Here's my appearance on Judge Andrew Napolitano's "Freedom Watch" on FOX Business Monday night where we discuss Republicans who continue to spend big in defiance of the Tea Party that helped elect them.
My recent appearance discussing the Libya uprising on Freedom Watch on FOX Business with the great Judge Andrew Napolitano. My portion begins at 14:00:
Here's a sit down interview with Campaign for Liberty's Kevin Brett conducted at CPAC 2011 last month:
There are many problems with American politics but “extremism” is not one of them. For all the mainstream media’s criticism of the Tea Party being too “extreme” or the GOP supposedly adopting the movement’s “radical” rhetoric and actions, Republicans couldn’t even muster the votes to pass $100 billion in budget cuts recently, a proposal so modest as to essentially mean nothing. In fact, the worst extremists continue to be Democrats and their Republican allies who continue to spend money at breakneck speed. Indeed, if basic math and common sense have any bearing on the definition, it is our economic status quo that is truly extreme, and the brave few who dare to seriously challenge it who are the most sober.
The same has been true in Wisconsin, where citizens now march in the streets protesting Governor Scott Walker’s attempts to rein in spending. And things are getting nasty. Writes Rich Noyes and Scott Whitlock at the Wall Street Journal:
“Over the past several days, the liberal demonstrations in Wisconsin (bolstered by the national Democratic Party and President Obama’s Organizing for America group) have included signs just as inflammatory as the ones that bothered the networks during the health care debate, including several showing Governor Scott Walker as Adolph Hitler. Others have likened Walker to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (‘Scott Stalin’) and recently deposed Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak (‘Walker = Mubarak’). Another protest sign drew a cross-hairs over a picture of Governor Walker’s head, with the caption ‘Don’t Retreat, Reload; Repeal Walker’ — an obvious parallel to a Facebook map posted by Sarah Palin last year, although that much-criticized graphic placed the target sights on maps of congressional districts, not any politician’s face.”Of course the same Left that tried to say that the tragic shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was somehow inspired by Palin’s fairly innocent PAC ads is now curiously silent concerning similar behavior exhibited by the protesters in Wisconsin. Criticizing the Left’s attacks on Palin in the wake of the Giffords shooting, I wrote in January:
In attacking Palin’s midterm election television commercials in which a bull’s-eye graphic was placed over vulnerable swing-state districts, her critics ignored the fact that ‘targeting’ politicians for electoral defeat has never been considered controversial nor has it been viewed as being beyond the pale. This is conventional political speech used by both parties for ages.
The protesters in Wisconsin who now use gun rhetoric or place target-style graphics over Gov. Walker’s face are being no less irresponsible than Palin was with her ads. Again, “targeting” politicians in general has always been fairly conventional American political speech. The Wisconsin protesters who compare the governor to German, Russian and Middle Eastern dictators are being absurd of course, but it should be clear by now that their hyperbolic assertions are fairly conventional aspects of any popular protest in the United States, Left or Right. Antiwar demonstrators used to compare President Bush to dictators, some Tea Partiers now do the same with Obama and of course, we now see the same comparisons in Wisconsin. This says more about the emotional nature of mass protest than the unique shortcomings of any of these specific movements.
But this is something most liberals will not confess. As much as New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich bemoan the “incivility” of the Tea Party, or how much the evening line-up at MSNBC might harp on the grassroots Right’s “extremism,” basically the same behavior is ignored when displayed by mobs the Left happens to agree with. Liberals no doubt consider the Wisconsin protesters righteous. But if those protesters were Tea Partiers, the same Left would’ve been calling them racist from the get-go.
If liberals now give the Wisconsin protesters the benefit of the doubt because they basically share their ideology and even their rage, the same is true of the relationship between conservatives and the Tea Party, where though not all right-wingers might approve of the Tea Party’s methods or rhetoric—most certainly understand where the movement’s coming from. Who is truly “extreme” is merely a matter of perspective...
