Thursday, January 31, 2013

Video: Rand Paul's Bryan Fischer Interview

Here is a great interview of Rand Paul by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association.  He talks about immigration, gay marriage and more:

Video: Rand Paul on His Bill To Ban Advanced Weapons Sales to the Anti-Semitic Government of Egypt

Watch this video.  One interesting tidbit in this was that apparently AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobby group, had lobbied to send F-16's and M1A1 tanks to Egypt (Egypt already has 240 F-16's and over 1,000 M1A1 tanks), weapons that undoubtedly one day will be used against Israel itself.  Inside the beltway thinking is so messed up:

79 Senators Support Sending Advanced Weapons Systems to the Genocidal Anti-Semitic Government of Egypt

Senator Rand Paul introduced a bill that would have prohibited the sale of M1A1 tanks, F-16 fighter jets and other advanced weapons systems to the Muslim Brotherhood led government of Egypt. This despite the fact there is overwhelming evidence that they are horribly anti-semitic and likely to turn those weapons on Israel once they consolidate their power.  It was defeated 19-79.  What possible justification can there be to send advanced weapons systems to Egypt?  It's just mind blowing.  In fact, Egypt already has over 1,000 M1A1 tanks and 240 F-16 fighter jets.  That's quite an arsenal and a major danger to the Jewish state.  Here were Rand Paul's comments upon introduction of his bill:

I rise today to present legislation that would stop the transfer of F-16s and Abrams tanks to Egypt. I think it particularly unwise to send tanks and our most sophisticated fighter planes to Egypt at a time at which many are saying the country may be unraveling. 

Ironically, a year ago the Arab spring occurred. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Tahrir square to protest a government that was instituting martial law. Ironically the current President now has instituted martial law and once again the dreaded indefinite intention is threatened to citizens in Egypt. 

As the writing expands, many see Egypt descending into chaos. What is President Obama's response to this? To send them some of the most sophisticated weapons we have: F-16 fighters and Abrams tanks. I think this is particularly unwise, and this legislation will stop it. 

I think this is particularly unwise since Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that 'Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs.' This doesn't sound like the kind of stable personality we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to. 

I think it is a grave mistake to send F-16s and tanks to a country that detained American citizens on trumped up political charges. On a country that currently is still detaining Egyptian citizens on trumped-up political charges. 

I think it is a blunder of the first proportion to send sophisticated weapons to a country that allowed a mob to attack our embassy and to burn our flag. I find it objectionable to send weapons, F-16s and tanks, to a company that allowed a mob chanting "death to America" to threaten our American diplomats. 

I am concerned that these weapons, some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, someday may be used against Israel. I'm concerned that these weapons threaten Israel's security and that sending weapons to a country with a president who recently was seen to be chanting "amen" to a cleric that was saying "death to Israel and death to those who support Israel." 

I think it's foolhardy to support and send arms to both sides of an arms race. We send 20 F-16s to Egypt which already has 240 F-16s. We send 20 in addition. What does Israel feel? They've got to have two for every one Egypt has. It escalates an arms race. It makes it more difficult for Israel to defend herself. 

Today we have a chance to stop this folly. I urge my Senators to instruct the President that we will not send any more F-16s and any more Abrams tanks to the current government of Egypt. Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield back my time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rand Paul and Jeff Duncan Demand Investigation Into Benghazi Attack

Here is the letter from Senator Rand Paul and Representative Jeff Duncan sent to the House and Senate leadership demanding a full Congressional investigation into the Benghazi Attack.  It lays out all the issues pretty succinctly:

We write to respectfully urge immediate action from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to fully investigate the facts surrounding the terrorist attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The FBI has led an ongoing criminal investigation into the events in Benghazi, relying on cooperation from local and national police in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt. Incredibly, this investigation has proceeded very slowly with the FBI only reaching the scene of attack weeks afterwards due to the Libyan government's lack of approval. The FBI has also been conducting its investigation in Tripoli – more than 500 miles from the scene of attack. Worsening the situation, the Tunisian authorities recently released Ali Ani al-Harzi, the only suspect in the attack to have been taken into custody. To-date, the U.S. Government has yet to bring to justice any of the terrorists responsible for the attack in Benghazi.

On December 30, 2012, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) released a report on the Benghazi terrorist attacks entitled, Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack in Benghazi. Among its findings, it stated that "the State Department failed to take adequate steps to fill the resulting security gap, or to invest in upgrading the Libyan security forces" and that "the Department of State did not adequately respond to security requests from its personnel in Benghazi."

Last week, Secretary Hillary Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee on the finding of the Accountability Review Board's (ARB) report on the attacks and on the State Department's performance leading up to, during, and following the attack. The ARB found that "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place."

In a CNN interview last October, Secretary Clinton stated, "I take responsibility [for the security of American diplomatic outposts]. I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts." Yet, Secretary Clinton was not interviewed by the ARB, and she has chosen not to relieve those responsible for gross negligence in the State Department from their posts. Instead, these individuals have only been placed on administrative leave, and they continue receiving paychecks from the American taxpayers.

The Administration's explanation to the American people about what occurred in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 reveal stunning discrepancies between the falsehood that was propagated for weeks on end by Ambassador Susan Rice that the attack was "spontaneous," the outcome of a protest "spun out of control" and the truth validated in the ARB that "the Board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks." The American people do not take lightly to being misled about what really happened in Benghazi, and we believe that those decision-makers responsible for such action should be held accountable.

Further, we find Secretary Clinton's attempts to shift the blame for the State Department's mismanagement and poor leadership to a lack of funding from the U.S. Congress extremely troubling. Secretary Clinton's own Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb testified to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 10, 2012 that budgetary considerations played no role in the State Department's refusal to send additional security personnel to Benghazi.

This is not a money problem – it is a leadership and management problem entrenched within the State Department. Last year, instead of ensuring that Americans in high-risk areas had adequate security, the State Department and USAID spent $322,000 to build dog kennels in Iraq, $750,000 to restore a sixteenth-century tomb complex in India, $700,000 to conserve ruins in Tanzania, and $20 million to spark "private sector competitiveness" in Ethiopia. While some of these programs may support U.S. interests in some capacity, shouldn't the State Department consider the lives of American diplomats more valuable when prioritizing funding?

