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If people want to read a good fictional novella, I’d recommend that they read Rand Paul’s op-ed. What Sen. Paul’s op-ed misses in serious policies, it makes up for with sensationalism and old-fashioned BS.

Early in the article, Sen. Paul reveals his goal by talking about Hillary Clinton’s and Marco Rubio’s “liberation foreign policy.” After that, Sen. Paul’s op-ed reads like a letter from an angry child upset that nobody’s paying attention to him. There’s good reason for that. Sen. Paul’s upset that nobody’s paying attention to him. There’s a reason for that. He’s sounding more and more like a not-quite-as-crazy-as-his-dad-noninterventionist.

First, Sen. Paul’s accusations are without merit. He’s basing his statements on a myth. Early in the op-ed, he said “When I forced the Foreign Relations Committee to debate an authorization of military force against ISIS, Senator Rubio and McCain insisted that the new authorization be unlimited temporally or geographically. Basically, they want a war without end against an undefined enemy in an unspecified region of the world.”

I don’t recall Congress putting a time limit on FDR after Pearl Harbor. I don’t recall Congress giving FDR permission to declare war on Japan but not on Germany and Italy. War is, by its chaotic nature, open-ended time-wise. I’d be worried if Sen. Rubio and Sen. McCain agreed to give President Obama an AUMF that had an expiration date. That’s the definition of insanity.

This sounds like a petulant child:

Senator Rubio wrote the President at the time that he saw “no legal reason preventing” him from using his “commander-in-chief” powers to attack ISIS. His letter makes no mention of the Constitutional requirement to seek Congressional authority.

There’s a reason for that. The AUMF that the House and Senate passed gave the president, then George W. Bush, the authority to go after terrorists “with global reach.” ISIS definitely fits that definition.

As we enter into the season of determining the next Commander in Chief, I hope voters will seek out a leader who will learn from history and not pursue a reckless policy that seeks to liberate the world but in reality traps us under a mountain of debt and beguiles us into perpetual war.

I hope that voters will learn from recent history that the terrorists haven’t quit fighting a war against us. Sen. Paul apparently hasn’t figured it out that we don’t quit fighting a war if the terrorists haven’t quit waging war against the United States. That’s the definition of national suicide.

Sen. Paul isn’t concerned with preventing terrorist attacks. The thing that he’s most worried about is “mountains of debt.” It’s time he figured out how to fight the terrorists while reducing the debt.

This week hasn’t been a good week for Rand Paul because he’s backtracked on a bunch of statements. Sen. Paul’s supporters are spinning it that he isn’t a polished politician:

After Rand Paul said GOP defense hawks had “created” ISIS, he told Sean Hannity: “I think I could have stated it better.” When he claimed some of his adversaries were “secretly” hoping for a terrorist attack so they could blame him for shutting down the PATRIOT Act, the next day he admitted that “hyperbole” got the better of him “in the heat of battle.” And when Paul quipped that he was “glad” his train didn’t stop in Baltimore in the wake of riots there, he later offered “regret” that his comments were “misinterpreted.”

As Paul has sought to stand out from the clustered GOP presidential field, he’s finding that his freewheeling, off-the-cuff speaking style can cut both ways. His supporters say it’s what’s refreshing about him: He’s not a typical programmed pol who spews the same talking points over and over; there’s an authenticity that’s rare in today’s poll-driven politics, they say.

While it’s clear that he isn’t the conspiracy theorist that his father’s been, it’s equally clear that he’s a bit paranoid. Accusing fellow senators and Republicans of wanting a terrorist attack so that they can blame him for it is either proof that he’s paranoid or it’s proof that he’s into shooting his mouth off. Saying that Republican hawks created ISIS is just historically inaccurate.

In both instances, he’s been reckless.

Americans don’t have to agree with their presidents 100% of the time but they won’t tolerate a president that they think is reckless. That’s because reckless people don’t control situations. Situations control them.

