Amidst an increasingly unpredictable political season, tonight the Iowa caucuses will finally cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's an outsider vs. establishment war in both parties, as Republican leaders struggle to dislodge Donald Trump and Ted Cruz from the top while Hillary Clinton marshalls her endorsements and long résumé against the populist zeal of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. The best guesses of FiveThirtyEight, BetFair, and Ann Selzer's gold-standard Des Moines Register poll all favor Trump and Clinton, but the race remains very close, and turnout in the demanding and complicated caucus events will be key. Vox provides a helpful video explainer on the process [previously]. Pass the time with FiveThirtyEight's 40-minute elections podcast, and keep an eye on the New York Times live blog of the caucuses for real-time updates once voting starts at 8:00 PM Eastern -- and don't forget to leave your two cents in the MeFi election prediction contest!
The GOP 2016 presidential candidates will again be split into two sessions for tonight's debates on CNN, but the pool is getting smaller, as Rick Perry suspended his campaign, bowing out before being in the second-tier debates for a second time, and former Virgina governor Jim Gilmore, with a hair above 0% nationally, will participate ... via Twitter*. But the biggest news on the main stage is the inclusion of Carly Fiorina, thanks to her rise in the few polls since the Fox debate (previously). [more inside]
Tonight (Thurs., Aug. 6, 2015) is the first official** televised debate for Republican presidential candidates, to be held in two separate events on Fox. First, there's the happy hour debate at 5 PM EST, with the seven candidates who didn't make the final cut*. At 9 PM EST, the Prime Time debate takes place with the top 10 candidates. You can watch online, if you have cable authentication, but you can also participate through Facebook, who are co-presenting the debates. Otherwise, wait until after the show for clips to start surfacing, or you can follow live-blogging a-plenty (NPR | New York Times | The State | Reason), and you can add your two bits with the Fox News Election HQ 2016 App. [more inside]
There's already one big loser in the 2016 Presidental Campaign: Paul Rand, the legendary graphic designer, who has lost more than half of the first-page search results on Google, Bing and GoDuckGo for his name to Candidate Rand Paul. Especially ironic considering that Paul Rand COULD have improved Rand Paul's campaign logo, according to Ernie Smith in his "blog via email" Tedium. [more inside]
Last week, Pando.com's Mark Ames posted an article on the efforts of the GOP to recruit in Silicon Valley using libertarianism as a wedge and the history of libertarian links, particularly through Reason magazine, to racism. Reason responded, calling Ames a "conspiracy theorist". Ames, who has a history of digging into the seedy history of libertarianism, has responded by posting a copy of Reason's holocaust denial and revisionist history issue, along with profiles of its contributors and their involvement with Reason and late 20th century libertarianism.
Tonight, President Barack Obama will deliver his 2014 State of the Union address. A stream will be available via the White House and from many other outlets. [more inside]
Ron Paul's 2012 campaign implicated in bribery scandal. On the eve of the 2012 Republican Iowa Caucuses, US Rep. Michele Bachmann alleged that Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson informed her that he had switched his support to Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign after being promised a large sum of money. Ron Paul personally denied these claims, but emails and documents were recently leaked, with proposals for the Ron Paul campaign to pay up to $208,000 to Sorenson, his staffers, and his PAC. More damning, a recorded phone call has been released, in which Sorenson admits to being bribed, and implicates Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's former campaign manager, 2010 campaign manager for Rand Paul, and now, the manager of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's 2014 campaign.
Why “Libertarian” Defenses of the Confederacy and “States’ Rights” are Incoherent
There is a strain of libertarian contrarianism that holds that the Confederate States of America were within their “rights” to secede from the Union. Such contrarianism on this particular topic is detrimental to the larger cause of liberty because the logic of this argument relies upon relinquishing individual rights to the whim of the state. Indeed, as there is no legal or moral justification for supporting the Confederacy in the Civil War, it is impossible that there could be a libertarian one.[more inside]
Rand Paul Has Started What Could Be an Epic Mr. Smith-Style Filibuster on the Senate Floor. Rand Paul is filibustering John Brennan's nomination to lead the CIA (USA Today). He started at 11:45 AM on Wednesday morning and is still going strong. ""I'm going to speak as long as I can to draw attention to something I find very disturbing," said Paul, who started speaking at 11:45 a.m." Here is a link to the live feed from C-SPAN. [more inside]
President Barack Obama will tonight give the first State of the Union address of his second term in office. The address will again focus strongly on the issues of jobs and the economy. The Republican response will be delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and will focus on traditional Republican messages of lower taxes and spending. The bilingual Senator plans to give his remarks in both English and Spanish in an attempt to reach out to the Latino community which has proven difficult for Republican politicians to connect with. There will also be a Tea Party response delivered by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Senator Paul will call for reduced spending and debt and for the Republican party to be more welcoming of immigrants. Jill Stein of the Green Party will also give a response. [more inside]
"With regard to the idea of whether or not you have a right to health care, you have to realize what that implies... It means you believe in slavery." Senator Rand Paul weighs in on the notion of human rights at a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday, equating the right to health care, as well as the right to water and food, as tantamount to a belief in slavery.
"Frankly, my toilets don't work in my house. And I blame you, and people like you" [YT].Senator Rand Paul accused Energy Department official Kathleen Hogan yesterday of offering consumers more choice in reproductive decisions than in household appliances.
Kentucky officials have identified the assailant in the face-stomping of a private citizen shortly before a debate between candidates for the office of Senator in the state of Kentucky. Contrary to initial reports which quickly dismissed the assault as the isolated acts of assorted private citizens, it has now been revealed that the gentleman curb-stomping the head of a MoveOn.org activist prior to the debate between candidates last night was none other than a county-level representative of the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, Mr. Rand Paul.
The National Tea Party Federation has expelled a significant part of its membership, the Tea Party Express. It all started on July 13, when over 2000 NAACP delegates condemned bigoted elements in the Tea Party and asked that they be repudiated. (The bottom of this page has examples of recent racism.) A war of words ensued, with Tea Party spokespeople calling the NAACP racist and irrelevant. Mark Williams, spokesman for the Tea Party Express, was particularly harsh. On July 14, he posted an imaginary letter from "We Coloreds" to "Mr. Lincoln" on his blog. (Scroll down this link for full text and screen shot.) On July 16, the National Tea Party Federation decided to suspend the Tea Party Express, with expulsion to follow unless Williams was removed. [more inside]
Rand Paul, third son of 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul and winner of the Kentucky Republican Party Senate primary this week, has found his general election campaigned mired over a controversy about his libertarian ideology. [more inside]