Monday, June 24, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Check out who Marco Rubio voted with in this motion to essentially kill Rand Paul's border security amendment to the immigration bill:
Grouped By Vote Position
Grouped By Vote Position
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
At first, I expected some sort of hit piece, especially given the cover of the New Republic which reads "The Real Rand Paul (Can't Be Trusted)". But then the article is actually headlined "President Rand Paul: Watch Out He's Becoming a Better Politician Every day" and is actually pretty positive. It tracks Rand Paul's evolution over the years and how he is both pragmatic and principled at the same time and is able to appeal to many more people than his father ever was. It really is a must read piece. I don't say that often about anything in the New Republic.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
Rand Paul continues his minority outreach efforts and does so in a very sincere way. From his latest op-ed in the Courier Journal:
In the case of arrests, federal agencies have hamstrung local law enforcement agencies by requiring them to meet numerical arrest goals in order to secure funding. Morally, this is troubling. In practical terms, instead of local enforcement agencies spending their time investigating serious felony crimes, they concentrate on minority and depressed neighborhoods to increase their drug arrest statistics.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which reported on the arrest statistics, highlighted the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. This federal program distributes millions of dollars a year to local law enforcement agencies. Arrest numbers are a performance measure used in doling out the money.
Federal sentencing laws have a disproportionate effect on the African-American community, too. Black men are more than twice as likely as whites to face mandatory minimum sentences. One in three black men may spend time incarcerated. It's not just crime patterns that are to blame. There are significant disparities in sentencing outcomes for blacks and whites arrested for the same type of crimes.
Recently, I joined my colleague Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, in introducing a bill that would authorize judges to disregard federal mandatory-minimum sentencing on a case-by-case basis. Some might think it is unusual for a conservative Republican to join a liberal Democrat on such a bill, but contrary to popular belief, the protection of civil liberties and adherence to the Constitution should be a bipartisan effort.
Rep. Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, has introduced companion legislation in the House. I have met with Reps. Scott and John Conyers, D-Mich., both members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to discuss this issue.
I join the African-American community in its outrage at Washington's discriminatory policies and practices and I am eager to work with its representatives in Congress to bring about meaningful reform. Let's have a real dialogue about these issues and make the changes necessary to ensure that the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are secure for all Americans.
A must watch video. What most amazed me was the absolutely glowing introduction from Ralph Reed, best known as the first head of the Christian Coalition and the Founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Rand Paul seems to have a good chance of getting a chunk of the evangelical vote:
An interesting piece in the National Journal on the "light bromance" between the two up and comers in the GOP. Rand Paul is so much more adept at politics than his father:
Rubio needs Paul's help -- and political cover on the right -- to get an immigration bill passed. Paul needs Rubio's help -- particularly with the Hispanic community -- to soften his image in the center.
Immigration reform looms large over both of their political futures, in the opportunities it provides to win over Hispanic voters and the perils it presents in crossing the party's conservative base.
When Paul decided to start building relationships in the Hispanic community, it was Rubio's office that came through with introductions. The outreach led to Paul giving two major speeches endorsing the heart of Rubio-led legislation to allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. Rubio's chief of staff, Cesar Conda, gave Paul a shout-out Wednesday by posting the latest speech to Hispanic pastors on Twitter.
Two backs scratched.
Rubio badly needs immigration reform to pass, having invested so much time and political stock in the bill's passage and lacking a major legislative achievement. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah signaled this week that their votes are out of reach, leaving Paul as Rubio's best hope for a prominent tea party wingman.
Paul's nod could boost the bill in the Senate and perhaps more importantly, give it some juice in the tea party-dominated House. "It's not just Rand's vote that Rubio needs but the people who will come along with him," said Doug Stafford, a top Paul adviser. Paul's support for immigration reform could also offer Rubio political cover in amnesty-wary, conservative corners if he runs for president.
For his part, Paul is trying to prove he can appeal to the growing minority share of the electorate in the wake of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney's disastrous showing among Hispanic and African-American voters. If an immigration bill passes without Paul on board, he could appear to be left behind instead of leading.
"Rand doesn't want to concede the general election audience and Rubio doesn't want to concede the conservative audience," said Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress. "It's like mime theater in which they are playing off each other. It's like shadow boxing."
