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Bob Corker: I can’t believe this gutless party won’t “poke the bear” by helping me strip Trump’s tariff power

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He wants to add an amendment to the defense bill that would override the president’s power to declare trade war on hostile foreign powers like … Canada by declaring them “national security threats.” Nuh uh, says McConnell. No way we’re voting on that even though, in all likelihood, literally every Republican in the Senate agrees with Corker that Trump’s steel war with the Canadians is bananas. McConnell wants to spare his members from a no-win outcome. If the amendment passes (which is likely thanks to Democratic support, even if only a few Republicans vote yes), the caucus is suddenly at war with Trump. If the amendment fails, the party will have proved that they’d rather swallow hard and ratify MAGAnomics than stick to fiscal conservative principle. Right now the main thing holding America’s western alliances (and probably the GOP itself) together is the perception that Trump is a thunderstorm that will eventually pass. An internationalist from one party or the other will take over. Just ride out the storm. If Republicans refuse to nuke Trump’s tariff policy, though, suddenly the storm looks more durable.

Corker’s display here is a vintage example of impending-retirement courage. He’s a free-trade warrior — but only because he no longer has to face voters.

“I can’t believe it!” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I would bet that 95% of the people on this (Republican) side of the aisle support intellectually this amendment — I would bet higher than 95 percent — and a lot of them would vote for it if it came to a vote.”

“But no, no, no!” Corker continued. “Gosh, ‘we might poke the bear’ is the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways …. ‘The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment, so we’re going to do everything we can to block it.’”

Erick Erickson thinks the storm might pass even before Trump leaves office. I’m skeptical.

The idea, I suppose, is that stripping Trump of his “national security” tariff power will be old news by 2020, the next time they’ll face voters, if they do it ASAP after the election this year. “The bear” will forgive and forget, especially since Trump can’t afford a war with the party once he’s on the ballot himself. The lame-duck session would be as close to impending-retirement courage as non-retiring Republicans can get. It’d be rational for them to do what Erickson suggests. It’s just that … they’re so timid in the teeth of Trumpmania. They’ll find some reason not to do it, probably along the lines of “it’ll fracture the party if we take his tariff toys away from him.” Does McConnell really want to do something that’s guaranteed to make an enemy of Trump after having finally built a decent working relationship with him?

Oh, and needless to say, “the bear” to which Corker refers isn’t Trump. That may be whom Corker has in mind but in reality the bear is the unquestioning loyalty Trump enjoys from a chunk of the party. Republicans don’t care about nasty tweets except to the extent that those tweets imperil their electoral fortunes. (Right, Mark Sanford?) If they’re unwilling to risk a party fracture by standing up for what they believe on core matters like trade policy then they’re already in the bear’s stomach.

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Forecast: GOP now more likely to have *at least* 54 Senate seats next year than to lose its majority

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A nifty catch by Philip Klein, eyeballing the latest data from Nate Silver’s model (as of 5:15 p.m. ET). Check it yourself. Democrats momentarily have an 18.4 percent chance of gaining two seats and winning a majority next month. Whereas Republicans have a 9.1 percent chance of gaining three, a 5.5 percent chance of gaining four, a 3.2 percent chance of gaining five, a 1.4 percent of gaining six, a 0.7 percent chance of gaining seven, and a 0.3 percent chance of shooting the lights out and gaining eight (which would leave them one seat shy of a filibuster-proof majority, for what it’s worth). Add those up and you get a 20.2 percent chance of 54 or better.

Which can be summed up in four words: Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Klein on the path to 54:

Though Republicans were always favorites to keep the Senate, their odds have improved in recent weeks, with three states in particular giving them a boost. Republicans are now considered “likely” to keep their seats in Texas and Tennessee and North Dakota seems ready to flip into the Republican column. Barring any other major upsets, victories in those three races would be enough for Republicans to keep the Senate — hence their 81.6 percent chances overall.

To get to 54, the most likely scenario would be that Republicans win the tossup states of Nevada and Missouri, and then surge to victory in Arizona and Florida (two races that are currently tilting Democrat, but well within range of Republican victory). Beyond that, they’d have to start flipping some seats that are currently considered “likely” to remain Democrat, such as Montana and West Virginia.

Eh, I don’t know if Montana and Indiana, the latter of which he neglected to mention, are all that “likely” to remain Democratic. They’re leaning that way, with both Jon Tester and Joe Donnelly clinging to three-point leads. But Montana hasn’t been polled in three weeks and the latest from Indiana has Donnelly up four but with just 44 percent of the vote. In fact, in none of the four polls dating back to August has Donnelly topped 44, suggesting that a lot of Hoosiers are thinking hard about whether to stick with the incumbent. It’s likely that the GOP will be disappointed somewhere on Election Night — Missouri, Nevada, and Arizona are all leading candidates — but going for one for two on Montana and Indiana seems doable.

