Monday, May 24, 2010

The Smear Bund Reloads

“I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners - I abhor racism, I think it’s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant - but at the same time I do believe in private ownership but I think there should be absolutely no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding.”

- Rand Paul, May 20, 2010

Fresh off a resounding primary win, Rand Paul didn’t leave himself much time for a “honeymoon” this week when he inadvertently uttered one of the Things You’re Not Allowed To Say.

Just what did he say? Did he espouse the merits of racism? Did he lament that the country did not elect Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrats in 1948? Did our good and benevolent media handlers, who cannot possibly have an agenda of their own, catch Rand changing out of his surgical scrubs and into his Klan hood?

Rather, Rand Paul made a statement intolerable to our political and cultural elites when he suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not infallible.

In fact, there was nothing in the above quote that was even inconsistent with his philosophy.

Rand Paul’s entire campaign thus far has been about keeping government out of the lives of private citizens. Do the liberals (and a conservative establishment altogether unhappy with this marriage) want us to believe that Rand’s whole campaign, nay, whole life dedicated to preserving the privacy and rights of the individual was just part of a grand scheme to reinstitute segregated lunch counters?

It wasn’t enough to say that racism is wrong. It wasn’t enough to point out the economic stupidity inherent to discrimination practiced by business owners. Rand Paul’s detractors, both Left and Right, show us that the only acceptable way to be absolved or recused of racism is to faithfully recite the court history.

Always tenuous in his relationship with the Republican Party, whose full support he needs, a chastened Dr. Paul, with all the passion of a church heretic choosing expediency over burning at the steak, has backpedaled by saying that he would have undoubtedly supported the Civil Rights Act, a position he implied in the first place. Perhaps now that he says he believes all the articles of the government catechism, the Inquisition of Acceptable Opinion will pull back on the reins.

But this is unlikely to end as this is only the second act of a play we’ve already seen.

The Democrats have naturally lacerated Rand. They are loathe to ever pass up an opportunity to project their bloated sense of moral superiority at anyone who disagrees with them by labeling them a racist or bigot. Perhaps even less surprising is how the GOP has turned its back and tepidly cheered on the Left’s hysterics.

The Republicans, who are none too happy that Rand pummeled their candidate of choice, finally have a reason to throw him to the wolves. For a candidate whom they have no passionate attachment, cutting the rope comes naturally and easily. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the party who left Jim Bunning to twist in the wind has given the same treatment to his potential successor.

While there is a fair amount of criticism about Rand Paul’s campaign, particularly among libertarians, that he is so reviled by his party’s establishment, both before and after a landslide primary victory, shows that his enemies still see him as a legitimate threat to cut against the grain of his party. And that is what cannot be tolerated.

Despite all of this, it’s still doubtful this will sink the 25-point lead Rand currently holds over his opponent. Try as they might, the Democrats cannot put “macaca” in his mouth.

But Rand Paul has been here before.

Last December, a prominent staffer resigned when racist content was found on his page. Although the staffer, Chris Hightower, did not author the substance, he did leave it alone, an indication that he values a person’s right to the freedom of speech, even when it’s detestable.

Likewise, Rand Paul never condoned racism or discrimination but only nodded that property rights are sacred in the western tradition, even when the holders themselves are repulsive.

But the point is that Rand Paul has survived this sort of controversy before. He kept on his message of rejecting government interference and balancing the budget, even when his primary opponent tried to use this incident as a club in evidence of Rand’s “strange ideas.”

Yet, Rand Paul is still naturally strong in this race. He’s the indisputably conservative candidate in an indisputably conservative state.

“Gotcha” questions like these will come up again. The successful distraction caused by this kerfuffle only proves that it will come up again because the more time we spend talking about 46-year-old legislation that is not about to be repealed means there will be less time to talk about dangerously inflated budgets that are sinking the economy.

Rand Paul needs to get together with his team to prepare for every possible contingency because the next irrelevant question is already being cooked up.

