Friday, October 30, 2009

Fear! Fear! Fear the kookiness of Rand Paul!

Feeling the heat that Rand Paul is a real threat to beat him in the Republican primary, establishment pick Trey Grayson has resorted to personal attacks more than six months before the primary.

The move isn’t even a surprise. Being the son of Ron Paul has its downsides: the establishment hates you.

By raising over $1 million in the third quarter, nearly doubling the amount raised by the secretary of state, Grayson knows that young Dr. Paul will be able to get his name out there and be a force to be reckoned with.

Attempting to turn Rand Paul’s asset as an outsider on its head, Grayson earlier this month said, “He’s an outsider. He’s not a Kentuckian. You know, I’m a 5th generation Kentuckian, educated here in the public schools, raising my family here.”

“I’m a 5th generation Kentuckian.” As my friend Don Rickles would say, “Would you like a cookie?”

Something deep inside tells me that Grayson did not say the same thing to Alabama-born and ergo fellow outsider Mitch McConnell last month when the senate minority leader and 16 other Republican senators who supported last year’s bailouts threw a $500 per plate Washington D.C. fundraiser for him.

But Rand Paul, who has lived in the Bluegrass State since 1993, landed the real zinger in this verbal dust-up: “I’ve been a Kentuckian longer than Grayson’s been a Republican,” reminding voters that their Republican secretary of state was a Democratic delegate for Bill Clinton in 1992.

The other recent smear against Rand Paul is pure farce. It’s so bad . . .

In unison: “How bad was it?”

It’s so bad that if I didn’t know better, I would have suspected the Rand Paul campaign of making it up just so they could make their opponent and his supporters look foolish.

Trey Grayson can thank Breathitt County GOP chairman and campaign donor Mike Bryant for his cute website: Too Kooky For Kentucky.

The title itself is not surprising either. In “Fire Two!” after Rand Paul was smeared by the Voice Tribune of Louisville, I wrote in this blog that it won’t be long until Rand is branded as “just the kook son of chief kook Ron Paul.” Lo and behold, the picture at the head of Too Kooky for Kentucky has Ron Paul on the left and Rand Paul on the right with each of them wearing a dunce cap.

Interviewed on WTVQ-TV in Lexington we meet Mr. Mike Bryant. Rotund, bald, and donning squarish eye glasses, he kind of looks like me without the long sideburns.

After obviously searching for some coherent criticism, Bryant says, “Really, we don’t know yet what Rand stands for in a lot of cases.”

This complaint is laughable in a couple of ways.

Neither Trey Grayson nor any of his supporters have any ground on which to stand when they charge that they don’t know what Rand Paul stands for. As I’ve pointed out numerous times here, the Paul campaign website provides detailed descriptions of his positions whereas as Grayson’s campaign website, until very recently, was as bare as Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard when it came to the issues.

The other point here is that after only a brief survey of Too Kooky for Kentucky, one can easily conclude that the editor does clearly know what Rand Paul stands for. His claim on TV was, let’s say, excessively disingenuous.

He knows that Rand Paul is an antiwar Republican, he knows that he is against the Patriot Act, and he knows that he wants to end the War on Drugs. Of course, all of this makes him “kooky.” Kind of makes me wonder if Mr. Bryant would have dared call the late William F. Buckley a “kook,” who in the last years of his life expressed sympathy with each of those views.

And every post in Mr. Bryant’s little site is entered under the pen name “Ben Franklin.”

In an entry that is probably too ironic for the Too Kooky for Kentucky editor to get is when “Ben Franklin” writes “Like Obama and Kerry – Rand Paul Speaks out Against the Patriot Act.

If I could get old Doc Brown’s time machine up and running again, I’d like to take this “Ben Franklin” so he can meet the original Ben Franklin. You know, the one who said, “Anyone who would sacrifice liberty for security will lose both.”

Examples like this could go on and on. It already has here.

So why fuss over Too Kooky for Kentucky, an obviously ill-conceived smear website? Well, if it was edited by a Joe Schmo Trey Grayson supporter, it wouldn't be worth any trouble.

But it's not run by a Joe Schmo. It's edited by a county party chairman who actually did the voters of Kentucky a huge favor. Grayson, who appears devoid of any discernible political philosophy, has been shown exactly what is expected of him as a senator.

He is expected to be a Bush Republican.

He is expected to do war, he is expected keep government appraised of our personal lives, he is expected to ignore the Constitution and he is expected to do war some more.

But this is also the Kentucky Republican Party strategy: Slime Rand Paul.

They cannot debate him on the issues. If they could, they wouldn’t have to call him a “kook” or disparage his outsider status. Or they could tell us about the “unkooky” ideas of Trey Grayson.

What they want is for Rand Paul to just go away. He’s inconveniencing Trey Grayson’s ascension as Mitch McConnell Jr.

But since Rand Paul insists on yapping his gums about antiquated ideas like the Constitution and balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility the Grayson people will have just one card to play:


And they will play it, as they say in Kentucky, 'til the cows come home.


