Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dangerous Marco Rubio

And he may just be the next senator from Florida.

There’s a lot of buzz around Marco Rubio these days. Justifiably so. He is running against the Establishment’s candidate Charlie Crist. He delivers stirring speeches and holds the support of the so-called Tea Parties. He’s charismatic and as a Cuban-American, he is a diverse face the Republican Party desperately needs.

He waxes about individual liberty and free enterprise. These topics gave him cheers at CPAC. But there is more to Rubio than this. What so many of his admirers may or may not realize is that Marco Rubio is exactly what the Republicans want in order for them to put a different face on their big government machinations.

He is Hispanic, which is a plus, and even though he is not (yet) the Establishment’s candidate, he does not represent any meaningful change from the status quo from early 21st century Republican politics, only more passionate delivery.

Last October, I first highlighted some troubles with Rubio in “Compassionate Conservatism Revisited?” where Rubio expressed support for a Republican version of a nanny state:

“I thought that of all the candidates, [Mike Huckabee] did the best job of connecting how the people’s social and moral well-being cannot be separated from their economic well-being.”

I also noted that one of Rubio’s political mentors was two-term governor Jeb Bush, who is portrayed in Robert Crew's recent monograph, “Aggressive Conservatism,” as a strong-willed and secretive executive who did not hesitate to stretch the authority of his office to achieve his goals. Sound familiar?

After Rubio delivered his speech at CPAC last weekend, he should give true conservatives and libertarians more reason to worry. Not only does he toe the Bush-Huckabee line of compassionate conservatism, he also makes clear that he follows their foreign policy as well:

“Americans are also looking for clear alternatives on the issues of national defense. . . . there is no greater risk to this country than the risk posed by radical Islamic terrorists. Let me be clear about something. These terrorists aren't trying to kill us because we offended them. They attack us because they want to impose their view of the world on as many people as they can, and America is standing in their way. We need to make it unmistakably clear that we will do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.

“We will punish -- we will punish their allies, like Iran -- and we will stand with our allies, like Israel. We will target and we will destroy terrorist cells and the leaders of those cells. The ones that survive, we will capture them.”

This is a startling part of the speech. But let’s break it down.

Let me be clear about something. These terrorists aren't trying to kill us because we offended them

This is a repackaging of the unreflective cliché, “They hate us because we’re free.”

By saying “Let me be clear,” Rubio wants to assure us that there is no alternative explanation to why terrorists hate us. We did not offend them. It would be preposterous to think they could be offended that the U.S. supports Israel unconditionally against the Palestinians, props up corrupt regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, militarily occupies lands that Muslims consider holy, and whose foreign policy results in thousands of dead Muslims.

They attack us because they want to impose their view of the world on as many people as they can, and America is standing in their way.

Okay, they attack us because they want to impose their view of the world on us. There is a case to be made for that, but aren’t we currently engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan because we want to impose our view of the world, democratic republicanism, on the Muslim world? We obviously don’t like the idea of living under an imposed Islamic caliphate, so why should we believe that traditional Islamic societies would want to live like secular Westerners especially if it was forced on them?

We need to make it unmistakably clear that we will do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.

This comes directly from the playbook of the Israel Lobby: bait Iran, stand with Israel, and stay in the region for hundreds of years if necessary against vaguely defined "radical Islamic terrorism."

Meet Marco Rubio: Bush Republican.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

War Party and Tea

With the surprise retirement of Evan Bayh, widely assumed to be a shoo-in for reelection, Republicans can lick their chops some more about the electoral gains they are sure to make this fall.

Perhaps the Tea Party pressure is paying off. Maybe enough of those evil Democrats are getting the picture that their big government machinations are history and a renewed, revitalized, and reformed Republican Party is poised to set the ship aright by following the Constitution and restoring the republic to the one bequeathed to us by the founding fathers.

Probably not.

Like Obama, the Republicans are misreading the early election returns.

