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Filibuster!

[ 134 ] March 7, 2013 |

Couple of thoughts about Rand Paul’s marathon filibuster.

First, it should go without saying that Rand Paul is not on the side of progressives for any reason. Even on drones and extrajudicial killings, his motives are evil. That said, sometimes you have to ally with evil people to have a conversation. At the very least, Paul is getting people talking about these issues and forcing the Obama Administration to respond, even if in a hilariously dismissive way. At the same time, it’d be nice if the anti-drone people also recognized who Rand Paul is and how he is not their friend.

Second, even if real filibuster reform required marathon speaking sessions like this, don’t think it will actually stop Republicans from doing it. It’ll be a masculinity competition for them–who can speak the longest about the most arcane issue and hold up the government from conducting its daily business. So long as the filibuster remains, they will go to these extremes. And John McCain saying it’s silly will only encourage Paul and Crazy Ted Cruz and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and Inhofe to do so more.

Third, I’d like to thank Carl Levin and Dianne Feinstein and Joe Manchin and the other Democratic Senators who put their future prerogatives over governing the country by opposing meaningful filibuster reform in January. At least the outstanding Jeff Merkley continues his fight.

…..In case anyone is unclear why Rand Paul is a fraud.

Comments (134)

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  1. John says:

    If a talking filibuster is worthless, then how can Merkley-Udall have been “meaningful filibuster reform”?

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Because it at least forces attention upon it. It’s better than what exists now. But the real reform is reducing cloture to 51 votes (or at least 55) and everyone knows it.

      • Murc says:

        To expand on what Erik said…

        Right now, the Majority has no way of forcing the Minority to filibuster ‘painfully.’ They literally can just send one guy to keep handing him slips of paper. The most dramatic thing that happens during it is that the Senate floor is sort of empty, and anyone who has ever watch C-Span knows that that’s how it often looks anyway. Given these options, the Majority usually chooses to just suck it up and go about other Senate business anyway.

        The talking filibuster would be meaningful reform because it would force 41 people to pile into the chamber and keep one of them reading from the phonebook while the cameras are on them, and if they stop even for a second the vote proceeds. Government shutdowns are not, in fact, all that popular, and putting them front and center would impose real political costs on the filibustering party.

        • cpinva says:

          “Government shutdowns are not, in fact, all that popular, and putting them front and center would impose real political costs on the filibustering party.”

          so far, that doesn’t appear to be the case, either with their constituents (you know, the people that vote them into office.), or with the media. if it really cost them anything, this wouldn’t be an issue, because both the house and senate would have filibuster-proof democratic majorities. they don’t.

          • Cody says:

            But does it not cost them anything, or do they not get blamed for it?

            Do you think people who vote Republican know they’re filibustering all these things? Or how common it is?

            Obviously they don’t watch C-SPAN all day, but I would presume it would be a full-time job watching it for someone at the Daily Show to make wonderful cut-ups of them saying whatever he wants.

            • cpinva says:

              “But does it not cost them anything, or do they not get blamed for it?

              Do you think people who vote Republican know they’re filibustering all these things? Or how common it is?”

              in my opinion (that, and a buck, will get you a small coffee at mcd’s), it’s a combination. so far, it’s the extremely rare msm’er that doesn’t end any commentary on this, with their version of a “but both sides do it”, leading the less cynical viewer to “a pox on both their houses” attitude. so no, they don’t get blamed for it. their constituents, for the most part (according to polls, anyway) are perfectly happy with this, those that are aware of it. so they don’t suffer there either. as well, the rightwing noise machine is in full throat, supporting this all the way.

              as usual, the democrats, who should be shouting about this from the rooftops, remain predictably almost catatonic, with few exceptions. harry reid had (another) opportunity to squelch this nonsense in the bud, and (almost predictably) didn’t.

              in summary, as near as i can tell, the GOP hasn’t, and won’t, suffer a bit.

          • Murc says:

            Your statement seems predicated on the fact that people know that the Republicans have shut down the government.

            I submit that most do not.

            • delurking says:

              Yes. Come talk to some of the people who don’t do politics — the ones who watch American Idol and Honey Boo-Boo instead of thinking about drones and Obama and Scott Walker all day. You’ll be amazed how much just isn’t even on the radar of these folks.

              • cpinva says:

                i’ll go you one better:

                talk to anyone outside the beltway, and you stand pretty good odds that they aren’t aware of anything that has happened since the nov. election.

                surprisingly, most people have lives to lead, and the farther away you get from DC, the less people tend to think about it.

      • Sly says:

        Because it at least forces attention upon it. It’s better than what exists now. But the real reform is reducing cloture to 51 votes (or at least 55) and everyone knows it abolishing the United States Senate.

        A man can dream, can’t he?

  2. Paula says:

    The Republicans needed cover to oppose any meaningful gun regulation. Paul gave them that. There will be no drone regulation introduced by the Republicans, nor will they support any kind of meaningful policy change in the War on Terror.

    Sorry.

  3. Jay B. says:

    At the very least, Paul is getting people talking about these issues and forcing the Obama Administration to respond, even if in a hilariously dismissive way. At the same time, it’d be nice if the anti-drone people also recognized who Rand Paul is and how he is not their friend.

    Who, anywhere on the left, thinks Paul is their friend? One of the oldest cliches in politics is “politics makes for strange bedfellows” and it’s self-evident that you can be in favor of civil liberties and welcome Paul’s interest in it without thinking he’s a champion of anything else you believe in. It’s really not that hard.

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      “Who, anywhere on the left, thinks Paul is their friend?”

      Several of my liberal Facebook friends would like to have a word with you.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Who, anywhere on the left, thinks Paul is their friend?

      Ahem.

      • timb says:

        What site is that, Mal? I am unfamiliar with it

        • Malaclypse says:

          Lambert used to occasionally troll here, and now regrettably blogs over at the once-great Naked Capitalism.

        • sparks says:

          Lambert Strether and friends. Need I say more?

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Lambert does have a special place among the leftier-than-thou caucus. Most Obama rejectionists are at least consistent in opposing any Democrat who could plausibly lead a national governing coalition. Lambert despises Obama but seems to think that Hillary Clinton is the reincarnation of Eugene Debs.

    • Paula says:

      You can stop by Balloon Juice if you can stand the drunken screaming.

    • david mizner says:

      What does that even mean, “a friend”? Eric’s got a child’s view of politics. Paul can be a strategic ally on this issue and some others.

      Oh, and by the way his filibuster has been a screaming success.

      1. It forced a direct response from Holder, who finally said: No.

      2. It promoted Durbin to pledge Senate hearing on these issues.

      3. Despite Paul offensive America-centric focus, it’s triggering a broader discussion of the issue.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/john-brennan-drones_n_2823583.html

    • Dana says:

      The anti-government rhetoric employed by the pseudo-libertarian right tends to resonate with some who might be called the anti-establishment left. The fact that they have different elites in mind gets lost in translation.

    • ironic irony says:

      The enemy of your enemy is NOT your friend, people. That’s how we got stuck with Saddam and Osama.

      • Jay B. says:

        So…We should support drone bombing and celebrate the President’s assassination powers because Rand Paul opposes them, otherwise, Hitler?

        • Could you quote the part where ironic irony told you to support drone strikes, or did you just fail basic logic?

          If you oppose military force against al Qaeda targets, you should do so while also denouncing dishonest, reactionary charlatans.

          By way of example, I argued in favor of the UN mission over LIbya, extensively, for a long time on this site – and yet, you will not find any comments from me in which I cited John McCain or the arguments he made.

          It’s really not that difficult; well, it’s not that difficult for me, anyway.

          • ironic irony says:

            Thanks, JfL. For the record I don’t support drone usage or assassination powers. I also don’t recommend laying down with a dog that has fleas, even if he killed a rat for you once. :)

  4. ralphdibny says:

    One good thing about actual filibusters–the longer a crazy person talks, the more likely they’ll say something crazy.

    (Further proof that Republicans really really really don’t understand the concept of “consent.”)

    • timb says:

      For funzies you should go over to Volokh and catch Randy Barnett doing a “he likes me, he really likes me” victory lap, while David Bernstein shines a plutocrat’s shoes and agrees with him that “the peasants stink on ice.”

      The re-emergence of any coalition of reasonably bright people lauding Lochner is a bad sign for our society

      • mds says:

        The re-emergence of any coalition of reasonably bright people lauding Lochner is a bad sign for our society

        Fortunately for society, so far we’ve got Bernstein, Barnett, Rogers Brown, and the Pauls.

  5. sleepyirv says:

    When LA police officers are shooting up cars because they sorta think they contain a suspect, drones should not be the first thing on a supposed civil libertarian’s list. But I suppose police power is a dreary subject that just happens to affect Americans. Flying robots? Now that’s sexy!