Otherwise, damage control will have to be added to his list of talking points.


Here are a few other takes on this situation that are worth a read:

Tom Woods: Rand Paul and the Zombies
Jack Hunter: Rand Paul's Practical Philosophy
Daniel McCarthy: Rand Paul and the Paleos
Daniel Larison: Can Rand Paul Revive Conservative Foreign Policy?
Jacob Hornberger: Rand Paul, Civil Rights, and More Liberal Hypocrisy on Race
Michael Scheuer: Maddow and the Obamas: Killers of Hope, Spurs of Rebellion
Wes Messamore: A Question for Rachel Maddow
Chris W: Progressive Hypocrisy and Rand Paul


This essay is also now up at The Humble Libertarian.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Message to Voters: Vote for more of the same!

Lebanon Junction, Kentucky

Less than a week before Kentucky Republicans go to the polls to choose their U.S. Senate candidate, the Bluegrass State looks poised to host a political upset that would impress Harry Truman. Sensing this, every GOP hack and lackey is coming to save Trey Grayson from a truly humiliating defeat.

Practically hand-selected by Senate minority leader and unofficial dean of Kentucky’s Republican Party, Trey Grayson was supposed to waltz to the nomination as the candidate who was sure to beat the Democrats in November. It was over a year ago that an anonymous GOP operative told Politico, when Grayson formed his exploratory committee, that “For the first time, we now know who the Republican nominee will be next November and that’s Trey Grayson.”

But we’ve been through a lot since April 2009.

Before he published God and Man at Yale, William F. Buckley’s intended pilot volume had been tentatively titled Revolt Against the Masses. If this senate race was translated into a book it would surely be called Revolt Against the Establishment.

After all, ignoring Rand Paul did not work. The attack ads have not worked. Bragging about endorsements from 27 current Kentucky office-holders has not worked. Even trying to turn Rand Paul over to the IRS did not work.

Now we have come full circle.

The original appeal of Grayson is the card he and his handlers are playing now: He is the candidate who is electable.

He’s moderate. He’s safe. He has a good chance to beat the Democrats.

But the “electability” argument is the Carpathia to Trey Grayson’s Titanic.

If the polls (and elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts) have been any indication, it’s that Republican primary voters are tired of Republicans’ abandonment of principles and the back-room deals that personified the Bush administration.

In Tuesday’s Louisville Courier-Journal, lawyer and Mitch McConnell’s court historian John David Dyche used his op-ed to try to get the Republicans to rally around Trey so the party can choose pragmatism over principle and hope that repeating the same mistakes of the past will not yield the same results.

In fact, Rand Paul ought to be thanking John David Dyche. Unknowingly, the Louisville lawyer’s act of sycophancy perfectly articulated the strengths of Dr. Paul’s outsider campaign:

"Dr. Rand Paul says he will not vote for any budget that is not balanced. Secretary of State Trey Grayson rightly responded that Paul's position 'is not practical' and explained why. Now Paul is airing an ad attacking Grayson as if Grayson is altogether opposed to balancing the budget."

Translation: Trey Grayson is in favor of balancing the budget when it’s convenient.

"The idealistic Paul's passion is appealing. He is unlikely to lapse into business-as-usual in Washington. But his rigid ideological positions could render him vulnerable to Democratic defeat this fall and largely irrelevant on Capitol Hill even if he wins. . . .

"Grayson's pragmatism would make him a team player in the clubby Senate. Yet many Republicans see unprincipled deal-making as precisely the problem that got the GOP, and America, into the current mess."

Translation: Please vote for unprincipled deal-making.

Many Republicans rue America's well-intentioned but ill-founded invasion of Iraq. They hear scary echoes of that misadventure in Grayson's tough talk about Iran.

Translation: Please support Grayson so there can be an invasion of Iran that Americans don’t want.

"Over in the pandering party, Democratic candidates contentedly bicker about petty things like housing stipends and stock portfolios. After all, their D.C. destiny would be that of acolyte at the altar of Obama's radical liberal agenda, which polling shows Kentuckians strongly oppose."

