Why I support Rand Paul and why he reminds me of Ronald Reagan.

June 30, 2015

For the first time since Ronald Reagan we have a political figure who is not just running for office to seek personal power but one who is actually leading a popular movement.   I’m talking about Senator Rand Paul who leads a diverse array of young people, free market conservatives, African Americans and Internet Geeks in what can best be described as “The Give Us Back Our Freedom Movement.”

Not since Ronald Reagan has a Republican attracted so many Independent and Democratic voters.  His ideas transcend partisan politics, like his recent tax proposal which as he puts it, “blows up the tax code.”  It’s no surprise that he usually does better than any other GOP candidates when pitted against Hillary Clinton in national polls.

Young people support Rand Paul because he is the only public figure who talks about the corruption of the current economic system.  Regulations create contrived monopolies for some companies and keep new ones out of the marketplace.  Government subsidies favor Democrat or Republican corporations depending on who is in power.  The result?  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer no matter who is president.

Socialist solutions call for more government run businesses.  The US Post Office comes to mind.  Paul favors a  return to free markets and supply and demand.  Many young people like that.  They want a chance at the American Dream.

Most of his following comes out of his strong support of the U.S.  Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Many African Americans support Paul because he would reform the criminal justice system and make justice color blind.  While Democrats like to reminisce about their Civil Rights victories of the past, Rand Paul has picked up the torch and reclaimed the Republican lead for the first time since Abraham Lincoln.

Internet Geeks like Rand Paul because he is the Archangel of Internet freedom, standing with his flaming sword and trusty filibuster should the FCC or any other government agency make good on their promises to tax and regulate the digital age.

Evangelical Christians like Rand Paul because he is a born again Christian, himself, and he fights for their right to freedom of worship.  Paul would end foreign aid to countries that execute women who are, themselves, the victims of crime and Christians simply because of their faith.

Gays like Rand Paul because he is a fierce proponent of personal privacy and the dignity of the individual.  His opposition to government intrusion and eavesdropping are already legend.

His opponents say he can’t win because of his father’s sometimes controversial ideas.  Actually, I like his father’s ideas but presidents were never elected because of their fathers.  Reagan’s father was an alcoholic.  So was Bill Clinton’s stepfather.  Barack Obama’s father walked out on him when he was two years old.  Abraham Lincoln’s father used to chase down runaway slaves for a living.  He would sometimes beat them before returning them to their master.

If this were a contest about who had the best dad, Rand Paul would do quite well.  He can be proud of his dad’s great career in congress.  But in fact, this is a contest about who has the best ideas to run the country and at the moment Rand Paul is a fountain of ideas.

Foreign Policy?  Rand Paul sees Israel as one of American’s most important allies.  In 1978 I served as vice president of Christians and Jews United for Israel so that is no small point for me.

The biggest knock on Rand Paul is his reluctance to go to war.

Yes, he is slow to send in the same troops over and over.  American soldiers now experience the highest divorce rate in history and, as a result, the highest rate of suicide as well.  Rand Paul cares about these families, the soldiers, but also the children.

And yet, Rand Paul was one of the first public figures to call for a Declaration of War against ISIS.  Perhaps more significant, Rand Paul would not have armed ISIS in the first place.  Two years ago he was trying to block the U.S. Senate from transferring arms and vehicles to Syrian rebels.  “It could fall into the wrong hands,” he warned.    Two years later, American equipment raced across the Middle East with black ISIS flags waving, slaughtering Christians and Muslims who opposed them.

When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 it resulted in the death of 241 marines.  He immediately withdrew our forces, deciding that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the region.  Nobody called Reagan an isolationist.

Rand Paul has made it clear that American must clean up its own messes.  So he will do what has to be done in the Middle East and elsewhere.  But I proudly support a man who thinks before he shoots. Someone who won’t get us into messes in the first place. “The soldier more than anyone else,” wrote Douglas MacArthur, “prays for peace.”


Rand Paul is right about ISIS and his opponents have become hysterical

June 11, 2015

“If you are afraid of being lonely don’t try to be right.” – Jules Renard

Lost in the recent GOP debate is the fact that Senator Rand Paul was the first public figure to call for a declaration of war against ISIS.  He did so because he said they represented a threat to the United States.  So why are so many of the other GOP candidates attacking the Senator?  What’s their beef?

The real irritant to the other GOP contenders is that Rand Paul would not only go to war with ISIS, he would have blocked the creation of ISIS in the first place.  Three years ago Rand Paul warned that American arms to Syrian rebels would would almost certainly end up in the hands of Islamic radicals.

And Rand Paul was not the only one.

