Thursday, February 28, 2013

John Stossel Interview of Rand Paul

Rand Paul in IBD: The Sequester is the First Step to Solving Our Spending Problem

The Investor's Business Daily just posted a piece by Senator Rand Paul on the sequester:

As opposed to standing in front of a TV camera and some local police officials threatening the loss of their jobs, why doesn't President Obama work with Congress to come up with a solution?

As opposed to invoking fear, why doesn't he go to these same extreme lengths to create a sense of stability?

Instead of threatening the jobs of Americans, why doesn't he offer a way to cut spending without implementing layoffs?

Last week, I unveiled a plan to offset the anticipated layoffs by cutting unnecessary spending within our federal budget.

The first way to do this is by bringing the federal employee pay in line with the private jobs.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average compensation of a federal employee is 16% more that their private equivalents. By reducing salaries to align more with their counterparts, we could save as much as $32 billion per year.

Next we must stop hiring federal employees.

As I noted earlier, since taking office President Obama has increased domestic agencies' budgets by 17%. Every year thousands of federal employees retire or leave their jobs.

In 2011 roughly 62,000 people ended their careers with the government. By not replacing all federal bureaucrats we could save anywhere from $60 billion to $200 billion over the course of 10 years.

Another way to reduce spending is by reducing federal employee travel by 25%.

The latest data provided by the General Services Administration suggested that the federal government spent $9 billion on travel. Reducing these travel funds by 25% will save us $2.25 billion per year.

Next, we must focus military research strictly on military needs. According to research done by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., $ 6 billion has been spent by the Department of Defense on research that has nothing to do with military or military-related health inquiries.

To save $19 billion annually, we should require competitive bidding for government contracts. By repealing the Davis-Bacon Act and ending blocked government contracts the government could save money by making pay competitive to all government employees.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that this will save $9 billion a year.

Also, many contracts in the federal government are provided to companies without requiring a competitive bid — or the opportunity for the government to contract work at the lowest price possible.

This provision would require the government to competitively bid all contracts. It would save an additional $10 billion a year.

Finally, we must stop giving foreign aid to countries that burn our flag. We spend more than $40 billion a year on foreign aid.

When we're dealing with a budget crisis here at home, it's only responsible to keep this money here. This provision would eliminate half the foreign aid budget.

Sequestration is inevitable, necessary, and only a first step. Our nation's leaders should be coming up with even more solutions to our debt problem.

Not every federal dollar is well spent and in order to dig our nation out of this financial hole, we must make real, clear and sensible cuts.

A true leader would look for a way to stabilize our nation by solving the crisis, which is why I have unveiled this alternative plan.

Glenn Beck Interviews Rand Paul and Asks About the Hagel Vote

This is a pretty interesting interview where Rand Paul talks about both the Hagel and Brennan nominations and explains a few things:

Huffington Post: Rand Paul is Worth Watching

A very positive and interesting opinion piece in Huffpo that really appreciates what Rand Paul is trying to do.  Well worth the read:

At the end of the interview, Hannity -- a conservative host with an overwhelmingly conservative audience, including plenty of dyed-in-the-wool self-identified Republican voters (and that means many recent Romney voters) noted that Rand Paul is one of the "four strong conservative voices" in the Senate that he looks to "to bring sanity back to Washington." He didn't call Rand, "one of the four libertarian voices" in the Senate, and yet the four Senators he mentioned (Paul, Lee, Cruz and Rubio) are without much doubt the most pro-liberty members of that house).

And what "strong conservative" views did Rand Paul proceed to elucidate as Hannity endorsed his conservative credentials? They were as follows.

The need to audit the Pentagon, the need for term limits, the GOP's need to win in New England and on the west coast, the fact that he (Rand) is a libertarian Republican, which approximates to a constitutional conservative, the need for the GOP to appeal to Independents, recognition thatAmerica doesn't need to be involved in every war around the world, the fact that people shouldn't be locked up for 20 years for taking drugs, and the need to embrace immigrants.

This is not your grandfather's conservatism. But it is slowly looking more like it might become Hannity's -- and (much more importantly) your grandson's.

Take note. Here is an established conservative host in mainstream media recognizing as conservative the least neo-con version of that creed that has been heard from a Republican for decades. How far all this is from the only conservatism that was "licensed" by the GOP just a decade ago.

This is extremely important because, for good or ill, the labels that the mainstream media use -- and the way in which they use them -- set the concepts and parameters of popular political debate, and thereby, the "mainstream" range of political views of the majority of the electorate.

Moreover, people are much more willing to change their views than their political identities or labels or "teams." Hence, converting 100 million self-identified conservatives to another philosophy (such as libertarian) or Republicans to another party is much harder than nudging the definition of "conservative" or the platform of the GOP over time. In fact, not only does such evolution of the meaning of political terms and philosophies have precedent: given enough time, it is inevitable.


Some libertarians are calling out Rand for the subversion of libertarian ideas that they perceive derives from an instinct toward neoconservatism. Time will tell, and I expect it will prove them wrong. But what is already certain is that to take only that perspective is to choose not to see the very part of Rand's approach that is the most likely (by far) to bring about any practical improvement in American liberty: he is slowly redefining conservatism and Republicanism by packing more libertarian ingredients into the jars that bear those labels. (And it's the content of the jars -- and not their labels -- that matter.)

