But will they? Rand Paul’s courting Silicon Valley. Problem is, tech titans don’t exactly love the GOP. The libertarian senator tells Gregory Ferenstein how he plans to change that.
After eight years of being digitally thumped in presidential campaigns, the GOP desperately needs Silicon Valley’s deep-pocketed donors and top-tier campaign techies. In the Republicans’ latest goodwill pilgrimage to San Francisco, Sen. Rand Paul is crossing his fingers that Valley executives loath taxes, drones, and the war on drugs more than they care about President Obama, science funding, and gay rights.
Rand Paul expresses his displeasure that Apple CEO Tim Cook was brought before subcommittee hearing to examine the methods employed by multinational corporations to shift profits offshore. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
“Bush Republicans haven’t been doing very well out here in a long time,” Paul tells me in an interview on his trip to the West Coast. “A libertarian-style Republican would do better out here.”
The effect that anti-science stereotypes have on Republicans cannot be underestimated. “It’s hard to side with a party that’s still trying to reach out to their base of creationists,” said Obama campaign engineer Johnvey Hwang, in a San Jose Mercury News investigation of why Republicans can’t get traction in the valley.
A recent reported drone strike highlights tension in the country at a delicate time of transition—even as the attack killed the Pakistani Taliban’s No. 2, writes Jahanzeb Aslam.
Less than a week after President Obama pledged to make the U.S. drone program more transparent and provided new guidelines for its use, six men, including a senior Taliban leader, were killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. For the incoming government of Prime Minister–elect Nawaz Sharif, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Demonstrators protest U.S. drone strikes in Multan, Pakistan, on May 30. (Xinhua/Landov)
Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, has been a vocal critic of the drone program. Both he and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has formed the provincial government in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province along the tribal belt, campaigned on promises to end the drone strikes, describing them as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Khan even went so far as to promise his supporters that if elected prime minister, he would order Pakistan’s Air Force to shoot down any drones that entered the country’s airspace.
Sharif offered less vitriol, but echoed the same rhetoric. “Drones indeed are challenging our sovereignty,” he told journalists after the elections. “I think this is a very serious issue, and our concern must be understood properly.” This vague stance might allow Sharif to tacitly support drone strikes, while publicly condemning them like his predecessors in the former government. This most recent drone strike makes that harder, says Talat Masood, a defense analyst, but not impossible. “He will have to emphasize more forcefully that drones are a violation,” he tells The Daily Beast.
The attorney general’s conduct in trying to pass off the James Rosen subpoena as falling under the Espionage Act proves that he is abusing his office. Pentagon papers lawyer James Goodale has seen this before—in Richard Nixon.
Attorney General Eric Holder should resign for his role in the James Rosen case. He signed off on a search warrant to Rosen, a Fox News reporter. This warrant treated Rosen as a common criminal. It sets a terrible precedent. Holder should resign to erase this precedent.
Attorney General Eric Holder during the Office of Inspector General’s annual awards ceremony May 29. Holder should resign, Pentagon papers lawyer James Goodale says. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a State Department adviser, had leaked to Rosen information about North Korea’s nuclear plans. The Justice Department sought the source of this leak by obtaining a search warrant for Rosen’s emails and other records. Fox News believes the search warrant even sought records from Rosen’s parents, who live in Staten Island, New York.
The basis for obtaining the warrant was that Rosen had conspired with Kim to violate the Espionage Act. That act does not apply to Rosen. It does however, in the government’s view, apply to Kim. It should be clear to anyone that Holder has run an end run around the Espionage Act by his actions. While Rosen is not subject to the Espionage Act, Kim is. But Rosen might as well be subject to the act if he can be held responsible for Kim’s actions.
Republicans have overplayed their hand on federal court nominations, leaving the president in a win-win position.
Let’s say you are a prominent member of America’s legal community—a solicitor general in New York; a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley; or a respected criminal defense lawyer in Arizona—and you’ve been chosen for a federal court position by the president of the United States.
Congratulations! It’s a high honor. But you have a few steps to take. You have to go through an extensive background check, commissioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee. You have to sit as a gaggle of politicians question your life experience and your qualifications. You have to answer questions about your work, your approach to the law, and in an oblique way, your political views. And then, once you’ve gone through the lengthy, tiring process, the committee will hold a vote on your nomination. They’ll either agree to support you, or not, and then recommend your confirmation or rejection to the full Senate, which is responsible for the final decision.
