President Obama’s push to persuade Congress to authorize a strike on Syria presses ahead on Tuesday, as two top administration officials will make the White House’s case before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Although a number of lawmakers have been in the Capitol for briefings with administration officials, committee members will be returning nearly a week before Congress is officially due to return from its August recess to consider Obama’s case to launch a military strike against dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey will make the administration’s case to lawmakers. Over the Labor Day weekend, Obama said that any strike would be “limited in duration and scope.” The military intervention would exclude “boots on the ground,” the president said.
On Saturday, the administration delivered the text of an authorization for the use of force to Congress, seeking approval “to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons.”
The administration argues that the attack is necessary to deter the proliferation of chemical weapons, which the White House says Assad used against his people on Aug. 21. The question of launching an attack arose because Obama had drawn a so-called red line at the use of chemical weapons. Now that government intelligence reportedly shows that line has been crossed, the administration is compelled to act.
Whether Obama will win Congress’s approval remains in doubt. Libertarian-leaning Republicans and liberal Democrats expressed skepticism about launching an attack over the weekend. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore of the Senate, told reporters that the authorization was too broad and would be amended, according to media reports. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., meanwhile, cast a possible attack as a mistake during an appearance on Meet the Press.
Senate Democratic leaders quickly offered support to the president. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said military action would be “justified and necessary.”
“I believe the United States has a moral obligation as well as a national security interest in defending innocent lives against such atrocities,” Reid said in a statement.
Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., praised the president, but he stopped short of calling for military action.
“If we can do something to discourage Assad and others like him from using chemical weapons without engaging in a war and without making a long-term military commitment of the United States, I’m open to that debate,” Durbin said in a statement.
Seeking to shore up support among senators, Obama invited Republican hawks John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to the White House on Monday, the Associated Press reported. Both McCain and Graham support a robust strike aimed at toppling Assad’s regime.
House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, has said his chamber will consider the president’s authorization request when it returns the week of Sept. 9. In a sign of just how much opposition Obama will face from his political opponents in the House, Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., jabbed the White House over military cuts due to sequestration.
In addition to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday, a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing is expected this week and administration officials are briefing members in both classified and unclassified settings, according to the Associated Press. The White House gave a two-hour closed briefing to lawmakers on Sunday, AP reported.
On Monday, administration officials—including Kerry, Hagel, Dempsey, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper—briefed the House Democratic Caucus in an unclassified teleconference call that lasted 70 minutes, according to a House Democratic aide.
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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.”