SHOCK VIDEO: Rand Paul Just Blamed The Rise Of The Barbaric Islamic State On…WHOM?

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul often marches to the beat of a different drummer when it comes to U.S. foreign policy and America’s involvement in military conflicts on foreign soil. And now, in an appearance on the MSNBC program Morning Joe, the senator from Kentucky has banged out a stunning beat-down of members of his own party — a criticism that could set off a raucous new round of attacks between Paul and his Senate colleagues in addition to his fellow Republicans vying for the presidential nomination.

While some might agree with Sen. Paul’s basic message that the Islamic State has grown stronger and more formidable because so many U.S.-supplied arms have fallen into their hands, those he blames for the rise of ISIS would certainly take exception to Paul’s saying that hawks within the GOP ranks are the culprits. In the interview with Joe Scarborough, Paul declared, “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.”

Curiously, the Kentucky senator was singing a different tune only a few months ago. As the CBS-TV station in Washington, D.C., reported in February, Paul then laid blame for the rise of ISIS at the feet of Hillary Clinton.

“The disaster that is Libya is now a breeding ground for terrorists and it’s also a breeding ground for armaments,” Paul said.

“So I really do blame Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya for creating a lot of the chaos that is now spreading throughout the Middle East.”

You can watch Rand Paul’s interview on Morning Joe by clicking on the video above.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Go South, Old Man

Subtlety has never been Mike Huckabee’s strength. The former Arkansas governor, who elbowed his way onto the national political scene in 2008, owes much of his celebrity to curmudgeonly candor. In an age of electoral misdirection, with candidates cagily masking their intentions and hedging bets at every turn, Huckabee is a revelation; the onetime Baptist minister is famously (often infamously) straightforward in what he’s saying, why he’s saying it, and who he’s saying it to.

So when Huckabee in January released his latest book, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, and then left his lucrative job at FOX News to promote it (and himself), no overthinking was required. Huckabee was not only preparing to launch a second campaign for the presidency; he was reminding Republican voters that he is more than a socially conservative preacher. He is a “proud son of the South” who can “easily relate to folks from the Midwest, Southwest, and most of rural America.” Huckabee continued in the book’s introduction: “I feel a bit more disconnected from people who have never fired a gun, never fished with a cane pole, never cooked with propane, or never changed a tire.”

If Huckabee’s first White House run was seen by Republican voters as a sermon to the religious base of the party, his campaign message this time around is an ode to the forgotten citizens of “fly-over country”—areas ignored, he argues, by the coastal media elites and professional political class of Washington. “Like a lot of Americans, I grew up in a small town far removed from the power, the money, and the influence that runs the country,” Huckabee said when launching his campaign from his humble hometown of Hope, Arkansas. “But power and money and political influence have left a lot of Americans lagging behind.”

This isn’t a re-branding exercise; Huckabee, who first gained national fame for championing the “FairTax,” has long wielded a populist message with natural appeal to rural and blue-collar voters. Yet in 2012, it fell by the wayside, partially because Huckabee was pigeonholed as the evangelical champion, but also because Southern states played little role in shaping the outcome of the primary.

This time, Huckabee will return to his roots—an approach deliberately designed to broaden his appeal and, more importantly, take advantage of a restructured Republican primary calendar that places a far greater emphasis on the very states and voters that he has spent his political career serenading. Because for the first time in the modern history of the Republican Party, the path to its presidential nomination takes an early and potentially decisive detour through the South.

As the schedule tentatively stands, following the first four nominating contests in February—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada—the campaign speeds up with a March 1 Super Tuesday dominated by Bible Belt primaries. The calendar will not be finalized until October, but Republican officials expect that as many as six states—Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas—could wind up voting in a bloc. (It has been dubbed the “SEC primary” after the powerhouse football programs in the Southeastern Conference.) Even if Alabama and Mississippi fail to move their primaries up to March 1, they’re currently scheduled to vote just one week later, on March 8, along with Oklahoma. Plus, Louisiana is holding its primary March 5, giving the South enormous influence no matter how Super Tuesday shapes up.

There’s no guarantee Huckabee will still be standing after the first four contests; he’ll likely need to win either Iowa or South Carolina, or run competitively in both, to remain viable into March. But if he is, the primary swings right through Huckabee’s backyard—a reality at the core of his 2016 strategy.

“Now that we’ve fixed our calendar to have a majority of Southern states go on Super Tuesday, his message and his strategy fits the calendar really well.”–Republican National Committeeman Glenn McCall, on Mike Huckabee

“We learned in 2008 that you can’t just try to win Iowa, you can’t just try to win South Carolina. It’s a marathon not a sprint,” says Alice Stewart, a longtime member of Huckabee’s inner circle who is leading his communications team. “We know it’s not just a matter of winning one or two states right off the bat; it’s a long process of winning states and piling up delegates. And there’s definitely a game plan for winning those SEC states where he’s popular and where his views are reflective of the people there.”

