipate with nothing done.

One sign of a shift in current mood, however, came on Wednesday with two big companies introducing restrictions on their sales. Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of America’s largest sports retailers, decided to stop selling assault-style rifles and to end gun sales to people under the age of 21 after a teenager used an AR-15 to kill 17 people at a high school in the recent Florida shooting.

Walmart also decided to end sales of guns and ammunition to people under 21. The Walmart statement said the company had ended sales of “modern sporting rifles”, including the AR-15, in 2015.

Mr Trump encouraged lawmakers to start with a bipartisan bill first put forward in 2013 that would expand background check requirements to include gun purchases online and at gun shows. It was brought down by the Republican opposition months after the Sandy Hook shooting.

The president also appeared to back the idea of allowing police to temporarily seize guns from people reported to be dangerous, even without a court order.

“Take the guns first, go through due process second,” he said.

Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, commended the president for wanting to do more than just upgrade the national database used for background checks.

“The president’s comments indicate that he supports universal background checks and even possibly an assault weapons ban. But the next step is even more important — despite the huge pressure that will come from the hard right, the president must stick with these principles,” Mr Schumer said.

“The president must push congressional Republicans to resist the NRA and support these proposals which are endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Americans.”

Republicans in Congress remain divided over how to address gun violence and whether to open debate on improving the background check database for gun buyers.

“I didn’t hear a consensus. I don’t know what the leader [Senator Mitch McConnell] is going to do,” said Senator John Kennedy, speaking after a Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill.

https://www.ft.com/content/64a60848-1cd5-11e8-956a-43db76e69936

That Trump CPAC Speech

March 1, 2018

This is conservatism that is radical, private sector and obsessed with creating work.

Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland on Feb. 23.
Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland on Feb. 23. PHOTO: RON SACHS/ZUMA PRESS

Watching President Trump’s speech to the American Conservative Union’s CPAC conference, an MSNBC analyst said it called to mind five things: Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Vladimir Putin and the president of Turkey. A Vox headline about the speech said, “He riles up crowds, but nothing he says actually matters or reflects administration policy.”

I watched the same speech and saw something else—and it mattered, whether one is a Trump supporter or opponent. That Trump speech was an important stop on the admittedly long road to understanding this presidency.

Because CPAC is the annual meeting of conservatism’s hardest core, it would not have been a surprise if Mr. Trump merely delivered 70 minutes of bleeding red meat. But the speech was more than red meat.

Within one minute, Mr. Trump said: “Do you remember I started running and people said: Are you sure he’s a conservative? I think now we’ve proved that I’m a conservative.”

He’s right. There was little reason to believe Donald Trump was a conservative when he belly-slammed into the GOP primary pool. He was an ideology-free zone. What, many wondered, would he turn out to be as president?

At CPAC he made clear he has concluded that his political interests and legacy—and perhaps even his survival—are best served inside the structure of the conservative tent.

A cynical explanation of this conservative self-baptism would be that he hears the hooves of Robert Mueller’s posse and will need friends to fight the impeachment lynch mob if Lady of the Left Nancy Pelosi is House speaker. That explanation for Mr. Trump’s turn toward conservatism is plausible but not sufficient.

As the basis for his claim, Mr. Trump listed his appointment of conservative judges, his deregulatory initiatives and the tax cut. Nearly all of his Republican primary opponents would have done these things, too. It’s not obvious, though, that the others would have gone so deep. The Trump policies, especially his deregulation, aren’t merely conservative. They are radically conservative.

Who among Mr. Trump’s GOP opponents would have canceled and denounced the Paris Climate Agreement or tried to open virtually the entire U.S. coastline to oil and gas drilling? The regulatory rollback, abetted by the Republicans’ use of the Congressional Review Act, was vast and sudden—covering energy, finance, labor law, the environment and education.

In the speech, Mr. Trump said he thought the deregulation had “as big an impact” as the tax cuts. It was in fact the booster rocket beneath the—again radical—40% cut in the corporate tax rate.

At the time, his critics, such as Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, said Donald Trump was doing all this to benefit his wealthy corporate friends. It’s now evident how off the mark that is.

