Rivera is the all-time saves leader with 608 plus 42 saves in the post-season. In all, he has five World Series rings and a 12 time AL All-Star. The 43-year old Panamanian right-hander missed most of 2012 after tearing his ACL in his knee during batting practice in Kansas City. Rivera had initially planned to retire after last season but did not want to go out in that fashion and has determinedly made his way back for one last campaign.
Mo has been a great ambassador for baseball and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer in 2019. He even got a standing ovation from Red Sox fans (albeit a somewhat sarcastic one) on Opening Day 2005. I have a feeling that Red Sox Nation will give Rivera a heartfelt standing ovation as a measure of respect before the end of the 2013 season.
Don’t worry if you haven’t read the Spectator so far this week; we have you covered here. And, unlike a talking filibuster, we are brief and concise!
I am not surprised that my opposition to Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster generated response amongst fellow TAS contributors. If it hadn’t then I would have been disappointed.
I will begin with Ross since that he has probably the most vocal in his support of Paul’s filibuster.
First of all, I apologize to Ross for calling him a conservative. He describes himself as an “objectivist/libertarian.” While it’s true that conservatives and libertarians have common cause they are far from mutually exclusive. The last thing I wish to do is attribute a set of values to someone who does not subscribe to them.
With that out of the way, all in all, Ross and I aren’t that far apart on things. Ross agrees with my characterization of Paul as a demagogue and is far from sold on him as a presidential candidate although he’ll take Paul over any Democrat.
I appreciate where Ross is coming from vis a vis Brennan on previous questions concerning the use of drones. However, as Director of the CIA, his focus is on American interests abroad and thus the matter is beyond his purview. If Holder hadn’t been so ambigious in his testimony this week then I doubt Paul would have even raised this matter. Brennan’s views aren’t the issue here. If they were, Brennan would not have been sworn in today.
Ross’ main critique of my analysis is that I am too narrow on focusing my critique on drones instead of focusing on the limits of presidential power. But if wasn’t for the drones and Holder’s ambigious statement on them there would be no filibuster, at least not at this time.
For his part, Matt reserves his scorn for David Frum rather than myself. Indeed, Matt conveyed his appreciation of my willingness to go against the grain. He also acknowledges my point that Paul was engaging in political theater. However, I was struck by this particular passage:
Eric Holder isn’t going to order a drone strike on an innocent U.S. citizen. But by not clearly answering Paul’s question, he risked setting a precedent for a future administration more inclined towards horrific abuse.
This is where I disagree. In the event we were to have a future administration bent on doing grievous harm to civilians I doubt they would need Holder for inspiration much less justification. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes adminster cruelty on a whim, law or no law.
Like Ross, Matt wanted to hear the Obama Administration acknowledge it did not have the authority to commit a particular act and praises Paul’s filibuster for bringing about this particular outcome. By inclination, conservatives and libertarians believe in the limitation of governmental authority and Holder’s initial response did certainly create some ambiguity as to how the President might use his authority. However, the Obama Administration also never said it would use drones in this way either and even Holder’s ambiguity never left me with the impression that they would wantonly drop drones on unsuspecting morning commuters, filibuster or no filibuster.
Reid Smith is far less generous than Ross or Matt in his commentary. He takes umbrage with my characterization of Paul as a demagogue. I’m glad Reid got a kick out of the Alice in Wonderland references but the one area where I praised Paul was his use of political theater. To get anywhere in politics one must engage in theater. However, Paul was engaged in the theater of the absurd.
Merriam-Webster defines demagogue as “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.” With this in mind, let’s consider a couple of passages from the beginning of Paul’s filibuster:
I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your right to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination.
Moments later, Paul added:
I will speak today until the President responds and says no, we won’t kill Americans in cafes; no, we won’t kill you at home in your bed at night; no, we won’t drop bombs on restaurants.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Demagoguery 101. Professor Rand Paul will be your instructor. Watch as he makes whole cloth out of thin air. The notion that the Obama Administration is planning or setting the stage for a future administration to kill Americans in cafes, restaurants and their homes through the deployment of drones is fatuous nonsense and Paul knows it. But Paul also knows that there are Americans who believe this will come to pass and he is feeding on this fear to fuel his political ambitions. Rand Paul is, by definition, a demagogue.
Reid is also untroubled with Paul’s invocation of Hitler. It should be noted that Paul has been invoking Hitler for years going back to 2007 when he did so discussing the No Child Left Behind Act. If Paul is prepared to suggest that the No Child Left Behind Act could lead to the establishment of the Fourth Reich in Washington then he’s in Naomi Wolf territory only without the earthtones. Anyone who invokes Hitler with such frequency clearly has no understanding of the meaning of Nazism nor does he care. If Paul did truly understand the horrors of Nazism then he would not speak of it so casually. However, if Reid thinks Paul’s invocation of Hitler is good politics then that’s his problem, not mine.
For good measure, Reid suggests that I should cross the aisle if I am unwilling to stand with Rand. Well, too damn bad. I’m staying right where I am. This isn’t an either or proposition. One’s belief in conservatism or libertarianism does not rest on whether one “stands with Rand”. On the contrary, Rand Paul and his filibuster aren’t above criticism and scrutiny. Indeed, before conservatives and libertarians make Paul’s filibuster the new Concord and Lexington, we need to think long and hard and ask ourselves if we are carrying on our revolutionary traditions or if we are engaging in the sort of buffoonery and hysteria that will drive people into the arms of Obama and his successors for generations to come.
The House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing on Tuesday on “The State of the Rural Economy.” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified, and fielded questions from congressmen and women who asked how the fiscal crisis and sequestration will affect the agricultural sector.
Farmers and ranchers in rural America have been struggling for years, but luckily for them, Rep. Marcia Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio’s urban 11th district (Akron), has the solution. The problem is that not enough African Americans serve in leadership roles on the USDA board “to interact with minority farmers.” She demanded indignantly (around 1:17) that Vilsack account for the dearth of minorities on the board, and he responded by nervously and apologetically citing the Cultural Transformation report on diversity of the workforce at the USDA. He then went on to list African Americans who serve in the USDA by name as well as their posts, to the unrelenting dissatisfaction of Rep. Fudge.
Fudge seems to have the unrealistic expectation that minorities be represented with the same frequency as majorities, though there are much fewer of them (just 1.4% of farm operators are African-Americans as of 2007). Neither Vilsack, with his ready-made list of black board members, nor Fudge, with her call to name names, seem to be proponents of a “color blind” approach as a pathway to non-discrimination.
First, let me join Ross in applauding our own Aaron Goldstein for blogging about his opposition to Rand Paul’s filibuster. It’s not easy to take a position on something when everyone else on the website feels otherwise. And he’s right about one thing: what Paul did was political theater with an eye on the election calendar. That doesn’t invalidate the substance, and I don’t think Aaron says it does.
Reid and Ross have already written responses to Aaron. In the interest of not piling on, I’ll only address the part involving me:
Now Matt Purple makes a valid point when he says that Holder probably could have stopped Paul’s filibuster if he had come out and said that President Obama is not authorized to drop drones on American citizens going about their business on American soil.
But let’s be honest for a minute. Did Paul honestly think for even a second that Eric Holder actually believed President Obama thought he had the authority to wantonly drop drones in the middle of Kentucky? If he did then he’s even kookier than his Dad. But methinks the younger Paul does not honestly believe President Obama plans to drop drones on U.S. citizens on a whim. He’s much savvier than that.
Fair enough. But constitutions and laws don’t exist just to guard against threats in the here-and-now. One of the organizing principles of a constitutional republic is that human beings aren’t angels, as Madison said, and therefore government power must be checked, balanced, and limited to guard against any hypothetical abuse that could arise in the future. Eric Holder isn’t going to order a drone strike on an innocent U.S. citizen. But by not clearly answering Paul’s question, he risked setting a precedent for a future administration more inclined towards horrific abuse.