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
A nice piece in the Daily Telegraph:
As Jim Antle points out, for the first time in a very long time the Right is using libertarian rhetoric. It's partly to do with being out of government, which frees conservatives to criticise its every error – economic and military. It's partly to do with frustration directed at this particular president, a man who spends like there's no tomorrow. It's also partly to do with an implicit rejection of the Republicanism of the past – a recognition, like the one Senator DeMint makes, that Bush was the one who gave us Medicare Part D and the Patriot Act. But it intellectually all comes down to this: the simplest solution to the myriad of problems facing the republic is to return to the spirit and the limits of the Constitution. Of course, that Constitution requires a presidential leadership figure to make political change happen – which is why all eyes are on Rand Paul and his obvious desire to occupy the White House. And it's why grassroots conservatives are grateful that he's proven himself not to be a fruitcake. By visiting Israel, making the right noises about missile defence and highlighting where libertarianism matches the spiritual needs of the GOP (guns, healthcare, taxes), Senator Paul has slowly pushed himself to the front row of the Republican presidential pre-contest. He and Rubio are the ones to watch.
Prism validates everything the Pauls have been working for over the past decade. It confirms their narrative of the Republicans creating the potential for an abusive state and Obama then exploiting it. It fits into the discourse of the need to dump "politics-as-usual", to affirm that political power should reside outside of Washington and with the individual. It shows that big spending and big surveillance go hand in hand.
Liberal commentators presume that the rise of the libertarians is a problem for the GOP because it means another fight between the base and the leadership. That true, but it's also a very cynical way to read US politics. They ought to celebrate the death of a lame duck consensus and the birth of new ideas. I'm far from sold on the libertarian revolution, but when it comes to whether or not the government should be able to read my mom's emails – Rand Paul is on the side of the angels.
It seems like there is a concerted effort to attack Rand Paul these days for his views on the Fourth Amendment and how the Federal Government is violating it for the sake of security. People like Andrew McCarthy, Paul Mirengoff and Jen Rubin have all come out with anti-Rand Paul pieces in the last couple of days. Andrew McCarthy and Paul Mirengoff (who quotes McCarthy) were particularly stinging (partly because I have stopped caring what Jen Rubin things, while I am a fan of McCarthy and Mirengoff) with McCarthy saying Rand Paul wants to promote crime and Mirengoff saying that Rand Paul is ignorant and embarrasses himself.
What did Rand Paul do that was so bad? So ignorant? So embarrassing? He introduced the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 which says very simply:
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States Government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause.
Oh the horror. How embarrassing, how ignorant! This will open the floodgates to crime! Really? Is it so hard just to get a friggin warrant if you have probable cause? I really don't see what the big deal about that is. What McCarthy (who is a former federal prosecutor so he probably naturally isn't so keen on the rights of the accused anyway) is upset about is that Rand Paul considers this to be a fourth amendment issue at all. He writes:
According to a Free Beacon poll:
Four hundred New Hampshire registered voters were surveyed June 2 to June 3 in a poll conducted by the Polling Company, Inc. on behalf of the Free Beacon. It used the same methodology as Democratic-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling.
Drawing support from 22 percent of respondents, Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) is the favored 2016 Republican presidential candidate among GOP primary voters in New Hampshire.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) is close behind Paul at 18 percent, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) both draw 17 percent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker trails with 2 percent, and 24 percent remain undecided.
Rand Paul is speaking directly to the Millennials:
Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Meanwhile, our president claims that we cannot have 100% security and 100% privacy and that as a society we have to make some choices. To that I say, no Mr. President, we don't.
Let's look, for example, at the recent attacks in Boston. Our government was violating our rights, trolling through millions of phone records, sifting through mountains of data and yet still didn't notice, or didn't notice enough, that one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was traveling to Chechnya. Perhaps instead of treating every American as a potential terror suspect, the government should concentrate on more targeted analysis and an analysis that doesn't violate the Bill of Rights.
This assault on personal privacy affects the Facebook generation more than anyone else. Your generation is completely digitized and uploaded. Everything you do is traceable via phone, email and bank records. And it is you, more than anyone, who should be outraged by this astounding assault on your constitutional right to personal privacy.
I hear people say, "Well if you aren't doing anything wrong, then the government will leave you alone." But over the last month and a half, this administration has proved that they will target anyone. Under this administration, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has targeted political dissidents, the Department of Justice has seized reporters' phone records, and now we've learned the NSA seized an unlimited amount of Verizon's client data. So, do you really expect us to trust a government that admittedly targets innocent citizens without probable cause? These overreaching acts are unacceptable under any president, whether Democrat or Republican.
