Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ted Cruz Seems to Be Outdoing Rand Paul on Iran

As I've said numerous times before, foreign policy is the one aspect of Rand Paul's policy planks that I don't always agree with, especially on Iran.  And while he publicly opposed additional sanctions on Iran, Ted Cruz has penned a great piece in Foreign Policy on the subject.  When it comes down to it, being weak on Iran is a huge no-no.  I hope Rand Paul does a course correction before it is too late.  I'm not saying he needs to be a proponent of a US attack on Iran, he simply needs to be tougher.  Extremely tough sanctions could cause the collapse of Iran without a shot being fired.:

According to the interim agreement regarding Iran's nuclear program that was reached this weekend in Geneva, not one centrifuge will be destroyed. Not one pound of enriched uranium will leave Iran. Not one American unjustly detained in Iran's notorious prisons will be released. But Iran will start to receive, in a matter of days, $7 billion in relief from international economics sanctions.

This appears to be an unfortunate case of history repeating itself. As happened with North Korea in 1994, fascination with the negotiation process has blinded American diplomats to the true nature of their negotiating partners. Substantive sanctions relief has been exchanged for vague promises that the growth of a nuclear program will be curbed. Press reports on that failed deal are ominously similar to what we are reading today:

"President Clinton on Tuesday approved a deal reached by U.S. negotiators in Geneva to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program, saying the agreement 'will make the United States, the Korean peninsula and the world safer'.... The accord, concluded Monday in Geneva, gives North Korea a series of economic and political benefits in exchange for promises to freeze and eventually dismantle its current nuclear facilities, which the CIA believes have been used to make the material for one to two nuclear weapons."

We all know how this story played out. North Korea lied, cheated, and stalled for time, all the while using the economic windfall from the United States to finance its nuclear program until it was ready to test a weapon in 2006.

Likewise, the mullahs in Tehran can now laugh all the way to the bank while they spend the time and money they have gained in Geneva pursuing nuclear capability. And all Americans have bought for $7 billion is the prospect of additional negotiations that might result in progress at some point down the road. But given the unfortunate results of these most recent negotiations, it is difficult to place much faith in such rosy scenarios -- especially as the existential threat represented by a nuclear-armed Iran makes North Korea pale by comparison.


We should have demanded preconditions from the Iranians before any direct meetings took place, and we can at least do so now before additional negotiations begin. We can start by reclaiming the moral high ground and demand the Iranian regime immediately and unconditionally release the three Americans they are unjustly detaining, Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Robert Levinson. American citizens are not bargaining chips, and there should be no further discussion while they are languishing in prison.

In addition, Iran should affirm Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The noxious rhetoric in which Israel is referred to as a "rabid dog" that is "doomed to failure and annihilation" should be utterly unacceptable to the United States. Tolerating such verbiage on the eve of the Geneva negotiations sent a dangerous signal to Iran that the Obama administration was more eager to get a deal than to stand with Israel.

Finally, the United States should be crystal clear that to gain any further sanctions relief, Iran must take concrete steps not just to pause the nuclear program but to dramatically scale it back by, for example, ceasing the enrichment of uranium, exporting any remaining stockpiles of enriched uranium, and permitting full and unconditional inspections of the Arak nuclear facility. The burden should be on Iran, not the United States, to demonstrate it is a good-faith negotiating partner.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Frank Rich Wrote a Surprisingly Glowing Piece About Rand Paul

Although disdainful of some of Rand Paul's positions, Frank Rich's profile of Rand Paul in New York Magazine is pretty glowing of Rand Paul personally.  More and more liberals are showing respect for him, which is something I haven't seen much before towards a GOP politician:

This has been quite a year for Paul. Not long ago, he was mainly known as the son of the (now retired) gadfly Texas congressman Ron Paul, the perennial presidential loser who often seemed to have wandered into GOP-primary debates directly from an SNL sketch. Like his father, Rand Paul has been dismissed by most Democrats as a tea-party kook and by many grandees in his own party as a libertarian kook; the Republican Establishment in his own state branded him "too kooky for Kentucky" in his first bid for public office. Now BuzzFeed has anointed him "the de facto foreign policy spokesman for the GOP"—a stature confirmed when he followed Obama's prime-time speech on the Syrian standoff with a televised mini-address of his own.

But even before an international crisis thrust him center stage, Paul had become this year's most compelling and prescient political actor. His ascent began in earnest in March with the Twitter-certified #standwithrand sensation of his Ayn Rand and Gabriel García Márquez. He has, in the words of Rich Lowry of National Review, "that quality that can't be learned or bought: He's interesting." 


Nature abhors a vacuum, and Paul doesn't hide his ambitions to fill it. In his own party, he's the one who is stirring the drink, having managed in his very short political career (all of three years) to have gained stature in spite of (or perhaps because of) his ability to enrage and usurp such GOP heavyweights as John McCain, Mitch McConnell, and Chris Christie. He is one of only two putative ­presidential contenders in either party still capable of doing something you don't expect or saying something that hasn't been freeze-dried into anodyne Frank Luntz–style drivel by strategists and focus groups. The other contender in the spontaneous-authentic political sweepstakes is Christie, but like an actor who's read too many of his rave reviews, he's already turning his bully-in-a-china-shop routine into Jersey shtick. (So much so that if he modulates it now, he'll come across as a phony.) Paul doesn't do shtick, he rarely engages in sound bites or sloganeering, and his language has not been balled up by a stint in law school or an M.B.A. program. (He's an ophthalmologist.) He speaks as if he were thinking aloud and has a way of making his most radical notions sound plausible in the moment. It doesn't hurt that some of what he says also makes sense.


