24 May 2011

Tim Pawlenty mans up

Yesterday, in a post lamenting Mitch Daniels' decision to forego a presidential run, I expressed my disappointment with what I believed to be Tim Pawlenty's willingness to adopt Bushian dogma on a series of critical issues, and my resulting disapproval of his rightward swing.

But yesterday, Pawlenty -- who has gotten nowhere by pandering -- demonstrated serious political courage by announcing his opposition to ethanol subsidies ... in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2008, John McCain made it very clear that he thought that ethanol subsidies were a waste of money, and as a result, he didn't even bother campaigning in Iowa. Pawlenty, on the other hand, probably has to win Iowa outright to have a serious chance at the nomination. As a result, his verbal takedown of King Corn was a very bold -- and perhaps politically foolish -- move. Today, he will be in Florida to announce his support for raising the retirement age and means-testing Social Security -- both positions that were championed by Daniels. And he'll be speaking to an audience that is made up, in part, of senior citizens. These are courageous moves, demonstrating a willingness to put principle over politics that we haven't seen from Pawlenty in months. He deserves great credit for taking these stands, especially as his presidential campaign isn't even two days old.

There is a Mitch Daniels-sized hole in the race. Daniels' Saturday night/Sunday morning announcement rocked the Republican field and eliminated the party's most electable candidate. At this point, with Santorum and Gingrich demagoguing, Romney flip-flopping, Cain broke and the libertarians quiet, there is a massive hole in the middle of the party. Pawlenty's recent statements demonstrate an intention to drive a truck through it.

Pawlenty rose to prominence in the national discussion by being a reasonable, likable, pragmatic governor. It is clear his pandering has not paid off. If he jettisons the demagoguery and can co-opt the Daniels message, he will be very difficult for me to ignore.

23 May 2011

Daniels is out

In a very discouraging piece of news yesterday morning, Mitch Daniels' family torpedoed his presidential candidacy before it ever got off the ground.

Daniels would have been both the most conservative and the most electable candidate in the Republican field. We've written glowingly about his six-plus year record transforming Indiana into one of the most business-friendly states in the union -- as well as the most fiscally solvent. Not only is the best candidate now out of the running, but the quality of the debate will be markedly worse because of it. Daniels is a serious man. While fiercely principled, he doesn't alienate moderates and independents with foolish name-calling. He doesn't shift in the wind like Romney, doesn't pander like Palin, doesn't demagogue like Gingrich and doesn't stake out put-on hawkish positions that make him look silly like Pawlenty. He is a real adult, a real conservative and has serious intellectual gravitas.

Now that Daniels is out, I frankly have no idea who I will vote for. Gary Johnson would be a tremendous standard-bearer for what I want the GOP to morph into, but his libertarianism won't play well in either Iowa or South Carolina, and I refuse to waste my vote on a candidate who doesn't have a serious chance at the nomination. To that end, I suspect I will half-heartedly pull the lever for whichever candidate emerges as the electable alternative to Romney. This probably means either Jon Huntsman or Pawlenty. I have great reticence supporting Pawlenty because of his foolish statements on Libya, his support for waterboarding and his stated refusal to cut a dime from the Pentagon's budget. These are serious issues, and Pawlenty's sudden hawkish stands on each -- that more closely resemble reflexive verbal diarrhea than coherently constructed policy statements -- suggest to me that he hasn't studied these issues very closely. The more Pawlenty talks, the more he sounds like a neoconservative trying to pander to a conservative base that -- at least on foreign policy issues -- he doesn't seem to understand very well.

Huntsman, on the other hand, will no doubt be tarred for his service in the Obama administration and his ideological support for cap and trade. He is making a trip to Kennebunkport for a "kiss the ring" session with President George H.W. Bush, and with Daniels out of the running, to make his case for access to the expansive Bush support network. Huntsman's record as governor of Utah, while not quite as sterling as Daniels', is still impressive, and he seems on the surface to be a fine man to represent the party. My fear is that his affiliation with Obama will cause him deep trouble in Iowa and South Carolina.