This may sound outlandish. But the entirety of world history is littered with examples of leaders abusing their military authority. Given how much executive power has grown over the past 12 years, and the enormous technological potential provided by drones, why shouldn’t we demand that an attorney general set the right precedent by clearly stating he’ll follow the law? This seems worth 13 hours of our time.
David Frum, he who spent the first half of his professional career casting anti-war conservatives out of the movement and writing a book titled An End to Evil, and spent the second half of his professional career lecturing conservatives for being too exclusionary and grandiose, took Aaron’s legitimate point to a sneering extreme on Twitter:
I feel so much freer now that Rand Paul has got administration to forswear a totally fictional plan to kill Americans with drones.— davidfrum (@davidfrum) March 8, 2013
My question for Eric Holder: what about all the OTHER things you’re not doing? When will you promise not to do THEM?— davidfrum (@davidfrum) March 8, 2013
Ah, now there’s a pole against which to lean the political philosophy of western civilization! For example, Eric Holder isn’t currently throwing people in prison for speaking out against the government. So why should he have to say he’ll uphold the First Amendment? Eric Holder also isn’t leading an army of brigands down Constitution Avenue in an attempt to occupy the Capitol building. So by all means, let him waffle on the separation of powers!
We bind our government with laws because people in charge have a tendency of abusing power. Paul’s filibuster was a matter of principle, not policy, and it was worth it.
The American Conservative
The Daily Caller
The Weekly Standard
The Washington Times
The unemployment numbers for February are out.
And – shocker – the Obama Administration has failed to match those from the same period of the Reagan Administration.
The Obama Administration, which numerous stories have described as determined to “transform America” by overturning the Reagan Revolution (as twice noted here and here by liberal columnist E.J. Dionne), can’t match Reagan’s record on jobs.
The numbers are:
Obama, February 2013, 5th year in office: 7.7%
Reagan, February, 1985, 5th year in office: 7.2%
Since the president has made this one of his central goals for his presidency, we are happy to oblige, and will from time to time take note of the Obama-Reagan results.
Nothing like accountability, eh Mr. President?
Let the excuse-making begin.
The Hill is reporting that the Obama administration’s FY 2-14 budget will now be more than two months late.
Let me put on my big surprise face.
One has to wonder why they could produce a budget — not that it was worth the paper it was printed on — in 2009 during much more difficult fiscal circumstances. It was the only time during Obama’s presidency that a budget was produced by February 4th, the legal requirement under the 1974 Budget Act.
According to the article, “The White House has said the delay is due to the budget uncertainty that surrounded the fiscal cliff, sequestration and the continuing resolution that expires March 27.”
But isn’t the job of the Office of Management and Budget primarily to produce a budget, and didn’t the fiscal cliff deal pass more than two months ago, and wasn’t the sequester known to at least be a possibility for 18 months and likely for at least a couple of months?
So why the delay?
Perhaps because they remember that they got zero, yes zero, votes in the U.S. Senate in each of the last two years.
Perhaps even the partisan employees at OMB (not to be confused with the often wrong but essentially non-partisan CBO) know that they will produce what the boss wants produced, and that it will be utterly irresponsible and add to the president’s current self-inflicted political woes.
If that’s true (or even if it’s not), and given that Obama has already repeatedly violated the law, without any repercussions, perhaps the best thing this administration could do for the country is just sit down, shut up, and not waste our time with another worthless excuse for a budget.
In the meantime, count on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to produce something very different from the Obama administration, namely a budget that is on time and, in the not-too-distant future, balanced.
Although the corpse of Colorado House Bill 1226 is still warm, it appears to have died the death of a miscreant which should never have been born, one of a raft of anti-gun rights bills being put forward for final vote in the Colorado State Senate today.
The bill would ban concealed carry of handguns in college campus buildings and stadiums, and at other college campus events where college management wanted to ban (otherwise legal) concealed carry by permit holders.
The Senate Committee which had jurisdiction over the bill passed it on a party line vote on Monday despte the objections of the brave Amanda Collins who testified that because her Nevada college was a gun free zone, she left her legal-to-carry handgun at home one day and was raped in a school parking lot — by a man who went on to rape a second victim and then rape and murder a third.
At this time, it appears that the Senate sponsor of the bill, Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) will pull the bill before letting it get to the floor for debate.
It is worth noting that Senator Heath had a town hall meeting planned for two days ago in my town outside Boulder. On Tuesday, I got a blast e-mail from his office saying that it had been canceled due to a scheduling conflict. I sent him an e-mail asking him to tell me what the other event was, because I believe he canceled simply to avoid hearing from gun-rights activists, even in liberal Boulder County. Other state senators have done that very thing. Needless to say, I never got a response from Senator Heath.
The first very bad press for this bill came when “Clueless Joe” Salazar suggested that if a female student were being attacked on a college campus, she might not have the presence of mind to know if she were about to raped, and therefore not know if she were about shoot a guilty person or an innocent person.
The final nail in the coffin of the bill was probably the disgraceful Sen. Edie Hudak who told Amanda Collins that gun statistics “are not on your side.” But it turned out that even the anti-gun Denver Post called out Hudak for, to put it politely, data abuse, saying that the “stats don’t apply in (this) case.” Less politely, Evie Hudak is a despicable liar, using irrelevant propaganda to a rape victim that others who might end up at the same risk should not have the opportunity to defend themselves.
Again, at this writing it’s not absolutely certain that the bill is dead but it seems very likely. Good riddance, and now let’s get rid of more of the barrage of terrible, pointless, Democrat anti-gun bills.
When we reference the “demagogue,” we imply a political leader who plays on the emotions and prejudices of the ignorant. A tub-thumping, rabble-rouser who doles out torches and pitchforks to the lowest common denominator.
If Rand Paul is a “demagogue in the making,” as Aaron suggests, then the senator’s 13-hour filibuster against Eric Holder’s prevarication was simply an anti-intellectual barnstorm.
I respectfully disagree.
Perhaps Aaron missed references to Lysander Spooner, Buchanan v. Warley, the presumption of liberty, most of our constitutional amendments, and Alice in Wonderland. When you mix in Ted Cruz’s passage recitation of Henry V, and Marco Rubio take on The Godfather, I imagine some intellectual high-notes got lost in the shuffle. Such was this enlightened demagoguery.
As Aaron notes, Rand mentioned Hitler. He did so to make an important point. Rand said it best:
“If you have a war that has no end, if you have a war that has no geographic limit, and then you have strikes that have no constitutional bounds, basically what you have is an unlimited imperial presidency.”
Thomas Hobbes couldn’t defend this sort of Leviathan.
This isn’t “hysterical paranoia.“ Ultimately, it wasn’t even about drones. Sen. Paul opposed the notion of an unchecked executive. He railed against a high-flying presidency, unencumbered by the fundamental checks and balances, separation of powers, and representative government the Founders envisioned.
So I salute him. Our freedoms don’t come cheap. They vanish absent our exertion. Public servants, and the citizens they serve, must actively fight to preserve our liberties. Sen. Paul did so, eloquently. This was emphatically not the boorish agitation of a demagogue.
Quite the contrary. It was the principled debut of a new GOP. The party of Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, and the fifteen liberty-loving Representatives who offered their moral support.
If you won’t stand with these men, you might consider crossing the aisle. Sen. Graham may join you.