For most of the last century, this has been a straightforward and uncontroversial process. Yes, there have been exceptions—times when presidents nominate judges who are far out of the mainstream—but for the most part, the Senate confirms who the White House selects. Over the last four years, however, the process has hit a snag. Republicans have been relentless in obstructing the flow of judicial confirmations under President Obama. As of this week, there are 79 vacancies on the U.S. Circuit Courts and Courts of Appeal. Just a few of them have been filled, and for some the GOP is deliberately blocking Obama from naming replacements, regardless of qualifications. Overall, Republicans have filibustered Obama’s judicial nominees at a higher rate than the picks of any other president in modern memory.
It’s hard to overstate the damage this has done to Obama’s agenda. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in particular, has played an important role in stymieing the administration. Even with last week’s confirmation of Sri Srinivasan to the court, it has a conservative majority preserved by the GOP’s obstruction of Obama’s nominees. Indeed, as Scott Lemeiux notes for The American Prospect, “Obama has filled only 25 percent of the vacancies on the D.C. Circuit that have existed since the beginning of his term.”
Stay quiet and respect your elders? Not these Senate newcomers. Patricia Murphy reports on how Cruz, Rubio, Paul, and Lee are shaking up the budget battle—and causing new headaches for their GOP brethren.
For the last 200 years, the United States Senate had been an institution governed by precedent, a mannerly chamber where members addressed each other as “gentlemen” and “gentleladies,” where traditions were preserved, and where freshmen serving alongside their octogenarian counterparts were expected to be seen and not heard.
From top left, clockwise: Sens. Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. (Steve Pope, Justin Sullivan, Chris Maddaloni, Bill Clark/Getty Images)
But a battle raging over the federal budget has changed all that, stalling a House-Senate conference on the budget for more than two months and exposing a deep divide within the Republican Party between long-serving moderates and a quartet of Tea Party freshmen—Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio—who say the Senate is not only incapable of solving the country’s problems, the Senate is the problem.
The four men, who have a little more than six years of Senate experience among them, differ in temperament and backgrounds, but together are both roiling Senate elders and accumulating power at an unprecedented pace. Through a combination of legislative maneuvers, social-media mastery, and a rebellious streak that has caught fire with dispirited conservatives, they have become a force to be reckoned with, but mostly by members of their own party.
Michele Bachmann had a good run as the looniest toon in Congress. But there are plenty more where she came from. From Steve King to Ted Cruz, see our list of top contenders for her Crazytown crown.
Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she won’t run for reelection to the House of Representatives in 2014 was bittersweet. Sure, the country might be better off with one fewer politician crusading against women’s reproductive rights or accepting terrorist attacks as God’s punishment for America’s moral decline. But we’d be lying if we said Bachmann’s tumultuous tenure didn’t provide us with more than a little bit of entertainment. Lucky for us, the former queen of Crazytown leaves behind plenty of potential successors in waiting. In no particular order, here are the six other craziest Republicans in Congress.
Watch some of these crazy congressmen in action.
Steve King at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on August 28, 2012. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call via Getty)
Steve King (R-IA)
In the decade Iowa Republican Steve King has served in the House of Representatives, he’s given Bachmann a serious run for her money in the crazy category. There is almost too much evidence to list, but here’s a sample. Ahead of the 2008 presidential election, King predicted that members of al Qaeda would be “dancing in the middle of the streets” if Barack Obama were elected, “because of his middle name.” Even after then–Republican presidential candidate John McCain shamed the congressman, King defended his comment, telling the Associated Press, “[Obama will] certainly be viewed as a savior for [terrorists]. That’s why you will see them supporting him, encouraging him.” Meanwhile, King has proved himself no friend to immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. He once justified his proposal for an electrified fence across the U.S.-Mexico border by saying that “we do this with livestock all the time.” He’s referred to illegal immigration as a “slow-moving terrorist attack” and suggested that any senator who votes in favor of a comprehensive immigration-reform bill “wear a scarlet letter A for Amnesty.” He’s proposed legislation that would lower standards on animal treatment, defended legalized animal fighting, and argued that making it a federal crime to watch animal fights and not making it a federal crime to watch humans fight is “hypocrisy,” as “it is wrong to rate animals above human beings.” But nothing gets King going quite like being asked by an ATM whether he’d like to continue in English or Spanish, which should come as no shock, as he was the key sponsor of an English-only bill. Oh, and he’s totally a birther.
At a dinner with donors Wednesday night, the Texas freshman was unapologetic about trying to block the Hurricane Sandy aid bill but stressed the positive—saying the GOP should be the party of the 47 percent.
Addressing a roomful of well-heeled New York Republican donors Wednesday night, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz urged his fellow GOPers to become less the Party of Romney and the Rich and focus their rhetoric more on providing the poor with a pathway up the economic ladder.