Translation: Please ignore polls showing that Rand Paul, who strongly opposes Obama's agenda, is just as strong against the Democrats as Trey Grayson.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fighting Them Over There So We Can Fight Them . . . Over Here?

Fortunately for New Yorkers, Faisal Shahzad’s plan went up in smoke.

It’s been less than a week since Shahzad entered the national scene with his smoking car in Times Square, but there remain unanswered questions, including one no one wants to ask.

Why would he do this? What were his connections to the Pakistani Taliban? And if this had happened two years ago would Dick Cheney view this attempted terrorist attack by a native Pakistani as justification for invading Iran?

There remains plenty of ambiguity in this case, but one of the certainties is that Shahzad did not fit into our government’s tidy box of terrorist classification.

In the midst of a contentious immigration debate taking place in this country, Shahzad fits the positive stereotype the elites like to project on us for why there should be unrestricted immigration.

Shahzad never hurt anybody. He seemed to have gone about the immigration process in the prescribed way and was awarded citizenship 13 months ago. He went to American universities where he did not cause any trouble. He had his Muslim faith but he must have appeared moderate since nobody was startled by it.

He earned a job as a financial consultant for a marketing firm in Connecticut. He bought a house that was foreclosed a year ago, making his loss in the housing collapse the only probable reason that his economic situation would have given him cause to lash out at his adopted country.

But does anyone believe that Faisal Shahzad, a thirty-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, who earned degrees from American universities in 2000 and 2005, and was a junior financial analyst until one year ago, would have tried to ignite his Nissan Pathfinder were the United States not bombing his native land, an act of undeclared war that was escalated during the past year by President Obama?

All the available evidence in this case points in that direction.

Fighting the terrorists “over there” certainly did not stop Shahzad from trying to fight us over here. The U.S. has been engaged in Afghanistan for nearly nine years and in Iraq for over seven now. He had plenty of opportunity to volunteer for jihad because of those wars while he was enjoying freedom and becoming naturalized. Once drone strikes in Pakistan became more pronounced, this native-born Pakistani decided to take a trip to the old country where, it is assumed at this point, he volunteered himself for the Pakistani Taliban late in 2009.

If this scenario is true, that Shahzad was trying to exact revenge for what was happening to his old country, then wouldn’t extrication from the region remove the incentive for these continual, albeit amateurish bomb plots?

What the U.S. government has to realize is that terrorism is also a home-grown problem. While the Bush administration was trying to hypnotize the country into believing that terrorists are motivated by an inexplicable hatred of freedom, traditionalist conservatives and libertarians pointed out that Americans suffer terrorism over here because we have been over there.

As long as we insist that we have to be “over there,” terrorists will come over here. As Shahzad shows, some of them are already here.

If we see that it is “necessary” to remain “over there,” the price of our presence will be more car bombs like the one set by Faisal Shahzad.

And if some of those are successful, will it occur to anyone in seats of power that fighting them “over there” did not stop them from coming over here?


Editorial note: Wes Messamore of The Humble Libertarian has brought me on as a new regular contributor where this essay also appears. Please feel free to read and comment there as well.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pro-Life Phonies

They weren’t all standing on the stage together but the group of recent endorsers of Trey Grayson’s U.S. Senate campaign would at first glance seem like an entertaining group photo.

In addition to Dick Cheney, Trey Grayson has recently wrangled the endorsements of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Santorum and Dobson are famously pro-life and Giuliani is infamously pro-choice in a party that, he learned, doesn’t nominate pro-choicers for its presidential candidates.

As a senator, Santorum was a poster boy for the pro-life cause. A handsome man with a large family, the Roman Catholic urged the teaching of Intelligent Design be inluded in No Child Left Behind and wrote “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and Common Sense,” a rebuttal to Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village.”

In his endorsement of Trey Grayson, Santorum said,

"Trey Grayson is the only 100% pro-life candidate in this race. I’ve looked at the records and past statements of both candidates on the issue of protecting life, and I’m impressed with Grayson’s conviction and sincerity.”