Those in the liberty movement who would not have any part of their philosophy peddled by this man whom they do not see as a true believer should ask whether, when Rand is fighting for just one of the things that they believe in, it would be better if he stopped? And if he were to stop, who (and in what position and party) would be more effective in doing liberty's work?. (The same question can be asked about any of the new breed of liberty-oriented Republicans on Capitol Hill.)

If Rand is in any way enabling conservatives to shift their views without changing their labels , then he may yet become as important for the popular acceptance of whichever version of libertarianism he holds as was his father. That rather large claim rests on the possibility that most of those who were won over by Ron Paul's wonderful message of liberty (this writer included) were willing and able to undergo a large and conscious shift in political identity, but whereas we count in the millions, there are tens of millions who will come with us only slowly and only if we don't challenge their political identity - and that "conservative" label with which, for reasons or culture, upbringing or religion etc., they feel comfortable .

As the Bard said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Two other factors make Rand worth watching.

The first is the simple fact that he has started very early for a 2016 run. He has been quietly garnering support from various groups across a wide ideological spectrum (from true conservatives to true libertarians). Getting ahead of the campaigning curve while keeping on the right side of media that still have not understood what the response to Ron Paul last year means for this country, helps to protect the GOP against having the media pick another candidate in 2016 who doesn't have the Big Three Ps for victory -- principles, pragmatism and personality.

The second is a little more subtle -- and ironic. If Rand closes in on a 2016 race facing vocal criticism from the libertarian purists who fear the apple has fallen too far from the tree, he may well be seen as less alien to the party than his father (which helps in winning the party's nomination), and more at one with the broader Republican base (which helps in winning the presidency). In other words, those who would make the perfect the enemy of the good might help focus everyone else on what "the good" really is -- and American liberty could be the better for it.

We shall see.

But for now, let's not judge Rand's contribution to liberty just by debating how far the apple fell from the tree: let's watch what grows from its seeds.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rand Paul's Foreign Policy Tightrope

An interesting piece in one of the New York Times opinion blogs on what Rand Paul is trying to do:

Paul is, in essence, a non-interventionist who's been trying to rebrand himself as a realist to better influence a party that's been dominated by hawkish voices since the early 2000s. And his strategy, crucially, has been neither the "go along to get along" approach that McCarthy criticizes nor some kind of frontal, guns-blazing assault on the "Fox-fed" ideas of "Tea Party neocons." Instead, Paul has done what successful politicians tend to do: He's picked his battles, done outreach to his critics, and consistently framed his arguments in language that conservative voters and activists understand. This has enabled him to break with the party's hawkish tilt on a number of substantive questions, from the Libya and Syria debates to issues of executive power to the question of whether containment should be an option for dealing with Iran, without coming in for anything like the attacks that greeted Hagel's nomination. He's put his foot in his mouth here and there and taken fire from both his friends and foes along the way, and future world events (particularly events related to Iran) may upset his tightrope walk. But at the moment he seems like living, breathing proof that there's room for actual foreign policy debate within the Republican coalition, and that not every non-hawk need be dismissed as a RINO and read out of the party.

What Paul seems to understand is that the Republican base doesn't really have a detailed set of foreign policy positions: What it has, instead, is the cluster of sympathies and instincts (pro-Israel, pro-military, nationalist rather than globalist, fretful about radical Islam, skeptical of international institutions) that Walter Russell Mead has famously dubbed"Jacksonianism," which can incline G.O.P. voters for or against different policy choices depending on how those options are presented. So if you want to reach the base, and move the party, you need to speak the base's language and respect its basic outlook on the world — which is something that Paul has done much more successfully than many members of Washington-based realist community.

This means, for instance, talking about war powers rather than the U.N. when the White House is contemplating a war of choice. It means invoking the constitution rather than international law to critique Obama's drone campaign. It means invoking Israel's own internal debates, rather than just blasting AIPAC's influence in Washington, to make the case for caution vis-a-vis a military strike on Iran. And it means finding ways to be a party loyalist on some votes in order to gain maneuvering room on others — as Paul tried to do, admittedly somewhat clumsily, by voting against cloture for Hagel but then voting to approve nomination.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Once Again, Rand Paul Stands for Israel

Today's vote for cloture on the Chuck Hagel nomination really shows Israel who its real friends are.  It's not Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who claim to be pro-Israel but then still vote to allow M1A1 tanks and F-16 fighter jets to go to Egypt and vote to allow Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.  It's Republicans like Rand Paul (and Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and others) who stick to their guns and vote against the establishment and for what is right.  Honestly, I am more than a bit shocked that 18 Republican Senators in all voted to end debate on the Chuck Hagel nomination despite the fact that we have received no answers as to where he got funding over the last several years or what he meant when he said the State Department was an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and that Bibi was a radical.  

Let's all Pray for Israel and thank Rand Paul and the other Senators who voted Nay for standing up for the Jewish State.

Rand Paul: The Republican Leadership Doesn't Know What the Hell It's Doing

Rand Paul points out that Republicans just keep announcing surrender before the battle even starts, most recently on the Hagel filibuster (h/t Business Insider):

"We announce our surrender before we get started on every battle," Paul said. "That literally is our problem."  
"We need to say over and over again…that the sequester was [Obama's] idea, that he's the one who's laying people off, we aren't, and that we have an idea to fix the sequester in a way that avoids any layoffs," he added.  


