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Tags: Rand Paul

Rand Paul Meets with Al Sharpton to Discuss Criminal-Justice Reform



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On Thursday morning, Senator Rand Paul, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, met with Al Sharpton to discuss “criminal-justice issues and more,” according to a National Action Network press release. Sharpton released the following statement:

We talked about his position on dealing with some criminal justice issues that I am concerned about. We also discussed mandatory sentencing that he and Senator Cory Booker are proposing. We do not agree on executive action on the President, I agree and he does not. It was a very candid and courteous conversation.  We pledged to continue to have such conversations where conservatives and progressives can have dialogue and break the log jam in American discussion.

The Republican senator met with the rabble-rousing reverend to discuss “criminal-justice reform, demilitarization of police, and the senator’s recent trip to Ferguson,” according to Senator Paul’s press secretary. Asked how the senator felt about the meeting in light of the $4.5 million in tax liens reportedly owed by Sharpton, Paul’s press secretary responded, “This meeting is another example of Senator Paul’s willingness to work across the aisle to solve our nation’s problems.”

Other recent overtures to left-leaning audiences by the senator include his appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO talk show last Friday and an interview with the publication Salon, which came out today

Tags: Rand Paul , Al Sharpton

McConnell: I’ll Back a Rand Paul Presidential Bid



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A couple of conservatives who are fans of Rand Paul and not such big fans of Mitch McConnell wondered why Paul had worked so hard to ensure McConnell’s election, endorsing him way back in March 2013 and pulling out all the stops in both the primary and the general election.

One obvious reason is that by helping out early and often, Rand Paul has a lot more influence with McConnell in the new GOP Senate majority than he would have had otherwise. The flip side is that had Paul endorsed Matt Bevin, a victorious McConnell would have a lot of ways to hinder Paul for the next six years.

And now a less obvious reason reveals itself:

McConnell also is intrigued by Paul’s plans for 2016, when Kentucky’s junior senator faces re-election to his Senate seat while potentially running for president.

It’s a safe bet that Paul won’t be the only member of McConnell’s GOP caucus who considers trying for a move to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Does that require a tricky balance?

“(It’s) not tricky at all,” McConnell said. “Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul. We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”

For president?

“Whatever he decides to do,” McConnell said. “I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that. But he’ll be able to count on me.”

If you’re running for president, it’s good to have the Senate majority leader as a key ally.

BFFs!

Tags: Rand Paul , Mitch McConnell

Rand Paul Defends President Obama From Dick Cheney



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Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) defended President Obama from former vice president Dick Cheney’s critiques of his policy in Iraq, saying that he faults Cheney and the rest of President George W. Bush’s team for launching an invasion of Iraq that ultimately strengthened Iran.

“What’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama,” Paul told NBC’s David Gregory. “But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who were for the Iraq war for emboldening Iran.”

Paul explained that “Iran is much more of a threat because of the Iraq war than they were before. Before, there was a standoff between Sunnis and Shiites; now, there is Iranian hegemony throughout the region.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) made a similar point while dismissing Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggestion that the United States could collaborate with Iran on a response to the militants now storming Iraq. Pelosi, noting that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a counterweight to Iran in the region, said that Iran is now ”free and clear because we took out their main check.”

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly raked Cheney over the coals for the mistakes made in the lead-up and during the Iraq War.

“But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir,” Kelly told him.  “You said there were no doubts Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  You said we would greeted as liberators.  You said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005.  And you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to, quote, ‘rethink their strategy of Jihad.’  Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say, you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?” 

Cheney responded that no one, in the lead-up to the invasion, doubted that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “We had a situation where if we — after 9/11, we were concerned about a follow-up  attack, it would involve not just airline tickets and box cutters as the weapons, but rather something far deadlier, perhaps even a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Paul has hit Cheney over his support for the Iraq War before.  ”I think there’s at least the appearance and the chance of a conflict of interest,” Paul said of Cheney’s work with Halliburton. ”And in his case, there was a policy of thinking it was a bad idea to invade Baghdad — then going to work in private for a contractor, coming back and now saying it was good. I don’t know what his thought process is, and I’m not trying to say. I’m just saying there’s an appearance that there could be a conflict of interest.”

The comment was made in 2009, but didn’t receive much attention until Mother Jones published the video in April, at which point Paul emphasized that he didn’t believe Cheney supported the war in order to benefit his old company.

“The point I was trying to make is one similar to one Eisenhower made,” Paul told Business Insider. ”He said that the military-industrial complex — beware, because then they could be influencing policy by people who make money off government contracts. I wasn’t intending really to impugn his personal motives. I think he is a patriot as much as anyone else, and wants what’s best for the country. I don’t always agree with him, but I don’t question his motives.”

Charles Krauthammer explains how Obama bears responsibility for failing to secure a status of forces agreement that would have helped prevent the current instability by leaving United States forces in Iraq.

“David Petraeus had won the war. Obama’s one task was to conclude a status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) to solidify the gains. By Obama’s own admission — in the case he’s now making for a status-of-forces agreement with Afghanistan — such agreements are necessary ‘because after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains’ achieved by war,” Krauthammer wrote. “Which is what made his failure to do so in Iraq so disastrous. His excuse was his inability to get immunity for U.S. soldiers. Nonsense. Bush had worked out a compromise in his 2008 SOFA, as we have done with allies everywhere. The real problem was Obama’s reluctance to maintain any significant presence in Iraq.”

 

Tags: Iraq , Rand Paul , Barack Obama , Dick Cheney

Is Rand Paul ‘Part of that Hate-America Crowd’?



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Allahpundit predicts that if Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and Representative Peter King (R., N.Y.) both run for president, they’ll end up shedding blood on a debate stage.

This weekend King decreed that Rand Paul doesn’t deserve to be in the United States Senate, and that he’s “part of that hate-America crowd.

Paul argued that while Snowden deserves prosecution, he doesn’t deserve the death penalty or life in prison for any leaks of classified information.

You can always count on Peter King to make his point in the most bombastic and incendiary manner possible. Although some folks might think the terms “bombastic” and “incendiary” are more appropriately applied to the congressman’s old crowd.

As noted in today’s Jolt, it’s ridiculous to expect the United States to drop any criminal charges against Snowden, as he leaked a heck of a lot more information than just the revelations about domestic surveillance. Most of his defenders (and some of his detractors) focus on one portion of his leaks and avert their eyes from the rest.

The statement “a significant portion of Snowden’s leaks have nothing to do with domestic surveillance” is a controversial and outrageous statement among people who haven’t followed Snowden that closely, and/or don’t want to see the whole picture.

Here’s just a partial list of Snowden’s leaks that have little or nothing to do with domestic surveillance of Americans:

• The classified portions of the U.S. intelligence budget, detailing how much we spend and where on efforts to spy on terror groups and foreign states, don’t deal with Americans’ privacy. This leak revealed the intelligence community’s self-assessment in 50 major areas of counterterrorism, and that “blank spots include questions about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear components when they are being transported, the capabilities of China’s next-generation fighter aircraft, and how Russia’s government leaders are likely to respond to ‘potentially destabilizing events in Moscow, such as large protests and terrorist attacks.’” The Pakistani, Chinese, and Russian intelligence agencies surely appreciate the status report.

• Our cyber-warfare capabilities and targets don’t deal with Americans’ privacy. The revelation that the U.S. launched 231 cyber-attacks against “top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation” in 2011, has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.

• The extent and methods of our spying on China have nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.

• ​British surveillance of South African and Turkish diplomats has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.

• The NSA’s successful interceptions of communications of Russian president Dimitri Medvedev has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy. This is not a scandal; it is literally the NSA’s job, and now the Russians have a better idea of what messages were intercepted and when.

• Revealing NSA intercepts and CIA stations in Latin America — again, nothing to do with U.S. citizens.

• ​Revealing a U.K. secret Internet-monitoring station in the Middle East — nothing to do with U.S. citizens.

• The extent and range of NSA communications monitoring in India . . . 

• The fact that the United States has “ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms” and has “previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there,” and details of “efforts to assess the loyalties of counter­terrorism sources recruited by the CIA” . . . 

• U.S. spying on Al-Jazeera’s internal communication system . . . 

. . . what we know about al-Qaeda efforts to hack our drones . . . ​

. . . the NSA’s ability to intercept the e-mail of al-Qaeda operative Hassan Ghul . . . 

. . . the NSA’s ability to read the e-mail of the Mexican president . . . ​

. . . U.S. electronic intercepts of communications to French consulates and embassies in New York and Washington . . . 

. . . the existence of NSA surveillance teams in 80 U.S. embassies around the globe . . . 

. . . NSA spying on OPEC . . . ​

. . . NSA collecting data on the porn habits of Muslim extremist leaders in order to discredit them . . . 

. . . none of these stories have much of a tie to Americans’ privacy.

The all-or-nothing terms of the Snowden discussion are persistent and baffling, and they obscure the truth. The NSA’s willingness to vacuum up and store the communications of ordinary Americans — with no tie to terror, crime, or foreign governments at all, obliterating any remaining meaning of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution — deserves every bit of public outrage and rebuke. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Snowden is the good guy in the story. This story probably doesn’t have a good guy.