As a foe of the bank bailout of 2008 and the Fed, Paul is anathema as much to the Republican Wall Street financial Establishment as he is to the party's unreconstructed hawks. Those two overlapping power centers can bring many resources to bear if they are determined to put over a Christie or Jeb Bush or a Rubio—though their actual power over the party's base remains an open question in the aftermath of the Romney debacle. What's most important about Paul, however, is not his own prospects for higher office, but the kind of politics his early and limited success may foretell for post-Obama America. He doesn't feel he has to be a bully, a screamer, a birther, a bigot, or a lock-and-load rabble-rouser to be heard above the din. He has principled ideas about government, however extreme, that are nothing if not consistent and that he believes he can sell with logic rather than threats and bomb-­throwing. Unlike Cruz and Rubio, he is now careful to say that he doesn't think shutting down the government is a good tactic in the battle against Obamacare.

He is a godsend for the tea party—the presentable leader the movement kept trying to find during the 2012 Republican freak show but never did. Next to Paul, that parade of hotheads, with their overweening Obama hatred and their dog whistles to racists, nativists, and homophobes, looks like a relic from a passing era. For that matter, he may prove equally capable of making the two top Democratic presidential prospects for 2016, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, look like a nostalgia act.

This leaves Paul—for the moment at least—a man with a future. If in the end he and his ideas are too out-there to be a majority taste anytime soon, he is nonetheless performing an invaluable service. Whatever else may come from it, his speedy rise illuminates just how big an opening there might be for other independent and iconoclastic politicians willing to challenge the sclerosis of both parties in the post-Obama age.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Latest PPP Poll: Rand Paul Leads in NH, But Once Again Loses Women & Seniors

The latest PPP poll pretty much the same story as before, Rand Paul takes the Very Conservative (thought his time does well amongst the "somewhat conservative", Men and those under 65.  He is in 2nd or 3rd place among Women, Seniors and "moderates". He has been spending a lot of time on minority outreach, which is good, but he really shouldn't forget women and seniors.  He can reach out to as many minorities as he likes but if women and especially seniors aren't with him, he won't get the nomination.  And we've seen this weakness in poll after poll.

Vogue Profile of Rand Paul

Check out this pretty nice and long profile of Rand Paul in Vogue:

"If he announces, he'll be considered a first-tier candidate," says James Carville, Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign manager, who knows a thing or two about winning elections—and who adds that he'll tip his hat to Paul if he can find a way to broaden his appeal without losing his Tea Party base. The senator is already catching the eye of elite operatives, including Obama's political guru David Axelrod—currently a news analyst for NBC. "He's not your father's Dr. Paul," he tells me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rand Paul Responds to Putin

Notice Obama didn't.  Anyway, here is the best part (at least in my opinion) though be sure to read the whole thing:

And I respond to him directly with the statement that yes, American is indeed exceptional. Our history has proved it so. While we all share the same Creator, we do not all share the same richness of history regarding human rights, freedom and democracy. There has been in the past 200 years a city on the hill that has shone brighter than all others. We will not be ashamed of that. May God allow us to continue to model this example to the world in these difficult times.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Syria Fails Reagan's 4 Conditions for Military Intervention

According to Reagan's 4 conditions for military intervention that he listed in his autobiography, he would be on Rand Paul's side in the fight against intervention. Obama's plan for an "unbelievably small" attack that makes Assad eat his Cheerios with a fork doesn't meet any of the conditions. All Presidents should refer to these often when they contemplate military action (h/t Newt):

1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.

2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and realistic objectives.

3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress. (We all felt that the Vietnam War had turned into such a tragedy because military action had been undertaken without sufficient assurances that the American people were behind it.)

4. Even after all these other combat tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available. (Ronald Reagan: An American Life, 466)

Rand Paul: Accept the Russian Proposal on Syria

Looks like the Russians have found a way out of the Syria mess without an armed intervention.  Syria will just have to hand over their chemical weapons to international supervision.  Needless to say Rand Paul supports this option:

"I think it would be a great step forward if Assad were willing to do it and if Russia were willing to monitor it or an international authority with Russia," Paul, an outspoken opponent of U.S. military strikes in Syria, said in a phone interview with Breitbart News on Monday. "I think part of diplomacy and getting things to work is allowing people to save face. If there's a way Russia can save face in this thing and be part of an international coalition, that's what we should shoot for."

"I think one of the biggest problems with bombing Assad is that if we bomb Assad and we destabilize the chemical weapons and they become loose within the country and al Qaeda gets access to them, then I think that's the real disaster," Paul explained. "Even [Secretary of State John] Kerry admitted it would take 75,000 American troops to secure these weapons, and that's what I've been saying all along—that bombing may actually lead to more instability." 

"But having an international body take control of the chemical weapons would add much greater stability, and I think it would be a benefit for all of us if that would happen," he added.

Could this be a ruse?  How do you ensure that all the chemical weapons are turned over?  I'm sure Assad will keep some in reserve but if he uses them he admits to lying to everyone and even Russia will probably be pissed off.  I hope the Obama administration isn't so focused on forcing Assad to use a fork with his Cheerios that it says no to this proposal.

Rand Paul's Letter to his Senate Colleagues Urging Them to Vote NO on Intervention in Syria

PaulSyriaDC 9-9-13

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Only Way the US Wins in Syria is if a Western Style Democracy Takes Hold and That Isn't Going to Happen

I've been on vacation the last couple of weeks, in Israel, and I've been really amazed how people have gone so crazy over Syria in the US while I was gone.  Look, I am not for chemical attacks on anyone but why is a chemical attack so much worse than the 100,000+ who have been murdered with good old fashioned guns and knives?  Are we saying that it's only wrong to kill your own people if you don't do it the old fashioned way?

