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“A Shock Endorsement”: How Desperate Is Rand Paul? He’s Calling In Daddy For Help

Look at all of you, thinking Rand Paul’s presidential campaign was going nowhere but downward, in both polling support and money. Quite a feint that Rand Paul put out there, getting you all clucking. But the last laugh will be his. Because on Friday, Rand Paul trotted out a shock endorsement that threatens to upend the state of the race, the future of the country, the alignment of the planets, the mysteries of God.

Ron Paul has endorsed Rand Paul.

The two have some connections, so perhaps we should have seen this coming. Ron Paul served in Congress for years, just as Rand Paul has. Each are Republicans but gravitate towards libertarianism. Each has run for president. It’s also the case that Rand Paul’s mother is literally married to Ron Paul and they have a son and that son is Rand Paul. Still: pretty big endorsement here.

“Endorsement” is at least how Reason magazine is putting it, which is an effective framing job although perhaps not the most accurate. Ron Paul has always supported his son’s campaign, because he is his son. He was there with Rand at the campaign launch, in a mostly silent role. His role has been nearly totally silent as the campaign has progressed, though. As the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel writes, it’s more accurate to call this Ron Paul’s first pitch on Rand’s behalf for donations, over four months into the process.

Here’s a sampling of some of the slick #content within this email:

Rand is the ONLY one in the race who is standing up for your Liberty, across the board….he is our best hope to restore liberty, limited government and the Bill of Rights and finally end the big spending status quo in Washington, D.C….

Remember, truth is treason in the empire of lies. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to Washington, D.C. and their media mouthpieces.

Even where Rand and I do have minor differences of opinion, I would take Rand’s position over any of his opponents’ in both parties every time…

Rand must be heartened to have his father’s full-throated public support and fundraising prowess at his back. But it’s the best symbol yet of how Paul’s political career has come full-circle: from niche politician to breakout GOP star and back to niche politician — and one who has little hope of growing his support for the nomination much further.

Leading up to the presidential cycle, much of the chatter about Rand Paul surrounded how he would utilize his “wild card” father, if at all. It was Ron Paul’s noisy base of supporters who raised him an awful lot of money for his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and who boosted Rand Paul to his surprising Senate primary victory in 2010. As Rand’s ambitions went higher though — he wanted to run for president with a chance to win, and not as a niche candidate in the style of his father — he had to move towards the party mainstream without abandoning his libertarian base.

That didn’t work very well. The rise of ISIS closed off whatever interest Republicans might have had in a slightly less military interventionist foreign policy. Rand sensed the winds changing and has tried several times to appease the party’s hawks, who do not and will not ever trust him, in the meantime turning some of his libertarian base against them. He has tried to walk the narrow line between mainstream acceptability and libertarian fire and failed.

And now he doesn’t have much money, or anything to lose, so he might as well trot out his father despite all the risks that entails.

It will be something when Rand Paul fares much, much worse in the early states this time than his father did in the early states in 2012. That’s not the way it was supposed to be.

 

By: Jim Newell, Salon, August 17, 2015

 

August 18, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Rand Paul, Ron Paul | , , , , , | 8 Comments

“Bernie Sanders Is Not The Left’s Ron Paul”: Representing A Wing Of The Democratic Party Whose Influence Is Increasing

Ever since Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president, he has drawn comparisons to a similarly disheveled, longtime politician with a cult-like following and a strong independent streak: former Congressman Ron Paul, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 and 2012. It’s true that Sanders and Paul have a lot in common: They both have rabid fan bases, don’t hold their tongues, and embrace ideologies that are rejected by the establishment of their respective parties. And like Paul, Sanders could challenge his party’s frontrunner early on, but doesn’t stand much of a chance of winning the nomination. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote this week:

Sanders won’t be the Democratic nominee. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be important. Here, it’s useful to think of Ron Paul … He helped bridge the divide between libertarians and the Republican right, and he inspired a new group of conservative and libertarian activists who have made a mark in the GOP through Paul’s son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. If Sanders can sustain and capture the left-wing enthusiasm for his campaign, he could do the same for progressives.

I disagree; Sanders’s campaign isn’t simply one that will put “democratic socialist” ideas on stage against a more mainstream Democratic view, as Paul sought to do with his libertarian ideas. Rather, his candidacy represents a wing of the Democratic Party whose influence on the establishment is increasing with each election, as moderate Democrats (and their Republican counterparts) become extinct.