I love that Jackson is writing on the History Channel’s The Bible, and I agree that the production is leaden and the dramatic licenses taken are neither good ideas nor particularly effective. But — by the way of very respectful discourse, not strong criticism of Jackson’s thoughtful column — I think Jackson is too tough on its producers, especially on their motives. Also,I think the word “hypocrite” to describe them is particularly too strong. I think their thinking is fuzzy, but I think there intentions were entirely laudable. I’ve read interviews with Roma Downey on this, and followed her career in general, and I have been struck by how sincere she is and how laudable her goals seem to be. She clearly is a person of deep faith and of a good heart. Just the other day, meanwhile, she and her husband had a wonderful column in the Wall Street Journal that is almost entirely on target, entitled “Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible.” Here’s part of it:
We’re talking about knowledge. The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin. Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president known more as a cigar-chomping Rough Rider than a hymn-signing Bible-thumper, once said: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”
It would be the same thing, we believe, to deny America’s sons and daughters the benefits of an education that includes a study of the Bible.
In all, The Bible seems to be a labor of love that, at least in its first installment, failed to achieve lift-off. As a piece of art, it doesn’t really succeed, and Jackson is right that the explanations offered by the producers for their choices aren’t those that a lot of us would agree with. But I think all believers should applaud their overall intentions, and hope they succeed better in future endeavors.
It’s a bit like the old Democratic congressiona trick of not applying new regulations to Congress. Too expensive, of course!
It turns out that President Barack Obama’s supporters—at least those rich or important or influential enough to serve in his Cabinet—apparently don’t much like ObamaCare. Too expensive, of course!
Reports The Hill:
Sally Jewell, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Interior Department, defended waivers her company received from part of Obama’s healthcare law as she testified before a Senate panel Thursday.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) pressed Jewell on healthcare waivers granted to REI, the chain of outdoor apparel stores where she serves as CEO.
During his major healthcare push in 2009, Obama publicly praised Jewell and REI for offering healthcare benefits to the company’s part-time employees. But after the healthcare law passed, REI received a waiver from new rules restricting the plan it offered to part-time workers.
Of course, Jewell made a rational business decision. But what kind of law says that it is cost-effective, moral, and all sorts of other good things, but needn’t be applied to those who can convince the Prez that they deserve a waiver from those same cost-effective, moral, and good provisions? And why does the president appoint people to his Cabinet who can’t be bothered to fulfull the law that was his primary objective during this first term?
[Update: I just ordered this: http://www.adorama.com/VI54216.html]
For probably 20 years, I carried a very small Swiss Army knife in my pocket. You just never know when it could come in handy for anything from cutting an apple for your child to using the small scissors to get rid of a hangnail.
As far as I know, many thousands of other people were doing exactly the same thing. And yet I never heard of anyone threatening, much less actually hurting, a flight attendant or other passenger with a small pocket knife.
Earlier this week, the TSA announced that in order to more effectively manage the time of security screeners, it would allow small pocket knives (no fixed or locking blades, no molded handles, and with restrictions on blade length and width) back on planes, along with certain sports items like hockey sticks. Box cutters and certain small knives which are primarily designed for use as weapons or for hunting/skinning will remain prohibited
The flight attendants union and air marshalls are up in arms, with one of the latter saying that the former will be “sitting ducks.”
Seriously, especially given the heightened vigilance of ordinary Americans to odd or potentially dangerous behavior on airplanes, does anybody actually believe that passengers having small pocket knives is suddenly a mortal threat when even those arguing against the knives don’t seem to have any evidence of their use to threaten or harm others on planes? Again, box cutters and knives which could be used effectively as weapons (though I suppose a well-enough trained person could use almost anything effectively as a weapon) will remain banned.
I applaud the TSA for thinking about the convenience of many thousands of passengers and for focusing screeners on truly dangerous items.
And I look forward to being able to carry a small knife with me on a plane. I see that the Original Swiss Army knife company now has a tiny knife with a built-in flash drive!
The new policy is supposed to go into effect in late April, unless the TSA caves in to the hyper-cautious flight attendants and air marshalls.
I appreciate Aaron Goldstein’s unwillingness to Stand With Rand, and have a few brief responses to Aaron:
First, Aaron says “Ross Kaminsky and other conservatives.” I’m sure Aaron and most AmSpec readers know that I do know consider myself a conservative. I’m Objectivist/libertarian.
Second, regarding Sen. Paul’s quarrel being with Holder, I think the Brennan nomination was partly just a convenient vehicle for the senator, but Brennan was also a valid target of Paul after Brennan’s disingenuous and unsatisfying answers to a range of questions regarding drone use.
Third, and most importantly, too many people, including Aaron in this case, are focusing on the narrow issue of whether the president would use drones against unarmed Americans in America. I think this misses the larger point of Sen. Paul which was to get this administration to admit that there is any limit to the power of Barack Obama.
Was it not amazing how difficult that was?
Yes, this may be a prelude to a presidential bid, but that’s OK with me (not that I have any reason to believe I’d sooner support Sen. Paul than Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan.)
It woke up at least some number of Americans to what principled leadership looks like (regardless if whether you agree with the substance of the case he was making) and was in that sense a valuable contrast with our current president.
Regarding Awlaki, it’s true I was pleased to learn he was dead. However, while I didn’t write about it here, I have talked about it on my radio show a couple of times and said that I do not support the killing of Americans anywhere, other than while in active combat against the US, without some sort of legal process such as going through courts to either strip that person of citizenship or convicting him of treason.
Back to the presidential bid issue, and Rand Paul as a demagogue (as Aaron puts it), I don’t disagree with any of that. And I repeat I am not saying that I’m suddenly a backer of Sen. Paul’s for president, though I’m sure I’d rather see him than any Democrat and some Republicans.
So I understand and respect Aaron’s position. His facts are correct, but his interpretation of the facts is where we disagree. In short, between showing passion and principle, and getting the administration to admit that there is something they couldn’t do even if they felt like it, Paul’s filibuster was a valuable contribution to the political scene.
Is the Sequester the chance for Bill Clinton to bond with Fox’s Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity?
Bill Clinton — our former president who loves to say taxes should be raised on the rich and that he is rich and doesn’t mind paying more — has a new challenge.
This is the same former President Clinton who wrote a book called Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World. In which the ex-president discussed the importance of individual giving.
Well, OK. Got the message. So the question?
Will the self-admitted rich guy Bill Clinton join Fox’s Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity in putting up the bucks so Iowa school kids – and others – can tour the White House?
You know how the former president loves to say he doesn’t need a tax cut because he’s done so well? In fact, as reported by the McClatchy newspapers back in 2008 when wife and then-Senator Hillary Clinton was running for president and had to actually reveal some tax returns, it turns out that:
The Clintons’ tax returns show that Bill Clinton earned nearly $51 million from 2004 through 2006.
Who knows how much has accumulated in the Clinton bank account since then — and who cares?
Between the ex-president’s tax returns and his constant joking — as in here where he joshed of his wealth:
“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then.”
…well, we get the message. Bill has the bucks. Clinton has said some version of this repeatedly over the years as he has made the Obama case for taxing the rich. He begs: raise my taxes.
That being the case — the obvious:
As a rich ex-president who loves to challenge the rich to pay more, will Bill Clinton join Fox’s Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity in making a solo pledge of $74,000 to keep the White House tours open for his less wealthy fellow Americans? Like these school kids in as reported by ABC News?
So. This will be interesting.
On Wednesday night Clinton’s old sparring partner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, went on Fox’s Greta Van Susteren show to say he imagined there were three or four people who could afford to get the White House tours running again.
Within less than 24 hours Eric Bolling was making his pledge on The Five, saying directly to the President and his press secretary Jay Carney:
“I’ll make you a deal Mr. President… Let these families take their White House tours next week and I’ll cover the added expenses. Word is it will cost around $74,000…. Mr. Carney, you know this an offer you can’t refuse. Give me a call.”