Huckabee has reason to be confident. His 2008 runner-up finish came on the strength of his performance in the South. After winning Iowa, Huckabee waited more than a month for another victory. When it finally came—in West Virginia, then Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Kansas—it was too little, too late. By then, his national momentum had dried up; and with more than 20 states voting on Super Tuesday that year, Huckabee’s Southern wins were offset anyway by John McCain’s triumphs in other regions of the country.

If anyone in the Republican field is positioned to take advantage of this cycle’s new primary calendar, it’s Huckabee. He may still be a long shot to win the nomination; changes to the calendar do not alter the central fact that, in 2008, he struggled mightily to attract support from nonreligious Republican voters. But Huckabee, given his strength in the South, could be competitive long into the contest and could shape the outcome of the primary in a way that few other candidates can. That’s because Huckabee, unlike some of his younger rivals with ties to the South—Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal—has spent decades building name-identification in the region and has a head start in cultivating relationships there thanks to his previous presidential bid.

“His grassroots network is still in place from 2008 in the early states—and then he’s got plenty of appeal to those Southern states,” says Glenn McCall, the Republican national committeeman from South Carolina. “Now that we’ve fixed our calendar to have a majority of Southern states go on Super Tuesday, his message and his strategy fits the calendar really well.”

That message will be heavy on biography. It already is, showing Huckabee as the Southern Republican who challenged and defeated the Democratic political machine in Arkansas, a pioneer in the ensuing transformation of the South from blue to red. “Any drunken redneck can walk into a bar and start a fight,” Huckabee says in his first campaign video this year. “A leader only starts a fight that he’s prepared to finish.”

His opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, which played prominently in his 2008 message, is taking a backseat. Huckabee gave only a fleeting mention to social issues in his announcement speech, and it was drowned out by paeans to economic populism—railing against rising housing costs, criticizing a popular trade deal being debated in Congress, and, most notably, rejecting other Republicans’ calls for restructuring Medicare and Social Security. “If Congress wants to take away someone’s retirement,” Huckabee said in Hope, “let them end their own congressional pensions—not your Social Security!”

This tactical shift reflects an important acknowledgment by Huckabee’s tight-knit team of loyal advisers: Their candidate will not monopolize the evangelical vote this cycle. The social-conservative lane of the GOP primary is significantly more crowded than it was eight years ago, with younger candidates such as Cruz and Scott Walker (and 2012 Iowa winner Rick Santorum, among others) certain to steal from Huckabee’s base of support. That means he needs to expand his appeal and, critically, avoid being typecast as the Christian conservative candidate.

Indeed, in 2008, he lost the nonevangelical vote in every state that conducted an exit poll, save for Arkansas, where he won 41 percent of that group. That makes Huckabee’s advisers highly sensitive to the suggestion that he’s a one-trick pony. Bob Wickers, the campaign’s pollster, issued a memo two weeks before the May launch arguing that Huckabee “has a very high ceiling of support among all Republicans, not just evangelicals, according to recent public polling.” The groups that Wickers highlighted: “seniors” and “low- to middle-income voters.”

Exactly the demographic groups that dominate Republican primaries in the South.

Huckabee is seizing every chance he can get to reinforce his good-old-boy image. The night before his launch, his team hosted a group of reporters in the private dining room of a hole-in-the-wall steak house in Little Rock, adorned with deer heads and vintage Dixie memorabilia. There were tales of the golden days—Huckabee holding court in that room when he was governor, just as the Clintons had when they ran the state.

It’s all meant to demonstrate that Huckabee is a throwback, and unapologetically so. It’s meant to separate him from the Republican field, perhaps more so than any policy position. While Marco Rubio, Cruz, and Paul project an aspirational, forward-looking vision that frames the GOP as the party of the future, Huckabee is deliberately playing the everyman who is stuck in the past, yearning aloud for a bygone era when students started their school days with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. “We’ve lost our way morally,” Huckabee said in Hope, drawing calls of “Amen!” from the audience.

This traditionalist melancholy is a potent tool, tailored for the elderly, white, religious, rural voters who were Huckabee’s loyal viewing demographic at FOX News and who could form the core of his Super Tuesday take. Huckabee is tapping into not just their cultural conservatism, but their disaffection with the direction of the country and a fear of being marginalized in modern America.

“You walk into that room right now, what do you see? Older, white, evangelicals,” says Jacob Waller, a 27-year-old law student who hails from Hope. He isn’t a Huckabee supporter—or even a Republican for that matter—but he came out to the campaign launch because of hometown pride. He said Huckabee’s message, aimed directly at people like his parents and neighbors, can be devastatingly effective. “They want to know that Middle America, their way of life, isn’t being forgotten about.”

Two of those attendees were Roger and Shirlene Reeves, both retirees in their mid-70s who drove more than 200 miles from their hometown of Tilly, Arkansas, to watch Huckabee’s entry into the 2016 race. “He’s a good guy, he’s a pastor, he doesn’t believe in climate change, he doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage,” Roger, a retired construction worker, says when asked why he’ll support Huckabee for president. Shirlene chimes in: “He’s one of us—and we watched him every Saturday night on TV.”

This article appears in the May 16, 2015 edition of National Journal Magazine as Go South, Old Man. It was also published on NationalJournal.com and is reprinted here with permission..

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

GOP Wrestles With How To Manage Presidential Primary Debates

The GOP held its spring meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, this week; and one of the main topics of conversation was how to handle the very crowded field when it comes time to debate.

Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus is getting pushed both to keep the field small enough to be manageable on stage, and not exclude candidates who may not yet have the poll numbers to indicate they will be competitive.

The largest number of candidates who have ever been on stage at one time is 10. With the first debate slated for August 6 in Cleveland, and six candidates already declared and seven or more likely to declare, the GOP has to come up with a workable solution.

One suggestion is to split the field and have two debates on two consecutive nights. Another is to require the candidates to poll at 5 percent or more in order to participate in the debate.

If the latter were adopted, based on current polling, several candidates with high profile names would be excluded, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, and potentially businessman and media personality Donald Trump.

Santorum, who attended the spring meeting, said, “I am concerned about potentially a large field and any attempt to try to squeeze that field down to the preferred group.” He added: “If you drew straws to the two different debates, I guarantee you you’d have good people in both debates that would draw audiences.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, also at the meeting, who is polling competitively, believes the RNC will have to give the participants a chance to make their case.

Referring to his experience as a presidential candidate in 2008, Huckabee said, “My frustration, especially early on was that often I would be given two to three minutes and the ones that the press had decided were the frontrunners, even though they didn’t last as long as I did, ended up getting 16, 17 minutes.”

Priebus has already indicated there will be fewer Republican presidential primary debates than 2012. It will fall on him and the RNC leadership to decide who will make the stage.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

George Stephanopoulos Will Not Moderate ABC GOP Presidential Debate In February

ABC News “This Week” host and “Good Morning America” co-host George Stephanopoulos not only regrets making donations to the Clinton Foundation, but said he will not moderate an upcoming Republican presidential debate.

“In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have, even though I did it for the best reasons,” Stephanopoulos said in an interview with Politico Thursday. The anchor gave a total of $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation between 2012 and 2014, as first reported by Politico and The Washington Free Beacon.

ABC is scheduled to host a Republican presidential debate next February. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told The New York Times Thursday that the anchor should not be allowed to moderate any debates.

“I won’t moderate that debate,” Stephanopoulos told Politico. “I think I’ve shown that I can moderate debates fairly. That said, I know there have been questions made about moderating debates this year. I want to be sure I don’t deprive viewers of a good debate.”

The anchor stressed that he will still cover the 2016 election, despite the communications director of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, advising his boss not to go on ABC until Stephanopoulos withdraws from all 2016 campaign coverage.

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Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, accused Stephanopoulos of committing a “massive breach of ethical standards.” Schweizer’s book argues that donations to the foundation may have influenced some of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decisions while in charge at Foggy Bottom.

At the time I did not perceive the problem, but in retrospect, as much as I support the very good work that’s been done by the foundation, I should have gone above and beyond any guidelines to make sure that there wouldn’t be any appearance of any conflict.

During the Politico interview, Stephanopoulos also regretted not disclosing his donations to viewers, thinking “that the donations already were a matter of public record.”

“But I should have gone the extra mile and disclosed [the donations] to the viewers,” he explained. “I now realize I should have done that.”

ABC will not be taking any punitive action against Stephanopoulos. “He made charitable donations to the foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply and believed his contributions were a matter of public record,” the network said in a statement Thursday. “He should have taken the extra step to notify us and our viewers during the recent news reports about the Foundation.”

“He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologized for that admission. We stand behind him,” the statement also said.

Do you trust George Stephanopoulos? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Phony ‘Conservatives’ And Britain’s Cultural Collapse

The usually astute Heritage Foundation commentator Nile Gardiner calls the win by the Conservative Party in Britain a defeat for socialism. Yet, Conservative Party head David Cameron ran on a platform boasting that “we have protected the National Health Service, with 9,500 more doctors and 6,900 more nurses, and ensured generous rises in the State Pension.”

Based on this precedent, we can anticipate that Republican Party politicians here in America will one day run on a platform of making Obamacare more affordable, rather than seeking to abolish it. This, then, will be defined as the “conservative” position.

