The Senate’s top Republican and the leading GOP senator on the Foreign Relations Committee are introducing legislation Wednesday aimed at deterring Russian aggression in Ukraine, and delivering a muted rebuke of President Obama’s handling of the crisis in the eastern part of the country.
“The current sanctions have failed to impose the type of cost that will change Vladimir Putin’s calculus,” according to a statement outlining the legislation obtained by National Journal. “Absent such costs, Putin will continue to destabilize Ukraine and may invade.”
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday about the need for legislation, saying that NATO should be strengthened, Russia should be penalized for its actions, and non-NATO members should be supported, as well.
The bill, whose backers also include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, comes after the passage of sanctions against Russia that had bipartisan support and suggests a growing rift between congressional Republicans and the White House.
Corker, who said he and his colleagues wrote the bill as if they were “sitting in the White House”, nonetheless said Republicans felt as if they could not wait to unveil the bill until some Democrats approved of it. Corker also said he told his Democratic committee counterpart, Chairman Bob Menendez of New Jersey, of his intentions before introducing the bill and that Republicans went ahead after Democrats balked at Iran sanctions earlier in this Congress.
“We just felt like with the essence of time and just our sincere concern about what’s happening in eastern Ukraine, it was better to just go ahead and get something out there and hope that it’ll have some effect on behavior,” Corker said.
“The lack of a forceful, effective response by the administration and Western leaders has given Putin little reason to expect that further aggression will be punished,” Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana, a cosponsor, said in an email. “We are introducing tough diplomatic, economic, and financial sanctions, and I am hopeful that President Obama will support our effort. If he is willing to lead by taking action that demonstrates American disapproval of Russia’s actions, I am confident that a bipartisan majority in Congress will stand with him.”
The senators pointed to violence in eastern Ukraine, including the shooting of the mayor of Kharkiv and the taking of hostages affiliated with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as part of their impetus for pushing the legislation, although its prospects for passage appear slight.
The legislation calls the annexation of Crimea illegal and calls for new sanctions against Russian officials involved with the takeover. It would also give $100 million in direct military aid to Ukraine and authorize the export of U.S. natural gas to Ukraine, which relies heavily on Russia as a source of energy.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”