Anyway, what's clear is that this is a no win situation for the US.  What does the US gain by attacking without changing the situation on the ground?  The US will simply look impotent.  And if they do change the situation on the ground, it brings Islamists into power, which is bad for the US and bad for Israel.  Seriously, do we really want to be al-Qaeda's air force?  And what is the probability that a western style democracy takes hold?  Pretty much close to zero.  The only thing that might make sense for us would be to help the Syrian Kurds carve out an autonomous area in Syria, as they are actually our allies.  I doubt this administration would actually do that however as that makes way too much sense for them to do it.  They only make boneheaded foreign policy moves (see the overthrow of Mubarak and their support of a Chavez-like dictator in Honduras among others).

One thing I will have to say about Obama though is that he has done something that few have been able to do, unite the right and left in Israel.  No, they are not united in supporting his move to attack Syria. They are united in thinking that Obama is just not a serious actor on the world stage and he has made a laughingstock of the US by waffling the way he did.  Attack or don't attack but make a decision and stick with it (though honestly I heard about as much support for intervention in Syria there as I do here, almost none).  

What really is the case to risk American lives in Syria?  John Kerry made it sound like this is all going to be like some video game where some soldiers push some buttons and some missiles are shot.  But this is serious business.  Some American child is going to lose their father because of a decision to go into Syria.  And for what?  What interest do we even have there?  You can just as easily argue that it is in our interest to keep Assad in power as it is to overthrow him.  

And as a Soviet immigrant to the US, I have to say I am deeply troubled by the fact that Putin is running rings around a US President.  How bad a President do you have to be to make the Russians look good?  To make Putin look like a reasonable and dependable ally?  Putin has no respect for Obama and it shows.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I wish Rand Paul would stop helping the Muslim Brotherhood by calling for a cutoff of aid to the Egyptian military

I knew full well that when I started supporting Rand Paul that I didn't agree with him on everything, especially foreign policy.  I do agree that we shouldn't be invading anyone and even that we should reduce our foreign aid dramatically to certain countries.  But right now Egypt is run by a pro-western, pro-Israel government and they are fighting for their lives against the genocidal hate group known as the Muslim Brotherhood.  Their battle is really the same fight as ours.  If we lose Egypt to that latest reincarnation of totalitarianism we will have created ANOTHER Iran through inaction and that greatly threatens our interests and the lives of the people of Israel.  

So really, I wish he would stop.  Just look at his bedfellows, Carl Levin, Pat Leahy and Lindsey Graham.  You know you've made a wrong decision if you are on the same side as Lindsey Graham and Carl Levin at the same time.  And G-d forbid he succeeds in cutting off aid this time.  That will do us absolutely no good.  The money will simply now come from the gulf states or even worse, the Russians.  

Honestly, I'm pretty annoyed at this point by his stance.  How can you say you are pro-Israel when you do something which is so clearly against Israel's interests.  We need groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Al Qaeda put down, we shouldn't be giving them comfort by cutting off aid to their enemies in the middle of a fight.  

Seriously, if Ted Cruz comes out for the Egyptian military in this thing I might consider a Jews for Ted Cruz page.  It even rhymes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Instapundit Defends Rand Paul From Those Accusing Him of Isolationism

Chris Christie, Jonathan Tobin and all the other "national security hawks" who seem to hate Rand Paul with a passion should read Instapundit:

DRIVING IN TO WORK, I HEARD KEN WALL — SUBSTITUTE HOSTING ON KILMEADE AND FRIENDS — saying that the big question facing Republicans today is whether we want a strong military "like Reagan" or we want "the military footprint of Guatemala," which he repeatedly said is what Rand Paul wants.

Two things here: (1) Boy, the GOP establishment must hate Rand Paul; and (2) What a dumb way of stating the military and security choices that face America. We're not in the Reagan era. We're not even in the Carter era (I told you a Carter rerun would be a best-case scenario). And, more importantly, a lot of the stuff being done in the name of national security — like drone strikes on American citizens, or mass-spying (and mass-lying) by the NSA, FBI, et al.– is stuff that aims inward, at Americans. In the Reagan era, national security aimed outward, at the Soviet Union and its allies.

There's also much, much less trust in the government regarding its use of these inward-aiming powers. That distrust is entirely rational. Anyone who thinks that the GOP can, or should, just try a Reagan rerun on national security isn't serious.

Rand Paul on CBS: It's Mitch McConnell Who Probably Has to Hold HIS Nose Because of Benton

A worthwhile interview on the CBS Morning Show:

Rand Paul Talking the IRS and Defunding Obamacare on Hannity

Rand Paul on The Daily Show

Monday, August 12, 2013

Does Rand Paul Understand Milton Friedman?

There has been a bit of a kerfuffle over Rand Paul mentioning Milton Friedman as a potential candidate for Federal Reserve Chair (were he still alive and Rand Paul President).  People from both the left and the right seem to have criticized Senator Paul for "not understanding Milton Friedman".  To counter that, Rand Paul wrote this response in the National Review which seems to indicate he does understand some of what Milton Friedman was saying and at this point anyone criticizing the Senator is really just nitpicking and will likely not convince many Americans of anything. (people don't really have the patience to listen to arguments on whether a politician understand the work of dead economists as they don't either):

It is, however, disappointing when National Review joins the fray and publishes opinion claiming that Friedman "would likely have supported a much more aggressive monetary response to our economic downturn."

Professor Ivan Pongracic of Hillsdale College explains that Friedman's insight was that the Fed's inaction in the Great Depression was in the context of a banking system in which the central bank had monopolized the position of lender of last resort.

