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Rand Paul’s Filibuster

2013 March 6
by Ian Welsh

Rand Paul, if you haven’t seen the news, is filibustering Brennan’s CIA nomination in order to get clarification from the President that American citizens can’t be killed without due process in the United States.

I’m seeing a lot of “liberals” and “progressives” attacking Rand Paul.  Be clear, Rand Paul is a bad man.  But he is doing the right thing right now, and if you are attacking him at this moment, you are scum.  Also, be clear, that in terms of actual evil committed Rand Paul is not as evil as Barack Obama.  For one, he has not killed nearly as many children as Barack Obama.  He has not gone to war in violation of the constitution, as Obama has.  Perhaps, if given a chance, Rand Paul would be more evil than Barack Obama, but he is not more evil yet.

The right to a trial, in which you see the evidence against you and have the right to face your accusers (and don’t have evidence gained through torture) is one of the main reasons the American Revolution was fought.  Barack Obama and George Bush have destroyed America.  Something shambles on bearing the name, but the Bill of Rights is near dead and you have an elected dictator who arrogates to himself the right to kill anyone any time he wants.  He arrogates to himself the right of Kings.

So yeah, Rand Paul’s a bad man.  But he’s doing the right thing.  And I notice it isn’t, say, Bernie Sanders, “socialist” who is standing up for the right of Americans not to be killed out of hand by their own President.  Only one Democrat, Ron Wyden, has joined Paul.

The American Republic died when the Patriot Act and the AUMF were passed.  More acccurately perhaps, it died  on 9/11, when Americans decided to throw aside the Republic they had been given, trying to give up a little liberty for a little safety (and getting neither). The Republic had been shambling along, half dead for some time, mind you, but that was the end of it.  You still have elections, sure, but the President is Emperor and you are his subjects.  The real constituents are the very rich, and corporations, as was codified in Citizens United.

When Augustus took over, he became “first citizen”.  He kept the Senate around.  He just took away all their meaningful power.

So it goes.

31 Responses
  1. rageahol permalink
    March 6, 2013

    how many children WOULD Rand Paul have killed, if he had his way? Is the number of children we’re killing from drones greater or less than who might have died unnecessarily if those cuts had passed? is Rand Paul more or less culpable for those deaths because they were the product of a “budget issue” than because they were the product of a hellfire missle?

    I’m glad someone is grandstanding on this issue. but that’s all it is, is grandstanding. If they had the votes to actually kill it, and the will was there, they could. but they dont, and they wont. this is a tragedy, but the farce of this filibuster won’t change it. it’s just more red meat for the rubes.

  2. Roman Berry permalink
    March 6, 2013

    Anyone who claims to be a “liberal” or “progressive” but who attacks Rand Paul in the context of today’s filibuster is lying to themselves about what and who they are. Rand Paul today is saying what liberals and progressives should be saying….and were saying right up until it was Obama in the White House instead of Bush.

    Far from attacking Rand Paul today, this liberal (not a Democrat, but a liberal) cheers him, and is immensely saddened that scores of Dems in the Senate aren’t standing up there for him and helping him.

    The executive is not a king. The executive does not get to be judge, jury and executioner accountable to no one. Due process matters. Sometimes our intelligence gets things wrong. Words like “imminent” have long established meanings. Someone not fighting the US or engaged in actual acts of terrorism doesn’t become a terrorist simply for opposing the US or speaking out in support of those who do fight us. And the president and his attorney general need to come out and say flatly that it’s unconstitutional to kill Americans without due process or engage in military strikes against Americans on American soil. On these issues, Rand Paul is right. Absolutely right. And anyone who claims to be a liberal and isn’t an Obama apologist knows it.

  3. Jonathan permalink
    March 6, 2013

    See how much damage is done trying to elect a “good and moral character” to office? Apparently these days one tries to elect a pair of genitals attached to someone you never see naked (usually happily), or tries to elect someone who says all the right things. And, almost invariably, nine months later, we’re in trouble! They become creatures of their party, their self-interest and a well-feathered nest (and, often enough, debauchery).

