Ted Cruz’s run to the right
AP EXPLAINS: Shutting off extremists’ Internet access isn’t as easy as Trump makes it sound.
With an election cycle more bloated than ever, you can’t go anywhere without Trump invading your world. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s campaign has looked into whether it is possible to withdraw a pledge to support the eventual nominee if it is Donald Trump, a senior Bush aide said on Thursday, in a sign of the deep enmity between the two.NEW YORK — Donald Trump says the government must work with “brilliant people” in Silicon Valley to keep violent extremists offline, even if it means shutting down parts of the Internet.
Fox News’ Bret Baier pressed Cruz on the claims the GOP presidential hopeful made in 2013 — when he supported a measure granting a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants — to his current position, which is the opposite. “I’ve never supported legalization.This week has seen a plethora of takes (Yglesias/Klein/Beutler/Chait/Newell) from left-of-center analysts suggesting that fear of Donald Trump may drive the GOP establishment into the arms of Ted Cruz.The immigration fight between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio is fully on – after Cruz blasted Rubio at Tuesday’s debate for his co-authorship of the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill, and then after Rubio fired back on Wednesday. “[Cruz] clearly supported legalization. His followers, his detractors and everyone in between are to blame, filling every television screen, computer monitor, Facebook feed and dinner conversation with his exploits.
The development came to light after Bush and Trump engaged in bitter exchanges at the last Republican debate of the year on Tuesday night in Las Vegas. I know he doesn’t say that in Iowa, he takes it out of his stump speech,” Rubio told NBC’s Hallie Jackson yesterday. “But I know for a fact that he supported an amendment in the U.S. Last week in New Hampshire, Bush insisted he would not need to withdraw his support for the nominee because he did not believe Trump would win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
The free-for-all we witnessed illustrated clearly for voters on edge about the critical issues of our time the benefit of a long and arduous primary process as a proving ground that draws out serious contrasts between candidates. Skewed TV news coverage would have you think otherwise, but don’t forget, the subset of America that actually owns a TV and tunes into news programs during their actual time slots — a foreign concept for millennials — is a specific audience that’s a little older and a little more conservative (recent Nielsen ratings imply as much). During Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, Trump said that because the extremist Islamic State group is using the Internet to recruit, the tech industry needs to find a way to stop them from doing that. “ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. Anyway, before I can explain how many actual Trump supporters likely exist, I need to warn you: these numbers are, at best, a guesstimate. (Sorry, I hate that word too.) For one, I can’t attempt to come to a number without consulting polls.
I want immigration reform to pass,” he said. “And so I would urge people of good faith from both sides of the aisle that if the objective is to pass common sense immigration reform that secures the borders, that improves legal immigration and that allows those who are here illegally to come in out of the shadows, then we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement and compromise to come together.” Cruz tried to clarify his comments during an appearance on “Special Report with Bret Baier” and said his support of the amendment would not have provided legal status but instead said that he was “leading the fight against amnesty.” Cruz’s campaign has said in the past that the amendment was intended to be a poison pill to the overall bill and was created to illustrate that those pushing for immigration reform only cared about granting illegal immigrants citizenship. GOP fight night at Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian palace packed more punches than all of the previous debates combined, with candidates giving and receiving some of the harshest body blows of the 2016 campaign to date.
In my personal opinion, most political polls are charlatan magic, numbers for news organizations to use to boost ratings and political candidates to selectively use to boost their personal image. Even better, he said, would be to tap the brightest minds from the U.S. to infiltrate extremists’ Internet gatherings and stay up on their activities — something U.S. intelligence agencies are already working at. The much-anticipated brawl between Senate colleagues Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz was on full display on issues from foreign policy to immigration, with Rubio drawing first blood and Cruz counter-punching as the debate unfolded.
But ask yourself what conservative voters will care about in the next six weeks: Rubio standing shoulder to shoulder with Chuck Schumer, or Cruz voting with Jeff Sessions? Senator Rand Paul took audacious shots at Chris Christie, arguing that the New Jersey governor was America’s man if the nation wants to start World War III over the civil war in Syria. Because the Internet is a global network of networks that are all owned by different governments, companies or individuals, “no one person owns it,” said Charlie Baker, vice president of product management for the Internet performance company Dyn.
Businessman Donald Trump and Florida Governor Jeb Bush continued to trade barbs, with Trump flippant over a candidate he casts as “low energy” and Bush seething over what he perceives as an unserious contender. Rubio’s argument is that from a 10,000-feet-in-the-air perspective, they’re currently similar on immigration reform’s most basic question – whether to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in America or grant many of them legal status once new border security measures are put into place. And the U.S. just doesn’t have the technical ability to cut off Internet access in a country it doesn’t control. (Military action might be a different story, although it presents difficulties of its own.) Baker added that people have a long history of finding their way around Internet restrictions whether it’s democracy activists in China or Iran, or tweens looking to circumvent their school’s firewall. Cruz now maintains that this was a false flag operation designed to undermine the coalition for the bill by driving a wedge between moderate reformers and the immigrant rights activist community.
They’ve also both supported expanding legal immigration, an issue that’s become more controversial within the GOP since Donald Trump’s nativist campaign took off. “As far as Ted’s record, I’m always puzzled by his attack on this issue,” Rubio said in Tuesday’s debate. “Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally. Many anticipated a fight with election-altering consequences, based on Trump’s cajoling of Cruz as a “maniac” after Cruz challenged Trump’s judgment and, in private remarks, argued his campaign would ultimately collapse. But Wednesday night on Fox News, Brett Baier delivered footage of Cruz speaking about his amendment on the Judiciary Committee that seems to support Rubio’s interpretation. Ted Cruz supported a 500-percent increase in the number of H-1 visas, the guest workers that are allowed into this country, and Ted supports doubling the number of green cards.” The legal immigration fight is easy to referee. Both Twitter and Facebook declined to comment on Trump’s remarks, but say they don’t tolerate posts that promote violence and aggressively remove such posts when reported by their users.
But here’s the deal: The longer Bush deliberates this plan of action, it only explains why his campaign and candidacy seem so flawed in this political environment. As the war on ISIS specifically and terrorism more broadly moved to center stage, the styles of each leader became more evident to voters going into the post-Christmas political season. Indeed, while campaigning in Arizona yesterday, Trump already said he didn’t care what Bush ultimately does. “I don’t care if a guy like Jeb Bush never endorses me; it wouldn’t bother me at all.
Trump took his lumps on the nuclear triad, and while articulating a populist message on the Middle East and oil, he was challenged on particulars vis-à-vis ISIS and Syria by others on stage. According to one poll, 68 percent of his supporters say they would vote for him if he ran as an independent, or about 12,442,000 people if the above number is at all accurate. So far, Internet companies have resisted pre-emptively blocking posts, partly because that would require them to make judgment calls about what constitutes terrorism — a definition that differs around the world. The fact of the matter is that Rubio was part of the Gang of Eight that wrote the bill and strongly supported its passage while Cruz strongly opposed it. I think it’s a negative.” As Yoda – who we’ve been quoting in our headlines today with the new “Star Wars” movie out – might also say here: “That is why you fail.” The New York Times last night scooped that Defense Secretary Ash Carter ALSO used private email to conduct official business – even after the story about Hillary Clinton’s emails broke. “Defense Secretary Ashton B.
Ted Cruz billed himself as the representative of America’s national interest, arguing for destroying defined enemies as opposed to democratizing dictatorships, and that border security was national security. Any attempt to filter out the online activities of extremist groups would inevitably infringe on the First Amendment rights of Americans, said David Greene, civil liberties director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Even if you would accept the proposition that some of this speech is illegal, it’s impossible to block just that out,” Greene said. Cruz has spent months and months and months ducking questions as to what he would eventually do with undocumented immigrants, usually saying it’s a “conversation” for another time once the border is secure. Carter relied on a personal email account to conduct a portion of his government business during his first months at the Pentagon, according to White House and Defense Department officials and copies of Mr. Marco Rubio commanded the facts well about the nature of our enemies and the multifaceted threats they pose, and continued to argue for a more active Bush-ian foreign policy.
I found the clip via the Twitter feed of National Review executive editor Reihan Salam, for example, who particularly highlighted a moment during the exchange when Baier questions Cruz’s basic honesty. That would leave us with about 20,108,000 Trump supporters, or 13,874,557 if he runs as an independent; or about 15.6 percent and 10.75 percent of voters (assuming the same number of voters from 2012 will vote in the upcoming election, which is a pretty big assumption). With reliable and timely polls for Illinois hard to come by — the most recent polls appear to be from the summer — it’s tough to say how many Trump supporters are in the Prairie State. John McCain, a longtime proponent of immigration reform, spoke angrily to the press about the idea that Cruz’s current immigration-skeptical rhetoric is at odds with past support for expanding the H-1B visa program.
While many will rank the candidates in terms of their individual performances, collectively it is the American people who were the real winners of the Vegas debate. From that pool of 2,135,216 voters, if Trump is as popular in Illinois as he is nationally, it’s possible that Trump has as many as 704,621 supporters right here in our backyard. Cruz argued that the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya, and Obama’s gentler diplomatic push against Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak all reflected a mistaken injection of naive idealism into a rough corner of the world. Rubio’s camp pointed to the phrase “intend” as an obvious weasel word, but Cruz’s campaign chair went further and told reporters after the debate that he “unequivocally” would not grant legal status to undocumented immigrants.
Cruz would rather see the United States embrace whatever allies we can find against Islamic radicalism, potentially even including Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Tuesday night, interested voters finally got the chance to see GOP candidates put in real ring time on vital matters of national security that impact us all. Nationally, who knows how big of a chunk of America’s independents — keeping in mind that about 16 percent of Americans consider themselves independents that lean toward Democrat — would actually support Trump if he ends up making it past the primaries.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka delivered a pointed smackdown of this idea that was rapidly echoed by AEI colleagues who don’t normally work on national security issues. Cruz’s view is arguably a more authentic interpretation of the Ronald Reagan approach to foreign policy (you can think of it as a 21st-century update of Jeane Kirkpatrick’s “Democracies and Double Standards”), but Rubio’s is the current accepted canon. Cruz denounced the bill from the start and voted against it. “[T]here was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting the fireman and the arsonist because they are both at the scene of the fire,” Cruz said on Tuesday.
A funny thing has happened: After congressional Republicans cut a deal with Democrats and the Obama White House on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill, the conservative right has been pretty quiet (at least so far). If these numbers tell us anything though, it’s that Americans political beliefs have slowly shifted away from the country’s two most popular political parties. Considering the extreme and polarizing rhetoric of of politics in today’s climate, this can be surprising, but clearly all of America isn’t engaging in these extremes. Maybe the large percentage of independents and the rise of two fringe candidates — Bernie and Donald — is an indication that America will soon move away from its two-party system. And trying to help Rubio by suggesting that Cruz is weak on immigration could simply end up boosting the notion that Trump is the only viable choice for anti-immigration voters — which could lead to the disaster scenario of Trump as the nominee.
Here’s the Washington Post on the spending bill: “The 2,009-page spending legislation and a companion 233-page tax bill are the final product of months of sparring both inside and between the two parties. The working assumption of conservative elites seems to be that Trump will inevitably fade, but at this point that doesn’t amount to much more than wishful thinking. Ryan (R-Wis.), who immediately sought to distance himself from the proposed legislation Wednesday, even as he embraced the importance of compromise.” Finally, in the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders picked up one of his biggest endorsements yet – from the Communication Workers of America union.
The scoop from NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Alex Seitz-Wald: “The group represents about 700,000 workers nationally, making it by far the largest union to back Sanders yet. But it’s important to note some conservatives saw things the same way at the time, lending weight to Cruz’s explanation. “The point is to prove nobody cares about ‘em coming out from the shadows and nobody cares about ‘em being treated with dignity and nobody cares about any of that,” Limbaugh said at the time. “They’re looked at as voters.” As Cruz’s campaign notes, leading immigration hardliner Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) also voted for his amendment. If it were all a big piece of political theater, you’d think Cruz might have made clear that he didn’t support the bill’s legalization component – citizenship or not – and just wanted to make a point.
Instead, he kept emphasizing the alleged benefits that would come with his amendment and how important it was to pass it. “It is…I believe critical to passing this bill to remove the path to citizenship and yet every single Democrat voted on party lines against this amendment,” Cruz said in a floor speech after it failed. Cruz’s biggest pitch to conservatives is that he’s one of the few truth-tellers in a Senate where GOP leaders constantly try to hoodwink the right with phony show votes that have no chance of success.
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