Pongracic writes:

Friedman and Schwartz claimed that the depression would not have been a Great Depression if there had been no Federal Reserve in the first place: "[I]f the pre-1914 banking system rather than the Federal Reserve System had been in existence in 1929, the money stock almost certainly would not have undergone a decline comparable to the one that occurred."

That point was effectively elaborated by Milton and Rose Friedman in Free to Choose:

Had the Federal Reserve System never been established, and had a similar series of runs started, there is little doubt that the same measures would have been taken as in 1907 — a restriction of payments. That would have been more drastic than what actually occurred in the final months of 1930.

The existence of the Reserve System prevented the drastic therapeutic measure: directly, by reducing the concern of the stronger banks, who, mistakenly as it turned out, were confident that borrowing from the System offered them a reliable escape mechanism in case of difficulty; indirectly, by lulling the community as a whole, and the banking system in particular, into the belief that such drastic measures were no longer necessary now that the System was there to take care of such matters.

I would also like to point out that Anna Schwartz, Friedman's co-author in his seminal piece of work on the Great Depression had this to say about the Federal Reserve's actions:

For her part, Schwartz is now conflicted about Bernanke's application of her and Friedman's theories. "You don't have to lower the interest rates to the extent that he has in order to increase the money supply," she informed me. "The essential action should be increasing the money supply. That's the lesson of the Great Depression."

She upholds the analogy between today's crisis and what she and Friedman prescribed in The Great Contraction. "There's nothing contradictory in The Great Contraction with reference to what the Fed should be doing currently.... And I don't believe there's any contradiction between what The Great Contraction was reporting and the current condition of the banking system in this country."

Schwartz sounded alarmed, though, at the zealousness with which Bernanke has put "monetary expansion" into practice. She berated the Fed for going too far and predicted that it will have to raise interest rates "in the near future" to arrest inflation. Asked if she sees hyperinflation on the horizon, she exclaimed, "Oh, yes!"

Personally, I think Rand Paul did do a bit of a misstep with mentioning Friedman.  Yes, you can dig up pieces of his work on monetary policy to support the proposition that he would be a good, conservative Fed chair interested in sound money.  Plus you can always point to his very libertarian writings such as "Capitalism and Freedom" and "Free to Choose".  However, he and his minions were instrumental in destroying the Bretton Woods system, an action which left our currency in shambles and allowed for massive deficit spending.  For that, I will never forgive Milton Friedman. 

I really think Rand Paul just mentioned his because he was a somewhat libertarian economist that people have heard of.  He really should stick with the Austrians, no matter how obscure.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rand Paul Agrees with the RNC on Presidential Debates on Liberal Networks

Rand Paul Interview in Bloomberg Businessweek

Rand Paul has a nice interview in which he talks briefly about an array of issues.  My favorite part is his final response on who he wants to run the Federal Reserve:

Who would your ideal Fed chairman be?

Hayek would be good, but he's deceased.

Nondead Fed chairman.

Friedman would probably be pretty good, too, and he's not an Austrian, but he would be better than what we have.

Dead, too.

Yeah. Let's just go with dead, because then you probably really wouldn't have much of a functioning Federal Reserve.

NH Journal Owner: Rand Paul Has the Advantage over Christie in New Hampshire

Here is an interesting analysis of the NH primary as it stands today (yes about 2.5 years beforehand):

On the specific cause of the feud, National Security Agency spying, the point would have to go to Sen. Paul. This is just my gut; I don't have any data to back it up. But New Hampshire never fell under the spell of the "war on terror." Granite Staters never cottoned to George W. Bush, neither as a candidate nor as president, and the Iraq War was always unpopular here. So while Gov. Christie might have perfectly reasonable arguments for why the government should track our personal communications, he'll be fighting a built-in New Hampshire distrust of big government. There's a reason "live free or die" is the state motto.

Now, onto the nuts and bolts of the coming campaign.

Issues: It neither begins nor ends with NSA snooping. Senator Paul's issue profile is likely to be a considerable strength for him. As a purist, he's free from the usual catalogue of votes that scuff up a candidate's image. He's very much the real deal. That's not to say Gov. Christie is some typical politician who will be easily smeared. But running a big, diverse state like New Jersey requires compromise, and those compromises make devastating TV ads.Advantage: Paul.

Grass roots: It's extremely likely that Paul's grass-roots strength will overwhelm a Christie field operation, as well as those of all other probable contenders. In addition to inheriting his father's grass-roots legacy, Paul will also benefit from the Free State movement in New Hampshire, which has blended with, though is not completely synonymous with, a very vocal tea party movement. The resulting amalgamation refers to itself loosely as "liberty Republicans" and they are very active, highly motivated and belligerently anti-establishment. They can also be extremely difficult to get along with and their belligerence will turn off some Republican voters. Nevertheless, expect that grass-roots strength in New Hampshire to give Paul a significant leg up. Advantage: Paul.

Mass appeal: But which candidate will have broader appeal? This appears to be an area of strength for Christie — by a lot. This Republican governor is likely to win reelection in bright blue New Jersey in a walk, a feat that is achievable only if he is comfortable reaching out to a broad array of voters and straying from the base. Christie's willingness to hit the trail and hash it out with voters, even those who disagree with him, will also be a tremendous asset in New Hampshire, a state that prides itself on getting to know, and I mean really know, the candidates. This is important because former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will have a nearly uncontested primary, provided she runs, which means that undeclared voters, who can vote in either primary in New Hampshire, are likely to pull a Republican ballot. Advantage: Christie.

