Morning Bits

You’d think they would have learned by now. “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told a gathering of Tea Party conservatives that those affiliated with the movement need to watch what they say, alluding to his recent criticism of right-wing rocker Ted Nugent.”

Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado (L) and the wife of arrested Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, Lilian Tintori (R), are seen during a protest against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on February 26, 2014. Oil-rich but deeply divided Venezuela has been swept by student-led protests since February 4, posing the greatest challenge yet to Maduro's government just under a year since he took office. AFP PHOTO /PEDRO GUZMANPedro GUZMAN/AFP/Getty Images
Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, left, and Lilian Tintori, the wife of arrested Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, at a protest in Caracas. (Pedro Guzman/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) seems to have figured out how to delink himself from nutty challengers. “I’m going to likely stay out of incumbent Republican primaries; that is an incumbent Republican primary.” However, by not endorsing fellow Texan and one of the most conservative senators, he’s just making trouble for himself. Nothing hurts like aggrieved colleagues when you seek higher office.

The biggest anti-tax groups have digested the tax reform plan and come up with some alternatives, including a “Camp draft in order to remove the capital taxation ankle weight.” Read the whole thing.

Elliott Abrams studied Algeria and sees a train wreck ahead.  “Algeria is a rich country with a poor population. Youth unemployment is high, and so is poverty, while hydrocarbon exports mean there are sizable financial reserves and almost no foreign debt. The problem is the heavy hand of the state . . . . [T]s future at risk.”

They’ve correctly perceived that no good can come from Jimmy Carter’s appearance (that’s actually a good rule of thumb just about everywhere). “Former President Jimmy Carter has a poor reputation on many issues, among them Venezuela, where pro-democracy activists view him as a stalwart ally of the ruling chavista regime. So, with much of the country still convulsed by protests, their reaction to the news that Carter is planning another visit to Venezuela is somewhere on the scale between indifference and contempt.”

The two senators calculated that if they don’t do something, no one in the administration is going to act (another rule of thumb!). “Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced a Senate Resolution (S. Res. 365) deploring the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Venezuela, calling for full accountability for human rights violations, and supporting the right of the Venezuelan people to live freely and democratically.” They recommend “targeted sanctions,” but this administration isn’t one to embrace sanctions.

A large number of Dems have absorbed a far different message. “Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday told Democrats to stop apologizing for their policies and go on offense as party leaders try to overcome pessimism about prospects for the November election. . . . Still, there are widespread concerns that this could be a difficult year for Democrats because of the health care law, Obama’s low approval ratings and the prospect of low turnout among the party’s base in a nonpresidential year. The party is fighting to protect its slim Senate majority, and a takeover in the House looks unlikely.” Hence they’ll be trying to distance themselves like mad from the president.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.
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Jennifer Rubin | February 27