Posts Tagged ‘Rand Paul’

Drop Out Jeb

January 19, 2016

That is the advice Glenn Reynolds gave to Jeb Bush in his column in USA Today last week.

Jeb Bush’s campaign is going nowhere, and that’s bad news for Jeb, but it’s good news for America. Now he just needs to perform one final service by dropping out. As a first step, he could follow Rand Paul out the door and skip Thursday night’s debate.

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote in these pages that Jeb shouldn’t run.

I wrote: “There’s nothing really wrong with Jeb Bush. By all accounts he was a good governor in Florida. He seems like a nice guy. And I have no doubt that he’d make a better president than, say, Barack Obama, though at this point in Obama’s term that’s setting the bar pretty low. Even the National Journal, which called Obama’s past year ‘pretty awful,’ might agree.”

I continued: “But nice guy or not, he’s old blood. Leaving aside the matter of the Bush name — though neither his 2016 opponents nor his 2016 supporters will — he last ran for political office back in 2002. He’s fresh only insofar as he’s George W. Bush’syounger brother. Meanwhile, the GOP has a lot of actual fresh blood out there.”

Since then, Jeb’s campaign has never really gotten off the ground. Despite raising vast sums of money — and enriching various consultants in the process — Jeb hasn’t had a message that resonates with the American people. He has come across as entitled, expecting the nomination to just be handed to him because of his last name (Who does he think he is? Hillary?) and unwilling to make the sale.

I don’t know why Jeb Bush decided to run for the presidency this year. It has been more than a decade since his last political campaign and he is obviously out of practice and out of touch. I have never heard or read of anyone who is actually excited about the idea of Jeb Bush being the next president, except perhaps for a few big donors that make up what is called the Republican establishment. Bush himself doesn’t seem to know just why he is running.

But it is the last four paragraphs of Glenn Reynold’s column that I think are worth remembering.

 

But there’s another bright spot. Jeb’s trump card was supposed to be the money. He raised a lot of money, and he has spent a lot of money. But it didn’t help. And that undercuts all the money-in-politics talk we’ve been hearing for years.

Concerns about the impact of money on politics assume that if you buy enough ads, you can elect anybody. If that were true, Jeb would be the front-runner. Instead, he’s running way behind other candidates who, in different ways, have done a better job of addressing voters’ concerns.

It turns out that addressing voters’ concerns is more important than slick TV spots. And that means the only campaign finance “reform” we need is for candidates (and donors) to quit tossing money at consultants and instead to speak to the American people about what the American people care about.

If nothing else comes from Jeb’s candidacy, that’s a valuable lesson indeed. Let’s hope that we learn it.

 

If anyone wants to know the reason that Donald Trump is currently the front runner in the Republican while Bernie Sanders is running a remarkably successful insurgent campaign against Hilary Clinton, they need to understand that Trump and Sanders are, in different ways with different audiences addressing real concerns that many Americans really have about the future of their country in a way that more mainstream candidates have not been able to match. I get the impression that the members of our political establishment have begun to believe that they rule by some divine right rather than at the sufferance of the people. I don’t have much liking for Donald Trump and still less for Bernie Sanders, but they are providing a badly needed shakeup in both parties.

 

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Rand Paul and Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

July 27, 2014

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has introduced a bill to reform federal civil forfeiture laws. As Radley Balko writes in the Washington Post:

This is a pretty big deal, especially if Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) can round up enough co-sponsors to build some momentum.

Sen. Rand Paul yesterday introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law. Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner. In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.

The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property.

The bill would also require states “to abide by state law when forfeiting seized property.” This is important. Currently, a number of state legislatures across the country have passed reform bills to rein in forfeiture abuses. The problem is that the federal government has a program known as “adoption” or “equitable sharing.” Under the program, a local police agency need only call up the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or similar federal agency. That agency then “federalizes” the investigation, making it subject to federal law. The federal agency then initiates forfeiture proceedings under the laxer federal guidelines for forfeiture. The feds take a cut and then return the rest — as much as 80 percent — back to the local agency. This trick thwarts the intent of state legislature that have attempted to make civil forfeiture more fair when it comes to burden of proof, protections for innocent property owners and eliminating the perverse incentive of allowing forfeiture proceeds to go to the same police agency that made the seizure.