Multicandidate field: Let's be honest: Paul and Christie will not be the only candidates in the mix. How are the other prospective candidates likely to affect the outcome of this rivalry? In virtually every primary I have experienced, there has been a secondary contest between conservatives to be the consensus insurgent candidate against the establishment choice (in 2012, it was Rick Santorum vs. Newt Gingrich; in 2008, it was Mitt Romney, who was running to the right of John McCain/Rudy Giuliani vs. Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson). But rarely has a consensus emerged. More often, this play-within-the-play prohibits any one insurgent from emerging. An insurgent by instinct, Paul is more likely going to have to deal with this dynamic than Christie, who may find himself vying for the establishment throne with more mainstream candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Bobby Jindal. That could pose problems for Paul, as each of the 2016 prospects will be showcasing his right-wing bona fides and self-consciously endeavoring to eat into the Kentucky senator's base of support.Advantage: Christie.

Intangibles: There's something about Chris Christie, isn't there? He's larger than life and often very entertaining. But George W. Bush's Texas swagger annoyed reserved Granite Staters, and it's possible that Christie's boisterous New Jersey attitude will irritate just enough New Hampshire voters to cost him at the ballot box. Meanwhile, Paul is surprisingly unassuming and soft-spoken — two traits that seem at odds with his passion and principles, but might well mirror the personality traits of regular folks here. Advantage: Paul.

So who would win the New Hampshire presidential primary if both Paul and Christie were to run in 2016? With all the obligatory caveats (we don't know who else would be running, issues change, scandals can erupt, etc.), I would give a slight advantage to Rand Paul.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

UNH Poll: Rubio's and Christie's Favorability Have Both Taken Big Hits since February While Rand Paul Has Soared

The University of New Hampshire just came out with a pretty interesting poll of the voters in that state which show that the favorability ratings among Republicans for Marco Rubio and Chris Christie have both taken a tumble this year.  Here is a key graph and some commentary from the pollster:

“Rubio and Christie have seen their net favorability ratings drop significantly – Rubio’s has dropped 18 percentage points since April and Christie’s has dropped 14 percentage points since February,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the UNH Survey Center. “These drops are indications that Rubio and Christie have alienated significant segments of the Republican base.” Paul and Jindal have seen the greatest increases in net favorability.
In terms of voter preference however, Christie does currently lead 21% to 16% for Rand Paul but if you take into account those who say "I definitely won't vote for this guy", Rand Paul actually leads.  11% of people definitely won't vote for Chris Christie while only 3% won't vote for Rand Paul.  This hatred of Chris Christie is also consistent with what we saw in a recent Rasmussen poll, where he leads in both votes and hatred.  Here is the key chart of "net electability" which subtracts out those who will definitely not vote for a candidate from their vote totals:

So while Chris Christie does look like the person to beat, his recent actions don't seem to have helped his case much and have created a ceiling for his support.  And it looks like Santorum should just not even bother.  I guess the anti-libertarian needs a different schtick. 

"Isolationist" is just a meaningless insult

Looks like there is some pushback against the constant use of the word "isolationist" to insult those who don't want an extremely active and interventionist foreign policy.  Jonah Goldberg in the LA Times and Justin Logan in Politico each make some great points.  Here is Jonah Goldberg:

Rumors that the GOP is returning to its isolationist roots are wildly exaggerated.

In fact, rumors that the GOP's roots were ever especially isolationist are exaggerated too.

Republicans first got tagged with the isolationist label when Massachusetts Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge led the opposition to the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. But his opposition to a stupid treaty in the wake of a misguided war wasn't necessarily grounded in isolationist sentiment. Lodge was an interventionist hawk on both WWI and the Spanish-American War. Lodge even agreed to ratify President Wilson's other treaty, which would have committed the U.S. to defend France if it were attacked by Germany.

Or consider the famously isolationist Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio), a role model of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). As a presidential candidate, Paul routinely touted Taft's opposition to U.S. membership to NATO as proof of the GOP's isolationist roots. But Taft also supported the Truman Doctrine and, albeit reluctantly, the Marshall Plan. He promised "100% support for the Chinese National government on Formosa [Taiwan]," and wanted to station up to six divisions in Europe. What an isolationist!


Many supposedly isolationist libertarians are for free trade and easy immigration but also want to shrink the military. Many supposedly isolationist progressives hate free trade and globalization but love the United Nations and international treaties.

Krauthammer is absolutely right that the GOP is going to have a big foreign policy debate — and it should (as should the Democrats). I'm just not sure bandying around the I-word will improve or illuminate that debate very much.

And here is Justin Logan:

You should know three things about these [isolationist] claims. The first is that they are nonsense. Rand Paul, Rep. Justin Amash, and other skeptics of reckless foreign wars and secret government spying on Americans aren't isolationists. They're prudent conservatives who take the Constitution seriously and rose to power amid the wreckage of the George W. Bush administration, which destroyed the GOP advantage on national security and provided a good example of how not to conduct foreign policy.

The second thing you should know is that "isolationist" was designed as a slur and remains one. No one calls himself an isolationist. It's always intended to link the target with the ignominious record of Americans in the 1930s who were slow to recognize the threat from Nazi Germany. But the term itself was coined around the turn of the 20th century by the imperialist A. T. Mahan to disparage opponents of American overseas expansion. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter McDougall showed, America's "vaunted tradition of 'isolationism' is no tradition at all, but a dirty word that interventionists, especially since Pearl Harbor, hurl at anyone who questions their policies."

Coincidentally, perhaps, the third thing you should know is that the people trying to create anxiety about isolationism favor an interventionist military policy that has fallen out of favor with the public. After the twin disasters of Iraq and now Afghanistan, they are pawing the ground for more wars in Syria and Iran. Accordingly, they are trying to claim "internationalism" for themselves, so that they can look prudent and modest — in comparison with the ideology that failed to recognize the threat from Adolf Hitler.