It is difficult to overstate how discouraging Daniels' decision is for the Republican Party. Without his measured, affable, wonkish presence, the Republican debates could turn out to be unwatchable train wrecks. He would have been an outstanding president, perhaps the one prospective candidate whose record demonstrates an ability to tackle our massive fiscal crises. It seemed like a perfect marriage of man and moment, and the fact that Daniels has chosen not to pursue it is unspeakably disappointing.

20 May 2011

The manufactured outrage over Israel

At the risk of being tarred as an anti-Semite for my lack of reflexive, unqualified support for everything Israel does, my reactions to President Obama's speech yesterday, and the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations generally:

1. Obama's speech was an unremarkable extension of the Bush and Clinton doctrines and broke very little new ground. A two-state solution is something that both Presidents Clinton and Bush pushed and has been at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for two decades. I appreciate the president's willingness to state the objective publicly, but for either side -- liberal or conservative -- to suggest the president's speech marks a change in mid-east policy is silly.

2. Let's keep in mind the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the first place. Israel was created by a U.N. charter in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust. While the land was of course historically the Jewish homeland, the Bible references a Palestinian presence there at least 500 years before Christ. So this idea that the Palestinians have no claim to any territory whatsoever -- especially when Israel the nation-state is only 60 years old -- is truly absurd.

3. How do Republican-AIPAC conservatives (Bill Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Mike Huckabee) expect to achieve peace in the Middle East, other than by carving out a small Palestinian state? They are in favor of expanded settlements, they are in favor of the blockade of Gaza (which also, arguably, violates international law), they were in favor of the flotilla raid, and they are stridently opposed to a two-state solution. So I'd posit this question: How do you plan to achieve peace? And as a follow up, for what reasons are Palestinians not entitled to a separate state?

4. Israel is not owed America's unfettered, reflexive support. Last May, the Israeli navy attacked a flotilla off the coast of Gaza in international waters, killing citizens aboard a ship carrying a Turkish flag. The attack happened in international waters and violence only started when the Israeli commandos stormed the tiny ship. This was an act of war, no matter who perpetuated it. We wrote here at the time that if the flotilla had entered Israeli waters, then the commandos' actions would have been taken in defense of the Israeli homeland. But the attack did not happen in Israeli waters. If you supported the Israeli navy in that endeavor, then it demonstrates that you put the interests of Israel over the rule of international law. And it demonstrates that you are a fanatic. To hold that Israel is above the scope of international law is deeply offensive, because I doubt that you would even make such a claim about America.

5. I am an American. I love my country. I view the world through American-tinted lenses. If a country's strategic interests are aligned with America's, I'd like the president and the State Department to cultivate a positive relationship with that country. I'm all for international engagement, free trade, free-flowing diplomacy, and the like -- and yes, that includes a close, vibrant relationship with the State of Israel. But when a country's interests diverge with America's -- and where that country, like Israel, takes explicit steps to break international law and infuriate critical allies in the Middle East, such as Turkey and Egypt -- that country deserves a rebuke. It is no different than Hosni Mubarak -- an American ally for three decades -- deserving a similar rebuke for his violent crackdown on the Egyptian protests several months ago. American support for Israel -- just like American support for every other country on the face of the planet -- should only extend as far as Israel's conduct furthers America's strategic interests. To argue otherwise is to argue that Israel's interests are superior to those of America's. And to argue otherwise calls your patriotism into serious question.

17 May 2011

Rick Santorum, too, might be retarded

Yesterday, the former Pennsylvania senator took time off from talking about man-on-dog sodomy to discuss "enhanced interrogation techniques" (read: torture) on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.

Speaking of the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden -- and John McCain's recent comments that the identity of bin Laden's trusted courier were not obtained through torture -- Santorum launched into one of the stupidest monologues in American political history.

I don't, everything I've read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation.

This is absurd. There isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that torture, or enhanced interrogation, led to the identification of bin Laden's courier. I don't know what "shows" Santorum has been watching, but they are probably found in the "fiction" section of the public library. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming that the critical information was gleaned using standard, humane interrogation tactics that comport with both U.S. and international law. At best, Santorum is deeply confused. At worst, he is an outright liar.

The next part is priceless, and even dumber.

