Hawks With Long Knives Aim To Cut Down Rand Paul

I have some serious advice for Senator Rand Paul: Stay clear of the Senate gym steam room and don’t trust anyone in a robe resembling Brutus. There is virtually no one in the GOP establishment who does not want to derail Senator Rand Paul’s bid for the presidency–and with good reason. Rand Paul not only has new ideas for the future of America, but he is honest about the mistakes Republicans, including former presidents, have made in the past.

The biggest establishment taboo Rand Paul has broken most recently is to tell voters that the United States should not arm Islamic Sunni fighters to overthrow secular governments.  Apparently, he did not get the memo from Senator John McCain that we only train and arm “good” Sunni Islamic fighters such as the Harakat al-Hazm brigade. Oops … that “most trusted group” took the weapons we gave them, including TOW missiles, and joined the jihadists early this year. Not to worry; we have a new brigade of Sunni fighters we are training in Jordan to replace them.

The media on the right fears him because he appeals to the conservative voter base rather than the donor base. The Republican voter base, including the military, deep down know the truth about Iraq and are tired of hearing the same old hawkish lines claiming a victory that was never there.

The establishment GOP line is: Bush won the war in Iraq, and Obama lost the peace by not leaving troops there.

In reality, in December of 2008, the last full month of the Bush presidency, there were eleven suicide and roadside bombings in Iraq that killed dozens. One bombing in Mosul killed two U.S. military personnel. This of course does not include shootings or kidnappings. A strong peaceful democracy?

The further establishment GOP line, as Senator Marco Rubio declared it: “The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.” Tell that to the one million Christians who have been forced out of Iraq or the Yazidi women who have been sold on slave blocks in cities that had secular police forces under the Baath party. In what universe do you have to live in to believe that Iraq today is a better place to live than in 2002? OK … It is a better place to be if you are a jihadist in the ISIL.

Rand Paul has only to whisper “the emperor has no clothes,” and the Wall Street Journal and Fox News go ballistic. The Wall Street Journal editorial headline on May 28th read “Rand Paul Created ISIS.” I am not joking; that is the actual headline. What did Rand Paul say to deserve a ful- out attack by the Wall Street Journal? The Senator said the following:

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. These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’ job even easier. They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because the same hawks in my party loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya, they just wanted more of it.

But Libya is a failed state and a disaster, Iraq really is a failed state or a vassal state now of Iran, so everything they’ve talked about in foreign policy they’ve been wrong about for 20 years and yet they somehow have the gall to keeping saying and pointing figures otherwise.

The Senator is right. The “secret weapons shipments” early on to Syrian rebels by the Obama Administration were approved by GOP congressional leaders behind closed doors. Every dollar to every mercenary and every gun to every brigade was approved by the appropriate committees in the House and Senate. Every dime and every bullet. The only GOP objections to the Obama Administration’s plan to help the Sunni royal family of Saudi Arabia overthrow the Shia Alawites in Syria was that not enough American money and not enough American weapons were being allocated.

To make matters worse for himself, Rand Paul told the truth about the GOP hawk establishment having supported Hillary Clinton’s war on Libya. He is factual in that hawks John McCain and Lindsay Graham wanted even more American firepower, perhaps even ground forces, in Libya. Instead of being a stable nation under Gaddafi, Libya today is a failed state with roving bands of terrorists.

The donor base of the GOP, including a lot of big companies receiving defense dollars, are sharpening their knives for Rand Paul. That is where the real GOP divide is. The donor base and the voter base of the GOP see things very differently. While the “inside the Beltway bubble” GOP establishment and their donors are hawks, the majority of GOP voters, particularly recent veterans, are not. The polls do show that the largest concern of GOP-leaning voters is national security (cited by about 25%). But a deeper look shows that those 25% are most concerned with stopping Islamic terror on the homeland soil, not toppling secular dictators in the Middle East.

The Wall Street Journal’s biggest issue with Rand Paul is that he is an “anti-interventionist.” Apparently the Wall Street Journal editorial staff has come to the McCain/Graham/Rubio conclusion that the people of Libya, Iraq, and Syria are far better off today thanks to American intervention. Really? Someone should inform the families of those who were beheaded, and the many women forced into sex slave relationships with men who have purchased them at auction blocks. Many Republicans outside the Washington beltway see the truth, that Iraq, like Syria and Libya, is a horrible wreck.

Senator Paul has more to watch out for than would-be assassins in robes, such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain in the steam room. The leftist media also wants to cut him up and toss him out now, before voters on both sides of the fence hear what he as to say.

He is dangerous to the left because he is a champion of many populist ideas such as lowering prison sentences for drug use, a stand that will draw away votes from the Democrats. Currently, possessing less than one fourth of an ounce of crack cocaine draws a minimum five year sentence. Senator Paul says that is wrong, and is unfairly applied to African-Americans. He will also draw liberal (but not radical) environmentalist support from the Democrats, having publicly admitted to planting trees.

The GOP and both the liberal and conservative media want to knock out Senator Rand Paul early, before voters of both parties can hear his message. Rand Paul is dangerous because his ideas are neither left nor right establishment; they are often new and in many cases populist. He has the strange idea that the armed forces should protect the interests of the United States, not be the world’s police force. He wants the unconstitutional practice of the government reading the personal writings and communications of citizens by stealth stopped. And he tells the voters that loving trees is an OK thing to do! How dare he?

William J. Murray is chairman of the Washington, DC-based Religious Freedom Coalition and oversees the Christmas for Refugee program.

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

Watch: What Jeb Bush Just Said About Immigration May Sink His Ship Before It Sets Sail

During his final broadcast as host of CBS’ Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer pressed likely Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush on his willingness to embrace positions to the left of many candidates already vying for the party’s nomination. Bush defended his views, suggesting the primary process would be more effective if all candidates expressed their true intentions instead of pandering to the GOP’s conservative base.

“I think people are so disaffected and … so cynical about politicians and politics,” he said, “they don’t want to hear someone say, well ‘I’m for this’ and immediately shift back to another position for the general election.”

Bush then brought up one issue for which he has already received serious flak from conservatives.

“I have views that are different than some in our party,” he said, “and that’s what we’ll sort out if I’m a candidate. I’m not going to back down on views on immigration, for example.”

Schieffer asked Bush if he still supports a pathway toward legal status for millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.

“I’m for a path to legalized status,” he acknowledged, “where people get a provisional work permit, where they pay taxes, pay a fine, learn English, don’t commit crimes, don’t receive federal government assistance, and where they earn legal status. They don’t earn citizenship, they don’t cut in line with people who have been patiently waiting on the outside.”

He went on to deliver a public message for anyone who claims his plan is tantamount to amnesty.

“Those who are opposed to that or call that amnesty don’t have a plan really to deal with the 1 million people who are here illegally,” he said.

The host then asked Bush repeatedly whether he would revoke Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration should he become president. After attempting to shift the focus to other avenues – judicial and legislative, specifically – through which the same result could be achieved, Bush ultimately admitted he would not take the decisive step of nullifying Obama’s actions.

“No,” he said, “I think it ought to be one of the first priorities for substantive policy changes is fixing a broken immigration system – and this will be part of that.”

Despite his rationale, it is clear there are plenty of potential voters for whom such a view on immigration is unacceptable.

Capture

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h/t: Townhall

Is Jeb Bush too soft on immigration? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

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