Stick it to Trey Grayson, Mitch McConnell, and their lackeys by donating to a candidate with real ideas here.

Update: Call and Adams, the Voice-Tribune columnists who smeared Rand in August (here and here) issued him a back-handed compliment last week in this column. They write, "Traditional candidates must secretly envy guys like U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul, who can raise big money over the internet from donors all over the country in events named 'money bombs.'" But notice their contempt when they say, "If Paul is smart, he'll use the extra time on his hands to campaign with Kentuckians who can actually vote for him."

I wonder if they had the same advice for Trey Grayson, the recent beneficiary of a $500/plate D.C. fundraiser. Since it was in Washington D.C., I'm sure there were only Kentuckians there scratching checks for Grayson. Oh, and according to the Paul campaign, their August "money bomb" had an average donation of $86 with 70% of the donations under $100. Just some food for thought about the "big money" Rand Paul gets on the internet.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Compassionate Conservatism Revisited?

As gubernatorial races approach in New Jersey and Virginia, Republicans are rubbing their hands in anticipation of the beginning of a comeback. Delivering one or both of the governorships into GOP hands may be an early sign that Americans are not receptive to the change of Barack Obama’s status quo-ism.

This prospect can be very enticing. There is some speculation that Sarah Palin might run for office again. Her endorsement of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd district may make the difference in the 2009 special election. So too might Arlen Specter be sent packing and Chris “Countrywide” Dodd might finally pay for that sweetheart mortgage.

While extricating those suits from their seats might be attractive, one has to wonder what the Republicans have to offer the country other than the “R”’s beside their names.

One potential sleeper contest in 2010 is the Florida senate race. Charlie Crist, global warming-monger and stimulus money beggar, has announced that he will not seek another term as governor so he can run for the senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez. Crist is the favorite in both the primary and the general election, but he faces a challenge from a former underling, one-time Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio.

Rubio’s positives make him popular among the grassroots activists. He is a Fair Taxer, supporting a national sales tax instead of the income tax, a solution that fellow anti-IRSites like myself fear might only rearrange a problem instead of solving it. He favors a balanced budget amendment, a position sure to make conservatives swoon in reaction to President Obama’s ridiculous spending habits.

The benefit of Marco Rubio is that he is of Cuban ancestry. The media and haughty liberals never shirk an opportunity to remind the GOP that they are the “Old White Guy Party.” Rubio’s Hispanic heritage automatically catapults him to the front of the line of Republican examples of diversity where he can sit with Michael Steele, Sarah Palin, and Bobby Jindal.

National Review placed the 38-year-old on the cover of its September 7 issue claiming “Yes, He Can” and that the party’s conservative activists need to get behind this “true conservative.”

Whether young Rubio is a “true conservative” or not is a sub question to the earlier one of what the Republicans have to offer: What does a “true conservative” have to offer during the Obama regnancy? What is “conservative” in the post-Bush era?

In a National Review Online interview with the insurgent, Rubio “counts former Gov. Jeb Bush as one of his most important political mentors” and the former governor has since endorsed Rubio as has son, Jeb Jr.

Not one to beat a dead elephant, but conservatives ought to ask themselves one of these days, What exactly has the Bush family done for conservative causes? Break promises not to raise taxes? Take turns invading Iraq? Spent like there was no tomorrow and completely nullifying any good tax cuts could do? Of course Jeb is his own man, but there are many sins of the father and brother for which he must atone.

One of the other GOP veterans who has hitched himself to the Rubio wagon is Mike Huckabee, who is reciprocating the endorsement Rubio made for him in 2008. When asked why he supported Huckabee, who had difficulty attracting much support outside single issue social conservatives, Rubio said,

“Two things I like about Mike Huckabee: One was his support of the Fair Tax . . . Second, I thought that of all the candidates, he did the best job of connecting how the people’s social and moral well-being cannot be separated from their economic well-being.” (emphasis mine)

“the people’s social and moral well-being cannot be separated from their economic well-being.”

Translation: excessive domestic spending known during the Bush years as Compassionate Conservatism.

Toeing both sides of a fine line to appease immigration restrictionists in the party as well as the open borders crowd, Rubio concedes that “On immigration, [Retiring Republican Senator Mel Martinez] voted for a package I probably would not have voted for . . .” (emphasis mine)

Rubio also chooses to toe both sides when it comes to the biggest fiasco of the generation, the Iraq War. Here he takes Jonah Goldberg’s Orwellian position on Iraq: it was a mistake but it was not wrong:

“Obviously, the Iraq War has had the chilling effect of making us question all intelligence findings now. . . . I think that there is some credence, in hindsight, to the notion that the real battlefield was in Afghanistan all along. . . .

“But understand at the same time, we were being told that Iraq was on the verge of gaining a nuclear capability. . . . So it’s impossible to sit here and give a fair analysis in hindsight.”

Translation: OK, maybe the Iraq War wasn’t such a great idea after all. Maybe. But who are we to say it was a mistake? It was just a war. No reason to worry about responsibility for it.

