Americans consistently indicate in opinion polls that they approve of congress less than any other part of the federal government. The approval rating is sometimes in the single digits. As the congress was intended, per the Founders, to serve as the direct link to the American people, there is a certain irony in its being the most despised branch of government.
One can blame the two major parties for much of the negativity, as the process whereby candidates for office rise through the system that seems designed to weed out anyone who has ever expressed any viewpoint that is not approved by the bipartisan establishment. Indeed, many Americans complain that Democratic and Republican congress critters differ only superficially, both being corrupt from top to bottom and largely driven to stay on top so they can continue to benefit personally from the spoils of office.
One of the emptiest of all the empty suits in the Senate is Marco Rubio of Florida. The boyish looking Rubio is, to be sure, ambitious, but his thought processes, if they exist at all, are hard to discern. He is, more than most congressmen, both totally ignorant and completely programed in what he says and how he says it. Anyone who doubts that judgement should watch the February 2016 debate with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie in which Christie totally destroyed Rubio, effectively ending his bid to become the GOP candidate for president. Christie criticized Rubio for memorizing a “25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.” The two argued, but Rubio seemed stuck with his stump speech, which Christie called him out on every time he launched into it. Christie eventually turned and told the audience “There it is. The 25-second memorized speech.”
Rubio is pretty much straight-line neocon in his pronouncements, his most recent policy statement being that the Venezuelan people have two choices – change their government or starve. He tweeted it with his usual eloquence: “Hunger & desperation is growing inside #Venezuela & people know the only thing standing in the way of \$50 million of food & medicine is #Maduro. Military leaders should make a choice, before a choice is made for them. The window for a negotiated exit is closing fast.” Columnist Whitney Webb responded with “Marco Rubio is openly saying that if Venezuela’s military doesn’t turn on Maduro soon, ‘a choice will made for them’ by the United States. Scariest threat for an imminent invasion of Venezuela I have yet to see.”
Rubio, who is Cuban-American, is inevitably hard-line against taking any steps to improve relations with his ancestral homeland, is hostile to “enemies” Russia and China, and wants American soldiers to stay in Afghanistan and Syria forever. It is a formula for continuous conflict worldwide, with the United States paying the tab both in dollars and in casualties.
But Senator Marco Rubio’s greatest affection is reserved for the Jewish state Israel. Why? Because that’s where his money and political support come from, and, for its part, the Israel Lobby sees Rubio as a perfect simple-minded patsy to advance its agenda. Israel’s promoter with the deepest pockets, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, was pursued by Rubio who “…consistently championed Israel in speeches on the Senate floor while also pushing legislation aimed at supporting the cause” during the GOP nomination process. Rubio eventually received Adelson’s endorsement received Adelson’s endorsementl in February 2016.
Before acquiring Adelson’s support, Rubio had “already gained support from Miami billionaire Norman Braman and New York billionaire investor Paul Singer, among others.” Both Braman and Singer are known to be major supporters of Israel. Marco’s affection for both Israel and Florida Jews derives largely from his connection to Braman, a former Philadelphia Eagle’s owner and currently a billionaire Miami resident who owns Florida’s largest network of car dealerships. Braman, an active supporter and funder of the illegal Jewish settlements in the Middle East, has been Rubio’s major financial backer since his early days in Florida state politics and as a quid pro quo whenever Marco expresses his love for both Jews and Israel, he is speaking to and for Braman.
Rubio has recently written, or had written for him, an op-ed in The New York Times entitled “The Truth About BDS and the Lies About My Bill” that seeks to explain why recent legislation to protect Israel that the senator sponsored does not violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.
Senate bill S.1 for 2019 finally passed out of the Senate last week on a 77 to 23 vote with Rand Paul as the only Republican Senator to vote against it. The full title of S.1 is the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, which might be considered a bit of a fraud as it has nothing to do with the United States and is really all about giving Israel money and anything else it might desire, to include destroying the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that has targeted Israel’s apartheid. In his speech defending the bill, Rubio openly admitted that he was seeking to help Israel. He also registered his opposition to the impending pullout of U.S. troops from Syria because it would, according to him, “endanger” the Jewish state.
