civil liberties

Mike Lee: Young voters should focus on the national debt

As we head into the mid-term election, Republicans are still trying to figure out how to bring them back into the fold. During a recent tele-townhall, Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) was asked how he plans to reach out to young voters and others who don’t typically vote for Republican candidates.

There was once a time when Republicans did well with young voters. Just after the 2012 presidential election, in which President Barack Obama won 60% of voters under the age of  29, Jason Riley noted at the Wall Street Journal that both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush actually won the youth vote. Riley also pointed out that “George W. Bush lost young voters to John Kerry by only 9 points and lost them to Al Gore in 2000 by less than that.”

“It’s important to remember that young voters will bear a disproportionate share, a disproportionate part of the burden associated with our $17 trillion debt,” Lee replied. “It’s a tragic thing…that these days most of the debt that we have in our federal government has been accumulated before a lot of today’s young voters were old enough to vote and, to a significant degree, a lot of that debt was acquired before they were even born.”

“That isn’t fair. It ends up creating a really pernicious form of taxation without representation,” he continued. “You’re gonna have to pay something to the government that you didn’t ever vote for, and that’s a big problem.”

Obama backing down from NSA surveillance programs?

Could President Barack Obama scale back the expansive surveillance being conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA)? While he has defended the controversial program, claiming that collection innocent Americans’ phone records was necessary to combat the threat of terrorism, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) told The New York Times that that President Obama may be re-thinking the NSA’s surveillance program due to privacy concerns:

Signs of a popular backlash against the security agency’s large-scale collection of the personal data of Americans have convinced a leading privacy advocate in Congress that the Obama administration may soon begin to back away from the most aggressive components of the agency’s domestic surveillance programs.
“I have a feeling that the administration is getting concerned about the bulk phone records collection, and that they are thinking about whether to move administratively to stop it,” he said. He added he believed that the continuing controversy prompted by [NSA leaker Edward] Snowden had changed the political calculus in Congress over the balance between security and civil liberties, which has been heavily weighted toward security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I think we are making a comeback,” Mr. Wyden said, referring to privacy and civil liberties advocates.

Poll: Americans’ views shift in favor of civil liberties

Americans are not willing to trade liberty for security, despite overtures from President Barack Obama and politicians from both sides of the aisle, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac. They also reject the notion that Edward Snowden, the man who linked the information about the NSA’s broad surveillance techniques, is a traitor to his country.

“In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 - 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010, survey by the independent Quinnipiac University when voters said 63 - 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country,” the polling firm noted in a release on Wednesday (emphasis added).

“There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 - 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 - 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 - 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far,” added Quinnipiac. “Some of the largest growth in those concerned about the threat to civil liberties is among men and Republicans, groups historically more likely to be supportive of governmental anti- terrorism efforts. “

Obama supporters sign petition to repeal the Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights repeal petition

We’re kidding….but not really.

Mark Dice, a controversial California-based conservative activist, recently visited a boardwalk with a phony petition, stopping bypassers to ask if they would be interested in signing a petition to help President Barack Obama repeal the Bill of Rights. Much to his surprise, many were willing to sign away their civil liberties without question.

This is actually depressing:

H/T: TheBlaze via The Right Scoop

Rand Paul’s growing appeal and influence in American politics

Is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) the future of the Republican Party? That’s a question that observers on both and Right and the Left have diving into over the last couple of weeks.

Paul, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, has found a niche in the conservative movement as a figure who embodies the traditional views of free market advocacy with a libertarian flair on civil liberties and foreign policy. His views on these issues have worried the Republican establishment — including his colleagues, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) — because they see his influence and popularity growing while the clout that they once enjoyed is diminished.

Similarly, the many on the Left are worried that Paul will be able to undercut them on these issues; especially civil liberties, in light of the NSA spying scandal. Paul has already pointed to polling that shows young voters noticeably souring on President Barack Obama in the wake of the government’s broad surveillance program.

In an editoral last week at the National Review, Rich Lowry discussed how the string of scandals coming out of the Obama Administration have helped Paul seize the spotlight.

Julian Sanchez breaks down Intel chief’s lie about NSA spying

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is under fire for lying about the NDA’s surveillance of millions of innocent Americans during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

During the hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

“No, sir,” replied Clapper. Wyden pressed him. Clapper again denied that the NSA was collecting data on Americans. “Not wittingly,” he told Wyden. “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”

In an interview with NBC News, Clapper said that he gave what the “least untruthful” answer. “I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] ‘when are you going to stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which not answerable necessarily by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying, ‘No.’”