"To announce after we got a filibuster that we are already giving up, when we didn't even get a piece of paper or anything — what a waste of time!" Paul said. "That is people who don't know what the hell they're doing." 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Discretionary Spending has Doubled since 2000, so Why the Panic Over Sequestration?

Check out this graph that I came up with using the White House's historical budget tables and nominal GDP data from FRED:

As you can see, government spending has dwarfed the growth in the economy since 2000 with even non-Defense discretionary spending up a whopping 85% since then compared to growth in nominal GDP of 57.5% (so no blaming the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).  The sequester cuts barely even register as blips on these spending growth curves with total federal spending continuing to climb after these supposedly "draconian" cuts.

So all the scare tactics that seem to imply that aircraft will drop from the skies, cops and FBI agents will be let go and children will die from lack of vaccinations are just a bunch of BS.  As everyone who has been to a government office knows, there is plenty of slack in government with government workers being paid more to do less than private sector counterparts.  Check out this list of common sense cuts from Rand Paul that won't cause anyone to lose their jobs:

•         Stop Hiring New Federal Employees: $6.5 billion saved annually 

Every year, thousands of federal employees retire or leave their jobs. In 2011, roughly 62,000 people ended their careers with the government. Estimates vary, but allowing a federal bureaucrat to retire without replacing that person with another employee can save anywhere from $60 billion to $200 billion over 10 years. This provision estimates to save $6.5 billion in one year.

•·         Bring Federal Employee Pay in Line With Private Jobs: $32 billion saved annually 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average compensation of a federal employees is 16 percent more than their private equivalents. By reducing salaries to align more with their private counterparts, this provision could save as much as $32 billion a year.

•·         Reduce Federal Employee Travel by 25 Percent: $2.25 billion saved annually

The latest data provided by the General Services Administration suggested that the federal government spent $9 billion on travel. Reducing the federal travel budget by at least 25 percent can reduce the budget by $2.25 billion a year.

•·         Focus Military Research on Military Needs: $6 billion saved annually 

According to research done by the staff of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), found that the Defense Department spent $6 billion on research that had nothing to do with military or military-related health inquires.

•·         Require Competitive Bidding for Government Contracts: $19 billion saved annually 

The Davis-Bacon prevailing wages law requires federal projects to pay the employees higher wages. This would repeal this requirement and allow the government to save money by making pay competitive to all government employees. The Heritage Foundation estimates that this will save $9 billion a year. Also, many contracts in the federal government are provided to companies without requiring a competitive bid - or the opportunity for the government to contract work at the lowest price possible. This provision would require the government to competitively bid all contracts. This provision would save an additional $10 billion a year.

•·         Cut 50 Percent of Foreign Aid: $20 billion saved annually

We spend more than $40 billion a year on foreign aid. When we're dealing with a budget crisis here at home, it's only responsible to bring this money home. This provision would eliminate half the foreign aid budget. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Video: Rand Paul Explains Our Fiscal Problems to Local Voters in Kentucky

Being a politician is more than just going on national TV, it also involves speaking at the Butler County Extension Office:

Rand Paul: GOP Rooted in Racial Progress

Rand Paul seems to be really busy getting out there.  Today he has another column, this time in The Lexington Herald-Leader on how the GOP is rooted in the drive for racial equality:

It was the Republican Party that ushered in abolition, then emancipation and then voting rights. And blacks — virtually all blacks — became Republicans. 
Democrats in Louisville, led by Courier-Journal editor Henry Watterson, were implacably opposed to blacks voting. Watterson wrote in the Courier-Journal that his opposition was "founded upon a conviction that their habits of life and general condition disqualify them for the judicious exercise of suffrage." 
The first 20 African-American U.S. congressmen were all Republican. The Republican Party has had more African-American U.S. senators than have the Democrats. 
One of those Republicans was Edwin Brooks of Massachusetts, who remarked that if Democrats had the incredible history of emancipation and election of African-Americans you'd hear about it non-stop. 
The Republican Party's history is rich and chock full of black history and the fight for civil liberties. 
I still believe in a Republican Party that has a zeal for equality before the law. A party that prizes the sense of justice that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of when he said: "an unjust law is any law the majority enforces on a minority but does not make binding upon itself."

Read more here:

Read more here:

Rand Paul: School Choice for All

Rand Paul has a column on education in the Courier-Journal.  I really like it how he is getting his views (as well as your's and mine) out there:
The status quo traps many in a crumbling system of hopelessness. That’s a sobering fact that we need to meet head-on.  
In America, poverty should not destine a child to educational failure. Instead, we all should have access to a great education, whether we live on a country club lane or in government housing.  
I believe equality in education will only be achieved when we allow school choice for all: rich or poor, white, brown or black. Let the taxes paid for education follow every student to the school of his or her family’s choice.  
Competition has made America the most prosperous nation in history. Competition can make our educational system the envy of the world.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Breitbart: Rand Paul is Holding Together the Republican Party

From an interesting series over at on the possibility of a third party:

So could Paul buck the system again in a 2016 presidential bid? In particular, could he run as a "party-busting independent," as reporter Fournier hinted?  It doesn't seem likely. Paul makes no bones about his desire to move to the White House, but he doesn't seem eager to repeat the electoral fate of his father, who won less half a percent of the vote on the LP line back in 1988; the younger Paul seems to have cast his lot with the GOP. As Rand Paul said on the February 17 edition of "Fox News Sunday," "I would absolutely not run unless it were to win."  So that seems to rule out a symbolic protest run. Indeed, he added, "I think the country is really ready for the narrative coming--the Libertarian Republican narrative."  