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      Oh, actual honest-to-God libertarians (as opposed to the conservative-plus-marijuana types) are definitely concerned about the militarization of police departments, trust me.

    • david mizner says:

      Speaking of, the ACLU is launching a major investigation into miltitarized policing.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/aclu-police-militarization-swat_n_2813334.html

    • timb says:

      Right, because one cannot be worried about both.

      • sleepyirv says:

        This is about Rand Paul. Which one did he talked about yesterday?

        • timb says:

          What didn’t he talk about yesterday? Do you have the nine hour long transcript?

          • sleepyirv says:

            I’m not sure why you’re being argumentative. The entire conversation in the media has been about drone policy. Rand Paul demanded an answer about drone policy. He declared victory after Holder commented on drone policy.

            • Jay B. says:

              Since your premise is “how can you worry about drones when the cops have tanks”? It’s not difficult to feel argumentative. For the record, I’m also opposed to the War on Drugs, the obliteration of the 4th Amendment, militarized cops, the Patriot Act, warrantless surveillance, domestic spying and all the other charms of the modern day police state.

              • commie atheist says:

                People are actually being killed by the cops with tanks. Not in some hypothetical, but in real life. Right now. The fact that Rand is prioritizing imaginary drone strikes on people siting in coffee shops tells me something about him, and about everyone giving him praise for his brave stand.

                • david mizner says:

                  If you praise Paul, you support killing by police.

                  Alright, I’m out of here. Whenever a teabagger does the right thing, this place goes bonkers.

                • Jay B. says:

                  He was doing it at a surprisingly germane time — in the context of Brennan at CIA. Seems apt.

                  I don’t get the idea that you can’t be outraged by various aspects of our police state at the same time. Certainly, that was the outrage one felt watching the LAPD shooting the holy fuck out of elderly Latinas in an effort to shoot a large black ex-cop.

                • He was doing it at a surprisingly germane time — in the context of Brennan at CIA. Seems apt.

                  I don’t get the idea that you can’t be outraged by various aspects of our police state at the same time.

                  “Our police state” isn’t conducting, and never has conducted, and under the doctrines promulgated by the administration that nominated Brennan, never will conduct, drone strikes like those Rand Paul discussed.

                  Bringing up concerns about the “drone program” is certainly apt in this context, but bringing up completely bogus concerns that bear no relation to any of the real issues involved doesn’t seem so apt.

                • If you praise Paul, you support killing by police.

                  Nobody has actually said this.

                  That you would project this reasoning onto someone else, in defense of the argument “If you support drone strikes against al Qaeda in Yemen, you think it’s legal to drone Jane Fonda in a cafe in the United States,” is particularly special.

      • david mizner says:

        One should be, but I don’t think Rand Paul is all that interested in infringements on black people’s liberty. At least his father is a outspoken critics of the war on drugs.

        • No, Ron Paul is a critic of the federal government waging the war on drugs. He’d be entirely fine with state governments waging an even more reactionary war on non-white people taking too much cough medicine, just like he supports basically every other form of reactionary social policy you can think of provided that it’s a state government stomping all over your non-white male rights.

          • david mizner says:

            Yeah, good point.

          • mds says:

            just like he supports basically every other form of reactionary social policy you can think of provided that it’s a state government stomping all over your non-white male rights.

            This is not entirely fair. Ron Paul fully supported federal abortion bans.

          • tt says:

            A quick search on google suggests this is wrong; e.g. here. Ron Paul tends to give fundamental civil liberties arguments for opposing the war on drugs in addition to states rights arguments.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          his father is a outspoken critics of the war on drugs

          …in the sense that he wants it to be conducted solely by state and local governments with no supervision from federal courts.

          • tt says:

            Has he ever actually said this? (That he wants the equivalent of the federal drug war, but conducted by the states?)

            • Clark says:

              I seriously doubt he’s said anything like that. Elder Paul was the LP nominee in 1988. Being in Congress for the last 16 years would give him little reason to comment on state issues.

    • Ed says:

      But I suppose police power is a dreary subject that just happens to affect Americans. Flying robots? Now that’s sexy

      !

      Nothing wrong with using drones as an attention-getting device for civil liberties issues. They’re something people can understand immediately.

      I’m delighted to see anyone give Holder a hard time on this stuff, so Paul and Cruz get brownie points for that. Someone has to do it.

      • sleepyirv says:

        But Rand Paul isn’t using the media attention to publicize more important civil liberties issues, he’s using it to publicize Rand Paul.

        • cpinva says:

          “But Rand Paul isn’t using the media attention to publicize more important civil liberties issues, he’s using it to publicize Rand Paul.”

          which, for rand paul, is a nearly normal thing to do, since every other politician does pretty much the same thing.

          sen. paul is no “friend” to liberal progressives. the fact that he did raise a legitimate concern, while nice, doesn’t change that basic position one iota. i appreciate that he did it, and got a response from holder, i’ll still be pulling for the democrat that runs against him.

    • Informant says:

      To paraphrase the Insane Clown Posse, “Federalism, how does it fucking work?” The use of federal military resources is much more properly a subject of debate in the US Senate than trigger-happy antics by a municipal police force.

  6. Aidan says:

    “Even on drones and extrajudicial killings, his motives are evil.”

    …what in the world?

    • david mizner says:

      As opposed to President Obama, who kills with the best intentions, Paul tries to stop killing with evil in his heart.

      • timb says:

        Maybe it’s me, David, but it seems the operative question is “did he?”

      • Cody says:

        Well, Paul thinks it’s wrong to kill Americans on American soil with drones.

        He prefers sending them to a prison run by a corporate sponsor. That is a much cleaner way to fix this solution, and he gets rich in the process!

        • More to the point: ultimately Paul doesn’t give two shits about killing people with drones, except in as far as the people who form the base of Paul’s electoral support are cnvinced that Marxist dictator Barack Hussein Obama is going to order a drone strike on their militia compound any day now!

          • david mizner says:

            All the more reason it’s a disgrace that liberals in Congress have ceded the moral highground to a teabagger.

            It’s like Ron Paul in the presidential race. His presence holds a mirror up the Democratic Party, and the site is horrible.

            • Who exactly has ceded any high ground here. Do you think that Paul actually opposes killing brown people in Pakistan or Yemen or wherever by dropping bombs on them under the auspices of the war on terror? Because I see absolutely no evidence for that at all.

              • mark f says:

                Paul certainly hasn’t said so!

                While holding the floor of the Senate, the junior Senator from Kentucky repeatedly acknowledged that strikes in Pakistan and Yemen have shown themselves effective. Paul also several times referenced the use of the tactic known as “signature strikes,” where groups of men between 16-55 who meet a certain profile are considered legitimate targets. These references were only spoken in opposition to the transfer of the tactic to being used against Americans, as Paul said he “didn’t want to say” whether their use as part of a strategy of targeted killing was in the right.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              His presence holds a mirror up the Democratic Party, and the site is horrible.

              This argument hasn’t become any less silly since 2011.

              • david mizner says:

                Yeah, the Democratic Party’s really done itself proud over the last 24 hours.

                That the Senator who’s taken the the most noteworthy and news-attracting stand against executive power in months is a teabagging Republican — nothing humiliating about that.

        • mds says:

          Well, Paul thinks it’s wrong to kill Americans on American soil with drones.

          I love to nitpick, but Paul apparently thinks it’s wrong to kill Americans on American soil with drones as they’re eating breakfast in a cafe. Or else he wouldn’t have been satisfied with Holder’s response.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Paul tries to stop killing with evil in his heart.

        What is he doing to stop killing, exactly? Even if the Brennan filibuster was serious, what would having a different head of the CIA do? When Paul mounts a campaign to modify or repeal the AUMF, let me know.

        • Attempt to repeal the AUMF? Good God Scott, what do you think the guy is: a U.S. Senator?!?!

        • david mizner says:

          Well, I’d be surprised if Paul will support Obama’s coming effort to get a new broader AUMF, but we’ll see.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/administration-debates-stretching-911-law-to-go-after-new-al-qaeda-offshoots/2013/03/06/fd2574a0-85e5-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394_print.html

          Anyway, Paul fully acknowledged he wasn’t trying to stop Brennan. His goal was to trigger more transparency, and he succeeded esp. if Durbin’s hearings come to pass.

          And scrutiny leads to more scrutiny. Look at what’s happened in the last month. Clearer then ever why Obama has tried to conceal info, because once the drips start…

          So, yeah, Paul has contributed to effort to rein in the TK program and stop killing, about as much as anyone so far as a matter of fact.