And so this idea that we didn't ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, [John McCain] doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they're broken, they become cooperative.

Right. A man who was subjected to torture for five and a half years doesn't understand how torture works. Rather, Rick Santorum, lobbyist, former senator and moralist proselytizer extraordinaire does. McCain has said and written, time and again, how the prisoner will do or say anything to make the pain stop. McCain occasionally relates that once when he was tortured, and his interrogators asked him about the identities of his squadron leaders, he gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line. The torture stopped.

As McCain himself noted, the only evidence concerning the waterboarding of Khalid Shiekh Mohammed is that, when waterboarded, he gave his interrogators false information about the identity of bin Laden's courier. Instead of being convinced by the torture to play ball with American interrogators, he went the complete other direction, and gave false information.

I genuinely don't understand the strange obsession with torture that has gripped the Republican Party in the wake of 9/11. Against all reason and evidence, hard-headed fools like Rick Santorum continue to maintain that but for torture, bin Laden would still be alive. This is preposterous, and completely false.

Rick Santorum shouldn't be trusted with a lemonade stand, much less the presidency.

16 May 2011

Thoughts on the GOP field

In the vein of Ross Douthat, some comments on the prospective Republican field:

1. Even if it increases the odds of a Mitt Romney nomination, I'm quite happy about Mike Huckabee staying out of the race. His fiscal legacy in Arkansas is disastrous, and he'd represent nothing more than a return to Bushism -- cementing the GOP's desire for statism at home and foolish interventionism abroad. And the last thing the Republican field needs is yet another culture warrior beating the social issues drum; Rick Santorum's sermonizing in the South Carolina debate was difficult to stomach, and Huckabee comes off as a snarkier version of Santorum. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but he was a terrible governor, he'd be an even worse president, and he'd be an absolutely horrendous face for the conservative movement.

2. Donald Trump is a self-aggrandizing clown.

3. I frankly don't see the Jon Huntsman candidacy going anywhere. While I'm sure Huntsman is a fine man, he is a pro-choice, pro-cap-and-trade, Obama administration official who happens to be from the same state as Mitt Romney and like Romney, happens to be Mormon. Hunstman's presence in the race will probably be most damaging to Romney -- which is good -- but his best chance of success is in 2016, not 2012. If he runs now, the attack ads (see above) write themselves, and he runs the risk of entering the 2016 race weakened by the beating he took in 2012, much like Romney still bears the scars of 2008 that exposed how deeply flawed he was (and still is) as a candidate.

4. Mitch Daniels is going to run, but as Douthat noted, there is no incentive for him to announce his candidacy now. Huntsman has yet to formally announce -- Romney technically does too -- and there is no reason to jump in at this early stage and risk silly attacks by culture warriors like Santorum and Newt Gingrich; the Iowa causes are still 9 months away. While he no doubt will have access to Haley Barbour's formidable Rolodex and his own web of Republican bankrollers, Daniels needs to develop a campaign infrastructure and formulate a strategy before he wades in.

5. Gary Johnson would be a fantastic standard-bearer for the Republican Party; Conor Friedersdorf once described him as "Ron Paul, but without the baggage." He is a fantastically likable, articulate fellow who has a genuine wonky side and seems passionate about the expansion of individual liberty. He vetoed hundreds of bills as governor of New Mexico and -- unlike Paul -- comes across as measured and sharp. I frankly think that Paul is doing a disservice to the libertarian cause by staying in the race and splitting the libertarian vote with Johnson. While I like Paul a great deal, he is not a viable contender for the nomination, and it's clear that Johnson has a much better shot at being competitive. If Paul endorsed Johnson and threw his support behind his friend, I frankly think Johnson would be a serious top-tier contender, especially in such a splintered field.

6. The general-election viability of the putative Republican field, from strongest to weakest: Daniels, Huntsman, Pawlenty, Romney, Johnson, Paul, Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann, Cain, Palin.

13 May 2011

Mitt Romney's exceptional dishonesty

Yesterday, Mitt Romney tried, and failed, to tackle the 800-lb. gorilla in the room: The 2006 Massachusetts healthcare plan that he signed while governor, and why it looks awfully similar to President Obama's signature legislation of 2010.

To review, the two plans have the following provisions in common:

1. An individual mandate to purchase insurance, assessing tax penalties for failure to comply
2. An employer mandate
3. Subsidies for low-income individuals to purchase insurance
4. The expansion of Medicaid
5. The creation of a government-run bureaucracy called an exchange that regulates premiums
6. Prohibition of denials based on pre-existing conditions

Hat tip: The Wonk Room, via Andrew Sullivan

/bangs head on desk.

Yesterday, Romney began a full-on propaganda blitz to convince his audience, and the electorate at large, that his plan was markedly different from Obamacare. This is patently false, as has been pointed out by not only the liberals at Think Progress, but the libertarians at the Cato Institute. To argue that Romneycare is any different in any respect from Obamacare is exceptionally dishonest. They are the same bill.

Romney's most demagogic argument has been that while Romneycare was an attempt to help people get and keep insurance, Obamacare was a "government takeover of healthcare." This is absurd. Romney may as well have called Obamacare "green cheese" and it wouldn't make any difference to the substance of his argument or the arguments of his critics. What Romney calls, or how he describes, the two plans is irrelevant. The proof is in the actual policies advanced in the respective bills, and in every important respect, Obamacare and Romneycare are identical.

Romney is the most dishonest politician I have seen in my lifetime. His lack of principle is beyond offensive. Putting aside whether he may be objectively competent to handle the office of the presidency, his misstatements (yesterday's speech being only the latest of which) and myriad brazen position changes should disqualify him before the race even begins.

11 May 2011

"Compassionate conservatism" and the war on drugs

Many more articulate than me, including Daniel Larison and E.D. Kain, have ripped apart Michael Gerson's mindless hit piece decrying Ron Paul's opposition to the war on drugs.

Gerson, of course, was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and now takes to the Washington Post's op-ed page to blast his particularly annoying brand of "compassionate" (read: big-government; see also, paternalistic) conservatism.

I won't rehash the myriad arguments against the war on drugs, most of which are extraordinarily compelling. Rather, Gerson's op-ed demonstrates precisely why the "compassionate conservatism" of George W. Bush was destructive not just to the Republican Party, but to centuries-old conceptions of individual liberty.

Gerson's piece, straight out of the Terri Schiavo/stem cell/internet gambling moralist playbook, exemplifies what can properly be called the "conservative" position on drug prohibition. His argument essentially boils down to this: The government can ban cocaine, marijuana and even internet gambling, because those things are bad for you.

But what Gerson and his Bushian ilk miss entirely is that this is precisely the same logic that President Obama and liberal Democrats used to justify the individual mandate to purchase health insurance that was slammed through Congress last year. As David Boaz of the Cato Institute has noted, conservatives' idea of personal responsibility entails the individual making the decision about which health insurance plan to purchase (or whether to purchase insurance at all), and living with the consequences of those decisions. What is so offensive about Obamacare is that this idea of "personal responsibility" is turned completely on its head, wherein a government decree requires the citizen to engage in a certain activity, because that activity is good for him.

In the exact same way, Gerson and statist Republicans desire to regulate what Americans put into their bodies due to an offensive brand of paternalism, rooted in the deep-seated belief that the imperial state knows what's best for its citizens. This informed, among other things, the Bush administration's war on internet gambling. It is the same in every compelling respect to the Obama "personal responsibility" doctrine that says that government can, and should, mandate that individuals act a certain way, or engage in a certain activity.

Gerson's column -- in addition to being intellectually dishonest in the ways set out by Larison and Kain -- pushes an exhausted, offensive brand of moralistic statism that is antithetical to the tenets of liberty, and at which true conservatives should recoil.

07 May 2011

Erick Erickson might be retarded

We've written here before about Mitch Daniels' sterling, nearly unimpeachable record as governor of Indiana. In a time of fiscal crisis, Daniels is cementing himself as the party's chief fiscal hawk.

A few days ago, Daniels traveled to Manhattan to meet with a swath of journalists from across the political spectrum. Among those participating were former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, whom I adore, and the National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru.

This certainly jarred Red State's Erick Erickson.

Surrounded by people across the spectrum, the liberals seemed to like him better than any of the other Republican candidates out there. Well, there you go.

This is incomprehensibly stupid. Because a liberal like Hendrik Hertzberg happened to like Daniels personally, that must mean Daniels is a liberal. It's been fascinating to watch the bottom layer of the right-wing noise machine -- Erickson, Levin, Limbaugh -- criticize Daniels as insufficiently conservative simply because he doesn't make outlandish statements or engage in partisan demagoguery. Never mind his record, which indicates that he would govern as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan. We -- and others -- have seen enough of Daniels to know that he simply isn't a name-calling bomb-thrower. (Watch this episode of MitchTV for a glimpse of the man.) Liberals no doubt like him because of his calm, easygoing manner, much like Republicans are fond of the arch-liberal Joe Lieberman because he similarly doesn't engage in hyperpartisan sabre-rattling. Does Erickson really think that Daniels is a closet liberal? He should check out what Democrats in Indiana think.

But more so, when asked who he’d call at 3 a.m. for foreign policy advice, given the choice between John McCain and Dick Lugar, he went with Lugar. I don’t think I need to remind you that, as Jenn ably notes, Lugar “has run interference for President Obama on foreign policy issues such as START.”

Apparently securing loose nuclear material in a state that has a robust trading partnership with Iran is not a high priority for Erickson. Listening to President Reagan's national security team apparently isn't, either.

The title of Erickson's post? Mitch Daniels: The Anti-Tea Party Candidate

I'm not sure what the tea party has anything to do with Daniels' sit down with Noonan, et al., but if Erickson wants to engage on this topic, I'm glad to. Daniels outlawed all collective bargaining by all public-sector employees on his first day in office. He balanced the budget, paid off all Indiana's outstanding debts and restored its long-lost AAA bond rating, all without raising taxes. He has, almost singlehandedly, transformed his state into the best business climate in the Midwest. At CPAC this year, he referred to our mounting national debt as "the new red menace." So what about any of that indicates to Erickson that Daniels is "anti-tea party"? These are precisely the concerns around which the tea party has coalesced. What Erickson and other self-appointed opinion leaders apparently long for is a Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee, whose records demonstrate little to no adherence to conservative principles, and who are forced to resort to demagoguery and name-calling to make up for their laughable records. "Conservatives" like Erickson really don't care about actual conservative governance, hence the relentless apologies for George W. Bush's big-government statism, the adoration of Sarah Palin and her non-existent record, and the overwhelming disdain for people, like Daniels, who have a thoughtful, educated mind.

Erickson and his ilk followed Bush over a cliff, and three years later, all they seem to care about is plummeting toward the bottom as fast as possible.

04 May 2011

Bill Kristol, wrong yet again

There is so much wrong with this email from Bill Kristol to Politico's Ben Smith, regarding Sarah Palin's foreign-policy views, that it numbs the mind.

Kristol: My other thought: The surge in Iraq works.

Well, yes. But as we've noted here before, and has been discussed ad nauseum by the likes of thoughtful conservatives like Ross Douthat, Andrew Sullivan and Daniel Larison, the idea that Iraq was an unqualified success to be duplicated elsewhere is absurd. We were told that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs. We were told wrong. We were told that he had close ties to al Qaeda and/or a role in 9/11. We were told wrong. We were told he was a clear and present danger to the United States. We were told wrong. In addition to the attack in hindsight being completely baseless, the Iraq adventure cemented Iran's status as chief antagonist in the Middle East and removed its greatest enemy, a man against whom Iran went to war in the mid-1980s. If the objective was to increase Iranian hegemony and influence in the Middle East, Iraq can be considered a success, but I doubt Kristol feels that way. Not only has Iran's regional influence been elevated, but its influence inside of Iraq has been greatly furthered by the murderous Shiite cleric ad-Sadr, who has the blood of hundreds of American servicemen and thousands of innocent Iraqis on his hands. Finally, Iraq and Abu Ghraib have proven to be enormous recruiting tools for al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden explicitly stated that it was his intention to weaken the United States by drawing it into a global war against Islam, so it is difficult to imagine him doing anything other than cheering the American invasion. So to put a fine point on it -- and putting aside the issue of whether the surge was a success -- Kristol is living in an alternate reality if he thinks America is better off since having gone into Iraq.

The surge in Afghanistan works.

Is this a statement of fact or an objective? There is no evidence that the Afghanistan "surge" has worked in any credible respect.

The world obviously needs American strength and leadership more than ever.

Kristol and other neocons perpetually spout tinny lines like this, which don't mean anything unless "American strength and leadership" is defined. If it means launching attacks against any nation that doesn't offer absolute support for American objectives, or against any nation that isn't a western democracy, then he has a vastly different idea of "American strength and leadership" than Ronald Reagan. As we've said before, the answer for Kristol is always "more troops" or "more war," regardless of the facts on the ground, regardless of how reckless such action might actually be, and regardless of whether such a projection of force would actually be detrimental to American interests. It is an incomprehensible foreign policy and would cause America, both economically and militarily, to crumble in on itself. And it ignores the plain reality that revolutions must by nature be organic.

And now everyone (even Palin, to some degree) decides, hey, time to back off? It’s foolish substantively and politically.

What is foolish is continuing to sabre-rattle for war despite the horrific misadventure in Iraq, the muddled quagmire of Afghanistan and the complete lack of an objective in Libya. If backing off from random, haphazard, foolish military adventurism abroad, which has harmed American interests in the world's most critical region, is considered "foolish," then consider me and most Americans foolhardy. Most Americans are tired of this idiotic brand of foreign policy.

03 May 2011

bin Laden: post-mortem

Literally and figuratively, a post-mortem following the death of OBL:

1. There is no limit to the incredible power and razor-sharp precision of the American military.

2. This is the biggest achievement of Barack Obama's presidency.

3. Donald Trump begins the week with egg on his face and all over his five-dollar haircut. While the president was answering silly questions about his birth certificate last week, he was apparently finalizing the groundwork of the raid that killed bin Laden. Obama comes away looking presidential, and Trump leaves looking like -- as usual -- a clown.

4. As we've written here before, any implication that Obama is somehow "weak on terror" is patently false and has no basis in fact. In addition to ordering the capture or killing of bin Laden, he ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan, refused to close Guantanamo Bay, proffered absurd theories of executive power under the state secrets privilege, ordered the assassinations of American citizens abroad and denied basic constitutional protections to the Wikileaks mole. These activities are either continuations or extensions of existing Bush policies. In nearly all cases -- with the exception of Afghanistan -- they are also unconstitutional and/or illegal.

5. During the 2008 campaign, Obama stated in no uncertain terms that he would order American troops into Pakistan to track down OBL. He kept his word.

6. In response, John McCain criticized Obama's desire to infringe on Pakistan's sovereignty. By implication, if McCain was president, bin Laden would still be alive.

7. The fact that bin Laden was hiding just 40 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, in a private residence several times bigger than any home within miles -- and had been doing so since at least August 2010 -- is troubling. Pakistan is a repressive police state and its intelligence service is virtually omnipotent. It is very, very hard to believe that high-ranking officials in the Pakistani government weren't aware of bin Laden's presence.

8. Therefore, the fact that the CIA flagged this particular home as a possible hideout -- without any help from Pakistan whatsoever -- speaks to both the skill and resourcefulness of the CIA and the suspiciousness with which we should view the Pakistani leadership.

9. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was very critical of the American effort to kill OBL, as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. This was somewhat surprising, as Musharraf's rule was marked by consistent cooperation in the US-Pakistan relationship. Musharraf was the victim of multiple assassination attempts for his cooperation with America. I would think that -- especially given the fact that Musharraf nearly lost his life for his relationship with America -- the current Pakistani leadership would deserve at least a passing rebuke for letting bin Laden sit under their noses for months, if not years.

10. I genuinely hope that bin Laden's death will begin a national discussion on what precisely we are doing in Afghanistan, whether there is a tangible, realistic endgame, and whether the United States should be engaged in such nation-building. While bin Laden's death changes very little about the nature of the current conflict, perhaps it will push popular opinion toward a withdrawal.