Paul's words seem to suggest that he is planning to run for president--if, in fact, he runs--as a Republican.  Indeed, the Kentuckian has been sounding less libertarian and more conservative lately. For example, he still has major foreign-policy differences with Republican neoconservatives, but he has joined with them on the filibuster against the nomination of Chuck Hagel. Paul will never be anyone's idea of a good neocon, but he also doesn't seem to want to be an outright enemy. And that suggests that the libertarians and neoconservatives might yet find a way to fuse together.   

As we have seen, third parties form when a voiceless group wants a voice. And they fizzle when one of the two parties starts speaking with that previously unacknowledged voice. Today, as we have seen, the tea party, as well as the libertarians, seem to have been mostly absorbed by the Republican Party, and that will likely continue for as long as Rand Paul is a Republican Senator. Indeed, Paul is doing his best to nominate and elect like-minded candidates as Republicans--and only as Republicans. The tea party never has gone rogue, and now it likely never will.  


Thus we can conclude, at least for now, that there's not much room on the right for a third party. As long as Rand Paul, and his passionate supporters, stay within the GOP, all will be quiet on the rightward front. 

Rand Paul Sends Letter Threatening to Block Brennan

Senator Rand Paul has sent a letter threatening to use all means at his disposal to block Brennan from becoming CIA Director.  To avoid this, all Brennan has to do is answer a simple question (h/t Right Turn):

Do you believe that the President has the authority to order lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without a trial?

I believe the only acceptable answer is no.

Until you directly and clearly answer, I plan to use every procedural option at my disposal to delay your confirmation and bring added scrutiny to this issue and the Administration's policies on the use of lethal force.

It's pretty clear what the answer really is, the answer is yes.  If FDR had the authority to lock up hundreds of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent for no other reason than their ethnicity, could do so with an executive order without Congressional approval and could have that decree backed up by the Supreme Court multiple times, it's probably not lost on this administration what they can do.  They just don't want to say that it is something that they can do.  There really is nothing to stop the President from assuming dictatorial powers in a time of "war".  Well maybe one thing, an armed citizenry and we know how they feel about that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bored Liberals Trying to Ignite a Republican Civil War: Ted Cruz vs. Rand Paul vs. Bobby Jindal?

I think liberals are really getting bored.  Just today there was one article about "The Coming Rand Paul-Ted Cruz Brawl" in Slate and then another on sparring between the Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal camps in BuzzFeed.  Both take pretty huge logical leaps, especially the Slate piece.  In that article the only evidence of a coming "brawl" is that they will be both going after similar voters and then this little nugget:

Endorsements from the Kentucky senator and his congressman father, Ron Paul, were critical in a primary race where the GOP establishment lined up against Cruz and behind Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, an arch-conservative whom the Tea Party nonetheless made out to be a moderate. But Cruz didn't return the favor by endorsing the elder Paul's presidential bid.

Oooh, Ted Cruz didn't endorse Ron Paul?  Big deal, neither did Rand Paul if you remember so I doubt Rand Paul will hold that against him.  Ted Cruz and Rand Paul agree on quite a few issues and will likely work together far more than they will fight on the Senate floor (e.g. Ted Cruz did support Rand Paul's amendment to deny F-16 fighter jets and M1A1 tanks to Egypt).  I really don't see them "brawling" anytime soon.

The BuzzFeed article just has a few people "associated" with each camp talk smack about the other, mostly anonymously.  So take all that with a grain of salt.  Over beers you can get people to talk smack about anybody.  Here are some tidbits:

"[A]nd now for the rebuttal to the GOP response from 2016 Libertarian Party Nominee Rand Paul #sotu," tweeted Brad Todd a principal at On Message Inc., a Republican media firm whose clients include Jindal (and have included Paul in the past, when they made television ads for his Senate race).

Oh wow, a tweet from a guy who makes ads for Jindal and used to for Paul.  Does he even count as being in the Jindal camp?  And then there is this nugget:

"I don't see Bobby Jindal being much of a player on Rand or Marco's side of the field," said one senior Republican operative associated with Paul. "Quite frankly I see him as the 2016 version of Tim Pawlenty without the Minnesota nice."

Try to hold back.  A comparison to Tim Pawlenty? Them's fighting words, I guess.