In a recent video from the Cato Institute, Julian Sanchez told Caleb Brown that it’s clear, given what we now know about NSA’s, that Clapper lied to Congress. He explained that Clapper could have simpy declined to answer the question, but instead chose to give a false answer.

While he concedes that there is a need for secrecy at times, Sanchez notes that the nature of intelligence is “anti-democratic” and argues that Americans should be made aware of the liberties that are being sacrificed in the name of “security” and what checks-and-balances are in place on intelligence agencies to ensure that privacy is being protected:

CNN: Obama’s approval ratings take a nosedive, Americans view government as a threat to their rights

It looks like the string of scandals have finally caught up with President Barack Obama, and in a big way. The White House’s credibility had already started to suffer in recent polls and Obama’s approval ratings were beginning to show the impact of the scandals.

But it seems that the latest scandal concerning the NSA’s broad surveillance of Americans phone records has had a dramatic impact on the public perception of the White House. According to a new CNN poll, President Obama’s approval rating has taken a nosedive as 54% of Americans are unhappy with his job performance (emphasis mine):

President Barack Obama’s approval rating dropped eight percentage points over the past month, to 45%, the president’s lowest rating in more than a year and a half, according to a new national poll.

Joe Biden Slammed NSA Surveillance in 2006

We’ve already covered the conflicting statements that Barack Obama has made concerning government surveillance. As a United States Senator and presidential candidate, Obama said that the Bush Administration “puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and security we provide.” He made a similar statement during his inaugural address, also invoking the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. This rhetoric presents quite a contrast to what Obama is saying today.

Though he’s remained quiet on the current issues with the NSA obtaining the phone records of millions of Americans, Joe Biden wasn’t so quiet on the issue back in 2006. During an interview with CBS News, Biden, who was then-serving as a United States Senator, was very pointed in his oppositition to what he described as “intrusive” surveillance that was being conducted under the Bush Adminstration.

What does Lindsey Graham have to Hide?

There is a civil war brewing on the Right on the issue of civil liberties. With recent revelations that the National Security Agency is conducting broad surveillance of Americans’ phone records and Internet activity, even if they aren’t suspected of terrorist activity, many conservatives and libertarians are fighting back.

The trump card for McCain-Graham Republicans and their many allies in the Democratic Party is that they can claim various federal actions have prevented terrorist attacks while the alleged proof is usually classified,” wrote James Antle earlier this week at The American Conservative. “When terrorist attacks fail or do not occur, the surveillance state is vindicated. When terrorism happens, it proves the surveillance state needs more power. To think otherwise is to brand patriotic Americans Nazis, which of course only unpatriotic conservatives do.”

“But so far it is Paul’s defense of the Fourth Amendment—conveniently violated by a Democratic administration—that is capturing conservatives’ imaginations. Tea Party groups are railing against the NSA alongside the IRS,” he added. “Grassroots conservatives seem to be standing with Rand rather than rolling their eyes at the wacko birds. They are quoting Sen. Barack Obama, who was skeptical of trading liberty for security, against President Obama.”

Massie Tells Congress to “Wake Up” to Government Intrusion

Thomas Massie

There has been a lot of outrage and surprise expressed by members of Congress over the mounting scandals coming out the Obama Administration. But perhaps the real scandal is that the Congress is often complicit when Americans liberties are violated by out-of-control administrations.

During a speech yesterday on the House floor, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) pointedly told his colleagues in Washington to “wake up” to the sort of overreach and abuses of civil liberties that are being committed by the government.

“Can’t we see what’s happening? In just the past month we discovered that the NSA is snooping on millions of innocent Americans using the PATRIOT ACT (Congress wrote the Patriot Act!), the IRS is targeting conservative organizations using the tax code (Congress created that tax code), and DHS has 200 million hollow-point bullets stockpiled (Congress funded DHS — just last week!),” explained Massie. “You want me to be surprised? I’m not surprised… I’m outraged! But what’s happening here? In each case of executive overreach, Congress gave an inch, and the executive branch took a mile.”

Massie noted that the outrage from members over the scandals is hypocritical. They complain and investigate then, he said, “Congress turns around and funds and encourages more unconstitutional behavior.”

“If we don’t reverse this trend, we can kiss our civil liberties good–bye,” said Massie.

“The Constitution embodies American principles that men and women have fought and died to protect. We swore an oath to it. Mr Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to reflect on the damage that CISPA, the PATRIOT Act, and the NDAA have wrought on our civil liberties, and implore my fellow members to uphold the constitutional rights they swore to protect,” he added. “Don’t yield one inch.”

Watch Massie’s full speech below:

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