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Posts Tagged ‘Rand Paul’
September 6th, 2013 at 2:31 am
Syrian Resolution Looks Doomed to Failure
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Earlier today, Rick Klein, Political Director for ABC News, tweeted out that 217 members of the House of Representatives have gone on record “as likely to oppose authorizing military force against Syria,” giving those opposed to the resolution a majority in the lower chamber (if we have any pedants in the audience shouting about the fact that it takes 218 to reach a majority, note that Alabama and Massachusetts both currently have one vacant seat).

Now, “likely to oppose” isn’t the same thing as definitely voting no, but anyone who’s staking out territory this early in the process is disproportionately likely to to stick to his guns. And it’s clear that the momentum on this is all going in one direction — and it’s not the president’s.

That’s remarkable, but not particularly surprising. Sometimes you can get a member to vote against his political interest for the sake of ideology. Sometimes you can get him to vote against his ideology for the sake of his political interest. But when both are imperiled simultaneously, the whipping gets much harder. That’s precisely the case with a potential military offensive that polls terribly and hits intellectual pressure points for liberals and conservatives alike.

One dispiriting aspect of this debate is the chorus of conservative voices such as Jennifer Rubin, Hugh Hewitt, and Bret Stephens who’ve conflated opposition to feckless, limited airstrikes in Syria with “isolationism.” It may be fair to say that nearly all isolationists are opposed to taking action in Syria. It does not follow, however, that all who are opposed to taking action in Syria are isolationists. The scope of opposition is far too large to be constituted entirely (or even primarily) of those opposed to American action overseas in all but the most limited circumstances.

I suspect that there are a fair number of conservatives like me — as far removed from the reflexive international reticence of Rand Paul as we are from John McCain’s “anytime, anywhere, for any reason” school of intervention — who just don’t see the strategic payoff here, especially given the manner in which the Obama Administration would be likely to conduct the fight.

America has played too fast and loose with defining our national security interests in recent years. Doing so again — especially when it’s clear that the Obama Administration has no plan that will actually result in a change of circumstances on the ground in Syria — is an exercise in futility. The measure deserves defeat.

June 24th, 2013 at 3:05 pm
Rand Stands Firm on Border Security

As the U.S. Senate votes today on the Corker-Hoeven amendment – a last-minute attempt by moderate Republicans to create the veneer of bipartisanship on the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill – Rand Paul is fast-becoming the voice and face of conservative opposition.

Late last week the Senate rejected Paul’s ‘Trust But Verify’ amendment that would have required annual votes by Congress to decide whether the southern border is secure. As written, the Gang’s bill punts the hard decisions about security to the Department of Homeland Security, the same bureaucracy implementing “deferred action” on over 1 million illegal immigrants.

With the Senate refusing to accept responsibility for securing the border, Paul is a solid No vote on the Gang’s version of immigration reform. And for good reason. As the Kentucky Republican noted on CNN, the Gang’s bill is “dead on arrival” in the GOP-led House of Representatives.

My guess is that adoption today of Corker-Hoeven – if it happens – won’t change Paul’s or any other conservative’s support because the slap-dash amendment is little more than a grab-bag of promises that can easily be nullified by DHS. As with most immigration proposals, there are no real teeth when it comes to enforcement.

By contrast, Paul’s ‘Trust But Verify’ amendment makes a systemic change in immigration policy by getting Congress back in the game on border security. Putting politicians on record about the state of the border will force them to focus on the metrics necessary to make such a decision. And since a voting record is the most direct way to measure a legislator’s performance in office, you can bet that a series of border security votes will be one of the key factors in future elections.

This kind of accountability is exactly what the Constitution envisions for Members of Congress. Rand Paul is right to steer clear of deceptive attempts by the Gang and Corker-Hoeven to sound tough on the border while in reality shirking responsibility.

June 21st, 2013 at 1:47 pm
More Senate Chicanery on Border Security

Yesterday Republican Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota announced that the bipartisan Gang of Eight is willing to accept their new border security amendment to the controversial immigration proposal.