On May 7, 2012, the State Department denied a request by a group of Special Forces assigned to protect the U.S. consulate in Libya to continue their use of a DC-3 airplane for security operations. Yet four days later, the State Department authorized the U.S. embassy in Vienna to purchase a $108,000 electric vehicle charging station for the embassy Chevrolet Volts as part of the "Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe" initiative. We find that these priorities in expenditures in light of the deteriorating security environment in Benghazi a matter that requires full accountability by those responsible.

We believe that the U.S. Congress has a responsibility to the American people to conduct appropriate oversight over this issue. We are not satisfied by the testimony given by Secretary Clinton last week, nor do we believe the complete picture was given by the ARB.

In light of all of this, we feel there is a compelling reason for Congress to open its own investigation into what happened in Benghazi.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rand Paul to Propose Ban on Sending F-16's to Egypt

I'm kind of surprised that other "pro-Israel" Senators haven't done so already.  From BuzzFeed:

Sen. Rand Paul told an off-the-record meeting of conservative donors and powerbrokers Monday that he plans to file a bill that would ban sending F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.

"The crowd loved it," a source told BuzzFeed.

Last year, Lockheed Martin delivered 20 F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of $1.3 billion in military aid from the U.S. government, The New York Times reported.


At a similar closed-door conservative meeting in Charleston last week, Paul met separately with a small group of Evangelical ministers, one of whom asked about his commitment to Israeli interests.

Paul, who recently visited Israel, responded that Israel was among his top priorities, a source said.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Video: Rand Paul at the March for Life

I haven't been able to find a good clip of his speech but this one is pretty decent. It's short but inspirational:

Interview of Rand Paul by Glenn Beck


The transcript of the interview is here. Glenn Beck is definitely a fan and even says:
I will tell you Senator Rand Paul, I believe in my lifetime [are] the first libertarian that I believe could be president of the United States. You make sense, you’re rational, you’re reasonable, and you look at the facts on the ground.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Video: Rand Paul Grills John Kerry

Rand Paul is really impressive in how he actually asks the questions that need answering and really doesn't pussyfoot around.  First, he attacks this administration for unilaterally attacking Libya without any congressional approval whatsoever (even W. asked for permission from Congress).  Then he asks about Morsi's vile, vicious anti-semitic comments (he said Jews were descended from apes and pigs, were inherently violent and then blamed the Jewish-controlled media for the scandal that erupted) and how are we making Israel safer by arming a neighbor who thinks that way about Jews with F-16's?

Kerry admitted that he really doesn't stand for anything and his principles are worthless.  On Libya he said you can't be absolutist and that there wasn't enough time ask for Congressional approval as 10,000 civilian lives were in danger.  There are two problems with this.  First, there was plenty of time to ask for approval.  It's not like we went in there, took Gaddafi out and then those civilian lives were saved.  We spent 8 months fighting the war in a relatively limited way so if there were 10,000 civilians in imminent danger, they probably died before the fighting was over.  Asking for Congressional approvals wouldn't have changed much.  Second, does the fact that certain people are in danger mean the President has carte blanche about going to war?  By John Kerry's calculations we should have invaded Syria months and months ago as it has already cost the lives of 60,000 people.  I don't remember a humanitarian out-clause in the Constitution.

Then Kerry admitted that he doesn't really care that Morsi is a vile anti-semite, he will get his aid anyway.  He said "the fact that sometimes other countries elect someone you don’t agree with doesn’t give us permission to walk away."  It's not like the disagreement is over trade policy or global warming, the disagreement is over whether Jews are humans and have a right to live in their homeland.  Anyway, watch the whole thing, it's 10 minutes long:

Transcript of Hugh Hewitt's Interview of Rand Paul on the Benghazi Hearing

Just a little while after grilling Hillary Clinton on her lazy oversight of the situation in Libya, Rand Paul was on Hugh Hewitt's show.   It's really nice to see someone continuing to be out there defending our values and explaining our positions.  Mitt Romney never did it and neither Paul Ryan nor Marco Rubio, the supposed "stars" of the right, have been doing it.  Anyway, here are some excerpts, read the whole thing:

HH: I want to thank you at the beginning just for your straightforward statement regarding the culpability of Secretary Clinton for Benghazi and the acts. There's quite a lot of comment on this. How long ago had you reached that conclusion that she was indeed culpable?

RP: Well you know, when I first heard about it, everybody seemed to be so concerned about sort of the cover up of everybody talking about was this a movie, or was this regarding a movie. Well, that's important. To me, it always seemed to be more important why there wasn't adequate security there, why there weren't Marines there, why wasn't this embassy protected like the embassy in Iraq. They just emerged from a war. And so I can understand people making bad decisions immediately in the aftermath, not making an appropriate decision during a gunfight, but I can see no excuse for not reading the cables, the repeated cables and requests and pleas for help, the pleas for security. I find that inexcusable, and I really think whoever made those decisions should never, ever be in that position again, and I think this really disqualifies her from holding higher office, because it's a serious judgment, it's a serious error of judgment for her to have put ambassadors and diplomats into an area where there wasn't adequate security.

HH: Earlier, a couple of hours ago, my colleague, my friend, Sean Hannity, had former Speaker Gingrich on, who said about your remarks that it's really not all that surprising that a Republican who wouldn't have appointed her in the first place would say that. But I disagree. I think it's very surprising. How did your colleagues react?

RP: Some of them called me bad names and profane names as they were huffing out of the room. Those were Democrats. But on our side, no one's really responded to me on that. I went to lunch, and no one threw anything at me. So no, I think that most of them are disturbed this, also. Many of them have been more disturbed with Ambassador Rice's comments about whether this was pertaining to a movie. But to me, it's always been more important that there wasn't security in advance. I've asked repeatedly in speeches, where in the hell were the Marines, and they say oh, well, the Marines are there to guard the paper, and the host country is to guard the ambassador. And I'm like, well, that may be true in Vienna or Paris, but this is a war zone. And to send our ambassador in and have some guys who can't speak English running around in a Jeep from a militia with a machine gun bungee corded in the back and say oh, this is your protection, that's inexcusable. We have the resources. There's no reason why military resources should not be designated in a war zone if you want to have an embassy there. And they should protect, set up a perimeter. This is the way it should be done. I'm fearful that this will happen again in Libya, that it could happen in Egypt, that it could happen if a government forms in Syria, if we're going to decide to treat embassies the same way in war zones that we treat them in the civilized world, I think it's a huge mistake.

WashPo's Aaron Blake: Rand Paul is Establishing Himself as THE Conservative Option in 2016

It's something I've been saying for a while now and are demonstrated by Senator Rand Paul's recent actions. When you compare them to Ryan, who has proven himself to be a beast of the establishment, and Rubio, who is mostly MIA through the recent fights, focusing more on granting amnesty to illegals than anything else, there is no contest.  Anyway, here is WashPo's Aaron Blake, writing in The Fix:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is quickly establishing himself as the conservative option in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

Paul's statement at Wednesday's Senate hearing on Libya that he would have fired Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be replayed over and over on cable news in the hours to come. But it's hardly the first time he's put himself in the middle of a controversy — and chosen about the most conservative posture possible.

A recent sampling:

1. He had arguably the biggest soundbite of Clinton's Senate testimony Wednesday, saying, "Had I been president at the time, I would have relieved you of your post." Soon after, hesent video of his comments to his supporters with a paraphrase of that quote in the subject line.

2. On Monday, he came out against House Republicans' three-month debt ceiling extension, a bill that has gotten the approval (or at least avoided the opposition) of manyconservative House Republicans and the conservative Club for Growth. "I saw the speaker on TV handing the newly sworn-in president a flag. I am afraid it was the white flag of surrender," Paul said at an event in Charleston, S.C., according to Politico. Paul said Boehner "retreated" from the fight.

3. He was one of just five Senate Republicans to vote against the "fiscal cliff" deal on New Year's Day, calling it a "spending bill." He also offered this zinger: "You may not get any more revenue. You may not get any more economic growth. But you can say, 'I stuck it to the rich people.' " Notably, Paul was joined by another 2016 contender, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

4. Paul last month opposed the Hurricane Sandy relief bill, offering an amendment that would have shrunk the amount of money appropriated to only the amount needed for one year.

5. Last week, he took a big swing at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for Christie's recent criticisms of the NRA and the lack of a Sandy relief bill. "I think criticizing the Second Amendment movement and the over-the-top 'give me my money' stuff  — 'I want all 60 billion now or I'll throw a tantrum'  — I don't think that's going to play well in the Republican primary," Paul said.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Video: Rand Paul Rips into Hillary Clinton at Benghazi Hearing

A must watch video.  Essentially Senator Rand Paul tells Hillary that if she had done her job, the 4 Americans, including Ambassador Stevens, would still be alive and that he would have fired her if he were President:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

W. James Antle on Rand Paul's Israel Strategy

Here is a thoughtful piece in The American Conservative on Rand Paul's Israel strategy:

After being sworn into the Senate, Paul introduced a budget that zeroed out all foreign aid, including for Israel. He sought to de-authorize the Iraq War. He opposed the Patriot Act. He proposed amendments to sanctions bills for Iran and Syria emphasizing that these bills did not constitute an authorization of force.

Just in the last three months, Paul sought to expand Fourth Amendment protections under the Bush-era warrantless surveillance program and Sixth Amendment guarantees under the National Defense Authorization Act's terror-detention provisions. When he failed, he protested loudly and voted against both bills.

Speaking to reporters last week, Paul made clear that he was still ultimately opposed to all foreign aid and skeptical of foreign military adventurism. And he has compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate, even when it has left him in the minority.

Recent polling suggests a majority of Republicans is at least open to retrenchment. According to the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of GOP voters want America less involved in Middle Eastern political change—not as noninterventionist as Democrats or particularly independents, but still nearly 20 points more than the percentage of Republicans who picked "more involved."

Arguments for foreign-policy restraint have failed to gain traction in the Republican Party because of three perceptions of the conservatives making them: namely, that they are hostile to Israel, indifferent to American national security, and naïve about brutal foreign regimes. Paul is aiming to correct these perceptions while emphasizing his common ground with the GOP and the broader conservative movement.
That's why Paul has focused on cutting foreign aid to Middle Eastern despots, who also happen to be virulently anti-Israel. It's why he talks about missile defense to protect American cities from attack. And it's why he observes that Israelis aren't burning American flags.

More hawkish conservatives may be noticing Paul's comments, but they are aimed at the Republican rank-and-file: evangelical well-wishers of Israel, primary voters who could be convinced that our overseas interventions are bad policy but not that the Muslim Brotherhood bodes well for secular democracy.

Paul may in the process repel those who are genuinely hostile to Israel or who dabble in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But will Don Black's financial contribution really be missed? There will also be Ron Paul voters and donors without such noxious motives who will nevertheless be troubled by these overtures. They will be harder to replace.

This strategy carries a risk of failure, as both sides of the burgeoning conservative foreign policy debate could cool to Paul. But the old approaches have already failed, or at least reached the end of where they can take the antiwar right.

There is indeed more than one way to be a friend to Israel—and perhaps more than one way to be the spokesman of a less bellicose conservative foreign policy, too.

The GOP "came out of their retreat and retreated"

Needless to say, Senator Rand Paul is unhappy with the GOP's complete retreat on the debt ceiling.  Here is the story from Politico:

"I saw the speaker on TV handing the newly sworn-in president a flag. I am afraid it was the white flag of surrender," the Kentucky Republican said, according to a GOP source present at the meeting.
Alluding to the House GOP's gathering last week in Williamsburg, Va., Paul jabbed: "They came out of their retreat and retreated."

So Now Doctors Will Pester Kids About Guns?

At a press conference at the Charleston Place Hotel in South Carolina, Senator Rand Paul took issue with a part of Obama's gun control plan.  The segment of Obama's plan that Senator Paul was talking about reads:

Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients' homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.

And here are his comments below:

"What they said in their description of the executive order is families that have someone mentally ill or children — well, half of the country have children at home," Paul said, holding a press conference in a boardroom at Charleston Place Hotel. "So what are we going to do? Are we going to ask eight-year-old kids, 'Does Daddy have a gun at home? Does Daddy drink beer? Did Daddy ever yell at Mommy, and he has guns in the house?' I mean, you can see how you could open Pandora's box, not to mention that interviewing of children is notoriously inaccurate."

Can you imagine, you take your child to the pediatrician because they have an ear infection or they hurt themselves some way and suddenly the doctor starts asking your child about guns at home and whether mommy and daddy fight?  You can certainly see the doctor excusing it as "required by recent regulations".  I know I could always find a new doctor but what if all of them are suddenly asking such questions?  Doctor patient confidentiality needs to remain of paramount importance and should not be usurped in the name of some sort of political decision.  And G-d only knows what the doctors will use with this information.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Is the Administration Covering Up Gun Smuggling to Jihadists?

Senator Rand Paul makes some interesting points in his WABC interview, including that part of the Benghazi cover-up may be due to gun smuggling to jihadists in Libya (h/t Breitbart):

Friday, January 18, 2013

Anti-Semitic Ron Paul Supporters Starting to Attack Rand Paul

It's no secret that the libertarian movement has a relatively vocal minority of people who are pretty anti-semitic.  They think Jews were behind 9/11, run the world's finances and other such nonsense.  A lot of these libertarians tended to support Ron Paul, who himself seemed to harbor both truther and anti-semitic views.  This is the reason many Jews are wary of Rand Paul, they think the same anti-semites that were behind Ron are now behind Rand and if he ever takes power he will betray Israel etc.  

Well it looks like at least one prominent anti-semitic libertarian believes Rand Paul is much more pro-Israel than his father.  Justin Raimondo, a long time libertarian and editorial director of (who wrote a book about how the Mossad must have known about 9/11 beforehand) just wrote a piece called "Is Rand Paul a 'Christian Zionist'?".  It's a long meandering peace that says that Israel wants to subjugate Lebanon and that Rand Paul doesn't consider the Palestinians to be people.  

It's reassuring to see that these people are peeling away from Rand Paul.  He certainly doesn't need the support of such people.

Now "Nullify" is a Code Word?

It's just amazing how just about every word in the English language is becoming a code word for something amorphously racist when used to criticize Obama.  If you call him socialist or arrogant, you're actually using some hidden racist code which is deciphered by a ring from a cracker jack box.  Hell, it's considered code to even call him by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama.  No word on what happens if you call him Barack "Insane in the Membrane" Obama.   The latest kerfuffle seems to be over Senator Rand Paul's decision to "nullify" Obama's executive orders on gun control.  First, we had Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia say it's code on CNN, but when challenged what it was code for, he didn't really have a response.  Joan Walsh at Slate also got into the action saying "to be fair, 'nullify' is an accurate word choice, but it does have a particular ring – especially alongside claims that the president has a 'king complex.'"  If it's an accurate and likely appropriate word choice, what exactly is the problem?  Should he have made an inaccurate word choice?  And what kind of ring does it have exactly?  Is it because it starts with the letter N or something?  These people really play the race card too much.  It seems the only word that isn't code for something is the dreaded N word which just puts it out there.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rand Paul is Aligned with the Israeli Right on US Aid to Israel

It's kind of funny that while some supposedly pro-Israel types in the US like to criticize Rand Paul for suggesting a weaning of aid to Israel, Naftali Bennett, head of the pro-settler, right wing Jewish Home Party (which hopefully will take 14-15 seats in the next knesset) says pretty much the same thing:
Perhaps because of his own experience with vigorous American Capitalism, Naftali Benett is in favor of cutting the 40-year-old umbilical cord that still connects Israel to the American Treasury.

"Today, U.S. military aid is roughly 1 percent of Israel's economy," Bennett says. "I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it. We have to do it responsibly, since I'm not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don't want to say 'let's just give it up,' but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent."

One major benefit of this would be that Israel would no longer feel the need to listen to the US as to where Jews should be allowed to settle in their own country.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rand Paul Seems to Have an Excellent Perspective on Israel

The Senator held a conference call with journalists and I really like what I hear:
The settlement issue came up again, in several ways, in a conference call Paul held this afternoon. Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin brought up an Obama quote from around the time the UN voted to upgrade Palestine's status. The president, according to Jeffrey Goldberg said that Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel "doesn't know what its own best interests are." Did Paul have a response?

"I would say that's an arrogant and presumptuous point of view," said Paul, "and really does not further any kind of progress, to make those kind of points."


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."

The point, Paul said, was that Israel faced a certain amount of pressure from the United States because it got so much support from the United States. His position, "the opinion of Netanyahu in 1996," was that Israel would be stronger if it could one day cut the strings. "It's really the presumption of whether we should be dictating to other countries -- even if they are our friends -- whether we should dictate every minute aspect of them building in their country. I think that's wrong. But I think it's also a reason you should want to become more and more independent, and not dependent on aid from the United States. Because then you can development your sovereignty and be more definitive in the things you want."

But Paul passed on a few chances to criticize America's current relationship with Israel. One reporter asked whether he favored continued funds for the Iron Dome missile defense system. "Exactly how it's funded, or how the money changes hands, I'd have to look into how we do it," he said. "But absolutely I'm in favor of it. Think about on 9/11. There's no reason our White House, our Capitol, and our major cities shouldn't have a missile defense... I argue that there will be irrational actors on the stage. There's no way to stop irrationality from eventually getting weapons into the hands of people who might attack us."

Rand Paul on Hillary Clinton and Benghazi

Some interesting comments to Business Insider.  He's certainly a welcome addition to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"I think she has to accept responsibility for Benghazi," Paul told Business Insider during his recent trip to Israel. "That's the problem with government — government is anonymous and so no one is accountable. The reason you want somebody to be accountable is that you don't want someone to make that decision again." 
"She needs to be held accountable for it, and I think she needs to answer questions for it," he said.
Paul added that he plans on demanding Clinton explain what she knew about the deteriorating security situation in Libya and provide details about who denied requests for additional security personnel at the consulate in Benghazi. 
"In government, there is usually an incentive to overspend when it comes to security," he said. "You're in charge of security in Benghazi and someone asks you for a 16-person detail — and the security people on the ground in Libya are asking you for it — it's impossible to say no. So how did someone possibly say no to that security? That's an incredible ineptness." 
"It was an enormous mistake," he added. "It was a career-ending mistake, I think." 
Paul's outrage over the lack of security funding in Libya is surprising, given the Kentucky libertarian's opposition to almost all government spending and non-interventionist brand of foreign policy. Paul's office insists that there is no contradiction, however, telling Business Insider that "while Senator Paul believes there is plenty of waste and unnecessary items in the State Department budget, security is not necessarily one of them."  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NY Post: Rand Paul's Israeli Surprise

Looks like Rand Paul's trip to Israel was a success and people are seeing him as being a huge improvement over the current administration:
What a contrast with Joseph Biden.

On his 2010 trip to Israel, the vice president erupted in a bitter denunciation of the government in Jerusalem because of its settlement policies. But when Sen. Rand Paul, whom the Left likes to accuse of being the most anti-Israel figure in the Senate, was in Israel last week, there was nothing but sweetness and light on the settlements — not even much quarreling over foreign aid.


In Jerusalem last week, the senator met a broad range of leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, as well as Naftali Bennett, a rising right-wing leader aligned with the settler movement.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Paul addressing questions about what Israel should do about the settlements and Gaza. "Well," he replied, "America should and does have an opinion about these things, but ultimately these are decisions you have to make."

There hasn't been such a supportive comment on Israel's settlements in the West Bank and in Jerusalem since Sarah Palin last spoke on the subject. Her comments drove the left up the wall.
Paul also voiced support on Gaza: "I don't think you need to call me on the phone and get permission to stop missiles raining down from Gaza." He seems to want Israel to have a free hand in its own affairs, which dovetails with his wariness on foreign aid.

When he talked about foreign aid, he stood by his longtime contention that it would be a good thing to reduce such transfers. This view has been pressed by some pro-Israel voices in this country, in that aid has subsidized statist economic measures and retarded free-market development.

Indeed, Netanyahu himself, in a 1996 speech before Congress, vowed to work to reduce Israel's dependence on US aid — and then kept his word: It's now restricted mainly to military aid.
Paul cited that Netanyahu speech in Jerusalem as he talked in a straightforward way about America's own predicament: "The biggest threat to our nation right now is our debt."
"To me, it has always been about whether it makes sense for me to borrow money from China to give to Pakistan," he said at one point.

In The Jerusalem Post's account, he said the debt problem means "that we have to reassess who to give aid to, and when we do reassess that, I would begin with countries that are burning our flag and chanting 'Death to America.'"

Then, he added, "No one is accusing Israel of that."

He didn't want his visit to be about "touting and spouting" cutting aid to Israel, saying, "I came here to show that I am supportive of the relationship between Israel and America," The Jerusalem Post reported. He signaled the same in a recent letter to the managing editor of Commentary, Jonathan Tobin.

Meantime, the Obama administration is moving its foreign policy sharply to the left. Secretary of State-designate John Kerry would be the most left-wing figure ever to run State. And Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel has a far more worrisome record on Israel than the most determined libertarian.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rand Paul: Obama is Not King

Here are some comments from Senator Rand Paul on Obama's desire to use executive orders to enact gun control:

"I'm against having a king," Paul said. "I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress -- that's someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch."

 "I've been opposed to executive orders, even with Republican presidents. But one that wants to infringe on the Second Amendment, we will fight tooth and nail," he continued.

"And I promise you, there'll be no rock left unturned as far as trying to stop him from usurping the Constitution, running roughshod over Congress," he vowed.

"And you will see one heck of a debate if he decides to try to do this."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rand Paul: It's None of Our Business Where Israelis Build

Funny how even supposedly pro-Israel Republican administrations haven't said something like this.  From the Jerusalem Post:

It is “none of our business” whether Israel builds new neighborhoods in east Jerusalem or withdraws from the Golan Heights, and the US should not tell Israel how to defend itself, US Sen. (R-Kentucky) said on Saturday night at the end of a week-long visit to the country.

Paul, a maverick libertarian senator known for his advocacy of slashing US foreign aid, said at a press briefing that the issue of cutting aid to Israel – something he advocates as part of a gradual process – did not come up during his meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or President Shimon Peres.

Paul said that he was not interested in the message of his trip being that he came here “touting and spouting” cutting aid to Israel.

“I came here to show that I am supportive of the relationship between Israel and America,” he said.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BuzzFeed: A Clue to Rand Paul's Israel Views

BuzzFeed has an interesting article on how Rand Paul's choice of PR firms could be a sign of his pro-Israel views:

Senator Rand Paul has a new ally in his attempt to fit his libertarian foreign policy views into the Republican Party's hawkish pro-Israel stance: The Israeli public relations firm Lone Star Communications, which has also promoted American figures from Glenn Beck to Mike Huckabee, and also works with a leading Israeli opponent of Palestinian statehood.

The firm, run by Texas-born Charley Levine, sent out a press release Wednesday morning about Paul's visits with Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Mahmoud Abbas, and King Abdullah of Jordan.

"Historically America has sought stability with very mixed results around the world by arming both sides of conflicts," Paul is quoted as saying in the release. "I fear that one day our Israeli friends might face American-made F-16s and Abrams tanks that our foreign aid has been providing to some very questionable countries that sit on Israel's border."

The identity of Paul's Israeli guides suggests that the Kentucky Senator may be more in agreement on Israel than on other issues with the rest of his party, who are if anything to the right of the Israeli government in their skepticism of Palestinian independence and, in some cases, doctrinal belief that Israel has a right to the land. Lone Star has worked with Danny Danon, a pro-settler Israeli parliamentarian who challenged Benjamin Netanyahu from the right for party leadership, as well as helping out on similar trips by American politicians figures including former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.


Levine, the ombudsman wrote, is "a figure of the Israeli right, who counsels prominent Zionists and serves as a reservist in the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit." Levine lives in Ma'ale Adumim, a settlement in the West Bank just outside of Jerusalem.

Rand Paul at the Western Wall

Here are some photos of Rand Paul at Judaism's holiest place (h/t Business Insider):

Monday, January 7, 2013

Comments at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies

Senator Rand Paul made comments in Jerusalem today on how its nonsensical to borrow money from one country to give foreign aid to another, especially if the recipient country has strained relations with you.  From the Jerusalem Post:

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a fierce opponent of US foreign aid who is being touted already as a likely 2016 presidential candidate, said in Jerusalem on Monday that the United States is and always will be a friend of Israel, but thinks "it will be harder and harder to be a friend if we are out of money." 

Speaking to the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, Paul said it is one thing if you are giving foreign aid out of your savings, but it is something completely different if you are "borrowing from one country to give to another. You have to wonder how wide that is, and what the repercussions will be." 

