"We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world," states the Libertarian Party in its bedrock platform statement. "Syria is not threatening our country. We have no national interest in intervening there. There are no reasons for the U.S. to support either the Assad dictatorship or the opposition warlords," declares Chairman Geoffrey Neale.
Such thinking has begun to resonate with voters and elected officials who are skeptical of President Obama's proposal for a military strike. The party has been presented with an opportunity to clearly define itself on the political landscape, particularly as "libertarian leaning conservatives," such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, take center stage in the noisy debate.
The Libertarians are ready to rumble.
"Americans are discovering the truth: there is no real difference between big government Democratic and big government Republican politicians. They both send our servicemen and women off to war for dubious causes, in spite of the abysmal results that our country's foreign meddling has produced," Carla Howell, the party's political director, tells Inside the Beltway.
"Both support mass surveillance of Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Both are wreaking havoc on the economy, and especially on the working poor, by overspending, overtaxing and overregulating," she adds. "The most effective means to change the course we're on is to vote Libertarian — putting America on a course for peace, freedom, individual rights and abundance for all."
CONSERVATIVE + LIBERTARIAN = ?
Yes, but will everybody play nice? The question will occupy the American Conservative Union when it meets for a regional political action conference Sept. 28 in Missouri. Yes, there's an entire panel discussion devoted to the issue, aptly titled "Can Social Conservatives and Libertarians Ever Get Along?" for the many who wonder.
"At a time when President Obama is leading the country off the economic, social and foreign policy cliff, I am confident that libertarians and social conservatives can find enough common ground to save the United States of America," says the union's ever-ebullient Chairman Al Cardenas. "This no-doubt lively panel at CPAC St. Louis will explore similarities and differences between conservatives and libertarians and the future of both movements."
On the stage: Heritage Foundation scholar Matthew Spalding, the aforementioned Libertarian Party Chairman Geoffrey Neale and Cato Institute senior fellow Douglas Bandow.
THE YEAS AND NAYS
To the uninitiated, the "Syria Whip List" sounds, well, interesting. But it is merely convenient Capitol Hill talk.
As lawmakers jockey for space, somebody has to track who favors President Obama's proposal for a military strike on Syria — and who condemns it. From The Hill, then, comes not "50 Shades of Intervention," but the real-time roster in the House and Senate, the judgments based on their public statements, press comments, social media posts and other sources.
The numbers as of Thursday: In the Senate, 22 agree with the military strike; that number includes 13 Democrats and 9 GOPers. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have led the way among their peers; other yes men include Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
There are 14 nays — which consist of a dozen Republicans and two Democrats.
In the House, 30 agree the U.S. should intervene in Syria; that number includes 21 Democrats and nine Republicans. Among the hawkish GOPers: House Speaker John A. Boehner, Reps. Eric Cantor of Virginia, Mike Rogers of Michigan and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.
The House currently bristles with 99 nays — 71 Republicans and 28 Democrats.
It's not all Syria news out there. The Republican National Committee has cast a critical eye on the incoming Affordable Care Act and its impact on the 2014 midterm elections.
"Even as they watch the stream of bad news, Democrats up for re-election in 2014 have doubled down on their support for the law," says committee chief of staff Mike Shields in an in-house memo. "Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas called it an 'amazing success story.' Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina says it has 'a lot of positives.' They're out of touch with their constituents — and Republicans aren't going to wait until next year to make that case."
There's work to be done in the heartland as well. FreedomWorks — the grass-roots group representing some 6 million liberty-minded folk around the nation — is staging a "How to Fight ObamaCare Summit" in its offices that are, yes, right across the street from the U.S. Capitol. How appropriate.
Participants will hail from seven states, organizers say. And on the agenda, much practical fare for those who disagree with the Affordable Care Act and wish to make their case known.
Among the teachable offerings: Defund It 101, Legislative Update: Who is on our side?, Common Misconceptions, Winning the Media Battle, Focusing on Targets, Creating a Patient Centered Approach to Healthcare.
BALDWIN'S NEW VEHICLE
"Up Late with Alec Baldwin."
Behold, that is the name for Alec Baldwin's new late-night talk show on MSNBC, scheduled to begin airing at 10 p.m. Fridays in October. The news was revealed Thursday by network President Phil Griffith. Mr. Baldwin will address "current events and culture," Mr. Griffith says.
"Certainly Baldwin's liberal politics are an organic fit for MSNBC," notes an assessment from The Hollywood Reporter.
"In putting Baldwin in the anchor seat, MSNBC may be distancing itself even further from the traditional image of cable-news provider." So says Variety, which also adds that Mr. Baldwin has hosted NBC's "Saturday Night Live" 16 times.
POLL DU JOUR
• 77 percent of Syrians say they are "not internally displaced persons" who had to flee their home and live in another part of the nation.
• 14 percent say they are internally displaced.
• 51 percent of Syrians see the civil war in their nation "consuming their lives" for at least one or two more years.
• 47 percent say they would leave Syria if they could.
• 30 percent say the conflict will end in less than a year.
• 23 percent say their household supports another family that has been displaced from their own residence.
• 14 percent have received help in money or goods from someone outside the country.
• 12 percent have received the help from someone living inside the country.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,022 Syrian adults conducted June 1 to July 31 and released Thursday.
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