Within minutes, Sean Hannity tweeted:
seanhannity. @ericbolling great idea! Count me in, I will pay for a week also!
So. Bolling and Hannity have now stepped forward.
The obvious question?
Will President Clinton step forward and do the giving needed to help all these American kids who want to visit the White House?
Country music singer-songwriter and guitar player Claude King passed away today at the age of 90. He had just celebrated his 67th wedding anniversary last month.
A native of Louisiana, King was best known for his 1962 hit “Wolverton Mountain” which became popular on both the country and rock n’ roll charts. Co-written with Merle Kilgore, the song was about Kilgore’s uncle, Clifton Clowers who was lifelong resident of Woolverton Mountain in Arkansas. And I mean lifelong. Clowers lived until he was 102. Let’s just say Clowers didn’t think any man was good enough for his daughters.
With all due respect to Ross Kaminsky and other conservatives who enthusiastically supported Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster, I am compelled to offer my dissent. I simply cannot stand with Rand.
Before I launch my critique, however, I will give Paul full marks for political theater. A couple of weeks back I argued that Republicans needed to engage in more political theater by walking out on President Obama during his State of the Union Address. So I don’t fault Paul for taking the stage. Rather I take issue with how he used it.
First of all, Paul’s filibuster was ostensibly against President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director. But Paul’s quarrel was against Attorney General Eric Holder, not Brennan. At the end of the day, nothing Paul said in 13 hours is going to stop the Senate from confirming Brennan.
Now Matt Purple makes a valid point when he says that Holder probably could have stopped Paul’s filibuster if he had come out and said that President Obama is not authorized to drop drones on American citizens going about their business on American soil.
But let’s be honest for a minute. Did Paul honestly think for even a second that Eric Holder actually believed President Obama thought he had the authority to wantonly drop drones in the middle of Kentucky? If he did then he’s even kookier than his Dad. But methinks the younger Paul does not honestly believe President Obama plans to drop drones on U.S. citizens on a whim. He’s much savvier than that.
Clearly this is a prelude to a presidential bid. That all started in earnest with his vigorous questioning of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Benghazi in January (“If I had been President at the time, I would have relieved you of your post.”). While Paul might not believe that Obama is going to randomly drop a drone, he knows there is a portion of the population that believes he would and Paul is tapping into that segment of the electorate which comprises Americans of both right-wing and left-wing persuasion. The point here is there a lot of hysterical paranoia out there and Paul gives such paranoia legitimacy by, well, “droning” on and on about something that will never happen under any circumstances.
Of course, I am not saying everyone who stood with Rand is paranoid. Far from it. Clearly, a lot of reasonable people came on board. Indeed, I can understand why Ross dug his heels in further after both John McCain and Lindsey Graham took to the floor to denounce Paul’s filibuster. Indeed, I’ve been annoyed with McCain in particular for basically giving Democrats the political room necessary to support Chuck Hagel. If McCain and Graham don’t like something then it must therefore be good.
But what Ross doesn’t mention is that McCain was quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial which correctly said that the President only has the authority to utilize such force against American citizens if they are enemy combatants. Indeed, Ross lost no sleep when American born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone in September 2011 and neither did I.
What really turned me off more than anything else was Paul’s invocation of Hitler while trying to say he wasn’t comparing President Obama or anyone else to the Fuhrer:
The point isn’t that anybody in our country is Hitler. I’m not accusing anybody of being that evil. I think it’s an overplayed and misused analogy. But what I am saying is that in a democracy, you could someday elect someone who is very evil. That’s why we don’t give power to the government. And it’s not an accusation of this president or anybody in this body. It’s a point to be made that occasionally even a democracy gets it wrong.
I like how Paul says the Hitler analogy is overplayed and misused and then proceeds to overplay and misuse the analogy. If Paul believes that President Obama nor any member of the U.S. Senate is capable of that sort of evil then why bring up Hitler at all? I’ll tell you why. Because he knows there are people out there who do think this way and he is inciting and mobilizing them for his own political gain. Rand Paul is a demagogue in the making and for that reason I will not stand with him.
Could a Republican finally win a Senate seat in Michigan?
Herewith, several explanations of the spending numbers. While conservatives clearly aren’t winning big in the spending wars, we’re doing better than many conservatives have recognized. Much, much more must be done, of course, but the trend towards extravagance has been significantly slowed, although not yet reversed.
First, here is why things are bad, and why the sequester is not, historically speaking, going to purvey much pain. We’re so far outspending Bill Clinton as to make him look like a heartless tightwad (which, of course, he wasn’t).
Second, and this is important, here’s how conservatives have stemmed the tide, starting with the much-maligned debt-limit deal in 2011. Aside from the absolutely horrendous “stimulus” of 2009 (which followed the bad Pelosi-Bush stimulus of 2008), conservatives have decisively stopped further growth in domestic discretionary spending, which is the category we most directly control in the House. Granted, as shown in that first essay, this is operating from an elevated baseline. But what I didn’t put in there is that it does not assume the 2009 stimulus as the baseline, but instead it is compared to the baseline where Bush left it. In short, it’s just bad, not quite goshawful. (And…. please, before you bash me, do read the whole thing. I make clear I am not celebrating one bit, but just going through the numbers to show a little progress.)
Third, my CFIF colleague Tim Lee explains quite convincingly why the deficit/debt problems result from over-spending, not from under-taxation. Key passages:
So if revenues for 2007 and 2013 are the same, yet the 2013 deficit is nearly one trillion dollars, we can isolate the obvious culprit: excessive spending.
For the record, it should also be noted that 2007 was the last year in which Republicans controlled Congress and the White House; it was several years into the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and it was the year in which cumulative spending on the Iraq and Afghan wars peaked.
Accordingly, it is false for anyone to blame the “Bush tax cuts,” wars “that weren’t paid for” or supposedly spendthrift Republicans as the deficit bogeymen. We had never witnessed a trillion-dollar deficit in our nation’s history, but in the years since Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid captured Congressional control and Barack Obama captured the White House, we have seen four trillion-dollar deficits in a row.
There: That’s enough for now.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s brief letter to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) regarding the use of deadly force against American citizens without trial on American soil can be viewed below:
The body is only 43 words. The letter ostensibly puts to rest uncertainty on the White House’s stance, which prompted a nearly 13-hour filibuster from Senator Paul. He was presumably dissatisfied with Holder’s statement that the president would address the issue in the coming months, made during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing Wednesday morning. When Fox News’ Megyn Kelly solicited Paul’s reaction to Holder’s latest message, he reliped, “Hooray!” It appears he is now satisfied.
Attorney General Eric Holder wrote Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to confirm that President Obama does not have the authority to kill an American on U.S. soil in a non-combat situation, Obama’s spokesman announced today.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney quoted from the letter that Holder sent to Paul today. “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil?” Holder wrote, per Carney. “The answer is no.”
Two quick thoughts. First, why didn’t Holder do this yesterday? He could have soothed people’s nerves and diffused Paul’s filibuster, which quickly became a rallying cry for conservatives and the GOP. The White House damaged itself enormously by letting Paul stay at that podium, not that I’m complaining.
Second, Paul may have his assurance, but his actions have become far larger than a single letter from the White House. By standing up, Paul energized a moribund GOP, fired up both conservatives and liberals, made civil liberties a front-and-center issue, and established himself as a leader in the post-Romney Republican Party.
As Noah Rothman noted this morning, Paul gave the GOP a dose of romance, a cause worth fighting for. Consequently, McCain and Graham, who blasted Paul earlier today, sounded cantankerous and off-beat, the angry neighbors who tried to break up the block party. That Paul managed to be substantive, conservative, right, and, well, cool all at the same time is a testament to his brand of politics. Small wonder that so many today are standing with Rand.
On Fox News, anchor Megyn Kelly just read to Senator Rand Paul a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder (which Sen. Paul had not seen yet) in which Holder says categorically that the president does not have the authority to use drones to kill an American citizen (who is not engaged in combat) on American soil.
Senator Paul’s response:
Hooray! For 13 hours yesterday, we asked them that question. And so there is a result and a victory. So under duress and under public humiliation, the White House will respond and do the right thing. It took a month and a half to get them to admit that the CIA doesn’t operate in the United States. That’s been the law since 1947. So now after 13 hours of filibuster, we’re proud to announce that the president is not going to kill unarmed Americans on American soil. My next question would be why did it take so long? Why was it so hard? Why would a president so jealously guard power that they were afraid to say this? But I am glad. And I think the answer does answer my question.
When was the last time that disgraceful John McCain and Lindsey Graham got this administration to clarify that there is some power it doesn’t have?
My friend Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute, explains why an increase in the minimum wage is a bad idea, and particularly bad for those whose its proponents claim to want to help. Sadly, his questioner, Henry Blodget who spent years making big bucks on Wall Street by being a massively overpaid cheerleader for Internet stocks during the dotcom bubble, seems clueless about basic economics.
By focusing on the hypothetical of a missile being launched at Jane Fonda (an interesting idea) or at someone sitting at a cafe (a less interesting idea), John McCain — as he usually does — misses the bigger point: The Obama administration is unwilling or unable to admit or even discuss constitutional limitiations on the president’s power.
McCain and Graham’s comments are simply disgraceful, to the pleasure of left-wing web sites.
Just add another contrast to those created by Rand Paul last night…another contrast that Senator Paul and those who stood with him win, while Obama-McCain-Graham lose.
Organizing for Action, the former Obama campaign organization which was pilloried across the political spectrum for their brazen offer of “pay to play” has backed down a little bit, now saying they won’t take cash from corporations, lobbyinsts, or foreigners. No doubt they will still take money from unions, and still give labor thugs access to the Lincoln Bedroom.
More in this ridiculous op-ed by OFA’s Jim Messina.
They’re wrapping it up now. I just turned it on but Business Insider has a blurb on what I missed:
“Calm down, Senator,” McCain said, in an admonition to Paul. “The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens.”
McCain argued that Paul’s warning that the Obama administration could target U.S. citizens in “cafes” on American soil, and his related “Jane Fonda” analogy, bring the debate into the “realm of the ridiculous.”
“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stuntes [sic] tha[t] fire up impressionable libertarian kids,” he said. “I don’t think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people.”
McCain just said a conversation shouldn’t be talking about “drones killing Jane Fonda and in cafes.” Graham said the chance of you being killed by a drone for engaging in harmless political activity “is zero.” He said, “I will do everything in my power to protect this president, who I disagree with a lot, and future presidents from having an ill-informed Congress” take away his constitutional powers. McCain, descending into self-parody, then congratulated Graham for using his best manners during their dinner last night (I wish I were making that up).
I’ll post video as soon as it’s found.
UPDATE: Here’s video of McCain speaking. He spends about half his time reading the Wall Street Journal’s critical editorial from earlier this morning. His patented harrumphing begins around 4:30:
“I don’t know why anyone would object to drying up the supply of these weapons over time,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in defending her assault weapons ban proposal, asserting that “while gun homicides are down in this country, mass shootings are not.” For her this created a rationale for banning high-capacity magazines and assault weapons such as the AR-15, a semi-automatic variant of the M-16, which she said have a natural appeal to mass shooters. She also argued that the ergonomic “military features” which distinguished assault weapons make them uniquely lethal.
“Members, this isn’t going to stop … and we have a chance to do something about it,” she concluded. Feinstein singled out the “Slide Fire” stock accessory, which dramatically increases the fire rate of a semi-automatic rifle. By implication, it is only a matter of time before the system is used to spray a crowd of innocent people with bullets, though Feinstein did not address the point that mass shootings and assault weapons are both rare.
Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) followed up by reading a letter from the relative of a shooting victim who stated that, while no one should have to go through what he did, he cautioned against knee-jerk reactions that diminish the liberty of law-abiding citizens.
Connecticut Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that an assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine ban, and universal background check policy would have prevented or at least ameliorated the student deaths in Newtown, seeming to counter Grassley’s earlier statement to the contrary.
From the Hart Senate Office Building where the Committee on the Judiciary is marking up four gun regulation proposals:
S.150, Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (Feinstein)
S.54, Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 (Leahy)
S.374, Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013 (Schumer)
S.146, School Safety Enhancements Act of 2013 (Boxer)
Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asserted skepticism of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposed assault weapons ban. Saying it draws arbitrary distinctions, Grassley argued that assault weapons are distinguished solely by cosmetic features, unrelated to their power. He also cited a recent Department of Justice memo stating that an assault weapons ban is “unlikely to have an impact on gun violence” because most firearm homicides would be unaffected by it.
When the hyper-opinionated Curry Kirkpatrick was writing on basketball for Sports Illustrated, he held a particular loathing for John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas because Thompson was stand-offish (to say the least) with the media. Despite a few nice cover photos of that era’s Hoyas in SI (including a wonderful posed shot of Thompson, Patrick Ewing, and then-President Reagan), Kirkpatrick’s bias seemed always to color the magazine’s coverage, thus helping hype the image of those Hoyas as bad guys. (In fact, other than super-aggressive freshman Michael Graham in 1983-84 — who, by the way, later turned into a model citizen with help from Thompson well into Graham’s 20s, long after Thompson had kicked him off the team for academic reasons — those teams should in many ways have served as role models. The players went to class, did their work, graduated on time in record percentages — well above a 90 percent graduation rate — and avoided off-court trouble. As for Ewing, somehow he was always portrayed as the bad guy, even though he almost always was the one trying to play peacemaker, and he was the victim, not the perpetrator, in the only real fight the Hoyas ever had, when Syracuse’s Dwayne “Pearl” Washington sucker-punched Ewing — as replays clearly showed — quite deliberately, in the gut, for no apparent reason.)
Apparently, the bias continues. SI is out with its list of the ten best all-time players in the NCAA tournament. Now, obviously, any such list is going to engender debate and controversy from the moment it comes out. It’s all subjective. But sometimes an omission is so glaring that it must be noted. I’ll admit my own bias here: I was sports editor of the Georgetown HOYA (college paper) at the start of the season where GU won the national championship. Bias aside, though, it boggles the mind that Patrick Ewing somehow did not make SI’s list of top 10.
How could Ewing not make it? He led his team to three NCAA finals in four years, winning one and losing the other two in classic games by one and two points, respectively. Sure, he didn’t score a ton of points in his title games — but Ewing was never really about offense, anyway. His defense, intensity, and sheer presence were what made him the dominant player of his era (Michael Jordan included: His Tar Heels made only one Final Four in his three seasons). That’s why Ewing was the Final Four MVP the year his team won the national championship. In all of John Thompson, Jr.’s years of coaching success, none of his teams ever made the Final Four except those three featuring Ewing. As a college player and team leader who made the entire team around him better, very few people ever matched Ewing’s accomplishments. Was he the best NCAA tourney player ever? Of course not. But Top 10? Definitely. Indeed, there were games where the whole rest of his team all but feel apart, but Ewing held them together — especially in a first-round game against a tough SMU team, where only a Ewing tip-in with 8 seconds remaining allowed the Hoyas to escape with a 37-36 win, en route to the national title.