Paul, who acknowledged that he will probably not see an end to foreign aid in his lifetime, said he was "all for gradualism" and would start ending foreign aid to those countries who don't act as allies towards Israel.

The senator said that he was concerned the US was trying to win friends in the region by providing them with arms where you can have a situation down the line where Israel would have to face up against Egypt supplied with US state-of-the-art tanks.

He said that as far as aid to Israel is concerned, he is not suggesting disengagement or that the US should stop selling armaments, but said "it wouldn't be a one-way street, it would be a sale, not a grant."

Paul, who on a number of occasions cited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's 1996 speech in Congress saying he wanted to wean Israel off American aid, said that decent aid would be beneficial for Israel because it would retain its own sovereignty and not have to come "on bended knee" to ask US permission on a variety of issues, such as settlements.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rand Paul Leads 2016 Field in FreedomWorks Associated Poll

Rand Paul is the leader in an online poll conducted by You Choose 2016, which is connected to FreedomWorks.  What's interesting is that Marco Rubio is #2 in both the favorite and least favorite categories.  This could be a reaction against him being almost completely silent in the fiscal cliff battle and because some don't consider him to be a natural born citizen because of the citizenship status of his parents.  Granted though this is an online poll so the results are always questionable regardless, but it's still interesting.

Here is a screenshot of the results so far:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Buzzfeed: Rand Paul is Courting Pro-Israel Figures

An interesting article from Buzzfeed:
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has been holding a series of meetings with neo-conservative pro-Israel foreign policy hands as the libertarian prepares to take a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sources familiar with the meetings said.

Paul's new contacts include Dan Senor, a former key Mitt Romney foreign policy aide who is also close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met Paul in his Washington office.
Paul is also going to take a "fairly impressive list of folks" on his trip to Israel next week, according to a source close to him, and he is planning on delivering a major foreign policy address in early February.


Recently, the junior Paul has begun an under-the-radar campaign to make overtures to those in his party whose foreign policy views are far less libertarian than his. He did an interview with the Washington Post's hawkish blogger Jennifer Rubin, who found him "more self-aware and engaging than is the elder Paul, a wide-eyed libertarian."

"I'm irreconcilable on this point," said one prominent Jewish conservative. "But others take a different view and have met with him in the past and in the run up to this trip."

A source close to Paul confirmed the meetings and said that "Senator Paul has always spoken with a wide range of foreign policy experts." A spokesperson for Paul didn't respond to a request for comment.

Paul's trip to Israel begins on Sunday and he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Monday, according to The Jerusalem Post. The trip has been widely interpreted as a signal from Paul of his national intentions.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rand Paul: The Weapons We Are Sending to Egypt May Be a Bigger Threat to Israel Than Iran

Senator Rand Paul gave a great radio interview today:

Rand Paul on Hannity

A great interview on the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling:

NJDC Has a Conniption Over Selection of Rand Paul for Foreign Relations Committee, Yet He'd Be Better for Israel Than Obama

The National Jewish Democratic Council are getting their panties in a bunch over the selection of Rand Paul to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, claiming his anti-foreign aid position is anti-Israel (no comment from them though on their President's belief that much of the Jerusalem area should be Judenrein).  You would think that a press release that "expresses outrage" over someone who is a "radical ideologue" with a "deeply disturbing record" would have more to say about that person than he wants us to send less money overseas.  No money quotes?  No taking the side of Hezbollah in the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006?  Or how about the demonization of the "Jewish lobby"?  I guess they don't exist (though both of those items are true of Chuck Hagel, who Obama has wanted as his Secretary of Defense).  

Anyway, here is what Rand Paul has actually said about Israel and foreign aid:

Israel is a strong and important ally of the United States, and we share many mutual security interests. I believe we should stand by our ally, but where I think sometimes American commentators get confused is that I do not think Israel should be dictated to by the United States. I think that has happened too often, and it has been to the detriment of Israel. Too often we have coerced Israel into trading land for peace, or other false bargains. When President Obama stood before the world in 2011 to demand that Israel act against her own strategic interest, I denounced this as unnecessary meddling. As I wrote in May of that year: "For President Obama to stand up today and insist that Israel should once again give up land, security and sovereignty for the possibility of peace shows an arrogance that is unmatched even in our rich history of foreign policy."
Israel will always know what's best for Israel. The United States should always stand with its friends. But we should also know, unlike President Obama, when to stay out of the way.
Foreign aid is another example of how our meddling often hurts more than its helps. In my proposals to end or cut back on foreign aid, some have made accusations that my proposals would hurt Israel. Actually, not following my proposals hurt Israel. We currently give about $4 billion annually to Israel in foreign aid. But we give about $6 billion to the nations that surround Israel, many of them antagonistic toward the Jewish state.
Giving twice as much foreign aid to Israel's enemies simply does not make sense. Our aid to Israel has always been to a country that has been an unequivocal ally. Our aid to its neighbors has purchased their temporary loyalty at best.
These countries are not our true allies and no amount of money will make them so. They are not allies of Israel and I fear one day our money and military arms that we have paid for will be used against Israel.

Does that sound anti-Israel at all?  What is anti-Israel is our current policy of sending M1A1 tanks and F-16 jets to countries whose leaders say the Jews are "bloodsuckers",  "were descended from apes and pigs" and refers to America as an enemy.  What is anti-Israel is denouncing of the building of apartments around the capital city of Jerusalem (open to Israeli citizens who are both Arab and Jewish) and taking the Palestinian negotiating position as one's own, as this NJDC-supported administration has done.

If Rand Paul gets his way, the enemies of Israel and the US will receive far less aid (aid they are much more dependent upon than Israel is) and Israel will no longer have to worry about interference in building around their own capital and won't be forced to negotiate with genocidal terrorists.  Sounds like a nice improvement over the current US-Israel dynamic.  What's so outrageous about that?

Rand Paul Was Appointed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

This should be fun.  The Daily Caller points out some points of contention between John McCain and Rand Paul, who are now both on the committee:

Though they are both Republicans, Paul and McCain have clashed repeatedly over foreign policy and national security. "I worry a lot about the rise of protectionism and isolationism in the Republican Party," McCain said when Paul was first elected. "I admire his victory, but … already he has talked about withdrawals [and] cuts in defense."

"Calling me an 'isolationist' is about as accurate or appropriate as calling Senator McCain an 'imperialist,'" Paul shot back in his book "The Tea Party Goes to Washington."

The two senators have most recently sparred over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Paul said that McCain was responsible for changes to the bill that unconstitutionally left Americans vulnerable to being detained without trial if accused of terrorism. McCain's office countered that the bill protected constitutional rights.

McCain and Paul have differed on military involvement in Libya, arming Syrian rebels, the size of the Pentagon budget, warrantless surveillance and foreign aid. Paul also opposed the Iraq War and tried to revoke its congressional authorization. McCain was a staunch supporter of the war.

Despite their disagreements, the two have collaborated on legislation in the past. But tensions between Paul and McCain escalated during the NDAA fight.

"I find it disappointing that one member of the United States Senate feels that his particular agenda is so important that it affects the lives and the readiness and the capabilities of the men and women who are serving in the military and our ability to defend this nation," McCain said of Paul's NDAA filibuster. "I think it's hard to answer to the men and women in the military with this kind of behavior, but I will leave that up to the senator from Kentucky to do so."

McCain went so far as to suggest Paul's tactics lend "credence" to Democratic filibuster reform proposals.

"The right to due process, a trial by jury, and protection from indefinite detention should not be shorn from our Bill of Rights or wrested from the hands of Americans," Paul said of the McCain-led conference committee report on the NDAA. "It is a dark day in our history that these rights have been stomped upon and discarded."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rand Paul Set to Visit Israel Next Week

Senator Rand Paul's visit to Israel is coming up.   My guess is that once he sees the situation on the ground, he can only become more Pro-Israel.  Here is the story from the Jerusalem Post which has some of the details of his trip:

Kentucky Republican senator 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 Sunday for his first-ever visit.

Paul, who espouses the libertarian views of his father Ron Paul, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Monday.


Paul, one of eight senators who voted against the so-called "fiscal cliff" agreement in the US Senate this week, is scheduled to speak at a private reception Monday on the issue of fiscal responsibility and reducing US foreign aid during a speech at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS). JIMS describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit economic policy think tank whose mission is to promote social progress in Israel through economic freedom and individual liberty."


After meeting Netanyahu and Peres, Paul is scheduled to go to Jordan on Tuesday and meet with King Abdullah II and PA Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

He will return to Israel Wednesday and tour the Galilee.

The trip is sponsored by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group that promotes fundamentalist Christian values. Paul will be part of a group of some 50-100 evangelical Christian, including politically well-connected figures in South Carolina and Iowa, which will hold early 2016 caucuses and primaries.

Rand Paul's Great Interview with Hugh Hewitt

Here are some key excerpts of Rand Paul's interview with Hugh Hewitt.  You can get the whole transcript here:

HH: Gosh, I hope every one of my shows is as significant as Paul Ryan and Rand Paul after a major vote this year. That would be a good 2013 for me. Can you tell us why and how you voted no on H.R. 8?

RP: Well you know, I think the biggest problem we face as a country is this debt crisis. The fiscal crisis was sort of a created concoction by the President, because he said he wanted taxes to go up. So he forced the taxes up on some folks, but it did nothing to address the real problem, which is the debt crisis, and in fact, I think made it worse, because this bill had $330 billion dollars worth of new spending in. So I just can’t vote for more spending, taxes going up. It really was going the wrong direction, as far as I’m concerned.


RP: Everything is done with a political end in mind. Everything is done, and everything has been done for the last several years based on envy, fear, jealousy, all things that I think aren’t really what typify what’s made our country great. And so no, I object to the way he’s characterized these things. And really, I tell people over and over again, the facts of the matter are that the rich pay most of the taxes in our country as it is now. And the other fact is that when you take money out of the private economy, whether it’s rich people’s money, middle class or poor, when you take it out of the private sector, you’re taking it out of the efficient sector, and you’re giving it to government. And there’s no objective evidence that government spends it wisely.


RP: Yeah, and here’s the thing, and the reason why I don’t is I don’t believe these people. They always put the spending cuts ten years from now when there’s a new Congress. All these budgets, they say, will balance, take 28, 30 years to balance. So I think you have to have an amendment. But as far as the entitlements, what I don’t like about what the Democrats do is they say oh, if you give us this, if you trade us this, we’ll agree to fix entitlements. Well, entitlements affect all Americans, Republicans or Democrats. They’re not broken because of either party’s fault. They’re broken because we’re living longer, and because the Baby Boomers are retiring. So I think as an obligation as a good legislator, you should just agree to fix them. But they always want to trade something. They want to see that they’ll raise taxes on some more people, give them some more spending for earned income tax credit or what have you, but they want something in exchange for doing what is the right thing, and that’s to fix entitlements so we can save them.

- -   -    -

HH: Senator Paul, when we went to break, we were talking about entitlements. And I know that your position that we ought to do the right thing on them, do you think we need to chain the CPI for Social Security and Medicare?

RP: Well you know, I think a lot of people don’t understand exactly what that means. I have a bill that would do two things. It would raise the age gradually, a couple of months a year over about 20 years, and then I would means test the benefits. I think means testing is a little more acceptable than slowing down the cost of living increases for everyone. What you do with means testing is that the richest among you will actually get a cut in their Social Security, and then you work your way down to the poorest among us, who won’t have any cut. And so then something like a chained CPI and all these other complicated formulas won’t hurt the people on the lowest end of the totem pole. And so I think that’s the better way to approach it.

HH: Let me ask you about that, because a lot of people instantly say Social Security, at least, was always about a savings program. If you begin to means test it, you break faith with people who have for decades been paying in on the expectation they would get back.

RP: It’s been a fiction, though, for a few decades now. And now for the first time in the last two years, Social Security pays out more than comes in. In fact, with Medicare, it’s dramatic. You pay a dollar in Medicare taxes, and you get three dollars in return receipts, so really, these things are so broken and have to be changed. I think means testing is a way of doing it that’s acceptable to people. And what people need to understand is if you were, if you made over a $100,000 dollars a year, that’s basically the top bracket for Social Security. You get about $2,200 dollars a month. My plan that means test takes about $300 dollars a month from those who made more than $100,000 dollars a year. So they would actually get less, but it would actually start having savings immediately. If you do not do that, you have to do all these manipulations to CPI that really, you know, there are a lot of poor people in our country who are having trouble living on the Social Security check they have. And you slow that down, I just think it’s harder to get through Congress, it’s harder to make work. I’ve told the President, Biden, I’ve told all the Democrats, why don’t you work with us on this, because you keep saying you want the rich to pay more. This is a way that the rich receive a little bit less in benefits. It doesn’t, it helps to make the system solvent, and I think it’s the best way to go.