And that's what's really going on here — using rhetoric to remove any sensible alternative to America's expansive grand strategy. But in fact Paul & Co. do represent a moderate third way that breaks with the failed bipartisan policies of the recent past. Paul's views are also better in line with public opinion and America's thinning pocketbook. 


So when you start hearing about the scary isolationists who might cause a replay of World War II, remember three things: Isolationists don't exist in modern America; the term is a slur, not a descriptor; and the people using the term are usually trying to hide their own ideology and delegitimize their opponents. Oh, and while we're here — there's no monster under your bed, either.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rand Paul Fights Back Against NPR Radio Host

Peggy Noonan Eviscerates Chris Christie

When she's on point, she's on point:

To call growing concerns about the size, depth, history, ways and operations of our now-huge national-security operation "esoteric" or merely abstract is, simply, absurd. Our federal government is involved in massive data collection that apparently includes a database of almost every phone call made in the U.S. The adequacy of oversight for this system is at best unclear. The courts involved are shadowed in secrecy and controversy. Is it really wrong or foolhardy or unacceptably thoughtful to wonder if the surveillance apparatus is excessive, or will be abused, or will erode, or perhaps in time end, any expectation of communications privacy held by honest citizens?

It is not. These are right and appropriate concerns, very American ones.

Consider just two stories from the past few days. The Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Valentino-Devries and Danny Yadron had a stunning piece Friday that touches on the technological aspect of what our government can now do. The FBI is able to remotely activate microphone on phones running Android software. They can now record conversations in this way. They can do the same with microphones in laptops. They can get to you in a lot of ways! Does this make you nervous? If not, why not?

Reuters has a piece just today reporting that data gathered by the National Security Agency has been shared with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency that is supposed to be in charge of counterterrorism is sharing data with an agency working in the area of domestic criminal investigations.

Luckily Lois Lerner is on leave, so the IRS isn't involved yet.

The concerns of normal Americans about the new world we're entering—the world where Big Brother seems inexorably to be coming to life and we are all, at least potentially Winston Smith—is not only legitimate, it is wise and historically grounded.


So Christie is wrong that concerns and reservations about surveillance are the province of intellectuals and theorists—they're not. He's wrong that their concerns are merely abstract—they're concrete. Americans don't want to be listened in to, and they don't want their emails read by strangers, especially the government. His stand isn't even politically shrewd—it needlessly offends sincere skeptics and isn't the position of the majority of his party, I suppose with the exception of big ticket donors in Aspen.

And Christie's argument wasn't even…an argument. It was a manipulation. If you don't see it his way you don't know what 9/11 was—you weren't there, you don't know how people suffered. If you don't see it his way you don't care about the feelings of the widows and orphans.

It seems to me telling that he either doesn't have a logical argument or doesn't think he has to make it.


It is up to the people in the country, to citizens, to control and limit government surveillance, to the extent they can and in accord with true national-security needs.

That is what a conservative, with all his inherent skepticism toward groups of humans wielding largely unaccountable governmental power, would want to do. What is surprising here is that Christie is so quick and sloppy with his denunciation of conservatives who are acting like conservatives. It is odd because he, too, is a conservative.

His remarks were bad in another way, and it is connected to the word manipulation.

His comments on surveillance were an appeal only to emotion, not to logic and argument and fact, but emotion. This is increasingly the way politics is done in America now. It's how they do politics at the White House, where the president usually doesn't bother to make a case and instead just tries to set a mood. But it's not how Christie normally approaches public questions. In speeches and appearances in the past he's addressed the logic of the issue at hand, whether it's spending or the implications of pension promises, or union contracts, or tax rates. That's part of why he's been so popular—he's blunt and logical, has an argument to make and makes it clearly.

Maybe he's using emotion and special pleading here because he was speaking on a national issue, not a state one, and felt insecure. If this is the best he can do he should feel insecure.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Paul, Cruz & Lee at the Young Americans for Liberty Convention

A great talk though the sound cuts in and out:

Video streaming by Ustream

Newt Gingrich is on Team Paul-Cruz

I have to admit I was a strong Newt Gingrich supporter in 2012.  I didn't agree with him on everything but he really could articulate the conservative position very well and had a great record to boot (unlike Moderate Mitt).  So it's nice to see him backing the guy who I like the most for 2016:

"I consistently have been on the side of having the courage that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have, and I think it's sad to watch the establishment grow hysterical, but frankly they're hysterical because they have no answers," Gingrich said Thursday morning on "The Laura Ingraham Show."


Gingrich said though he supported both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, he has to "say the way that they were executed failed, and maybe we should have known better, those of us that supported them. … Republicans have a real obligation to ask themselves the question: Aren't there some pretty painful lessons to learn from the last 10 or 12 years? Don't we have to confront the reality that this didn't work as a strategy?"

The intraparty squabbles popping up now are evidence of the discomfort, Gingrich said.

"Trust me, Chris Christie is only the first sign, the establishment will grow more and more hysterical the more powerful Rand Paul and Ted Cruz become. They will gain strength as it's obvious that they are among the few people willing to raise the right questions," he said.

Gingrich also said he wasn't sure how much Christie knew about the issues, taking a shot at the man who has called Gingrich an embarrassment to the party.

"I think Christie is a very good governor of New Jersey, and I think that he is a very strong personality, and apparently in New Jersey tradition, he thinks bluster and strong language without facts can carry you a long way," Gingrich said.

