Monday, August 19, 2013
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
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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.
Monday, August 12, 2013
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.
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.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
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
“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:
And here is Justin Logan:
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.
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.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
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.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Friday, August 2, 2013
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Video streaming by Ustream
"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."...
Rand Paul Brilliantly Responds to the Critics of His Bill to Cutoff Aid to Egypt on the Senate Floor
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: