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.