Deconstructing Hypocrite Rand Paul’s Dog and Pony Filibuster Sideshow

rand paul

Over at Glenn Beck’s site The Blaze, they have a headline today: “Wall Street Journal tells Rand Paul to ‘calm down'”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) yesterday chose to filibuster for 13 hours the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. Editors at the Wall Street Journal’s conservative opinion pages aren’t happy. They wrote in an editorial today (sic) (note: link behind paywall):

Senator Paul had written the White House to inquire about the possibility of a drone strike against a U.S. citizen on American soil. Attorney General Eric Holder replied that the U.S. hasn’t and “has no intention” to bomb any specific territory. Drones are limited to the remotest areas of conflict zones like Pakistan and Yemen. But as a hypothetical Constitutional matter, Mr. Holder acknowledged the President can authorize the use of lethal military force within U.S. territory.

This shocked Senator Paul, who invoked the Constitution and Miranda rights. …

Calm down, Senator. Mr. Holder is right, even if he doesn’t explain the law very well. The U.S. government cannot randomly target American citizens on U.S. soil or anywhere else. What it can do under the laws of war is target an “enemy combatant” anywhere at anytime, including on U.S. soil.

The Blaze’s finishing touches:

The editorial concludes, “if Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously … he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms.”

The Wall Street Journal is correct regarding the law, as broken down for PoliticusUSA by Adalia Woodbury, “(T)he White Paper restricts using drones to attacks on a high ranking operative with Al-Qaeda or its allies. Second, the legal basis is solid, in that it applies national and international law, ranging from the Hague Conventions of 1907 (which are part of the legal framework for the rules of war) to recent court decisions.” It’s a fine distinction, but a rather important one. Still, Americans should be objecting and demanding transparency, but when objecting, facts matter. As does consistency.

The President wants Americans to demand transparency. This is why he discussed it with them in a transparent way on a Google Chat. The President knows full well that other administrations have been less than transparent on issues such as this. In pushing for transparency, the President is “anticipating the possibility that if he doesn’t establish legal standards for drones, it’s possible that a future administration will use the precedent, but perhaps lower (if any) legal standards.”

It’s not surprising that the WSJ’s editorial upset the alleged conservatives who cheered the use of illegal torture with no transparency under their guy; the WSJ called out Rand’s “political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms” and for a party catering to a deliberate misunderstanding of Libertarianism in order to feed/distract a religious base so it can fund the corporations of America, the truth is not a good thing.

It would be great if Rand Paul were truly against the harming of innocent Americans, but his track record against women and the civil rights movement suggests otherwise.

Nevertheless, if the Republicans will only remember Rand Paul’s words when they are next pushing for an invasion of a country based on a lie, or if they would turn that fine scrutiny upon their own party’s wildly reckless WMD failures, Rand Paul’s filibuster might have served a real purpose.

As it is, I remain unimpressed with the cheering of the rhetoric in light of the complicit silence in the lead up to the Iraq war, and of the same conservatives’ fierce defense of torture and refusal to get serious about closing Gitmo. Blaming Obama for that is not serious; the refusal to fund the closure ordered by Obama is in the NDAA, as authored by the usual suspects in the Senate. Willful misunderstanding and deliberate distortion of both government and legislation in order to support one party over another is not serious. Getting busted doing just that and refusing to correct the error puts a damper on credibility and principles as well.

Rand Paul endorsed Mitt Romney for president, and Mitt Romney’s foreign policy was everything a Libertarian is against. Romney’s tough talk against Iran, Russia, China and anyone else he thought he could use for political gain was outrageously dangerous and juvenile. Paul himself objected to Romney’s belief that as President he would have the power to declare war, “I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.”

Since Libertarians are known for being against interventionism, and this is sort of the biggest thing many of their followers champion, how could Rand Paul endorse Mitt Romney? If Rand Paul is really against the NDAA, why doesn’t he go after the actual Senators behind it? In 2009, Rand Paul wrote in a press release:

For Immediate Release
November 19, 2009

BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY – Leading United States Senate candidate Rand Paul today criticized the Obama administration’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and try terrorism suspects in United States Civil Courts.

“Foreign terrorists do not deserve the protections of our Constitution,” said Dr. Paul. “These thugs should stand before military tribunals and be kept off American soil. I will always fight to keep Kentucky safe and that starts with cracking down on our enemies.”

Dr. Paul believes in strong national defense and thinks military spending should be our country’s top budget priority. He has also called for a Constitutional declaration of war with Afghanistan.

So that’s a no to being against what the NDAA does (again, the NDAA defunded the closure of Gitmo and the transfer of prisoners, as well as killing civilian trials and the NDAA is a yearly funding bill – they do this every year, but no one ever paid attention before someone deceptively edited Senator Carl Levin on Obama and the NDAA) and a yes to military spending and war.

I’d cheer Paul on if I thought the embrace of his criticism would hold steady under all circumstances, but it’s only being used as a weapon of destruction against a political adversary rather than a grand principle of civil liberty.

If you really want to speak out and make a difference on the issue of drones, you would be better served to stand with people who mean what they say, and actually want to do something about it. Getting into bed with someone who thinks our military should be the top expense and is pro-Gitmo doesn’t say “I’m against the use of drones and the possible implications of their use”; it says, “I’m against drones because President Obama is using them.”

This won’t end well, as sleeping with the enemy of liberty never does. Rand Paul is not his father on matters of interventionism, and furthermore, liberty is a matter of cherry picking for him. He is not against war, he is against closing Gitmo, he is against the civil rights movement, and yet some liberals think there’s common ground here. The only thing we can hope for is that Rand’s filibuster has unintended consequences of forcing a dialogue of this magnitude the next time we’re told a mushroom cloud is coming for us unless we invade now.

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