Rand Paul’s Filibuster

Rand PaulI’ve been surprised at the reaction to Rand Paul’s talking filibuster. By and large, Republicans have been cheering for it, even though the vast majority of them disagree with Paul on the policy. Anything that makes the president look bad, I guess. More concerning, liberals are cheering it on as the way filibusters were meant to be. I will admit that it has a certain charm. But there are real issues here.

Talking Filibuster

The talking filibuster wouldn’t really fix the Senate. In fact, I think we can conclude that as long as we have a minority party that thinks that the Senate itself lacks legitimacy, there will always be problems. What we need above all else is a reformed Republican Party that plays by the long established but unwritten rules. Given that we aren’t going to get that any time soon, we really need to abolish the filibuster.

Jonathan Bernstein noted earlier this week a few of the reasons that even the supposed real filibuster reform wouldn’t have worked:

If you support the majority party, then you’ll be annoyed by a talking filibuster and angry with the minority party. But if you support the minority party you’ll cheer them on. And most people will barely know it’s going on, and at best will just be reminded of how much they hate Congress. Which, technically, is good for the party with fewer incumbents—the ones who are doing the filibustering. Not to mention that anyone who does turn on C-SPAN today is getting a steady dose of Rand Paul’s views, not the majority party’s views.

So unlike what almost all liberals seem to think, filibuster reform is not enough; we need the filibuster removed. After all, isn’t the Senate already undemocratic enough? And lest all my liberal friends go on tilt, remember: if these revolutionary Republicans ever become the majority, they will destroy the filibuster anyway. We might as well get a little use out of it. It would be great to get all those justice seats filled.

Drones

On the issue that Rand Paul was filibustering, I’m in much agreement. But what is the big deal with the drones? The truth of the matter is that the executive has long ago taken to using totally unconstitutional powers to kill people without due process of law. This is not about drones and it is not about citizens. The Constitution really doesn’t make much note of “citizens.” The Due Process Clause does not apply to citizens; it says, “No free man…” Last time I checked, those Pakistani farmers were free men.

Now Rand Paul has teamed up with fellow pretend libertarian Ted Cruz to create a new bill that says that the president oughtn’t to kill Americans except when they represent an “imminent threat.” Kade Ellis notes that this phrase is wide enough to fly a drone through it. And Adam Serwer thought the whole thing was a joke:

The bill all but disarms the US government, leaving it with few options for lethal force against citizens other than gunstanks, helicopterssnipers, paramilitary squads, bombstasers and blunt force.

I’m all for oversight. But this is just pathetic. These systems have to be well designed. And even when they are, like with FISA, they are mostly just rubber stamps for the executive.

The real question we face is when are the people of the United States going to vote in enough solid liberal legislators to get the work of the people done? As long as we liberals continue to sit out midterm elections and allow the local school boards to be filled with creationist idiots, we will continue to see Democrats who are more conservative than Republicans a few generations back, and Republicans who only need a swastika and a charismatic leader to fulfill their destiny. The road is long but the cow is patient. Or something.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Rand Paul’s Filibuster

  1. The response to this is, to me, not surprising. Tea Party types (can we retire that moniker, EVER, it’s hugely historically inaccurate) had to love one of their own playing his kindergarten version of Mr. Smith. Liberals who like to think as though something called "bipartisan consensus" either exists or ever should exist had to go along with Rand’s supposedly principled stunt which pretended outrage against executive authority. Merely typing those words makes me gag. What a farce.

    One prominent "liberal" buying into this sloppy theater was Ron Wyden of Oregon. He is described by all major news sources as a principled opponent of drone warfare. I remember him as the stupidest senator ever to win election, a guy incapable of figuring out the functioning principles of shoelaces.

    Nothing about the current farce in DC has anything to do with anything but putting a game face on and making excuses for dismantling social protections for the old (via a thousand cuts, they can’t do it overtly.) This isn’t just immoral; it’s also the stupidest economic policy I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. And it’s sure to happen.

  2. @JMF – I think you are too harsh, especially on Wyden. I share their concerns that the White House wasn’t willing to just come out and say they wouldn’t be attacking Americans on American soil. You would think that would be the least we could ask. And in the end, the White House did admit that barring civil war, they don’t have the authority to do that.

    But you are right that this is all posturing. I don’t really think anyone thought the government could do this. (That’s not the same as thinking, as I do, that they [i]will[/i] do it.) And you are right that this is a distraction. As you know, income inequality is the main thing I care about. The conservatives have done just about everything they can in terms of tax policy. That’s why they are focused on the safety net. They won’t rest until they’ve brought Dickens to life. (And of course, the "liberals" are playing right along.)

    As for the Tea Party, I know what you mean, but I’m happy to let them have the name. It highlights that they don’t know what they are talking about and that they long for a time that never existed.

  3. Wyden may be a sage and prince among men nowadays. When he ran for office the first time, in Oregon, when I lived there, he was so dumb it even shamed Democratic supporters. A TV station did one of those "quiz the candidates" things and he had no idea where Bosnia WAS, much less what US policy should be. The reporter had a globe and Wyden kept spinning it, going, "uh, well, blah blah." But some people grow and get brighter with experience and I can grant Wyden the possibility of having done so.

    "Dickens to life." I think I’ve read that some Southern judges are actually sentencing people to jail for having too much debt. It sends a valuable message, you know. that being a criminal (being in debt) is a bad thing. I’d love to hear that this is a myth. Even if it is a myth, I don’t doubt that’s where we’re headed.

  4. @JMF – I don’t know about Wyden, I think he was around when I lived up there. But at that time, I thought all politicians were idiots…

    There is no doubt that conservatives see economics in moral terms. Of course, they don’t think about it. Losing a billion dollars still makes you one of the good people. Losing a hundred makes you bad. We are headed in that direction.

  5. What’s the old joke? "If you owe the bank ten thousand, you have a problem. If you owe the bank ten million, the bank has a problem."

  6. @JMF – Absolutely. That is what TARP was all about: the banks didn’t have a problem; the economy had a problem.

    There is also the Hitler line about people being more willing to believe a big lie than a little lie.

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