The key elements of the Corker-Hoeven amendment are that (1) it provides for 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and (2) calls for completion of the 700 mile border fence, according to the Washington Post.

Though the Corker-Hoeven amendment was made public after my column touting Rand Paul’s border security fix was submitted, the points I made in the Paul piece are still relevant.

First, Corker-Hoeven repeats the delegation game that lets Congress claim credit for ‘doing something’ while in fact shifting responsibility for border security to an executive agency.  Here, the two things Congress does are spending an estimated $30 billion to increase Border Patrol personnel, and passing a third law to build a border fence that is already required by statutes passed in 1996 and 2006.

So far as I can tell, all Corker-Hoeven does is increase the budget deficit and pass a toothless resolution to do something that is almost 20 years past due.

Second, Corker-Hoeven does nothing to increase Congress’ participation in deciding how to secure the border. It’s easy to pass a huge increase in spending without specifying how to recruit and train 20,000 new federal law enforcement officers. Real reform would focus on increasing frontline discretion, not just manpower, as Paul calls for in allowing immigration judges more leeway in deportation hearings.

And don’t get me started on the border fence. For Corker-Hoeven to have any integrity, it would need to complete the unfinished 700 mile fence and then extend or reinforce it. Otherwise, all the amendment does is put a happy face on a complete failure by the federal government to follow its own laws.

I encourage CFIF readers to check out Rand Paul’s ‘Trust But Verify’ amendment to see what is, in my opinion, the most reasonable approach to border security that is currently available. A one-page PDF summary of his amendment is here, and an interview expanding on Paul’s idea can be found here.

Good ideas are out there when it comes to border security. Corker-Hoeven isn’t one of them.

June 13th, 2013 at 12:16 pm
VP Biden Endorses Sens. Cruz and Paul as True Conservatives

If U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) ever need a Democratic endorsement of their conservative bona fides, they couldn’t do better than Vice President Joe Biden’s comment the other day at a Massachusetts fundraiser.

Speaking off-the-cuff, Biden told the audience that “the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky,” meaning Rand Paul.

Apparently, the Senators were the two most cited reasons given when Biden pressed Republicans in the chamber to support his and President Barack Obama’s push for stricter gun control laws.

Biden was surprised. “I actually said, ‘Are you kidding?’ These are two freshmen.”

Better yet, call them ‘reformers with results.’

One of the disappointments for many conservatives is to watch a Republican politician talk a good game, but then get co-opted into shirking principles in deference to the process and the allure of power in Washington, D.C.

If Cruz and Paul have been able to stiffen the spines of their Republican colleagues, then it sounds like the GOP caucus is getting more conservative as a result of their presence.

That’s quite a feat for two freshmen.

Just ask Joe Biden.

H/T: Washington Examiner

March 8th, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Jennifer Rubin Takes McCain to Task

In a very thoughtful but eminently necessary takedown, Jennifer Rubin takes John McCain to task, quite effectively, for his recent conniption fit against Rand Paul. (Actually, Rubin was comparatively gentle on McCain: She could have blasted the bejeebers out of him for his ongoing rants against Paul, Ted Cruz, and others on the right. McCain really does need to take a chill pill — or maybe about a dozen chill pills, while listening to soothing music, and return to public discourse only after a few Lenten confessions about his ill disposition.)

Here’s a key passage from Rubin’s blog post:

It is a mistake for conservative hawks is to view any limitation (constitutional, fiscal, real world) as a threat to their well-meaning effort to maintain U.S. influence in the world. In fact, it is only with respect for some limits on the executive, understanding of fiscal restraints and, most important, an appreciation for whom we are dealing with (friend or foe) that an internationalist foreign policy can be sustained.

At some point McCain begins to hurt more than help that endeavor.