Tags: Rand Paul , Peter King , Edward Snowden , NSA

Mitch McConnell Still Missing a Serious Primary Challenger, Too



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While I’m depressing grassroots conservatives because there’s no serious, well-funded challenge to South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham on the horizon, I might as well really bum them out by pointing out that there’s not much action going on in Kentucky, either.

Senator Mitch McConnell’s team recently announced that 64 out of the 68 Republicans in the state legislature have endorsed his reelection.

Perhaps more significantly, Senator Rand Paul is discouraging a tea-party challenge:

Sen. Rand Paul is discouraging a tea party challenge to McConnell’s reelection campaign. “No one has asked me about running, I have not had any conversation with anybody running on the Republican side,” Paul told WHAS11’s Joe Arnold, “and so I think it’s unlikely that there will be a Republican challenger.”

“And you’re right, I am supporting Senator McConnell,” Paul continued.

Two little-known figures have filed papers to run against McConnell as a Republican. One is Roger Thoney, who ran for the U.S. House and lieutenant governor in 2000, 2002, and 2003; he received 4,784 votes in his 2002 House bid, or 21 percent. The other is Joshua Pike Mather, a sculptor.

There are other names being mentioned as possibilities, but no one has pulled the trigger yet. David Adams, a tea-party activist who worked with Paul’s 2010 bid, said on MSNBC he’s not running himself, but that he’s still looking for a candidate. John Kemper, a spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party, said in late March he’s gauging support; he received more than 349,000 votes as the GOP candidate for state auditor in 2011. Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman, was also mentioned as a possible candidate, although the talk has died down a bit in recent days.

As our Katrina Trinko noted, by reaching out to various Republican groups, McConnell “has thus far successfully prevented any challengers from emerging.” Whoever jumps in will have to go up against McConnell, all of the traditional advantages of incumbency, and about $7.3 million in cash on hand right now.

Sure, sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle, and a Ron Johnson type comes out of nowhere, and the filing deadline isn’t until January 2014. But you have to figure that almost every current conservative Republican lawmaker in Kentucky has looked at McConnell and concluded that he’s not bad enough to replace, or that a bid to beat him in the Senate primary wouldn’t succeed.

Tags: Mitch McConnell , Rand Paul

John McCain vs. the ‘Wacko Birds’



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Today’s graphic du jour, spotlighted in the Morning Jolt, stems from reports that Senator John McCain isn’t all that enamored with some of his younger Republican colleagues:

When I asked him if “these guys” — having just mentioned Amash, Cruz and Paul by name — are a “positive force” in the GOP, McCain paused for a full six seconds.

“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”

Plus, those “wacko birds” keep smashing down the little structures he built for the eggs:

McCain has a point; they go way too far on defense cuts, particularly their recommendation to replace our nuclear arsenal with a giant slingshot.

Thanks to Jeff Dobbs, over at The Voice in My Head, for the visual to start the week!

Tags: John McCain , Justin Amash , Rand Paul , Ted Cruz

Rand Paul’s ‘Epic’ Filibuster



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The Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt features a contrast in government tours, helpful words from a critical reader, and then the big news of the day . . .

Rand Paul Goes to Washington

Rand Paul added a lot of big fans Wednesday.

A day that was supposed to be just another Washington snow day brought us something we haven’t seen in a long time: an honest-to-goodness, in-keeping-with-the-Constitution, old-fashioned filibuster, all over a basic, fundamental concept central to our founding: the power of the central government is limited, and the government’s authority to exercise lethal force must be particularly and specifically limited.

Actual headline in USA Today: “Rand Paul ends epic filibuster over Brennan”

He started speaking around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. He finally ceded the floor at about 12:40 a.m. local time on Thursday.

Andrew Johnson & Nathaniel Botwinick give you the highlights of Rand Paul’s crusade:

Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) took to the Senate floor today to filibuster President Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, as well as to challenge the administration’s policy on drones. Paul began speaking at approximately 11:47 a.m. . . .

Paul said he would be happy to end it if he had reassurance from the Obama administration that drone-strikes would not be used on noncombatants. After Reid left the floor, senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and John Cornyn of Texas joined in the effort.

Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) took to the floor of the Senate this afternoon in support of Senator Paul. He thanked the senator for “defending the institution” of the Senate and its “constitutional obligation to ask relevant questions of public policy and get answers” through his filibuster.

The filibuster became a bipartisan effort when Oregon’s Democratic senator Ron Wyden joined Paul on the floor in its fourth hour. Wyden called for reining in the executive branch’s “serious, far-reaching” drone-strike program, saying that the targeted killings “should not be allowed . . . without any scrutiny.”