          • mds says:

            Clearer then ever why Obama has tried to conceal info, because once the drips start…

            …the impeachment hearings will follow? We’ll go back to dropping a shitload of conventionally-delivered ordnance on Muslimish folks abroad? The al-Qaeda AUMF will get repealed by Congress? President Obama will tearfully admit that he’s been in the wrong in being the first president ever to target Americans without full due process of law? What’s the end game, presuming that Durbin’s hearings “come to pass”? Besides handing a bunch of pro-torture Republicans a club to be used to beat the socialist blackamoor usurper with, then abandoned once a Republican is president? And I’m down to my last question mark here.

            • david mizner says:

              Oh, there’s no end game. The American empire will keep expanding and destroy the country and world unless global warming destroys it first.

              Look, I’m as much of a pessimist as anyone about the willingness and ability of Congress to restore sanity, and my eyes glaze over when people start talking about transparency, but I’ve been impressed by the increase in attention the release of a little info. There’s a lot of pent up anger about this. First small necessary step.

              • Sly says:

                Oh, there’s no end game. The American empire will keep expanding and destroy the country and world unless global warming destroys it first.

                Look, I’m as much of a pessimist as anyone…

                You don’t say.

          • His goal was to trigger more transparency

            So, in other words, he wasn’t trying to stop the killing, and you just read your own position into him, for no better reason than he trash-talks Barack Obama.

          • cpinva says:

            “Well, I’d be surprised if Paul will support Obama’s coming effort to get a new broader AUMF, but we’ll see.”

            if some of his rich buddies can make a buck off of it, you can bet paul will support it. so will every other republican, most especially those with ties to the defense industry. the AUMF was the defense contractor’s wet dream legislation.

      • wengler says:

        I imagine Rand Paul’s real position is that it is legal for the state of Kentucky but illegal for the federal government.

  7. Fullname Username says:

    Politics are a lot like international relations, you don’t have friends, you have interests. I don’t care what motivates a politician if we have the same interests, I only care how to check them when we do not. This isn’t personal, it’s business.

    • That is not actually a very good means of advancing progressive causes. I mean, it’s one thing to accept a vote from a legislature like Paul that advances your cause, but cheering him on as a “civil libertarian” and giving him a level of cover as some sort of maverick Republican in the Beltway mind isn’t going to do very much to advance your ultimate goals.

      Think of it in terms of Ron Paul: Yes he opposes the worst aspects of interventionist American foreign policy, but he does so because he doesn’t think America should take any sort of active role in the global community whatsoever, and also opposes international treaties that liberals support, global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, economic and humanitarian support to impoverished people, etc. So sure, by all means, accept his vote to slash the Pentagon budget or to strengthen laws against torture or whatever, but don’t go around promoting him as some sort of great lefty leader on foreign policy or something.

      • Jay B. says:

        That’s complete gibberish.

        So sure, by all means, accept his vote to slash the Pentagon budget or to strengthen laws against torture or whatever, but don’t go around promoting him as some sort of great lefty leader on foreign policy or something.

        Now with added straw!

        • Right, no leftier than thou type ever once argued that Ron Paul was to the left of Barack Obama on foreign policy issues on the internet.

        • I used to do what you’re doing here, Jay B.

          “Hey, that charge doesn’t accurately describe my argument, so therefore, it doesn’t describe that of any liberals who make arguments that are in some manner similar to mine.”

          Unfortunately, what you discover after a while is that there are some really stupid liberals who make arguments that are, in some manner, similar to yours.

      • Fullname Username says:

        I’m not particularly interested in good means, so much as in advancing progressive causes. If it means cheering him on, and I can so no future downside to doing so I will, but in this case I don’t see any point in saying anything about him at all. Sometimes you have to let things ride, in case an opening develops for persuasion on another issue.

        I wouldn’t have said anything negative about Stalin during World War 2, but I would have criticized his policies after the war. I would bear in mind what the Russian people think about him, then and now, not what the West’s conventional wisdom is about him in either time period.

        I’m not about making enemies needlessly, purposely being another matter entirely, because some causes have not reached a point where they may be advanced at that given time. I’m not as interested in letting people know how I feel as I am in; making them feel as I do when the time is ripe to do so, making them feel and react in a way that is conducive to advancing my interests, or making them feel and act in a way that is counter productive to their own.