Do read the whole post. I do take issue with one thing, however. In the course of making a larger point, she wrote:  ”If you want to promote pro-life views you better not nominate Richard Mourdock….”  It is time to set the record straight on Mourdock, who disastrously lost the Senate seat in Indiana that Richard Lugar had held for 36 years. It is true that Mourdock proved to be an inept (or less than fully, uh, ept) general election candidate, struggling mightily in what should have been an easy race even before he stumbled in a discussion of rape and abortion. But, unlike in some other cases that shall here go nameless, there was every reason to believe that Mourdock would be a solid candidate. Elected statewide as Treasurer of Indiana, he had shown political skills beyond a narrow constituency; he had a good record in office; his main claims to fame were fiscal/economic rather than social-issue hard-liner issues; and he ran a primary campaign based on broad themes rather than narrow appeals. Then, when he did stumble on rape, the reality is that what he said, in context, was almost perfectly acceptable. It only sounded awful when taken out of context — and then, mostly because it occurred in an atmosphere poisoned by Todd Akin’s truly idiotic rape/abortion statements in Missouri. After Akin’s screw-up, of course, Mourdock should have been prepared to avoid even wandering into the thicket he wandered into — but he shouldn’t be lumped in with Akin as having said something obnoxious, or of not being, on paper, a thoroughly acceptable candidate.

But that’s an aside — just something I had to say, because those who backed Mourdock in the primary had every reason to think they were getting a very solid candidate.

Back to the main point. As Rubin wrote, in criticizing McCain:

Whatever the reason, he is making an serious error of the type that recently has plagued many conservatives in a variety of policy arenas. A policy with no limits is not sustainable. And an approach to foreign or domestic policy that shuns prudence, balance and recent experience isn’t conservative.

This is a lesson all of us should take to heart. Politics is the art of the possible. And temper tantrums, like McCain’s, often make fewer good things possible than they otherwise would have been.

March 5th, 2013 at 10:45 pm
Attorney General Eric Holder is Criminally Dangerous

With the news today that Eric Holder has told Kentucky’s U.S. Sen. Rand Paul that President Obama “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial,” it is now apparent that this man is criminally out of control, and a menace to society. This chilling, outrageous, tyrannical assertion of power comes on top of a stunning assertion that he himself is entirely above the law giving Congress the power to oversee federal agencies and to enforce said power — which derives directly from the Constitution — via the ability to hold scofflaws officially in contempt. Here’s what he said about the members of an elected, co-equal branch of government, when they held him in contempt: “ I have to tell you that for me to really be affected by what happened, I’d have to have respect for the people who voted in that way,” Holder told ABC News. “And I didn’t, so it didn’t have that huge an impact on me.” Note that the contempt vote against Holder was not just a partisan exercise: Seventeen Democrats also voted to hold him in contempt, for his refusal to share information (and for prevaricating) about the murderous “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal. This is lawlessness upon lawlessness upon lawlessness — from a thoroughly mendacious man who already was running a lawless department. The list of Holder’s outrages through the years is so long as to defy belief… but today’s letter to Rand Paul is by far the most frightening, most despicable chapter in Holder’s reign of proto-criminality.

In his letter, this Attorney Generally Hideous wrote that he can indeed imagine a scenario in which “it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.” This would trample over all tradition, over due process, and also almost certainly over the Posse Comitatus Act.

This man — and probably his boss, the president, if Mr. Obama agrees with Mr. Holder — is a menace to society. One wonders whether now, finally, the civil liberties-left — in Congress, and in the establishment media — will finally hold Holder to something approaching the standard they held George Bush when Bush merely wanted to use enhanced — barely enhanced — interrogation techniques on foreign enemy combatants.

If the chief law enforcement officer of the land actually believes in such raw tyranny, we are all in danger.

March 1st, 2013 at 2:10 pm
Paul: Sequester is a 5% Cut on a 17% Increase

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) shines a spotlight on the true impact of today’s sequester cuts:

If the sequester were to take effect, our spending would only be cut by 2.3%. Let me repeat that — these “eviscerating” cuts will leave our country with 97.7% of our current spending, cutting a mere $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget.

The sequester barely begins to skim the surface of the problem. Since taking office, President Obama has increased federal domestic agencies’ budget by 17%. This 17% increase since 2008 will have to endure a 5% cut.

