The Candidates Respond to Brussels

july4whitebackgroundAs a public service, I’ve put together a quickie primer on how the five remaining presidential candidates responded to the terrorist attacks in Brussels. Let’s start with the Republicans.

First off, let us acknowledge that Republicans are weenies. Charles Pierce reminds us that all three Republican candidates wet their pants over the Ebola terror, for example. After the attacks in Brussels, Kasich and Cruz nonsensically called for President Obama to cut the state visit to Cuba off short and fly to Brussels, as if he had any business there and wouldn’t just create more security problems. One suspects there are telephones in Cuba and that the President has communicated with European leaders as needed.

Otherwise, regarding Brussels, Kasich has been the soul of moderation compared to Trump or Kruz. In fact, I found no substantive difference between Kasich and Hillary Clinton on this issue. I’ll come back to this in a bit.

Trump and Cruz, of course, both went into crazy overdrive. Trump continues to believe that Islamic terrorists (like the Ebola virus) are swarming across the U.S. Mexican border, and that the first order of business must be closing that border, along with banning Muslims from entering the country anywhere. He also promises to do lots of waterboarding and has not ruled out using nuclear weapons on ISIS (which Juan Cole tells us we should be calling “Daesh”).

But who knows what Trump would do? Here’s a snip of a recent interview with the Washington Post, courtesy of Mother Jones:

RYAN: You [MUFFLED] mentioned a few minutes earlier here that you would knock ISIS. You’ve mentioned it many times. You’ve also mentioned the risk of putting American troop in a danger area. If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?

TRUMP: I don’t want to use, I don’t want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting [MUFFLED]…

RYAN: This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?


TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?

The word deranged does come to mind.

Ted Cruz famously promised to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Like treating innocent people like criminals wouldn’t radicalize them. Like Trump, Cruz thinks the southern border must be closed to prevent Muslim terrorists and their Ebola virus allies from entering the country, because obviously there is no other way for them to get in other than to sneak across the Rio Grande. It’s not like we have other borders or international airports or anything.

He also declared that “for years, the West has tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear.” It is an article of faith on the Right that President Obama refuses to acknowledge that Daesh and other radical jihadist groups even exist. But, of course, the Right is wrong. (See also.) Wingnuts think that fear itself has power and that hysterical rhetoric and ignorance make one stronger, which is why they don’t know what to do with President Barack “the Ice Man” Obama. And which is why their approach to terrorism would be a disaster for the entire planet.

Here is Cruz’s statement, in full:

“For years, the west has tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear. We can no longer afford either. Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods. We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized. We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy ISIS. The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we can be are at an end. Our country is at stake.”

In short, booga booga booga.

Both Clinton and Kasich emphasized strengthening alliances and working with strategic partners to root out terrorism. Kasich (who, notably, did not mention Islam):

“Along with every American, I am sickened by the pictures of the carnage, by the injuries and by the loss of life,” said Kasich in a statement sent to reporters. “The wave of terror that has been unleashed in Europe and elsewhere around the world are attacks against our very way of life and against the democratic values upon which our political systems have been built. We and our allies must rededicate ourselves to these values of freedom and human rights. We must utterly reject the use of deadly acts of terror. We must also redouble our efforts with our allies to identify, root out and destroy the perpetrators of such acts of evil. We must strengthen our alliances as our way of life and the international system that has been built on our common values since the end of the Second World War comes under challenge from these and other actors of evil.”


Former Sec. of State Clinton said in a statement, “Terrorists have once again struck at the heart of Europe, but their campaign of hate and fear will not succeed. The people of Brussels, of Europe, and of the world will not be intimidated by these vicious killers. Today Americans stand in solidarity with our European allies. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and all the people of Belgium. These terrorists seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our alliance and our way of life, but they will never succeed. Today’s attacks will only strengthen our resolve to stand together as allies and defeat terrorism and radical jihadism around the world.”

However, here is where Clinton fell short, and where I would have wanted a more substantive answer. On the Today Show, she was asked explicitly what she might do about the “root causes” of terrorism.

Clinton responded that we need to tighten our security, bringing up a “visa system and passenger record system” she advocated as secretary of state. She also said Europe needs to fall in line behind the US in adopting our surveillance measures:

“When I was secretary, we often had some difficulty with our European friends because they were reluctant to impose the kind of strict standards we were looking for. After Paris, that has changed, and we need to do more to tighten things up.”

She did not address any of the actual root causes of terrorism.

I believe President Obama would have had a better answer.  This blind spot in Clinton is  worrisome, especially considering her record as a “regime change” hawk.
Finally, we come to Bernie Sanders:

We offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this barbaric attack and to the people of Brussels who were the target of another cowardly attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. We stand with our European allies to offer any necessary assistance in these difficult times.

Today’s attack is a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy ISIS. This type of barbarism cannot be allowed to continue. (see also)

He went further talking to Jimmy Kimmel (because news media ignore him):
‘”I think people get afraid, and for good reasons. ISIS is a disgusting, barbaric organization. We’ve seen what they’ve done in Paris, what they’ve done in Brussels. People are afraid of an attack in the United States. But I think what we have to understand is we’re not going to undermine the Constitution of the United States of America in order to effectively destroy ISIS. At the end of the day, we cannot allow the Trumps of the world to use these incidents to attack all of the Muslim people in the world. That is unfair. To imply that if somebody is a Muslim they’re a terrorist, that is an outrageous statement.”
Sanders generated a lot of derision when he linked terrorism and climate change awhile back, but lots of experts say it’s a serious contributing factor. Drought in Syria has a lot to do with migration into Europe and elsewhere.
Like Clinton and Kasich, he has emphasized international cooperation regarding security. I believe he has gone further than Clinton or Kasich in declaring that the United States isn’t the world’s police and that other nations, especially those in the Middle East, need to step up. He also has pledged to not use military force except as a last resort.

20 thoughts on “The Candidates Respond to Brussels

  1. Thank you for mentioning the drought factor, which is sadly overpassed in migration/displacement discussion. The region is water screwed with far ranging consequences from the personal to the political to the . . .

  2. The responses are telling for sure, though certainly not surprising. I think Hill may have held her fire a bit after that pander-fest she gave at AIPAC, she’s pissed on enough liberals for a while. What drives me crazy is that terrorism is only terrorism when it is committed by brown folk, specifically of Arab or African dissent. Also we don’t seem to give two shits about terrorism unless white folk die. Since Paris roughly 180 people have died in terror attacks around the world, most committed by jihadists against their brown brethren, hardly a word? You would think that with all the neo-con “terror experts” seemingly ready (at the drop of a hat) to speculate on the cables that they might consider other terror events even if white folk don’t die, I mean it (terror expert) is a business right?

  3. Trump = “bomb the shit out of….”

    He andTeddy-Cruz-ader = make it more conducive to create terror from the…

    Oh, fuck…
    I’m too tired.
    You’ve gotta be a conservatIive or an imbecile (but I repeat myself ) not to see!

  4. This time Donald Trump was spot on. He called Brussels sprouts a complete disaster, and I could not agree more. Ever since I was a kid I have found them disgusting. You can at least do things with broccoli to make it edible.

  5. I really wish everybody would read “American Raj” by Eric Margolis, or at least follow his internet page. There is a cause and effect wit this ( and all) issues. Sadly, there are many people who think and say “we don’t care what the reasons are !” There will be no repair until the situation is understood, and this does not mean I’m siding with the bad guys.