      • tt says:

        What I don’t get about the way some progressives talk about the Pauls is they don’t seem to get that they are Republicans fighting against other Republicans. They are talking to people who agree with us on nothing. Sometimes they happen to say good things, which has the potential to make the Republicans marginally better on some issues. Sometimes they say terrible things, but so what? The mainstream Republican party today is terrible anyways. In any case, if I thought progressives could do anything to promote Paul (aside from in his actual elections against Democrats) I’d support it just for the sake of fomenting division on the right (but I don’t).

        • Fullname Username says:

          I think if we overlook the fact that we are all Americans, and that there are some things about all of us that are intrinsically American, we do a disservice to our own interests, whatever those interests may be.

          As for causing dissension within the political parties there are enough egotistical bastards in each to do that, so I you may wish to take advantage of that. There is also the Clintonian triangulation of issues, if you are solely interested in elective politics.

          Everyone, as far as I can tell, is doing what they can. When that coincides with what I think are in the best interests of the United States I can either lend my voice or remain silent. When that runs contrary to my own judgement then I feel obligated to lend my voice to the opposition.

          Senator Paul and I happen to agree on this very small particular of the policy on drones being used domestically and the Constitution, entire, not on the ideology of that one point that leads us to the same conclusion on assassinating Americans because they happen to have inconvenient ideas or ideology. I can find his ideology corrosive to the body politic, and his policy detrimental to interests of the people of the United States without finding evil in him as a individual, or aquabuddha as a deity. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t say there was if it would advance my policy goals, however. My empathy after all, only goes so far.

  8. Sly says:

    Bottom Line:

    If Rand Paul gives a rat’s ass about the legitimate use of military force under the 2001 AUMF, he is well within his right as a U.S. Senator to propose a bill that repeals said AUMF or modifies it to comport with the standards that he claims to hold.

    Everything else is pablum.

    • bradP says:

      Can we at least not extend him the “He’s powerless” excuse that allows Obama to get away with murder? (Figuratively or Literally? Who knows? Poe’s Law bitches)

  9. mark f says:

    Not that I think Paul’s question was posed seriously, nor do I think it deserved better than Holder’s answer, but I do think there’s a reasonable follow-up. Is there some possible legal avenue for, say, Anwar al-Awlaki operating exactly as he was except in U.S. wilderness (like Eric Rudolph) instead of in Yemen, to be construed as representing the sort of threat Holder refers to? And if so, could the difficulty in capturing him in those circumstances be construed to merit a drone strike rather than pursuit?

    • Malaclypse says:

      And if so, could the difficulty in capturing him in those circumstances be construed to merit a drone strike rather than pursuit?

      And would that policy be at all different from the one used by Wilson Goode on May 13, 1985?

    • Is there some possible legal avenue for, say, Anwar al-Awlaki operating exactly as he was except in U.S. wilderness (like Eric Rudolph) instead of in Yemen, to be construed as representing the sort of threat Holder refers to?

      Holder’s answer here seems to indicate pretty clearly that someone not engaged in combat (and Awlaki doesn’t seem to have ever engaged in combat) could not be targeted with lethal force within the U.S.

      • David Nieporent says:

        Awlaki didn’t seem to have fit the description of a legitimate target given in the “white paper,” either, but that didn’t appear to stop the administration, so that doesn’t mean much. (They also made up definitions of imminent.) They could easily decide to target him and then announce that by “in combat” they meant to include being in the process of planning combat missions. Certainly in a traditional war against enemy soldiers, they need not be actively firing a weapon to be deemed combatants; an enemy general at military headquarters whose only role is pushing paper is just as much a target as a soldier carrying a rifle.

    • Karate Bearfighter says:

      I think the check on this would be the Posse Comitatus Act.

      If drones were operated by a police force instead of the military, you would have the same (inadequate) legal checks that govern other uses of lethal force by police.

    • cpinva says:

      “Is there some possible legal avenue for, say, Anwar al-Awlaki operating exactly as he was except in U.S. wilderness (like Eric Rudolph) instead of in Yemen, to be construed as representing the sort of threat Holder refers to? And if so, could the difficulty in capturing him in those circumstances be construed to merit a drone strike rather than pursuit?”

      i think what you’re describing is the old (at least, i think it’s old), “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters. a position that i think may actually still be operative, though you don’t see posters tacked up all over town anymore.

  10. mark f says:

    Raise your hand if you’re surprised by David Mizner finding Rand Paul’s self-righteous empty gesture to be the best thing that’s happened in politics since 2008.

  11. At the very least, Paul is getting people talking about these issues and forcing the Obama Administration to respond, even if in a hilariously dismissive way.

    It makes you wonder what the Obama administration could have done to preclude such grandstanding.

  12. That said, sometimes you have to ally with evil people to have a conversation.

    Paul’s fillibuster harms the conversation; it makes it less possible for there to be a meaningful discussion of the issues. It serves only to crank up the heat, while actively distorting the issue.

    Blabbering about droning Jane Fonda in a cafe does the same thing to the conversation about drones than “Keep the Government’s Hands Off My Medicare!” does to the conversation about entitlement spending, or “My disabled child shouldn’t have to stand in front of Barack Obama’s death panels” does to the conversation about health care reform.

    It’s the same paranoid teabagger conspiracy bullshit.

    • NonyNony says:

      I don’t always agree with joe, but this is 100% correct.

      Paul essentially turned the whole question into a strawman that Eric Holder answered by burning the strawman and caused Paul to shut up and agree that Holder’s response was the answer he was looking for.

      If I was a Rand Paul supporter who actually cared about what he pretends to care about I’d be pretty pissed off that Paul had made a legitimate discussion about executive power into such an easily burnable strawman.

    • bradP says:

      Obviously relegating the discussion of lawfulness, or lack thereof, of targeted drone strikes to white paper memos regarding the justifications for killing brown people is the way to go.

      Nothing motivates the public like hazily justified killings of Muslims.

  13. rea says:

    Are there (rare) situations in which it is legitimate for the federal government to kill American citizens on American soil (without first taking them to court)?

    Well, of course–see 1861-1865–although, of course again, those situations are very limited, involve defense against invasion or insurrection, and require that the civilian courts not be functioning in the part of the country in which the killing takes place.

    Does it make a difference if the killing is done with drones?

    No–why should it?

    • cpinva says:

      “Are there (rare) situations in which it is legitimate for the federal government to kill American citizens on American soil (without first taking them to court)?”

      of course it is, US Marshals get put in that position, every time they pursue a wanted person. if that person resists arrest, the marshals are certainly authorized to use deadly force, and have. you needn’t go back to the civil war.

  14. paulo says:

    The linked article doesn’t come out and say it but one might consider that more American citizens have been Tased to death by cops than by drones and that is even considering listening to Rand Paul for 13 hours droning on while tightening his sphincter ever more tightly.

  15. [...] debate while simultaneously helping to worsen public perceptions in a misleading way.” (via Erik Loomis) First, let’s review Paul’s actual question. Regardless of how people want to interpret the [...]

  16. Joe says:

    Meanwhile, Sen. Leahy voted “no” because he believed the Administration did not properly share information with his committee. I take his concerns more seriously than Paul, who repeatedly confused matters (as Jack Goldsmith noted at Lawfare; his comments on things like Lochner was confused too, though David Bernstein was excited).

    Meanwhile, Sally Jewell’s nomination seems worthy of comment.

    http://grist.org/climate-energy/can-sally-jewell-sell-president-obama-on-the-value-of-the-great-outdoors/

  17. Joe says:

    Jeff Merkley’s proposals would leave open this sort of “talking filibuster” and realistically, I don’t think senators will do this sort of thing regularly though wouldn’t put it past Paul or Cruz.

  18. bradP says:

    Blah blah blah. This place is a joke.

  19. [...] a smart guy with good values who clearly opposes the drone policy on civil libertarian grounds, perfectly embodies this anxiety: First, it should go without saying that Rand Paul is not on the side of [...]

  20. [...] by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

  21. [...] DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

  22. [...] DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

  23. [...] by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

  24. Al Dorman says:

    They thus dutifully devoted themselves to reading from the only script they know: Democrats Good, GOP Bad.

    To accomplish that, most avoided full-throated defenses of drones and the power of the president to secretly order US citizens executed without due process or transparency. They prefer to ignore the fact that the politician they most deeply admire is a devoted defender of those policies. After stumbling around for a few days in search of a tactic to convert this episode into an attack on the GOP and distract from Obama’s extremism, they collectively settled on personalizing the conflict by focusing on Rand Paul’s flaws as a person and a politician and, in particular, mocking his concerns as “paranoia” (that attack was echoed, among others, by the war-cheering Washington Post editorial page).
    – Glenn Greenwald

  25. [...] DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

  26. [...] DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

  27. [...] as usual, by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called "MSNBC hosts" and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

  28. [...] by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power [...]

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