Three hours into Paul’s filibuster, fellow Republican senator Ted Cruz of Texas joined the Kentucky senator on the floor. Cruz praised Paul for his leadership on the issue of drones and the rights of American citizens, calling him a “modern Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” who is “surely making Jimmy Stewart smile.” Along with Cruz, senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas joined Paul on the floor at roughly the same time.

John Podhoretz: “Attention everybody in Washington: This is how you make yourself a star.”

Writing at Breitbart, the Ace of Spades declared it genuinely exciting:

I have the same feeling of receding cynicism I did when the Tea Party first exploded on to the scene and began doing things that just weren’t done in America anymore — taking politics seriously, taking the Founders’ legacy to us seriously, showing up at Town Halls to ask their once and future representatives some real questions, engaging, questioning, insisting, demanding.

There was a time 200 years ago when this was commonplace. Americans had just won their liberty and were enthused about it. They treated their civic duty not as a mere duty but as the highest aspiration of political man.

This filibuster excites me for the same reasons — a return to the Old Ways, the ways that actually work, the way American politics is actually supposed to be conducted, with Senators offering thoughtful defenses of their positions and, above all, insisting that this nation is We the People not We the Ministers & Lesser Bureaucratic Warlords of Whatever Current Government the Public Has Had the Folly to Install in Office.

Jon Henke: “Kinda shocking that it takes a filibuster to get back the right not to be killed by our own government without a trial.”

Dana Loesch: “The left just exposed their hypocrisy on waterboarding by supporting drone killing without due process.”

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz generated his own fireworks, getting Eric Holder to appear to concur that the drone policy, as currently stated, runs afoul of the Constitution.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice sent shockwaves through the nation when Attorney General Eric Holder informed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in writing that the White House would be within its legal authority to execute an American citizen via drone on U.S. soil if that person was determined to pose a threat to national security. On Wednesday, testifying before a Senate panel, Holder was prodded repeatedly about this assertion by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Holder eventually admitted that it would not be constitutional to execute an American citizen without due process.

“In your legal judgment, does the Constitution allow a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil to be killed by a drone?” Cruz asked Holder pointedly.

“For sitting in a café and having a cup of coffee?” Holder replied. Cruz clarified that his hypothetical individual subject to a drone strike did not pose an “imminent and immediate threat of death and bodily harm,” but that person is suspected to be a terrorist.

“I would not think that that would be an appropriate use of any kind of lethal force,” Holder replied.

“With all respect, Gen. Holder, my question wasn’t about appropriateness or prosecutorial discretion. It was a simple legal question,” Cruz clarified.

“This is a hypothetical, but I would not think, that in that situation, the use of a drone or lethal force would not be appropriate,” Holder replied.

“I have to tell you I find it remarkable that in that hypothetical, which is deliberately very simple, you are not able to give a simple, one-word answer: no,” Cruz added. He said he think that his scenario would constitute a “deprivation of life without due process.”

. . . When Cruz was about to abandon his line of questioning after a number of equivocations from Holder, the attorney general clarified that he was saying “no” such actions would not be constitutional.

Our Charlie Cooke: “I’m very disappointed. Rand Paul has been speaking about foundational American values for hours but he hasn’t yet mentioned contraception.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Drones , Marco Rubio , Rand Paul , Ted Cruz

Rand Paul’s Off to Iowa! And That Means . . . Nothing.



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Before anyone starts chanting Rand Paul 2012 . . .

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will be in Iowa next month to speak to the state’s Republicans about the tea party’s role in the 2012 presidential election and congressional efforts to deal with the federal budget deficit and national debt.

“I can promise you that he is not running for anything,” said Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley. “His dad would probably not appreciate that.”

Tags: Rand Paul

Taking the ‘illions’ Out of the Debt and Spending-Cut Discussion



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Perhaps the problem with our discussions of the debt is the suffix “illion.” Because most of us aren’t millionaires, the concepts of a million dollars, a billion dollars, and a trillion dollars all blur together to mean “a whole lot.”

I’m not the first to make this observation. Saul Alinsky, mentor to the mentors of President Obama, wrote in Rules for Radicals: “The moment one gets into the area of $25 million and above, let alone a billion, the listener is completely out of touch, no longer really interested, because the figures have gone above his experience and almost are meaningless. Millions of Americans do not know how many million dollars make up a billion.” Of course, it’s not like this sort of thinking influences the decisions of the president, right?

I thought of that when I saw this:

President Obama’s budget director Jack Lew in a Sunday opinion piece outlined some off the “tough choices” Obama is willing to make to cut spending in his 2012 budget request due out on Feb. 14. In total, the $775 million in detailed cuts fall far short of demands by congressional Republicans and will do little toward tackling the deficit, which is estimated to be $1.5 trillion this year by the Congressional Budget Office. The cuts are in addition to a five-year spending freeze which the administration says will save $400 billion over the next decade.

