I don't know what the truth is regarding the most unnerving story of the day:
Fliers call on Ukrainian Jews to register with pro-Russian separatistsPushilin has denied any connection to the fliers, and Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League says the ADL is "skeptical about the flier’s authenticity," (UPDATE: The New Republic's Julia Ioffe is certain the fliers are fake), but the story is disturbing nonetheless -- as were several aspects of Vladimir Putin's annual televised Q&A session today: his assertion of Russia's right to use force in eastern Ukraine, his reference to the region as "New Russia," and his use of Edward Snowden as a pawn (Snowden fed Putin a question, apparently pre-recorded, regarding mass surveillance; Putin swore his government wouldn't dream of engaging in any such thing).
Pro-Russian separatists from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine denied any involvement in the circulation of fliers calling on Jews to register with separatists and pay special taxes.
The fliers were distributed earlier this week in the city, where pro-Russian separatists led by Denis Pushilin this month took over several government buildings and declared their secession from Ukraine as the Donetsk Republic amid a standoff with authorities.
The fliers were official-looking documents that carried what was presented as Pushilin's signature...
But this is not excellent news for Rand Paul.
Now, I don't agree with Brent Budowsky that Paul's wobbly foreign policy could lead to something approaching a fifty-state landslide for Hillary Clinton if he ran against her -- mostly because I think Paul can't possibly get as far as the general election. His father had an approach to foreign policy that seemed suited to the when-the-hell-will-we-leave-Iraq? moment. But Putin is really going to keep up the provocations for the foreseeable future; for that and other reasons, it's not going to seem like 2008 in 2016. Because of Putin, Syria, Iran, the not-entirely-dead Al Qaeda, and (God help us) Benghazi, it's going to be far too tempting for Republican voters to rally around an Obama-weakened-America message -- and not around Paul's, which, as Budowsky says, is not isolationist so much as incoherent:
One moment Paul says he might support a military attack against Iran. Then he implies he might accept a nuclear-armed Iran and follow a policy of containment. Then he says he won’t tell us what policy he prefers, comparing himself to Ronald Reagan.There's obviously a huge effort under way on the right to stop Paul (with possibly a little non-righty help). BooMan noticed an awful lot of anti-Rand writing all at once a couple of days ago:
First Paul charged that Dick Cheney championed the Iraq war to make money from Halliburton. Then he retreated. Maybe Cheney's motive for the Iraq war was not money, he flipped, but then maybe it was, he flopped.
In his self-appointed national address answering President Obama about Syria, Paul claimed that Obama would ally with al Qaeda, which was a lie. He then opposed any effective U.S. response to Assad's mass murder in Syria, for which Assad would be grateful.
Then Paul opposed American economic aid to Ukraine, claiming this aid would help Russia, when the aid was designed to help stabilize Ukraine against Russia.
It must be Bash Rand Paul Day because Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal and Jennifer Rubin and Richard Cohen in the Washington Post all have pieces lambasting Sen. Paul for a variety of sins and apostasies.Also running at the same time: Paul-bashing pieces from Rich Lowry and Steven Hayward of Power Line. All five pieces ran on April 14 or 15 -- gosh, you'd almost think there was a coordinated effort to take some of the luster off Rand Paul on Tax Day, when it might have been feared that the libertarian hero would be looking especially heroic to his fans.
Want more evidence that an effort is under way to make sure that Paul-style isolationism never gains purchase in the GOP? Well, obviously, there was the recent gathering at which several presidential aspirants lined up to kiss Sheldon Adelson's ring; beyond that, though, there's this National Review story (also from April 15):
John Bolton's political-action committees are pulling in big bucks. Together, the former United Nations ambassador's groups, a PAC and a super PAC that will back candidates who share Bolton's belief in a muscular foreign policy, raised nearly $2 million since their launch in November, sources say. They will file a report with the Federal Election Commission later today.But wait, there's more -- this happened yesterday:
The haul includes an impressive $1.1 million raised in the first quarter of 2014. As of Tuesday, the PAC had $318,000 cash on hand and the super PAC had over $1.1 million cash on hand. Though a good portion of the money came from top-dollar donors -- Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus and conservative philanthropist Roger Hertog among them -- over 7,000 small-dollar donors also contributed online and via direct mail. The group also boasts backers in all 50 states.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence jumped into the debate over foreign policy Wednesday during a trade mission to Germany, saying the Obama administration's policy of "conciliatory diplomacy" toward Russia has failed.Would Pence enter the race in 2016, obviously as an extreme longshot, but possibly funded by Adelson or other deep-pocketed hawks, perhaps not so much to win as to be a foil for Rand Paul in the debates? And given the lack of foreign policy experience among the top-tier candidates, doesn't Pence (who spent a decade on the House Foreign Affairs Committee) have a pretty good shot at the #2 slot?
It's the clearest sign so far that Pence, who flirted with a run in 2008 while leader of the Republican Study Committee in the House, is considering a bid for president in 2016.
His speech in Berlin, while focused on trade relations between Indiana and Germany, took direct aim at the administration's "reset" with Russia. That was one of the major initiatives of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's already being widely considered as the likely Democratic nominee if she chooses to run....
It's really Paul vs. the vast majority of the right on foreign policy. I don't think they'll let him win.