Nate Silver: Rand Paul is Actually the Truest Conservative Among Potential 2016 Candidates

Whatever you think of Nate Silver, the resident political number cruncher at the New York Times, he does write interesting stuff.  He came out with a way to measure the conservatism of the various potential 2016 candidates and compared them to historical Republicans.  There are some problems with it, I'm not sure Reagan was really to the left of George W. Bush but the scores are so close it probably doesn't matter.  What is clear though is that Rand Paul is the most conservative by far (and obviously the most libertarian as well) of the current crop of potential candidates.  Chris Christie, on the other hand, barely even registers a conservative score at all, he's even to the left of Jon Huntsman:

There are several statistical methods that seek to rate candidates’ ideology on a left-right scale. FiveThirtyEight uses three of these methods in evaluating the ideology of Senate candidates as part of our technique for forecasting those races. The same methods can be applied to presidential candidates. 
The first of these systems, DW-Nominate, is based upon a candidate’s voting record in the Congress. The second method, developed by Adam Bonica, a Stanford University political scientist, makes inferences about a candidate’s ideology based on the groups and individuals who have contributed to his campaign. The third method, from the Web site, works by indexing public statements made by the candidate on a variety of major policy issues. 
Not every rating system is available for every candidate: those who have never served in Congress have no DW-Nominate score, for example. And the methods sometimes disagree. The libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is rated as being extremely conservative by DW-Nominate and by Mr. Bonica’s method, which tend to give more emphasis to a candidate’s record on economic issues. But he is rated as fairly moderate by, which also evaluates his stances on social policy. Sarah Palin is also rated as extremely conservative by Mr. Bonica’s system, but as relatively moderate by (Keep in mind that before being selected as John McCain’s running mate, Ms. Palin had some history as a reform-minded governor of Alaska.) 
Nevertheless, we can usually get a reasonably good objective measurement of a candidate’s ideology by essentially taking an average of the three approaches. (Because the measures are not on the same scale, I normalize Mr. Bonica’s scores and the scores to give them the same mean and standard deviation as DW-Nominate.) The higher the score, the more conservative the candidate. 
DW-Nominate scores normally run on a scale that goes from negative 1 for an extremely liberal candidate to positive 1 for an extremely conservative one. To make the result more legible, I have multiplied all scores by 100 — so that, for instance, a moderate Republican might have a score of 25 rather than 0.25. Mr. Rubio achieves a score of 51 by this method. 

Jonah Goldberg on Rand Paul's Advantages

An interesting post at The Corner from the excellent Jonah Goldberg:

 In America, there's an ingrained (and for the most part healthy) tendency to assume that politicians have a more ambitious agenda than the focus-grouped porridge they offer in public. 


Back to Rand Paul. He's obviously moderating his image — successfully. He seems reasonable, calm and thoughtful. But he leaves room for the suspicion that there's a more aggressive agenda behind the facade. But that agenda is less scary. Whereas the typical Republican often talks in a way that fuels (unwarranted) fears of theocracy and the Handmaid's Tale, there's something about the way Rand Paul talks that fuels the suspicion he'd actually be much more libertarian than he lets on. Of course, that suspicion is one reason why conservative hawks distrust him so much and leftwing doves give him so much of a pass. But when it comes to domestic policy, he gives the impression that if he actually got his hands on the levers of power he'd just leave us alone.  

Because his rise fuels a narrative the media loves — civil war on the right — Paul's libertarianism will be treated as charming and harmless for a while more. The fact that the left likes his foreign policy dovishness and the "neocons" don't also makes him a useful foil for some liberals. But you can be sure that if he got real power and influence within the party or if he were the actual GOP nominee, his charming libertarianism would instantaneously terrify a lot of people. But for now, it all works for him.

Rand Paul on CNN: Obama's Rhetoric is Divorced from Reality

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Washington Post's Dishonest Fact Checking of Rand Paul's SOTU Response

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's fact-checker, published an article titled "Rand Paul's Misleading Budget Cuts" in which he gave Rand Paul 3 Pinocchios.  According to their scale, 3 Pinocchios means there was a "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions".  Having listened to and read Rand Paul's response a few times I was wondering what huge, glaring error had I missed?  It turns out the issue that Glenn Kessler had was more of a pet peeve of his rather than an actual error on the part of Rand Paul.  Kessler's problem is that Rand Paul talked about cutting the budget and then said that we should start with foreign aid:

"Where would we cut spending? Let's start with ending all foreign aid to countries that are burning our flag and chanting 'Death to America.' In addition, the president could begin by stopping selling or giving F-16s and Abrams tanks to Islamic radicals in Egypt."


Over ten years, that adds up to $90 billion. (Traditional congressional baseline budgeting, which assumes inflation growth, would bring the 10-year figure even higher, but Paul in his speech suggested he rejects that approach.)

So Paul, in theory, has identified about 2 percent of the $4 trillion in cuts he says is necessary.

So apparently, foreign aid just isn't a big enough bogey for Kessler, hence the three pinocchios.  Though given his response was only 15 minutes long, how much could Rand Paul actually shove into the speech and keep it interesting?  Plus, he wasn't releasing his budget, he was making a response to Obama's speech where he proposed a laundry list of new programs.  Also, Rand Paul said we should START with foreign aid, not finish with it.  Glenn Kessler even acknowledges that in Rand Paul's budget, which he will re-introduce this year, he does specify which cuts he would make, though then attacks him for not mentioning them in this short 15 minute speech:

To be fair, Paul last year unveiled a budget plan that he said would balance the budget in five years, and it included many specific program reductions. In his response to the State of the Union, Paul said he would reintroduce the plan, but oddly he mentioned none of its proposals, such as eliminating four Cabinet agencies and cutting foreign aid from its current level of about $50 billion a year to just $5 billion.

