The first GOP debate is behind us, leaving a trail of spittle and massively unequal speaking times. I’ll delve deeper into the debate theatrics, but let’s assign some Pauluses & Minuses for some early week antics, then dig into the meat.
Jesse Benton Indicted – Rand SuperPac in Trouble?
I can’t say Jesse Benton has been well liked in libertarian circles. But he has a long history with the Paul family. He worked on both Ron Paul campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Benton is also married to Ron’s granddaughter, which embedded him deep in the Paul clan. However, he also worked for the Mitch McConnell campaign, and is now facing allegations of making illegal bribes to then-Senator Kent Sorenson to throw his support in with Paul instead of Bachmann during Ron Paul’s 2012 run. This comes at an inopportune time for one Rand Paul, as Benton was heading up a pro–Paul superPAC.
Paul notes in a statement that he feels it may have been an intentionally timed allegation, designed to help dash his campaign hopes. From IBT:
“Sen. Rand Paul is disappointed that the Obama Justice Department chose to release this just prior to the highly anticipated first Republican presidential debate,” a statement from the campaign said. “It certainly appears suspiciously timed and possibly, politically motivated. Additionally, these actions are from 2012 and have nothing to do with our campaign.” A statement from a Benton attorney made the same claim.
Benton is taking a leave of absence from politics until he’s “exonerated,” which leaves the PAC itself in a little bit of limbo as new leadership is confirmed.
While this doesn’t have anything to do with Rand’s current campaign, it was prominent news and casts a shadow over the Paul clan’s choices in who they consort with.
Newest “Waste Report” Exposes LA School District Reallocating Lunch Funds To Sprinklers & TV Station
In what is by far my favorite “Waste Report” yet, the Paul camp has exposed ongoing mismanagement and illegal re-allocation of federally funded lunch money totaling some $158 million by the LA School District away from children’s lunches and onto other vastly less important items.
According to the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes (CSOOO), over a six-year period, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) diverted more than $158 million of National School Lunch Program funding to other uses including: buying lawn sprinklers and paying the salaries at the district’s television station.
One tactic used was to reduce lunch periods to as little as 20 minutes in some schools, so students, whose lunch was already paid for with federal funds, would be unable to receive food.
But this did not stop LAUSD from crying foul about school lunch funding. In January 2009, while funds were being misappropriated, a LAUSD press release carried the headline, “cafeteria fund cash flow may leave neediest LAUSD students hungry,” advocating for increased funds. The release notes that, “Superintendent Cortines has directed a comprehensive legislative and media initiative to ensure state decision makers and the public understand the consequences of a compromised meal program would have on our students ability to learn.”
Is there any doubt that this type of behavior is chronic across the nation and not just in this one school? Studies show that the more money that gets sunk into a government darling, the less impact it has, because of mismanagement and incompetence like we see from the LAUSD.
The more it’s exposed, the better chance people have of shaking themselves out of the social utopian dream and into reality.
Rand’s Debate Performance – An Uphill Battle
We live blogged, live Tweeted and also recorded a podcast reaction show following the first GOP Debate, so I’ll keep this somewhat truncated, but anyone watching could tell that Rand Paul, much like his father, was marginalized by the FOX News team during this first debate.
Despite polling well higher than many of the others on stage, Paul received the least speaking time of any candidate, at 5:28, less than even Chris Christie, currently polling at 1% following the debate. I believe Rand knew this would be the type of treatment he’d receive, and went on the offensive from minute one, attacking Trump with accusations of crony capitalism and buying politicians (well founded accusations, I’d like to point out, and even Trump admitted he was a crony capitalist during the debate).
Some other highlights:
– Rand voiced his opposition to arming “allies of ISIS,” which essentially was the Syrian rebels who did indeed become ISIS allies, armed with US-supplied weaponry. Paul did backtrack on his earlier statement that the US “created ISIS,” which I found very disappointing, though I acknowledge that this GOP crowd would have stormed the stage in protest had he stuck to his guns.
– The very best moment of the debate that didn’t involved Trump fighting with Megyn Kelly came from an exchange between Chris Christie and Paul over NSA spying. Christie didn’t back off his charges that hew would blame Rand Paul if a terrorist attack occurred on American soil because of the reductions in NSA spying that resulted from Rand and others’ protests and subsequent actions in Congress. Rand then completely destroyed Christie with a combination of logic, defense of the Constitutional rights of Americans (4th Amendment, ‘natch) and expressing his opinion that America can be kept safe without spying on every citizen all the time. To quote:
“The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over! John Adams said it was the spark that led to our war for independence. I’m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights. I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.”