    Would that US voters wake up out of their partisan stupor (and it sure is stupid) and recognize they have no permanent enemies or permanent allies, only permanent interests.

  4. Ian Welsh permalink
    March 6, 2013

    Ethical is different than moral. It was very clear that Obama was not an ethical man before he was elected.

  5. John Puma permalink
    March 7, 2013

    Paul has SAID a few things in his term that I thought could not come from the mouth of such a teabagger extraordinaire. This is the first time I can remember him following through to actually do what his words implied should be done.

    However, Wyden’s participation in this filibuster is more significant since he is a member of Obama’s tribe.
    It is too bad he is such an extreme case of political bipolar disorder.

    One thing is sure, the first two targets of domestic drones have already been determined.

  6. wowza permalink
    March 7, 2013

    So I guess that makes Tbogg scum.

  7. March 7, 2013

    Rand Paul…is part of the political dynamic that makes it possible that Obama is the president and does what he does. So, it is rational to look upon this move of his with a jaded eye.

  8. March 7, 2013


    I was reading Howard Zinn and in discussing the emergence of the two party system around 1830 he talks about the politics of ambiguity.

    When Obama was running I could see how powerful his rhetoric was, and I was nervous about how ambiguous his follow through to the rhetoric was, but I never thought unethical. Opportunist yes, bullshit artist yes.

    What is there in his pre-President days that lead you to use that word?

    Thanks for the post. Rand Paul is a quasi-racist douche but he was right to stand up.

  9. March 7, 2013

    TBogg says he’s “not a progressive.” I call it some progress that he is at least getting defensive about this whole drone business.

    ADDED ADDED: For hose [sic] who think I’m being dismissive about their very sincere and deeply heartfelt drone concerns, see my comments here and here. Oy (as Ann Romney would say) you people….

    I’m no fan of libertarianism, to say the least, but Paul the Younger spoke some truth.

  10. Jimmy permalink
    March 7, 2013

    Tbogg has been scum for years, and the very fact that he is a front-page blogger is what drove me from FDL ages ago. (plus FDL’s strident support of the horrible ACA)

  11. krissy permalink
    March 7, 2013

    I agree- for once crazy Rand is actually doing the right thing and I am tremendously greatful for his courage standing up to targeted killing in the US.

  12. March 7, 2013

    Substitute “Fatherland” (or, as [insert Godwin violation here] preferred, “Motherland”) for “homeland” (and that is always how *I’ve* heard it,) and I think you get the gist of what our leadership has become.

    “The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland,” Holder said.

    Holder Argues For Homeland Drone Killings

  13. General Washington permalink
    March 7, 2013


    Is it not also likely that Obama – and his fellow trash – share responsibility for creating the dynamic you mention?

    If not own it in its entirety?

    Keeping in mind that, given ample opportunities, the Democrats not only refuse to move to the left but also keep the beast amply fed (much less alive) with each rightward step they take.

  14. March 7, 2013

    @General Washington:

    Keeping in mind that, given ample opportunities, the Democrats not only refuse to move to the left but also keep the beast amply fed (much less alive) with each rightward step they take.

    Hear, hear.

  15. Strangefate permalink
    March 7, 2013

    I’ve been reading Tacitus’s Annals lately and there are interesting bits about Tiberius, the second emperor, and the Senate, about the eager manner in which they surrendered their own powers and responsibilities to despotism. Ex.

    “Tradition says that Tiberius as often as he left the Senate-House used to exclaim in Greek, ‘How ready these men are to be slaves.’ Clearly, even he, with his dislike of public freedom, was disgusted at the abject abasement of his creatures.”