Whichever way they do it, if they can get to 54 then Collins and Murkowski might well be nonfactors during the next SCOTUS battle. Flake won’t be in the Senate at all, of course. Trump really might have the arsenal he needs to fill a Ginsburg or Breyer vacancy with a conservative.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news, also from Silver’s model:

Click the link and add up the different probable outcomes and you’ll see that the GOP has about the same odds of holding the House as Democrats do of winning … at least 54 seats. They’ve got a 10 percent chance of winning at least 60. Gonna be a lot of subpoenas for Pat Cipollone to cope with next year.

There are no new swing-state polls as I write this but keep an eye on the one of Arizona that’s currently in progress (yes, in progress) at the NYT’s site, the Upshot. As I write this at a little after 5 p.m. on the east coast, they’ve compiled a sample of 299 people — not large enough yet to give us confidence in the topline numbers but large enough to make it worth paying attention to. Currently Martha McSally leads Kyrsten Sinema by four points, 49/45. If that holds through the end of the poll, it would be the second straight survey showing McSally ahead after trailing for most of the race. (The previous poll had her up six.) Stay tuned.

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Midterm 2018 TEXAS: Robert (Beto) O’Rourke vs. Ted Cruz

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Texas is Texas.

You don’t mess with Texas!

Texans don’t want a far left US Senator who lies about his background and police records, DUI included, and abuses everything the Lone Star State stands for.

Senator Ted Cruz is up by at least 5 points — but that is not enough.

Cruz is a real conservative and an intellectual giant. He has the highest possible ratings from conservative groups as a sitting US Senator.


We can’t let him down.

His opponent Beto (really Robert) O’Rourke isn’t Hispanic but he is loudly PROGRESSIVE.

He is a phony.

He is a Democratic Socialist and would spell doom for our Republic.

He wants open borders, more rights for criminals, and an end to the petroleum economy.

In Texas?

Trump won Texas by 9 points.

Cruz should win reelection by at least that amount.

Recall Cruz not only voted for Judge Kavanaugh but he articulately defended due process and innocent until proven guilty – the very hallmark of western jurisprudence.

We need him; America needs his voice in the Senate.

There has not been a Democrat to hold statewide office in Texas since 1994!

Keep it that way.

Cruz is a star in national politics and a firm vote for our side. He makes America first! And he is the best advocate for Texas bare none.

Turnout is critical.

Cruz MUST win.

Make this viral in every corner of Texas.

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Pat Robertson: C’mon, we’re not going to blow up a key Middle East alliance over one little murder

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Lefties are marveling that a brand-name Christian conservative would be encouraging followers to look the other way at an assassination, but they’re forgetting Jesus’s parting words at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: “If you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs.”

Wait, am I misremembering? My youthful memories of the gospels are not the best. I think perhaps the savior’s actual parting words were “Velvet glove, iron fist.”

I mean, that at least sounds like Jesus.

Lotta mixed feelings about the evangelical turn towards hard-nosed realpolitik under Trump. On the one hand, the gripe about Christian conservatives used to be that they were forever trying to inject morals into the messy business of politics, made more uncomfortable by the fact that many millions of people disagree with some of their stances on sexual morality and resent their attempts to convert them into policy. Well, good news: Between Robertson’s take on the Khashoggi affair and the complete pass given to Trump on matters like Stormygate, there’s less moralizing than ever.

The bad news? I’m unclear from the clip below on how many murders Pastor Robertson would be willing to tolerate in the name of preserving the alliance and “$100 billion worth of arms sales,” as he notes in passing. Presumably his interest in the latter answers my question: Some of those weapons will be used to continue killing civilians in neighboring Yemen, as he doubtless knows. If Robertson’s willing to condone that in the name of checking Iran, naturally he would condone looking the other way at a lot of things, Khashoggi’s murder just one among them. Christianity’s nice and all but we’ve gotta live in the real world.

I honestly don’t know whether to call him a fraud or to salute him for taking a cold but sober view of the international chessboard.

There may be another reason why he and POTUS’s friends at CBN are rushing to provide cover here, though:

To some extent the Saudis’ problem is Trump’s problem. Right now Trump can afford to ignore the Democrats’ interest in finding out how much his and the Kingdom’s interests overlap. In three months, with the House likely in Democratic hands, it’ll be harder.

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