Oh yeah, that would have been great.  A Tea Party response that features getting rid of the Commerce Department, a department that 75% of Americans probably don't know exist.  That would have been really effective.  Anyway, let's check the transcript to put all of what Rand Paul said in this segment into context, he was clearly not just referring to foreign aid:

It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.

Where would we cut spending; well, we could start with ending all foreign aid to countries that are burning our flag and chanting death to America.

The President could begin by stopping the F-16s and Abrams tanks being given to the radical Islamic government of Egypt.

Not only should the sequester stand, many pundits say the sequester really needs to be at least $4 trillion to avoid another downgrade of America's credit rating.

Both parties will have to agree to cut, or we will never fix our fiscal mess.

Bipartisanship is not what is missing in Washington. Common sense is.

Trillion-dollar deficits hurt us all.


Next month, I will propose a five-year balanced budget, a budget that last year was endorsed by taxpayer groups across the country for its boldness, and for actually solving the problem.

I will work with anyone on either side of the aisle who wants to cut spending.

But in recent years, there has been no one to work with.

The President's massive tax hikes and spending increases have caused his budgets to get ZERO votes in both houses of Congress. Not a single Democrat voted for the President's budget!

But at least he tried.

Senate Democrats have not even produced a budget in the time I have been in office, a shameful display of incompetence that illustrates their lack of seriousness.

This year, they say they will have a budget, but after just recently imposing hundreds of billions in new taxes, they now say they will include more tax hikes in their budget.

We must stand firm. We must say NO to any MORE tax hikes!

Only through lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom will the economy begin to grow again.

Our party is the party of growth, jobs and prosperity, and we will boldly lead on these issues.

Under the Obama economy, 12 million people are out of work. During the President's first term 800,000 construction workers lost their jobs and another 800,000 simply gave up on looking for work.

With my five-year budget, millions of jobs would be created by cutting the corporate income tax in half, by creating a flat personal income tax of 17%, and by cutting the regulations that are strangling American businesses.

So let's see, he says Democrats must be willing to cut domestic programs and Republicans must be willing to cut defense.  That clearly covers more than foreign aid.  He also says he favors the sequester which cuts discretionary domestic spending across the board, again, clearly more than foreign aid.  Then he talks about specific pro-growth policies such as cutting corporate taxes, introducing a flat tax and cutting regulation.  All of those pro-growth policies could cut the deficit by sparking economic growth which leads to greater tax revenues.

I'm not surprised that the Washington Post would use these dishonest tactics against Rand Paul, that's doesn't make them any less wrong though.  

Glenn Beck: I feel about Rand Paul the way I used to feel about Chris Christie

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Republican Establishment Seems to Be Making Nice with Rand Paul

I almost feel like I stepped through the looking glass.  Both Karl Rove and Jen Rubin, establishment types through and through, who 10 times out of 10 would always prefer a Mitt Romney or Chris Christie over a conservative, said positive things about Rand Paul this weekend.

Karl Rove, on Fox News Sunday, was beating his chest saying that he was the largest outside group supporting Rand Paul in his race in 2010 and that we need more Rand Paul's and less Christine O'Donnell's.  See the video here:

And then Jen Rubin actually wrote a column titled "Why Rand Paul is Formidable" just a little more than a week after she wrote that he was confused.

I guess they feel that they shouldn't dismiss him so easily.  He could be the nominee in a few years.

Rand Paul on Fox News Sunday: Voters Ready for a Libertarian Republican Candidate in 2016

Friday, February 15, 2013

Latest Rand Paul Op-Ed: Who's Next on the Drone Kill List?

Senator Rand Paul's second weekly column in the Washington Times, this time on the drone issue.  Here are some excerpts:

If you're launching a missile on U.S. troops, if you are launching a missile toward the United States, if you are hijacking a plane, if you are setting off a bomb, if you are leveling an AK-47 at any one of our soldiers — by all means and with great expedition, we will drop a drone bomb on you. No one is arguing against employing immediate and lethal force against anyone whose finger approaches a trigger.

President Obama's drone killing goes a great deal further, however. Mr. Obama tells us that an "imminent threat" need not be "immediate." What? Only a group of lawyers could argue that imminent really means the opposite.

The most infamous American killed by drone was Anwar al-Awlaki. He was targeted for months — long enough and publicly enough that his father actually protested in court but was not heard.

Now, I have no sympathy for al-Awlaki. From what I've read in the lay press, I have concluded that he was a traitor. As a juror, I would have voted to convict him of treason. My question is, since his targeting was public and prolonged, why did we not try him for treason? If he didn't show up, we could have tried him in absentia. If secret testimony was needed, it could have been heard before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Why should we do all this for a traitor? Because we're Americans. Because we prize our belief in trial by jury overseen by a judge. It is in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Because what makes us distinctly American is our belief in adjudicated justice. Because what the terrorists wish to destroy is exactly that freedom.

Moreover, a few weeks after we killed al-Awlaki, we killed his 16-year-old son with a drone strike. Can a 16-year-old be a terrorist or a traitor? Absolutely, but am I the only American who believes that this 16-year-old also deserved the contemplation of a jury and a judge?