  6. This has got to be the most depressing election yet. Here the democrats are faced with a GOP in complete disarray that is about to elect a candidate with the highest negatives ever, who couldn’t be more repulsive and idiotic, an electoral majority that practically guarantees victory if they implement just average GOTV efforts. And yet the candidate the party has put its thumb on the scale to make sure it haves as its nominee is a candidate who is a close second in high negatives, who embodies the worst aspects of pay-to-play that has nullified the democratic process, is a neo-liberal foreign policy war hawk who thought it was “smart and tough” to get the nation bogged down in Iraq and now Syria, with similar disastrous results, who sells a policy of “incrementalism” as “reasonable” that is really just a strategy for conning democratic voters into believing the candidate is “fighting for you.”

    The democratic party has its best chance yet to refocus on true democratic policies, the kind that address the needs of most voters on both sides of the aisle, take a real shot at climate change, and do something substantive about the financial vulture-ism that’s been sucking the lifeblood out of the economy and the ability for the average worker to have a somewhat decent life and retirement. But we’re saddled with a candidate who expects voters to believe the speeches she’s made to these vultures, to the tune of millions of dollars, are no indication that she would put their interests first. The rank cynicism is just sickening.

    This really is an election of a lesser of two evils.

  7. “This has got to be the most depressing election yet”

    CSM, I agree 100% with your rant but I figure if your gonna go down have some fucking fun on the way, have you seen the latest about Lyin Ted’s penis!

  8. I love Brussel Sprouts. However, the idea of an affair with Ted Cruz makes me want to vomit.

  9. Just the thought of any woman – even his wife – doing the horizontal hootchy-coo with Teddy Cruz-ader, makes me about as sick as the same image as Nixon “bedding” Pat.

    Btw – I’m 100% sure Nixon didn’t have any affairs, because… well… he’s Nixon!
    And he sure as hell didn’t get his Tricky Dick nickname for his sexual prowess!

    I think they invented cloning long before they told anyone, because I couldn’t even image Pat having se… se… (pause to puke)… sex at least twice, to have daughters.

    *Projectile vomiting!!!!!*

  10. I don’t know about Cruz’s extramarital affairs, but I’m almost certain that his marriage isn’t a happy one.. Cruz has an intellectually domineering spirit about him that is probably the worst poison you can introduce into a marital relationship. A quality like that might be found to be attractive initially in forming a relationship… but in the end only one person can ever come to fulfillment in who they are as a person.
    My suspicion is that Heidi got sucked into the relationship with Ted and got her will / individuality broken. Now she doesn’t know how to extract herself from her pitfall because she’s in too deep. And the only solace she can find for her misery in the relationship is in the lure of status that Ted is offering as a compensation.

  11. “And the only solace she can find for her misery in the relationship is in the lure of status that Ted is offering as a compensation”

    Swami, you should get a gig on the TeeVee you could be MSNBC’s Kieth Ablow! That was a joke, I value your introspect, it seems perfectly rational. By the way Heidi did suffer from a serious bout with depression not long after her and Ted got hitched, so your theory seems more than plausible!

  12. “This has got to be the most depressing election yet”

    Amen to that! It’s like the pinball wizard…”I ain’t seen nothing like it in any amusement park.”

    What’s weird is that it started out as a source of entertainment with the clown car comedy and it distilled down to a potential nightmare of epic proportion. The Trump phenomenon is what I find most troubling..His behaviour gives me flashbacks to high school and the childish antics of those adolescent days. The idea that so many people can find his antics acceptable shakes my faith in America. I don’t have a problem with being an asshole, I can be one myself, but when you’re running for President that shit don’t fly.. And in Trumps case it seems to have wings.

  13. To expound on my earlier comment on this post, another 30 brown folk were killed by ISIS today, but the corporate cables and their neo-con terror experts are still talking about Brussels, hardly a word anywhere about this one!

  14. Trump and Cruz: Clearly clueless, unserious and unfit for the office. (As I predicted back in January, neither will be the nominee; it will be Kasich.) The transcript of the entire meeting of Donald Trump and the Washington Post editorial board is available on the Post’s website. Epically incompetent thinker, almost on the order of Palin. Has special talent, however, as the latest in the long line of Republican con-men.

    “President Barack ‘the Ice Man’ Obama”

    I like it.

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