  16. Albatross permalink
    March 7, 2013

    What I found interesting about the reactions to Paul’s filibuster is the division between partisans and principled people. Democratic partisans, either due to tribalism, cult of personality, or simple authoritarianism, appeared most intolerant of Paul’s criticisms of President Obama. Principled persons supported the filibuster, even if their support of Paul fell squarely into the category of “a stopped clock is right twice a day.” And I actually heard a radio caller into a political talk show defend Obama’s policies with “we can trust Barack Obama,” a phrase which contains so much wrongness it almost makes a black hole of wrongness in the universe.

  17. March 7, 2013

    Is it not also likely that Obama – and his fellow trash – share responsibility for creating the dynamic you mention?

    If not own it in its entirety?

    In the sense of a general finding of personal fault, based on an individualistic moral analysis—yes, sure, why not? I mean, it’s true in the most trivial way: Obama’s the president! (With reservations as to what you mean by “his fellow trash”.)

    In the sense of what does it mean in the context of US political history and what enabled it to occur (meaning people like Obama to take power) and how to react to it, it is…non sequitur, to say the least. For one thing, it predated Obama, so almost by definition, he doesn’t “own” it.

    I know y’all don’t like to hear this having taken the red pill and all that, but: the central problem is and remains the boogeyman of the so-called “fauxgressives”, the leaden weight of the US political right, in all its well-clichéd and stereotyped glory.

    Is it that hard to conceive that Rand Paul’s filibuster might actually make future drone strikes by future administrations more likely, not less? That neither he nor any of his ilk ever intend a principled stand on these matters at face value? That the so-called libertarian right and its as-demonstrably-insincere-as-Obama association with these issues is as much as mere partisan wedge as anything else?

    So, yes, Paul may well have commited a mitzvah in his actions, from the perspective of an individualistic moral analysis. The question is the extent to which the individualistic moral analysis can be substituted as an answer to the question of what it means in the context of US political history, etc.

  18. Elizabeth permalink
    March 7, 2013

    Last night when I heard that Rand Paul was filibustering the Brennan vote, I was stunned that someone actually had the intestinal fortitude to stand up and speak out on killing U.S. citizens in this country. To be clear, I am against using drones anywhere in the world. I am not a libertarian, but we have lost so many of our constitutional rights in the name of “keeping us safe.”

    Whatever the real motivation for the filibuster, I’m glad he did it. People are still mesmerized by Obama’s slickness and rhetoric – and trust him to “always do the right thing.” I think he is nothing but evil and has no ethics or morality. I hope Paul’s actions start a conversation in this country about what has happened to us – and where the path we’re on now will lead us.

    Only one Democrat joined Paul – Ron Wyden – thanks to him also. Shame on them all.

  19. wowza permalink
    March 7, 2013

    I always thought that utilitarianism was dead, but it’s not, it’s alive and well and used by dumb fucks as an actual argument. It’s the technocrat’s favorite moral system. They never mention, of course, that historically utilitarians were rightfully and thoroughly ripped to shreds and replaced with rule or act utilitarianism, which is more sensible and doesn’t force you to trade your core principles for the “greater good”.

  20. March 7, 2013

    It was good to see that Rand Paul does not have a problem with drone use as long as the American is found to be an enemy combatant engaged in terrorism. Bombs away! Rand Paul: A Man of Principle.

  21. amspirnational permalink
    March 7, 2013

    It would have been better had Ron Paul did the filibuster. You see, Ron Paul’s absolute non-interventionism would have resulted in no blowback on this continent and no need (or allowance) to fight the much reduced (no aid to Israel, no aid for the jihadists against the Soviet, no installation of the Shah, etc) terror overseas.

  22. S Brennan permalink
    March 7, 2013

    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? The answer is no.”

