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: