Tag Archives: Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul filibusters John Brennan nomination

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rand_paul_filibuster

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul started speaking at 11:47 am EST, stating: “I will speak until I can no longer speak….’  Watch Live

Why is Rand Paul the only one in D.C. who is showing concern?

3:06 PM EST: Sen. Mike Lee (R- Utah) asks Sen. Paul if he would yield for a question, to which Sen. Paul replied he would yield for questions, but would not yield the floor.
3:08 PM EST: Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Texas) asks Sen. Paul if he would yield for a question, to which Sen. Paul replied he would yield for a question, but would not yield the floor. Sen. Cruz stated that Jimmy Stewart would be proud of Sen. Rand Paul today, referencing the Jimmy Stewart movie, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington“.
3:12 EST: Again, Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Texas) asks Sen. Paul if he would yield for a question, to which Sen. Paul replied, “as long as I am not yielding the floor.” At this point, Sen. Cruz discusses with Sen. Paul his reaction on the letter from Eric Holder stated that the Federal Government “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
3:24 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul addresses Sen. Mike Lee (R- Utah) for questions and comments on the topic of lethal force against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without due process. Once again, Sen. Rand Paul specifies that he is not yielding the floor.
3:28 PM EST:  Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) joins the discussion with Sen. Rand Paul on the “the consequences of a drone strike” on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil without due process.
3:35 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Jerry Moran agree and discuss that, “the real issue is not the confirmation of John Brennan, the real issue is that the issue of the execution of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without due process”, and needs to be resolved.
3:36 PM EST: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) again joins Sen. Rand Paul in the filibuster. Sen. Cruz discusses the battle at The Alamo- stating he speaks for 26 million Texans in saying that the state of Texas is proud of Sen. Rand Paul for standing up for freedom.
3:45 PM EST: Sen. Paul thanked Sen. Cruz for the compliment, and said if the filibuster goes on long enough, he wants a recitation of the last words spoken at the battle at The Alamo.
3:49 PM EST: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) address Sen. Rand Paul with a letter from William Barret Travis, written February 24, 1836. “I will never surrender or retreat!” Sen. Cruz asks Sen. Paul at the conclusion of reading that letter, “Does that letter give you any courage?”
3:51 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul responds in the affirmative, stating that this debate is not about the person of John Brennan, it is not about the person of Barack Obama. It is whether or not we will hold The Constitution dear to us and to do everything we can to uphold that.
3:52 PM EST: Sen. Ron Wyden (D- Oregon) joins the filibuster with questions for Sen. Rand Paul, stating that he will be voting in the affirmative for John Brennan, but believes more discussion needs to be had on the details of the authority of “lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
4:10 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul thanks Dem. Sen. Wyden for his comments in the filibuster discussion.
4:18 PM EST: Sen. Marco Rubio (R- Florida) joins the filibuster, making a joke to Sen. Rand Paul with some “advise” to “keep some water handy” during his filibuster.
4:27 PM EST:  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) states, (slightly paraphrased): “The day will come when something you care about… maybe under a different Administration…. at some point in the future all of us will have questions we want answered that refuses to give us answers… straight answer. When that moment comes you will want…. your questions answered.”
4:28 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul addresses Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments and questions to the Senate, stating that if these issues are not addressed, the obvious question is, “under what standards” are you going to do this in America? “Why can’t the President answer these questions?”, Sen. Paul asks.
4: 37 PM EST: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R- Georgia) joins the filibuster.
4:39 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul thanks Sen. Chambliss for his input and help in trying to get answers to the questions regarding the drone program.
4:44 PM EST: Sen. Harry Reid (D- Nevada) seeks cloture motion to end the filibuster.
4:46 PM EST: Sen. Saxy Chambliss (R- Georgia) seeks clarification from Sen. Harry Reid’s motion.
4:47 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul addresses Sen. Harry Reid’s motion, with the right to object, stating  that he will end the filibuster only if Obama or Holder clarify their position on killing Americans in the U.S. Ultimately, Sen. Rand Paul brushes off Harry Reid’s attempt to end filibuster.
So the filibuster goes on. Sen. Rand Paul reaches 5 hours in his filibuster…. and counting.
4:54 PM EST: Sen. Pat Toomey (R- Pennsylvania) joins the filibuster, stating that Sen. Paul is performing a necessary service, and thanks him for what he is doing in the filibuster.
4:59 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul returns to the “Alice In Wonderland” story, stating, “Only in Alice’s wonderland would you sentence someone to death before you try them.”
5:13 PM EST: Sen. John Cornyn (R- Texas) joins the filibuster.
5:17 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul responds to Sen. John Cornyn’s questions, stating that yes, it does appear to be a double standard from the Obama Administration.
5:18 PM EST: Sen. John Cornyn (R- Texas) continues discussion with Sen. Rand Paul, stating that Attorney General Eric Holder was very ambiguous in his answers to Sen. Rand Paul’s straightforward questions.
5:20 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul responds to Sen. John Cornyn, stating that there have been answers that have come forth today, but nothing in writing, that Eric Holder has agreed that strikes against American’s on U.S. soil is unConstitutional.
Sen. Rand Paul reaches the 6 hour mark in his filibuster…. and counting.
6:35 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul yields the floor to Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) for a question, but will not yield the floor.
Sen. Rand Paul reaches the 7 hour mark in his filibuster…. and counting.
7:26 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul yields the floor to Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Texas), where Sen. Cruz shares with Sen. Rand Paul that the Twittersphere is standing with him! #StandWithRand
7:34 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul thanks Sen. Ted Cruz for his encouragement from the American people.
Sen. Rand Paul reaches the 8 hour mark in his filibuster…. and counting.
7:51 PM EST: Sen. Rand Paul reads a note from his staff stating that The White House has not responded to his phone call.
Rand Paul’s historic filibuster has ended. It lasted 12 hours and 54 minutes.

Rebuttal of Rand Paul’s blatant lies about defense spending

Last night, in his response to President Obama’s SOTU speech, Rand Paul, as usual, directed most of his arrows not at Obama and the Democrats, but at his own party and its conservative supporters, and while so doing, he recited his standard litany of blatant lies about defense issues.

He falsely claimed that defense spending is/has been a “sacred cow” that Republicans have protected for long; that it’s time for Republicans to “realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud”; he furthermore claimed that “Not only should the sequester stand”, but it should even be increased to 4 trillion dollars.

All of his claims are blatant lies or, in the case of waste and fraud, a straw man argument.

Firstly, defense is not, and has NEVER been, a sacred cow. Here, I will not even delve into the deep defense cuts that Republicans agreed to during the 1950s, 1970s, late 1980s, and 1990s; I’ll assume that Rand Paul meant only the time since 2001. Even then, he’s still dead wrong.

Since 2009 alone, Republicans have agreed to the following defense cuts:

  • The massive defense cuts of 2009, which took the form of killing over 30 crucial weapon programs, including the F-22 (the ONLY Western fighter capable of defeating the newest Russian and Chinese aircraft), the Multiple Kill Vehicle for missile defense interceptors, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor for boost phase defense, the AC-X gunship, the CSARX rescue helo, etc. This was followed up in 2010 by further killings of crucial programs, such as the C-17 airlifter and the alternative engine for the F-35 (thus giving Pratt and Whitney an engine monopoly).
  • The New START treaty, ratified in 2010, obligating only the US (not Russia) to cut its deployed nuclear arsenal by 1/3;
  • The 178 bn Gates Efficiencies of 2011; and
  • The 487 bn in further defense cuts mandated by the First Tier of the Budget Control Act, accepted by most Republicans in 2011.

All of this BEFORE sequestration.

To date, the DOD has already contributed 900 bn in deficit reduction since 2009. Any claim that the DOD has been a “sacred cow” are blatant lies.

Moreover, defense is not anyone’s “sacred cow”; it is the highest Constitutional DUTY of the federal government – indeed, the most important one according to George Washington. The majority of Congress’ enumerated powers are related to military matters, and the reason why the federal government was created in the first place was to provide for the common defense, as the preamble to the Constitution explains. It was created because the weak Congress of the Confederacy had no means to provide for the Union’s defense.

Rand Paul chastises his fellow Republicans for wanting to spare defense from sequestration, claiming that “it’s time for Republicans to realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud”. But no one in any party and no one in the United States is claiming that it is immune from waste and fraud. (Personally, I’m the author of the largest DOD reform proposals package ever compiled by anyone.)

But there isn’t enough waste and fraud in the defense budget to pay for a 550 bn per decade sequester. Not even close to enough. Thus, sequestration – or any cuts on a similar scale – would have to cut a lot of money out of genuine military capabilities – the meat and bone of the US military. In other words, gut the military.

All members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all other military leaders, all civilian leaders of the Defense Department, all non-leftist think tanks (Heritage, AEI, Center for a New American Security, Center for Security Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center) – basically everyone except the Left – have confirmed that sequestration will severely weaken the US military. The military services have already explained in detail how this would happen:

  • The Navy would have to cancel the deployment of one aircraft carrier to the Gulf, cancel maintenance on at least 23 ships (including two aircraft carriers) and 250 aircraft this year alone, and cut the ship fleet by 50 vessels, including at least two carriers, down to no more than 8 (and probably fewer) flattops.
  • The Air Force would have to delay all of its acquisition and development programs, stop demolishing unneeded buildings, cut flight training by 18%, cut the budget of its Global Strike command (responsible for ICBMs and bombers) by 20%and more broadly will have to curtail the service’s ability to conduct air-to-air refueling, support Army logistical requirements and, by September of this year, train new pilots—reductions that cumulatively will erode America’s vitally important airpower capabilities.
  • The Army would have to stop training 78% of its brigades, cancel critical maintenance, and stop training new aviators and military intelligence specialists—delays that, according to the service’s leaders, will result in the “rapid atrophy of unit combat skills with a failure to meet demands of the National Military strategy by the end of the year.”

Recently, 46 former national security officials and defense experts spanning the partisan spectrum, from former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to former SECDEF Robert Gates (who presided over the first three rounds of defense cuts mentioned above) to Reagan nat-sec advisor Bud McFarlane have signed a letter underlining sequestration’s grave impact on the military and chastising the President and the Congress for not stopping it. Their letter concludes thus:

“Sequestration will result in unacceptable risk for U.S. national security. It will degrade our ability to defend our allies, deter aggression, and promote and protect American economic interests. It will erode the credibility of our treaty commitments abroad. It will be a self-inflicted wound to American strength and leadership in the world.

History will not look kindly on this abdication of responsibility, but will hold accountable the President and the Congress who together chose such a dangerous course.”

Even if you think there is still enough waste in defense to pay for sequestration (and if you think that, you’re wrong), that still doesn’t help Rand Paul: sequestration will actually AGGRAVATE the problem of waste in the defense budget by forcing the DOD into inefficiencies, such as:

  • Cutting weapon purchase rates, thus preventing the realization of economies of scale and leading to cost overruns (because weapons are much cheaper when you buy more of them and faster);
  • Delaying and underfunding the research, development, and testing phases of weapon programs, thus delaying their development and the moment that bugs are discovered and fixed in weapons;
  • Delaying much-needed maintenance on ships, aircraft, and ground vehicles of all sorts, thus significantly increasing the bill for maintaining and repairing them when such maintenance and refurbishment can no longer be delayed and has to be done;
  • Furloughing all DOD civilian employees whose job is to manage the DOD’s programs on a daily basis; and
  • Underfunding training, meaning that you’ll have to train people later at a higher cost to regain lost skills.
  • Moreover, sequestration will cut everything in the defense budget (except personnel costs) by a uniform percentage – the waste by the same percentage as the essentials. Thus, beef jerky studies will be cut by the same percentage as the Next Generation Bomber.

Also, sequestration does NOT authorize crucial, money-saving reforms for which the DOD has repatedly requested authorization: healthcare and retirement program reforms and base closure. Indeed, the Budget Control Act explicitly prohibits using the sequester to close unneeded bases. So the DOD will be gutted doubly: forced to cut its budget deeply and uniformly while not being allowed to carry out the reforms it does need and has requested authorization for.

In short, sequestration will only make the problem of waste in the defense budget WORSE, not better.

If Sen. Paul were TRULY concerned about waste and fraud in the defense budget, he would be doing everything he can to CANCEL sequestration and, at minimum, give the DOD full flexibility to administer these cuts. But he’s not doing that – because he’s a total fraud and doesn’t give a damn about “waste and fraud” in the defense budget. All he cares about is gutting the US military – a goal he shares with his loathsome, stridently liberal, and stridently anti-American father Ron Paul, who, like his son, is a total fraud (he recently sued his former supporters… at the United Nations).

And if Sen. Paul were a real defender of the Constitution and limited government, he would not have been introducing unconstitutional bills to mandate federal policies on employment and abortion – issues reserved to the states and the people.

But he doesn’t really care about limited government or waste and fraud in the defense budget – all he cares about is gutting America’s defense. That is probably why he has suggested that the sequester should not only be allowed to stand, but even increased to 4 trillion dollars, as if the current sequester of America’s defense was not bad enough.

There isn’t even nearly that much waste in the defense budget. Not even close. Any cuts on the scale of the current sequester – let alone the one that Paul proposes – would have to cut deeply into America’s defense capabilities – and that would only invite aggression that would have to be repelled at a much greater cost.

Shame on Rand Paul for stating such blatant lies, and shame on the Tea Party Express for giving him the platform to do so. No one should ever take them seriously again.

Rand Paul has proven once again that he’s the same anti-American, anti-defense, anti-conservative, pro-weak-defense, isolationist pseudoconservative fraud as his father. He must be denied the Republican presidential nomination – in 2016 and all successive presidential election cycles.

Rand Paul: ‘Not a neoconservative, nor an isolationist’

Rand Paul not isolationist nor neoconservative

Rand Paul not isolationist nor neoconservativeWednesday, Senator Rand Paul gave his long awaited foreign policy speech at the Heritage Foundation. In it, he tried to outline a foreign policy vision that is a departure from the foreign policy that has been offered for more than a decade by the GOP. Also in the speech, he tried to distance himself from his father, Ron Paul’s, more radical non-interventionist views. Predictably, both neoconservatives and libertarian non-interventionists were not pleased with the speech. However, Senator Paul’s speech may open up a path for Republicans and conservatives to regain lost credibility on foreign policy and national security issues and tie it into the larger issues of debt and spending.

Senator Paul began the speech with this.

 I see the world as it is.   I am a realist, not a neoconservative, nor an isolationist.

That sentence largely defines what Paul’s policy is. Traditional conservative realism as oppose to the alternatives of neoconservative hyper-interventionism and quasi-isolationist noninterventionism. A third way that is skeptical of intervention while at the same time engaged and active in the world.

Senator Paul also did something very few American politicians have done since 9/11, have a frank discussion with the American people about radical Islam.

The West is in for a long, irregular confrontation not with terrorism, which is simply a tactic, but with Radical Islam.

As many are quick to note, the war is not with Islam but with a radical element of Islam  — the problem is that this element is no small minority but a vibrant, often mainstream, vocal and numerous minority.  Whole countries, such as Saudi Arabia, adhere to at least certain radical concepts such as the death penalty for blasphemy, conversion, or apostasy.  A survey in Britain after the subway bombings showed 20% of the Muslim population in Britain approved of the violence.

Some libertarians argue that western occupation fans the flames of radical Islam – I agree.  But I don’t agree that absent western occupation that radical Islam “goes quietly into that good night.”  I don’t agree with FDR’s VP Henry Wallace that the Soviets (or Radical Islam in today’s case) can be discouraged by “the glad hand and the winning smile.”Americans need to understand that Islam has a long and perseverant memory.

As Bernard Lewis writes, “despite an immense investment in the teaching and writing of history, the general level of historical knowledge in American society is abysmally low.  The Muslim peoples, like everyone else in the world, are shaped by their history, but unlike some others, they are keenly aware of it.”Radical Islam is no fleeting fad but a relentless force. Though at times stateless, Radical Islam is also supported by radicalized nations such as Iran.   Though often militarily weak, Radical Islam makes up for its lack of conventional armies with unlimited zeal.

For Americans to grasp the mindset of Radical Islam we need to understand that they are still hopping mad about the massacre at Karbala several hundred years ago.  Meanwhile, many Americans seem to be more concerned with who is winning ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

Illiberal Islamic radicalism is more prevalent in the Islamic world than most Westerners believe. After all a few years ago, a Muslim United States Army major killed many of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in the name of jihad. There is no way the neoconservative vision of spreading democracy by force could ever take root in such an illiberal society.

Senator Paul opined about Iran, again trying to strike a middle ground. He explained that he supported sanctions as an attempt to restart diplomacy, but he was not sold on a military option to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

No one, myself included,  wants to see a nuclear Iran.   Iran does need to know that all options are on the table.  But we should not pre-emptively announce that diplomacy or containment will never be an option.

 

Senator Paul is correct here. Strategic ambiguity is the best policy in regards to Iran. By stating that the United States will go to war to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons will likely accelerate Iran’s quest to acquire them as a means of deterrence. Also, one of the best arguments the Iranians have for acquiring nuclear is what happened in Libya. After the Iraq War, then Libyan dictator Gaddafi agreed to end his weapons of mass destruction program in exchange for not being removed from power. In 2011, our glorious Dear Ruler, Caesar Barackius the Magnificent, decided to remove Gaddafi from power because he disapproved of his crackdown on Al-Qaeda aligned rebels. Why would anyone trust any security assurances the United States gives in exchange for ending a weapons of mass destruction program?

Senator Paul also did something most American politicians absolutely refuse to do, comment on the plight of Arab Christians.

Likewise, today’s “Truman” caucus wants boots on the ground and weapons in the hands of freedom fighters everywhere, including Syrian rebels.  Perhaps, we might want to ask the opinion of the one million Syrian Christians, many of whom fled Iraq when our Shiite allies were installed.  Perhaps, we might want to ask:   will the Syrian rebels respect the rights of Christians, women, and other ethnic minorities?

Arab Christians have not fared well under the neocon vision of bringing democracy to the Islamic world. From Egypt to Palestine, the persecution of Arab Christians is on the rise at the hands of these new Islamic “democratic” governments. What most neocons do not understand is that democracy is more than just having elections, its about having a pluralistic society that can respect differences of opinion and lifestyle.

Finally, Senator Paul opines about how Congress has failed at its job of oversight over the Executive Branch.

Since the Korean War, Congress has ignored its responsibility to restrain the President. Congress has abdicated its role in declaring war

Congress not restraining the Executive Branch is why Dear Ruler can arrogantly maintain a kill list of Americans he believes he can order killed with no oversight at all. Our liberties have suffered as a result and it is also worth noting that the United States has only had one decisive military victory, the first Gulf War, since World War II.

Overall, Senator Paul outlined a vision of a restrained foreign policy with a suspicion of foreign intervention, Congressional oversight as required by the Constitution, and in line with the realities of a nation deeply in debt and with a weak economy. It also provides a more realistic alternative to the neocon vision of spreading democracy to the Islamic world. It is also a more conservative alternative in acknowledging that we have to take the world as it is and that we can impose a utopian ideal in Western-style democracy in an illiberal culture such as the Arab World. Where at the same time, it maintains the conservative commitment to a strong national defense instead of being the policeman of the world that neocons and leftists would like America to be.

In the political arena, this is a foreign policy that can help regain the credibility with the American people that the Republican Party lost in the sands of Iraq. It signals that the era of perpetual war against a vague enemy is over. This would help reassure the American people that their son and daughters will not be sacrificed casually.

Sen. Paul to Hillary: I’d Fire You

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After numerous health delays Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Predictably Derand paulmocrats offered praise and sympathy to the Secretary. Republicans asked more pointed questions. Senators from both parties took the opportunity to share the concerns of their electorate.

Senator Rand Paul, reflecting the thoughts of many Americans, told Secretary Clinton that while he was glad to hear Clinton take responsibility, had he been president he would have fired her for failure of leadership.

In the clip below you can watch the exchange. Hillary Clinton tells Paul she was responsible but then states the responsibility for errors fell to her assistants.

Let “progressives” Own the Fiscal Cliff

Rand Paul

Ben-BernankeThe Federal Reserve plans to keep short-term interest rate near zero until unemployment drops below 6.5 percent and inflation reaches 2.5 percent.  This means given the current equations used to calculate those numbers, Fed interest rates will remain at current lows until mid-2015 or beyond.

The Fed will also continue spending $85 billion a month on bond purchases to keep long-term borrowing costs low and to stimulate the U.S. economy.  They will also spend $45 billion a month on long-term Treasury purchases and continue buying $40 billion a month in mortgage bonds.

Why are such moves deemed necessary by the Federal Reserve?

Why does the U.S. debt ceiling need to be raised every few years?

Why is America stressed about a “fiscal cliff?”

Because the United States of America spends entirely too much money.

To those who remember history, it is self-evident that politicians, elected or not, who subscribe to the “progressive” (read Marxist) philosophy have little to no interest in compromising with their political opposition.  History informs that “progressives” in America are more inclined to attempt eliminating their Conservative political opposition than reaching any compromise.  How else can it be overspendingexplained why “progressives” continue to cling to their uncompromising position?

The so-called fiscal cliff negotiations going on in Washington DC is a clear example of their motives and tactics.

The “progressives” are intentionally holding to a position untenable to Conservatives in hopes of creating divides within the GOP and causing them to lose credibility by caving on their principle of not raising taxes.

The best case scenario for “progressives” is for the GOP to stick to their principles and refuse to raise taxes.  Then “progressives” and their co-conspirators within the “mainstream media”, aka the “progressive” Party Pravda, can place the blame for the economic results of sequestration on Conservative Republicans while, solely for their own political aims, temporarily championing members of the GOP who appeared willing to “compromise.”

Trying to negotiate a “grand bargain” simply means Republicans are aiding and abetting “progressive” Democrats in their quest to commit the biggest swindle in American history.

Rand PaulSenator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a better idea that is good strategy for countering “progressive” actions:

“I think if we go halfway, or we split the difference with him, then both parties have their hands on it.  When we go into recession, it’ll be confusing.

I have yet another thought on how we can fix this. Why don’t we let the Democrats pass whatever they want?  If they are the party of higher taxes, all the Republicans vote present and let the Democrats raise taxes as high as they want to raise them, let Democrats in the Senate raise taxes, let the president sign it and then make them own the tax increase.  And when the economy stalls, when the economy sputters, when people lose their jobs, they know which party to blame, the party of high taxes.  Let’s don’t be the party of just almost as high taxes.

In the House, they have to because the Democrats don’t have the majority.  In the Senate, I’m happy not to filibuster it, and I will announce tonight on your show that I will work with Harry Reid to let him pass his big old tax hike with a simple majority if that’s what Harry Reid wants, because then they will become the party of high taxes and they can own it.”

Conservatives can keep bashing Speaker of the House John Boehner and House leadership, perhaps Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell.  But that does absolutely nothing to advance the Conservative position.  Republicans made their bed a year and a half ago by agreeing to sequestration.

Give “progressive” Democrats what they want and let them own it.  When average everyday Americans who happen to be Democrats or Independents start feeling the economic pain, let “progressives” explain a failure that is covered with their fingerprints and nobody else’s.

http://mjfellright.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/let-progressives-own-the-fiscal-cliff/
Give the Gift of Courage

Dear Libertarians, 2012 Is Not Your Year

I am a card-carrying member of the GOP, primarily because I reside in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As a fiscal conservative, I find myself agreeing more with the Libertarian platform, but it is not in my best interests to register as one. The Keystone State is not known for being groundbreaking in anything political, as in we are largely behind the curve. We’re one of a handful of “control” states, where the Commonwealth enjoys a virtual monopoly on the sales of the wines and spirits. The computerized polling stations are still only partially implemented state-wide, and we still rely on paper tallies to certain extent in most counties. We’re followers, not leaders, for the most part. But, there is one thing that some here complain about that we actually do right. We have closed primaries – we can only vote for candidates running in the party we are actually registered to vote.

DonkeyHotey (CC)


That is how it should be everywhere. It is the entire point of a primary. The election is held so that the members of a given party can choose their candidates for the general election. And we rarely have even one candidate for many offices that is registered as Libertarian. There are rarely any candidates for any of the “third parties” recognized here, including Independent, Green, and Socialist. And now there is talk of former Gov. Gary Johnson fighting to be on the ballot here, presumably to “send a message”. My question is, who does Johnson want to send that message to? Obama? Romney?

“A former George Bush campaign insider told us, ‘Your Libertarian Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson may determine who wins this Presidential campaign,’” Howell wrote. “You and I and our fellow Libertarians can seize this huge opportunity – IF we’re ready for the last 6 weeks before Election Day.”

That’s from Carla Howell, the Libertarian Party executive. Now, either Howell is extremely stupid, or she sincerely wants to hand the White House to Obama for a second term. If that is what the Libertarian party leadership stands for, I wonder what the rank and file Libertarian voters really think about that. Maybe she drank the same Kool-Aid Rand Paul has, and views the political landscape with the same lens. As Ramesh Ponnoru already observed, it is facile to assume that Libertarian views on social issues would virtually guarantee more moderate Democrat and Independent votes in traditionally blue states. For one thing, it ignores what I refer to as “brainless voting” – the ability of voters to simply choose “straight ticket” instead of actively choosing in each race. It is a depressing fact, but there is still at least a plurality of voters in many precincts that know nearly nothing about the candidates and issues they are voting on in a given election – they simply cast a ballot on party lines. That alone makes a case for the resurrection of poll tests, not to exclude a given race, but to exclude individuals that don’t bother learning anything about the people or offices they are choosing.

And there lies one of the major reasons why we still have a two-party system. History tells us where the current Libertarian movement is during this election season. Johnson could go down in history as the GOP’s Ralph Nader. Eye Desert made the observation that Republicans need to start listening to Libertarians, and most importantly, he has pointed out two possible outcomes if Romney does not win. If the GOP blames Libertarians, it could spell the end of the party. If not, it could mean a stronger, big-tent conservative party. It’s a solid thesis, and is nothing new. Barry Goldwater predicted the potential demise of the Republican Party years ago. He was there for the beginning of the takeover of the party by religious leaders, and the rise of social conservatism as we know it now. And Goldwater knew that would cause rifts within the conservative movement. Add in the big government spending that has been adopted by the GOP over the years, and that is a toxic mixture that has given rise to this latest growth in popularity for the Libertarian Party, and the Tea Party.