(HT: Ace of Spades.)

Removing the “illion”s, we can illustrate it as thus:

The projected deficit for this year:                     $1,500,000,000,000.00

Total federal public debt:                                  $14,099,823,671,305.06

Cuts proposed in Obama’s 2012 budget:                   $775,000,000.00

Obama’s budget freeze, over 10 years:                $400,000,000,000.00

One-year cut proposed by GOP:                           $100,000,000,000.00 (disputed)

One-year cut proposed by Rand Paul:                   $500,000,000,000.00

One of these numbers is much bigger than all the others, and one is much smaller . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Rand Paul

The First Two Senate Races Are Called. Randslide Complete.



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Jack Conway feels the full wrath of Aquabuddha. Congratuations, Senator-elect Rand Paul.

Dan Coats beats Brad Ellsworth in Indiana.

For the fifth year, I will spend Election Night behind the desk on Cam Edwards’s show, heard on SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel and over the Internet at NRANews.com.

Tags: Dan Coats , Rand Paul

Smear Ads Are Rarely the Path to Divine Enlightenment



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You may recall that I loathed Jack Conway’s “Aqua Buddha” ad and his entire approach of suggesting that Rand Paul is not a Christian, and then immediately insisting that he wasn’t questioning Paul’s religious beliefs.

Apparently the Aqua Buddha has sent some bad karma Conway’s way.

Public Policy Polling puts Paul up, 53-40.

Fox News/Rasmussen puts Paul up, 50-43. More significantly, “While Paul was viewed favorably by 48 percent of voters and unfavorably by 41 percent of voters, only 38 percent had a positive impression of Conway while 51 percent held an unfavorable view.”

Tags: Jack Conway , Rand Paul

‘Finally, in Jack Conway, we have a candidate who is willing to stand up to the menace of Aquabuddhists.’



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In this morning’s Jolt, you can see Jack Conway has rapidly become one of my very least favorite candidates this cycle.

Finally, a Candidate Who Will Drive the Aquabuddhists Out of America

Mason Dixon offers their first poll of Kentucky, and so we can’t compare this to a previous one by the firm to get a sense of the trend. But the 5-point lead they see seems rather modest compared to polls in August and September, when Rand Paul often led by double digits.

And the Lexington Herald-Leader thinks that the modest lead might just be a result of that infamous ad that made many Democrats cringe: “The number of undecided voters could reflect uncertainty about a TV ad Conway launched last weekend regarding Paul’s behavior in the 1980s as a member of a secret society at Baylor University called the NoZe Brotherhood, said University of Louisville political science professor Jasmine Farrier. The ad, which has gotten mixed reaction from many Democrats, raised questions about Paul’s religious beliefs and referred to an anonymous woman who alleged Paul tied her up and forced her to worship a god called ‘Aqua Buddha.’ Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon making his first bid for public office, has said the accusations are ‘all lies’ and ‘completely untrue.’ The anonymous woman, who has been quoted by The Washington Post and GQ magazine, has disputed Paul’s assertion.”

One of the disturbing trends in modern politics is how some figures can vehemently deny doing something while they’re still doing it. (I think I blame the audacity of “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”) Jack Conway’s defense, when local media asked him about the fallout of the ad was, “When asked about any fallout from Sunday’s debate or the recent attack ad about Rand Paul’s college days, Conway says he’s not questioning Paul’s faith.”

The ad text, once again:

Mr. CONWAY: I’m Jack Conway. I approve this message.

Narrator: Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible a hoax that was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ? Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol and say his god was Aqua Buddha? Why does Rand Paul now want to end all federal faith-based initiatives, and even end the deduction for religious charities? Why are there so many questions about Rand Paul?

The whole ad is asking questions about Paul’s faith, and then Conway has the stones to add, “In the days remaining he wants to focus on the issues, especially jobs.”

And then the earth opened up, the Devil himself popped out of the crevice, saluted Conway for his brazen style, and carried him away. Okay, not really, but that’s what should have happened.

Well, presuming the ad is in part responsible for the narrower margin, we can thank the people of Kentucky for providing all of us a valuable lesson. Unsubstantiated charges and attacks on an opponent’s religion — particularly the suggestion that he’s not a real Christian, or that his true faith is strange or alien or perhaps some sort of pagan blasphemy — always work.  And thank goodness for us, huh? Finally, in Jack Conway, we have a candidate who is willing to stand up to the menace of Aquabuddhists. If there’s anything American stands for, it’s looking at strange, perhaps entirely fictitious religions and declaring their practitioners unfit for public office. Isolating and demonizing people of different religious beliefs has a long and proud history from Armenia to the Balkans to Constantinople. If Jack Conway is this tough on Aquabuddhists, imagine how tough he’ll be on Mormons.