Even with the sequester, the federal government will spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012 — or more than $15 billion.

An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily spells out in greater detail just how much federal spending has grown during the Obama Administration:

…here are some examples — using the OMB’s data and projections — showing the growth in spending for various federal functions since 2008 (percentage increases are inflation-adjusted):

• Transportation: up $36.6 billion, an increase of 37.5%.

• Education: up $30.8 billion, or 25%.

• Housing assistance: up $16.4 billion, or 31.4%.

• Community and regional development: up $11 billion, or 36.5%.

• Natural resources and environment: up $9.5 billion, or 21.3%.

• Farm income stabilization: up $6.8 billion, or 39.5%.

• General government: up $5.9 billion, up 26.6%.

This doesn’t exhaust the list of nondefense discretionary spending; it leaves out energy boondoggles and the burgeoning food stamp program, among others.

Other important budget items immune from sequester are federal entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to name just the most recognizable three.

While any budgets cuts are going to be painful, the $85 billion on the chopping block now is, to use Paul’s word, a “pittance” when one considers that for the fifth year in a row the federal budget is likely to carry a $1 trillion deficit.

February 7th, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Rand Paul’s Really Ignorant Paragraph

There is much to commend, and there are some things to question, about Rand Paul’s big foreign policy speech yesterday at Heritage Foundation. The overall idea of using George Kennan-like “containment” for Iran or for jihadist Islam in general is, well, problematic , although there are plenty of elements of his speech that are at least somewhat sensible. It is a good thing to have discussion of such issues, and there is much value in having people make a thoughtful case against over-eagerness for military intervention. Those of us who tend a little more towards interventionism (”tend” being the key word, rather than “strongly favor”) do need to be challenged about the dangers of using military force.

Nonetheless, a fuller discussion of Paul’s speech would require more space and time than is available for me this morning. One paragraph, however, was so tendentious, so … well, civility requires that I withhold the most accurate words… anyway, so wrong as to demand response.

Here’s the passage at issue:

In the 1980s, the war caucus in Congress armed bin Laden and the mujaheddin in their fight with the Soviet Union. In fact, it was the official position of the State Department to support radical jihad against the Soviets. We all know how well that worked out.

Let’s leave aside for now the insulting, utterly asinine, sickening, inexcusable use of the phrase “war caucus” to describe those (including Reagan!) who supported the mujaheddin against the Soviets. That word choice alone is almost entirely disqualifying for its purveyor to ever be president.

Instead, let’s just look at a little history here — because the ignorance evident in this paragraph is truly astonishing. One would be hard pressed to find even a single historian, whether right, left, or center, who would argue anything other than that the Soviet failure in Afghanistan was not just a huge factor, but probably an essential one, in the Soviets’ ultimate loss of the Cold War. The mujaheddin did much to help bleed the Soviets dry, at a comparatively negligible cost to the United States (for smuggled military hardware and some intelligence). “We all know how well that worked out,” said Sen. Paul, dismissively, of the work of our “war caucus” to support the mujaheddin. Yes, we do: It played a key role in helping us win the Cold War. Anybody who doesn’t understand that is either foolish or invincibly ignorant.

Second, it is a myth that the United States “armed bin Laden.” False, false, false. It is also a falsehood to say that bin Laden was a major player within the mujeheddin or in the anti-Soviet war effort at all. Finally, it is false even to say that the Afghani effort against the Soviets was primarily, or even largely, about “jihad.” It was a defensive effort against armed invaders, not an offensive effort by “radicals” in the name of Allah. Sure, there were religious aspects to the motivations of the mujaheddin, who of course considered the Soviets to be “infidels,” but to say that the primary goal was to expand the reach of the Prophet is so absurd as to be laughable. The Afghani defense against the Soviets was, in truth, as close to being a nationalist, patriotic war as the diverse tribes of Afghanistan are ever likely to be involved in.

