Tag Archives: Rand Paul

Is Rand Paul Still Talking?

At the time of this posting, yes. Check out this webpage I made documenting Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster: http://www.israndpaulstilltalking.com/

And, while you’re here, check out a Podcast I did over at THE WEEKLY STANDARD on Rand Paul and his drone-related filibuster.

Update: It’s been a hectic couple of hours for the server, and I want to say sorry to the people who share a server with me for the duress it caused. Especially the person who said “you really need to learn how to code” whose site had issues as a result. I am pretty sure I found the error and fixed it. Sorry.

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Why did Rand Paul’s Embassy Attack Legislation Die?

A friend of mine asked me to share my perspective as a former Senate staffer why a recent bill by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) might have failed by a vote of 81 to 10.

Here is my response:

In looking at the bill, a few things jump to mind:
First being that this bill is all over the map, and was too broad and thus easy for Senators to nitpick and reject. The easiest way to get the Senate to do something, at least in my experience, is to make it vote on one thing and one thing only. But that rarely happens, and when it does it’s passed by a voice vote or by unanimous consent. If it’s a political vote — that the Democrats want Republicans to reject — they’ll do the same thing. They’re known as “messaging” votes and aren’t really serious votes.

It’s a whole other world where legislation that is generally accepted can be subjected to amendments that aren’t as popular, and the amendment process can get into various degrees of secondary amendments and amendments to the amendments etc.

But let’s focus on the bill:

Section 1 is pretty straightforward. It denies “direct United States assistance, loan guarantee, or debt relief” to the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan.

Between those three countries alone, there aren’t probably enough votes to pass the bill. Lots of folks think that Egypt, despite the fact it is a mess, is still strategically important to the region. Egypt is a big reason it failed. Pakistan and Libya, at least among Republicans, aren’t as popular foreign aid beneficiaries.

Section 1 (b)(4) is where we get into a bit of trouble.

(4) The Government of a host country of a United States diplomatic facility on the list submitted to Congress pursuant to subsection (c).

(c) Determination by Secretary- The Secretary of State shall submit to Congress a list of all United States diplomatic facilities attacked, trespassed upon, breached, or attempted to be attacked, trespassed upon, or breached on or after September 1, 2012, not later than 5 days after the date of enactment of this Act and not later than 5 days after any subsequent attack, trespass, breach, or attempt.

Egypt aside, this is probably why the bill stood no chance of passing. As written, any embassy or diplomatic facility that is attacked or “attempted to be attacked, trespassed upon or breached on” has to go on a list compiled by the Secretary of State. Once they are on the list, that country gets on the list, it no longer gets foreign assistance, loan guarantees (for all the foreign Solyndras!), or debt relief.

This section probably was objectionable to many Senators because if one of our big allies, let’s say Israel, has some hooligans from terrorist groups sneak in and attack or attempt to attack any of our diplomatic facilities there, we cannot give Israel foreign aid anymore.

The bill also has some general language, but oddly using “may certify” instead of “must certify” to Congress that the administration is taking a variety of actions to catch terrorists responsible and shore up defenses at diplomatic posts.

The bill also, rightly in my view, ties Pakistan’s aid to the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi.

So, the long and short of it is that the bill bit off more than it could chew, mainly because it included Egypt and was written in a way that could end up cutting off foreign aid to our allies, like Israel.

Jim

What I don’t get about hardcore libertarians

I’ve always been a libertarian leaning Republican, but I’ve never felt strongly enough about titles to switch parties officially. Sure, there’s a lot of things the GOP does that I don’t agree with, but that doesn’t necessitate my quitting.

My rationale is that it makes more sense to exert influence on a party that has a chance of, you know, actually winning elections than to join a party that only spoils 1 in 1,000 elections and rarely wins anything. No offense to my capital l Libertarian friends, but it’s true — the party is irrelevant.

Some guy I follow on tumblr, who periodically posts interesting graphics and things (and some more hardcore libertarian stuff) shared a post titled Rand Paul damage control. The title was deceiving, since I thought “hey, well Senator Paul’s endorsement of Romney probably irked some libertarians.”

I did not see this coming:

There has been a lot of it since his endorsement of Mitt Romney.

There is no way I can support a war mongering big government douche-bag like Romney.  If someone supports an enemy of freedom I can no longer support them either.  Rand Paul can be forgiven for his treason but it is going to take a lot more than just words.

And this is why, in my opinion, the libertarian party (not libertarian thinking) is going nowhere fast. [Side note: Mark Hemingway wrote a good bit at The Weekly Standard about his trip to the libertarian convention. I suggest you read it.]

Behavior like this, sadly, is typical among many hard core libertarians. Throwing around terms like “douche-bag,” “enemy of freedom,” and “treason” in successive sentences is, well, a little off the deep end. While I understand and sympathize with those who use the term “statist” as a derogatory jab, that term should leave the libertarian lexicon, too. It just doesn’t add value and makes it easy to paint those who use it as loons. Fight with ideas, not ad hominem attacks that most people will have to google.

And branding Senator Paul as a “traitor” for merely endorsing the superior candidate in what will be a two way race with President Obama? Really? Come on. I guess that makes me one.

I think that Rep. Paul and Sen. Paul are probably doing the pragmatic thing, which is getting involved to shape the debate — not taking their ball and going home like sourpusses who accuse any pragmatist in their ranks of being a “traitor.” And you wonder why many with libertarian leanings stay in the Republican and Democratic parties, or remain independents.

At the end of the day, it’s about winning elections. If you don’t win elections, nothing changes. My guess is the Pauls realize this. Consistently losing elections and accusing any of the pragmatic libertarian standard bearers of being a traitor is how you keep libertarian views out of the general discourse. What good does that do?