Posted by Rojas @ 7:11 pm on May 24th 2011

One man against the Patriot Act

Currently standing in a (doomed) mini-filibuster against the act’s passage and infuriating the bill’s proponents by having the gall to offer AMENDMENTS to said piece of legislation: Rand Paul.


  1. Kudos to the small handful of Senators that voted against it. I know Paul rightfully gets a lot of attention, but everyone should be applauded. Heller, the new Republican appointment to the Ensign seat, has an above average record for a GOPer. Lee of Utah has been living up to his Tea Party rhetoric on this issue, unlike a lot of other folks.

    I’m also pleased with Tester, who’s going to be in for one hell of a reelection fight next year but I think has worked hard to live up to the “libertarian Democrat” expectations from 2006.

    Also, I’m really becoming a fan of Murkowski. Kicking the ass of Palinites, supporting repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the Dream Act, and opposing extension of the Patriot Act.

    And some of the Senators are being real assholes on this. I’m pissed that Feinstein is acting like Rand Paul is going to cause the next terrorist attack when the majority of the California delegation, including Nancy Pelosi, voted against the extension:

    Comment by FreedomDemocrat — 5/24/2011 @ 7:29 pm

  2. What’s fascinating about it too, besides who is fighting (FD gives a good rundown there), is who is going out of their way to ensure extension with as little scrutiny as possible.

    With very little time left on the clock to save the Patriot Act from expiring on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had to work some procedural gymnastics to get past Sen. Rand Paul’s many objections (and amendments), as well as a number of members in his own party.

    Sen. Reid basically killed his current bill and and opted to take up a House small business bill (it’s in a form that’s considered filibuster-proof as far as starting debate goes). Neither Rand Paul nor anyone else can object to this. Reid then amended the House bill with the entire text of the Patriot Act extension.

    In doing so, Sen. Reid has essentially extended the Patriot Act although there are some steps that must still take place; it will be likely Thursday before a cloture vote can occur. It’s unclear whether Reid can get to final passage in time, but these things have a way of working themselves out.

    Was a time, not too long ago, when the Patriot Act was kind of a stand-in for Bush-era abuses of civil liberties and overreach in the War on Terror, almost the definition of the dangers of passing legislation too quickly and too knee-jerk. Granted, that’s overstating its actual dissenters – it has never had any trouble passing, and any attempts to amend have always been met with steep uphill climbs – but once could be forgiven for thinking that the Democratic party gave a shit on the subject – Obama too! That’s not to say that Republicans, of course, have been any better – and note the dissenters now are split almost evenly in the Senate between parties – but, to ape the point Glenn Greenwald keeps hammering, the popular myth that there isn’t enough bipartisanship in Congress looks almost laughable here. Almost the second the Democrats took ownership of the national security state, they became as avid perpetuators of it as anybody.

    What’s more, the reason they’re so annoyed at Rand Paul on this is the same reason they’re all so annoyed with him on Libya. The whole POINT of bipartisan consensus on these things is that it gives everyone cover to not have to take political ownership of anything. An incredible quote on the subject:

    Top congressional leaders agreed Thursday to a four-year extension of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act, the controversial law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks that governs the search for terrorists on American soil.

    The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner calls for a vote before May 27, when parts of the current act expire. The idea is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government.

    Finally, with Rand Paul, it really is a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington thing. Here’s a terrific commentary on the parliamentary situation Paul finds himself in. In essence, he shows up to the Senate and assumes, like an idiot, that his job is to debate things and vote on laws. He doesn’t realize that the Senate has been entirely jerry-rigged for the express goal of stifling debate and creating bipartisan votes. So in walking on the floor and trying to use the Senate as intended, he creates a shitstorm and threatens “comity”. A great interview on Friday:

    Senator Rand Paul: “We go week after week in the Senate and do nothing. I feel like sometimes I should return my check because I go up, they do no votes and no debate. Look at this horrendous debt crisis – we don’t debate that either.

    Anderson Cooper: “Really, you feel like that? You feel like you’re not doing anything there?”

    Paul: “Yes. I feel… Absolutely. We go up week to week and there’s no debate in Congress. No debate in the Senate. We sit idly by. Some weeks we vote on two-three non-controversial judges and we go back home. It, really…”

    Cooper: “Why is that?”

    Paul: “I’m trying to get a vote on Libya. They say they don’t have time. I was told, when I wanted to bring up my resolution on Libya – which I did force them to, but I had to kinda capture the floor…”

    Cooper: “It got tabled like 90-10…”

    Paul: “Yeah, and they weren’t too happy with me because I used some parliamentary procedures to gain access to the floor, and they came running down to the floor. They were apoplectic that I had taken over the floor, and the thing is is that we should be having these debates on the floor – they don’t want to have any debate. I’m asking right now to vote on Libya – I have a resolution saying we’re in violation of the War Powers Act. It’s hard for me to get the floor unless I somehow sneak on the floor when no one’s looking to try to get a vote. Why would we not want to debate great Constitutional questions? When I ran for office, that’s what I thought – there will be great and momentous debates on the floor. We don’t have any because they prevent the debates from ever even beginning.”

    It’s funny, the more and more I see the legislative branch settle into its current role, the less disinclined I am to note vote for “serious” candidates to it. If Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Jim Bunning, et al are the cranks, I say send as many fucking cranks to the body as possible – I pretty much don’t care what party or even what ideology they represent at this point, just so long as they’re crazy enough to not give a shit about the way things are normally done.

    We say the Congress is dysfunctional? Not NEARLY enough, as far as I’m concerned.

    Comment by Brad — 5/25/2011 @ 9:06 am

  3. It’s interesting to watch the bipartisanship in support of the national security state, ranging from the Patriot Act to Libya. It’s always been there, it’s possible the Iraq War wouldn’t have gone down like it didn’t without Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman. But I think it’s a helpful reminder to voters in both parties that it’s not just the Lieberman and Gephardts of the world.

    Interesting profile on another one of the Republicans upset about the trend, Walter Jones of North Carolina:

    Comment by FreedomDemocrat — 5/25/2011 @ 1:11 pm

  4. And Harry Reid does it. No debate, no amendments, not even a full vote.

    Change we can believe in.

    Comment by Brad — 5/25/2011 @ 2:45 pm

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