The president is a politician. He is a politician from a party opposite mine, but my opposition to his drone killing is an opposition to any politician, Republican or Democrat, becoming an imperial executioner-in-chief. No politician should ever be granted that power.


I have no sympathy for murderers and rapists within the United States. I do, however, insist that the murderers and rapists we punish be guilty and found guilty by a jury and a judge.

Why? Why can we not just kill Americans who dissent? For one, because our government has already shown recklessness in defining who is a terrorist. Fusion centers in Missouri defined pro-life and pro-border-security hawks as potential terrorists. The Department of Justice produced a list of characteristics of terrorists that we should report to the government: people missing fingers; people who've changed the color of their hair; people who like to pay in cash; people who have more than seven days of food; and people who buy weatherized ammunition.

Rand Paul: In What Universe Did Obama Cut the Deficit by $2 Billion?

Senator Rand Paul goes full mock in his USA Today interview.  When talking about Obama's claim that he reduced the deficit by $2 trillion, he said "in what universe?.. Does that mean because he didn't add $8 trillion that he reduced it by $2 trillion" (h/t Freedom's Lighthouse):

National Journal: Rand Paul is the Republican to Watch in 2013

A nice piece by Josh Kraushaar:

One of the most intriguing sideplots from Senate Republicans' successful filibuster blocking Chuck Hagel from becoming Defense Secretary was that one of the GOP ringleaders was recently tagged by critics as someone who shared his more-isolationist worldview.

But freshman Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who openly talks about his presidential ambitions for 2016, is playing the long game – and his politically savvy positioning suggests he'll be a major national player. Unlike his father, he's not interested in pursuing ideologically charged issues just for the sake of making a point, he's learning how to make an impact in Washington.

One senior Republican leadership aide gushed with admiration over the freshman senator, emphasizing that he's been able to tailor his libertarian ideology toward legislation that holds broader appeal. The adviser touted his involvement on right-to-work legislation, his call to audit the Federal Reserve, and even his leadership on legalizing industrial hemp – legislation first pushed by his father, which has now won support from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Rand is somebody who has the generational know-how to turn it into 21st century machine. He gets branding. He understands there's a need for credibility," said the adviser. "He understands he doesn't have the answers to everything. He's not afraid of input, but is totally confident in listening to input to help achieve his goals."


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been getting all the national attention lately, landing on the cover ofTIMENational Review and our latest issue of National Journal. But the senator who delivered the lesser-watched Tea Party reaction is the one who is shaping up to have an equally big impact – and could shake up Republican party politics in the run-up to the 2016 presidential race.

Honestly, I was really worried about how Rand Paul would vote on Chuck Hagel's Nomination

I have to say I'm really happy that Rand Paul was able to come to the right conclusion and vote to block the Chuck Hagel nomination.  Voting for Chuck Hagel, who is pretty much unabashedly anti-Israel, would have completely sabotaged all the inroads that Rand Paul has been able to make in the Jewish community and the pro-Israel evangelical community since taking his trip to Israel.  I seriously would have had second thoughts as it would have shown that Rand Paul may be more like his father than he let on.  After all, Chuck Hagel's policy prescriptions and views on the world are often indistinguishable from those of Ron Paul.  He's a blame America first, anti-Israel nutbag.  And I can see that Rand Paul really wrestled with the issue, as he also shared a lot of Chuck Hagel's non-interventionism and desire to cut Pentagon spending.  Luckily though, Hagel's incompetent defenses of past statements and desire to hide money he received from questionable sources gave Rand Paul a great out (heck he even voted to approve John Kerry after all as he believes in giving Presidents leeway) and pissed off all the right people in the process.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Anti-Semitic Ron Paul Supporters Pissed Off at Rand Paul (Again)

I'm very glad Rand Paul made the right decision and agreed to filibuster Hagel for two main reasons.  One, Hagel who is in the pay of Iran (and/or their proxies) and an anti-semite, should NOT be Secretary of Defense of this country.  Second, Rand Paul has pissed off all the right people, the people I really really like seeing pissed off.  Check this out from the Daily Caller:

That explanation wasn't good enough for Justin Raimondo, editorial director of and a strong supporter of Ron Paul. "It's time for libertarians to treat Rand Paul like the turncoat he is: boycott," Raimondo tweeted. "No $$, no support, & start calling him Paul the Lesser."

Daniel Larison, a blogger and senior editor for the American Conservative magazine, called it "an awful, indefensible vote."

Scott McConnell, one of the magazine's founding editors, went a step further: "If Rand Paul persists on going demagogic on Hagel, he will have established beyond any serious doubt that regardless of who his father is, he is Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin's boy."

Republicans Are Already Worrying Rand Paul Could Run As a Third Party Candidate

Ron Fournier at the National Journal wrote an interesting piece on how Republican and Democratic insiders are worries about the end of the two-party system.  Of course, Rand Paul figures prominently:

Inside the cozy enclaves of GOP bonhomie—hunkered at the tables of see-and-be-seen Washington restaurants—Republican leaders are sourly predicting a party-busting independent presidential bid by a tea-party challenger, like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in 2016.

To them, the GOP apocalypse looms larger than most realize. Dueling State of the Union rebuttals and Karl Rove's assault on right-wing candidates are mere symptoms of an existential crisis that is giving the sturdiest Republicans heartburn.