But, we’re not there, yet. The Libertarian message is growing in popularity, but it is not enough. Until it makes sense for voters in states like Pennsylvania to switch their parties to the Libertarian side, we’re not there yet. And, sad but true, until the Libertarian Party sheds its fringe image due to people like Ron and Rand Paul, we won’t see multiple candidates up for election in closed primaries, like we do for the Democratic and Republican parties. While I would greatly enjoy seeing the GOP forced to address its problem with overspending and overly invasive legislative objectives in the name of saving everyone’s souls, we can’t afford four more years of Obama, period. It boils down to this – right idea, but absolutely the wrong time. Sure, it might feel nice to buck the system, and vote for Johnson this November. However, if supporters of Johnson end up handing Obama a second term, then what? I don’t agree with Eye Desert on this one. If the Libertarian Party ends up getting blamed for a Romney loss this fall, the GOP will destroy the Libertarians, rightfully so. It’s what the Democratic Party should have done to Nader and the Green Party, but unlike that party, losing the Libertarian Party would be a real loss. Since it’s becoming fairly clear that the Republican establishment can’t seem to play well with the Tea Party, it seems that is where the work needs to be done. Imagine the political landscape in 2016 if the Libertarians and Tea Party join forces. Now, that is how you build a relevant third party in this country!

Senate Dems Reject Five Budgets While Failing to Produce One

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The Democrat-controlled Senate rejected five separate budget plans including one based on President Obama’s budget plan.

In a 99-0 vote the liberal Senate voted down a budget proposal based on the President’s own plan. Without being able to raise a single vote for his own budget from his own party, serious questions are being raised about Obama’s ability to broker an agreement on the budget. The President’s inability to end an almost sure showdown over a debt-limit increase this year could bring the economy to a screeching halt.

The House-passed GOP plan received much more positive support from the Senate, but failed to garner enough votes to be brought to the floor for debate. Paul Ryan’s plan went down largely on a party-line vote 58-41 with 5 Republicans voting against it. Scott Brown (Mass), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nevada) and Rand Paul (Kentucky).

Of the five plans, Sen. Rand Paul’s was the toughest on spending. The plan called for the elimination of the Departments of Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development and Energy. Paul’s plan received 16 votes – the least of the proposals put up for a vote.

All of the Republican plans focused on differing degrees of spending cuts much to the dismay of Senate Democrats:

“We will not allow the debt and deficit to be reduced on the backs of the middle class and most vulnerable Americans without calling on the wealthiest to contribute. That is not fair, it’s not what the American people want, and it’s simply not going to happen.” — Sen. Patty Murray, (D – Wash)

The Democrats have re-asserted their position that it is unnecessary to create and pass a budget this year because of the spending limits agreed to last year. Republicans have been quick to point out that the spending limits do not fulfill the legal obligation to produce a budget each and every year – an obligation the Harry Reid led Senate has failed to make for three consecutive years.

The GOP Budget: Hope for a Fiscally Conservative Future

The federal government has few constitutional powers and responsibilities. One of those responsibilities that made the Founding Father’s very short list is that Congress shall pass a budget every year. Given how much time our elected officials spend on Capitol Hill, you would think that this responsibility would not be overwhelming.

Apparently, it is. As Conservative Daily News reported last week, it has been over a thousand days since the U.S. Senate passed a budget, and it looks like they will derelict on their constitutional duty this year again.

By refusing to live up to its constitutional responsibility, the Senate leadership has effectively handed the budgeting authority over from the legislative branch to the executive branch. Given that the federal government controls more than one fifth of our economy (including cash entitlement programs like Social Security) this is a serious matter. It is an unconstitutional transfer of power from one branch of government to the other in direct violation of the checks-and-balances principle.

The Senate’s budgetary AWOL strategy is aggravated by the fact that the federal government effectively controls the budgets of almost every state, and indirectly a big part our local government budgets. The fiscal powers thus concentrated (but not vested) in the hands of the president thereby extend to another 15 percent of the economy.

One of the consequences of this breakdown of checks and balances in the budget process is that the executive branch effectively can spend as much as it wants on credit. Congress has not yet punted on its right to tax the American people, and the balance between the Republican-led House and the Democrat-controlled Senate has prevented taxes from going up. But since the White House now de facto has full control over the budget they can choose to spend as much as they want. All they have to do is borrow what they don’t get from taxes.

In short: by refusing to let the Senate pass a budget, the senatorial leadership actively contributes to the nation’s already very serious debt problems.

But there is hope. In the midst of the complete irresponsibility exhibited by Senate Democrats and the apparent desire by President Obama to spend as much as he can get his hands on, House Republicans have actually produced a pretty decent budget for the 2013 fiscal year.

In fact, the new GOP budget is probably the most compelling fiscal-policy documents produced by Republicans in Congress since the 1990s welfare reform. Its main architect, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), deserves credit and respect for a bill that actually tackles the very driving forces of excessive government spending.

What really gives us hope for the future is the fact that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a budget bill that suggests reforms that in many ways mimic what is in the House budget bill. If both chambers of Congress actually get a fiscally conservative majority after the election in November, things could take a turn for the better very soon in 2013.

One of the most important features of the GOP House budget is that it draws an ideological line in the sand. It wants to break away from the Obama administration’s ambitions to continue America’s march into a European-style welfare state and instead restore the American tradition of limited government.

Conservative cynics will say that Paul Ryan’s efforts are too little, too slow. That is a valid point. However, the main hurdle in the way of returning to limited government is the welfare state. The welfare state is the key cost problem of the federal government. It took liberals decades to build it, and it won’t go away overnight. The GOP budget takes two first steps, though.

The first is, again, a recognition that there are two distinctly different ambitions for the role of government in America:

The first responsibility of the federal government is the safety and security of all Americans. … This overarching governmental responsibility – securing the inherent rights of all Americans to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – is the principle and the purpose that informs this entire federal budget.

The budget then outlines the difference between a redistributive, Scandinavian-style welfare state and a no-fault government safety net. In the Scandinavian model, government takes from one group of citizens and gives to another on a permanent basis, regardless of whether the entitlement recipients can provide for themselves or not.

A no-fault model, by contrast, limits government to providing a safety net for the poor and needy. Two rules determine when benefits kick in:

  • It is established that it is fault of your own that you are suffering financial hardship, and
  • All private options for support and help have been exhausted.

One particularly important point in the GOP budget is expressed on page 37:

[Some] aspects of the [current] safety net impose barriers of their own. For instance, the elimination of certain benefits as income rises has the effect of imposing a tax that discourages some low-income Americans from seeking lives of independence and self-sufficiency. … In particular, it is essential to prevent benefits structures from becoming barriers to upward mobility.

