The anti-Rand Pauls, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, took to the Senate floor this morning to defend killing American citizens at presidential discretion. Graham is doing so live on C-SPAN2 right now, saying that everything you do is a danger to America no matter who or where you are, as long as the U.S. government has decided you have “joined al-Queda,” whatever the hell that means. (Read more)
Archive for the 'Election / Politicians' Category
Sen. Rand Paul took to the floor of the U.S. Senate just before noon Wednesday and vowed to stay there “at length” in order to filibuster John O. Brennan, whom President Obama has nominated to be the next CIA director.
The Kentucky Republican said he will hold up the nomination until he gets more information about the U.S. drone execution program, which has become a major sore point for many lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“I will speak today until the president responds and says, ‘No, we won’t kill Americans in cafes. No, we won’t kill you at home at night,’” Mr. Paul said early on in the filibuster, that began at 11:47 and showed no signs of slowing more than four hours later.
Five hours into the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came to the floor to try to end it. He asked if Mr. Paul would agree to limit himself to another half-hour of remarks, and then the chamber would vote on the Brennan nomination — which likely has majority support.
Mr. Paul said he would be glad to end his filibuster immediately, but only if the administration would promise not to make Americans in the U.S. the subject of targeted killings.
Mr. Reid said he wasn’t in a position to speak for the administration and stalked off the floor.
“We’re through for the night,” he said, releasing senators who had stuck around thinking they might still vote on the Brennan nomination.
Speaking from his corner desk Mr. Paul, in red tie and gray suit and with a glass of ice water — within reach but rarely touched — spoke about political history and the origins of key constitutional precepts.
One nice thing about most foreign governments, even horribly corrupt ones, is that they don’t subject their people to as much propaganda as the US government does:
A picture has been released of the Dear Leader shooting skeet at Camp David. In an article released on Breitbart.com entitled White House Warns: Don’t Photoshop Obama Gun Pic there is a stern warning:
“This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.” (Read more)
Joining Netanyahu in his denunciation of those pushy Americans was none other than “libertarian” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Gooberville). Fresh from a recent trip to Israel paid for by the American Family Association, a Christian fundamentalist activist group, the “libertarian” Senator and wannabe presidential candidate declared:
“’That’s an arrogant and presumptuous point of view and doesn’t further progress on anything,’ the senator said, and he returned to that view throughout the call as he discussed the location of Israel’s capital and Israeli settlements. Paul decried U.S. politicians who display ‘this flippant and arrogant’ attitude about internal Israeli affairs, saying that ‘no one can really know as much as people in the region’ about such matters. ‘It is not up to the U.S. to dictate’ to mayors and West Bank officials where housing goes, Paul added. Paul said he considers himself more pro-Israel than some pro-Israel audiences because ‘I’m for an independent, strong Israel that is not a dependent state, not a client state.’”
Siding with a foreign leader against an American President is always problematic for any US politician, but lest one think this is an example of political courage on Sen. Paul’s part, consider the context of his remarks. US military aid to Israel now exceeds $3.5 billion a year – not counting the value of special projects like the “Iron Dome” missile defense system the Senator is so enthralled by. Those billions pay for a program of systematic ethnic cleansing: Arabs are being forced off their lands, and “settlements” are being erected on the ruins of their former homes.
Surely the Senator – who, despite appearances, is no dope – knows this. And if he didn’t know it, surely he was educated on the subject in his meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas – although, oddly, in all the news reports of Paul’s trip to Israel, where hear nothing about this scheduled encounter.
. . . .
Pretending not to grasp the significance of the settlements issue, or of the larger issue of Palestine and the two-state solution, simply will not do – not for an alleged “leader” of the libertarian wing of the GOP, and certainly not for a somewhat over-eager presidential candidate who flaunts his ambitions. Since Israel could not exist – let alone bomb, invade and subjugate its Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors – without extensive US military and economic aid, it is viewed as America’s regional proxy. This is what “the people in the region” know and Sen. Paul appears not to want to know.
Paul has long since backed off his stance of wanting to end aid to Israel: he now says he would do it gradually, and would start cutting the aid budget by immediately ending it for countries “where they burn our flag,” singling out Egypt and Pakistan and specifically exempting Israel.
Previously under attack by the Israel lobby for saying US aid to Israel ought to be ended – and just because he is, after all, his father‘s son – the Israel trip was meant to make amends, and Paul earned plaudits from the Lobby in this country for his efforts.
The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin took a breather from her frantic campaign to impugn the character of Chuck Hagel to give the lesser Paul a thumbs up, having earlier contrasted him favorably with his father.
Phil Klein exulted in the birth of “Zionist non-interventionism,” which apparently means we pay the bills and don’t bother the Israelis as they ethnically cleanse Palestine of the Palestinians. Seth Lipsky, writing in the New York Post, hailed Paul’s comments as “the most supportive of Israel since Sarah Palin.”
Dave Weigel reveals more of the tortured rationalization for Paul’s conversion on the road to Jerusalem:
“I asked Paul to revisit the settlement question. Had his trip taught him anything that was being incorporated into his new thinking?
“’One question is: If I’m the mayor of Jerusalem, or if I’m looking at places in the West Bank and settlements in the West Bank, obviously there’s either advisability or inadvisability with regard to ultimately finding places to build, whether it’s antagonistic or provacative,’ said Paul. ‘Where I distinguish myself, though, is while there might be right or wrong answers to these questions, it’s not American politicians’ business to be dictating the answers. The answers need to come from the participants who live on the ground in these areas. I think it’s just presumptuous and arrogant of us to think, well, we’re going to go down to a roadmap of Jerusalem and decide where the neighborhoods can be expanded? It did influence me some that I did see the map of the neighborhoods, and I did see that there are neighborhoods being expanded in the Arab areas as well as the Jewish areas of Jerusalem, but the comments I heard from officials were: What does America want? Do they want there to be a religion test on who’s going to buy land? How would we feel in America if land that was designated for development, we said you have to prove what religion you are before you can build on the land? You can see how it’s a funny sort of bias we’re asking for, how we want them to develop the land.’”
Shorter Sen. Paul: Who cares about “right” and “wrong”? Let the Israelis go wild with our tax dollars.
. . . .
Having been granted observer status by an overwhelming vote of the General Assembly – with even America’s European allies deserting Washington – why shouldn’t the Palestinians participate in the UN? Sen. Paul and his flock of “born again” Israel Firsters don’t want that to happen because it recognizes the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood – and delegitimizes the occupation. There are many humanitarian services the deprived and long-suffering people of Palestine might enjoy as a result, but the petty cruelty of “born again” Rand would deny them even that.
So the Senator did go see Abbas, and took the opportunity to threaten him with sanctions – and to demand that he drop the “no more settlements” precondition for resuming the peace process. Of course, not even that kind of servility to the Greater Israel lobby will satisfy the Jonathan Tobins of this world, but no one can say Sen. Paul didn’t try. (Read more)
Adam Kokesh tries to question soldier about Constitution:
Rapper Lupe Fiasco Raps anti-Obama lyrics, thrown off stage
Rapper Lupe Fiasco was thrown offstage and escorted off the premises of a Washington, D.C. concert hall during a pre-inauguration concert Sunday night, after going on an anti-war, anti-Obama rant, according to concertgoers.
Josh Rogin, a reporter with Foreign Policy magazine, tweeted late Sunday, “Lupe Fiasco just got thrown off stage here at the Hamilton Live after he went on an anti-Obama diatribe mid set.”
“So Lupe played one anti-war song for 30 min and said he didn’t vote for Obama,” he continued, ”and eventually was told to move on to the next song…Lupe refused to move to the next song so a team of security guards came on stage and told him to go.” (Read more)
Justin Amash is a new Representative inspired into politics by Ron Paul.
In the wake of waves created by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash’s vote for House Speaker, the West Michigan Republican guided through two rule changes aiming to make legislation easier for the public and Congress to understand.
The rule changes require Congress to include more context with new legislation. Scattered references to old bills, amendments and other changes often make new laws difficult to digest. (Read more)
Outraged by her desire to confiscate and ban guns, someone took the domain name http://senatorfeinstein.com/ and posted a video demonstrating her outrageous hypocrisy. The website owner promises more to come.
The National Jewish Democratic Council lashed out Friday over the recent appointment of Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, citing his “deeply disturbing record when it comes to the US-Israel relationship.”
In a statement released Friday by the NJDC, its president David Harris said that Paul’s “membership in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should be raising red flags and provoking severe concern across the pro-Israel community.” Harris also hit out at the GOP, calling its decision to place Paul on the panel “simply outrageous.”
“The overwhelmingly pro-Israel American public deserves much better than a radical ideologue on the Senate’s primary diplomatic committee who has demonstrated a singular obsession with slashing aid to the Jewish state,” the NJDC chief added.
Paul, one of four new Republicans on the committee whose appointments were first reported Thursday by Foreign Policy magazine, has recently reached out to the pro-Israel community and is slated this month to visit Israel accompanied by Christian Zionists.
Unlike his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a perennial presidential contender who has laced his arguments against assistance for Israel with harsh criticisms of the Jewish state, the younger Paul casts his opposition to assistance as a matter of independence for Israel from undue American influence.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a fierce opponent of US foreign aid who is being touted already as a likely 2016 presidential candidate, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday for his first-ever visit.
Paul is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Monday, the senator’s 50th birthday. (Read more)
Bill Schickel, the co-chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, on Saturday blasted the dominance of Ron Paul supporters within the state party.