Sen. Ted Cruz wants to win over those turned off by the likes of Mitt Romney. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
“I am going to suggest that the last election can be explained in two words: 47 percent,” Cruz said, referencing Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded remarks to an earlier group of Republican donors in which he suggested that nearly half of Americans were on some kind of government dole and so unlikely to support him.
“The national narrative of the last election was the 47 percent of Americans who are not currently paying income taxes, who are in some ways dependent on government, we don’t have to worry about them,” Cruz said. “That was what was communicated in the last election. I have to tell you as a conservative I cannot think of an idea more opposite to what I believe. I think Republicans are and should be the party of the 47 percent.”
After tacking to the right, John McCain is back to picking fights with Republican colleagues. But amid a GOP identity crisis, an aging senator’s independent stands may not mean as much as for the party as they once did.
Slipping off to Syria over the weekend and urging a greater U.S. military role in the ongoing crisis, Republican Sen. John McCain remains a thorn in President Obama’s side even as he tackles his own party by siding with the administration on key issues from gun safety to immigration reform. That’s the definition of a maverick, a label McCain embraced when he ran for president in 2000 and 2008 but then disavowed in 2010 when confronted with a primary challenge from the right in his bid for reelection in Arizona. Safely installed now in a fifth term in the U.S. Senate, McCain has recaptured his maverick mojo, taking on fellow Republican Ted Cruz and other Tea Party Republicans for refusing to negotiate a budget compromise with the Senate.
Republicans have long demanded “regular order,” and they succeeded in forcing Democrats for the first time in years to produce a budget that now must be reconciled with the budget passed by House Republicans. Cruz and Rand Paul and other conservatives newly emboldened on Capitol Hill are now blocking regular order because they’re afraid House Republicans might be tempted into making a deal that involves raising the debt ceiling. “So we don’t trust the majority party on the other side (of the Capitol) to come to conference and not hold to the fiscal discipline that we want to see happen? Isn’t that a little bit bizarre?” McCain exclaimed on the Senate floor.
Cruz responded in words that should live on in partisan infamy, “Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans.” To be fair, he said he doesn’t trust the Democrats either, but then that was never in question. A brilliant thinker and skillful debater with a high IQ apparently offset by an abysmally low EQ, Cruz has managed to alienate many of his colleagues, McCain among them, with his bulldozing, take-no-prisoners style in a body that values personal relationships and cordiality, however phony. McCain himself, of course, built a reputation in part on his pugnacious personality, and in a recent interview with The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove, called Republican Sen. Ron Johnson a “jerk” for his refusal to go to conference on the budget. That’s actually mild for McCain when he’s trying to make a point. (Editor's note: Aides of Sens. McCain and Johnson clarify that the 'jerk' comment was made in 'total jest.')
McCain is one of a handful of Republicans—some in office, others like former Senate leader Bob Dole—who are pushing back from the Tea Party’s grip on the GOP. McCain warns Republicans that without immigration reform they will further marginalize themselves as a party. This is quite a turnabout from when he was running to the right and said he would vote against the pro-reform immigration bill he cosponsored with the late Senator Kennedy if it were introduced again. Last week, McCain surprised some in his party by endorsing State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland to be assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs despite her role in crafting the talking points at the heart of the Benghazi controversy. (It may have helped that Nuland’s husband, defense intellectual Robert Kagan, advocates positions McCain supports.)
Holder is the latest in a long line of attorneys general who do the boss’s dirty work and absorb anger that would otherwise reach the president, writes Nick Gillespie.
Eric Holder may not be the worst attorney general in American history, but he is the most recent—which amounts to nearly the same thing.
Attorney General Eric Holder takes his seat before a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on May 15. (Alex Wong/Getty)
Despite its exalted status as the nation’s “top cop,” the job is best understood as a dumping ground for intermittently competent bulldogs who take out the president’s trash and act as his public-relations human shield. That was the basic duty of George W. Bush’s troika of torture apologists: John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Mukasey. Ashcroft went so far after the 9/11 attacks as to argue that dissent itself verged on the unconstitutional.
"Those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty,” Ashcroft told Congress, "your tactics only aid terrorists.”
The congresswoman who represented the worst of American politics will not seek reelection in 2014. John Avlon on Michele Bachmann’s calculated decision to bow out now.
Our long national nightmare is over.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), pictured at a GOP picnic in August 2011 in Humboldt, Iowa, will not run for reelection. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Well, that’s overstating it. But the congresswoman who represented the worst of modern American politics more than she ever tried to represent her Minnesota constituents has announced that she will not run for reelection.
Michele Bachmann is done.
“I do not want to get in trouble with Michelle.”