For a more apt Republican analog to Sanders’ campaign, one must go back to 2000. John McCain, like Sanders, was thought to have little chance to defeat George W. Bush, who, as the son of a former president and governor of a major electoral state, had more money and more party support. But McCain harnessed the anti-establishment sentiment of the time to build a strong online following, at a time when the internet’s infancy as a political tool. He fought a hard campaign against Bush, even winning the New Hampshire primary, before being knocked out of the race in early March.

Apart from the major issue of campaign finance reform, however, he had very little major policy or ideological differences with Bush and the Republican establishment. What set him apart was his press-appointed “maverick” status: He was willing to say things in public that no other candidate would—what David Foster Wallace, in his classic profile of the McCain campaign, called “obvious truths that everyone knows but no recent politician anywhere’s had the stones to say.” (His campaign bus was even called the “Straight Talk Express.”)

Likewise, Sanders refuses to hold his tongue. In June, he opened an interview with HBO’s Bill Maher by saying, “This campaign is about a radical idea: we’re going to tell the truth.” And that message seems to be working with liberals and even disaffected voters. As one New Hampshire resident, a self-described undecided independent voter, told The New Republic recently, “Do I think he can win? No. But I do like the somewhat fresh take of being a straight shooter.”

And much like Bush and McCain fifteen years ago, Clinton and Sanders are closer on the issues than a lot of progressives would like to admit. Sanders is championing reforms—a legislative or constitutional fix to Citizens United, universal healthcare, increased regulation of the financial system, income inequality—that most Democrats have supported for years, including Clinton; she was the face of the universal healthcare fight during Bill Clinton’s first term and has focused on income inequality and Citizens United in her 2016 campaign. Similarly, McCain’s biggest issues in that 2000 campaign—national defense and the Middle East—would define the Bush administration and the neoconservative movement as a whole for the next decade.

On the major issues that Sanders and Clinton disagree on—the extent to which the banking system should be reformed, surveillance, and free trade—Sanders’s position is just as popular within the party as Clinton’s, if not more so. These are the battles for the future of the Democratic Party, and where both Sanders and Clinton will seek to stake out a position independent of the other. And in those few instances where McCain and Bush disagreed, like the McCain-led campaign reform act, a McCain bill that expanded rights for terrorism detainees, and how much of a role social conservatism should play in the Republican Party, the disagreements were public.

McCain’s challenge to Bush was ultimately unsuccessful, but both were neoconservatives working toward the same goal. McCain campaigned for Bush, voted with the administration’s position 95 percent of the time, and was an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq. Although we can’t possibly know how often Sanders would vote with a hypothetical Clinton administration, we do know they voted together during their two years spent as Senate colleagues 93 percent of the time. And given Sanders’s endorsement of Obama in 2008 and 2012, it’s likely that, should he lose, he would throw his weight behind Clinton. John McCain may not have liked Bush much, but he supported him in both 2000 and 2004. In 2008, Ron Paul snubbed both McCain and the Libertarian Party candidate, instead endorsing the Constitution Party candidate, and refused to “fully support” Mitt Romney in 2012.

Similar to 2000, a dark-horse candidate running a candid campaign has emerged as the principal challenger to the frontrunner, one he’s a long shot to defeat. And like that first McCain bid for the presidency, Sanders’s loss would be because Clinton is a strong nominee who is more well-known and deemed an acceptable general election candidate to a majority of Democrats—not because his ideas are too fringe, as Paul’s were in his campaigns, for his party’s base.

 

By: Paul Blest, The New Republic, July 9, 2015

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“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

“Follow The Money Is A Game Everybody Can Play”: Funny Business; The Financial ‘Shenanigans’ Of Ron Paul And Company

Obsessed as he is with Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul comments almost constantly on her family finances, often snarking about the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation — as he did to Politico‘s Mike Allen within minutes of announcing his own presidential candidacy on Tuesday. Suggesting dishonesty or worse, he barks about “thinly disguised bribery,” “shenanigans,” and a “trail of money” that will “shake the confidence” of American voters.

While there is nothing wrong with vetting Clinton — or consulting the publicly available foundation records that exceed IRS requirements for transparency — the Kentucky senator should remember that “follow the money” is a game everybody can play. And since he believes that any funds raised or spent by Bill Clinton are fair game, shouldn’t the same rule apply to all the financial “shenanigans” that surround his millionaire father, Ron Paul?

