The Potential of Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul

Following the 2012 presidential election, many Republicans found themselves in a state of shock. To lose to a president whose policies had not only been controversial but had failed to stifle an enduring economic downturn seemed implausible. There were no doubt countless conservative voters who joined an incredulous Bill O’Reilly the next day asking, “What the heck happened last night?” In recent weeks, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has provided an answer.

In the wake of his 13-hour filibuster and narrow victory in CPAC’s presidential straw poll last weekend, the freshmen senator has become an overnight sensation in American politics. Though much of the support for his dramatic defense of due process may have been partisan at first, it has generated a groundswell of soul-searching within the Republican Party.Conservatives have failed to provide a message that resonated with voters since the Bush administration and they have two failed presidential campaigns to show for it.

No, don’t skip the drone debate


Erick Erickson, master of the conservative blogging site, has just penned a FoxNews column where he says we should just totally skip the drone debate and just kill the terrorists before they kill us. He goes through a series of so-called “justifications” for this terrible idea, before ending with this very chilling conclusion:

Just kill them before they kill us. At some point, we must trust that the president and his advisers, when they see a gathering of Al Qaeda from the watchful eye of a drone, are going to make the right call and use appropriate restraint and appropriate force to keep us safe.

Frankly, it should be American policy that any American collaborating with Al Qaeda is better off dead than alive.  Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney should be proud.

First off, let’s get one thing straight—Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney are not people to celebrate or emulate. Nixon engaged in dirty, underhanded tactics to keep his presidency, tactics which when exposed led to the largest case of political corruption in modern American history. And Cheney, well, he’s just a jerk. A jerk who was beholden to his old company, Halliburton, and was not exactly in line with the Constitution on several issues. Erickson should not be looking to either with praise and approval, but the exact opposite.

Cato and the Future of Libertarianism

An earthquake rocked the libertarian world last week when news broke that a lawsuit had been filed over the ownership of shares in the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank founded some 30 year ago in the wake of Ed Clark’s run as the 1980 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee. It started, apparently, last year with the death of William Niskanen, who along with Ed Crane, David Boaz, and countless others, had spent three decades shaping Cato into not just the leading libertarian public policy think tank, but also an organization that has become well-respected on both sides of the political aisle.

It’s difficult to list everything that Cato has done in the past thirty years, because they’ve done so much. They publish numerous publicy policy analyis reports on every subject that the nation’s leaders deal with. For many years they have published a guide book for each new Congress. Since the late 1980s they have run Cato University, an opportunity for young libertarians to learn from an interact with some truly great minds. Indeed, yours truly particlpated in one of those seminars at Dartmouth College in 1989 and I still remember it as one of the most intellectually engaging weeks of my life. That’s just a short list, I’m sure I’m missing something.

In any case, the dispute that is rocking Cato now is, as I said rooted in the death of William Niskanen last year, and a shareholder agreement with Charles and David Koch:

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch filed a lawsuit Wednesday for control of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.

The Importance of Being Ronald Ernest Paul

There will be a lot of disappointed Ron Paul supporters  trying to make sense of the the Iowa Caucuses. Rick Santorum, liberal and warmonger (sorry for being redundant), came from nowhere to take second place after entrance polls showed Ron Paul on his way to a landslide victory in Iowa.

The disappointment is to be expected. Ron Paul supporters are emotionally, financially and physically invested in their candidate. Anything other than a decisive win is a disappointment. However, there is no rational reason to be down in the mouth or fatalistic.

The Iowa caucuses have proven that Ron Paul’s candidacy is one to be reckoned with. In every way, the establishment and old media have tried to tear down the man and his ideas only to be repudiated at every turn.

During caucus result coverage, Fox News trotted out every neoconservative hack available. Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer (does anyone notice he seems to have hired Micheal Jackson’s plastic surgeon?) and Karl Rove were put in front of cameras to explain that Ron Paul, whose campaign is fueled entirely by a grass-roots army, was not a serious candidate and “dangerous” to America.

Ironically, they were correct on one count. Ron Paul is dangerous to the Woodrow Wilson/Leon Trotsky communist wing of the Republican and Democrat establishment. Their attempt to cover up abject terror after considering their political and financial futures should a Ron Paul Presidency occur, was completely transparent.

Ron Paul launches Institute for Peace and Prosperity

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Ron Paul Launches Foreign Policy Think Tank

Ron Paul

Ron Paul may have left Congress, but he will continue to push his non-interventionist foreign policy through a new think tank. The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity will focus on promoting the same foreign policy views that became a signature issue for the former Texas Congressman as well as make a case for civil liberties:

“The neo-conservative era is dead,” proclaims the media advisory on his Facebook page announcing the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

“The ill-advised policies pushed by the neo-cons have everywhere led to chaos and destruction, and to a hatred of the United States and its people. Multi-trillion dollar wars have not made the world a safer place; they have only bankrupted our economic future. The Ron Paul Institute will provide the tools and the education to chart a new course with the understanding that only through a peaceful foreign policy can we hope for a prosperous tomorrow.”

