The Buzz

TheChat: Why didn’t senators know before now that torture was going on?


Happy Friday.

▪ “Where was the Intelligence Committee when the torture was going on?” — former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb on Twitter Thursday.

Webb, who’s flirted with a run for the White House, asks a question that needed to be asked. He added, “The question is not torture, but how far Congress has descended in its historical oversight role on key issues of foreign policy.”

▪ “Sen. Roy Blunt looks well-positioned in both a primary and a general election.” — Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, offering an early look at the 2016 Missouri Senate race.

Such a prognostication speaks volumes about the Missouri Republican’s prodigious political skills in a challenging state. Democrats are struggling to find a top-tier challenger. In fact, here’s a prediction: They’re going to have to move down a rank or two to find a candidate.

▪ “Sixty percent of Missouri’s population lives either 30 miles north or 30 miles south of I-70. So when you affect 60 percent of our state’s population with a plan you need pretty wide acceptance. I would maintain that those citizens in the counties along the I-70 corridor will not be excited about this proposal.” — Missouri state Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Republican and former highway commissioner, on new interest in converting Interstate 70 into a toll road. (link courtesy of

Kehoe doesn’t think the idea will get very far. He offered a toll-road bill in 2012, but found that tolls were even less popular than higher sales taxes, which nearly 60 percent of Missouri voters rejected in August. Selling the toll idea, the senator said, “is a very, very tough conversation.”

▪ “Most states have seen a reduction in children’s poverty, and Kansas has seen an increase.” — Jeff Willett, vice president of programs for the Kansas Health Foundation, on new rankings that show that the state has dropped to the 27th-healthiest state in the country.

Back in the 1990s, the state ranked as one of the nation’s healthiest. Willett said increases in child poverty and smoking caused much of the drop. The rankings showed that more than 18 percent of Kansas kids lived in poverty this year.