Which brings us to a final important provision in the bill: It would “would remove the profit incentive for forfeiture by redirecting forfeitures assets from the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Fund to the Treasury’s General Fund.”

I am glad someone is doing something about this. Civil asset forfeiture abuse is becoming a growing problem all over the country. I am sure there are still too many people who are unaware that the police; state, local, or even federal agents, can simply declare that your house or car was bought with drug money or used in a crime and simply take it. Because this is a civil action and not a criminal proceeding, they do not have to prove you guilty of any crime. They don’t even have to charge you with a crime. It is up to you to prove that the property seized  was not used in any crime.

This problem has been dealt with by state governments, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The Institute for Justice has published a report on civil forfeiture laws, grading the states from A to D. Indiana is one of the better states getting a B+ for its forfeiture laws but a C on evasion with a combined grade of C+

Indiana has some of the better civil forfeiture laws in the country, at least with regard to the profit incentive.  Unfortunately, to forfeit your property, the government only needs to show that it was more likely than not that your property was related to a crime and thus is forfeitable—the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard required for a criminal conviction.  But law enforcement in Indiana does not receive any of the funds gained through civil forfeiture, which keeps the focus of law enforcement on preventing crime rather than raising funds.  After deducting law enforcement costs for the prosecution of civil forfeitures, all forfeiture revenue is sent either to the general fund of the state or the state’s education fund.  Indiana does participate in equitable sharing with the federal government, averaging more than $2.6 million per year in the 2000s.

Imagine what conditions are like for a state for an D grade. West Virginia is at the bottom of the list with a forfeiture law grade of D- and an evasion grade of D for a combined D- grade.

West Virginia has poor civil forfeiture laws.  The government must demonstrate that property is related to a crime and subject to forfeiture by a mere preponderance of the evidence, a standard much easier for law enforcement than proving criminal guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  And the burden is on owners for innocent owner claims, making owners effectively guilty until proven innocent.

When money is seized and forfeited, all of the proceeds go to law enforcement:  10 percent goes to the prosecuting attorney, and 90 percent goes to a law enforcement investigation fund.  Although there is no requirement in West Virginia that law enforcement officials collect information on forfeiture, a January 2009 article in the Register Herald offered some insight into the way police in Beckley, W.V., used forfeiture proceeds.  In 2008, the article reported, police brought in $65,000 and six vehicles through forfeiture.  Forfeiture revenue provided some of the funding to buy a $10,000 K-9 police dog for the department.[1]

No fewer than 29 states get a grade of D. Eighteen get a C grade, two a B, and only Maine gets an A. The problem, as the article states, is that no matter how good any state’s protections against civil forfeiture might be, as soon as the federal government gets involved, the laxer federal standards are applied. According to the Institute for Justice’s scale, the federal government gets a D-.

As the numbers below indicate, the federal government has a very aggressive civil forfeiture program.  Federal law enforcement forfeits a substantial amount of property for its own use while also teaming up with local and state governments to prosecute forfeiture actions, whereby all of the agencies share in the bounty at the end of the day.

Outrage over abuse of civil forfeiture laws led to the passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) in 2000.  Under these changes, the government now must show by a preponderance of the evidence why the property should be forfeited.  The Act also created an innocent owner defense that lets individuals keep their property if they can show either that they did not know that it was being used illegally or that they took reasonable steps to stop it.

But while CAFRA heightened some procedural protections, it failed to address the largest problem in the federal civil forfeiture system:  the strong pecuniary interest that federal law enforcement agencies have in the outcome of the forfeiture proceeding.  For the past 25 years, federal agencies have been able to keep all of the property that they seize and forfeit.  And that has led to explosive growth in the amount of forfeiture activity at the federal level.