Micheal Shank, a board member at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution warned as early as 2013 that we were setting up another Middle East war with an even more vicious enemy.  Warning about the Syrian rebels Shank said, “Regardless of the vetting procedures in place, the sheer factionalized nature of the opposition guarantees that the arms will end up in some unsavory hands. The same militant fighters who have committed gross atrocities are among the best-positioned of the rebel groups to seize the weapons that the United States sends to Syria.”

Shank gave an historic litany of how the same policy had worked in the past. “Arming one side of Syria’s multi-sided and bloody civil war will come back to haunt us. Past decisions by the U.S. to arm insurgencies in Libya, Angola, Central America and Afghanistan helped sustain brutal conflicts in those regions for decades. In the case of Afghanistan, arming the mujahideen in the 1980s created the instability that emboldened extreme militant groups and gave rise to the Taliban, which ultimately created an environment for al Qaeda to thrive.”

In a chilling description of the horrors that were to come, Shank profiled the type of warrior on the ground in Syria and what we could expect.  “When you lift the curtain on the armed groups with the most formidable military presence on the ground in Syria, you find the Al Nusra Front and Al Farough Brigades. Both groups are closely aligned with Al Qaeda and have directly perpetrated barbaric atrocities. The Al Nusra Front has been charged with beheadings of civilians, while a commander from the Al Farough Brigades reportedly ate the heart of a pro-Assad soldier.”

The U.S. Senate and the administration, both lavished with money from the arms lobby, ignored the warnings.  Getting rid of the weapons – even if meant giving them away and even if mistakes were made – assured that more could be manufactured and sold.

A year later, in September, 2014, the United States was still arming the rebels.  Over strenuous objections from the Turkish government  President Obama airdropped ammunition, grenades and rocket propelled grenade launchers to Syrian rebels.  Senator Rand Paul was one of the few voices of reason but there were others warning that yet again, we may be giving the enemy the bullets they will use to kill our men.  Almost immediately the airdrop was picked up by Islamic radicals and their videos showed the event to the world.

Within two years of Rand Paul’s warning ISIS emerged from the petri dish of the Syrian civil war and raced across the Middle East in American made tanks and Humvees destroying cities and Christian communities that traced their unbroken heritage back to the apostle Thomas.  Today, Senators who scoffed at Rand Paul’s warnings two years ago now bristle with indignation calling any question of their failed policies as “unpatriotic.”  Meanwhile the embarrassed Obama White House complains to media outlets that they should stop using videos that show American tanks racing across the deserts with black ISIS flags flying.

Senator Rand Paul recognizes that there are unintended consequences to American actions and that America, itself, should clean up its own messes.  And so he immediately called for the war to destroy ISIS. There is no doubt that their use of social media makes them dangerous even on American soil.  Nevertheless, Rand Paul’s political enemies, shamed by their own actions, now seek to force a different narrative.  Paul suggests that a little humility is in order.

Senator Paul has made it clear that he will commit America troops to defeat her enemies.  He has called for an increase in the Defense Budget.  But he has also made it clear that he is deeply concerned about the lives of that same tiny percentage of men and women are being sent back to war, over and over again.  Their suicide rate is astronomical and closely mimics their divorce rate, the result of the longest wars – and therefore the longest separations among military families – in American history.  And the children of those soldiers are now being raised in broken homes.

Having a president who will consider the consequences of his actions and who will only commit to war with deliberation just might be what the nation needs.  Let us defeat ISIS.  But let us not create another one.


Marco Rubio: A Demographic on Steroids

May 14, 2015

Senator Marco Rubio spoke for the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday, staking out his position as the GOP super hawk, announcing that he would not be afraid to go to war.  Presumably, he will have to compete with Senator Lindsey Graham for that role.  And they both will have to find a suitable target.

Recent polls show him climbing.  A Quinnipiac Poll has him tied with Rand Paul for second place in Iowa, behind Scott Walker.  And a recent Bloomberg poll has him second only to Rand Paul in New Hampshire.

He is a fascinating candidate popular with the media.  I call him a “demographic on steroids.”

First, he is Hispanic and that is the wave of the future for this country.

Second, he is from Florida, a key battleground, must win, state for any Republican.

Third, he is a Roman Catholic, with an LDS heritage, who regularly attends a Baptist church.  Believe me, that is a highly evolved creature perfectly fitted for a modern, GOP primary process in an age of the Fox News Channel.

And finally, although he is young, he is the insider, big business, Wall Street, money alternative to Jeb Bush.  In fact, Rubio’s people are right now telling donors that a dollar given to Jeb Bush is a dollar given to Hillary Clinton since Bush will never win a head to head contest with her.  The national media and major corporations will never allow three of the last five presidents to come from the same immediate family.  Bush, we are told, is only insurance in case Hillary slips.

These above are the four major positives of a Marco Rubio candidacy.  But he has one major negative.

Marco Rubio, like most of the other candidates in this race, has no raison d’etre.  There is no purpose in his candidacy other than naked ambition.  For too many candidates in this race it is all about them and not the voter.  Hillary Clinton says, “Vote for me I am a woman.”  Marco Rubio says, “Vote for me I am Hispanic.”  Even Scott Walker’s argument says nothing about what he would do.  Walker says, “Vote for me I am a governor.  I know how to be an administrator.”  It is meant to contrast the ineptitude of the current president.

But being a governor is a pretty empty argument.  Jimmy Carter was a governor.  If you know how to run things well and you take the country in the wrong direction you will only get us there quicker.  The missing piece is the direction.  Where are you taking us?  Why should we vote for you?

This may be why Senator Rand Paul is now leading these early swing state and battleground state polls.  He is a fount of ideas.  Young people have a reason to vote for him.  African Americans have a reason to vote for him.  Born again Christians have a reason to vote for him.  Waitresses have a reason to vote for him.  He doesn’t just raise the defense budget, he shows how he will do it while balancing the budget.

Marco Rubio needs a popular purpose to his campaign, something more than protecting insiders who are gaming the system, something with appeal to the masses.  Their are signs that he is trying to develop that.  He is using the word “conservative” a lot these days but an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations  is not the best place to make that argument.  As a candidate, he will have to come up with at least one cut in spending to justify the label.  Something he hasn’t yet been able to do.  Watch for him to distinguish himself in the debates.  Not with flash but by avoiding  self mutilation.  And see how his money helps him survive the early crush of negative ads.

Finally Marco Rubio must convince Jeb Bush to drop out of the race and quickly.  Otherwise he is locked into a huge battle in Florida.  The GOP is not likely to nominate a candidate to contest Hillary Clinton if he can’t carry his own home state in a GOP primary.   The same goes for Jeb Bush.  The two will be locked into a death struggle in Florida, like the Russo-German front in World War Two.   This drains money away from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.  They could conceivably win some of those contests and still lose Florida and get knocked out.

But then, last month Jeb Bush was beating Marco Rubio.

Most bets are that Marco Rubio will not go away early.  If he doesn’t win himself he will likely be asked onto the ticket by the winner.  Either way, Marco Rubio will be around for a long time.


The difference between Rand Paul and Ted Cruz

March 25, 2015

So what’s the difference between presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz?

Ted Cruz is running against Barack Obama.  Rand Paul is running against Hillary Clinton.  One represents the past.  The other represents the future.

Both men are U.S. Senators running for president in 2016.  Rand Paul is from Kentucky, Ted Cruz is from Texas. (Rand Paul is expected to announce on April 7, 2015.)

Both men are conservatives whose careers were launched during the rise of the Tea Party.  Both are born again Christians. And both signed the controversial Senate letter supporting Israel.  So if they have the same base of support, what’s the difference?

Rand Paul excites that base and motivates them to action.  Ted Cruz has all but given up on that base and is focusing exclusively and only on born again Christians.  He is betting that he will take that vote, and only that vote, and win it all.  It is a high stakes gamble that counts on driving out of the way born again Christians such as Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and yes even Rand Paul.

Bottom line, Rand Paul can win a national election.  Ted Cruz cannot.  Early polling bears that out.  Polls can be fickle and don’t always reflect reality this far in advance but most polls show only Rand Paul close to Hillary Clinton in any of the battleground states.  Not Bush, Christie, Rubio, Perry, Huckabee and not Cruz.

There is more bad news. Ted Cruz, like Rand Paul, once championed the cause of the growing Libertarian wing of the GOP, taking on the corruption of the free enterprise system with its corporate welfare and calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve.  Now Libertarians charge that after arriving in the U.S. Senate Ted Cruz sold out fast and cheaply.  It seems that his wife was hired by Goldman Sachs.  It is the banking firm that has become the poster child for insider, establishment, power. Goldman Sachs was the major donor to both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the last election.

The day after announcing for president, Ted Cruz openly attacked Goldman Sachs and said his wife would take a leave of absence from her job to help on his campaign but the damage was done.  Whatever hope Ted Cruz had to lead the Libertarian Wing of the Republican Party is now dead.  “Mrs. Cruz,” a Libertarian leader told me, “Is the Claire Underwood of this campaign cycle.”  She will leave behind Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law who works for the same Goldman Sachs firm.

Meanwhile, the Ted Cruz announcement brought fierce reaction from Hispanics who see the Senator as having betrayed his own roots.  “His family got their freedom,” said one Hispanic evangelical leader, “Now they want everybody else to do it strictly by the book.”

Rand Paul has real, organic support from the young, from Hispanics from African Americans and from Liberal Democrats.  The latter care about civil liberties.  African Americans care about Rand Paul’s criminal justice reform.  Many Hispanics who support Paul care about insiders gaming the system and the loss of the American dream for the new American.  Under both Democrat and Republican presidents the poor continue to get poorer and the rich richer.  The young now see “free markets” as “fixed” by advantages created by powerful lobbies.  The young care about a free Internet and Rand Paul has become the guardian of the Internet.

The Ted Cruz presidential launch at Liberty University last Monday may have been a metaphor for the coming campaign.  Cruz, who cannot attract the crowds of a Rand Paul, choose the only forum that could guarantee a large audience, a university convocation with mandatory student attendance.  Nevertheless, sitting very visibly behind the Senator, in their red shirts declaring, “Stand with Rand”, were quietly defiant students.  They were not rude like the Libertarians one sometimes sees online.  They represent the new Christian Liberty Movement. This week RandPac will mail out thousands of their videos with Senator Rand Paul’s born again testimony.

The Cruz machine was careful to point to spectacular fund raising after his event.  It was a calculated attempt to shore up a very real weakness.  “Evangelical only” candidates cannot raise money.  Ask Mike Huckabee.  Christian leaders will give verbal support but they need their people’s money for their own projects.  Sorry.  Meanwhile, Rand Paul with his diverse, motivated base will have money and a ground game.

The message is clear for Ted Cruz.  His path is fatally blocked by those young people in the red shirts standing before him.  They can be made to hear him speak but they will get to vote the way they want.

Here is the video produced by the American Liberty Association, going out this week.


Benjamin Netanyahu’s Dark Prophesy

March 3, 2015

There have been more than 100 speeches by heads of state before joint sessions of congress.  But none like the one today by Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Doug Wead talks about the speech and compares it to other moments in history.  Wead says Netanyahu’s  warnings about “an Iran with all the nuclear weapons it want in ten years” is a sobering prophesy that deserves discussion.


The Difference between Rand Paul and Ron Paul

February 25, 2015
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      Rand Paul is the U.S. Senator from Kentucky who is favored by many to win the 2016 Republican nomination for president.  He appeals to a broad range of constituents from the Tea Party to Evangelical Christians, African Americans, Gays, Independents and Democrats concerned about Civil Liberties.  He has picked up the Civil Rights torch and now leads the most active effort to reform criminal justice.  His father, Ron Paul, was a U.S. Congressman from Texas, who ran for president three times.
      Here’s how they differ.
      The father, congressman, Ron Paul, is a classic Libertarian.
      The son, Senator, Rand Paul, is a practical Libertarian.
      The father believes in the personal freedom of the individual.  The son recognizes that there are times when the needs of the wider community must be considered. For example, the father would allow local communities to decide for themselves about legalizing marijuana. The son agrees but openly favors laws against marijuana – for the greater good.
      In foreign policy there is a big difference.  Both men believe that the nation should not go to war without congressional approval.  They both believe it is a mistake for Congress to forfeit war making powers to the president alone.  Both men believe that the United States should not assume the role of policeman of the world.  But the difference is in degrees.  And it is huge.  The father, Ron Paul, would prefer that American stay out of everybody else’s business.  For example, he does not see Iran as a threat to American security.  In an ideal world, Senator Rand Paul would agree but in a world of terrorism and nuclear weapons he sees genuine danger.
      Rand Paul sees Israel as one of America’s most important allies.
      The best example of a Rand Paul foreign policy would be that of former President Ronald Reagan.  For Reagan, the security of the United States was the paramount concern and thus his focus was on the Soviet Union and the threat it posed.  Reagan’s wars were always proxy wars against the Soviets.  For example, Reagan did not go after Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, the man who killed half of his own people in a nationwide genocide.  Reagan did not go after Idi Amin, who had slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Africa and had just been driven from office when Reagan arrived in the White House.  Both of these despotic leaders, left untouched by Reagan, were far more evil than Saddam Hussein.
      When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 and it resulted in the death of 241 marines, he withdrew our forces.  He decided that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the intractable problems of the Middle East.  How wise that seems in retrospect.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul has refused to support the endless calls for international adventures from his colleagues in the Senate. And yet, when the ISIS threat emerged Paul had razor sharp focus.  He was the first public figure to call for a declaration of war.  He saw ISIS as a threat to America’s national security.
      Both men, father and son, would like to see Foreign Aid reformed. Both men believe that the process has become corrupted. The father, Ron Paul, would eliminate it immediately. “Why should we borrow money from China and give it to Pakistan?” he asks.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul would move to end the corruption in Foreign Aid, where money really comes back to American lobbyists and their interests, but would see even that process of reform as an ongoing process.  He would start by ending aid to countries that allow the killing of Christians simply because of their religion. Or persecute women.  He would end aid that is going to terrorists groups that target Americans and Jews, such as Palestinian aid now being passed through to the terrorist group Hamas.
      Perhaps the most striking issue associated with Senator Paul has been his call for reform in criminal justice. He favors strict incarceration of violent criminals but is appalled by the unfair application of the law which allows for young African Americans to be disproportionately sentenced for the same drug related crimes as white youth.  Rand Paul sees this as unjust.
      Then there is the Federal Reserve and the study by UC Berkeley where the rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer.  He would like to see us return to free markets, away from corporate competition to game the system by upping their government subsidies and upping their money supply from the FED.  Let in more of the natural forces of supply and demand.  Let the 99% have a chance to play.
      Finally, there is style.  The father was a great provocateur and a born teacher.  The son is a superb politician, a natural pleaser.
      Here is a CBS report on the Rand Paul balancing act.

The Legacy of Barack Obama

February 16, 2015

Thoughts on the legacy of President Barack Obama 2-16-15

The election of Barack Obama

President Obama’s legacy will be inextricably linked to the fact that he was the first African American to be elected president.  A Black man in the White House.  The Founding Fathers, including those who wrote the words “All men are created equal” owned slaves.  So the election, in itself, will always be a great moment in our nation’s history and part of the Obama legacy.

That’s why they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize before he had even done anything.  His election alone was stunning.

How will he be immediately judged?

If his current media treatment is any indication he will be immediately praised to the heavens by liberals and critiqued by conservatives.   Liberal think tanks of historians will immediately say he is one of America’s greatest presidents.  I should point out, shortly after he was elected president the Sienna Institute named him as the 15th greatest president in history.  So get ready for a healthy debate.

What will he do?

I’ve always argued that his post presidency will be hugely eventful.  In some respects his legacy will be in his hands.  More than any other president in history his post White House years may define him.  He could be a “Jesse Jackson on steroids, with companies seeking to have his approval and putting him, or his surrogates, on their boards of directors.  Expect his team to bully the television executives to give him good coverage.  His NGO will rival Bill Clinton’s and raise billions of dollars.  He will be an international sensation.

What will it mean long term?

Long term?  The quick answer is – we don’t know.

A more prosaic answer is that it depends on the kind of America we have in the future.

If American swings back to a more constitutional form of government and to a more free market economy, your grandchildren will hear history teachers say we almost lost it all under Barack Obama.  That the whole American experiment was almost cashed in.  But don’t count on it.

It is much more likely that American continues to move toward a more government managed economy and government managed education and society, then our grandchildren will hear history teachers say that America is today what it is, because of Barack Obama.  Not FDR, not Lincoln… but Barack Obama.

So the future legacy of Obama will depend on the future of America.

And some would say that the combination of numbers, including those in the general public who benefit from a more socialist form of government and corporations who have their own government subsidies or special insider laws or contracts that give them an advantage, that those numbers mean that it is already too late.  That is, the people who are now gaming the system outnumber and outvote the people who are living under its rules – trying to make a living without any special advantage.

What was his greatest moment?

Getting Osama Bin Laden.  He made a gutsy call and it worked.

What will be seen as his greatest failure?

It has to the plight of the poor.  According to a groundbreaking study at UC Berkley, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer on a massive scale under Barak Obama.  That has to be a disappointment for him and it is a terrible legacy for a liberal president to carry.  It is causing a lot of people to rethink.

Conclusions?

Either way, this presidency of Barak Obama has been a linchpin and will be one of the most significant in all of American history.  It was set up by 9-11 and by the failed economy of the Bush presidency but the final responsibility for what happened in his two terms is his.  Whether he is seen as a good or bad leader will be partly determined by how good and bad is defined in the future.

And in 100 years?

My guess is that like Reagan, he will gain in respect.  I have liberal friends who hated Reagan who now speak respectfully because he is gone and no longer a threat. I think that will happen with Obama for different reasons,  partly because he is African American and we are still living down a legacy of slavery in our history.  People will find other ways to argue policies and even conservatives will treat him nicely when he is gone and no longer a threat. That’s my suspicion.


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