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“Rand Paul’s Past Continues To Haunt Him”: He’ll Face The One Thing His Father Never Had To, Attack Ads From Republican Rivals

About four years ago, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) faced booing during debates for the Republican presidential candidates when he said American foreign policy led to the 9/11 attacks. The response – from the audience and the other candidates – made clear that the party has no use for such an argument.

Four years later, it’s Ron Paul’s son who’s now running for president – and he’s said largely the same thing.

Rand Paul said in 2007 interview that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East was at the core of the reasons for terrorism and that the 9/11 Commission showed that the September 11th attacks were made in response to U.S. presence in foreign lands. […]

In the interview, Paul went on to take aim at then-President George W. Bush, calling him “ridiculous” for saying “they hate us for our freedom.” Paul said Americans should try to understand “why they hate us” and what policies create terrorism.

As the BuzzFeed report noted, Rand Paul said in the 2007 interview, “I mean, you have to recognize what policy creates terrorism. Because you can’t kill every Muslim in the world. There’s a billion Muslims. We have to learn to live together to a certain point.”

Is it any wonder the Kentucky Republican is eager to declare his pre-Senate remarks as irrelevant?

This area will only become more problematic for Rand Paul in the coming months. For one thing, he was quite active as a public voice for his father’s agenda and fringe worldview, delivering all kinds of speeches in which he made very controversial remarks. This BuzzFeed report is damaging in the context of the 2016 race, but similar reports will surface – many times – throughout the year.

For another, if Rand Paul is positioned to credibly compete for the GOP nomination, he’ll face the one thing his father never had to worry about: attack ads from Republican rivals. And in light of what he’s given for the ad-makers to work with, those commercials are likely to be pretty brutal.

Finally, as we talked about the other day, if the senator thinks he can dismiss the relevance of this record, he’s likely to be disappointed. Rand Paul has suggested quotes from 2007 to 2009 are out of bounds, as if there’s a statute of limitations that has run out.

But we’re not just talking about youthful indiscretions that seem irrelevant decades later – “Aqua Buddha,” this isn’t – we’re talking about public remarks Paul made as a surrogate for a presidential candidate.

Whether Rand Paul likes it or not, presidential candidates don’t have the luxury of declaring much of their adult lives off-limits to scrutiny. So long as he’s being quoted accurately, his public remarks on major issues of the day matter and deserve consideration as he seeks the nation’s highest office.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 16, 2015

April 20, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Rand Paul, Ron Paul | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Iran Deal Is About Restraining A Barbaric Regime”: It Neither Legitimizes Nor Appeases That Regime

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, writing about Iran in the New Jersey Jewish Standard on April 1, sought to alter perspectives on that country with some speculation about race. “Imagine if Ayatollah Ali [Khamenei] was threatening to murder all blacks in the Middle East,” he wrote. “What if he tweeted regularly that people of dark skin are of the devil and must be annihilated. Would the American government be negotiating with him?”

Boteach suggested that a U.S. administration would face “international opprobrium for legitimizing a government with racist, genocidal intent against an identifiable ethnic group.” He asked, “Why is it that threatening to murder the Jews is acceptable?”

Boteach referred to President Obama as “a historic figure, the first African-American president” and said that he didn’t doubt that Obama “is a friend of the Jewish people.” But, he added, “We are witnesses to the world’s foremost republic and sole superpower negotiating with a government with a clearly defined agenda of carrying out a second holocaust.”

Boteach declared of Obama: “We need him to stand up for us.”

Boteach, an author, TV host and self-described “America’s Rabbi,” recently took out full-page ads in The Post and the New York Times to tell Obama that any pact that allows Iran to retain a significant nuclear infrastructure will make him an appeaser on par with Neville Chamberlain.

I have no idea how Obama might respond to Boteach’s fantasized Khamenei with murderous intent against blacks. Neither can I presume to speak for other African Americans. For my part, were my family and I in the Middle East and faced with such a threat, I would want my government to take all necessary steps to cut off every pathway that such a racist leader could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

Which brings me to the recently negotiated framework with Iran.

If there happens to be a way to create a comprehensive, long-term oversight effort that includes robust and intrusive inspections of that country’s nuclear program, I say do it.

If my government can deny a genocidal leader the plutonium necessary to build a bomb, go for it.

If my government, working with other world powers, can shut down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium, that’s a good thing.

Should this president, working with world leaders, get Iran to: agree not to stockpile materials needed to build a weapon, give international inspectors unprecedented access to its nuclear program, set strict limits on its program for more than a decade and impose unprecedented transparency measures that will last 20 years or more, then I say hooray. And, of course, economic sanctions should not be lifted until Iran complies with terms of the final agreement.

Because if a fantasy Iran were to aim to liquidate all blacks in the Middle East or elsewhere, just as the real-life Iran has threatened to annihilate millions of Jews in Israel, I wouldn’t ever want it to become a nuclear power capable of delivering on its threats.

Locking down a barbaric country in an internationally enforced agreement is a start. It neither legitimizes nor appeases that regime.

And it’s something any U.S. president should try to do, not just on behalf of Jewish people, with their long and painful history, or African Americans with painful experiences of our own, but for the sake of all Americans as well as all those worldwide who could be threatened.

Iran is everybody’s business. Or it ought to be.

Yet, it doesn’t — or shouldn’t — follow that U.S. policy toward Iran can be dictated from anywhere other than the United States.

It was, therefore, shocking to read a National Review article titled “Netanyahu, Not Obama, Speaks for Us,” which was posted online March 2.

Who is writer Quin Hillyer referring to when he says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and not the president, speaks “for you and for me”?