 

This policy began as part of the War on Drugs. The idea was that if law enforcement couldn’t find enough evidence to convict drug dealers or members of crime organizations, they could at least be deprived of the assets they needed to continue operations. This was obviously an enormous success judging from the lack of drugs in this country. In fact, since all too often, money gained from the sales of confiscated property goes directly into funding for law enforcement, there is a strong incentive for corruption and abuse. It is also a lot easier and safer to target small time criminals or the innocent for asset forfeiture than to pursue drug cartels or the mafia.

I wish Rand Paul success with this legislation. It is something badly needed.

Freedom, Security, and Chris Christie

July 27, 2013

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had something to say about the “strain of libertarianism going through both parties” while attending  a meeting of the Aspen Institute. Here is the story in the Washington Post.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Thursday offered a clear broadside against Republicans drifting toward a more libertarian view of foreign policy, lumping Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in with them and suggesting they explain their position to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The House earlier this week narrowly voted against a reduction in funding for the National Security Agency’s program collecting Americans’ phone records, as libertarian-leaning members from both sides joined together to vote for the amendment.

“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Asked whether he includes Paul — a fellow potential 2016 presidential candidate — in his criticism, Christie didn’t back down.

“You can name any one of them that’s engaged in this,” he said. “I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. … I’m very nervous about the direction this is moving in.”

Christie acknowledged that there will always be mistakes when it comes to national security and protecting privacy, but said Americans need to stay focused on what’s at stake.

He dismissed some of the current privacy/national security debates as “esoteric.”

“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”

We do need to have more of a pubic debate on what balance between freedom and security we, as a nation, want to take. I am nervous about the direction things are moving in, but I am not sure if my concerns are quite the same as Christie’s. While I certainly do not want another terrorist attack on the scale of 9-11, I also do not especially want to live in a country where Big Brother is watching my every move. Frankly, I would rather take the risk of a terrorist attack to having to live with the level of surveillance that would make such an attack impossible. I mean, you never hear about terrorists attacking North Korea, but who would want to live there?

There is also the question of how well the NSA’s surveillance is actually working. They didn’t prevent the Boston bombing. They didn’t prevent the attempted car bombing at Times Square, or the Shoe Bomber, or the Underwear Bomber, or the attack at Benghazi. It is possible that for each one of these acts listed, the NSA anticipated hundreds of attempted attacks, yet how can we know?

I remember how I felt on September 12, 2001. I also know that immediately after a crisis is the worst possible time to consider any legislation to address that crisis. While emotions are still high and everyone’s afraid, stupid and ineffective laws are likely to be passed without close examination. This is why politicians love to pass laws immediately after a crisis. They also love to drag out widows and orphans to pull on the heart strings and evade any rational examination of whether any proposed legislation is working as intended.

Rand Paul struck back.

“Defending America and fighting terrorism is the concern of all Americans, especially Sen. Paul,” Paul’s former chief of staff, Doug Stafford, said. “But it can and must be done in keeping with our constitution and while protecting the freedoms that make America exceptional.”

Paul himself also tweeted a response:

Senator Rand Paul         @SenRandPaul

Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.

I worry about that too.

Christie appeared alongside Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R). The four GOP governors appeared side-by-side at a session hosted by the nonpartisan Aspen Institute.

The four of them — along with Paul — are all considered among the GOP’s top potential presidential candidates in 2016, with each of them ranking on The Fix’s most recent list of the top 10 likeliest nominees.

If Chris Christie keeps going the way he has been, he might not continue to be among the GOP’s top presidential candidates in 2016. He certainly won’t deserve to be.

 

Letter to the Courier Journal

July 15, 2013

Louisville is the closest large city to my hometown of Madison and the Louisville Courier Journal is the newspaper there. The Courier Journal’s editorial policy is reliably liberal, which may be why they are suffering a slow, steady decline in circulation. Their editorials often seem more suited to deep blue California or Massachusetts than to red Kentucky and Indiana. Last Sunday, they ran an editorial about the perpetually embarrassing (to them) Rand Paul. It begins in their usual moderate, even-handed tone.

The tea party has gone to Washington all right and the public is getting a good look at the toxic brew bubbling out of its cracked pot.

Unfortunately for Kentucky, once again it involves Sen. Rand Paul, a Bowling Green Republican with presidential ambitions who swept into office in 2010 on a wave of tea-party enthusiasm.

He’s devoting almost as much time to embarrassing Kentucky as he is making out-of-state campaign trips (Saturday, Las Vegas).

Wanting limited, constitutional government that lives within its means and doesn’t abuse the rights of its citizens is toxic and crack-pot. They quickly move on to the subject of the editorial.

Last week came the latest embarrassment, astonishing news that Sen. Paul employs a former radio shock jock and Confederate sympathizer Jack Hunter, who calls himself the “Southern Avenger,” has appeared in public in a Confederate flag mask, boasted of secessionist views and venerates John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

“John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place,” Mr. Hunter explained in a 2004 commentary, according to the Washington Free Beacon, the conservative online news outlet that broke the story. “The Southern Avenger does regret that Lincoln’s murder automatically turned him into a martyr.”

Yeah, that probably is regrettable, under the extremist views of Mr. Hunter and his ilk.

But even more regrettable and astonishing is what Sen. Paul plans to do about it. Nothing.

“Are we at a point where nobody can have had a youth or said anything untoward?” he told the Huffington Post.

Sen. Paul is standing by his man, despite widespread denunciations and the virtually unanimous view of outside political observers — from left and right — that Mr. Hunter must go. Immediately if not sooner.

Let’s be clear here. Mr. Hunter, 39, isn’t just a low-paid flunky who fetches coffee and opens mail.

He is the social media director for Sen. Paul, earning $40,000 for seven months’ work, and helped Sen. Paul write his 2011 book “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.”

I won’t attempt to defend Jack Hunter. I doubt there are many of his views that I would agree with. The point I would like to make is that Rand Paul is hardly the first potential presidential candidate to have a controversial associate. There was one Barack Obama, who I recall had a few friends who might be considered extreme or even criminal. Somehow, I do not recall the Courier Journal running editorials about Mr. Obama’s associates, so I wrote a letter to the editor inquiring about the subject.

I was interested to read your editorial about Rand Paul’s associate Jack Hunter. It is certainly alarming that a man with such extreme views should be close to a potential presidential candidate. I wonder if you could provide me with the dates that you ran editorials about candidate Barack Obama’s unseemlier associates such as the Rev. Jeremiah “God d— America” Wright whose church he attended for 20 years and Bill Ayers, his neighbor who helped Obama launch his political career and just happens to be an unrepentant terrorist and murderer. I hope you can let me know when those editorials ran as soon as possible.
Thank you.

Somehow, I don’t think I am likely to get a response.

Rand Paul and Egypt

July 8, 2013

Senator Rand Paul sent two tweets attacking “neocons” for supporting for military coup in Egypt and urging that foreign aid be cut off.

  1. In Egypt, democratic authoritarianism is replaced with military junta. American neocons say send them more of your money.

  2. In Egypt, governments come and go. The only thing certain is that American taxpayers will continue to be stuck with the $1.5 billion bill.

Personally, I would prefer that the military rule over Egypt rather than the Muslim Brotherhood. The military is less likely to start a war with Israel or massacre the Copts. Ideally, of course, would be democracy, but there is more to democracy than just regular elections. If there is no respect for the rights and property of the minority, or if the majority is perfectly happy voting themselves into slavery, than democracy doesn’t work all that well.
What seems to be forgotten by neocons and others is that democracy is not the ultimate end of government. The whole reason to have government is the protect the rights and liberties of the people ruled. A democratic government that is responsive to public opinion is more likely to protect people’s rights, but even a democratic government can be tyrannical towards the minority. We don’t just want democracy in places like Egypt. We want a government that will not oppress any of the people.
Getting back to Egypt, I think our best policy would be not to interfere in their politics. Just as in Syria, there are no clear good guys, and certainly no Washingtons or Jeffersons. It would probably also be a good idea to reduce the aid we give them, and cut out any military aid completely. There is no point in arming a potential adversary.

 

Advice from Rand Paul

April 18, 2013

Rand Paul has written a column for rare.us which I think is full of good advice for the Republicans, that is if they would like to start winning elections again.

 Many are saying that the Republican Party must change if we want to remain a viable national party. The advice from some is to become less conservative. These critics believe that the GOP will somehow do better if we become more like the Democratic Party. But why would anyone vote for a lesser version of the Democrats when you can vote for the real thing? It doesn’t make sense and defeats the entire purpose of having two parties.

It is true that Republicans will continue to lose if changes are not made. But some of those changes will require us to become more conservative, especially when it comes to economics. Other changes might not neatly fit into what we currently think of as left or right.

The Republicans will never be able to outspend or outpander the Democrats and they shouldn’t even try. One party, at least, ought to stand for fiscal sanity and keeping the country together instead of trying to divide Americans along racial and class lines.

The GOP is supposed to be the party of limited government but it has not done a very good job of proving it. If Republicans can become the party of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, we can appeal to millions from all walks of life who genuinely fear for the burden we’re placing on our children.

“Limited government” doesn’t mean no government. It means $2.6 trillion worth of government—the amount of revenue we currently bring in. Over the past number of years, Americans have had to learn to live within their means. Government must do the same and Republicans should be the party that shows how it can be done.

The Republicans have talked a lot about limited government and balanced budgets but have certainly not acted on these beliefs whenever they have had control of the government in recent years. I hope that with the rise of the Tea Party this will change.

We need a strong national defense, but perhaps this does not mean having an overly aggressive foreign policy that puts American troops all over the globe, all the time. After nearly a decade in Iraq and well over a decade in Afghanistan, no one wants to now see a misguided intervention in Syria or Iran, as some from both parties have suggested. A foreign policy that does not try to police the world, does not try to dole out welfare to the world through foreign aid, and that recognizes fiscal limits will be better for our military, our national security and the Republican Party.

The problem here is that somebody is going to have to act as the world’s policeman and like it or not, we are the only ones with the capacity to do so. Besides, would anyone prefer to live in a world dominated by China, or Russia, or the UN? Of course, we do not have to intervene everywhere there is a problem. We can and should pick our battles and there are some situations we should just stay out of. The civil war in Syria is a good example. We probably are going to have to intervene to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. It would have been a whole lot easier, and cheaper to take determined (not necessarily military) action against the Iranians years ago, but our leaders have just kept putting the problem off until it has grown.

We need to recognize that the rising generation does not want people put in jail for unduly long sentences for non-violent offenses. No one supports the use of drugs or encourages that kind of behavior, but too many lives have been ruined due to our unfair and unjust mandatory minimum laws. It doesn’t make sense to put someone who has made one mistake in prison with rapists and murderers—sometimes for sentences longer than rapists and murderers. Under our current laws, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama could have been served jail time due to their youthful drug use, and once released from jail, these two men wouldn’t have been employable, much less capable of winning the presidency.

Mandatory minimum sentencing also disproportionately affects those lacking the means to fight back, particularly minorities. This needs to change and Republicans should lead the way.

I am not for legalizing drugs but I think it is obvious to everyone that the War on Drugs has not been very effective. There is a real opportunity for the Republicans to develop effective and just policies here. I should add that many of the more egregious government violations of civil rights have been done in the name of the war on drugs and perhaps we need to seek a better balance between minimizing drug use and respecting civil liberties.

The GOP needs to be the party that embraces immigration while also demanding strong border security. Nobody wants a party that is perceived as wanting to round-up people. We can move the ball forward by offering an immigration policy that humanely deals with the 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, but puts the proper security measures in place so that we don’t have to keep revisiting this issue every few decades.

The problem I have with illegal immigrants is that they are here illegally. I do not like the idea of rewarding people who break the law with citizenship. A lot of the discussion on this issue seems to be fairly muddled on that one point. You may call these people “undocumented” but the simple fact of the matter is that they are in violation of the law. If immigration laws are too harsh or if they are unjust, than the laws should be changed, by an act of Congress. As long as the present laws are in place they should be enforced, and the Executive does not, or ought not, have the options of simply deciding not to enforce laws it finds inconvenient.

Fiscal conservatism, a more prudent foreign policy, ending mandatory minimums and immigration reform coupled with border security are but a few issues Republicans can lead on if we want to build the necessary coalitions that will allow us to remain a governing national party.

If we’re going to start winning on the West Coast and in New England, and if we’re going to attract the young, we must change. If we don’t evolve and adapt, the Republican Party will die.

The GOP of old, stale and moss-covered, is largely responsible for our party’s current quandary. Only a new breed of Republican—bold, innovative and dedicated to liberty—can get us out of it.

I hope the Republicans will listen to what Senator Paul has to say. Being the stupid party, they likely will not.

Two Revolutions

March 13, 2013

Rand Paul gives his opinion on two recent populist movements, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. I read about his comments at the Washington Examiner.

Speaking yesterday at a National Review breakfast, Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. explained what he thought about the Tea Party movement vs. the Occupy Wall Street movement, as Jon Ward reports in the Huffington Post.
“The Tea Party, I always say, is more like the American Revolution, and Occupy Wall Street is more the French Revolution,” Paul said.

Paul explained that the Tea Party looked back to the rule of law.

“We hearken back to sort of rules,” Paul said, identifying with the Tea Party. “We weren’t unhappy with people just because they were rich; we weren’t happy with you if you were making money off of our taxes and we were bailing you out. If you were making $100 million, your bank goes bankrupt and all of a sudden we bail you out and you’re still making $100 million — that upset us.”

Occupy Wall Street, Paul suggested was more of an emotional protest.

“I think Occupy Wall Street was more of a generic sort of, ‘We just hate people who have any money, and why can’t they give it to us?’ kind of thing,” he said.

I agree, though I would identify the two movements in slightly different terms, orcs vs. hobbits.

 

Wacko Birds

March 9, 2013

John McCain is not too happy with Rand Paul’s filibuster, especially since it took attention away from his dinner with Barack Obama. Here is an article about it in the Washington Examiner.

Elder Sen. John McCain, who this week engaged in friendly fire when he launched his “maverick” missiles at fellow Republicans seeking clarification on the administration’s drone policies, has upped the ante, deriding Tea Party-backed GOP lawmakers as “wacko birds.”
McCain, who hit the Senate floor Thursday to belittle Sen. Rand Paul‘s filibuster, which succeeded in getting an answer from President Obama that drones won’t be used to kill Americans on U.S. soil, even suggested that the Kentucky senator and his allies, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, don’t represent the GOP mainstream.

“It’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone,” McCain told Huffington Post’s Jon Ward in a story titled “John McCain: Getting Back To Maverick, With An Eye On Retirement.”

He added, “I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans. They’re not.”

Ward wrote: “I asked McCain to clarify who, specifically, he was talking about.”

McCain said, “Rand Paul, Cruz, Amash, whoever.”

Despite McCain’s view, several GOP leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, praised Paul’s efforts. McConnell even said he was “proud” of Paul, further proof of a growing divide in the Senate Republican caucus.

Conservatives have expressed outrage at McCain’s hit on Paul, raising anew the charges in the 2008 presidential campaign that he is too much of a maverick for the GOP.

“He showed his true colors. He has now attacked Senator Cruz and Senator Paul for basically leading and keeping promises they made to their constituents not too mention their oath to uphold the Constitution,” said one activist.

But the clash also put on display the fight between the old bulls and the new turks for control of the party, other said.

So, who does reflect the views of the majority of Republicans? “Maverick” John McCain, who stabs his fellow Republicans anytime he thinks it will get him good coverage in the New York Times? If actually standing up for conservative principles instead of being defensive and apologetic makes one a “wacko bird”, than we need more wacko birds out there. Maybe the Republicans can start winning elections for a change.