I hope you’re proud, Democrats. Way to go.

Tags: Jack Conway , Rand Paul

Don’t Go Away Mad, Jack Conway. Just Go Away.



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From this morning’s Jolt:

Go Away, Conway.

It’s never fun to lose a race. And at this point in the election cycle, many, many candidates know, deep down, it’s coming. When they look in the mirror, first thing in the morning, unshaven and bleary-eyed from the previous late night’s increasingly tense meetings and increasingly desperate fundraising calls . . . the reflection whispers that they’re going to lose on November 2.

(SPOILER ALERT: Among those experiencing a variation of this slow-motion doom right now are Joe Sestak, Lee Fisher, Russ Feingold, Dan Onorato, Dan Maes, and Charlie Crist. Carl Paladino does not experience this; every morning his reflection stares back and him and cackles madly, and after a moment he joins in.)

Also probably under a perpetual black cloud is Jack Conway, allegedly once a Democrat with a promising future. Kentucky hasn’t been a particularly warm environment for Democrats in recent years, but he’s been state attorney general, and that’s usually a natural stepping stone to higher office, helping to build a resume full of busting gangs and abusive nursing homes and whatnot. And after winning the primary, he’s handed an absolute gift; one day after winning the GOP nomination, Rand Paul offers a long, thoughtful, philosophically complicated and multilayered answer on the value of the Civil Rights Act. When asked whether one supports the CRA, the correct answer for anyone ever aspiring to high office is “Yes.”

And Jack Conway is going to be known as the guy who didn’t merely fail to beat Rand Paul; he has never come that close! Somewhere Martha Coakley is turning to Creigh Deeds and scoffing, “even I could have gotten some traction with that.”

When you know you’re going down, you can go down in one of three ways. One, you can lose with dignity; try to preserve the possibility of some future bid. You can also throw caution to the wind; there was something liberated about Bob Dole in his final weeks of the campaign, and he actually closed some ground. Or you can just attempt to burn the place down on your way out.

Jack Conway has decided to follow that last path, offering a late attack ad that basically suggests that Rand Paul is not merely not a Christian, but such a weirdo with so many troubling stories in his past that he might as well be a member of the Hale-Bopp Comet Suicide Cult. Of course, the ad conflates Paul’s garden-variety wariness about faith-based initiatives, fearing the hand of the state meddling in matters from above, with a variety of outlandish, unverified tales from anonymous stories.

. . . William Jacobson, writing at Legal Insurrection, observes, “Democrat Jack Conway’s advertisement asserting that there are ‘questions’ about Republican Rand Paul’s Christianity, raises in interesting issue. Substitute Barack Obama for Rand Paul, tweak a few of the allegations, and you would have an advertisement as to which the mainstream media and left-wing blogosphere would scream ‘Racist!!!’ and ‘Islamophobic!!!’ But it’s Rand Paul, so there is a mix of opinion on the left, with many taking the view that all is fair in politics, including questioning someone’s Christianity. The Internet has a long memory.”

Tags: Jack Conway , Rand Paul

Obi-Wan, With a Quick Observation on California and Kentucky



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Obi-Wan checks in, briefly:

“So think about it. As we discussed, the Democrats had exactly two pieces of good news in September. First, there were some polls putting Barbara Boxer ahead by 6, 7 or 8 (L.A. Times/USC, PPIC, CNN/Time). Second, there was a poll in Kentucky showing Rand Paul only ahead by 2.

“First, Rasmussen puts Paul up by 11; if he’s had a slide, it’s negligible. Now SurveyUSA has Boxer ahead by 3 and Rasmussen has her ahead by 4. Boxer’s back in the margin of error and even when she got some separation, we had some doubts about the samples.

“Boxer’s numbers never really moved from the mid-to-high 40s. She just bombarded Fiorina.”

Now Fiorina’s up on the air statewide again, with heavy NRSC backing.

Obi Wan continues, “The day after Politico, the Washington Post and New York Times do their third or fourth round of ’the Democrats are surging back,’ out come the Gallup numbers. Bad timing, fellas . . . But, wait, Rasmussen had the GOP lead down to three. Was he picking up something or was it just Sunday-night polling on a three-day average? (Michael Barone, who is maybe the smartest political guy in the history of smart political guys, has parsed the Gallup and Rasmussen disparity.)

“So, oscillations happen. Let us pay attention though, over the next week. Is there going to be some pullback in the GOP numbers? Doesn’t it have to happen at some point?

“Another question: is the Dem strategy of ‘going negative’ in so many states actually working? Or has it come way too early and is now dissipating? We saw that in the big buys against Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie, and Scott Brown. Changed the numbers but only temporarily.

“Also, Republicans need to do a couple of things. More on that later.

“And is Dick Morris right? Is the real danger GOP ‘under-confidence’? Just in case he’s right, will somebody please try some ads against Chuck Schumer? His numbers are far from impressive and the guy running against him is credible. Image a Schumer-free Senate.”

(I can hear readers murmuring . . . “Wait a minute. I thought Obi-Wan might be Dick Morris or Michael Barone.”)

Tags: Barbara Boxer , Carly Fiorina , Rand Paul

If You’re Ahead by 6, 30 Days Out, History’s on Your Side.



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An interesting new rule of thumb from Nate Silver:

Senate candidates who have a lead of between 6 and 9 points in the simple polling average, with 30 days to go until the election — about where Mr. Toomey’s lead stands now — are undefeated since 1998.

That is a fantastic way of looking at things for Pat Toomey, as well as for Roy Blunt in Missouri, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Marco Rubio in Florida, and Dan Coats in Indiana.

Oh, and John Boozman in Arkansas, John Hoeven in North Dakota, and incumbents Richard Burr in North Carolina and David Vitter in Louisiana, but . . . come on. Those races have been effectively over for a while.

It’s ominous news for Carly Fiorina in California and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. As for the rest of the big Senate races — Nevada, Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, and West Virginia . . . well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Tags: 2010 , Dan Coats , Kelly Ayotte , Marco Rubio , Pat Toomey , Rand Paul , Ron Johnson , Roy Blunt

Is It Too Early to Call a Race?



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The DSCC cancels their advertising buys in Kentucky that would have helped their man Jack Conway against the GOP’s Rand Paul.

Of course, it’s not over until it’s over, etcetera, etcetera.

But let’s face it. If the DSCC doesn’t see much point in advertising, then it means they don’t put much stock in that poll that had Paul up by 2. And if that one’s an outlier, then the other ones putting Paul up 7 to 15 offer a more realistic look at the electorate.

So shortly after midnight, October 1, the Campaign Spot Decision Desk can now project Republican Rand Paul the winner of the Kentucky Senate race. 

I exaggerate. Slightly.

UPDATE: A reader in the television business is telling me that the DSCC, recognizing the morale and narrative impact that the cancellation is having, is scrambling to re-buy the ad time. So how much are they willing to spend?

Tags: Jack Conway , Rand Paul

A Little Late for a Registered-Voter Poll, Isn’t It, Fellas?



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CNN has some new poll numbers out in some key Senate races; earlier in the day, they touted them as being “surprising.”

They’re surprising because they’re different from other polls in these races. And they’re different, I suspect, because much of the other polling is among likely voters, while the guys at CNN still haven’t applied a likely-voter screen.

They find Kentucky tied. Most of the other polls of likely voters put Rand Paul up by a healthy margin.

In Florida, they find Rubio 36 percent, Crist 34 percent, Meek 24 percent. I’m sure the Rubio folks will warmly greet any poll that has them in the lead, but again, I can’t help but suspect that a likely-voter screen would weed out a lot of unmotivated Democrats and independents.

Finally, in California, Barbara Boxer leads Carly Fiorina, 48 percent to 44 percent. But there are some quite odd numbers in the internals. Boxer is winning men, 47 percent to 46 percent. Boxer is winning independents, 45 percent to 40 percent. Perhaps most strangely, 18 percent of self-identified conservatives are backing Boxer; 77 percent back Fiorina. Meanwhile, 88 percent of liberals back Boxer, only 5 percent back Fiorina.

UPDATE: For contrast, Survey USA’s most recent California poll had conservatives backing Fiorina 87 percent to 8 percent.

Tags: Barbara Boxer , Carly Fiorina , Marco Rubio , Rand Paul

Ten Things You Should Know about Rand Paul



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I spent some time yesterday with Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Kentucky and the son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. He dropped by National Review for a long interview with the editors and then did an event in the evening at Webster Hall in New York. I found him surprisingly impressive. A few thoughts:

1.      Rand Paul cares about the national debt. It’s his No. 1 issue. It’s also his No. 2 issue and his No. 3 issue.

2.      Rand Paul is willing to go after his fellow Republicans on spending: “They didn’t balance the budget a single year when they were in power,” he complains. “We have to cut taxes—but we also have to cut spending.” Music to Exchequer’s ears.

3.      Rand Paul is a committed vote to repeal Obamacare.

4.      Rand Paul said the Five Magic Words: “Nothing Is Off The Table” when it comes to cutting government spending. No hedging, no hemming and hawing. You want to get serious about putting Leviathan back in his box, Rand Paul is your kind of guy. Of all the office-seekers and politicians I’ve spoken with in the past two years, Paul is easily the most confidence-inspiring when it comes to the question of debt and deficits.