This is precisely what the redistributive, Scandinavian-style welfare state does: it traps the poor in poverty and turns them into perennial welfare consumers.

What makes the GOP budget so compelling is that it also makes an honest effort to turn this good analysis into actionable policy. It echoes some ideas from 1990s welfare reform by emphasizing job training as a way out of life long welfare dependency (p. 41):

If government is to require able-bodied recipients of aid to find work, as it should, then it must also help them return to productive working lives. To that end, federal education and job-training programs need to be modernized to keep the workforce competitive in a 21st century, global economy. Government must do a better job of targeting resources to make sure that America’s workforce can successfully pursue new opportunities and adopt new skills, if necessary.

It also wants to introduce block grants for federally sponsored, state-run welfare programs. There is also a spelled-out ambition to reform Medicare and to keep federal spending within 20 percent of GDP.

Taken together, these proposed policy reforms obviously will not eliminate big government in a hurry. But, again, if you are driving toward the edge of a cliff, it is better to at least stop and turn the car around than to continue straight ahead.

Our current policies are taking us straight into the dungeon that has swallowed Greece, Spain and other European fiscal disasters. The GOP budget shows that we are within reach of evading that dungeon. A fiscally conservative majority in Congress working with a president willing to listen to them could actually get some true spending reform done.

And make sure that America’s future once again is brighter than her past.

Payroll Tax Cut : House GOP Call Harry Reid’s Bluff

The battle to extend the payroll tax cuts until the end of this year has reached a very welcome milestone recently. The House Republican leadership announced a clean tax cut extension bill yesterday, that does not include the added unemployment extensions nor the extension of the medicare “doc fix” that has been required since the passage of Obama-care, (which lowered the payments received by health-care providers in order for Obama to claim that the passage of Obama-care would result in the reduction the national debt.)  The GOP is calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (LD-NV)  bluff by dropping any demands for offsets to pay for the tax cut extension.  Speaker Boehner is calling for a vote on the bill this week, depending on how the rank and file House Republicans react to it.

Daniel Horowitz offers the GOP some very sage advice in moving forward on the unemployment extensions and medicare “doc fix” after forcing Harry Reid to bring the clean tax cut extension to the Senate floor for a vote: (emphasis added)

They (Republicans) are leaving out the entitlement spending extensions and daring Senate Democrats to oppose their clean tax cut – one that they have “championed” for the past few months.

Going forward, Republicans must stand strong against pressure to slip the entitlement spending into the payroll tax cut deal.  Once they are free from the burden of shooting the hostage (the tax cut), they should negotiate hard for the rest of the package.  They should be guided by the following principles:

  • No extension of UI benefits unless UI is permanently reformed to reflect a real insurance program, not a European-style social welfare program.
  • No extension of doc fix until Medicare is permanently reformed with free-market solutions to bring down the broader costs and preempt the need for doc fix or any payment formula.
  • Both extensions must be paid for with real offsetting cuts during the period of the extension, not over 10 years.
  • We should be working on a long-term solution for the payroll tax now, so we won’t fall into the same trap next December when we will be forced into another ineffectual short-term stimulus type of tax cut.

 

Now if Senate Republicans will just follow the House’s lead and show some backbone in blocking Harry Reid’s sure-to-come counter-proposal, Republicans will gain the leverage needed to deal with the never-ending federal unemployment benefits and the doc fix without adding to the destructive debt-cycle Democrats have put America into over the last 3-plus years of trillion-dollar deficits. Senator Mitch McConnell? You and Senate Republicans are soon to be the next in line to step up to the plate and reinforce the House Republicans clean tax cut extension bill. Don’t strike out. America is watching.

Payroll Tax Cut : House GOP Call Harry Reid's Bluff

The battle to extend the payroll tax cuts until the end of this year has reached a very welcome milestone recently. The House Republican leadership announced a clean tax cut extension bill yesterday, that does not include the added unemployment extensions nor the extension of the medicare “doc fix” that has been required since the passage of Obama-care, (which lowered the payments received by health-care providers in order for Obama to claim that the passage of Obama-care would result in the reduction the national debt.)  The GOP is calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (LD-NV)  bluff by dropping any demands for offsets to pay for the tax cut extension.  Speaker Boehner is calling for a vote on the bill this week, depending on how the rank and file House Republicans react to it.

Daniel Horowitz offers the GOP some very sage advice in moving forward on the unemployment extensions and medicare “doc fix” after forcing Harry Reid to bring the clean tax cut extension to the Senate floor for a vote: (emphasis added)

They (Republicans) are leaving out the entitlement spending extensions and daring Senate Democrats to oppose their clean tax cut – one that they have “championed” for the past few months.

Going forward, Republicans must stand strong against pressure to slip the entitlement spending into the payroll tax cut deal.  Once they are free from the burden of shooting the hostage (the tax cut), they should negotiate hard for the rest of the package.  They should be guided by the following principles:

  • No extension of UI benefits unless UI is permanently reformed to reflect a real insurance program, not a European-style social welfare program.
  • No extension of doc fix until Medicare is permanently reformed with free-market solutions to bring down the broader costs and preempt the need for doc fix or any payment formula.
  • Both extensions must be paid for with real offsetting cuts during the period of the extension, not over 10 years.
  • We should be working on a long-term solution for the payroll tax now, so we won’t fall into the same trap next December when we will be forced into another ineffectual short-term stimulus type of tax cut.

 

Now if Senate Republicans will just follow the House’s lead and show some backbone in blocking Harry Reid’s sure-to-come counter-proposal, Republicans will gain the leverage needed to deal with the never-ending federal unemployment benefits and the doc fix without adding to the destructive debt-cycle Democrats have put America into over the last 3-plus years of trillion-dollar deficits. Senator Mitch McConnell? You and Senate Republicans are soon to be the next in line to step up to the plate and reinforce the House Republicans clean tax cut extension bill. Don’t strike out. America is watching.

A Grope A Day Keeps Osama Away

Sen. Rand Paul (R–KY) made the news Monday when he declined to get up close and personal with TSA guards at the Nashville, TN airport. Paul entered the security line; dumped his belt, glasses, wallet, shoes, cell phone and pocket change in the attractive plastic bin and walked passively through the full–body scanner.

Unfortunately while his chromosomes were enjoying this brief radiation bath, the scanner set off a “random” alarm that sent the crack TSA Grope Group into action. In Paul’s words, “TSA also wanted my dignity” and he refused their demand that he submit to a full–body latex massage.

Channeling years of innocent flyers before him, Paul showed them his leg (evidently something about this limb aroused, no pun intended, the suspicions of the Guardians of the Airways), said he was a frequent flyer and asked to be rescanned.