Rubio’s op-ed was written before the final vote on February 5th, but it predicted correctly that the bill would receive “a bipartisan supermajority” in the Senate. Anything having to do with Israel normally receives such “supermajorities” from congressmen who are intimidated, or expecting to be raptured shortly or on the Israel Lobby payroll.
The op-ed’s author comes out swinging, declaring that critics have “echoed false claims made by anti-Israel activists and others that the bill violates Americans’ First Amendment rights. That line of argument is not only wrong but also provides cover for supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, who embrace an international campaign of discriminatory economic warfare against Israel, a fellow democracy and America’s strongest ally in the Middle East.”
One supposes that “anti-Israel activists” consist of that increasing number of Americans who want to see Israel held accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yes indeed, a boycott is “discriminatory economic warfare” using peaceful and non-threatening means to bring about change. And no, Israel is neither a democracy nor an ally of the United States. Has the Senate approved a treaty of alliance with Israel, Marco? You’re in the Senate and should know the answer to that one.
Rubio goes on to claim that “the goal of the movement is to eliminate any Jewish state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.” Wrong again Marco. Even if some BDS supporters might like to see that, it is not a “goal of the movement.” The movement is non-violent and Israel has a large army that would make such an objective a fantasy.
The author then describes how “While the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to free speech, it does not protect the right of entities to engage in discriminatory conduct. Moreover, state governments have the right to set contracting and investment policies, including policies that exclude companies engaged in discriminatory commercial- or investment-related conduct targeting Israel… That’s why, since 2015, more than 25 states, including Florida, have adopted laws or issued executive orders to divest from or prohibit contracts with companies that wage discriminatory economic warfare against Israel.” Wrong again Marco. Free speech includes supporting discriminatory conduct. The American Civil Liberties Union has addressed the issue succinctly, arguing correctly that “Public officials cannot use the power of public office to punish views they don’t agree with. That’s the kind of authoritarian power our Constitution is meant to protect against.” And several state laws protecting Israel from the First Amendment have already been ruled unconstitutional.
Marco then expands on his argument, “The Combating BDS Act does not infringe on Americans’ First Amendment rights or prohibit their right to engage in boycotts. By design, it focuses on business entities — not individuals — … it focuses on conduct, not speech. Indeed, it does not restrict citizens or associations of citizens from engaging in political speech, including against Israel.” Indeed Marco, but how do you explain the fact that several of the well-publicized cases involving BDS legislation have involved individuals not “business entities” who refused to sign pledges regarding Israel, which, when last I checked, was not even part of the United States and has nothing to do with contracting in this country? Those individuals have been denied government benefits and have been fired from jobs they had held for years.
And then there is the hypocrisy issue for Marco Rubio. If openly and vocally opposing trade with or travel to Cuba should similarly be suppressed, would he and his Cubanos associates consider that to be constitutional or perfectly legal? I think not. And Cuba, as far as I know, does not line up snipers to shoot children and medical workers while also stealing land from its rightful owners. Israel is a racist apartheid state. Cuba, for all its faults, is not.
It would be difficult to find a more insipid justifications for S.1 than those provided by Marco Rubio. He does not understand that the “state” at all levels is supposed to be politically neutral in terms of providing government services. It is not supposed to retaliate against someone for views they hold, particularly, as in this case, when those views are part of a nonviolent opposition to the policies of a foreign government that many consider to be guilty of crimes against humanity. Rubio clearly believes that you can exercise free speech but government can then punish you by taking away your livelihood or denying you services that you are entitled to if you do not agree with it on an issue that ultimately has nothing to do with the United States. How such a lightweight came to be a Senator of the United States of America eludes me.
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected].