Rand Paul

GOP Should Side with Civil Libertarians Rand Paul and Mike Lee, Not Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton, on Patriot Act Provisions

The Arkansas senator's commitment to a national security state and bellicose foreign policy seems like a fan fiction version of Dr. Strangelove.

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If and when the history of the current moment gets written, here's hoping that the stand in favor of limited government, rule of law, and goddamned basic decency mounted by Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and a few others is more than a footnote. And here's hoping that the unbalanced machinations of characters such as Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton are fully understood as the useless, hysterical reactions they are.

Our story thus far: Earlier this week, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act, which hems in certain surveillance practices passed during the Bush years as a way of fighting terrorists. As Scott Shackford noted here earlier, the new bill is better than the Patriot Act provisions it replaces, but it's not without critics, especially among libertarian-leaning members of Congress. Rep. Justin Amash, for instance, was one of eight Republicans who voted against it, explaining

H.R. 2048 falls woefully short of reining in the mass collection of Americans' data, and it takes us a step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Americans, and members of Congress, should demand that Congress instead pass the original, bipartisan version of the USA FREEDOM Act from 2013, which strengthened—not weakened—Section 215's relevance standard to end bulk collection, while still allowing the government the flexibility it needs to pursue genuine threats against the United States.

In the GOP-controlled Senate, though, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hell-bent on extending Patriot Act provisions that have rightly drawn criticism for being overly broad, useless in combating terrorism, and destructive of civil liberties. So what, reports Politico:

McConnell made clear his preference for a two-month extension of the current law. And to bolster his case against the House measure, the GOP leadership invited Michael Mukasey to meet with Senate Republicans, and the former attorney general argued in favor of keeping the PATRIOT Act provisions intact.

Jumping Jeebus! This, from the leader of a party dedicated to limited government and individual freedom and all that jazz. Politico further notes

Concerned Senate Republicans are now pumping the brakes while the debate over the PATRIOT Act further exposes a rift within the GOP between its hawkish and libertarian wings.

In an example of the internal party warfare, Sen. Mike Lee, a libertarian Republican from Utah, came to the Senate floor Tuesday to try to force a vote on the House-passed bill. Standing in the way was hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who's been organizing briefings for Republicans aimed at pushing them to support a straight extension of the PATRIOT Act. Cotton blocked Lee's attempt, leaving the immediate future of the surveillance program hanging in the balance.

Good for Mike Lee. And for Rand Paul, whose filibuster back in 2013 helped call attention to government abuses under The Patriot Act. This time around, Paul gave a long speech (technically not a filibuster) that shows that at least some of the GOP (not to mention Democrats such as Ron Wyden) actually give a hoot about the Constitution.

Alas, the same can't be said for recent Republican arrivals such as Cotton, who is balls out in favor of a "clean" Patriot Act extension because SYMPHONY ORCHESTRAS. As Cotton told The Washington Examiner:

To put it in non-intelligence terms: A symphony doesn't just have horns or percussion, it takes all of them together to create a harmony. All the tools that our intelligence professional have work together in concert and to deprive them of this critical tool would lead to attacks on the United States.

At least since the rise of a libertarian wing of the Republican Party, the GOP has at least two paths when it comes to foreign policy, the war on terror, and civil liberties. It can side with the Mike Lees and the Rand Pauls of the world, who are serious about extending limited government principles to all aspects of state activity. Or it can continue to lay in with characters such as Mitch McConnell, whose devotion to anything other than his own power to swing deals to his constituents is unclear, and Tom Cotton, whose commitment to a national security state and bellicose foreign policy seems like a fan fiction version of Dr. Strangelove.

I hope the GOP will go in a libertarian direction on this one, but past performance shouldn't make anybody overly optimistic.

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  1. Well I’m just a dumb Canadian, but I thought there were two parties in that there Senate you people have? Or do only Republicans get vote while they keep Democrats (who are all women and/or black) in chains?

    With less sarcasm: why no ‘pox on both houses’ angle here?

    1. You notice the democrats aren’t making news defending *or* opposing this?

      None of them have the balls to take a public stand here.

      1. Does make me wish there was some kind of profession whose practitioners could ask them for their position, thus allowing public to see where they (and, by extension, party as a whole) stand on the issue. Too bad that such thing would basically be sorcery…

        1. Did you see what they did to Robby when he tried to find out what the coach said? Well…

          1. Robby has Weigel to comfort him, so he’ll be OK. I’m sure he can’t wait to tell him how horrible those students were.

            In this particular context, “you are making us feel unsafe so you must leave” is definitely taking a position on extending the Patriot Act, at least.