Grace Wyler from Vice spent some time with Rand Paul on his trip to California and has some good things to report:
By most measures, the trip has been a big success for Paul. The Kentucky Republican was well-received by tech executives—Mark Zuckerberg even flew back early from his trip to Europe to attend their meeting—and Paul has made the kind of valuable relationships he needs if he ever decides to run for president, which, at this point, seems like the plan.
On Paul's first night out in California, I ran into Miles, a guy I knew in college, at a fundraiser for the Senator hosted by the Frederick Douglass Foundation, described on its website as the "largest Christ-centered, multiethnic, and Republican ministry in America."
Miles is a 24-year-old from San Francisco, and grew up with what he describes as a "liberal background." He spent the summer after his freshman year interning in then–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office in Washington. But somewhere between his Capitol Hill internship and graduation, Miles had a political awakening.
"I didn't know what the word liberty meant—I just thought it meant generic freedom," Miles told me. "At the time, I was making phone calls for Obama, and after he won and I saw the continuation of many Bush policies, I realized that the person at the top can change, but that they're just going to keep signing the same bills."
Miles believes that the system is broken. He opposes what he sees as an excess of government spending, thinks the US should stop getting involved in foreign conflicts—"neocons are among the worst things to ever happen to this country"—and is particularly concerned with the Obama administration's infringement on civil liberties.
"This type of stuff is what gets under my skin," he said. "I wish more people would wake up to the fact that it is both parties carrying out authoritarian action like this."
Miles said that while he doesn't agree with Paul on everything, the Kentucky Senator "has done a good job of addressing the issues that I care about." Libertarianism, he added, "is really the only position you can take without tacitly endorsing the system."
As Paul's fundraiser was winding down, I met another potential Paul convert, Frank, a teacher from Oakland, California. Frank told me that he used to teach at Oakland's Fremont High School, but left after 12 years when one of his students was shot and killed and the funeral service was subsequently shot up by gang members.
"That was really just the last straw," said Frank, who now teaches at a private high school in Hayward, a tony Oakland suburb.
"The difference between the education that kids are getting at Fremont and kids are getting at this private school, it's just hurtful," he said. "The government is just pouring money into fixing these schools, but it's not working."
Frank, who described himself as a liberal, said that he was curious to meet Paul, and ended up getting into an extended conversation with the senator and his wife, Kelley Paul, about education policy.
"He's not like a normal politician," Frank said. "He was genuinely interested in what I had to say. And it sounds like he actually wants to do something to fix education."
It's not surprising that voters like Frank and Miles would be attracted to Paul. Their experience with politics and government has been fucked up. That's a common trend among young voters in particular—their political awareness began with the Supreme Court's Gore vs. Bush debacle, and since then they've experienced 9/11, two bloody wars (one of which was based on a lie), the meltdown of the financial system and subsequent bank bailout, ballooning student loan debt and home foreclosures, and the steady expansion of the national security state.
Amid this mess, Paul has emerged as a rare politician who is ideologically consistent, and who is at least trying to come up with solutions.
The fine line that Paul has to walk on social issues was clearly drawn when we arrived in California, where the Kentucky Senator and his family were greeted by a pit crew of social conservatives, including David Lane, the evangelical mastermind behind Rick Perry's "Response" prayer rally, and Rex Ellsass, an Ohio-based GOP operative who has made his reputation—and fortune—representing socially conservative politicians, including Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin of "legitimate rape" fame.
But Paul's message on social issues was remarkably consistent throughout his trip to California.
"I think on the cultural issues, I'm for agreeing to disagree," Paul told me in an interview. "I think some parts of the country are going to be more conservative than others, and I think we can accept that by bringing a federalist type of approach to these issues.
"There will be some states that will be more liberal and some states that will be more conservative, but what will unite most of us in the Republican Party will be that we want smaller government, less debt, more freedom to pursue the activities you want to pursue to succeed in life."
Surprisingly, social conservatives who encountered Paul seemed OK with that position.
"I don't feel like I am being suckered," said Rob McCoy, the pastor of Godspeak Calvary Chapel, where Paul spoke. "We disagree in some areas, but I can honestly say that he seeks to understand me—not necessarily to agree with me, but to understand me.