Dr. Paul Goes to Washington

March 7, 2013

I don’t have much to say about Rand Paul‘s filibuster that hasn’t already been said, though I can recommend an article from Reason.com: Three Takeaways from Rand Paul’s Filibuster. Here are some excerpts.

Yet since showing up in D.C., Paul has been exactly what Reason dubbed him: “The most intersting man in the Senate” who has offered specific legislation and made extended arguments for a unified vision of limited government that is not only fully within some great lines of American political tradition but urgently needed in the current moment. Senators who pride themselves on their foreign policy expertise and have free-loaded for decades in D.C. haven’t made a speech as thoughtful and out-front as the one he delivered a while back at The Heritage Foundation, for god’s sake.

Make no mistake: Despite the presence of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), yesterday’s filibuster was a GOP-conducted orchestra. But what was most bracing and ultimately powerful thing about the filibuster was that none of the speakers exempted the Republican Party or former President George W. Bush, whose aggrandized view of executive power still roils the sleep of the Founding Fathers, from withering criticism and scrutiny. How else to explain that hard-left groups such as Code Pink were proud to #standwithrand yesterday on Twitter? The same with reliable Rand and GOP critic Eugene Robinson and many others who up until yesterday thought little of Rand Paul.

The filibuster succeeded precisely because it wasn’t a cheap partisan ploy but because the substance under discussion – why won’t the president of the United States, his attorney general, and his nominee to head the CIA explain their views on limits to their power? – transcends anything so banal or ephemeral as party affiliation or ideological score-settling.

The chills started early in the filibuster as Paul said things along the lines of, “If you’re gonna kill people in America [as terrorists], you need rules and we need to know your rules,” and “To be bombed in your sleep – there’s nothing American, nothing constitutional, about that” (these quotes are paraphrases). Those are not the words of a career politician trying to gain an advantage during the next round of horse-trading over a pork-barrel project. They are the words of a patriot who puts his country first and they inspire accordingly.

A year or so ago, we were debating whether the government had the right to force its citizens to engage in particular economic activity – that was the heart of the fight over the mandate to buy insurance in Obamacare. That overreach – and the fear that a government that can make you buy something can also theoretically make you eat broccoli – was at the heart of Rand Paul’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court ruled that in fact, the federal government not only has the right to regulate commercial transactions that take place anywhere in these United States, it has the right to force them to take place.

And now, we’re arguing over whether the president of the United States in his role as commander in chief in an ill-defined, barely articulated “global war on terror” has the right to kill U.S. citizens without presenting any sort of charges to any sort of court. In fact, it’s worse than that, since the president won’t even share his rationale for what he may or may not believe with the country’s legislature.

By foregounding the issues of limited government, transparency, and oversight as they relate specifically to the most obvious and brazen threat to civil liberties imaginable, Rand Paul and his filibuster have also tied a direct line to a far more wide-ranging and urgently needed conversation about what sort of government we have in America – and what sort of government we should have.

I am glad to see that somebody in Washington is doing his job. There needs to be some sort of discussion about when and where it is appropriate to use drones to assassinate suspected terrorists, not just their potential use against American citizens in the United States, but our general strategy abroad. I fear we have been too ready to trust the executive with these sort of life and death decisions. We might have had good cause in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, but perhaps it is time to step back and reconsider what we are trying to accomplish in the War on Terror and how we should go about it. This needs to be a bi-partisan discussion, if possible.

Meanwhile, I am starting to like Rand Paul. I understand that John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and some of the other establishment Republicans aren’t too happy with Paul. Well, they are the ones who have been running the GOP into the ground by not standing for much of anything.

 

What He Said

February 7, 2013

I haven’t been following Rand Paul‘s career in the Senate very closely, even though he represents our neighboring state, Kentucky. If this video is any indication, he might have a brilliant career ahead of him.

This is great! I’ve been wanting to ask someone these kinds of questions for years. Why can’t I decide what kind of lightbulb or toilet to use. It’s my life.

But, of course it is not about conserving energy of saving the Earth. It is, and always has been, about power. Maybe if we can get a few more Rand Pauls into the Senate, things will change.


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