“The words are fine about reaching out and opening the doors of our party, but when are our chair, our executive director, our communications director, our finance director are all from the Campaign for Liberty that sends a message that is disenfranchising to many, many of our Republicans,” he told GOP central committee members. “So, that is one of the reasons I am running, to bring all of these groups together.” (Read more)
To this day, many people identify mid-2008 as the time they realized what type of politician Barack Obama actually is. Six months before, when seeking the Democratic nomination, then-Sen. Obama unambiguously vowed that he would filibuster “any bill” that retroactively immunized the telecom industry for having participated in the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program.
But in July 2008, once he had secured the nomination, a bill came before the Senate that did exactly that – the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 – and Obama not only failed to filibuster as promised, but far worse, he voted against the filibuster brought by other Senators, and then voted in favor of enacting the bill itself. That blatant, unblinking violation of his own clear promise – actively supporting a bill he had sworn months earlier he would block from a vote – caused a serious rift even in the middle of an election year between Obama and his own supporters.
Critically, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 did much more than shield lawbreaking telecoms from all forms of legal accountability. Jointly written by Dick Cheney and then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, it also legalized vast new, sweeping and almost certainly unconstitutional forms of warrantless government eavesdropping.
In doing so, the new 2008 law gutted the 30-year-old FISA statute that had been enacted to prevent the decades of severe spying abuses discovered by the mid-1970s Church Committee: by simply barring the government from eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without first obtaining a warrant from a court. Worst of all, the 2008 law legalized most of what Democrats had spent years pretending was such a scandal: the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program secretly implemented by George Bush after the 9/11 attack. In other words, the warrantless eavesdropping “scandal” that led to a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times reporters who revealed it ended not with investigations or prosecutions for those who illegally spied on Americans, but with the Congressional GOP joining with key Democrats (including Obama) to legalize most of what Bush and Cheney had done. Ever since, the Obama DOJ has invoked secrecy and standing doctrines to prevent any courts from ruling on whether the warrantless eavesdropping powers granted by the 2008 law violate the Constitution.
The 2008 FISA law provided that it would expire in four years unless renewed. Yesterday, the Senate debated its renewal. Several Senators – Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon along with Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul – each attempted to attach amendments to the law simply to provide some modest amounts of transparency and oversight to ensure that the government’s warrantless eavesdropping powers were constrained and checked from abuse.
Just consider how modest these amendments were. Along with Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, Sen. Wyden has spent two years warning Americans that the government’s eavesdropping powers are being interpreted (by secret court decisions and the Executive Branch) far more broadly than they would ever suspect, and that, as a result, these eavesdropping powers are being applied far more invasively and extensively than is commonly understood.
As a result, Wyden yesterday had two amendments: one that would simply require the NSA to give a general estimate of how many Americans are having their communications intercepted under this law (information the NSA has steadfastly refused to provide), and another which would state that the NSA is barred from eavesdropping on Americans on US soil without a warrant. Merkley’s amendment would compel the public release of secret judicial rulings from the FISA court which purport to interpret the scope of the eavesdropping law on the ground that “secret law is inconsistent with democratic governance”; the Obama administration has refused to release a single such opinion even though the court, “on at least one occasion”, found that the government was violating the Fourth Amendment in how it was using the law to eavesdrop on Americans.
But the Obama White House opposed all amendments, demanding a “clean” renewal of the law without any oversight or transparency reforms. Earlier this month, the GOP-led House complied by passing a reform-free version of the law’s renewal, and sent the bill Obama wanted to the Senate, where it was debated yesterday afternoon.
The Democratic Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, took the lead in attacking Wyden, Merkley, Udall and Paul with the most foul Cheneyite accusations, and demanded renewal of the FISA law without any reforms. And then predictably, in virtually identical 37-54 votes, Feinstein and her conservative-Democratic comrades joined with virtually the entire GOP caucus (except for three Senators: Paul, Mike Lee and Dean Heller) to reject each one of the proposed amendments and thus give Obama exactly what he demanded: reform-free renewal of the law (while a few Democratic Senators have displayed genuine, sustained commitment to these issues, most Democrats who voted against FISA renewal yesterday did so symbolically and half-heartedly, knowing and not caring that they would lose as evidenced by the lack of an attempted filibuster).
In other words, Obama successfully relied on Senate Republicans (the ones his supporters depict as the Root of All Evil) along with a dozen of the most militaristic Democrats to ensure that he can continue to eavesdrop on Americans without any warrants, transparency or real oversight. That’s the standard coalition that has spent the last four years extending Bush/Cheney theories, eroding core liberties and entrenching endless militarism: Obama + the GOP caucus + Feinstein-type Democrats. As Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s legislative counsel, put it to the Huffington Post: “I bet [Bush] is laughing his ass off.” (Read more)