When Rand Paul was a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman last week the Wall Street Journal called the Senator’s appearance “A Painful 12 Minutes,” and it was. It was painful to watch as the calm and measured Paul tried to explain to a somewhat antagonistic Letterman that our current economic woes had more to do with an unaccountable and overly expensive public sector than an under-taxed private sector. It was painful to watch a seasoned talk show host get schooled by a rookie senator on how the beleaguered “rich” actually do pay most of the taxes, how education remains dismal despite abundant funding, and how market place competition is stymied by continuous government subsidization of complacency and incompetence.
Yes, it was painful to watch a legendary television star loved by millions say to his audience concerning Paul: “You know, I think he’s wrong about some of these things. I just can’t tell you why.”
At Campaign for Liberty, author Thomas Woods said of Letterman’s confession of ignorance:
“I am still speechless at David Letterman’s interview with Rand Paul last night… Practically everything he said was wrong. Rand correctly noted that the top 1% of income tax earners pay one-third of all the income taxes, with the top 50% paying 96%… Letterman wonders why we can’t just loot the ‘rich’ some more. Well, if we’d like to make still more firms leave the U.S., that’d be a good start. Want to strangle the growth on which everyone’s welfare depends? Rand explains, again correctly, that spending more money on education has not improved educational outcomes. Letterman’s response? There must be something wrong with those numbers, he said to applause from the audience.”Woods added: “So the audience is in effect saying, ‘We also refuse to believe those numbers!’ But those numbers are correct. Will they retroactively withdraw that applause, now that they realize they’ve made fools of themselves by clapping for the denial of an easily verified fact?”
Not to further tweak my good friend Tom, but the answer is “no,” they won’t retract their applause. Neither is Letterman likely to change his way of thinking, even if presented with demonstrable facts contrary to his opinions. In fact, the sad truth is that for arguably the bulk of liberals and conservatives, much of their ideology is based on preconceptions formed by historical prejudices encouraged by partisan interests. And it is this type of typical, partisan-based willful ignorance that is precisely what’s wrong with our politics.
As a conventional liberal, Letterman is already predisposed to believing that our economic woes are the fault of the “evil rich,” that education is in the dumps because we don’t spend enough money and that if we could only raise taxes—again—we might finally sort of everything out. The political and economic absurdity of this will always be lost on a Left whose ideological tunnel vision prevents them from seeing outside the narrative of class warfare and the irrefutable necessity—always—of more government intervention. Letterman could no more conceive of the rich not being a culprit in our recession than conservatives could conceive of government being a force for good. In fact, when conservatives condemn government wholesale, liberals are quick to disagree and sing the praises of entitlements and the welfare state—without noticing that both have been dismal failures if measured by their projected cost and intended function. All in all, it’s a silly and nonsensical partisan cycle.
But if liberals are in love with big government domestically, always jealously guarding it from any competition or encroachment from the private sector—i.e. “the rich”—conservatives’ willful ignorance usually manifests itself in their love for big government overseas. That our aggressive foreign policy, which doles out welfare to the world, constantly polices the globe and commits endless blood and treasure to nation building projects that are demonstrably not worth the cost—virtually no amount of facts or data will shake the faith of conservatives still wedded to the old, discredited Bush-era war narrative. In fact, if Letterman’s retort to Paul’s obvious facts was to insist that Paul must be wrong despite any facts, stubborn pro-war conservatives who find themselves challenged on their foreign policy views typically respond with the same sort of emotionalism, asking their critics if “they remember 9/11?” or reminding them that “freedom isn’t free,” as if the Iraq War had anything to do with 9/11 and being in Afghanistan a decade later has anything to do with tangible American interests.
In his criticism of Letterman, Woods finished by writing: “If Letterman and the geniuses in his audience reflect the general population, we have much more work than we thought.” Woods is no doubt correct...
Jack Hunter co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Southern Avenger commentaries can be heard every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd on 1250 AM WTMA.