In 2006 and 2008, Americans sick of the Republicans, their ill-conceived wars, and a miserable economy, threw the GOP and their “permanent majority” out. 2008 was a year where the Republicans were so despised that Democrats could have literally nominated a yellow dog and still won the presidency. Not sensing this, Obama and the Democrats introduced to America an agenda that envisioned a health care plan that would inevitably lead to a government take-over of the industry.

Republicans have responded by defeating Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey, and of all places, Massachusetts.

So how are they misreading the election results?

They are taking these early Democratic defeats to mean that, even though the Republicans have offered no agenda of change, the American people must want back the good old days of the early 2000s of the ambiguous “War on Terror” and endless deficit spending.

No sooner had Scott Brown embarrassed his daughters on national television did National Review’s Andrew McCarthy assure us that it was the War on Terror that really motivated people to get out there by praising how:

“Scott Brown went out and made the case for enhanced interrogation, for denying terrorists the rights of criminal defendants, for detaining them without trial, and for trying them by military commission. It worked. It will work for other candidates willing to get out of their Beltway bubbles . . . .

“He said the United States needs to stop apologizing for defending itself. And he won going away, in the bluest of blue states.”

What McCarthy means by “defending itself,” is keeping the same Bush foreign policy that Americans have already repudiated.

This also shows how, despite all the good rhetoric about the Constitution, limited government, and reduced spending at home, all of that takes a back seat to the ubiquitous “War on Terror” and makes the so-called Tea Parties a farce.

Just look at the reception given to Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul.

Paul, who has consistently led in Kentucky polls for at least four months, is continually vilified by his party and their media henchmen for a variety of bizarre reasons. He’s kooky. He’s pro-abortion (untrue). He’s a marijuana advocate (a dramatic distortion). But the most telling criticism is that Rand Paul is somehow weak on military matters and wants to surrender the “War on Terror.”

To make that argument ignores the fact that Paul’s first campaign commercial declared that he will “stop travel visas from terrorist nations” and “keep prisoners off U.S. soil,” as well as supporting military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. On his website, he has expressed his support for a declaration of war on Afghanistan. He also wrangled the endorsement of war empress Sarah Palin. To the chagrin of all the little Churchills with laptops, Rand Paul is not Neville Chamberlain.

But it was Jeanette Pryor of Newsrealblog that summed up the supremacy of war when she said this regarding Sarah Palin’s endorsement:

"The logical conclusion of this endorsement is that Palin considers America’s global defense of freedom, national defense, the War on Terror, the defeat of Radical Islam, and the support of Israel and our allies, to be less important than 'some' domestic policy issues."

Pryor says plainly that not only are the wars more important than our domestics, but Israel is too. Are we for America first or are we not? Or as The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison noted about the reaction to Palin’s endorsement, she “has erred because she forgot that national security is the one area where conservatives cannot meaningfully disagree and still be accepted.”

During the Bush administration, everything took a backseat to the wars. Spending skyrocketed. The Roe v. Wade atrocity remained firmly in place. Border security was abandoned. The federal government sunk its claws deeper into American education. Executive power increased. But the wars, well, that’s what really mattered.

These GOP sycophants have already demonstrated that once the Republicans are back in power, the latter aim to do everything exactly the same once again. And the former aim to continue their bidding.

From the party that has had no ideas for fixing the problems they helped cause this should be no surprise.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rand Paul and Sarah

“You saw the Tea Party group basically in action twice in the last two or three years. One was for the anti- immigration-reform thing . . .

The second was after the nomination of Sarah Palin, this enormous surge to McCain, huge crowds coming out when he couldn't get a couple of hundred people before . . .

Now . . . Ron Paul, will do better. He's not going to be nominated, but he will do better than he did before if he runs again because he'll get some of those folks. But right now, quite frankly, the one candidate who can get them better than anybody else is Ms. Sarah Palin.”