This might seem like a strong statement, but the former senator hasn’t always used this measuring stick.

In 2004, with then-Republican and always-pro-choice Arlen Specter in a brutal primary fight against then-Congressman Pat Toomey, Santorum and President George W. Bush came to the Keystone State to pull Specter’s chestnuts out of the fire. Now that Specter has prodigally returned to the Democrats, Santorum has endorsed Toomey. Santorum has since apologized for endorsing Specter in 2004, but the only thing the former proved is that even if you yourself are pro-life, you can always support someone who is pro-choice as long as they are a Republican.

In his endorsement, James Dobson said,

“Trey Grayson is the only candidate with the conviction to lead on the issues that matter to Kentucky families. His unwavering commitment to the sanctity of human life and the family resonates with me. I know that he will be a leader on these issues, not just another Senator who checks the box.”

While his organization has done some good work, James Dobson is the one "who checks the box."

Dobson brayed in 2007 that he would support a “minor party candidate” if Giuliani, who was then seen as the frontrunner, won the presidential nomination. When the nominally pro-life John McCain, who voted to confirm Bill Clinton’s abortion-rights defenders to the Supreme Court, won the nomination, Dobson predictably returned to the fold, spurning the Constitution Party’s Chuck Baldwin, whose pro-life views are as bulletproof as the ones Dobson claims to demand of Republicans.

Now back to the image of these three people, Rudy Giuliani, Rick Santorum, and James Dobson all supporting the same candidate, Trey Grayson. The question is this: What brings together people with disagreements on something as vital as whether the taking of an unborn life is murder or not and whether it deserves protection?

Obviously any candidate needs a wide coalition to get elected and that may mean having supporters with varying views on abortion, as bombastic and as intransigent as defenders on both sides of this issue tend to be.

But that still hasn’t answered the question of why Trey Grayson is the one who gets support from alleged pro-life leaders as Rick Santorum and James Dobson as well as pro-choice Republicans like Rudy Giuliani. After all, Grayson’s opponent, Rand Paul is also pro-life. Both candidates have endorsements from pro-life groups. What makes Grayson more pro-life than Rand Paul?

Perhaps the answer is the bazooka-toting elephant in the room.

Seeing that some of these pro-life stalwarts don’t quite live up to their principles, a simpler way to decipher the meanings of these recent endorsements might be found in this list:

1. Rand Paul is pro-life.
2. Trey Grayson is pro-life.
3. Rick Santorum is pro-life.
4. James Dobson is pro-life.
5. Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice.
6. Rand Paul is against the mainstream Republican foreign policy.
7. Trey Grayson is pro-war.
8. Rick Santorum is pro-war.
9. James Dobson is pro-war.
10. Rudy Giuliani is pro-war.
11. Pro-life Rick Santorum, pro-life James Dobson, and pro-choice Rudy Giuliani all endorse pro-life Trey Grayson.
12. Fealty to the status quo GOP foreign policy outranks the pro-life plank.

Update 5/3/2010: According to Politico, James Dobson has reneged his endorsement of Grayson in favor of Rand Paul. It is encouraging to see Dobson change his mind, but take note of his explanation for his initial endorsement of Grayson. Dobson may have inadvertantly revealed Grayson's whole campaign strategy by saying that it wasn't so much an endorsement for Trey Grayson as much as it was an endorsement against Rand Paul.

From Politico:

"Christian conservative leader James Dobson withdrew his endorsement of Kentucky Senate candidate Trey Grayson Monday, switching his support to Rand Paul’s campaign and accusing 'senior members of the GOP' of misleading him about Paul’s record on abortion. . . .

“ 'I was given misleading information about the candidacy of Dr. Rand Paul, who is running in the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate. Senior members of the GOP told me Dr. Paul is pro-choice and that he opposes many conservative perspectives, so I endorsed his opponent,' Dobson explained."