Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rand Paul and His GOP Critics: Who Are the Real “Wacko Birds”?



Senator Rand Paul (official portrait)
Rand Paul’s heroic filibuster against the nomination of  John Brennan as CIA Director, and the objections voiced by Senators McCain and Graham have done much to illustrate the problems of the Republican Party. 

The New York Times reported,

But [Senator Rand Paul] was assailed by two of his party’s most prominent national security hawks, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. They took to the floor on Thursday to defend President Obama’s aggressive use of drones against Al Qaeda and its affiliates and to suggest that Mr. Paul and his backers had engaged in scaremongering.

“We’ve done, I think, a disservice to a lot of Americans by making them think that somehow they’re in danger from their government,” Mr. McCain said. “They’re not. But we are in danger from a dedicated, longstanding, easily replaceable-leadership enemy that is hellbent on our destruction.”

Mr. Paul won particular support from two other Tea Party-backed Republicans, Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. The three spelled one another during the filibuster on Wednesday afternoon and evening, drawing in part from a huge positive response on Twitter to their efforts.

 The establishment (RINO) wing of the party will always be content to remain in the minority and offer only token opposition (if any at all) to the Marxist/Fascist administration now in Washington. Only upon receiving significant pressure from conservative colleagues and constituents are they likely to behave in anything close to a conservative manner.

Usually, this passivity seems to be because the establishment Republicans in Congress currently, and for some decades, have been of the mindset that what the GOP must do the win elections and serve the public good is to strive for common ground with Democrats, demonstrate bipartisanship, and avoid rocking the boat. So this is not so much an issue of character or intentions as it is of inertia.

Election results have shown that “moderate” Republicans do not usually win national elections (e.g., Dole, McCain, Romney), the exceptions being the Bush family. G. H. W. Bush rode the coattails of Reagan, and G. W. Bush beat inferior candidates Al Gore and John Kerry. Although he barely squeezed out a victory over Al Gore (Gore has since been shown to be an example of real political weirdness), his victory over the radical Kerry was more decisive. But when actual conservatives and libertarians come along and talk about reducing the size and scope of government, it sounds like a foreign language to the entrenched establishment of both parties.

While GOP accommodation of Obamaism is somewhat understandable, if not acceptable, sometimes it’s downright offensive. Case in point: Senators McCain and Graham’s harsh criticism of Rand Paul’s filibuster, with McCain even calling Paul, and Senators Cruz “Wacko Birds.” Not funny, Senator. Apparently, neither McCain nor Graham would have the courage to actually criticize the Obama Administration in any such dramatic way. Paul’s filibuster forced the Attorney General Eric Holder to declare that the president indeed does not have the authority to order drone strikes on Americans in America, who are not at the time engaged in battle against America. This is what it took to get such an admission in answer to a very simple and appropriate question.

While establishment GOP members of Congress seem ready to be swayed by Obama’s wining and dining them, it is offensive that McCain and Graham would criticize Rand as they did while just having partaken of Obama’s “charm offensive.” The real question, as I see it, is whether the RINOs can comprehend the threat to civil liberties posed by the issue of drone strikes on Americans in this country. It runs absolutely counter to the Constitutional due process protections (as does the claimed ability to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial or the right of habeas corpus).  

It’s not difficult to see that Rand Paul connected with many people, even of differing political views. He addressed an issue of the basic right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and stood against an arrogant, stubborn, and lawless administration that otherwise would have never said that Obama didn’t have the right to put on his kill list anyone he pleased and act on it at any time, and anywhere. For those not familiar with civics or the Constitution, these things violate the most basic protections citizens are supposed to have, and they smack of tyranny, which is very much a part of what the Obama Administration is all about.

An interesting read is the transcript of Senator Paul’s conversation with Rush Limbaugh, when he called in to Limbaugh’s show on March 7.  Besides the concern over drone strikes in the U.S., Paul also expressed concern over the administration’s general attitude of suspicion of American citizens.


PAUL: Well, the Bureau of Justice has come forward with some criterion for people you need to report on if you know these people. These are people with missing fingers, stains on their clothes, people who like to pay in cash, people who have weatherized ammunition, and more than seven days of food. These are people who are potential terrorists. And if that's the list, I know a lot of people on that list. I'm a little concerned that they ought to get a trial before they get a drone strike ordered.

          RUSH: I'm on that list! ….

And, concerning Senators McCain and Graham’s response:

PAUL:  You know, I think we've struck a nerve, and there is a little bit of a difference within the Republican caucus and a growing sort of division on some of these issues.  Their side believes that the battlefield is everywhere.  And this is what John Brennan believes here.  He says there's no geographic limitation to the battlefield.  And that means that if the battlefield is America also, then the people, you know, like Senator McCain and Graham, they believe that the laws of war apply.  The problem is that the laws of war don't involve due process.  And I understand when you're in war, you don't get due process.  So in the battlefield you don't ask your opponent, you know, for Miranda rights, you don't present them with warrants.  You shoot your opponent.

I strongly recommend reading the entire transcript, where he elaborates on the reasoning behind his actions. Overall, Senator Paul keeps a courteous and civil tone, states that his filibuster is not about individuals but issues, and gives a reasoned and convincing explanation for what he did.

I am happy to see it demonstrated thus that it’s possible to criticize the policies of the Obama Administration and even to see some results. Unless there is effective pressure on them, we will continue to see an unabated effort to marginalize civil liberties and to threaten Americans who disagree.

The delaying of the Administration’s answer to Senator Paul’s question suggests that they are not far from being OK with murdering American citizens on American soil, without trial, whom they deem to be somehow affiliated with terrorists. As noted previously, they would act as policeman, judge, jury and executioner, operating in secret. Chilling, and worth attention.

Further Reading:


“A Word or Three on John McCain and Lindsey Graham,” Ooobie on Everything, 03/09/2013. An excellent article on one of the very best blogs out there.

Gary North, “Dumb and Dumber: McCain and Graham Attack Rand Paul’s Filibuster,” 03/08/2013.

“McCain Calls Rand, Cruz, Amash, etc. ‘Wacko Birds,’ The republican Mother, 03/08/2013.
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