            1. Leave Robby alone, his hair is beautiful and reminds me of summer days and love lost long ago.

              1. His hair reminds me of a warm safe place,where as a child I’d hide and pray for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by.

                1. His hair looks like your Mom’s cleavage?

        2. Grand inquisitor?

    2. One party controls the Senate at a time down here.

      1. So the other party is not allowed to vote? Because my impression is, Senators can vote as they well damn please and there’s no such thing as a ‘whipped vote’ like up here. So Dems and Repubs should be able to add enough votes to stop the act, whatever Rep majority wants, no?

        1. “…and there’s no such thing as a ‘whipped vote’ like up here.”

          You do realize there’s positions in our Senate actually named “Majority Whip” and “Minority Whip”, right? They’re not menu items in a themed restaurant…

    3. With less sarcasm: why no ‘pox on both houses’ angle here?

      Wyden is so dreamy.

  2. This, from the leader of a party dedicated to limited government and individual freedom and all that jazz.

    Wait, who? Which party was that again?

    1. The Raving Monster Looney Party.

      1. THe Whacko Bird Party.

      1. Don’t blame me, I voted sensible

        1. YOUR VOTE IS MEANINGLESS

          …unless you vote for the Silly Party. Then it merely becomes silly.

    2. The Whigs?

    3. …and all that jazz.

      Roy Scheider danced into our hearts in that movie

  3. Cotton is a POS. I have nothing but contempt for him. I hope he chokes on Lindsey Graham’s shriveled balls.

  4. to deprive them of this critical tool would lead to attacks on the United States

    I’ll take those odds in a heartbeat.

    1. A person is more likely to be injured crossing the street.

      1. This exactly. The primary problem with terrorist attacks is that a few terrorist attacks have the potential to cause a decadent, fearful, rich and privileged country to severely overreact and bury themselves by eliminating their own liberties that made them successful in the first place.

        They can’t really take anything from us that we don’t willingly give them. This is one reason I hate the people whining about ‘provocation’ when people draw pictures of Mohammad – you’re basically giving in to terrorist attacks for no reason by behaving as if we should adjust our behavior based on a really fairly minor threat.

        1. We have way more to fear from government than we do from terrorists. No one could get elected saying that, of course.

          1. Reagan did.

            1. Many people believed that he meant it. I didn’t. That was my first Team L vote.

        2. It’s always pissed me off when some statist tells me we should let the government “protect us” and keep on as we always have because “OTHERWIZE TEH TERRORITZT HAVE WON!!!1!!!11”.

          From my point of view, from TSA to shining DHS, the terrorists won a long time ago. Can we get out from under our desks now?? Please Mr Gubmint?

  5. At risk of sounding cliche, what we’re seeing here is a war over the soul of the Republican party. Is it the party of Goldwater and Reagan? Or is it the party of Peter King and Lindsey Graham?

    Yes, I know, neither Goldwater nor Reagan were ever in practice as small government as their rhetoric. But, that rhetoric, if you chose to take it seriously, really did lead to a libertarian conclusion.

    Frankly, if the GOP goes with the latter, you might as well stick a fork in the party. They’re done. There’s really no logical reason for conservatism or the Republican party, at least in the American tradition, if you abandon the individual.

    1. You can say that again

    2. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said party X is done, “stick a fork” in it. It’s never done. Parties change constantly and in any direction all the time.

      1. Parties change constantly and in any direction all the time.

        Except, of course, for when they don’t.

        And when that happens while the world around them changes, they’ve outlived their usefulness. And they end up dying.

        And that’s the position the GOP is in right now. If they can’t offer up a vision or set of principles that will capture the public’s imagination, all they’re left with is being like the Democrats, only better managers and more willing to kill people. That isn’t a long-term prescription for survival.

        1. Except the GOP won’t die, even if there’s only a few thousand left in its base.

          Because $$$.

          All those businesses and billionaires giving money to the GOP (not to mention all the FYTW campaign rules that handicap third parties) keeps it on life support. As long as the money rolls in, the establishment will keep doing X when its dwindling base wants Y. It’ll just keep offering up weaker and weaker candidates until it gets to the point where the Democrats are the Harlem Globetrotters and the Republicans are the Washington Generals, both sides happy to play the role and stay in power. And the populace will mostly not care.

      2. Parties change constantly and in any direction all the time.

        Except, of course, for when they don’t.