The coverage of the recent British elections has demonstrated that the term “conservative” has lost much of its meaning. It’s time to take a hard look at what the term has come to mean in Britain and how it is being distorted and transformed here.

In addition to the Conservative Party’s embrace of socialist programs, the Cameron government, which has ruled Britain for five years, has embraced Islamic immigration to Britain, going so far as to pay more deference to global Islam than traditional Christianity. Demonstrating this bias, the supposedly “conservative” government in Britain banned American anti-Jihad activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from the country. Geller and Spencer had intended to rally opposition to the Islamization of the West. Spencer called Cameron, who has labeled Islam “a religion of peace,” as the “dhimmi appeaser.” The term means a non-Muslim who accepts Muslim dominance.

Cameron and his Conservative Party have also embraced the legalization of homosexual marriage. The Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto says, “Our historic introduction of gay marriage has helped drive forward equality and strengthened the institution of marriage. But there is still more to do, and we will continue to champion equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.”

We can easily anticipate the Republican Party going down this road in the United States. In fact, the publication Politico notes that GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush is among those trying to “have it both ways” on homosexual marriage. “While he publicly maintains his opposition to same-sex marriage, reaffirmed over the weekend by a surrogate he sent to Iowa, Bush is sending signals that he may be more accepting of ‘marriage equality’—the strongest signal, perhaps, coming when he referred to the issue using that term favored by LGBT advocates—than he’s able to let on,” the publication reported.

It noted that Bush has hired a communications director, Tim Miller, who is openly gay, and his inner circle of staffers “have all expressed strong support for marriage equality, including Mike Murphy, hired to run his messaging shop, who wrote about the GOP’s need to evolve on policy following Romney’s defeat in 2012.”

Jeb Bush is shaping up to be the David Cameron of the Republican Party.

In Britain, the changes keep coming, now at an astounding rate. Andrea Williams of the British group Christian Concern says the Cameron government has not only “destroyed marriage” by redefining it to include homosexual couples, but it is also pursuing liberal policies in other areas. For example, she says the government has liberalized abortion and refused to outlaw abortions on the basis of the sex of the fetus. She says that in Britain nurses and teachers have been suspended for wearing Christian crosses, judges have been replaced for refusing to place children in homosexual relationships with two fathers or two mothers, and Christian street preachers are being jailed for “offensive” comments. “We have no leader at the helm of any of our main parties, whether it’s the Liberal Democrats, the Labor Party or the Conservative Party, who are speaking a moral vision,” she says.

Another British group, the Christian Institute, confirms these ominous trends and warns that “…here in the UK religious liberty is being increasingly challenged…Street preachers have been arrested. Christians have lost their jobs for answering questions about their faith or for taking an ethical stand. Christians in business have come into conflict with equality laws and faced fines for holding to the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Commentator Charles Moore had warned in March 2015, “Socially conservative moral views are now teetering on the edge of criminality, and are over the edge of disapproval by those who run modern Britain.”

In arguing that “Britain is at heart still a conservative country,” Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation was talking about a country that no longer exists. His only reference to Britain’s cultural collapse came in his observation that Cameron had “alienated many grassroots supporters with highly controversial ‘modernizing’ policies such as backing gay marriage and increasing spending on foreign aid, both deeply unpopular with the Conservative base.” In fact, as we have seen in the statements quoted above, the conservative base has been betrayed on a host of issues. Today, even free speech is at risk in Britain.

In the U.S., it appears that big money is driving the Republican Party to the left, along the same path taken by Britain. The Politico article quoted earlier noted the influence of hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, who has decided that since his own son is gay, the Republican Party should embrace the homosexual lifestyle and homosexual marriage. The publication said that Bush is determined to win Singer’s personal support, and added that “other billionaire bundlers like Seth Klarman and Dan Loeb, another hedge funder known for asking any candidate who enters his office where they stand on gay rights,” are also looking for Republicans to finance and push their pet causes.

As these developments unfold, it will be up to conservatives in the media and the think tanks to shine a light on the attempted takeover of the Republican Party. That will be much harder to do if the conservative media become part of the problem and go AWOL on the need for a moral vision to save the country.

In this context, Guy Benson, the political editor of the conservative Townhall.com website, has announced that he is a practicing homosexual. Benson, a supporter of homosexual marriage, is a Fox News contributor who appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show to discuss coming out of the closet through a footnote in his new book. “I think it’s very brave,” Kelly told him.

Fox News has been a major financial backer of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, a group that featured a male stripper at its recent New York City fundraiser. However, Townhall.com’s parent company is a Christian firm, Salem Media Group, which has refused to comment on whether Benson will retain his influential position within the company. The company describes its mission as “targeting audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values.”

This article originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth