militarism

Yes, Rand Paul is the future of the GOP

Over at the American Spectator, Reid Smith and Jamie Weinstein (so much for that “I before E” rule, right?), debate whether Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party.

Smith takes the pro-Paul position in his part, “A New Age of Liberty,” in which he touts the libertarian scion’s innovative tactics and positions and success in just three years in the Senate. Weinstein takes the anti-Paul side, under the head “GOP Less Libertarian Thank You Think,” using more concrete examples, but making less sense doing it.

Weinstein’s main point against Rand Paul is ideological, and no surprise, focuses on the area where he differs most sharply with  party leadership: foreign policy. He argues that while Paul turned heads with his drone filibuster and then helped defeat the authorization of force in Syria resolution, the Syria result was an exception, and the continued support for military action against Iranian nuclear capability is the rule. Paul didn’t tilt the party more isolationist, Weinstein claims, people just didn’t like the options in Syria. While a convincing argument, we have another data point now with which we can test this theory: Ukraine.

Followingly less than a year after the Syria debate, 56% of Americans say we should “not get too involved” in Russia’s annexation of Ukraine either. And while 67% of Republicans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the situation so far, 50% say it’s important we don’t get involved.

Has Mick Mulvaney Picked a Fight with Lindsey Graham?

During the campaign season before the 2010 elections, my dad (the administrator of a small private school) called me to say that a man running for Congress stopped in the office to talk with him for a few minutes. That man was Mick Mulvaney, who, as Dad noted, would be a substantial upgrade over long-time incumbent John Spratt.

I’ve kept an eye on Mulvaney the last couple of years since he joined Congress as part of the wave of new Republicans in the House. While I haven’t always agreed with Mulvaney, I have seen him take some stands I admired. He usually flies under the radar without stirring up too much controversy within the party.

The days of Mulvaney flying under the radar may be over soon, as he has been working to do what few Republicans dare to do: curb increases in defense spending.

Mulvaney was recently interviewed by The American Conservative about defense spending, specifically about his efforts with Barney Frank to freeze defense spending. Their amendment to the 2013 defense appropriations bill to freeze defense spending at 2012 levels passed the House and awaits action by the Senate.

When Rand Paul spoke at the Republican convention in August, he referred to the “sacred cows” that each party was going to have to kill in order to gain any ground on balancing the federal budget. The GOP’s sacred cow, without a doubt, is defense spending.

Mulvaney’s attempt to freeze spending isn’t exactly what we need, but it’s a good start to convince the warmongers within the party that we can, in fact, defend our country without exponentially inflating defense spending every year.

Can you believe in both “American exceptionalism” and limited government?

If there was one theme that was found throughout the Republican convention last week, it was this: America is awesome and everything would be great if only our guys were in power.  Now, this is certainly not a new idea.  It is common for partisans to see their opposition as the source of all our societal ills.  But in the Republicans’ case, this is amplified into the concept of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America is not only a great nation, but one that is uniquely blessed and, thus, obligated to spread freedom throughout the globe.

Now, this would be one thing if it were just a bunch of overblown nationalism.  Pride in one’s country is perfectly fine, of course, but the concept of American exceptionalism takes that to an even further extreme, arguing that the normal rules don’t apply to the US and we have a special role unique in history.  It is an attitude that causes one to overlook America’s numerous failings and sins, and to excuse actions that, if undertaken by another nation, we could rightly condemn.  It is a worldview that calls anyone who questions it unpatriotic and part of the “blame America first” crowd.

Ralph Nader rips Obama on civil liberties, abuse of power

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader will soon release a book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, about the realignment in American politics. Specifically, the growing distrust from both the left and the right toward businesses that often collude with the government for bailouts and special favors.

There’s another topic that Nader plans to tackle in the book — President Obama’s alarming abuse of executive power and disregard for civil liberties, which, he writes, surpasses George W. Bush:

In his new book, Ralph Nader calls for the end of “unconstitutional wars and unchecked militarism” — and lays blame on President Barack Obama for going beyond even George W. Bush.

Nader writes in “Unstoppable” that Obama “has extended the Bush doctrine by declaring his unilateral right, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, to destroy anybody, anywhere in the world, including American citizens, suspected to be engaged in alleged terrorist activities, all this vaguely and loosely defined as anti-U.S. security.”

Rand Paul appointed to Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Rand Paul

A few months ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), son of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), took on Mitt Romney on the issues of foreign policy and presidential war powers after the Republican nominee said he could unilaterally go to war with Iran. While he supported Romney, Sen. Paul showed the divide between the freedom movement and the status quo of the Republican Party.

Sen. Paul will have a chance to make further his impact in the discussion on these important issues thanks to his appointment to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

The GOP side of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be drastically altered in the new Congress that began today, with four new members on the minority side led by Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the new ranking Republican.

Corker takes over for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), and he will have a roster of Republican members on the committee that is diverse and powerful. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joins the committee for the first time. McCain is no longer the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, due to term limits, but remains on SASC as a rank and file member. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the new ranking Republican on SASC, relinquished his SFRC seat to make room for McCain.

When Obama and Romney Talk Foreign Policy, Who Wins?

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The presidential campaign will focus on foreign policy for a few hours on Tuesday when President Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York City while his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will address the Clinton Global Initiative just a few miles away. Each will try to wring some political advantage from speeches that are generally directed at foreign audiences.

Neither candidate is likely to come out a winner, although for different reasons. It will be difficult for President Obama to convince the electorate and the world that U.S. policies, particularly in the volatile Greater Middle East, are succeeding. But Mitt Romney’s challenge is greater. He must convince voters that his policies would result in tangible gains. It isn’t clear that they would, however, nor that his policies are sufficiently different from the president’s to convince voters to change horses in mid-stream.

The president is likely to call for staying the course. Echoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks from last week, he will try to convince the people of the Middle East that the United States remains their friend and partner, and he will tell skeptical Americans that the feeling is mutual. He may point to the large quantities of aid that U.S. taxpayers have sent to the region to win points with foreign audiences, but this risks alienating the voters here at home.

9/11 provides an opportunity to reflect on aspects of American politics

World Trade Center on 9/11

Eleven years ago today, 19 terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people after hijacking airplanes and flying them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Realizing their fate, Passengers on United Flight 93 fought back, preventing an attack on the Capitol in Washington. Their plane would crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. As soon as Americans realized what happened, we knew we were at war.

I was 20 years-old at the time of the attacks. My plans for the day were to pick up a couple of records that had been released that day and head into work for a shift I’d picked up for a friend. After a quick phone conversation with my then-girlfriend at the time (she was a student at the University of Georgia), I got on the web. She sent me a IMs almost immediately telling me to turn on the TV. If I remember correctly, the South Tower had just been hit. When I wasn’t working or sleeping for the next two weeks, I was watching coverage of the aftermath of the attacks.

While I had an interest in politics, the 9/11 attacks really pushed me to get involved and take what is going on in our country seriously. Much of what has happened since that tragic day helped shape my political views; particularly on foreign policy and personal liberty.

Revolution PAC slams Obama over militarism

Revolution PAC, a super PAC affiliated with Ron Paul, released a new three-minute long web ad criticizing President Barack Obama for continuing militarist policies, through occupation of countries like Afghanstan and Iraq — essentially picking up where his predecessor left off:


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