Departing from the CPAC text, Mr. Trump said that before he became president, “I was a private-sector guy.” It is important to understand what he means by the “private-sector guy.” It’s not his golfing pals.

Every Republican president from Ronald Reagan onward, and all GOP candidates, has used “the government” as an ideological foil. This president rarely mentions “the government” or the public sector.

For Donald Trump, the federal government seems to exist as a kind of distant abstraction—with the military occupying a separate space of heroes and service.

CPAC-style conservatives actively dislike the administrative state. But what’s driving Washington nuts is that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care much about them or what they do (and that may include an obliviousness to levels of public spending). His disdain in large part explains the Beltway-wide effort to shut down this presidency by any means possible, including the quixotic 25th Amendment.

So what matters in the private world of Donald Trump? The answer was in the CPAC speech. The “private-sector guy” is about one thing: jobs. Also known as employment and work.

Every president claims to be a jobs president, but after a year it is becoming clear that this may be the only thing Donald Trump thinks about. He may even impose tariffs soon on imported steel, seeing only the protected jobs in front of him and missing the larger loss of jobs in steel-using industries.

Is his elevation of the private sector working? The Federal Reserve’s latest Monetary Policy Report said Friday “the labor market in early 2018 appears to be near or a little beyond full employment.”

Donald Trump’s critics say this isn’t enough, that it doesn’t justify the corrosion of public discourse. It’s a legitimate point. A CPAC audience shouted at pro-immigration remarks by a Cato Institute speaker with an incivility normally seen among the campus left.

Politics will always be the art of the possible, but no one promised it would also be artistic. And perhaps compulsive inartfulness will be Donald Trump’s undoing.

For now, we are discovering what a presidency of radical, private-sector, jobs-obsessed conservatism looks like. For those who want something other than that, the presidential primaries await their alternatives.

Write henninger@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/that-trump-cpac-speech-1519862684

The Left’s Shoddy Attack on Feinstein — Dianne Feinstein is just not loopy enough…

February 27, 2018

Bloomberg

By Albert R. Hunt

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Activists would present Republicans with a November gift by undermining Democratic pragmatists.
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Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats in California are showing how the party could undermine its own cause in midterm elections in November.

By rebuffing the re-election bid of the state’s four-term senator, Dianne Feinstein, over the weekend, the Democratic left wing is exposing its preference for ideological purity over the pragmatism the party would need to turn widespread distaste for President Donald Trump into a historic political victory.

Fewer than 40 percent of delegates to the Democrats’ state convention in San Diego voted to endorse Feinstein, while more than half supported her more liberal opponent, state Senate leader Kevin de Leon. That meant that neither candidate received the 60 percent needed for an official endorsement. The two will square off in a June 5 primary, with Feinstein well ahead in opinion polls and fundraising.

The anti-Feinstein activists could have made a strong case for opposing the 84-year-old incumbent to promote generational change. The Democratic Party in Congress has an unusually elderly leadership.

Instead, they framed their opposition as ideological: Feinstein, they said, is too accommodating to her Republican colleagues, unwilling to confront Trump, opposed to a government health-care system and 15 years ago voted for the Iraq War.

The left-wing bill of particulars ignored a lot of other things in Feinstein’s record. For example, she led a six-year effort to force disclosure of the details of the interrogation techniques and torture used in the battle against al-Qaeda, taking on bitter battles against Senate Republicans, the Central Intelligence Agency and the White House under President Barack Obama. She didn’t achieve full disclosure but Americans learned a lot about this unsavory period because of her determination and courage.

Some of the left’s criticism is reasonable. For example, Feinstein spent a lot of time seeking common ground with Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley, who seems more intent on protecting Trump than on practical compromise. She did vote for the Iraq War in 2002, but so did a majority of Senate Democrats, including their last three leaders, Tom Daschle, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, and two of the last three Democratic presidential nominees, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton (Obama wasn’t in the Senate yet).

This was a mistaken vote for what turned out to be a disastrous policy. But to paint Feinstein as a puppet of the national security establishment, as the left wing does, is to ignore what she achieved in exposing the torture abuses. One of the few Republicans to support her was Senator John McCain, who knows a bit about torture, and their battles with CIA Director John Brennan, Republican colleagues and the Obama administration were intense. Because she persevered, it’s much clearer how ineffective these methods were and how much money and good will was wasted.

Feinstein for years has been the Senate leader in the fight for gun control, especially for banning the use of most assault weapons. This is a personal issue for her; she became mayor of San Francisco in 1978 when Mayor George Moscone was shot and killed by a political opponent.

And her opposition to single-payer health insurance is consistent with the views of many leading Democrats of good standing in liberal circles, including Obama and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Yet most of her policy positions are consistent with the liberal Democratic mainstream’s.

If similar litmus tests spread to other Democratic primary contests and the left dampens enthusiasm in November for proven winners like Feinstein, that would be a gift to Republicans. The most enthusiastic reception at the California convention went to Representative Maxine Waters, a divisive figure who has become a favorite right-wing symbol of Democratic extremism for her policy positions and cries to impeach Trump.

Image result for Maxine Waters, photos

Maxine Waters

That’s different from understandable questions about re-electing another elderly candidate in a party that needs compelling fresh faces. But the same left-wing crowd would have cheered for a 76-year-old if his name were Bernie Sanders.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net

NRA Leader Warns Conservatives Of ‘Socialist Wave’ In Wake Of Shooting

February 22, 2018

The National Rifle Association’s Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks during the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Oxen Hill, Md., on Thursday.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Just over a week after 17 people were killed at Parkland, Fla., high school, National Rifle Association executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre gave a fiery, defiant speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on Thursday. LaPierre defended 2nd Amendment rights and warned of a “socialist agenda” that wanted to strip away firearms from law-abiding citizens.

“As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain,” LaPierre said. “Saul Alinsky would have been proud of the breakneck speed for gun control laws and the breathless national media eager to smear the NRA,” he added, referring to the 20th century community organizer.

LaPierre, who was not listed on CPAC’s official schedule, accused Democrats of making gun control a political issue in order to achieve their ultimate goal to “eradicate all individual freedoms.”

“What they want are more restrictions on the law abiding — think about that,” LaPierre said. “Their solution is to make you all of you less free. They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security, the failure of the family, the failure of America’s school systems and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI.”

LaPierre said in the past he’d worked with Democrats who wanted to work to reduce gun violence, but that leaders now only cared about exploiting tragedy for political gain, calling them a “tidal wave of new European socialist” in charge of the party, and namechecking Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn.; and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., to boos in the crowd.

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Rep. Keith Ellison

“I hear a lot of quiet in this room, and I sense your anxiety,” LaPierre said, turning to the political consequences of the debate. “And you should be anxious, and you should be frightened. If they seize power, if these so-called ‘European socialists’ take over the House and the Senate, and God forbid they get the White House again, our Americans freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.”

LaPierre also accused Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of not working with them enough to address mental health and to put such checks into the database system to prevent dangerous people from getting access to guns.

LaPierre also echoed a longtime call of the NRA — which President Trump also endorsed during a listening session with families of victims and survivors of gun violence on Wednesday — to more heavily arm school personnel and to provide better security and roll back gun-free school zones.

“We must immediately harden our schools. Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide open, soft targets for anyone bent on mass murder,” LaPierre argued. “It should not be easier for a madman to shoot up a school than a bank or a jewelry story or some Hollywood gala. Schools must be the most hardened target in this country, and evil must be confronted immediately with all necessary force to protect our kids.”

LaPierre ended his speech, to a standing ovation, by reprising comments he made five years ago after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.: “To stop a bad guy with a, gun it takes a good guy with a gun.”

Ahead of the NRA leader’s speech, Trump tweeted his support for LaPierre and others in the organization, calling them “Great People and Great American Patriots” who will “do the right thing.”

McConnell Opens Immigration Debate Backing Trump’s Framework

February 13, 2018

Bloomberg

By Laura Litvan

 Updated on 
  • Democrats press for more narrow bill on DACA, border security
  • Republicans seeking restrictions on family sponsorships
What Is DACA and Why Is Trump Ending It?
 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw his support behind immigration legislation that tracks President Donald Trump’s framework, making an opening bid in what is likely to be an extended debate with a proposal that’s already been rejected by Democrats.
 Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

McConnell endorsed a proposal chiefly sponsored by Republican Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Cornyn of Texas that would provide a path to citizenship for about 1.8 million immigrants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump is ending, and $25 billion for border security, including a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

It also would follow Trump’s plan to eliminate the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor siblings, parents, and adult or married children for green cards, a provision that Democrats contend would drastically cut legal immigration and disrupt families.

“This legislation is a fair compromise that addresses the stated priorities of all sides,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday as he began what he promised would be an open debate on legislation to resolve one of the most contentious issues Congress will deal with this year. Late Monday, the Senate voted 97-1 to advance a measure that will be used as a vehicle for the immigration debate.

Election Issue

The outcome will have implications for November’s congressional elections in which all House seats and one-third of those in the Senate are on the ballot. Both parties have used the issue to motivate their voting bases. There are multiple proposals in the Senate and in the House, and it’s still unclear whether the two chambers can agree on a single piece of legislation that also would get Trump’s signature.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said reaching such a consensus “will be like threading a needle.”

He urged his colleagues to focus on a narrow bill that would give protections to the young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as dreamers, and more border security. Trying to also restrict family sponsorships and eliminating the visa lottery system is likely to result in another stalemate, he said. “The only enemy here is overreach.”

The Senate’s staunchest immigration hard-liners, David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have signed on to the legislation from Grassley and Cornyn, as have Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

Stalemate

Lawmakers in both parties seeking some accord on immigration say they don’t want to see a repeat of what happened in 2013. Then, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive measure offering 11 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to legal status paired with a $46 billion border security plan. The House never took it up.

The debate in the Senate was the price Schumer was able to extract for Democratic votes on a two-year budget deal that raised defense and domestic spending last week. In the House, though, conservatives aren’t giving any ground and would commit only to considering legislation that would meet Trump’s approval.

The president has already rejected a proposal from Senators Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican. Their plan would provide a pathway to citizenship for the beneficiaries of the Obama-era DACA program, authorize $2.7 billion for border security, and reallocate visas in a diversified visa lottery. It would also include restrictions on family-based immigration for the dreamers and allow parents of the young immigrants to gain three-year work permits, but not citizenship.

Durbin told reporters on Monday he doesn’t think any Republican-led proposal can get enough Democratic support to prevail, including the Cornyn-Grassley proposal that McConnell endorsed, which he doesn’t think could get a single Democrat on board.

“I haven’t seen any Republican proposal that could gain 10 Democratic votes,” he said.

‘The Only Bill’

Republican backers of Trump’s plan told reporters it appears so far to be the only viable path to law because if it passes the Senate, it could have enough support to clear the House and win the president’s signature. They declined to say how much Senate support they have.

“This is the only bill that can become a law,” Cotton said. “We have a plan to pass a law. Others have a plan to pass a bill.”

Trump also has shot down another bipartisan Senate proposal, from Republican John McCain and Democrat Chris Coons, that offers a path to permanent status for the dreamers and requires the secretary of Homeland Security to implement a plan to secure the border by Jan. 20, 2021. Coons said Monday he’ll introduce that measure as an amendment during the debate, and he may add money for border security after being encouraged to do so by about a dozen senators.

Another bipartisan group of senators, led by Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has yet to reach agreement on a proposal. Collins said late last week that their talks will continue even after the Senate debate begins.

— With assistance by Mark Niquette, and Ben Brody

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-12/mcconnell-opens-immigration-debate-backing-trump-s-framework

Trump Calls Democratic Memo `Political’ After Blocking Release

February 10, 2018

Bloomberg

By Billy House and  Justin Sink

 Updated on 
  • President says House committee can revise memo and resubmit it
  • Justice Department cited sensitive portions, White House says
President Donald Trump at the White House on Feb. 9.Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg

President Donald Trump defended his decision not to release the Democratic rebuttal of a Republican memo that alleged bias and misconduct by the FBI and Justice Department early in their investigation of Russian election interference, saying on Twitter that the document was “very political.”

“The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency,” Trump said in a tweet. “Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!”

Read the full letter here.

Late Friday, White House counsel Donald McGahn said Trump was unable to release the memo because it contains “numerous properly classified and sensitive passages. In a letter to Republican Representative Devin Nunes of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, McGahn said the Justice Department concluded that portions of the memo were highly sensitive.

Trump would consider releasing the document if changes were made “to mitigate the risks” determined by the Department of National Intelligence and Justice Department of releasing those sensitive parts, McGahn wrote.

‘Double Standard’

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, blasted Trump’s decision.

“The president’s double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling,” he said in a statement late Friday. “The rationale for releasing the Nunes memo, transparency, vanishes when it could show information that’s harmful to him.”

Adam Schiff of California, the panel’s top Democrat who wrote the memo, which is about 10 pages long, said that Trump was treating it differently from the four-page Republican version commissioned by Nunes that was released last week. He said the committee would review the concerns expressed by the FBI and Justice Department.

“After ignoring urging of FBI & DOJ not to release misleading Nunes memo because it omits material facts, @POTUS now expresses concerns over sharing precisely those facts with public and seeks to send it back to the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes memo to begin with,” Schiff tweeted late Friday.

Nunes said in a statement that “Intelligence Committee Republicans encourage the minority to accept the DOJ’s recommendations and make the appropriate technical changes and redactions so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible.”

Political Gamble

The decision to block the Democratic memo is a political risk for Trump, who claimed the Republican-authored version vindicated his claims of unfair political influence in investigations at the Justice Department. He approved the release of the GOP memo over the objections of FBI Director Christopher Wray, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Schiff had submitted the memo to the FBI and Justice Department so they could vet it for sensitive information.

The White House released a letter from Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that said they have given details to the intelligence panel about which portions of the Democratic memo are too sensitive to release.

The decision to completely block the memo’s release — rather than redact particular excerpts objected to by law enforcement and intelligence agencies — could give further ammunition to critics who say the president is politicizing the process.

Fact-Checking the Disputed Republican Memo on the Russia Probe

Already, the White House was grappling with the sense the original Republican document had done little to change the narrative on the Russia investigation, which has proven a chronic issue during Trump’s first year in office. In a Quinnipiac University poll released this week, 56 percent of Americans said they saw Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian involvement in the 2016 election as fair — down just 3 points from the previous month.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have several options. They could accept Trump’s offer for help from the Justice Department to scrub the memo of sensitive information. Under the obscure rule the panel is using to release both memos, known as Rule X, they could also call for a vote on releasing it over the objections of the president. But that would require the support of Republicans on the panel.

Origin Stories

The dueling memos both examine the origins of the Russia inquiry, including how the FBI obtained a surveillance warrant for Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign adviser. Much of the underlying evidence, including the warrant application, remain classified.

Schiff’s memo challenges a Republican assertion that the FBI based its surveillance application almost entirely on an unverified dossier paid for by Trump’s political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, and that it kept the dossier’s origins from the court that approved the warrant. Democrats say the court was informed that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, who assembled the dossier, was politically motivated.

The Democratic memo also says that the FBI had other legitimate evidence that prompted the investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russia.

The rebuttal was the latest Democratic volley against a Republican assault on the legitimacy of the government’s Russia investigation. Schiff and other Democrats say the Republicans are trying to undermine the Mueller inquiry.

‘Politically Smart’

House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, an Intelligence Committee member who wrote the Republican memo, said earlier this week on Fox News that Democrats may have purposely included classified or sensitive information in their rebuttal.

“I think the Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the bureau or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people,” Gowdy said.

In response, Schiff told Bloomberg News, “That’s their spin,” referring to Republicans. He said of his memo, “It sets the context. And there’s a lot we left out.”

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

Adam Schiff. File photo by AP

“So, I’m not surprised they would like to see some omitted from our response,” he added.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-10/trump-blocks-release-of-democratic-rebuttal-to-gop-probe-memo

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