So for all the talk about the Republican Party getting its act together and finally getting back to its conservative principles, if it ever really had them, the "conservatism" during the Obama dispensation looks eerily similar to the one during the days of the Bush regime.

Mushy immigration rhetoric, government taking an active role in the people’s “well-being” and a persistent refusal to criticize GOP foreign policy, Rubio is probably better than Charlie Crist, but might we entertain the possibility that there might be a better potential standard-bearer?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sending Rush to the Pillory - Letter to the Editor

(The following letter to the editor will be appearing shortly in the Belleville [IL] News-Democrat.)

The news that Rush Limbaugh will not be a partial owner of the St. Louis Rams should not be too surprising. The outcry was loud, widespread, and predictable. If Mr. Checketts had not removed Rush from the bidding group, the PC football league would never have approved the deal.

More of a GOP hack than a truly principled conservative, Rush is best at being provocative and talking about football.

While most of the negative reaction has been directed at quotes of spurious origin, people seem to be consumed by the wrong issue. What is plain to see is that while we have freedom of speech in this country, some speech is more equal than others.

Even if the most acidic of Rush’s quotes are real, what difference should it make? If a statement is offensive, let us discuss why it is offensive instead of criminalizing the opinions of private citizens some of us don’t like.

This attitude is also evident in Rush’s quotes that are verifiable.

Whose civil liberty is infringed upon when we are pressured from discussing whether a particular football player might be overrated because of his skin color? Is it the person who asks it or is it the rest of us who are to resist talking about that because it is considered offensive to somebody?

Like Don Imus two years ago, Rush Limbaugh is guilty of a thought crime against elites who are uninterested in hearing anyone else’s opinion except the ones they give us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Holocausts are Easy to Come By

When Florida Congressman Alan Grayson called America’s level of uninsured people a “holocaust,” he did more than touch a few nerves.

Taking the inability or unwillingness of millions of Americans without health insurance and planting in many the imagery of the systematic deaths of over 10 million people in the 1940s, Congressman Grayson made a statement that was far beyond the line. However, considering the rhetoric used in modern politics, it is hardly a surprising analogy.

Coupled with these terms are always the inevitable parallels to World War II. “The Good War” is always selected as the morality tale on behalf of every modern day intervention, be it domestic or foreign. For example, Moammar Gaddhafi, Slobodan Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein have all been tagged “the second Hitler” making Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at least the fifth Hitler by this count.

All of these criminals have been labeled a “Hitler” at one point or another and, of course, “second Holocaust” usually follows shortly thereafter.

These images to World War II, Hitler, and the Holocaust are always convenient in making a political point, often out of desperation. No one in polite society would say that they disagree with the outcome of World War II, think Hitler was just misunderstood, or that the Holocaust was a good event that should be commemorated on the church calendar. No. Those three are the greatest consensuses in the western world.

Since nobody thinks the Holocaust was good, who would dare oppose anything when the alternative would be a “holocaust”? Don’t want a holocaust? Well, we’d better pass this health care legislation. Don’t want a holocaust? We’d better take out Saddam Hussein. Don’t want a second Holocaust? Then you know what we should do with Ahmadeinjad.

Likewise, recent news that the Iranians have an underground nuclear facility near the city of Qom, southwest of Tehran, has elicited the usual catcalls of “appeasement” and the necessity of regime change or sanctions in Iran.

Not satisfied with only having wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neoconservatives and warmongers in both parties are anxious to begin the bombing of Iran over weapons no one can say with any certainty that they have.

A lot of people were convinced that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could hit either the U.S. or Israel. Nothing of the sort was found and Iraq proved to be far weaker that we suspected. As for Israel, their actions in Lebanon in 2006 and Palestine last year should prove that they are more than capable of defending themselves. Plus, whether Iran would be able to hit Israel should be immaterial to America. Israel’s security is Israel’s responsibility.

But it’s the specter of “holocaust” that is meant to fill Americans’ minds with images of destruction, carnage, and total death, whether there is evidence to justify the illustration or not.

The same is true with Congressman Grayson. There is no evidence to suggest that unless there is a “public option” or universal health care that people will just die by the thousands. Likewise, there is no evidence that Iran is using this new facility in Qom to build a bomb to drop on Israel. But the holocaust plea is issued when its users know their case is weak.

The public option and the road to universal health care in the short term is dying. Countless charges of racism against opponents of government sponsored health care have rendered any hope of meaningful or bipartisan reform moot. Eight years in Afghanistan with no end in sight and numbers turning against the enterprise make it difficult for President Obama to answer his general’s plea to plunge America further into the Afghan malaise. That same war-weary population is not willing to militarily engage Iran unless they know that THIS one is a genuine threat to us. So far it has not been demonstrated.

But this phenomenon ably demonstrates the bankruptcy of America’s two-party system and their collective pandering to the lowest common denominator. Every dying political cause can be reduced to Hitler, the Holocaust, or World War II. It’s time for Americans to awaken and see that instead of facing a holocaust around every corner, the problem is the politicians who talk down to Americans by using these references to scare them into total dependence.

It is insulting and demeaning to a free people.