When he ran for president in the Republican primary three years ago, the Texas Republican drew the attention of Washington reporters and ethical watchdogs bemused by his habit of using campaign funds and congressional expense reimbursements to enrich himself and his family. In 2012, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington examined every congressional campaign filing – and Paul had paid more of his relatives with campaign funds than any other member. His re-election committee paid salaries to his daughter, his grandson, his daughter’s mother-in-law, his granddaughter, and his grandson-in-law — namely Jesse Benton, who just took charge of Rand Paul’s SuperPAC.

Total payments to Paul and his family in that cycle were nearly $400,000 — and this dubious practice, illegal in some states, has continued.

During the first few months of 2012, Roll Call published a series of stories citing credit card records that showed Ron Paul billed travel expenses to both his congressional office account — that is, to the taxpayers — and several political organizations that were controlled by him and his family. When one of those committees came under independent management, the new leadership noted the discrepancies and complained that he had “double-billed” at least $20,000 and possibly much more. (According to the ubiquitous and scandal-tinged Benton, married to Rand Paul’s niece and Ron Paul’s sometime employee, those were all mere bookkeeping errors.)

But the nagging, never-answered question about the Paul family business is how much of Ron’s millions were the fruit of Ron Paul & Associates — corporate purveyors of the racist, anti-Semitic, gay-baiting, conspiracy-addled newsletters that raked in millions over two decades from their dim ultra-right subscribers.

The Washington Post reported in January 2012 that under his supervision, Paul’s company “pursued a marketing strategy that included publishing provocative, racially charged newsletters to make money and spread his ideas…” In other words, he sought to profit from the bigotry of his supporters.

No doubt Rand Paul will soon demand to see even more records than Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have released already — every email, every canceled check, maybe every dry-cleaning bill. As of 2008, the last time either of them ran for elected office, Bill and Hillary Clinton had released 30 years of income tax returns (in addition to her Senate disclosures, the foundation’s IRS returns, and the additional information provided by the foundation since her appointment as Secretary of State).

If and when Hillary Clinton is asked to release her tax returns again sometime this year, you can bet she won’t give the cute answer offered by Ron Paul when asked to release his tax returns at a debate in 2012:

“I don’t have any intention of releasing it – but for a different reason. I’d probably be embarrassed to put my financial statements next to [the other candidates’] income and I don’t want to be embarrassed because I don’t have a greater income.”

Does anyone really believe that’s why the former proprietor of Ron Paul’s Survival Report refused to release his returns?

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, April 9, 2015

April 12, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Ron Paul | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Racially Charged And Ridiculous”: Ron Paul Connects War, Black Lawmakers, And Food Stamps

Right about now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) probably wishes his father kept a much lower profile.

Former Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the father of potential presidential candidate Rand Paul and a former presidential candidate himself, said the Congressional Black Caucus does not support war because they want that money for food stamps.

“I was always annoyed with it in Congress because we had an anti-war unofficial group, a few libertarian Republicans and generally the Black Caucus and others did not – they are really against war because they want all of that money to go to food stamps for people here,” Ron Paul told Lew Rockwell in early February during a discussion on sanctions.

I saw some paraphrases of this online, and I assumed the former congressman’s comment couldn’t have been quite as ridiculous as the tweets suggested. My assumption was wrong – Paul really did argue Congressional Black Caucus members oppose war because they want money for food stamps.

As BuzzFeed report noted, Paul went on to complain that CBC members who were part of the unofficial “anti-war group” also disappointed him by supporting sanctions against countries like Iran. “They wanted to look tough,” he said.

Obviously, the notion that Congressional Black Caucus members were only skeptical of wars because of food stamps is racially charged and ridiculous. It’d be an offensive comment from anyone, but the fact that it’s coming from a longtime congressman and former presidential candidate only adds insult to injury.

And, of course, Ron Paul isn’t just some random former lawmaker running around the country saying dumb things and appearing at fringe events. He’s also Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) father.

In fact, Rand Paul spent much of his career in politics promoting his father’s message, agenda, and national ambitions. The fact that there’s been an ugly racial element to Ron Paul’s message may very well lead to some awkward questions as the Kentucky senator moves closer to the presidential trail.

As we talked about yesterday, one assumes the senator will argue that he shouldn’t be blamed for his father’s off-the-wall ideas, and that defense might even be compelling under normal circumstances. But given that Rand Paul had a leading role in Ron Paul’s operation, this isn’t quite so easy.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 24, 2015

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Congressional Black Caucus, Rand Paul, Ron Paul | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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