Obama speaks on the world stage for this country and its values. He has more than demonstrated a willingness to exercise American power in defense of our national interests. (Ask Osama bin Laden.) To suggest that this president is less diligent in the safeguarding of our civilization, more deficient in moral courage and less likely to pursue justice on our behalf than a foreign leader is as absurd as it sounds.

I also happen to believe that Obama promotes equality, justice and dignity for all, and not because he is black or because he views the world through any racial or religious prism.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 10, 2015

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Iran | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”: Cotton Sees Bombing Iran As No Big Deal

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has made no real effort to hide his support for a military confrontation with Iran. But in an interview yesterday on the Family Research Council’s radio show, the right-wing freshman went a little further, suggesting bombing Iran would be quick and simple.

Indeed, as BuzzFeed’s report noted, Cotton argued that U.S. strikes in Iran would go much smoother than the invasion of Iraq “and would instead be similar to 1999’s Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against Iraq ordered by President Bill Clinton.”

“Even if military action were required – and we certainly should have kept the credible threat of military force on the table throughout which always improves diplomacy – the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq and that’s simply not the case,” Cotton said.

“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days [of] air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior.”

For the record, the Arkansas Republican did not use the word “cakewalk” or assure listeners that we’d be “greeted as liberators.”

Look, we’ve seen this play before, and we have a pretty good idea how it turns out. When a right-wing neoconservative tells Americans that we can launch a new military offensive in the Middle East, it won’t last long, and the whole thing will greatly improve our national security interests, there’s reason for some skepticism.

Tom Cotton – the guy who told voters last year that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels might team up to attack Arkansans – wants to bomb Iran, so he’s telling the public how easy it would be.

What the senator didn’t talk about yesterday is what happens after the bombs fall – or even what transpires when Iran shoots back during the campaign. Are we to believe Tehran would just accept the attack and move on?

Similarly, Cotton neglected to talk about the broader consequences of an offensive, including the likelihood that airstrikes would end up accelerating Iran’s nuclear ambitions going forward.

There’s also the inconvenient detail that the Bush/Cheney administration weighed a military option against Iran, but it concluded that “a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a bad idea – and would only make it harder to prevent Iran from going nuclear in the future.”

But don’t worry, America, Tom Cotton thinks this would all be easy and we could drop our bombs without consequence. What could possibly go wrong?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 8, 2015

April 9, 2015 Posted by | Iran, Iraq War, Tom Cotton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Familiar, Reflexive Anti-Agreement Posture”: GOP Oppossiton, Not Because Of Provisions, But Because it’s A Deal With Iran

As observers around the world digest the details of the preliminary nuclear agreement with Iran, one of the striking aspects of the reactions is how pleasantly surprised some proponents are. There’s a large contingent of experts saying this morning, “I was ready to live with an unsatisfying deal, but this is a bigger win for America than I could have imagined.

Fred Kaplan, for example, said the framework “turns out to be far more detailed, quantitative, and restrictive than anyone had expected.” Max Fisher called the blueprint “astonishingly good,” adding that it’s “almost astoundingly favorable to the United States” and “far better than expected.”

It’s against this background that congressional Republicans screamed bloody murder. “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said in a statement.

Obviously, these are not the comments of someone who wants to be taken seriously by adults. Indeed, I can’t help but wonder how many GOP critics already had their furious press releases -pre-written, waiting for an agreement to be announced, so they could start whining before reading it.

But Jon Chait recently noticed the broader problem.

[T]he conservative case against the Iran deal is hard to take seriously because the right has made the same case against every major negotiation with an American adversary since World War II.

The right opposed every nonproliferation treaty with the Soviets. The right opposed Nixon going to China. The right condemned the SALT treaty and the START treaty.

As Peter Beinart explained a while back, Reagan and Clinton were both confronted with ugly Munich comparisons from far-right ideologues – many of whom are literally the same people furious with Obama for curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions now.

This is no small detail. In fact, it’s one of the more important aspects of the entire debate.

If some policymakers oppose literally any agreement, without regard for policy or principle, solely out of reflex, then their concerns must be dismissed out of hand. There’s ample room for a spirited debate on the merits, but for the discussion to have any integrity, it should be limited to those who take the disagreement itself seriously.

Their vitriol has no real meaning precisely because it’s unrelated to any evidence or facts.

The right opposes a deal with Iran, not because of the provisions included in the preliminary agreement, but because it’s a deal with Iran.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 3, 2015

April 6, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, GOP, Iran | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Netanyahu, The Linchpin Of GOP Foreign Policy”: Hooray! Boehner Wins The Israeli Elections! Time For A Victory Tour!

It’s pretty ironic: just as Bibi Netanyahu seems ready to get over the recent unpleasantness with the Obama administration and get back to the status quo ante of unfriendly cooperation, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives is packing for a trip to Israel that is inevitably being called a “victory tour.” According to Josh Marshall, the trip is expected to last ten days. I’m not 100% sure John Boehner has spent ten straight days in Ohio in recent memory.

But since Boehner accommodated Bibi’s wish for a pre-election campaign rally on the floor of the House, the Israeli leader is hardly in a position to say no, though he may feel like a husband who’s tried to make his wife jealous by consorting with her deadliest enemy, only to discover the intended catspaw on his doorstep with a suitcase.

In any event, Boehner’s trip is a vivid reminder of something I’ve been saying off and on since 2012: the current Israeli government has become the linchpin of Republican foreign policy, as central to the GOP’s calculations on how it views the world as the USSR was (in a negative rather than positive sense, of course) before Gorbachev. So of course Bibi’s victory is Boehner’s victory, and he’d want to share in the celebration. He may claim he’s just another Catholic tourist going to the Holy Land for Holy Week. But I suspect it’s Netanyahu’s resurrection rather than Jesus Christ’s we’ll eventually hear him talking about.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, March 20, 2015

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Policy, John Boehner | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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