HH: Now I want to go back to the debt ceiling, since that looms on March 1. Are you afraid, now we will hear, and we’ve already begun to hear, that if we do not raise the debt ceiling in time to borrow more, that the bond vigilantes will arrive, they’ll attack our bond rating, they will attack our credit rating, and everyone will suffer. What’s your response to that, Senator Paul?

RP: The best way is to affirmatively pass legislation, and Senator Toomey had this last time, and I was a co-sponsor, affirmatively pass legislation that says the tax receipts will go to pay for the interest on the debt. The first one in line will be interest on the debt. And then we also designated, I think, a few other people – Social Security soldiers’ salaries, the military, things like that. We prioritize our spending, and we go ahead and pay tax receipts. So that way, we let the world know we will not default. So when they play this game, they are always saying that we will default. They want to scare both Congress into voting for more spending and more debt. But they also want to scare the marketplace, and I think it’s a bad idea to scare the marketplace. I would preemptively go ahead and put out there that we will never default on our debt, that it is an obligation, something that’s a Constitutional obligation that we have to pay the interest on our debt. So I would let the world know we would do that, and I think that would give a great deal of confidence. You know, we bring in billions of dollars of tax revenue every month. And there’s actually plenty of it to pay interest, Social Security, soldiers’ salaries. Eventually, you get down to a lot of the discretionary spending, but I think you could delay discretionary spending and have none of it for about three months. People might discover that we don’t need most of the discretionary spending.

HH: Now Senator, that might be interesting, but I know Senator Reid will not bring that forward. And so if we’re up against the wall in late February, and it appears that we are going to run up against the limit, and there has not been any sort of prioritization of payment beginning with sovereign debt and then down through the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, et cetera, are you afraid of what will happen if we get to that limit and we have not established that prioritization, and we can’t borrow?

RP: Well, that’s why our job is to talk about prioritizing, how we would pay for it. Our other job is that what we ought to do is what we did last time, is the House passed in advance a bill that says we will agree to raise the debt ceiling. Actually, we had over $2 trillion dollars we were going to agree to, if you’ll pass a balanced budget amendment. So the only way to get the leverage of the debt ceiling to work is you have to be willing to go through the deadline. If you’re willing to go through the deadline, and have the Treasury keep taking tax receipts, and continue to pay the interest on the debt, and pay for the primary functions of government, if you’re willing to do that, which would be saying that part of the government wouldn’t get funding until we got a solution, I think you would finally get to a point of leverage where Congress would say you know what? We should have a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and I think we could pass it. I know we can pass it in the House. We just have to get some Democrats to agree that there’s a fiscal problem in our country.

HH: If we are at this point, find majorities of Republicans willing to go through the deadline, enough to stop any kind of debt relief bill, how long will they stay strong on that, do you think, Rand Paul? Will they fold up when the media begins to barrage them with criticism?

RP: Well, here’s the problem. And this is it in a nutshell. We give up before we ever get started, usually. So we give in and we have absolutely no leverage, because we know that many have the spine of an invertebrate. And so, like for example, we gave up the whole fight over whether or not we were going to pay for the Sandy emergency funding before it got started, $60 billion dollars, you know, not offset at all. The Republican alternative in the Senate was $24 billion now, and they’d give you more later, but not offset, either. I said let’s give them the $9 billion that they need to spend in the next year. That’s all they’re estimating they’re going to spend. But I offset mine with real cuts.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Senate Doesn't Even Want to Know How the Secret FISA Courts Operate

It's just amazing that we have a shadow court system that is essentially operating without any sort of oversight and the Senate doesn't even want to know anything.  I'm sure there are no abuses going on.  You can always trust government functionaries after all:

FISA courts operate in secret, which is to be expected. What is not to be expected is that the elected branches of the federal government will conduct a debate about the proper scope of the law without knowing how the law is actually interpreted in practice.
We might as well have a debate about the Constitution with a secret Supreme Court. (Well, that probably wouldn't be all that different from the current state of affairs.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley asked that we be given some window into what the important rulings and precedents of the secret court might be, with the understanding that nothing endangering national security would be declassified. If we are going to discuss these issues, it would be awfully sporting to know what we are talking about.
Nah, the Senate decided. Merkley's amendment was defeated by a vote of 54 to 37. Who needs to know these things anyway? That's why the government hires national-security professionals, who will always act in our interests.
So Sen. Ron Wyden, a fellow Democrat from Oregon, offered a different amendment. He just wanted some general reporting on the privacy impact of the law, some more disclosure. Transparency, the president tells us, is a good thing, right?
"I think we ought to know, generally, how many Americans are being swept up under the legislation," Wyden said on the Senate floor. Not explicit tips on ongoing terror investigations. Just making sure the surveillance is focused on, you know, terror investigations.
"One of the biggest misconceptions about NSA is that we are unlawfully listening in on, or reading e-mails of, U.S. citizens," the National Security Agency told CNN in a statement. "This is simply not the case. NSA is unwavering in its respect for U.S. laws and Americans' civil liberties."
No one should think the targets are U.S. persons," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Thirteen members of the intelligence committee who have voted on this do not believe this is a problem."
Okay. Well, then that's what some small measure of transparency will show us, right? Or do we just have to take the NSA and the Intelligence Committee's word for it? (Wyden incidentally serves on Intelligence and he still has a wee bit of a problem with these assurances.)
Turns out that the Senate didn't want to know. Wyden's amendment was defeated by a vote of 52 to 43.
By now, you might be able to sense a pattern developing here. So you would probably not be surprised to learn that only a dozen senators supported Rand Paul's proposal that emails and text messages be subject to the same Fourth Amendment protections as telephone calls.
I guess if you believe government powers are never abused, or that Democrats will protect our civil liberties even when a president of their own party is in power, it's fine not to do "this."
Just reauthorize the sunsetting provisions so we can all find out what's in them.

Our government is run by Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes.  I know nothing!