So, one asks, who would be left off SI’s list to make room for Ewing? (The list: Jerry West, Christian Laettner, Magic Johnson, Bill Bradley, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor.) Two spring to mind: Bradley and Bird. Bird played in only one tournament, and didn’t win the championship, falling by 11 points in the finals. Bradley’s Princeton team made only one Final Four, and they lost in the semis. Sure, neither team would have made it anywhere near as far without being carried on Bird’s and Bradley’s respective backs. But one Final Four appearance each, with no championship, vs. three title appearances, with one championship and two last-second losses? Come on. There’s no comparison. Again, this isn’t about who had the best college or pro careers: It’s supposed to be the list of the ten best NCAA tourney players. Ewing easily belongs among the top five or six.
Curry Kirkpatrick accuse GU of having “Hoya Paranoia.” It’s not paranoia if it’s based on truth — and the truth was, Ewing’s Hoyas had much to be paranoid about, because the national media wouldn’t give them an even break then, and still won’t do so today.
Okay, how’ that for a quick break from politics? :)
Well, I’m certainly glad I didn’t miss anything in the Senate last night…
Rand Paul has just finished his nearly 13 hour filibuster. Before yielding the floor, he confessed that, as much as he would like to break Strom Thurmond’s 24 hour, 18 minute record, he had to take care of a certain ultimately irrepressible need.
Canadian country-folk icon Stompin’ Tom Connors passed away today of natural causes at his home in Peterborough, Ontario. He was 77.
Connors was known for his trademark black cowboy hat, stompin’ board and his love of Canada with songs such as “Sudbury Saturday Night”, “Bud The Spud”, “The Ketchup Song” and “The Hockey Song” which has enjoyed a second life being played in hockey arenas all over Canada and the United States.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented on Connors passing on Twitter. Harper stated, “We have lost a true Canadian original. R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom Connors. You played the best game that could be played.”
Here’s Connors explaining why he needed to use a stompin’ board in the first place. Well, Heaven’s floor just got a bit louder.
Rand Paul has now held the Senate floor for something like 12 hours, having begun his filibuster of President Obama’s pick for CIA chief sometime just before noon.
Any bets on how long he will last? (Intrade hasn’t yet descended to the level of tracking such things.) When you wake up tomorrow, will Rand Paul still be speaking through your breakfast?
The Washington Post helpfully provides a list of the five-longest filibusters in history, which range from 16 hours and 12 minutes (William Proxmire) to 24 hours and 18 minutes (Strom Thurmond).
How stern is the stuff of which Rand Paul is made?
Would it be going too far to say that if Paul doesn’t make it into the top five, then he’s lost my primary vote in 2016?
Guitar legend Alvin Lee passed away today unexpectedly of complications from routine surgery. He was 68.
The British born Lee was best known for his time with Ten Years After. Lee provided one of the highlights of Woodstock with his powerful performance of “I’m Going Home” with a little bit of Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” tossed into the mix.
Two years later, Ten Years After scored their biggest hit with “I’d Love to Change The World”. With lyrics like “Tax the rich/Feed the poor/Til there are no rich more” it could be interpreted as an anthem for Obama. On the other hand if you listen to the chorus “I’d love to change to world/But I don’t know what to do/So I’ll leave it upt to you”, it indicates that Lee recognized things are never as simple as that. Besides if there are no more rich, Lee would have missed out on a lot of royalty checks.
Here’s a rare interview Lee conducted back in 1988 in which discusses his playing style and musical influences.
One outcome of the Supreme Court’s June 2012 health care ruling is that the federal government cannot force states to expand Medicaid. And yet, as of last week, 24 states have volunteered to do so.
What is driving some states to expand a program that is a perennial source of budgetary pressure? In a new paper, Mercatus Center scholar and Social Security/Medicare Trustee Charles Blahous analyzes the factors facing state officials. These include budgetary circumstances, the structure of the Medicaid program and how it is affected by the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and other subjective judgements at work.
Historically, the federal government has covered an average of 57% of the cost of the Medicaid program in the states. ACA changes this. The federal government is now offering to cover the entire cost for a subset of new Medicaid recipients for three years. That subset is childless adults with incomes up to 138% of the Federal Povery Level (FPL). Gradually by 2020, federal support for the newly eligible will drop to 90%.
As Blahous notes, the Court took away ACA’s “stick” to force Medicaid expansion but it left a federal “carrot” that pays for the states’ expanded coverage. For a brief time, the states feel no pain for expanding Medicaid eligibility for this specific population.
Regardless of whether states expand Medicaid or not, Medicaid costs have been squeezing state budgets for some time due to increased medical costs and caseloads. On average, the program represents nearly one-quarter of state budgets, and this is projected to rise by 150% in the next decade.Continue reading…
We’re now in hour four of Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster of CIA nominee John Brennan. Paul is being reinforced on the Senate floor by Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, and Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, all of whom are giving speeches and engaging in back-and-forth.
At the center of Paul’s objection is the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which generally prohibits the federal government from using the military on domestic soil for law enforcement purposes without first passing an act of Congress (and with the exception of the National Guard). Eric Holder said in a recent letter that drone strikes could be ordered against a target on U.S. soil, which Paul argues violates the principle of posse comitatus.
But the Obama Administration isn’t the first to hoe this ground. During the Bush Administration, a legal memo was circulated by White House attorneys that argued, “The president has ample constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States.” The document was written by lawyers John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, sent to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and approved of by Vice President Dick Cheney and his lawyer David Addington. Cheney later argued, citing the memo, that the president could deploy the military against a group of terrorism suspects living in New York, known as the Lackawanna Six. Bush ultimately overruled Cheney and sent in the FBI.
There is, of course, a difference between a military operation and a drone strike. But the principle remains the same. As conservatives by-and-large voice their support for Rand Paul, it’s worth considering how the GOP has shifted since Cheney’s day. It’s also worth considering how elastic the word “conservatism” has become: it includes both Dick Cheney and Rand Paul, opposite poles of a crucial constitutional issue.
Paul’s filibuster represents the Tea Party’s liberty-oriented conservatism at its finest. Take note GOP bosses: this is why we elect men like Paul and Lee. Can you imagine the fearsome Trey Grayson-Bob Bennett tag team fighting tooth-and-nail for our constitutional rights? I’m having difficulty.
“I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes until the alarm is sounded from coast-to-coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Not only is he filibustering John Brennan’s nomination over the administration’s breathtaking claims of power, he’s doing it the old-fashioned way by speaking continuously at the podium. It’s hard to talk about anything for hours on end, let alone speak substantively and coherently. But so far Paul’s speech has touched on the doctrine of posse comitatus, the nature of our constitutional rights, President Obama’s civil liberties contradictions, and the problems with a doctrine of total war. He’s referenced Alice in Wonderland and 1984.
Watch here at C-Span 2. You might learn something. Either way, you’ll get a gratifying look at perhaps the most fearless and intellectually consistent Republican senator.
Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) began her line of questioning by asserting that her committee’s role is vigorous oversight of intelligence activities, adding a new angle to the discussion currently taking place in the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder.
To wit, “We cannot do that without information about certain kinds of activities, particularly clandestine activities,” she asserted, referring to the lack of public disclosure in the Office of Legal Counsel’s classified memo outlining the legal argument justifying targeted killings of American citizens. That being said, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Feinstein had seen it, and indicated that she was holding it: “The fact of the matter is it is a sixteen-page, very thoughtful … legal opinion,” though she added, “I can’t ask you, even here, about some of the aspects of this opinion.”
It should be noted that Feinstein appaered to be confused, and to be holding the DOJ white paper (sixteen pages in length) which, “I am getting a note now … was released now because it was leaked first.” provoking laughter in the chamber. In any case, Feinstein did call for general congressional and, ostensibly, public disclosure of related memoranda, noting that she was aware of one memo withdrawn by the Bush Administration and two withdrawn by the Obama Administration which she considered inadequate, and struck her as simply providing the executive with the authority it desired.
