Friday, December 28, 2012

Only 12 Senators Seem to Believe in the 4th Amendment

Rand Paul had recently introduced the 4th Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which essentially just reiterated our 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.  Of course, it was defeated by a vote of 12 yeahs to 79 nays.  It's stunning how people have completely forgotten our constitutional protections.  If this is an example of bipartisan cooperation, I want no part of it. 

Just a reminder, here is the text of the fourth amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Seems pretty clear.  You can't just do a search without a warrant, which has to be based upon probably cause.  And here is the text of the key portions of the 4th Amendment Preservation and Protection Act:

Congress finds that the right under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures is violated when the Federal Government or a State or local government acquires information voluntarily relinquished by a person to another party for a limited business purpose without the express informed consent of the person to the specific request by the Federal Government or a State or local government or a warrant, upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

The Federal Government or a State or local government may obtain, and a court may admit, information relating to an individual held by a third-party in a system of records if--
    (A) the individual whose name or identification information the Federal Government or State or local government is using to access the information provides express and informed consent to the search; or
    (B) the Federal Government or State or local government obtains a warrant, upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

ll seems pretty consistent right?  The government can't just snoop on you because it feels like it, not without probably cause and a warrant.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Senate doesn't seem to like the 4th Amendment and the Supreme Court is nowhere to be seen.  What's happened to this country?

Heritage Issue Brief - Rand Paul: Overcriminalization Chamption

Heritage, which is soon to be run by Rand Paul ally Jim DeMint, has come out with an issue brief on Rand Paul.  Here are some excerpts:

Since he was sworn into the Senate in 2011, Senator Rand Paul (R–KY) has consistently fought against overcriminalization, a term used to describe the use of criminal penalties to punish morally blameless conduct. Conduct that was not a crime in the past—and perhaps not a violation of any law—is now punished with time in prison.
Senator Paul has spent his time in the Senate educating people on the issue of overcriminalization, blocking legislation with overcriminalization elements, and proposing solutions to the overcriminalization problem. Paul should be applauded for his efforts.
In the early hours of the morning of September 22, 2012, the Senate was finishing up its pre-election business as usual, which entailed quickly passing several bills via unanimous consent agreement to keep the federal government funded. One of these bills, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2012, is much less pernicious than it might have been thanks to the work of Senator Paul.
One section of the bill, "International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement," was identical to a Senate bill of the same name (the International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act, or IFSEA) that likely did not have enough votes to pass as a stand-alone bill. However, "business as usual" in the Senate often entails Senators trying to shovel bills such as the IFSEA into other bills which are considered "must-pass legislation," such as the Coast Guard Authorization Act. In the end, Paul brought the Senate to a screeching halt to keep IFSEA from being enacted as part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act.
IFSEA would have added civil and criminal penalties for actions that are already penalized under 12 existing statutes. Existing criminal penalties would have increased from six months to five years in prison for simply catching the wrong type or number of fish. Additionally, IFSEA would have created an "International Fisheries Enforcement Program" and given the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) an additional $30 million per year to implement the program. NOAA has a history of abusive enforcement and has threatened fishermen, marine biologists, and others with fines and prison time in order partially to fund itself.[2]
Senator Paul's opposition to IFSEA was a matter of principle. IFSEA would have had little affect on his constituency—Kentucky is landlocked.
The FOCUS Act. The Lacey Act makes it a criminal offense in this country to import flora or fauna in violation of another nation's laws. Thus, under the Lacey Act, in addition to the estimated 4,500 U.S. criminal laws and numerous criminal regulations, Americans are now responsible for knowing the laws of foreign countries, even when those statutes are often written in foreign languages.
The Lacey Act has damaged the lives of numerous citizens. It sent one man to federal prison for six years because the lobsters he imported were a little too small, and he wrapped them in plastic instead of paper.[3] It also prompted federal agents to raid Gibson Guitar for the wood it imported from Indonesia.[4]
In response to these injustices, Senator Paul introduced the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures (FOCUS) Act of 2012, which would decriminalize any violations of the Lacey Act so that any violation of the act would be punishable with civil penalties only. This would, in effect, protect U.S. citizens from imprisonment merely for violating a foreign law that has no U.S. counterpart.
Special interest groups have kept the FOCUS Act from becoming law,[5] but Paul keeps fighting the good fight.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Courier-Journal: Hints at a Rand Paul Run for President

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the signs pointed to in this article are real:

Paul — a Kentuckian who has said he is considering a 2016 presidential run but has made no decision — is looking to make his first trip to Israel and Jordan sometime in the new year, he said in an interview. He didn't specify the date, citing security reasons.
He has confirmed meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres, as well as with several government ministers and members of the Knesset, according to the senator's office. Paul also is arranging meetings with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, Jordan's King Abdullah and others.
Paul said some critics have depicted him as anti-Israel because he favors cutting foreign aid, but he called that depiction a "misrepresentation."
"It is not my position to be against Israel," the senator said. "I'm appreciative of the fact that Israel is a democracy, one of the few true democracies in the Middle East, and I'm also appreciative that they've been a close friend and ally."
Paul said that foreign aid cuts "should start with countries who have not been good allies. ... I wouldn't start with Israel."

The trip to Israel is significant politically, said Steffen Schmidt, an Iowa State University political science professor.
"It's kind of laying the groundwork," Schmidt said. "Israel is a big, important marker for the Republicans, obviously. … Iowa evangelicals are very big supporters of Israel."

Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who ran for his party's nomination for president earlier this year, also has had some contacts with potential primary and caucus voters. The Kentuckian spoke at a breakfast in August held by the Iowa delegation to the Republican National Convention and has sent friendly messages to a Facebook page called "New Hampshire for Rand Paul."
The senator said he and his family will be part of a group of 50 to 100 evangelical Christians going to Israel and Jordan.
They include Brad Sherman, an Iowa pastor who headed up a group of pastors for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008 in the first-in-the-nation caucus state; Tamara Scott, Iowa chairwoman of Concerned Women for America, a religiously oriented conservative organization, and former Iowa co-chairwoman for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential bid this year; conservative Christian activist David Lane, based in California, who backed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for president this year; and Chad Connelly, South Carolina GOP chairman.
South Carolina is an early primary state.
"That must be coincidence. I don't know how that happened," Paul joked, referring to the presence of those politically connected people.

He seems to be laying the groundwork for a run.  As one of the few members of the Senate who is willing to stand up for the beliefs of our founding fathers, he would make an excellent President.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rand Paul is Defending Basic American Civil Liberties Against Attacks by John McCain and Barack Obama

I have to admit, after witnessing 9/11 firsthand from my office window, I didn't care much for the civil liberties of the terrorists or potential terrorists we might catch.  I knew I wasn't in danger of any part of the Patriot Act or other anti-terrorist legislation from that time period so it seemed to make me safer and didn't cost me anything.  One fact about government that I knew but didn't care about at the time was that any "temporary" authorization of government action has a nasty habit of becoming permanent.  What isn't much of a worry under a certain President becomes a much bigger worry when taking into consideration what future Presidents might do with the same authorization.


So I have to applaud Rand Paul for standing up and being the tip of the spear against both his Senate colleagues (of both parties, especially John McCain) and this administration with regards to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which codifies, for the first time, the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial until "the end of hostilities" in an undeclared war (which means forever).  Not only that, it expands the scope of who could be covered for action by the US government.  While the original authorization of the use of military force from 2001 targeted those who "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001" the NDAA expands this to cover those who "substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."  How does one define "associated forces"?  Do they have to be in an org chart?  Or just someone who basically agrees with them?  It doesn't seem to be much of a stretch to think that at some point an amendment might be attached to legislation that adds the phrase "or any other group deemed by the President to be a clear and present danger to the United States".  Suddenly all of us are at risk.  Half the Democratic Party already thinks the Tea Party is just a hate group that should be suppressed.

Here are some of the comments Rand Paul has made about the NDAA legislation and the infinite detention issue:

I met with cadets this week and they asked me about, 'what is the freedom we fight for?' The freedom we fight for is the Bill of Rights, it is the Constitution. If we have careless disregard for the Constitution, what are we fighting for? 
I will tell you since I know this record of this debate will be widely read, that I want to make former objection to the crazy bastards standard. I don't really think that if we're going to have a crazy bastard standard that we shouldn't have a right to trial by jury, because if we're going to lock up all the crazy bastards, for goodness sakes - would you not want if you're a crazy bastard to have a right to trial by jury? 

I think this is a very serious debate and should not be made frivolous. This is an ancient right that we have defended for 800 years, for goodness sakes. To say that habeas is due process is absurd. It's the beginning of due process. If you don't have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution. What are you fighting against and for if you throw the Constitution out? If you throw the Sixth Amendment out? It's in the body of our Constitution. It's in the Bill of Rights. It's in every constitution in the United States. For goodness sakes, the trial by jury has been a long-standing and ancient and noble right. For goodness sakes, let's not scrap it now.

And these:

The discussion now to suspend certain rights to due process is especially worrisome given that we are engaged in a war that appears to have no end. Rights given up now cannot be expected to be returned. So, we do well to contemplate the diminishment of due process, knowing that the rights we lose now may never be restored. My well-intentioned colleagues ignore these admonitions in defending provisions of the Defense bill pertaining to detaining suspected terrorists. Their legislation would arm the military with the authority to detain indefinitely – without due process or trial – SUSPECTED al-Qaida sympathizers, including American citizens apprehended on American soil.
I want to repeat that. We are talking about people who are merely SUSPECTED of a crime. And we are talking about American citizens.

Detaining citizens without a court trial is not American. In fact, this alarming arbitrary power is reminiscent of Egypt's "permanent" Emergency Law authorizing preventive indefinite detention, a law that provoked ordinary Egyptians to tear their country apart last spring and risk their lives to fight.  Recently, Justice Scalia affirmed this idea in his dissent in the Hamdi case, saying: "Where the Government accuses a citizen of waging war against it, our constitutional tradition has been to prosecute him in federal court for treason or some other crime."  He concluded: "The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive."  Justice Scalia was, as he often does, following the wisdom of our founding fathers.
As Franklin wisely warned against, we should not attempt to trade liberty for security, if we do we may end up with neither. And really, what security does this indefinite detention of Americans give us?  The current Authorization for Use of Military Force confines the universe to persons implicated in the 9/11 attacks or who harbored those who were.  The detainee provision would expand the universe to include any person said to be "part of" or "substantially" supportive of al-Qaida or Taliban.  These terms are dangerously vague. More than a decade after 9/11, the military has been unable to define the earmarks of membership in or affiliation to either organization.  Some say that to prevent another 9/11 attack we must fight terrorism with a war mentality and not treat potential attackers as criminals. For combatants captured on the battlefield, I tend to agree.  But 9/11 didn't succeed because we granted the terrorists due process. 9/11 attacks did not succeed because al-Qaida was so formidable, but because of human error. The Defense Department withheld intelligence from the FBI. No warrants were denied. The warrants weren't requested. The FBI failed to act on repeated pleas from its field agents, agents who were in possession of laptop with information that might have prevented 9/11.
These are not failures of laws. They are not failures of procedures. They are failures of imperfect men and women in bloated bureaucracies. No amount of liberty sacrificed on the altar of the state will ever change that.  A full accounting of our human failures by 9/11 Commission would have proven that enhanced cooperation between law enforcement and the intelligence community, not military action or vandalizing liberty at home, is the key to thwarting international terrorism.  We should not have to sacrifice our Liberty to be safe. We cannot allow the rules to change to fit the whims of those in power. The rules, the binding chains of our constitution were written so that it didn't MATTER who was in power. In fact, they were written to protect us and our rights, from those who hold power without good intentions. We are not governed by saints or angels. Our constitution allows for that. This bill does not.  Finally, the detainee provisions of the defense authorization bill do another grave harm to freedom: they imply perpetual war for the first time in the history of the United States.
No benchmarks are established that would ever terminate the conflict with al-Qaida, Taliban, or other foreign terrorist organizations. In fact, this bill explicitly states that no part of this bill is to imply any restriction on the authorization to use force. No congressional review is allowed or imagined. No victory is defined. No peace is possible if victory is made impossible by definition.  To disavow the idea that the exclusive congressional power to declare war somehow allows the President to continue war forever at whim, I will also be offering an amendment this week to de-authorize the Iraq War.  Use of military force must begin in congress with its authorization. And it should end in congress with its termination. Congress should not be ignored or an afterthought in these matters, and must reclaim its constitutional duties.  The detainee provisions ask us to give up consist rights as an emergency or exigency but make no room for expiration. Perhaps the Emergency Law in Egypt began with good intentions in 1958 but somehow it came to be hated, to be despised with such vigor that protesters chose to burn themselves alive rather allow continuation of indefinite detention.
Today, someone must stand up for the rights of the American people to be free. We must stand up to tyranny disguised as security. I urge my colleagues to reject the language on detainees in this bill, and to support amendments to strip these provisions from the defense bill.