So every element of Sen. Paul’s paragraph was wrong: 1) Reagan was not the head of a “war caucus.” 2) The U.S. did not arm bin Laden.  3) The U.S. support had nothing to do with “radical jihad.” 4) The Afghani/mujaheddin effort as a whole was only tangentially jihadist. And 5) The war in Afghanistan that kicked out the Soviets worked out not badly, but very, very well for the United States, for the Western world, and for the hundreds of millions of people freed from behind the Iron Curtain and for millions elsewhere whose “non-aligned states” were freed from fear of the Soviets and thus could move more towards free markets and towards Western prosperity.

Finally, as a post-script, most knowledgeable people would argue that it was only after the Soviets left that the radical jihadists like the Taliban and bin Laden really gained ascendance within Afghanistan — and it was not because the United States helped arm the mujaheddin, but because we left so soon afterwards without providing reconstruction aid. While nobody would suggest that the U.S. should have done anything approaching “nation building,” it is certainly arguable — and the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, as well as congressmen I know personally, indeed did and do argue this — that humanitarian aid, of not-terribly-expensive sorts, might have gone a long way towards bolstering the society in Afghanistan, and towards bolstering more responsible elements therein, in such a way that the Taliban might not have been able to find anywhere near as much opportunity to operate.

The lesson then would be not that Paul-like isolation is the best idea, but rather that just a little involvement might have then, and often does, helped ward off future disaster.

Rand Paul makes a lot of sense on many domestic issues. But by virtue of this one paragraph alone, his big “coming out” exam on foreign policy earned an unambiguous grade of ‘F.’

September 13th, 2012 at 8:08 pm
Mitch McConnell Hires Tea Party Strategist

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell made a very public peace with Rand Paul and Kentucky’s Tea Party movement by hiring Jesse Benton to head his reelection campaign in 2014.

Previously, Benton steered Rand Paul into Kentucky’s other U.S. Senate seat by defeating an establishment candidate handpicked by McConnell.  This cycle Benton ran Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.

With $6 million already in the bank for an election two years away, McConnell’s hiring of Benton likely shuts the door to the kind of Tea Party conservative primary challenge faced by other long-serving Republicans.

August 8th, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Senator Rand Paul Proclaims the Need to Protect Intellectual Property

“I do believe in intellectual property. I do believe you have a right to your property.”

So said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in response to a question following his remarks during an event last week at the Heritage Foundation titled, “Will the Real Internet Freedom Please Stand Up?

In Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, our nation’s Founders specifically provided for the protection of intellectual property (IP) in order “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”  While the fundamental concept of providing artisans, authors and inventors exclusive right to their respective works and discoveries has remained relatively uncontroversial for most of the nation’s history, recent debates regarding what to do about widespread infringement over the Internet have caused some to diminish IP protection by setting it aside as merely some abstract, disposable ideal.

That mindset is dangerous, both in theory and in practice.

First and foremost, intellectual property is vital to free enterprise and drives economic growth. According to a recent study by the Global Intellectual Property Center, IP-intensive industries currently employ more than 55 million Americans and account for 74% of all U.S. exports and $5.8 trillion in GDP.  Without strong IP protections, the incentive to innovate is removed, drying up investment, stalling growth and progress, and thus undercutting the entire economy.

Little if any incentive would exist for an author to write the next great novel, Hollywood to produce the next cinema blockbuster or a pharmaceutical company to develop a cure for cancer if none of them are able to benefit economically from their works.

Moreover, when the importance of IP is diminished or dismissed altogether, its protection is afforded different levels of enforcement not on par with that of physical property.  But the concept of property should not be rooted in its physical existence.  Owning property is a contract that provides the title-holder specific rights that lead to economic benefits, not simply a plot of land. In that way, intellectual property is no different than any other form of property. 

Senator Paul gets it. In his remarks – previewed as “what could be the most significant talk on Internet freedom this year” by the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Bluey – Paul declared, “There are some libertarians who don’t believe in copyright. I am not one of them. I think you have to protect intellectual property.”