And yet, the heart of the matter extends beyond the GOP. My conversations this week with two Republican officials, along with a Democratic strategist's timely memo, reflect a growing school of thought in Washington that social change and a disillusioned electorate threaten the entire two-party system.

Seem like a lot to swallow? Allow me to describe my last few days at work.

Between bites of an $18.95 SteakBurger at the Palm, one of Washington's premier expense-account restaurants, Republican consultant Scott Reed summed up the state of politics and his beloved GOP. "The party," he told me, "is irrelevant."

He cited the familiar litany of problems: demographic change, poor candidates, ideological rigidity, deplorable approval ratings, and a rift between social and economic conservatives.

"It's leading to some type of crash and reassessment and change," said Reed, who ran Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign and remains an influential lobbyist and operative. "It can't continue on this path."

Reed sketched a hypothetical scenario under which Paul runs for the Republican nomination in 2016, loses after solid showings in Iowa and other states run by supporters of his father (former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul), bolts the GOP, and mounts a third-party bid that undercuts the Republican nominee.

Paul, a tea-party favorite who was elected to the Senate in 2010, told USA Today on Wednesday that he was interested in running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. "I do want to be part of the national debate," he said.

What are the odds of Paul or another GOP defector splitting the party? Reed asked me to repeat the question—and then grimaced. "There's a real chance," he replied.

The next morning, Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin dipped his spoon into a bowl of strawberries, sugar, and pink milk—and declared the era of two major parties just about over. "I think we're at the precipice of a breakdown of the two-party system," said the Wisconsin Republican.

Voters are tired of partisan rancor and institutional incompetence, Ribble said, pointing to polls that suggest the number of independent voters is rising.

"Ross Perot was a goofy guy," he said of the deficit hawk who mounted two independent presidential bids in the 1990s. "If he was packaged as a different guy and had the Internet, he would have emerged [as president]. The warning bell he was sounded then is getting louder today."

2016 is a long way away, who knows what will happen then.  If the Republican establishment sabotages conservative candidates with the help of their friends in the right-leaning press, just like they did in 2012, it could happen (Karl Rove is already planning the attack ads as we speak on anyone who isn't Jeb Bush or Chris Christie).  Back in April, I wrote this in a piece titled "Screw the GOP, They Don't Seem to Want My Vote Anyway":

I'm done.  I'm a lifelong Republican and I'm done.  I've been a Republican since I was 6 and I saw Reagan speak on our old 13" black and white television set about freedom and about the evils of the Soviet Union, where I was born.  I grew up listening to Reagan and I kind of always thought that he was what the Republican Party stood for.  For individual liberty at home & abroad.  "Moderates" like George H. W. Bush seemed like some sort of aberration to me, an exception to the conservative Republican rule.  Looking back though, it's pretty clear that Ronald Reagan was the aberration.  In 1988, instead of nominating the father of the Reagan tax cuts, Jack Kemp, the GOP nominated the anti-Israel squishy moderate George H. W. Bush.  In 1996, instead of nominating the stalwart conservative Phil Gramm (lifetime ACU rating of 95) or the flat tax visionary Steve Forbes, the GOP nominated another squishy moderate, Bob Dole (lifetime ACU rating of only 82).  2000 was a joke as the establishment had pre-decided that W was going to be the nominee and he really didn't have any real opposition.  W, the "compassionate conservative".  We all know how that ended.  Ballooning federal spending and even a new entitlement!  It was so bad that even in his home state of Texas I heard of people say that he destroyed the Republican Party by governing the way he did.

Looking back before Reagan, I think the last Republican President I actually would have liked was Calvin Coolidge, who was elected in 1924, a whopping 88 years ago (even Reagan's 1980 election was a hell of  along time ago, a whopping 32 years).  So in 88 years, there have been a total of 2 Republican Presidents and only 3 nominees (add Barry Goldwater in 1964 to the mix) who believed in small government, free markets and individual liberty.  Being a Republican who believes in those things seems to be a great way to torture yourself.  You are constantly tempted into thinking "maybe this time" but more often than not they end up giving you someone you despise but feel you have to support as they are the lesser of two evils.  

I thought better of it because I couldn't sit out an election versus someone like Obama.  But the Republicans need to stop worrying about getting a member of their gang elected and start worrying about promoting actual conservative values or else there will be a large percentage of conservative voters that WILL bolt the party, especially if someone like Rand Paul is at the helm of a new effort.  For those familiar with history, the Whig Party went from controlling the Presidency through 1853 to not even being a party in 1856 (though the American Party, with former Whig President Millard Fillmore at head of the ticket, did come in as #3 in the votes).  

It's also possible that conservatives could get together and form a proper political party and then act somewhat like the Conservative Party of New York (though be actually Conservative).  Sometimes they would endorse the Republican, but if they don't agree with the choice, they would field their own candidate.  That would act as an incentive for the Republicans to nominate a candidate that is acceptable to conservatives.  Having a convention before the Republican primaries even start would probably maximize the Tea Party's impact.  Imagine if a conservative nominating convention had come together and endorsed just 1 of the conservatives running for the nomination before Iowa in 2012.  Instead of the vote being horribly split, allowing the only moderate in the race to win race after race with under 50% of the vote, the story might have been vastly different.