“People have to choose what they want,” he told POLITICO this week. “If they want robots, who say the same thing over and over again, there are plenty of them. If they want something more genuine, where everything is not always perfect — we’ll see what people want. I am who I am.”

The fact that he’s maintained the same core supporters that his father got indicates that the voters who’ve sized him up aren’t buying what he’s selling. Sen. Paul isn’t polished but he isn’t foolish, either. There’s little question that he knows he’ll never be president.

After reading this article, sane people are left wondering what Sen. Paul’s supporters are thinking:

The newest Iowa poll conducted by The Des Moines Register reflects a trend which has been ongoing since polling for this cycle began. Rand Paul, in second place at 10%, is well within the margin of error of the lead, currently held by Scott Walker at 17%. Ben Carson finished with 10% and both Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush earned 9%.

While it is debatable how important it may be to actually win the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus, history shows that it is imperative to finish in the top 4, as each nominee from both major parties has done so since the quadrennial tradition began in 1972. With a possible field of nearly 20 Republican candidates, a poor showing in Iowa could prove lethal to several campaigns.

With that information in mind, the fact that Senator Paul has consistently remained in double-digits since Iowa polling commenced in mid-2012 becomes all the more important and impressive. Paul enters the contest with a bit of an advantage, as his father came within 4 percentage points (or 4,000 votes) of winning the caucus in 2012. In fact, the legacy that the elder Paul left is best represented by the fact that 22 of the state’s 28 delegates pledged themselves to his campaign.

Now that Sen. Paul has announced that he’ll force the expiration of the Patriot Act, his days are numbered. From this day forward, his support will drop until he’s left with his father’s core of loyal supporters. By the time the Caucuses happen, he’ll trail Walker, Rubio, Carson and, quite possibly, Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz.

The 2016 Iowa field will be unique in that it will be first in history to feature 2 different past winners (Huckabee and Rick Santorum), but Paul has shown himself to be one of the favorites to win the caucus. Other candidates’ numbers have fluctuated, yet Paul has steadily maintained a solid core of voters.

First, Sen. Paul’s support hasn’t grown. Second, Sen. Paul’s support isn’t reaching into other demographics that are needed to win in Iowa. For instance, Sen. Paul doesn’t have a chance of winning over evangelical Christians because of his strict libertarian views on things like legalizing marijuana and his indifference towards gay marriage. Whether you agree or disagree policy-wise, evangelical Christians won’t support candidates that are indifferent on those issues.

Putting it simply, Sen. Paul’s potential for winning Iowa is virtually nil.

The newest person in line in the Iowa “stock market” of candidates has been Scott Walker, who now averages nearly 20%, but has seen his numbers begin to decline. As recently as January, Walker was polling at below 5%, showing that his reign is likely unsustainable, and could be very well a limited one.

Now that’s fanciful. Wow! Scott Walker has led the RCP average of polls for nearly 4 months, usually with solid leads outside the margin of error. If that’s what a “likely unsustainable” lead looks like, especially one that “could be very well a limited one”, then I’m betting most candidates would settle for such an unsustainable lead.

Josh Guckert is the name of the person who wrote this article but it could’ve just as easily have been Baghdad Bob.

It was just a matter of time before Rand Paul’s presidential ambitions came to a crashing halt. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign will all-but-officially end Sunday night. That’s when Sen. Paul will, in his words, “force the expiration of the Patriot Act“:

Rand Paul plans to force the expiration of the PATRIOT Act Sunday by refusing to allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to expedite debate on a key surveillance bill. In a statement to POLITICO Saturday, Paul warned that he would not consent to any efforts to pass either an extension of current law or the USA Freedom Act, a reform bill passed overwhelmingly by the House earlier this month.

When Sen. Paul forces that expiration, he will forever tie himself to his father’s national security policies. That will, in my opinion, end talk of his being a top tier presidential candidate. He’ll be as well-liked within the GOP as a leper at a hot tub party at the Playboy Mansion.