Senator Paul’s comments reveal that not only do some libertarians get IP wrong, but that all property needs protection and enforcement thereof. As evidenced by over 200 years of practice, patent, trademark and copyright protections promote the general welfare and lead to great economic advantages by driving innovation and developing capital. The end result comes in the form of countless benefits from millions of IP-intensive jobs, billions in exports and trillions in GDP spilling over to the rest of society.

Property, including intellectual property, is preeminent and deserves strong protections.

March 14th, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Utah Conservatives Looking for an Escape Hatch
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Though you won’t hear much about it in the press, tomorrow will be a big day for the Tea Party movement. That’s because it will be the day that Republican voters caucus throughout Utah to pick their delegates to the state convention — delegates who, in turn, will choose which candidates to put on the Beehive State’s June primary ballot.

This is momentous because there’s a big push by Tea Partiers — with FreedomWorks leading the charge — to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and replace him with a more conservative alternative. This is how Politico frames it:

The group’s tactics are the latest chapter of the debate still hounding Republicans as they try to win a majority on Capitol Hill this November: Should they purge their own to find fresh blood who will be less willing to seek bipartisan compromises by straying from conservative principles? Or should they unite behind the most electable candidate and train all their fire power on Democrats?

Allow me to answer both of those questions: yes.

It’s all a matter of political prudence. One of the lessons of the 2010 midterm senate races was the importance of finding the right candidate for the right jurisdiction — and that means different things in different places. In Utah, for instance, which is the most Republican state in the nation, it was utterly sensible to replace incumbent Bob Bennett (not exactly a liberal, but not really a constitutional conservative either) with Tea Party darling Mike Lee, knowing that Lee could easily carry the general election in the fall. The Tea Party was similarly shrewd in getting behind Marco Rubio in Florida, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Rand Paul in Kentucky.

There were a few missteps, however. The hyper-conservative Sharron Angle was a poor choice for the swing state of Nevada, where either Sue Lowden or Danny Tarkanian (both of whom would have voted as conventional conservatives) would have stood a better chance at defeating Harry Reid. Even less suited for her contest was Christine O’Donnell, the conservative firebrand running in deep-blue Delaware. O’Donnell’s primary opponent, the moderate-to-liberal Republican Mike Castle, would doubtlessly have taken many votes as a U.S. Senator that would have made conservatives squirm — but fewer than the eventual winner, Democrat Chris Coons, who Castle likely would have beaten had he been the nominee.

So what does this principle mean for Utah? Hatch, like Bennett before him, has been an able public servant, who has, most of the time, been in conservatism if not exactly of conservatism. Were he from a swing state where moving to the right could be an electoral death sentence, then that would probably be a sufficient argument for retaining him. That’s not the case in Utah, however. And the state’s conservatives are going to have a hard time turning down the opportunity to elect another senator as consistently principled in his defense of limited government as Mike Lee.

It doesn’t help either that the best argument against Hatch comes from Hatch. I’ll let Politico have the final word:

In Utah, FreedomWorks distributed a 44-page brochure to 37,000 potential convention-goers, highlighting Hatch’s positions over the years on earmarks, the bank bailout and deals with Ted Kennedy over a child health care law.

On the inside page of the brochure is a quote from Hatch during his first campaign in 1976 against 18-year incumbent Sen. Frank Moss: “What do you call a senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.”

April 28th, 2011 at 4:37 pm
Rubio, Rand Paul: Two Sides of the Tea Party Coin

Politico has a revealing article on the different approaches of Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY).  Each claims credibility with the Tea Party movement that propelled them past establishment candidates in their respective primaries.

Rubio is developing a reputation as a quiet Capitol Hill operator who still votes his fiscal conservatism.  (As evidenced by his opposition to the 2011 budget bill negotiated by GOP leadership.)

Paul is taking his father Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) outsider approach to the insular Senate.  Much like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Paul is scoring points for taking uncompromising stands on spending, even if it angers the Republican leadership.

Both approaches are needed; especially if the Age of Obama stretches into a second term.

April 9th, 2011 at 12:09 pm
2012 the Year of the Senate?