        And when that happens while the world around them changes, they’ve outlived their usefulness. And they end up dying.

        And that’s the position the GOP is in right now. If they can’t offer up a vision or set of principles that will capture the public’s imagination, all they’re left with is being like the Democrats, only better managers and more willing to kill people. That isn’t a long-term prescription for survival.

        1. What’s up with the double posting tonight, Bill?

  6. At risk of sounding cliche, what we’re seeing here is a war over the soul of the Republican party. Is it the party of Goldwater and Reagan? Or is it the party of Peter King and Lindsey Graham?

    Yes, I know, neither Goldwater nor Reagan were ever in practice as small government as their rhetoric. But, that rhetoric, if you chose to take it seriously, really did lead to a libertarian conclusion.

    Frankly, if the GOP goes with the latter, you might as well stick a fork in the party. They’re done. There’s really no logical reason for conservatism or the Republican party, at least in the American tradition, if you abandon the individual.

    1. Dunno about Goldwater.

  7. Just a hint: They also ought to try to change the name to:
    “Spying on Citizens Act”
    Maybe that would give ’em a spinal transplant.

  8. People need to understand the there *will* be another attack and that we should not be willing to surrender privacy and dignity over a hysterical reaction to it. If it comes as a surprise, you can guarantee an indefinite extension of the Patriot Act (or whatever incarnation it’s in at the time).

  9. Sen. Mike Lee, a libertarian Republican from Utah*

    One minute he’s a mild-mannered SoCon progressive, populist “reform conservative” then he ducks into a phone booth and emerges as “libertarian Republican”-Man!

    (*yeah, I know Nick blockquoted it from Politico)

    1. I’d give even odds that he’s more libertarian than Wyden.

      1. Safe bet. I’d put $10k against $10 on that one.

  10. Baltimore rioters destroyed a woman’s house and her sick sons medical equipment.

    You’d better not call these upstanding gentlemen who destroyed a black child’s medical equipment ‘thugs’ though, you fucking racists.

    1. The story is legitimately one of the worst things I’ve ever heard:

      Gloria Dukes said she’ll never forget the sight of Lawson, her youngest child, standing at the door with the boy cradled in her arms. She could see the flames in the distance behind them.

      “I couldn’t do nothing but hold her,” she recalled. “I told her it was a test ? ‘God is testing you to see how strong you’re going to be.’?”

      Lawson said she is just grateful that her son survived.

      Her longtime friend and neighbor, Ashley Diaz, 28, saw smoke rising from the liquor store and pounded on Lawson’s door. “I almost ripped the screen door off,” Diaz said.

      The fire marked the second time that Lawson nearly lost Khai’Lee.

      “Black lives matter! (except the people we almost kill while committing arson).”

    2. What should we call those bikers down in Waco?

      1. Why those upstanding gentlemen are liberty loving patriots! We know that because their skin lacks high levels of melanin which dulls the mind and blackens the soul.

      2. What the fuck kind of stupid question is that?

        Christ, do you really think that because people are disgusted by rioters burning down someone’s home and leaving their child without needed medical equipment, they’re okay with a different set of rioters because they’re white?

        Are you really that fucking stupid? Or are you just a social justice cadre concern troll?

        1. Do you think the Waco thugs have been discussed at nearly the same amount and level as the Baltimore ones Bill? Have they here? Why do you think that is?

          1. You’re not even coherent. A restaurant of criminals erupting in violence and an entire community burning itself down are hardly equivalent issues.

            1. Yeah, the former was several times more deadly.

              1. Yeah, they’re gang banging bikers. Funny how that happens. Almost seems like a similar issue would involve bloods and crips.

              2. Nah, Baltimore excels at killing.

          2. Do you think the Waco thugs have been discussed at nearly the same amount and level as the Baltimore ones Bill?

            Who gives a shit?!

            What, are you now pushing for affirmative action in fucking media coverage? Guess what, there wasn’t anyone, whatsoever, giving us a raft of shit about their fucking empathy for the Waco bikers. There wasn’t anyone prattling on about the goddamned “root causes” of them acting like a bunch of assholes. And that’s a good thing. But, it’s not exactly much of a conversation when everyone says “fuck them”.

          3. Because the Baltimore riots are indicative of a much larger, more widespread, and hugely expensive social problem than any (and all) biker gang feuds?