Here’s part of his statement to Politico:

“I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans. The callous use of general warrants and the disregard for the Bill of Rights must end. Forcing us to choose between our rights and our safety is a false choice and we are better than that as a nation and as a people. “That’s why two years ago, I sued the NSA. It’s why I proposed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act. It’s why I have been seeking for months to have a full, open and honest debate on this issue— a debate that never came. “So last week, seeing proponents of this illegal spying rushing toward a deadline to wholesale renew this unconstitutional power, I filibustered the bill. I spoke for over 10 hours to call attention to the vast expansion of the spy state and the corresponding erosion of our liberties.

“Then, last week, I further blocked the extension of these powers and the Senate adjourned for recess rather than stay and debate them. “Tomorrow, we will come back with just hours left before the NSA illegal spying powers expire. “Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security.

Let’s be clear about something. The NSA isn’t spying on “ordinary Americans.” Sen. Paul knows that there isn’t any “illegal spying” happening. Sen. Paul knows that but he’s still peddling that storyline because he’s a dishonest politician.

Come Monday, Charles Krauthammer will eviscerate him with verified facts, legal precedents and irrefutable logic. When Charles stops wielding his political scalpel, Sen. Paul will be reduced to a puddle of political blood. There’s nothing that will endear him to Republican voters. He’s tapping into his father’s base but that isn’t much more than a sliver group on the outer fringe of the outer fringe.

By forcing the “expiration of the Patriot Act”, he will have done the impossible. Sen. Paul will have moved to the left of everyone with the exception of Bernie Sanders. Couple this ill-advised PR stunt with his idiotic statement that “Republican hawks” caused the rise of ISIS and you’ve got a presidential candidate that only CODEPINK and the ACLU would love. Those voters aren’t that plentiful in the GOP.

Goodbye Rand. You’re as nutty as your father. PS- Good riddance, too.

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When I wrote this post about Rand Paul’s foolishness about ISIS, I stuck mostly to highlighting why Sen. Paul’s opinion is dangerous. Today, it’s time to attack the beliefs that form the foundation for that wrongheaded thinking.

Like his lunatic father before him, Sen. Paul thinks that ISIS won’t hurt us if we just leave them alone. That’s projection based on their capital-L Libertarian beliefs. It’s also lunacy that isn’t based in facts.

ISIS’s beliefs are based on a messianic worldview. If ISIS didn’t use the U.S.’s presence in the Middle East as a rationalization for attacking us, then they’d find a different, equally dishonest, excuse to kill people who don’t agree with them 100% of the time.

The proof of this is the fact that hundreds and thousands of Muslims have been murdered because they didn’t subscribe to ISIS’s beliefs. Their crime wasn’t that they were an occupying force in the Middle East. Their ‘crime’ was that they weren’t, in ISIS’s opinion, Muslim enough. If it wasn’t that, ISIS would find a different excuse to rationalize their actions.

Rand Paul isn’t qualified to be the next commander-in-chief. He sees the world as he wants it to be. He doesn’t see the world as it actually is. That’s President Obama’s fatal flaw. That’s one of Sen. Paul’s fatal flaws, too.

Anyone watching this video has to wonder whether Tucker Carlson has paid attention the last 12 years:

Here’s the transcript that calls his analytic skills into question:

CARLSON: The question I would ask, and I’m not endorsing Rand Paul, but I do think you need a moment of national reckoning where we ask a simple question: what is the lesson from the last thirteen years of Iraq? Have we learned anything? How would we proceed differently based on what we just saw? And the other candidates, most of them I would say, are committed to this ‘We’ve learned nothing. The world’s exactly as it was on September 12, 2001. That is not…I don’t think that’s a recipe for success. I …
BRET BAIER: But do you think that this is a pathway to the GOP nomination?
CARLSON: I don’t. I absolutely don’t. Laura is absolutely right. He’s getting hammered. You’re pro-terrorist. Again, I’m not defending Rand Paul. I’m not an advocate for his campaign. But I think the question hangs in the air what have we learned?
LAURA INGRAHAM: There’s a big debate out there that has to be had. Will it be had? Will it be had when there’s just one person making the case and an entire field saying ‘Oh no. It has to be this way. It’s an interesting debate. We should have it.
CHARLES LANE: I listened to that soundbite of Rand Paul and was just reminded of why he’s not…of why he’s getting criticism. The things he says are sloppy and superficial. To literally blame the rise of ISIS on the hawks in the Republican Party is just ridiculous. Let’s face it. There are so many other factors that’ve gone into it and furthermore, it isn’t about how do we unring all the bells that were run in the past that may have led us to this point. The problem now is how do we deal with this menace?