- Patrick J. Buchanan, January 15, 2010 on “McLaughlin Group”

After weeks of speculation, on Monday, February 1, 2010, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin endorsed Kentucky Republican Rand Paul for the U.S. Senate. Palin, whose political baggage is too bulky to mention here, may prove to be a kingmaker.

Already, Rand Paul is pulling ahead in the polls in a race that was supposed to go easily to Secretary of State Trey Grayson. The Palin endorsement was welcomed by the Paul campaign and comes just two days after Rand’s father Ron Paul came to Louisville to campaign for his son and two days after the secretary of state smeared the father and son as “a career politician and pro-choice marijuana advocate,” respectively although not respectfully.

The Palin endorsement is intriguing. Hardly anyone in American politics, save perhaps President Obama, elicits such knee-jerk love or hate. In fact, I feel like an oddball in that I neither love nor hate the former governor. What’s wrong with me?

Some might also ask what’s wrong with Palin herself. Why would she endorse Rand Paul, the son of one of the most famous American libertarians when she has also endorsed pols such as her old running mate John McCain and Texas governor Rick Perry. It’s hard to imagine those three endorsees (a libertarian Republican, a progressive Republican, and George W. Bush’s lieutenant governor) getting along for five minutes. Maybe Sarah Palin is confused about her political philosophy. Maybe she is endorsing three people she just happens to like. Maybe she is just an old-fashioned politician held captive by the moment.

What to make of the endorsement? The Paul campaign welcomed it but some of the grassroots supporters of both are a little uneasy about it while others are simply distraught.

But in the words of Barry Goldwater, after conservatives threatened to abandon the party when Richard Nixon started pandering to the party’s liberals, “Let’s grow up, conservatives.” Or in this case, let’s grow up, Ron Paul Republicans.

Sarah Palin does have some political problems. She touts the bellicose foreign policy of John McCain both on their campaign trail and in her book. She held her hand out to receive stimulus money while she was still governor. She doesn’t really show much knowledge of the issues beyond the talking points. But both Sarah Palin and Rand Paul claim Tea Party support and like Pat Buchanan said, “The one candidate who can get [people] better than anybody else is Ms. Sarah Palin.”

Some grassroots libertarians are upset at the acceptance of the endorsement because Palin’s policy positions are far from perfect, and in some cases, are far from Rand Paul’s. But both claim Tea Party credentials and both campaign as the outsider to the establishment. And in a year where a Republican can win in Massachusetts, the endorsement is a good thing.

Why? 3 main reasons:

1. The endorsement might just produce, at the very least, a primary win. But to even get that far, alliances must be made and coalitions built, which by nature means teaming up with people who do not share complete confessional solidarity. A coalition is not a religious creed, where all points must be agreed upon to signify a true believer. Accepting Sarah Palin’s endorsement is not an abandonment of principles. It is good political sense.

2. Like it or not, she brings in people. And in a state that went 57-41 for McCain-Palin, Republican opponents like Trey Grayson will have more trouble marginalizing Rand Paul when one of the party’s biggest stars comes out for the latter. Will he continue trying to convince voters that Rand Paul is “pro-choice” when one of the country’s most prominent pro-life figures endorses him? Is Trey capable of walking the tightrope of vilifying Rand Paul without implying that Sarah Palin is also kooky, nutty, and anti-Semitic?

3. If Sarah Palin does get gutted for supporting Rand Paul, it only confirms that the GOP is the War Party and only the War Party. Federal encroachment, borrowing and spending, bailouts, and amnesty are all tolerable as long as you support torture and imperialism.

Welcome to the Kentucky race, Sarah. I hope you get a chance to listen to Dr. Paul.


Update: Regarding point #3 that the GOP may prove itself to be the War Party, see here for Jeanette Pryor's take at David Horowitz's Israel First Newsreal Blog. Ms. Pryor proves that point very plainly:

"The logical conclusion of this endorsement is that Palin considers America’s global defense of freedom, national defense, the War on Terror, the defeat of Radical Islam, and the support of Israel and our allies, to be less important than 'some' domestic policy issues."