D.C. Buzz: Murphy’s ‘City of Blinding Lights’
WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., flew to the recent Munich Security Conference to reassure America’s allies that the United States is here to stay, no matter what President Donald Trump says about NATO or Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The annual meeting of the world’s national security decision-makers attracted the likes of Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. national security stalwarts Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But it wasn’t entirely all work and no play in Munich.
Murphy found himself at a beer hall dinner organized by Graham to discuss cures for world poverty. One of the select guests was U2 front man Bono, whose ONE Campaign focuses precisely on that issue.
In a “behind-the-scenes” note to supporters, Murphy said he looked forward to “seeing one of my heroes at dinner.”
So did Murphy meet Bono? Did he get a selfie? Did “I’m such a fan” or words to that effect leave the junior senator’s lips?
The answer, according to Murphy’s communications director, Chris Harris, was alas, no. But Murphy did engage in some deep-dive philosophy with Microsoft genius Bill Gates and fellow Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.
“We talk about happiness — how you define it, how you measure it,” Murphy wrote in his note. “We agree that government cannot make people happy, but if government doesn’t know what actually makes people happy, then how can it choose the right things to do and the right things to leave alone?”
No rock n’ roll for these guys, just a few lidded beer steins of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.
DeLauro heads deep in the heart of Texas
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., went deep in the heart of Texas to the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, about as far south as you can get in the Lone Star State.
There, in border communities such as Brownsville, Pharr and San Juan, DeLauro saw firsthand the eye-opening reality of the border region.
The engineering technology of a commercial truck crossing in one place was more than offset by the primitive, rickety condition of a 1960s-era bridge in another place that annually accommodates 7,400 buses and 2 million pedestrians.
“You would have thought you were in a third-world country,” said DeLauro, a veteran liberal stalwart on Capitol Hill who is close to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The Texas visit reinforced DeLauro’s strongly held belief that the Trump administration has it wrong on immigration and border security: Why build a wall when you haven’t repaired the infrastructure you already have? Why put the focus on deporting any and all undocumented workers when the U.S. economy would shrivel if they were removed en masse?
For DeLauro, it’s personal. Her father came to New Haven from Italy at age 13, and her mother worked in a sweatshop.
“They could only dream I would be a Congresswoman someday,” she said. “That’s the American dream, and what we should not do is let someone destroy the American dream.”
Blumenthal reflects on anti-Semitism
Reports of an upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide and in Connecticut got Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., thinking about his father.
Martin Blumenthal was a Jewish refugee who left Nazi Germany in 1935 at age 17 and landed in New York with “little more than the shirt on his back,” according to Blumenthal.
He’d seen enough of what he described as Nazi “hooligans” spreading hatred of Jews as part of what ultimately became Hitler’s ghastly “final solution.”
Fast forward to 2017.
For Blumenthal, the parallel of Trump’s tepid response to anti-Semitic incidents — phoned-in bomb threats to Jewish centers, Jewish grave stones being overturned — is hard not to see.
“The failure to condemn, not just on the rare occasion when Trump does but repeatedly and consistently, speaks volume,” said Blumenthal, the state’s only Jewish lawmaker in Washington. “People refer to dog whistles, and that’s what my father saw in Germany.”
Trump used strong language Tuesday to condemn anti-Semitism. But Jewish advocates and others questioned the president’s sincerity, especially since one of his chief advisers, former Breitbart News chief Stephen Bannon, has drawn praise from white supremacist groups.
Implicitly condoning acts of hate through an absence of words “ultimately is what’s most frightening,” Blumenthal said.