    That seemed a little too clear cut for Washington…and the phrasing was so very unique…I figured, I’d better take a moment to look up what Merriam-Webster’s Definition of “combat” is….and not surprisingly, Holder’s phrasing is broad enough to include just about anybody who displeases those in power:

    Merriam-Webster’s Definition of “combat”
    1: a fight or contest between individuals or groups
    2: conflict, controversy
    3: active fighting in a war

    So for the record, I would like to ask Mr. Holder, what definition of “combat” was he referring to? Because, as the wording stands, just about any citizen who has a complaint with the powers that be is to be considered fair game..if..Mr. Holder’s very unique phrase is not more clearly defined.

  23. Alcuin permalink
    March 7, 2013

    @ Elizabeth: you (and perhaps others on this blog) might be interested in the origins of the word “libertarian” and what the word really means. You could do worse than start here to learn the history behind the word “libertarian”.

  24. March 8, 2013

    Holder: “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil? The answer is no.”

    Lovely. It leaves open the option that the president could kill an American on American soil by any means other than a weaponized drone, not to mention that our government has a very, very inclusive definition of what constitutes “combat against der Homeland.” Sorry, I meant “the” Homeland, of course. Setting a five-pound bomb at the foot of the Tenth Street I-25 freeway bridge is charged as “deploying weapons of mass destruction,” so…

  25. General Washington permalink
    March 8, 2013

    @ Mandos:

    Clarification: “…his fellow trash” refers to all Democrats sui generis.

  26. Aquifer permalink
    March 8, 2013

    S Brennan

    Bingo! that was my first thought as well – as Clinton would say “it depends on what the definition
    of ‘is’ is.” And then of course there’s that wonderfully malleable definition of “torture” …

    This “reassurance” by Holder means bupkis – methinks that holder did it to head off any attempt Congress “might” (oh dear, how naive is that …) have made to specify or box in Obama’s options …

  27. S Brennan permalink
    March 8, 2013

    So we are training up and arming a “new” Syrian army because the “old”ones the “CIA” originally armed & trained were Al Qaeda playing the “CIA” for fools [again…and again]. Remind me, who is president? As far as I can tell, Dick Cheney’s insane plans for the middle-east are still in place.

    911, does that sequence of numbers mean anything to anybody? So we sow, so shall we reap, why are we repeating the steps that led us to that day? We face no existential threats and even if we did, a people who stone their women folk to death for the sin of being victims of rape can never be our allies.

    In the past decade the US has replaced by force of arms the three most “enlightened” middle east regimes, with Sharia/Al Qaeda religious tyrannies. One country under bush and two countries for Obama. To pay for this insanity the president is working with Republicans to raid the Social Security Fund. Again I ask, did we have an election in 2008, because outside of a bunch of people whooping and hollering about who won…there’s not a shred of evidence.

  28. Jack Parsons permalink
    March 9, 2013

    It’s much simpler than the above. Rand Paul is a member of the opposition party. This is what opposition parties are supposed to do. The Republicans are only in opposition to spending, while the Democrats have never oppose anything. The US has (since losing the Soviet Union as our reason to live) has lost the concept of an opposition party, and it has hurt us.

  29. S Brennan permalink
    March 9, 2013

    Sometimes I give up on the human condition and begin to curse the darkness…and then somebody will strike a match and toss it on my desk. Let me do the same and shine a light your way…in addition to being a free thinking engineer, the person in question was Hermann Göring’s brother…courage has many forms.

  30. amspirnational permalink
    March 9, 2013

    Should there be any question of honoring him if the facts are as presented? Well, S Brennan, it is instructive to note in that regard, that if one takes a “functionalist” rather than “exterminationist” stand regards the events, (check out Arno Mayer’s “Why Did The Heavens Not Darken?”) one is dismissed as a self-hating Jew or anti-semite by the Zionist establishment hither and yon…the one which is fueling by any and all means the oppression which Bishop Tutu called appreciably worse than South African apartheid.

  31. S Brennan permalink
    March 9, 2013

    A little late, but the New York Times picks up the question I posed back on thursday

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