He also “checkmated” Christie after the Governor mentioned his prosecution of “terrorists” in court, which Rand pointed out required warrants – warrants that the NSA never acquired.
– Rand did not get to speak about his Fair and Flat Tax plan, which was the lowest rate and most comprehensive of any of the GOP candidates. This, frankly, was insulting, as multiple candidates discussed the flat tax, including Huckabee, who tax sat at 20%.
– Additionally, when race came up for roughly 20 seconds, Rand was not given a chance to speak despite his efforts, which vastly outpace any other candidate on stage – and yes I’m including (incredibly awkward) Ben Carson – and encompass justice reform. The FOX bots didn’t mention the war on drugs, nor justice reform even once.
– Rand once again stated his opposition to the Iran Deal, however did reinforce that negotiations were his preferred method for dealing with America’s enemies, rather than war. He pronounced himself a “Reagan Republican” (as the bile rises in my throat) as well.
– On the topic of guns and marriage both, Rand had one of the bumper sticker lines of the debate that were particularly notable. “I dont’ want my marriage or my guns registered in Washington.”
– When questioned about budget, Rand cited that he was the only candidate on stage with a 5 year plan to balance the budget, but also mentioned giving foreign aid to “countries that hate us.” Rand has proposed numerous bills to defund foreign aid to countries like Egypt, Syria, etc., but also stated he would favor defunding Israel, which frankly was a huge shock.
Rand has bought in full-hog on the Neocon party line on Israel during his campaign, regularly stating that “an enemy of Israel is an enemy of the US,” and that Israel had to be supported, etc. I doubt his departure from the talking points and opinion that he wanted Israel defunded was looked upon kindly by his GOP counterparts, but he was 100% right. “We can’t project strength from bankruptcy,” Paul said. His point, naturally, was that the US is in debt and giving billions to a nation that doesn’t need it is foolhardy, ally or no.
All-in-all Rand could have done more to get himself into this debate. Early on he made a decision to interject, which was working. However, as the debate wore on his uninvited objections became few and far between and he instead was resigned to the very sparse line of questions posed to him formally. Maybe he was warned off by producers not to make outbursts, but if FOX is intent on ignoring him, what choice does he have?
I thought when Rand did speak, he did very well. According to polls, I was “wrong,” as Paul’s support has dropped to roughly 3% in the latest edition, despite his being one of the few to speak authoritatively and with substance. Some 38% of people thought Trump “won” the debate, despite the Donald saying almost nothing of any substance. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs in this country.
Still, for his efforts, in which the good outweighed the bad, he gets a…
Rand Attacks Trump as “False Conservative” After Debate
Rand and his crew have decided the best way to stay in the spotlight, and possibly rise in the polls, is to attack Trump directly. From NY Mag:
With Trump dominating the headlines and Paul hovering below the top-tier candidates, attacking Trump makes sense for the senator. Unfortunately for Paul, he didn’t make much of a splash with his comments during the debate, so on Sunday he reiterated his opposition to Trump on Fox News Sunday and in an Independent Journal Reviewopinion piece published Sunday night. “The Tea Party erupted over dissatisfaction with false conservatives,” Paul writes. “It amazes me that anyone in the Tea Party movement could possibly consider Clinton/Reid/Pelosi supporter Donald Trump for President.”
Paul goes on to lay out Trump’s long history of taking contradictory political positions. “I honestly have no idea what Mr. Trump’s real philosophy is,” Paul says. “He was liberal before he was conservative, and has openly professed for decades that his views are those of a Democrat.” He notes that we don’t need “a bully” or “another president who thinks he is king,” and marvels at why Trump has the support of so many GOP voters:
“No conservative in America supports a single-payer government-run healthcare system, and yet around 25 percent of Republicans seem to favor Trump. How can this be possible? How can a quarter of the GOP support a guy who was a Republican, then an Independent, then a Democrat, and then a Republican again?
Are conservatives really willing to gamble about what Donald Trump really believes in?”
People supporting Trump are idiots, plain and simple. This is the mass of Americans who don’t follow or understand politics or policy, but instead are drawn to the cult of personality that Trump represents. Rand won’t woo any Trump supporters via his attacks – those people are unreachable – but by attacking the frontrunner and pointing out his (many) flaws and fallacies, he’ll keep himself in the papers and possibly outpace his rivals and rise in the polls.
Keep it up.
The Current “Paulus-Minus” Tally:
87 Pauluses / 30 Minuses / 5 Push
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