The group promises to focus on coalition-building across party lines and creating opportunities for students to engage on the topic.

The official launch of the project will be held at 3pm on Wednesday, April 17th, at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, DC. Ron Paul and members of the organization’s advisory board — Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Judge Andrew Napolitano, Ambassador Faith Whittlesey, and Lew Rockwell — are slated to speak.

You can read the full media advisory on Ron Paul’s Facebook page.

Fusionism is a Necessity: Winning Minds Requires a Conservative/Libertarian Alliance

There has been much debate in recent weeks over fusionism inside the liberty movement, especially now that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has become a prominent national political figure. This debate has been raging for years, but has really taken off for a number of reasons.

Writing yesterday at National Review, Jonah Goldberg, author of The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, noted that conservatives and libertarians have always shared a core belief in economics, making us natural allies:

What often gets left out in discussions of the American Right is that fusionism isn’t merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a “libertarian journalist.” Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb that the question “Does this augment or diminish human liberty?” informed most of what he wrote.

Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American Right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.

Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn’t a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one. Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike. When Pat Buchanan wanted to move America towards protectionism and statism, he had to leave the party to do it.

Bill Kristol’s State of Denial about the Conservative Movement

Bill Kristol

During an appearance yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a prominent neo-conservative, knocked Sen. Rand Paul, who led a 13-hour filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan to the CIA.

Kristol, who endorsed raising taxes on higher-income earners during the “fiscal cliff” because of defense spending cuts, told Chris Wallace that the reason the Republican Party has been so successful is “because it has been the party of strong national security.”

“[Y]ou can say they are moss-covered, but some of us are proud to have come to Washington to work in a very minor role for Ronald Reagan, and some of us are proud to have supported the Bush administration after 9/11, and fighting our enemies,” Kristol continued. “And the problem with the Obama administration is not that it is too assertive in the war on terror. The problem with the Obama administration is that we are retreating all around the world, and unfortunately, emboldening our enemies.”

After the filibuster, Kristol aligned himself with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, calling Sen. Paul the “spokesman for the Code Pink faction of the Republican party,” a reference to the anti-war group’s praise of the filibuster.

Kristol further added, “So if Rand Paul wants to run to the left of the Obama administration, he’s free to try that in the Republican primary, and maybe there is more support for that than I think, but I’m pretty doubtful that there really is.”

Jennifer Rubin’s Misleading Knock Against Rand Paul

If you want to get a feel for what the Republican establishment is thinking, you only need to read Jennifer Rubin, who runs the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blog. With Sen. Rand Paul’s profile on the rise thanks to his 13-hour filibuster, Rubin took a shot at his foreign policy views:

There will be a long-coming debate on the right, and between right and left, on U.S. foreign policy in the post-9/11 and post-Arab Spring world. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) doesn’t like the word “isolationism,” but his policy choices (removing bases, bringing troops home, ending foreign aid) bear an uncanny resemblance to the foreign policy of those who, well, are isolationists.

I have written that his ideological partisans at the other end of the intervention/isolation spectrum have not done a bang-up job of justifying their views, formulating reasonable policies, or carving out a proper balance between the executive and legislative branches. This was of course greatly impeded by an Obama administration that is the least transparent in history and has a nasty habit of subsuming foreign policy to electoral politics.

The term “isolationist” is a pejorative used by neo-conservatives to scare Republican voters into giving them carte blanche to do pretty much whatever they want on foreign policy under the guise of the “war on terror.” But isolationism has two major components, neither of which apply to Sen. Paul.

Graham and McCain Missed the Point. Completely.

John McCain

Rand Paul’s epic filibuster was bound to draw some criticism.  I’m sure he didn’t expect it from his own side of the aisle though.  John McCain and Lindsey Graham took aim at the Kentucky Senator earlier today in what looks like a couple of peons scurrying for scraps from President Obama’s table.

Graham put up a poster that showed a body-count comparison of people killed on US soil — al-Qaeda: 2,958, as opposed to none killed by drones.  Of course, no one is arguing anything else.  In fact, I challenge Graham to provide a single instance of Rand Paul saying anyone in this country has been killed by a drone.

Rand Paul’s mission?  To keep it that way.

Former presidential candidate John McCain had the following to say against Sen. Paul:

“Calm down, Senator,” [John] McCain said, in an apostrophe to Paul. “The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens.”
McCain, a staunch foreign policy hawk, said Thursday that Paul’s warnings that the U.S. could target “Jane Fonda” or “people in cafes” bring the debate into the “realm of the ridiculous.”

“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids,” McCain said, adding: “I don’t think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people.”

Well, allow me to tell you to “Calm down, Senator”!

You see, the problem isn’t that he believes President Obama will do such things.  It’s that President Obama doesn’t believe that he can’t do things like this.  Sens. Graham and McCain are clearly missing the point of what Sen. Paul did last night.

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