Thanks to Rand Paul's attacks on the original NDAA, an amendment was attached to the Senate version which stated 
"an authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States unless an act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention."  But the conference committee headed by John McCain stripped that portion from the final version, a final version that will likely be signed by Obama if passed.

We all need to support Rand Paul in this fight and call our representatives so they can stop this infinite detention bill.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rand Paul: Why Take Money from the Productive and Give it to the Non-Productive Government?

Here is the esteemed Senator talking with Greta about the fiscal cliff and tax rates:

I would say that it's not a good idea to raise anyone taxes, and that the marketplace does not differentiate whether you take the money from rich people, poor people, or middle class. The marketplace says if you are going to take $800 billion, are you taking it out of the private sector, the productive sector, and are you going to give it to the nonproductive sector in Washington, basically the sector of people who are always messing up things in the marketplace? Are you going to do that? If you are going to do that, it's a bad idea no matter whether it's rich people, middle class, or poor. It doesn't matter. If you take money out of the private sector, it's a bad idea.


It isn't a fair tax code. The way you get a fair tax code is to lower rates and get rid of deductions so people don't have to avoid their taxes. But I will say in Google's defense, the corporate income tax in our country is 35 percent. In Canada it's 15 percent. In Bermuda I think it's nine percent. All across Europe it's in the 20s. Money goes to where it's welcome. Money is not welcome in the United States, or the president is trying to make it worse so money and people will flee. People will flee if you raise their taxes. They also won't work as hard and you'll be getting less revenue, not more, exactly the opposite of what the president wants.

Monday, December 10, 2012

William Kristol is Doing a Great Neville Chamberlain Impersonation

How bad are things in the Republican Party these days?  William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard berated the Wall Street Journal editors today for sticking to their anti-tax increase guns.  You see Kristol, like many in the establishment (and most car salesman and investment bankers) seem to think any deal, no matter how bad, is better than no deal at all.  He thinks we should give in as a form of "tactical retreat" and try to move on from the current state we are in.  If we don't:

If we go over the cliff, there won't be damage to Obama's chances of second-term success. Quite the contrary. What Republicans will have done is to make Democrats the party of tax cuts and Obama a president fighting for economic growth.

Democrats will be the party of tax cuts and economic growth?  What a laugh.  This whole cliff issue is only occurring because the Democrats want to raise taxes.  And if they are the party of economic growth, why has it been so absent over the last 4 years?  If this fight was happening in October and people's knee jerk reactions to going over the fiscal cliff would guide their voting decisions, Kristol might have a point.  But we are two years before the next elections so really, does it matter if the Republicans get the immediate blame?  Remember, between now and the next elections the bureaucratic debacle that is Obamacare is set to be enacted.  Any wishful thinking by voters towards Democrats because of some good spin today will be long forgotten as people lose their insurance and then have to immediately buy new insurance or face IRS penalties.  And then let's not forget all the goodies in the other 2,000 pages of Obamacare and all the unintended and unforeseen consequences that will bring about. 

Kristol and the rest of the establishment are also under the delusion that Romney wasn't really moderate enough during his Presidential campaign.  They seem to take the base for granted and are neurotically concerned what the middle 10% of Americans think about them, as they believe that attracting them to the GOP will fundamentally help the parties chances.  Guess what, if they lose the base, they are nowhere.  If the base starts staying home because they increasingly start to think "there is no real difference between the parties" then it really won't matter how many independents you attract. 