Holder’s response was conciliatory. “I think that what you will hear from the president in a relatively short period of time — we have talked about a need for greater transparency, with what we share, with what we talk about,” and statements which address those legitimate concerns with the committee members and the public, he responded. Holder said he thought “people would understand that we do these things reluctantly” but also within the scope of the law.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) used his time to address a scenario Feinstein had first raised while talking out her own concerns. Graham asked about, asserted, and gained assent for the proposition that the United States military could shoot down a hijacked plane carrying Americans if it posed a threat to a greater number of citizens.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) raised concerns about general language within the leaked white paper, regarding the definition of imminence in the context of a threat posed against Americans by an American citizen collaborating with al Qaeda or an affiliated group. He also questioned an open-ended allusion to the closing “window of opportunity,” which would distinguish the propriety of a tactical strike.
I explain why, here. It’s because of the “drone strikes on civilians” letter — and SO much more.
From the Dirksen Senate Office Building where the Judiciary Committee is holding a Department of Justice oversight hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder: A major story coming into this hearing is Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) epistolary exchange with Holder regarding the government’s possible legal authority to target U.S. citizens on U.S. soil with military force, without trial. Other key issues include the proposed assault weapons ban, which goes to markup in the Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning, prevention of financial fraud, the fines against BP related to the Gulf oil spill, and the effects of the sequester on the Department of Justice’s various activities.
Holder’s opening statement touched on these issues, dwelling on the administration’s call for an assault weapons ban and other expanded gun regulations, including limits on armor-piercing ammunition. However, there was one exception. Holder’s statement included minimal, general discussion of national security issues. No references were made to targeted killings or the legal justifications for drone warfare.
After talking around Chairman Leahy’s (D-VT) question on the matter — “Can you agree there is no scenario in which it would be appropriate for the government to use an armed drone on U.S. soil? to strike at an American citizen?” — and seeming to shake his head to indicate his endorsement of Senator Feinstein’s (D-CA) assertion that she did not think that such a strike would be legal, he was driven to give a simple, one-word answer by Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Cruz asked whether a strike on an American citizen with known involvement in terrorist plots against the United States sitting in a cafe and not posing an imminent threat to any U.S. citizen would be constitutional on American soil, as apparently it is overseas. Holder demurred, but after the two went back and forth a couple of times, Cruz lost his patience and explained, “My question isn’t about propriety: Do you think it’s constitutional?” Holder dodged again, and Cruz responded that he would simply move on, but Holder interjected, “I thought I was saying no — no.” Feinstein nodded her head and Holder looked over, seeming to acknowledge their earlier exchange.
Without ruling out further developments, it would appear that the Attorney General of United States of America has indicated that the federal government lacks constitutional authority to target an American citizen with deadly force on American soil without trial.
Of course it won’t stop Obama from saying we must have higher taxes…
Mother Jones reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed the federal executive’s authority to target an American citizen on American soil, with deadly force, without trial. The office of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) makes this claim based on a letter it received from Holder in response to Paul’s query about this authority. Holder’s letter quotes Paul’s exact inquiry as whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.” Holder’s response follows, with emphasis added:
As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.
The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances like a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.
Speaking only for myself and not as a legal expert, I would note that Holder does not explicitly confirm the authority in question. Rather, he entertains the possibility of contemplating such an action under extraordinary circumstances, giving the example of a threat to the homeland. By implication, this threat would be direct and imminent.
The only extension of the policy to American soil is directly addressed. The legal authority to kill an American citizen without trial has already been established, at least in theory. The posse comitatus doctrine’s possible implications for this discussion are also worth noting. Around the same time that Mother Jones’ story came out, Talking Point Memo and other sources reported Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) announcement that the White House has agreed to release the classified Justice Department memo drafted to provide this legal justification. This comes after Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) allegation on February 7th that the DOJ has been less than forthcoming after the White House made an ostensibly identical executive order before John Brennan’s initial confirmation hearing, during which Mr. Wyden leveled the charge.
This morning at 9:30 I will be covering the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Department of Justice oversight hearing with Attorney General Holder. Stay tuned for updates.
As noted here earlier today by Luca Gattoni-Celli, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is no more. He died today after a two year battle with cancer. He was 58.
Those who are familiar with my writing will be aware of my habit of writing obituaries. My entries are titled with their name accompanied by the abbreviation R.I.P. I do so to honor public figures who have contributed to humanity be it through public service, sport, music or some other endeavour.
However, in Mr. Chavez’s case, I have omitted said abbrevation. The reason I cannot bring myself to do so is because I do not believe Chavez contributed to humanity.
Now one can make the argument that if you have nothing nice to say, it is best not to say anything at all. In most instances, this would be the appropriate response. However, Chavez’s passing must be noted because despite his buffoonish disposition he did make Venezuela not only the most powerful nation in Latin America (outside of Brazil) he made it an influential player on the world stage.
Of course, much of this international prestige came through his invective towards former President George W. Bush. Chavez’s anti-Bush rants (i.e. comparing him to the devil, smelling of sulphur) endeared to American leftists like Sean Penn who is no doubt crying a river at this hour. Indeed, Penn said, “Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have.”
Penn and other Chavez supporters would no doubt point out that he won four elections. However, the fact that these same people put more faith in the legitimacy of Chavez’s elections while questioning the legitimacy of Bush’s elections in 2000 and 2004 speaks volumes. Given that Chavez spent his tenure shutting down the opposition press, it should come as no surprise that Freedom House doesn’t consider the press to be a free one. Reporters Without Borders doesn’t think much of press freedom in Chavez’s Venezuela either.
Given Chavez’s control of the media in Venezuela it may be years before we truly know the extent of his cruelty.
Despite Venezuela’s vast oil wealth, it remains a poor country whose currency was devalued just last month and crime is rampant. How bad cannot be quantified because Chavez saw fit to stop publishing crime statistics in 2004.
Of course, Chavez knew full well that Venezuela is an economic basket case and a dangerous place to live. Who to blame given that Bush hasn’t been in the White House for more than four years? Why the Jews of course. Aside from breaking off diplomatic ties with Israel while forging strong bonds with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chavez has spared no efforts to stir up animosity against Venezuelan Jews.
Amongst other things there was the 2004 raid on Collegio Hebraica, the country’s largest private Jewish school. In 2008, Chavez called his future presidential opponent Henrique Capriles part of the the “Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie” while his supporters called Capriles a Jew even though he is a devout Catholic. Just last year, demonstrators hurled fireworks into a Caracas synagogue following skirmishes in the Gaza Strip. Sorry folks but demonstrations in Venezuela simply didn’t happen without Chavez’s blessing. That Sean Penn or anyone else would praise Chavez knowing of his anti-Semitism is beyond contempt.
Chavez chose Nicolas Maduro as his successor and clearly the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. He is asserting that Chavez was probably poisoned.
An election is to be held within the next 30 days. It will be a showdown between Maduro and Capriles. At 40, Capriles is both youthful and rational. If Capriles wins I wonder if Maduro will permit a peaceful transfer of power. If they do not then Hugo Chavez’s legacy will sadly be alive and well.
Hugo Chavez has died. On the available evidence, this is a good career move.
This afternoon Old Scratch told his assistants, “Put another log on the fire — a big one.”
Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.
His email address is given on Twitter as firstname.lastname@example.org
If there was any doubt in your mind that President Obama wants to use sequestration as a political weapon, this should dispel it:
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will cancel all tours starting this weekend, due to sequester cuts. The move prompted swift condemnation from Republican lawmakers, who described the decision as the latest attempt to make the sequester seem worse than it is.