If Carlson wants to re-litigate whether we should’ve invaded Iraq, he’s free to do so. It’s just that that’s a waste of time for policymakers. If historians want to debate it, fine. That’s their responsibility.

If Carlson wants to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes again, the big picture answer is exceptionally straightforward. Don’t elect a person who thinks that fighting terrorists is an afterthought. Don’t elect a person who isn’t committed to winning.

One straightforward lesson worth learning is that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton told us in 2007 and 2008 that they weren’t qualified to be commander-in-chief. President Obama has been a terrible commander-in-chief. If she got elected, Hillary would be just as terrible as commander-in-chief as President Obama is because they’re both committed, as they’ve said repeatedly throughout the years, to “ending wars responsibly.”

The biggest lesson Republicans need to learn is to a) trust their generals more and b) loosen up the rules of engagement, aka ROE, so that U.S. military forces can efficiently kill the terrorists as quickly as possible. The other shift that’s imperative is that they must make clear that the Sunnis and Kurds will be protected and that Iran’s generals won’t be permitted as military advisors to Iraq.

The biggest reason why the Sunnis didn’t fight in Ramadi is because they were stuck in a lose-lose situation. If they defeat ISIS, Iranian Shiites would wage war against the Sunnis. If the Sunnis waged war against the Shiites, then Iran and President Obama would persecute them.

During the Anbar Awakening, U.S. soldiers fought alongside the Sunnis. They established a trust with the Sunni soldiers. The result was the Sunnis running AQI, ISIS’ predecessor, into Syria. We don’t need to send 150,000 troops into Iraq to obliterate ISIS. Military experts say that 20,000-25,000 troops, combined with an aggressive bombing campaign, should devastate ISIS and restore Iraqi trust in the United States. This time, though, it’s imperative that we negotiate a status of forces agreement to keep a stabilizing force in Iraq. That stabilizing force would keep the troops and the Iraqi government in line, prevent the Iranians from spreading their influence in the region and prevent the return of ISIS.

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Initially, I thought that Rand Paul’s foreign policies weren’t as ignorant as his dad’s. While I still think that it’s impossible to get more whacked than Ron Paul’s foreign policy views, his son’s view of things is getting more frightening by the day. This video provides proof:

Here’s the key part:

“Graham would say ISIS exists because of people like Rand Paul who said, ‘Let’s not go into Syria.’ What do you say to Lindsey?” said Scarborough.

“I would say it’s exactly the opposite. 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,” said Paul. “These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’s job even easier. They created these people.”

Thank God Sen. Paul will never be the Republican nominee. That type of stupidity is frightening.

First, which generals gave weapons “indiscriminately” to Iraqis? Second, doesn’t Sen. Paul know that pulling U.S. troops from Iraq is why ISIS formed and grew? It’s indisputable that the most important pivot point was President Obama pulling the last U.S. troops out of Iraq. Prior to that, the Sunnis felt like Ambassador Crocker was keeping al-Maliki in check. Sunnis also knew that U.S. forces had their backs because they were fighting side-by-side.

Sen. Paul’s belief that ISIS was created by the U.S. is fantasy. Whether they’re called ISIS or al-Qa’ida in Iraq, terrorists essentially owned western Iraq, especially Anbar Province. That’s why the Surge became synonymous with the Anbar Awakening. If Sen. Paul wants to dispute that, let him argue with the military’s timeline of events. Good luck with that.