Rand Paul Brilliantly Responds to the Critics of His Bill to Cutoff Aid to Egypt on the Senate Floor

As I mentioned before, I do disagree with Rand Paul on this issue.  I was all for cutting off aid to the Muslim Brotherhood, but now that they have been overthrown, I think we should be supporting the Egyptian military.  They are the most pro-western and pro-Israel institution in Egypt and are currently fighting both al-Qaeda and Hamas in the Sinai.  Giving aid to the Muslim Brotherhood and then cutting it off when they have been overthrown just sends the wrong signal.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed his response to his critics on the Senate floor yesterday.  Their arguments were basically:

1.  If we don't sell them F-16's, they will get their jets somewhere else.
2.  Cutting off aid will help the jihadists
3.  This is not the way we do things here.  We need to be slow.

His responses were really classic.  To the first point he very simply and clearly stated "they don't have any money!"  So to say they will "buy" the jets someplace else is a bit stupid.  To the second point he mentions that the very same people who are criticizing him now, criticized him when he wanted to stop funding the Muslim Brotherhood.  He said "these same people were for funding the jihadists just a few months ago!"  On the third and final point he simply states that he doesn't believe them when they say they will get to it in the future in a slow in measured pace "someplace, sometime in some fictitious committee".

Great stuff.  I clipped it from c-span, please watch the whole thing:

Video of Rand Paul Introducing His Amendment to Cutoff Egyptian Aid

While I actually don't agree with Rand Paul on this issue as I think it is in our interest to prop up the Egyptian military for as long as possible (and therefore keep the Muslim Brotherhood out), he really gave a great speech on the subject.  If I was someone who didn't really follow foreign affairs, I would probably be swayed by his argument:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A. Barton Hinkle Points Out Why Chris Christie's Argument Against Rand Paul and Libertarianism Makes No Sense

Basically, talking to "widows and orphans" on any policy measure would be tough.  Read the whole piece here:

Example: Back in February, Christie signed an executive order loosening restrictions on alcohol sales. (The order lets establishments that have seasonal licenses to sell booze start doing so two months earlier.) No doubt he had good reasons, such as helping businesses recover from the economic hit of Hurricane Sandy.

On the other hand, according to the Centers for Disease Control alcohol annually causes 75,000 premature deaths in the United States – which is 25 times the death toll of 9/11. Would Christie be willing to sit down with the widows and orphans of drunk-driving victims, or of alcoholics who slowly drank themselves to death, and explain why he is making it easier for people to drink? That would be a tough conversation to have. But it would not make Christie wrong on the merits.

Here's another: Last month Christie, a critic of Obamacare, vetoed a bill to make the expansion of Medicaid in New Jersey permanent. Would he sit down with the widows and orphans of people who died from a lack of affordable health care and explain his "esoteric, intellectual" rationale for the veto? That would be tough, too. But it would not, ipso facto, make him wrong.

Christie has been more open to gun control than other Republicans, but he does not support a total ban on all private firearms. Would he tell the widows and orphans of gun violence why? Christie does not support putting armed guards in schools to prevent mass shootings. Would he explain why to the grieving parents of Newtown, Conn.?

Government exists to protect all people's rights, not some people's feelings. A country in which the government can, in the name of national security, invade any home or arrest any person, with no explanation and no appeal, might be secure from foreign invasion. But its people are not safe – they are simply threatened by a different menace.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Christie is the King of Bacon

Rand Paul on CNN:

Rand Paul is the Future of the GOP, Not Chris Christie

Rachel Alexander of the Guardian makes some great points on why Rand Paul and not Chris Christie is the future of the GOP:

Christie is a big government Republican, whereas Paul is a small government Republican, the darling of the Tea Party. Many believe that Republicans are losing on social issues, especially gay marriage, and that Christie's liberal views on social issues make him more electable in a presidential general election. However, much of the conservative base will not bother to show up to vote in the general election if they perceive their candidate as too liberal, as happened in the 2008 election with John McCain.

Christie started out as somewhat of a conservative governor. But over the past year, he has shifted to the left. He cozied up to President Barack Obama, lavishing praise upon him more than once. When Mitt Romney was running for president, Christie reportedly refused to make public appearances with him towards the end of the campaign, yet appeared publicly with Obama, praising him for his efforts on Hurricane Katrina.


While Christie has a high 74% approval rating in his blue state, it's arguably more evidence that he is really a Democrat. The New York Times ranked Christie as the least conservative governor of the nation's 30 Republican governors. In contrast, Paul is rated the third most conservative GOP Senator. Paul has a 100% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.


Attacking the libertarians in the GOP as Christie has done will not help the Republican party or Christie's election chances. The Reagan revolution came about because Reagan was able, with the help of the late William F Buckley Jr and his National Review magazine, to bring together a coalition of libertarians, religious conservatives and fiscal conservatives. Paul, who is outspoken about his Christian faith, is one of a few Republicans who could rebuild that coalition.

Rand Paul: We Need Republican Community Organizers

Some good ideas from Rand Paul (h/t The Brody File):

Charley Murray Defends Rand Paul from RINO's

Charley Murray has some great advice for Republicans and also says he has been impressed by Rand Paul:

"My counsel is really simple," Murray said. "It is that 'We the Republicans,' I want them to say, 'We the Republicans are in favor of people being free to live their lives as they see fit; we're in favor of enterprise where people can start business easily, where they are not hounded by these volumes of regulations; we want opportunity; and we are also against this collusive capitalism whereby the government and business sort of collaborate with each other, with sort of patting each other's back. I want a Republican Party that is enthusiastically, aggressively in favor of liberty, opportunity and enterprise."

Murray then explained how he had been impressed with Paul when he heard him speak and found that he was in agreement with the junior senator from Kentucky.

"I was actually around Rand Paul a few weeks ago and listened to him," he continued. "I listened to him talk for about 20, 25 minutes and I said to myself, 'You know, I can't think of a single thing he has said that I don't agree with.' My views and Rand Paul's are real, real close and much closer than my views are to Gov. Christie's."