Obama is spending $2.4 million on White House staff than President Bush. But we’re supposed to believe that tiny budget cuts require that the (often self-guided) tours get the ax. As Rep. Ted Poe put it, “the people have been banned from the people’s house.”
May he rest in peace, despite his best efforts.
Confirmation from the New York Times here.
H/T Weasel Zippers
From the Washington Times:
The Obama administration denied an appeal for flexibility in lessening the sequester’s effects, with an email this week appearing to show officials in Washington that because they already had promised the cuts would be devastating, they now have to follow through on that.
Telling the most difficult personal stories in order to support our Second Amendment rights, Amanda Collins and Kimberly Weeks are heroes:
How nice. Saudi Arabia’s totalitarian dictatorship, also known as the House of Saud, is for democracy. Elsewhere. Like Syria.
After a series of meetings in the Riyadh, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters at a joint news conference that Assad must understand that recent scud missile attacks on regime foes in the city of Aleppo would not be tolerated by the international community and that he had lost all claim to be Syria’s legitimate leader.
Ah yes, to be a “legitimate leader,” like the Saudi king, who is in charge because he was elected, er, because he was uniquely talented, er, because he allowed his people the liberty to run their lives, er, because … well, because he was one of the many geriatric sons of the guy who originally seized power decades ago. Yes, speaking of “legitimacy”!
One wonders how the “legitimate leader” of Saudi Arabia would react if the people started protestingthere as in Syria. There’s no indication that the Saudi royals would be any more inclined to yield power than was Bashar al-Assad and his cronies. And if there ever is shooting in the streets of Riyadh, would Washington remember its professed commitment to democracy?
A lot of numbers are thrown around — and ignored — in the debate over gun regulation. Are mass shootings on the rise? Is the United States the most violent nation in the developed world? Is a proliferation of assault rifles fueling a new era of massacres and mayhem? So it would seem, based on the rhetoric of folks like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). A crux of the current debate is whether to ban so-called assault weapons. Rifles such as the AR-15, a semi-automatic first cousin of the M-16, are Public Enemy Number One.
What do the official FBI crime statistics say? 3.76%. That is the proportion of 2011 firearm homicides in which a rifle was documented as the weapon. Compare that to 4.15% for shotguns and 72.47% for handguns. (Rifles were implicated in 2.55% of all murders.) An important qualification should be made: 19.62% of cases involved “Other guns or type not stated.” I am also taking for granted that the FBI database is reliable. That being said, handguns were documented more than 19 times as frequently as rifles. Some of the miscellaneous cases were undocumented, but the balance defies standard categorization. It may even be that more guns were documented in a miscellaneous category than as rifles, though this is admittedly conjecture.
Even if all of the rifles were assault weapons — a dubious assumption given assurances that an assault weapons ban would not affect the vast majority of law-abiding gun owners — it would seem that gun control advocates are off target in their focus. The truth is that an assault weapons ban would diminish the liberty of law abiding-citizens, but its impact on gun homicides would be minimal. General gun statistics are most representative of handguns, which are far more common — and relatively difficult to demonize.
Gun regulation is a complicated issue. The United States does have a high rate of gun deaths compared to other developed nations. It was also born of a gun culture, forged by a revolution of citizen militias defending their property against a distant tyrant. The ethical, legal, and practical aspects of the debate are uniquely complex. The stakes are high, and emotions run deep, liberty on one side, security on the other. With this in mind, it is important that the discussion be conducted factually and respectfully.
Demagoguing a minor aspect of a larger problem will not solve it. Homicides are not even a leading cause of death in the United States, but suicides ranked tenth in 2011, and were more than twice as prevalent. Yet Congress remains preoccupied by the merits of regulating bayonets and flash suppressors.
Back in December 2011, the Senate Republicans rejected a motion to cut off debate on the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to a judgeship on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate Republicans were on sound footing in opposing cloture for a number of reasons, some of which I noted here, and, with the failed cloture vote, her nomination went nowhere in the last Congress.
President Obama, however, renominated her in January 2013, and her nomination has made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This time, the vote to send her nomination to the Senate floor was 10-7, with Senator Graham (R-SC), listed as Pass.
Now comes word that the Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid, plans to file a motion to set a cloture vote on Halligan’s nomination later this week. As the title of this post suggests, now is not the time for the Senate Republicans to lose their nerve.
In staking out positions on issues like the death penalty and same-sex marriage, she has sung from the living Constitution hymnal. Halligan also endorsed making gun manufacturers responsible for criminal acts committed with guns in both a 2003 Law Day speech and her work as Solicitor General of New York. The courts rejected both her call to judicial activism and her attack on the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which barred lawsuits like the one she endorsed. Halligan’s arguments on these and other issues promise judicial activism on the bench.
In addition, she joined a report by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Committee on Federal Courts that endorsed trying alien terrorists in civilian courts rather than before military commissions. The report also questioned the Government’s power to detain those terrorists indefinitely, a position that Justice O’Connor rejected in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.
Halligan identified that report in her questionnaire as one that she “prepared or contributed” to. When asked about it at her 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, though, she said, “I do not recall personally contributing or participating in these reports other than as a member of the committee approving them.” She also said that, while the report did not reflect her views, she took no steps to disassociate herself from it before that hearing. In that regard, four committee members abstained from approving the report’s conclusions. In short, since that report became an issue, she has sought to back away from it.
The merits of Halligan’s nomination haven’t improved since December 2011. The Senate refused to cut off debate on that nomination then, and it should do likewise if the nomination comes up again in 2013.
Bobby Rogers, a founding member of The Miracles, passed away on Sunday after a long illness. He was 73.
Rogers shared lead vocal on “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me” which was later covered by The Beatles. Rogers also co-wrote “Going to a Go-Go” as well as the Temptations first big hit “The Way You Do The Things You Do” with Smokey Robinson. His voice could also be heard saying, “It’s just a groovy party, man, I can dig it,” on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”.
In 2012, Rogers along with fellow Miracles Claudette Rogers, Pete Moore, Ronnie White and guitarist Marv Tarplin were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. This came 25 years after Smokey Robinson was inducted. Their exclusion was considered a significant oversight.
Here is a rare interview Rogers did in 2010 in front of Hitsville U.S.A., the original headquarters of Motown.
Worried that you missed insighful commentaries this week? Don’t worry; we have you covered.
Two interesting articles appeared within a day of each other on the World Wide Web this week. The New York Times reported that over the course of the last 50 years, the number of overweight American women has grown dramatically, the conclusion being that as an increasing number of women leave home to enter the workforce and take on sedentary desk jobs, they neglect household chores which burn loads of calories. The report is being touted as “controversial,” as most studies that say what people don’t want to hear are.
The Telegraph, though, says the 1950s housewife is making a comeback “on catwalks and in popular culture.” For example, viewers find Betty Draper, a main character in AMC’s Mad Men and the quintessential domestic diva (think of an icier June Cleaver, with the same polished, classy look and ladylike lifestyle), to be appealing. She mentions once off the cuff that she has a degree in anthropology from Bryn Mawr, although the focus of much of her at-home discontent is brought about by a distant, deceptive, carousing husband, not the laundry.
Did women in the 1960s rebel against the housewife profession because it was really so awful, or because they wanted to show that they could? Staying at home in your pajamas ‘til noon, vacuuming to your favorite song, planning dinner, and hanging out with kids — isn’t that what most modern people call “Saturday”? Oh, and it’s good for your figure, too.
Yes, the world has benefited greatly from women working outside of the home (take Margaret Thatcher), but we need to lose the stigma that working inside the home is the lamest, least-worthwhile thing a 21st-century woman can do. (Imagine if Michelle Obama had a real job!)
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?