The (British) Guardian promotes an interesting theory about the 2012 electoral cycle: maybe Republicans should focus more on winning the Senate than the presidency.  Here’s the rationale:

And here’s more potential bad news: in 2014, another 20 Senate Democrats are up for re-election, compared to just 14 Republicans. That means over two successive election cycles, 43 Democrats – 80% of those currently in office – must defend their Senate seats, compared to just 24 Republicans. Could the GOP end up with a 60-vote super-majority of its own, just two years before laying siege to the White House in a post Obama contest?

The strategy doesn’t explicitly cede the presidential campaign to President Barack Obama, but it does acknowledge that the current crop of likely GOP presidential contenders don’t include the exciting names conservatives want (e.g. Mike Pence, Chris Christie, John Thune).

Consequently, don’t be surprised if conservative activists and donors spend their time and money electing more senators like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio instead of backing whichever compromise candidate emerges with the presidential nomination.

April 1st, 2011 at 1:38 pm
Rubio Charts Own Course with Tea Party

Freshman Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is taking a much more traditional approach than colleague Rand Paul (R-KY) when it comes to proving his Tea Party credentials.  Paul continues to thumb his nose at the GOP establishment by founding the Senate’s Tea Party caucus, and feeding speculation he may run for president in 2012.

Rubio didn’t join the Senate Tea Partiers, and until recently has been publicly silent about his immediate intentions.  That changed with a recent column in the Wall Street Journal demanding major budget changes.

Interestingly, Paul is building a national brand while Rubio focuses on few – but profound – policy statements.  In an age of 24 hour media, Rubio’s statesmanlike approach could be an indication of very good things to come.

February 11th, 2011 at 2:02 pm
New Arkansas Senator Says No To Tea Party Caucus

The uniqueness of Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Jim DeMint (R-SC) in joining their chamber’s Tea Party caucus shone forth again when yet another freshman conservative declined to join their ranks.  Tea Party darling Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) refuses to join.  Now, it’s John Boozman’s (R-AR) turn.

Officially, Boozman says he doesn’t want the public to confuse the tri-partisan nature of the Tea Party (Republican, Reagan Democrat, and Independent) with being an arm of the GOP.  But closer scrutiny of Boozman’s rationale to ABC News indicates he’s not ready to balance the budget by cutting agricultural subsidies.

“But it doesn’t sound like ag subsidies will be at the top of your list for things to cut,” Karl said.

“We’re going to have to look at everything but ag subsidies are like everything else. That affects jobs,” the senator said. “Now listen, the one thing about agriculture is we’ve lost our manufacturing, we’ve lost a great deal of jobs overseas, lots of our industry. The last thing in the world we need to do is lose the ability to produce our food.”

Chances are Boozman doesn’t want to tie himself to unqualified budget cutters like Paul, Lee, or DeMint.  Boozman’s calculation may be that it’s far better to fight for certain cuts while arguing to keep tax-supported jobs in his home state.

Senators like Rubio and Boozman argue that caucus membership in the Senate isn’t as important in the upper chamber as it is in the House.  Any member of the Senate can unilaterally slow or kill legislation he doesn’t like.  While that’s true, it’s also a way to sidestep a measure of accountability.  After all, if your major theme is cutting the budget, why not join a group that won’t make exceptions for pet pork projects?

Eventually, Paul, Lee, or DeMint might prove the truth of the single senator theory by killing bills favored by Rubio or Boozman.  If that happens, don’t be surprised to find Rubio and Boozman caught between their rhetoric and their record.

February 1st, 2011 at 7:35 pm
MSNBC Incapable of Detecting Satire
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In a recent Freedom Minute, we told you how MSNBC’s journalistic irresponsibility included an incident where Rachel Maddow falsely accused a Republican Congressman of having advance knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing and failing to act. Apparently, Maddow’s show hasn’t added any fact-checkers since that earlier faux pas.