Sen. Paul’s fanciful statements undoubtedly satisfy his father’s followers. They just aren’t the truth.

Tim Carney’s article about how the presidential candidates did at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference reaffirms my beliefs. First, it reaffirms that Jeb Bush is a frontrunner only because of his fundraising operation and his name recognition. Second, it reaffirms my belief that this race isn’t about who wins ‘the establishment primary’ vs. who wins ‘the movement primary’. Third, it reaffirms my belief that candidates like Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Donald Trump are sideshows and don’t have a chance at winning the nomination. Finally, it reaffirms my belief that I’ve had from the start that Scott Walker is still the frontrunner.

OKLAHOMA CITY — The annual Southern Republican Leadership Conference provided a glimpse into the state of the Republican base and the presidential field. The conference revealed a Republican base that is (1) broadly happy with the crowded and conservative field, (2) still smitten with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and (3) unimpressed and uninterested in Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Senate chaos over the Patriot Act kept the four senators who are running from making it, dampening the mood a bit. The candidates running a second time — Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee — do not excite the conservative base.

What’s interesting is Carney’s statement that the activists are “still smitten with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.” Marco Rubio has climbed to frontrunner status on Special Report’s Candidate Casino segment because he’s excellent on foreign policy and he’s got a terrific life story to tell. Jeb Bush is accorded top tier status for the reasons I’ve stated above. Scott Walker still gets strong support but there’s little buzz about him.

Perhaps that’s because he’s just the guy everyone quietly likes? This part is interesting:

Straw Poll: The straw poll results mostly reflected Scott Walker’s popularity, and the apprehension the Republican base has for Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, the perceived establishment moderates in the field.

1) Dr. Ben Carson won the straw poll handily, thanks to his having the biggest organized effort. His campaign bought a booth and bought 100 tickets, to allow supporters to attend for free. Many of these supporters came in from out of state. All told, Carson won about 240 votes.

2) The biggest winner may have been Wisconsin Gov. Walker, who finished a close second, with about 200 votes. He had no organized effort to win the straw poll, but he still won the most votes among Oklahomans in the crowd. His Friday afternoon speech was spot-on and well delivered. His strong showing reflects that the good will Walker garnered through his fights in Madison, Wis., sill buoy him, even after other conservative stars have entered the race.

Dr. Carson showed that he’s put together an organization. Still, what’s impressive is that Gov. Walker didn’t bring his organizers to the event and still was competitive. This might be more impressive, though:

3) What recommends Walker most to Republican voters is his successful battles with powerful labor unions, the media, and the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Walker made these battles — including his recall election victory — the focus of his talk.

4) Walker was able to tick off a long list of legislative accomplishments, touching on all the major conservative policy priorities: cutting spending, cutting taxes, bringing the bureaucracy to heel, defunding Planned Parenthood, expanding gun rights, passing right to work, requiring photo ID for voters and so on.

5) Walker cast his political and policy wins as populist victories over powerful insiders. He described his fight against the government unions as “taking power out of the hands the big-government special interests” and putting it in the hands of ordinary people.

6) Walker closed with a pointed critique of his rivals. He said many Washington politicians are good at picking fights, but they don’t win — a clear reference to Cruz’s failed Obamacare shutdown, and Marco Rubio and Paul’s lack of a record. Alternatively, many Republicans, Walker said, are good at winning races, but they never fight for important, tough things — presumably referring to Christie and Bush.

In other words, he’s a confident leader with a lengthy list of conservative accomplishments who isn’t afraid to pick a fight. Simply put, he’s everything McCain, Romney, Huckabee and Santorum weren’t and Jeb Bush isn’t.