Maybe now when you google “Obama lipstick,” the first thing that comes up won’t be his “lipstick on a pig” comments from 2008. The president showed up to a dinner at the White House with lipstick on his collar, which he quickly blamed on an attendee. Obama praised the “warmth” at the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month celebration, and then said the lipstick was a result of “this warmth.” “Where’s Jessica Sanchez? It wasn’t Jessica. It was her aunt,” Obama told the crowd. “Where is she? Auntie, right there. Look at this. Look at it. I just want everyone to witness. I do not want to get in trouble with Michelle, so I’m calling you out in front of everybody.” How charming.
Insists decision is not due to recent investigation.
It’s the end of an era. Michele Bachmann announced early Wednesday morning in a YouTube video on her campaign Web site (taking a cue from Anthony Weiner?) that she would not be running for reelection to the House of Representatives in 2014. Bachmann insisted her decision had nothing to do with the “recent inquiries into the activities of my presidential campaign,” but she did not address the recent congressional ethics investigation. She also said her decision “was not influenced by any concerns about being reelected,” despite her narrowest victory yet in 2012 against Democrat Jim Graves, who has already announced he is running in 2014. Never one to let her opposition to Obamacare go unmentioned, Bachmann said she will spend her last 18 months in Congress opposing the health-care law.
The president’s Tuesday outing with the governor seemed like a perfect diversion from the scandals back in D.C. But what did Christie get out of it—other than conservative ire?
With enemies like this, who needs friends?
On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie again toured his state’s Hurricane Sandy-stricken beachfront communities with President Obama, a man he once spent the better part of a year trying to defeat on behalf of Mitt Romney and whom he once called “the most ill-prepared person to assume the presidency in my lifetime.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie greets President Barack Obama following his arrival at McGuire Air Force Base on May 28, 2013. (Rich Schultz/AP)
All these barbs were forgotten by many Republicans, though, after the hurricane hit and the duo took their first tour of the shore. It wasn’t so much that the president visited. Sandy was a natural disaster, after all, one that affected millions of people, and New Jersey needed any help the federal government could provide. Rather, for conservatives, in the days after president’s visit and in the waning days of a hard fought election campaign, Christie seemed to go out of his way to heap praise on the president.
Why Obama should go easier on them.
ON JUNE 3, a military court-martial will begin for Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private who was arrested in 2010 for carrying out the largest leak in U.S. history. The trial begins at a moment when the Justice Department is under fire for its aggressive conduct during two leak investigations that recently became public. In one case, it seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters; in the other, it targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator in a leak investigation against one of his sources, a contract employee at the State Department.
There are important differences among these cases, of course. Bradley Manning was bound by his oath as a soldier to protect sensitive information, whereas the AP and Fox both have a professional duty to seek out news that is often shrouded in secrecy. Still, all three cases point to an underlying truth about Barack Obama: he has gone to great lengths to stifle unauthorized sources of information about his foreign policy.
George W. Bush, of course, also waged a secretive war on al Qaeda. But despite his disagreements with the press—for instance, he tried to persuade The New York Times not to expose a far-reaching National Security Agency program to track phone calls inside the United States—his administration never went so far as to suggest that reporters themselves might be committing crimes by doing their jobs. Yet that is what Obama’s Justice Department did in the Rosen case.
Obama now appears to understand the problem with treating reporters this way. Last week in a major speech about the war on terror, he said he was instructing the Justice Department to review its guidelines for investigating journalists. “I’m troubled,” Obama said, “by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.”
The still-unraveling mess of the IRS debacle.
IT MAY have dominated headlines for weeks but to many, the Internal Revenue Scandal is complex and confusing—and it is still unraveling.
For those trying to catch up, here’s a précis: earlier this month, Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, confirmed that conservative organizations had been improperly targeted by the administration in advance of the 2012 election, a revelation that meant the ax for IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, though that didn’t prevent a political firestorm.
So far, three congressional committees are investigating, and the Justice Department, in cooperation with the FBI, has launched its own criminal probe.
For months, Tea Party groups had complained that the IRS had been unfairly scrutinizing their applications for tax-exempt status, but Lerner officially confirmed it was true when she answered what turned out to be a planted question about it at an American Bar Association conference in May. (Lerner was later put on administrative leave, after she invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer House committee questions.)
President Obama tried to dispel concerns over NSA spying on 'Charlie Rose' Monday, saying 'if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails... and have not.' So what's the big deal, right? Right?
Laura Colarusso on how Edward Snowden, who wasn’t directly employed by the government, got top-secret intel.
Every week this month, the Supreme Court will hand down rulings. Josh Dzieza on what’s at stake.
Pentagon papers lawyer James Goodale has seen Holder’s actions before—in Richard Nixon.