5.      Rand Paul is not Ron Paul. Paul fils may not appreciate my saying so, but this is a very good thing. Ron Paul has a unique talent for taking very good ideas and extending them to the point of absurdity. Ron Paul is the kind of libertarian who makes libertarians wish they weren’t libertarians. Rand Paul is not that kind of guy.

6.      Rand Paul is not Sharron Angle. Whereas Angle comes off as the emotionally charged crusader, Paul’s style is a little bit detached and ironic, his humor self-deprecating. He has a strong command of the issues and presents his case persuasively. The paint-’em-all-as-kooks strategy is going to be hard for Democrats to pull off against him.

7.      Rand Paul has strongly libertarian leanings, but he is much more of a traditional conservative than is his father and the movement associated with him. He prefers to call himself a “constitutional conservative.” He’s not shy about talking about abortion or immigration. His views on national security, Iraq, and the Patriot Act are not Rich Lowry’s or Andy McCarthy’s, but they’re reasonable.

8.      Rand Paul got a rock star’s welcome at Webster Hall. Not a huge crowd, maybe a couple of hundred people — almost all of them under 40, I noticed — but that’s a pretty good showing for a week night, in Manhattan, for a Republican from Kentucky. (The oldsters with the money were at a separate event, with Steve Forbes.)

9.      Rand Paul knows he blew that Rachel Maddow interview, big time. He totally owns up to it, says he knew that they had it in for him going into the interview but overestimated his own ability to shine through the media fog. “I was feeling my oats,” he says, sheepishly, and then shakes his head. Unspoken conclusion: That was stupid. He is understandably a little media-shy now.

10.  Rand Paul is winning the fund-raising race. Paul raised $1.1 million in the last quarter. His opponent raised $1.4 million, but $400,000 of that is a personal loan—from himself. The polls are neck-and-neck, Cook Political Report calls it a tie, but the fact that the other guy is dipping into his own bank account is a good sign for Paul, given that the other guy is not named Mike Bloomberg.

For those of us whose top issue is the debt, Paul is pretty refreshing. From my perspective, there are really two things going on here: One is the question of whether Republicans retake one or both houses of Congress in the next couple of elections. The other question—and, in some ways, the more important one—is: What is the character of that (potentially) emerging Republican majority? The GOP is really at an ideological crossroads, and it’s not clear whether the future of the party looks more like Mitt Romney or Rand Paul. The reality is that the case for small government is not being made most effectively by Rand Paul, the tea parties, or by pundits and activists: It’s being made by a worldwide financial meltdown, followed by a worldwide recession, followed by a series of sovereign-debt crises. For Rand Paul, the times are on his side.

– Kevin D. Williamson is deputy managing editor of National Review.

Tags: Deficits , financial Armageddon , National Debt , Rand Paul

Some Expect a More Heavily Democratic Electorate in 2010 Than 2008? Really?



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My problem with PPP’s North Carolina poll is replicated in their Kentucky poll, showing Rand Paul tied with Jack Conway, with 43 percent each.

In 2008, exit polls showed Kentucky’s electorate splitting 47 percent Democrat, 38 percent Republican, 15 percent independent. Today’s PPP poll splits 52 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican, 11 percent independent. (They also have a slightly more female sample than 2008; in the last presidential election it split 54–46; in their sample it splits 55–45.)

Democrats will make up a significantly larger share of the electorate in what is largely regarded as a good year for the GOP? I suppose it is possible that the controversy surrounding Rand Paul’s remarks might drive some Republicans to stay home. But enough for a five percent swing when there’s a consensus among pollsters that Obama’s approval rating is pretty darn low in the Bluegrass State? Color me skeptical.

I don’t doubt that Rand Paul will have a tougher time this year than your average Republican. But I have a hard time believing that he’s going to single-handedly repel GOP voters eager to send a message to Washington.

Tags: Jack Conway , Rand Paul

Quick, Good News for Rand Paul, Joe Sestak



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A primary bounce that’s good for the GOP:

Rand Paul, riding the momentum of his big Republican Primary win on Tuesday, now posts a 25-point lead over Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, but there’s a lot of campaigning to go.

A primary bounce that’s bad for the GOP:

Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak’s victory over longtime Senator Arlen Specter for his party’s nomination Tuesday has given him a bounce in support in Pennsylvania’s general election for U.S. Senate. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Sestak picking up 46 percent support over Republican nominee Pat Toomey’s 42 percent.

Tags: Jack Conway , Joe Sestak , Pat Toomey , Rand Paul

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