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According to Quinnipiac’s latest polling, Scott Walker’s lead in Iowa appears to be solidifying:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the top dog with a big early lead in the Iowa Republican Caucus, with a four-way scramble for second place and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in seventh place with 5 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This table shows the state of the race:

It’s clear that Scott Walker is the frontrunner in Iowa. It’s equally clear that Iowans don’t like Jeb much. I wrote about that in this article back in early February. Nothing’s changed that’s helped Jeb since then. It’s likely that Jeb’s campaign has written Iowa off while emphasizing winning New Hampshire or South Carolina.

Last month’s announcements by Sen. Rubio and Sen. Cruz have lifted their support, with Sen. Rubio jumping from 4% to 13% and Sen. Cruz jumping from 5% to 12%. Sen. Paul, who also announced last month, stays stuck at 12%, just like he was at 12% in February’s polling.

Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants have a 69 – 9 percent favorable opinion of Rubio, the best score in the GOP field. The Florida senator’s positions on the issues are “about right,” 65 percent say, also the best in the field.

Walker gets a 59 – 11 percent favorability rating, with 62 percent of caucus participants saying his positions on issues are “about right.” Scores for other leading Republican candidates are:
Negative 39 – 45 percent favorability rating for Bush, and 36 percent saying he’s about right on issues, while 45 percent say he’s not conservative enough;
53 – 9 percent favorable for Carson, and 56 percent saying he’s about right on the issues;
Negative 32 – 56 percent favorable for Christie, and 52 percent saying he’s not conservative enough on issues;
59 – 19 percent favorable for Cruz, and 58 percent saying he’s about right;
64 – 27 percent favorable for Huckabee, and 59 percent about right on the issues;
59 – 23 percent favorable for Paul, and 51 percent saying he’s about right.

Looking at Walker, likely Republican Caucus participants say 69-11 percent that he is honest and trustworthy; 72-10 percent that he has strong leadership qualities and 72-11 percent that he cares about their needs and problems.

What that information tells me is that the activists generally think highly of this group of candidates. The only exceptions to that apparently are Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

Conventional wisdom said that the first polls from Iowa didn’t mean much, that it was early, etc. As we’re inching closer to the first debates, it’s clear that those first polls were fairly accurate.

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This part of Megyn Kelly’s panel about Rand Paul’s intemperate behavior during interviews is a great slap down of MSNBC’s Ed Schultz:

Megyn teed things up, then Ann Coulter hit Schultz right between the eyes. Here’s the transcript of that part of the panel:

MEGYN KELLY: It seems like some are trying to exploit maybe an interviewing weakness or a temperament issue for him into making it a gender issue. I give the audience exhibit A, which is Mr. [Ed] Schultz on a competing network. Watch this.
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: There is real evidence that Rand Paul has problems with women reporters.
KELLY: Okay, Ann, this is Ed Schultz trying to lecture us about somebody who has a problem with women. Ed Schultz.
ANN COULTER: He is very sensitive with women as I recall.
KELLY: Who called Laura Ingraham a right-wing slut. He’s now lecturing us on how men need to behave toward women.
COULTER: Yes, he is definitely the one who should be taking up the battle on this one. Ed Schultz. When I am worried about how women are being treated, I go to Ed Schultz.

Ed Schultz is a blithering idiot. There’s a reason why his show is teetering on the verge of being cancelled by MSNBC. (Do you realize how terrible you have to be to get cancelled by MSNBC? It’s almost impossible.) Schultz wasn’t the only object of Coulter’s sharp wit:

COULTER: It does expose liberals and especially feminists for this I think very annoying double standard of, you know, we are rough, we are tough, we can do the same things men can do, but, oh, I’m a delicate flower. Please don’t talk to me that way, which is fine and good and it’s actually why I like how the entire Paul family is kind of cranky with the media.

Some women don’t cave into that “delicate flower” image, with Greta van Susteren, Megyn Kelly, Kirsten Powers, S.E. Cupp and Ann Coulter not fitting that image. Hillary, BTW, loves deploying this tactic. It’s tactical because she frequently uses that tactic when she’s in trouble and she doesn’t want to deal with substantive issues.

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