On last night’s broadcast, Maddow lit into a litany of conservative critics of President Obama’s Egypt policy. One of her targets, however, deserves special attention. According to the Atlantic Wire:

The Internet’s finest satirists hooked a big fish in the media world last night. In an embarrassing segment on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow slammed conservatives for attacking President Obama’s Egypt policies. Her targets included Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former ambassador to the UN John Bolton and Stephenson Billings at ChristWire.org. Only problem is Stephenson Billings is not a real person. He’s a fictional byproduct of a website that also warns readers that the Xbox Kinect is a terrorist training tool and the Japanese have created scary robot babies which “threaten humanity.”

The article that caught Maddow’s eye called for an “American-led invasion” into Egypt and begged former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to lead the war cry.

“The escalating crisis in Egypt could become a defining moment for Sarah Palin,” Billings wrote. “Governor Palin needs to speak out publicly and forcibly for an American-led invasion to protect our interests in North Africa.”

It’s embarassing to see any supposedly mainstream news show get duped like this. But when a show as self-consciously snarky as Maddow’s can’t detect satire, it’s also a nice bit of poetic justice.

January 15th, 2011 at 6:47 pm
Is Your Senator in the Upper Chamber’s Tea Party Caucus?

Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) have all joined the new Senate Tea Party caucus.  No word yet on movement favorite Marco Rubio (R-FL), or other stalwart fiscal conservatives like Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Politico notes that caucuses are more important in the House because of that chamber’s preference for majority rule.  In the Senate, one member can hold up or kill legislation if he’s willing to filibuster (or usually just threaten it).  Even so, it would be nice to see DeMint attract enough members to the Tea Party caucus so that the Senate has at least one institutional block against runaway spending.

November 15th, 2010 at 12:38 pm
DeMint Positioning Himself as a Conservative Kingmaker

There may be no politician more adept at turning Tea Party popularity into actionable results than Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).  Yesterday, the conservative icon took the unusual step of publicly withdrawing his support of his party’s fundraising head, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.  There are good reasons to do so, but by publicizing his displeasure DeMint is serving notice on the rest of the GOP that he is ready to push for a more robust conservative presence throughout the party’s apparatus.

With his Senate Conservatives Fund DeMint went head-to-head and beat several GOP primary candidates supported by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, led by fellow Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).  With freshman senators like Florida’s Marco Rubio, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, and Utah’s Mike Lee owing much to DeMint’s patronage, expect to see the junior senator from South Carolina take on a much bigger role in deciding his party’s next presidential nominee.  If DeMint manages to replace Steele with a RNC Chairman of his choosing, he will be better positioned than any conservative in the party to make a serious run for the nomination.

H/T: Roll Call

November 3rd, 2010 at 11:03 am
Sen. DeMint’s Welcome Letter to Newly Elected Conservatives

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) offers some great advice to newly elected conservative colleagues like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul: stay true to your campaign promises of less government and more freedom.  Here are the highlights:

(1)   Don’t request earmarks – they obligate you to take bad votes

(2)   Hire conservative staff – they help you avoid mistakes

(3)   Beware of committees – in the Senate, all members can legislate from the floor

(4)   Don’t seek titles – every Senator has the privilege to speak and be heard, regardless of seniority

(5)   Don’t let your reelection become more important than your job – breaking campaign promises for the sake of being reelected ensures you won’t be

DeMint’s brief column should go on the wall of every incoming Senate conservative’s office as a reminder of why they are in Washington, D.C.

H/T: Wall Street Journal

October 12th, 2010 at 8:09 pm
Brit Newspaper Releases ‘Top 20’ Tea Party Leaders

According to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, here are the bottom ten of the Top 20 leaders of the American Tea Party movement:

11.  David Koch, industrial magnate

12.  Rand Paul, GOP U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky

13.  Jim DeMint, Republican Senator from South Carolina

14.  Judson and Sherry Phillips, founders of Tea Party Nation

15.  Michael Leahy, blogger

16.  Mark Williams, former chairman of the Tea Party Express

17.  Ken Buck, GOP U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado

18.  Mark Skoda

19.  Joe Miller, GOP U.S. Senate candidate in Alaska

20.  Sal Russo, chief strategist, Tea Party Express

The rest of the Top 20 will be released soon.  In the meantime, go here to read more about the figures listed above.