We didn't vote Republican so that the Republican leadership would prostrate themselves in front of the independent voters and try to maximize poll numbers at all times.  No, we voted Republican to fight for our individual liberty, for free markets, for low taxes, for the ideas this country was founded upon but are increasingly under seige.  If Republicans can't stand their ground two years before the next election, when exactly will they?

Appeasing Obama now will only work as well as other episodes of appeasement have in the past.  The appeaser only looks weak and gains absolutely nothing, not even much of a reprieve. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ryan and Rubio Are Strangely Silent About Both the Fiscal Cliff and the Conservative Purge

PPP just came out with a poll about the different contenders for the major party nominations in 2016.  Ryan and Rubio are the two candidates most preferred by conservative Republican voters (Chris Christie wins "moderates") yet where are they with regards to one of the most important near-term issues facing this country today, the fiscal cliff?  They both seem to be too busy giving speeches trying to rebrand themselves as inclusive and compassionate conservatives to bother actually fighting for our ideals.  If they are truly trying to lead this country, shouldn't they start right now, when we actually need it?  Shouldn't they have their own plans that don't include tax increases?  My guess is that if one or both of them came out with a plan or plans for the fiscal cliff that doesn't involve higher taxes that they would be able to get Republicans to dump Boehner's festering turd of a plan.   Instead, we have nothing.  Pretty much just crickets and some campaigning for themselves.  They are also completely silent on the conservative purge from Ryan's own Budget Committee (though it seems likely Ryan himself ok-ed the purge from the committee that he chairs, so it's not surprising he isn't commenting on that). 

Rand Paul, on the other hand, is being far more hands on with the fiscal cliff issue and also made these comments about the purge on Peter Schiff's radio show:

We had a couple of congressmen who stood up and said you know what the Paul Ryan budget doesn't balance for 28 years, and so for voting against the Republican establishment they were purged...  I guess it shows the true colors of people.  I don't know if any of these people want to run for president, maybe they're going to have to explain why they wanted to purge people from their committees who believe in balancing the budget.

If Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio aren't willing to stand up for conservative principles from attacks from within the Republican Party, how can we possibly have faith that they will do so when there are attacks from without?  I'm not that surprised by Paul Ryan, who I believe is over-rated given his horribly sucky budget plan but I am a little with Rubio who took on the establishment in the form of Charlie Crist in order to get elected in the first place.  I guess now that he has Presidential aspirations, he is now far less willing to rock the boat and is likely to be a major disappointment going forward.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Looks like the Republican Civil War is On

The establishment is looking to purge conservatives and the Tea Party from the GOP.  Check out this op-ed from the former research director of the RNC (in the New York Times, of course):

In the 1960s, Buckley, largely through his position at the helm of National Review, displayed political courage and sanity by taking on the John Birch Society, an influential anti-Communist group whose members saw conspiracies everywhere they looked.

Fast forward half a century. The modern-day Birchers are the Tea Party. By loudly espousing extreme rhetoric, yet holding untenable beliefs, they have run virtually unchallenged by the Republican leadership, aided by irresponsible radio talk-show hosts and right-wing pundits. While the Tea Party grew, respected moderate voices in the party were further pushed toward extinction. Republicans need a Buckley to bring us back. 


But his biggest challenge came from the far right, primarily in the form of the John Birch Society. During the 1950s and early '60s, Birchers demanded that the government rid itself of supposed Communists — including, according its founder, Robert Welch (no relation, thank heaven), Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Mr. Christie and Mr. Bush are ideally suited to drive extremists from the party.

The Tea Party are "modern-day Birchers"?  Really?  Somehow believing in individual liberty and limited government is the same as believing that Ike was a closet communist?  And should be driven from the party?  For standing up for the ideals that this country was founded on?  This from a senior Republican member of the establishment?  Wow, the GOP is just lost if that is what the GOP leadership thinks. 

And this wasn't the only thing that happened in recent days.  The leadership has also purged conservatives from key committee assignments for not "playing ball" and for actually and shockingly trying to keep the promises they made to their constituents.  They also decided to agree to at least $800 billion in tax increases over the next 10 years, which if enacted will almost surely cause a recession.

The conservatives in the party aka the base that votes Republican year after year, needs to rise up, as we did in the past and right this ship.  Before we are simply the party of slightly smaller government instead of limited government and big freedom.