Rand Paul: Chris Christie is "Sad & Cheap" For Using 9/11 Victims

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rand Paul Op-Ed on School Choice

Rand Paul (along with Senators Lee, McConnell, Scott and Alexander) has penned an op-ed on School Choice in the Huffington Post:

As the Wall Street Journal noted in 2010, 2,000 of the nation's 20,000 high schools produce roughly 50 percent of all dropouts, and African-American children have a 50/50 chance of having to attend one of these so-called "dropout factories."

According to the Census Bureau, in 2011 the average dropout over age 25 earned just $18,796 while the average high school graduate without a bachelor's degree earned $26,699 -- a full 42 percent more. A high school graduate who goes on to earn a bachelor's degree will earn nearly 100 percent more, on average, then a high-school dropout.

Choice breeds competition -- which is the best way to improve schools. It creates a powerful incentive for schools to get better, while at the same time creating much-needed options for children trapped in less than satisfactory schools. That is exactly what we see when public charter schools are allowed to expand.

In Washington, D.C., the 41 percent of students who attend charter schools learn the equivalent of 72 days more in reading and 101 days more in math each year than similar students attending district schools, according to a Stanford University study.

In short, school choice has given poor, mostly minority families the hope that government has not. Young boys and girls, who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to excel, have become successful men and women leaders in their communities--due to receiving a better education than they otherwise would have.

Despite its overwhelming success -- and basic justice -- many bureaucrats defend their broken status quo, and see school choice not as an opportunity, but as a threat. Our children deserve better than a system that puts bureaucrats' wants before students' needs. Parents deserve better than being forced to pay for policies that trap their own children in failing schools, while denying them the equal educational opportunities that better paid politicians and bureaucrats enjoy.

Great schools are born in communities, not bureaucracies. At Boys Latin in Philadelphia, kids are taught Latin for four years. They are taught discipline and citizenship. This year, over 95 percent of their graduates will go on to college.

The current 20th century, centralized bureaucratic model has dropped American education to 17th in the world, even as the international economy turns toward technologies and industries that depend of education more than ever before in human history.

We need a new direction. To succeed globally, we need to educate locally.

Rand Paul Correctly Calls Peter King and Chris Christie the Types of Republicans That Are Bankrupting Our Government

Rand Paul made the comments at a fundraiser, it would be nice if someone can dig up a video of it.  Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree with him.  Both Christie and King are big government Republicans with no business representing the Republican Party:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Sunday hit back at Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) after their criticisms of him over national security, saying that their spending policies did more to harm the country.


"They're precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending, and their 'gimme, gimme, gimme —give me all my Sandy money now,'" Paul said at a fundraiser on Sunday according to the Associated Press.

"Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense," he added.


On Sunday, though, Paul defended his views, questioning the need for the NSA's collection of phone and internet data.

"I don't mind spying on terrorists," Paul said. "I just don't like spying on all Americans."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Conor Friedersdorf responds to Chris Christie's criticism of Rand Paul & libertarians

In case you missed it, Chris Christie dismissed the libertarian critiques of the NSA spying program as "esoteric", implied Rand Paul was dangerous and even brought up the widows and orphans of 9/11 to boot.  Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic has a great response which takes the form of a letter to said widows and orphans:

I'm truly sorry for your loss. I know the family members of people who died on 9/11 have a wide range of ideas about how America ought to deal with the threat of future terrorism. I won't presume anything about you except that you hate terrorism. So do I. It injures and kills innocents. And it attempts to use successful murders to terrorize even the people who aren't killed. Terrorists frighten societies into compromising their values in ways they never would but for terrorism.

That is a primary terrorist goal.

The core American values of 1776 and 1789 that I've studied and loved since I was a child don't permit us to torture other humans, to use drones to target and kill people whose identities we don't even know, or to spy on the private communications of hundreds of millions of innocents. If it wasn't for Osama Bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers we wouldn't permit any of those things.

So I can't help but feel that Al Qaeda succeeded in changing us -- that the terrorists won a small victory. But the victory won't last. Even as America has beefed up security at its airports and harbors, even as its airline passengers stand ready to fight off any attempted hijacking, even as our spy agencies infiltrate Al Qaeda and our FBI preempts plots with good, old-fashioned police work, civil libertarians are fighting to reestablish core Constitutional protections and values.

Those fights can both be won.  

We're fighting to make sure that being safer from terrorism doesn't come at the cost of liberty or justice, and sending a message to all those who'd try to change us by making us afraid: you will fail.

Bush and Obama have betrayed fear through the immoral policies they've adopted.

And Gov. Christie has just embraced the counterterrorism strategy of George W. Bush, a man whose fearfulness after 9/11 impaired his capacity for good judgment: due in part to fear of being attacked again, he launched a war against Iraq that killed many more Americans than 9/11. As it turns out, the threat Iraq posed was far less than what he led Americans to believe it was. 

Christie has also embraced the strategy of Barack Obama, who would have us believe that staying safe from terrorism requires a surveillance state the country got along without for all its history -- that to stay safe from terrorism, Americans must let him monitor all of our phone calls and more, and that debate about these policies isn't even permissible, they must be kept secret. 

Sitting before you, I won't exploit the memory of your loved one by pretending I oppose these policies on their behalf, or on yours. I will only say that no free society can totally eliminate the risk of terrorism, that nearly everyone who died on 9/11 loved America and the liberties it afforded, and that fighting for the full array of liberties that they enjoyed and loved before 9/11 does not in any way dishonor their memory -- it honors the freedom that I love as much as they did.

I'm sorry again for your loss, and I regret that Gov. Christie dragged you into this. Without invoking your suffering, his arguments aren't compelling enough to persuade a majority that he's correct.