TSA replied no grope, no hope.

When Paul again refused, he was detained in a holding area. Laboring under the mistaken belief he still had a few rights, the senator called the office to say he would not make his scheduled speech.

This angered the TSA drone that informed Paul he should not have used his phone to call for help. There the situation remained until the TSA director appeared and allowed him to re–enter the scanner and take a later flight.

The difference here is that for the rest of us the director would not have appeared to save the day and most likely we would have been arrested for refusing the scan and trying to leave, as Mr. Don’t Touch My Junk learned.

Now Paul knows what the rest of the flying public has learned: TSA is a law unto itself and is designed to intimidate the public and insulate its employees from outside accountability.

When I buy BVDs and open the package I learn that “Inspector #38” has approved my drawers. But when I get home after a trip and discover some TSA minion has been rummaging through the unmentionables, all I have is a standardized notification with no indication of who actually did the inspection.

Consequently I’ve discovered surprises while unpacking. A TSA guard, who was too stupid to squeeze the plastic catch, cut through a luggage strap and deposited the unusable remains inside my bag. I’ve had thirsty TSA personnel open a sealed liquor bottle and sample the contents. In each instance I called the number on the form (1–800–Don’tHoldYourBreath), left a message and had the complaint ignored.

Compare this with a traffic stop. A motorist has the name and badge number of the officer and local number to call if there’s a complaint. If worse comes to worst, often you have the video from the dashboard camera to review.

TSA has none of this.

TSA employees have assumed the trappings of law enforcement without any of the training or responsibility. Consider the evolution of TSA uniforms. From the original white shirt with no badge we now have a blue uniform with a shiny gold badge, indistinguishable from that of a real police officer. Yet TSA guards lack the training of even a rural policeman.

For his part, Paul did not demand special treatment; although he got it shortly after the TSA figured out it was a member of the US Senate they were detaining. I’m sure Paul’s photo will be posted in the Nashville TSA break room with a ‘Do Not Grope’ order attached and he will have no future problems there.

The simple, obvious and wrong solution would be to exempt federal elected officials from TSA screening. If I had my way they would have to be screened twice just to show them what the rest of us put up with on a daily basis.

One of the many problems with the porcine, pervasive government we enjoy today is that elected officials who pass the laws and the bureaucrats that implement the laws don’t have to suffer the effects of the laws.

If more elected officials were forced to undergo the same red tape and petty harassments the people who pay their salaries do, there would be one of two outcomes. Less government interference with individual liberty or — what I’m afraid would happen — more exemptions for our betters, since everyone knows they aren’t a terrorist, bank robber, embezzler or fill–in–the–blank. Either way, voters would know and be able to adjust voting behavior accordingly.

You may know you’re not a terrorist either, but try telling that to the TSA when you want to take 5 ounces of shampoo on your next flight.

Senator Rand Paul detained by TSA

Tweet from Rand Paul's Press Secretary

Senator Rand Paul has been detained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Nashville, TN airport.  Senator Paul was on his way to Washington DC to speak at a March For Life event.

 

Paul’s father – presidential candidate Ron Paul informed many Americans of the situation via his Facebook page by posting: “My son Rand is currently being detained by the TSA at the Nashville Airport. I’ll share more details as the situation unfolds”

 

UPDATES BELOW THE VIDEO

Keep in mind that Senator Paul has been a vocal opponent of TSA pat-down procedures:

We will keep you updated as further details are known.

 UPDATE 1:

Fox News’ Chad Pergram tweets that reports are “untrue” that Senator Paul is being detained, tweeting: “Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) indicates that TSA “detained” his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in Nashville. Law enforcement says it is not true.”

UPDATE 2:

Rand Paul’s father, Ron Paul tells Facebook that this is due to Senator Paul refusing a full body pat-down after an “anomaly” with the full body scanner:

“More info – there was an “anomaly” in Rand’s initial body scan, so my son requested to be scanned a second time. TSA demanded a full body pat down and Rand refused.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

Furthermore, Fox News’ Chad Pergram again tells us that the “anomaly” was in Senator Paul’s leg, but nothing was found, Tweeting: “My colleague Trish Turner reports that TSA found an “anomoly” around Sen. Paul’s leg after going through body scan machine. Nothing found.”

UPDATE 3:

Due to TSA detention, Senator Rand Paul has missed his flight in Nashville, according to CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, “Sen. Rand Paul missed his flight this morning.. after being stopped by TSA. What he refused to do in the security line…”

 

 UPDATE 4:

TSA makes statement about Senator Paul, saying:  “Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area..”

UPDATE 5:

Senator Rand Paul has rebooked a flight and has passed through the TSA checkpoint without incident, according to Chad Pergram of Fox News: “TSA says on Sen. Rand Paul: The passenger has since rebooked on another flight and was rescreened without incident.”

UPDATE 6:

Rand Paul will be on Fox Business tonight at 8pm to discuss the day’s events, according to Chad Pergram, once again: “My colleagues at Fox Business report that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) finally made it on board a plane. He’ll be a guest on FBN tonight at 8 pm et”

Rand Paul And Newt Gingrich At Odds On Gun Rights

From The Boston Globe:

As Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich campaigned in New Hampshire today, the National Association for Gun Rights sent out robo-calls in New Hampshire accusing the former House speaker of being “anti-gun.”

The calls say Gingrich has not returned the organization’s survey, adding, “Maybe it’s because of his past support for gun control.”

More:

The National Association for Gun Rights is a Virginia group run by a gun rights lobbyist. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond directed questions about Gingrich’s positions to Gingrich’s website – which notes that Gingrich is a supporter of the more well-known National Rifle Association, which has given him top ratings and awarded him a “Defender of the Second Amendment award” in 2010.

(emphasis mine)

There is considerable disingenuity on both sides of this story.

Let’s start with National Association for Gun Rights- an organization run by a man named Dudley Brown. According to emails I recieve from the organization (yes, I’m on the mailing list, if only because I’ve been too lazy to unsubscribe and the emails go directly to my spam folder anyway), if “members” don’t “help”, Mr. Brown might go to jail:

(email has been cropped)
The email is made to look like an “official” confidential communication from an attorney’s office, yet it’s sent out to an untold number of people. Another recipient of the email reproduced it here for discussion on GunBroker’s forum.
From the letter linked in the email:
Dear NAGR Supporter,

If the gun-grabbers get their way, this could be the LAST letter I write you.

Anti-gun lawyers and their pals in the federal bureaucracy have targeted the National Association for Gun Rights for ELIMINATION.

Of course, I’ve had radical anti-gun groups and their pet lawyers, judges and politicians come after me before.

I’ve even been threatened with jail time in the past for my uncompromising defense of your Second Amendment rights.

But unless you act TODAY, I’m afraid the gun-grabbers could finally succeed in shutting me up — and shutting the National Association for Gun Rights down.

That’s why it’s vital you fill out the National Association for Gun Rights’ MEMBER BALLOT I will link to in a moment.

You see, at the request of my attorney, David Warrington — a close friend, former Marine and Chairman of the NAGR’s Board of Directors — I’ve just finished a series of meetings with several lawyers who are all experts on grassroots organizations.

These lawyers specialize in defending pro-freedom groups like NAGR against spurious attacks from left-wing groups and their allies in the federal bureaucracy.

Going into it, I thought it was just a formality.  After all, NAGR doesn’t do anything wrong.

After all, left-wing groups like MoveOn.org and ACORN are renowned for their underhanded tactics, yet they seemingly get away with murder and always seem to get off scot-free!

We follow the law.  Isn’t that enough?

The attorneys told me not to be naïve.

They said President Obama has stacked EVERY last bureaucracy in Washington with radical left-wing extremists — all of whom HATE the National Association for Gun Rights and anyone who stands for freedom.

And if they believe they have the opportunity for a “quick kill,” they won’t hesitate to drag NAGR into court.

That’s why it’s vital you fill out this MEMBER BALLOT IMMEDIATELY.

You see, those attorneys told me my defense will be strongest only if as many folks as possible certify each year that they do consider themselves to be members of NAGR.

Aside from the supposed risk of imprisonment, this is stock-standard stuff for some organizations. At the end of the “ballot”, the new “members” are asked to donate money.

Here’s the interesting part: Among the emails I’ve recieved from NAGR, some have been addressed from Rand Paul:

I’ve omitted the body of the email for the sake of brevity- it’s similar in theme to the above-mentioned items, citing a UN-led attempt to ban guns in the United States (a claim which has some merit, and I may cover it in another post).

So, we have a organization with which Rand Paul (son of Presidential contender Ron Paul) is associated, which uses the tactic of claiming that their executive director may face legal action if a survey isn’t filled out by many people (and they need money too, of course).

Oh, and NAGR has also laughably tried to cast Rick Perry in an “anti-gun” light because he hasn’t filled out their stupid questionnaire:

With his deadline close to passing without having returned a survey, Rick Perry is teetering on the edge of being added to this infamous group of Republicans who refuse to tell gun owners where they stand.

Suffice it to say, this organization is pretty tacky.

However, with regards to Newt Gingrich’s gun rights record, NAGR is correct.

Gingrich did support requiring a thumbprint to purchase a firearm. From the Boston Globe article above:

The thumb print scan reference was based on a 1997 CNN story in when Gingrich said he would prefer an instant background check, based on thumb prints, to determine whether the buyer was a convicted felon or someone with dangerous mental behavior, rather than a background check process instituted by the Brady law.

Aside from the fact that nobody has to submit fingerprints to exercise any other Constitutional rights, there’s a problem: This measure would require the federal government to keep a record of every buyer’s thumbprint, creating a national registry of gun owners. This would violate the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA)- a law signed by Ronald Reagan to prohibit the federal government from maintaining exactly such a database (current NICS records have to be destroyed after 90 days to comply with FOPA).

On the subject of FOPA, Gingrich voted “YEA” on the Hughes Amendment- which banned the further acquisition of machine guns- which was added (in violation of House rules) to FOPA prior to its passage. Here is a (PDF) of the Congressional Record from that vote.

And on the subject of the Brady law: Among other things, it used the Commerce clause of the Constitution to regulate firearms (as all federal firearms laws do). Portions of the Brady law were struck down by SCOTUS on Tenth Amendment grounds, because the law mandated state and local governments to perform background checks on behalf of the federal government.

Although Gingrich voted against it, his suggested substitute preserved most of the Brady law, merely substituting thumbprint scanners for the NICS system. Gingrich’s advocacy of thumbprint scanners parallels his attitude on other big-government programs- such as his idea to reduce the cost of Medicare and Medicaid by “modernizing the system”- as if using technology to streamline big government makes big government acceptable.

In 1996, Gingrich voted “YEA” on the Lautenberg amendment, which prohibits a person from possessing a firearm if convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence. This sounds reasonable at first, until one reads the text of the act- it violates the Constitution in several ways, including violation of the ex post facto and due process clauses; and the definition of “domestic violence” is so broad that it actually can be applied to a parent spanking their child (even if state law says the spanking is excuseable). The Lautenberg act has been challenged several times in federal court, unsuccessfully.

It’s true that Gingrich voted against the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban- but not necessarily because he opposed a ban on “assault weapons”. Here’s the quote from Gingrich, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt:

HH: “…Do you support allowing individuals to own those weapons labeled assault weapons under that law?”

NG: “Well, if you remember, there are a number of weapons under that law that are not assault weapons, and the law the way it was written in the Clinton administration is an absurdity. And I think people proved that at the time. And I voted against the law, and in fact, I helped stop it at one point.”

Newt’s correct that the AWB was an absurdity. It banned the possession of firearms based solely on cosmetic features such as a carrying handle or a guard which prevents the hand from being burned by touching a hot barrel. The troubling part of this is the implication that he voted against it only because it also banned some firearms he considers ‘acceptable’ for civilian possession.

It should also be noted that Gingrich, as speaker, held a vote to overturn the AWB. Whether this was due to his sincere belief that the AWB should be overturned, or because he was answering to the same public opinion which swept the “Class of ’94” into Congress is anyone’s guess.

Lastly, as for the campaign’s defense that Newt is an NRA-recognized “Defender of the Second Amendment”: This isn’t an “award”, it’s a novelty item mailed out to many, many NRA members over the years for making donations. I, myself, recieved a “Defender of the Second Amendment” certificate in the mail at age 16 or 17. I don’t remember how much I donated, but at that age it couldn’t have been much. It was a nice certificate, too- it looked like it cost the National Rifle Association at least a dollar to produce. You know who else has one? Harry Reid.

In sum: A tacky, misleading, money-grubbing organization associated with Rand Paul is robo-calling people to warn them about Gingrich’s record (and only Gingrich, not Romney, who has a similarly undesirable gun control record). Gingrich’s record on firearms is shady at best: He has a few acceptable votes on gun rights, but likely made those votes for the wrong reasons; he voted for legislation which misuses the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce clause to regulate firearms, and which violates the Due Process clause and the Ex Post Facto clause; he favors a national registry of gun owners (or at least, gun owners’ thumbs); and he voted to insert a gun ban into a law intended to protect gun owners. And Gingrich’s defense invokes a novelty item no more significant than a coffee mug.

Sensible gun owners would do well to vote in the primary for a candidate with a clean gun rights record. Someone like Rick Perry, for example.

Photos at top by Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia.org

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