"I don't want a guy who is going to play to our camp—we've had that," McCoy added. "But I've seen him speak to a lot of groups, and he's always honest in his approach."
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Rand Paul was on the CBS: This Morning Show today and got into a bit of a heated discussion on the NSA spying issue. It's so clear they are tools of this administration as they try to deflect criticism of the White House on this issue by putting the focus on Snowden and his actions and then also saying effectively "three branches of government approved this, how can it be wrong?" Senator Paul does a good job of making the point that what the government is doing is more important than what Snowden did and that with a 10% approval rating, clearly the Congress approving something doesn't make it a good thing.
The esteemed Senator from Kentucky is certainly seizing the moment and demonstrating the distinction between him and the big government establishment. Here is a key section of his Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal:
No one objects to balancing security against liberty. No one objects to seeking warrants for targeted monitoring based on probable cause. We've always done this.
What is objectionable is a system in which government has unlimited and privileged access to the details of our private affairs, and citizens are simply supposed to trust that there won't be any abuse of power. This is an absurd expectation. Americans should trust the National Security Agency as much as they do the IRS and Justice Department.
Monitoring the records of as many as a billion phone calls, as some news reports have suggested, is no modest invasion of privacy. It is an extraordinary invasion of privacy. We fought a revolution over issues like generalized warrants, where soldiers would go from house to house, searching anything they liked. Our lives are now so digitized that the government going from computer to computer or phone to phone is the modern equivalent of the same type of tyranny that our Founders rebelled against.
Rand Paul seems to be leading in Iowa, New Hampshire and now Michigan as well. In the latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) results from the Peninsula State or whatever Michigan is supposed to be called, Rand Paul leads with 18% with Jeb Bush at 16%, Chris Christie and 15% and Rubio at a paltry 11%. Some things that I think following this poll are:
- We need to hope that both Jeb Bush and Chris Christie stay in the race to duke it out amongst themselves. My guess is that if Jeb Bush doesn't run that a substantial portion of his voters would go to Christie and very few would go in Rand Paul's direction. That is not to say that all of them will go to Christie, the NJ Governor is ahead amongs Moderates while Jeb Bush leads amongst those claiming they are "somewhat conservative" so some might go to the Rubio's and Ryan's if they run. But needless to say, the more candidates like Bush and Christie running is good news for those of use who want a conservative as the GOP standard-bearer. That is in fact how Reagan was able to win the nomination in 1980. He was effectively the lone conservative battling a bunch of RINO's like George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John Connally, John Anderson and Howard Baker.
- Rubio may have done serious damage to his brand with his comprehensive immigration reform plan. NEVER under any circumstances pal around with Chuck Schumer and ally with him against conservatives. If immigration reform fails and Rubio gets his act together between now and 2015, he has a chance. Most people will forgive and forget. If it passes and its a disaster though, he is finished.
- As I wrote previously, Rand Paul needs to do serious outreach to the elderly somehow. Rand Paul has a 13 point lead among those 18-45, but is in a disastrous 5th place among those >65. This won't be easy given his plan to reform both Medicare and Social Security but he needs to find a way to have a chance. It's the elderly that turn out to vote after all.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Needless to say, the esteemed Senator from Kentucky is not pleased with the latest revelation of the NSA spying on innocent US citizens. He even uses the word "evil" in the press release:
The National Security Agency's seizure and surveillance of virtually all of Verizon's phone customers is an astounding assault on the Constitution. After revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted political dissidents and the Department of Justice seized reporters' phone records, it would appear that this Administration has now sunk to a new low.
When Sen. Mike Lee and I offered an amendment that would attach Fourth Amendment protections to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last year, it was defeated, and FISA was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Senate. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked that FISA was "necessary to protect us from the evil in this world."
The Bill of Rights was designed to protect us from evil, too, particularly that which always correlates with concentrated government power, and particularly Executive power. If the President and Congress would obey the Fourth Amendment we all swore to uphold, this new shocking revelation that the government is now spying on citizens' phone data en masse would never have happened.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The pro-Syria intervention folks think they have come up with a winning strategy for getting us involved in Syria. We will send arms to rebels who have been properly vetted. Rand Paul has a great response to that while at the same time mocking John McCain, "apparently we had a senator over there who had his picture taken with some kidnappers, so I don't know how good a job we're doing vetting those who are going to get the arms":