        2. Are you really that fucking stupid? Or are you just a social justice cadre concern troll?

          He really is that fucking stupid. Yesterday he asked everyone if they’d call the white bikers who got in a shootout ‘thugs’ apparently under the idiotic assumption that we’d say ‘no because they’re white!’ Of course, no one would disagree with the assertion that the bikers were thugs.

          Personally I think thug is actually too mild a word for people who shoot each other in public and place bystanders at risk. I’d like to see Bo spin this as being somehow ‘racist,’ but I’m sure our resident idiot will try.

          1. In prepper lingo, ZMBT (it is, indeed, used so often as to require an acronym) stands for Mutant Zombie Biker Thugs, who will rape us all after the apocalypse.

            True story.

            1. ZMBT

              Mutant Zombie Biker Thugs

              So most preppers are dyslexic?

          2. Right, I associate thug with property damage, assault, intimidation. The bikers are murderers. Thug still applies, but my mind goes to stronger words.

    3. That sucks

    4. Well, Irish, you have to break some eggs to make an omelet. All the people telling me how much the rioters deserved our empathy assured me of this.

  11. If Rand Paul raped a black hole I’d vote for him.
    If Rand Paul raped a red dwarf I’d vote for him.
    If Rand Paul raped an F5 tornado right in the pussy I’d vote for him.
    If Rand Paul raped Jupiter in the ass I’d vote for him.
    If Rand Paul raped an icey comet butt in outer space I’d still vote for him.
    I’d vote for Rand Paul if he had a parallel universe time machine and traveled to Agile Cyborg time and raped Agile Cyborg’s holes. I’d still vote for him.

  12. Stoopid mammals, your political maneuvering are just so much meat posturing

    1. Lizards are meat too, Mr. L.

  13. I’ve said it before, Mike Lee should be Rand’s VP choice.

  14. “Civil libertarians rand paul and Mike lee”

    Cite needed. I’m curious, nick, just whom is the fall back pro-lifer and drug warrior republican candidate we libertarians should get behind once boy wonder comes in 7th with Republican church ladies. I say anyone is better than the hellhound she-Beast the Dems are putting forward.

    1. I’m curious, sock. Who are we supposed to blame when we run out of toilet paper under First SecretaryPresident Bernie Sanders’ watch?

      1. We aren’t going to run out of toilet paper, president sanders will ban it to save the earth.

        We’ll have to use sponges like the Romans.

      2. But then, some people will have nicer sponges than others, so…

        1. They’ll just tell us to pound sand.

      3. Don’t know. You’ll have to point out some precedence for the catastrophes that socialism has brought to America. The last time anyone that could remotely be called a socialist (I find right- wing assertions that Obama or Clinton are socialist more hurtful than you know ) was president he inherited an economy that was contracting by 13%. When that same blood-thirsty Stalinist died the economy was growing by 8%.

        1. Haha, beautiful. So you go with the president that did, actually, institute rationing. Among many, many other horrible policies, over his 12 years of stagnation.

          1. It’s not like he put people in camps!

            Oh wait…

            1. Name me a single politician of any significance that opposed Japanese internment. I know of one very significant exception. You may want to click on my nom de plume

          2. “Rationing”

            Hunh… You know, I heard about this thing called World War 2. Do you know anything about it?

            “Stagnation”

            The GDP went from 56.4b to 223.1b in 12 years from 1933 to 1945–an increase of almost 400% and a little over 12% growth per year. That’s stagnation?

        2. american socialist|5.20.15 @ 11:10PM|#
          “[…]You’ll have to point out some precedence for the catastrophes that socialism has brought to America[…]”

          FDR, shitstain.

          1. Um, Herbert Hoover’s prohibition enforcement destroyed the economy AND made FDR president for life (to say nothing of ushering nationalsocialism into Germany). Surely a better example can be found with which to slap uppity looters upside the haid?

        3. Holy fuck that’s retarded, even for you asshole.

    2. american socialist|5.20.15 @ 10:23PM|#
      “[…]I’m curious, nick,[…]”

      No, shitstain, you are once again lying in the typical lefty fashion:
      Innuendo, misdirection, and outright lies. If you didn’t have mendacity, you’d have nothing to post.

  15. I agree. He is perfect.

  16. Mike Lee has it going on…..

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  21. The GOP will back whoever the Prohibition Party tells it to back, and that candidate will, like George Bush, demand the death sentence for marijuana kingpins and reversal of Roe v. Wade. Read the Prohibition Party platform and you can make book on what GOP looters will do, just as the CPUSA platform predicts what the Dems will say.

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