In the 1980’s the United States funded Iraq’s Saddam Hussein yet considered Palestine’s Yasser Arafat and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi terrorists. And they were. But so was Saddam, who at that time was terrorizing his own people, gassing Iraqi Kurds while receiving America’s financial and political support. In the 1990’s, the US declared Hussein a menace and we apparently changed our mind about Arafat, who was even invited to the White House to shake hands with Bill Clinton. In the 2000’s George W. Bush went back to calling Arafat a terrorist, went to war with Saddam, who we also began calling a terrorist, but made amends with Gaddafi by taking Libya off our official list of state sponsors of terror and sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to shake Gaddafi’s hand. Mind you, this is the same Libyan dictator that Ronald Reagan once called the “mad dog of the Middle East” and who was responsible for blowing up an airplane full of American school kids over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988.
If the above history of the US’s overseas alliances and antagonisms sounds nonsensical or perhaps even immoral, that’s because, well, it is. Welcome to American foreign policy.
Like Egypt before it a few weeks ago, as Libya descends into chaos the eyes of the world now look to America to see what we will do. Why? Because the rest of the world is accustomed to the US always doing something. In fact, no matter how much our constant involvement becomes obviously counterproductive or our actions come back to haunt us in the most damaging ways imaginable, the so called “experts” in Washington, DC continue to tell us we must still be involved heavily in the Middle East and around the globe, funding dictators and supporting terrorists, while also toppling the same dictators and fighting the same terrorists, as determined by which decade we find ourselves in or which president sits in the White House. For example, in the 1980’s it was the official policy of the State Department to encourage radical jihad in Afghanistan to undermine the Soviets. Today, we find ourselves in a decade long war in Afghanistan fighting against the same radical jihadists we once encouraged and helped fund. Such insanity is what our leaders continue to advocate as a reasonable and necessary foreign policy. To suggest that we should just give up these ever-changing entanglements as a practical matter is disparaged as “isolationist” and therefore unfathomable, the experts tell us.
The term “isolationism” is much like the word “racism,” in that it is an accusatory term designed specifically to shut down debate before it begins. As the Tea Party is well aware, if you question Obama you are “racist.” Likewise, if you question US foreign policy you are an “isolationist.” Nobody wants to attempt to reason with a racist or an
isolationist, and indeed to criticize our insane foreign policy is the quickest way to invite this discussion-ending disparagement. Luckily, at least at the moment, a majority of Americans don’t appear to be as insane as their rulers. According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, his most recent data reveals that “most Americans (67%) say the United States should leave the situation in the Arab countries alone. Just 17% say the United States should get more directly involved in the political situation there, but another 17% are not sure.” A Reuters poll in January produced similar results, showing that 73% of Americans support eliminating all foreign aid.
So are Americans now “isolationist?” Or in being somewhat isolated from the special interests and entrenched, status quo politics that dominates Washington, do Americans see our involvement in foreign affairs in more clear and common-sense terms than our political class is even capable of?
The very notion that it is somehow “isolationist” to not endlessly support dictators and terrorists throughout the Middle East with financial, political and even military aid is to say that virtually every other nation on earth is also “isolationist.” It also ignores the fact that America is not a normal nation, or at least hasn’t been for a long time. In fact, in terms of its scope alone, US foreign policy is arguably the most abnormal in history. Not even the empires of Rome and Great Britain assumed that virtually any conflict around the globe necessarily affected the interests of Romans or Brits. The second edition of the “Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy” (2001) described this new, almost perverse concept of America’s “national interest” as the definition was being expanded even during the Vietnam era:
“By the 1960s the American national interest was being defined so globally that hardly a sparrow could fall anywhere on earth without the U.S. government wanting to know why, to know whether the sparrow had jumped or been pushed, and, if pushed, to know whether the pusher wore scarlet plumage. Somewhere or other, sooner or later, the United States was bound to find itself defending a regime so weak, corrupt, or unpopular… as to be indefensible at any reasonable cost.”