civil liberties

Carl Levin’s Retirement Leaves an Open Door for Justin Amash

Justin Amash

Yesterday, Carl Levin (D-MI), who has served in the Senate since 1979 and was one of key figures behind the indefinite detention provision in the NDAA, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014:

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who has been a force for progressivism in the Senate since 1979 and made his mark in recent years as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, will not run for re-election next year, likely setting off a political avalanche of interest in the seat.

Levin, 78, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he made the decisions believing “I can best serve my state and my nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us … in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.”

With Republicans having some modest success in the state in the 2010 mid-term, when Gov. Rick Synder was first elected, and taking control of the state legislature in the most recent election, there could be a door open to take control of this seat in 2014. Among those who may find interest in the seat coud be Rep. Justin Amash.

Rep. Amash, who has cast himself in the mold of Ron Paul and explains every single one of his votes on his Facebook page, has been one of the most vocal defenders of the Constitution in the House of Representatives. He has taken on his own party’s leadership and remained popular in his district.

Ron Wyden: Wednesday’s Other Hero

Ron Wyden

Without a doubt, Wednesday belonged to Rand Paul. The Republican senator stood his ground on the floor of the Senate for almost 13 hours, and he was supported by several of his colleagues.

While I don’t want to take anything away from Senator Paul - his stand for civil liberties was both courageous and heroic - there’s another senator due some recognition. Ron Wyden was the only Democrat willing to join Paul in support of liberty.

I’ve been in Republican politics long enough to know that when one guy abandons the team - even if in a move to do what’s right, he’s treated as an outcast. He loses the good committee appointments. People rally to find a candidate to challenge the traitor in a primary election. He gets tagged as being not a “real” Republican - a “RINO,” if you will - and it takes a lot of time before people in the party forget or forgive his betrayal.

Rand’s filibuster on Wednesday was as a member of the minority party. Yes, he was doing the right thing, but he didn’t have to go against his own party and his own leadership in the Senate or against his own president to make his stand. (To be fair, I’m convinced that Paul would have made his stand no matter the circumstances.)

Every senator who came to Paul’s side on Wednesday was a Republican who could vocally oppose a president and his appointments without fear of punishment from his leadership. Every senator, that is, except Ron Wyden.

Stepping forward to stand with Rand Paul was no easy decision for Wyden. Party politics can be a tough game to play, but when the pressure was on and the decision had to be made, Wyden took a stand with a small minority and against his own party for what is right.

Rand Paul’s New Friends

On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) made a historic stand filibustering the nomination of John Brennan over the federal government’s claim that it has the right to kill Americans on American soil, redefining “imminence,” “battlefield,” and “war” in general. The nation tuned in to see what I consider to be the most courageous political act in modern American history.

The #StandWithRand hashtag exploded on Twitter, and Rand Paul was ultimately joined by fourteen others in his filibuster: in order, Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Jerry Moran, Ron Wyden (a Democrat), Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Saxby Chambliss, John Cornyn, John Barasso, Ron Johnson, John Thune, Jeff Flake, Tim Scott, and Mitch McConnell (the Minority Leader).  Every Senator who joined Rand Paul should be congratulated as they gave him both physical and political strength to go longer, and therein make a HUGE stride in advancing the Freedom Movement.

Sen. Paul’s Filibuster a Win for the Americans who Believe in the Constitution

Tea Party Movement

The Washington Examiner reached out to Amy Kremer, a friend and chair of the Tea Party Express, and myself yesterday to ask if the Obama Administration finally responding to Sen. Rand Paul on the issue of drone strikes against American citizens on American soil after his 13-hour filibuster was a win for the Tea Party movement:

Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor has rallied the fledgling Tea Party movement from a months-long slump and highlighted the schism between those brassy conservative newcomers and their Republican Party elders.

“What a night,” Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer said after Paul’s filibuster, which began Wednesday about noon and ended about 1 a.m. Thursday. “He has definitely energized the base in a way that it hasn’t been energized in a long time.”
[…]
Until Paul’s appearance, the Tea Party’s popularity appeared to be waning. Republican leaders pushed Tea Party lawmakers to the sidelines during budget negotiations with President Obama. After a very successful 2010 election, the Tea Party took a beating in the 2012 contests. And pollsters found that fewer and fewer people were affiliating themselves with the movement.

But Paul’s filibuster attracted huge support on social media sites, from conservatives and liberals, and some believe it could mark a comeback for the movement.

“This is a big deal,” said Jason Pye, editor-in-chief of UnitedLiberty.org, a libertarian blog that follows the Tea Party.

VIDEO: Mike Lee, Ted Cruz Defend Civil Liberties

There has been a lot of attention paid to Sen. Rand Paul’s brilliant, 13-hour defense of the Constitution, which is now available online at CSPAN. But I wanted to share videos of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), both of whom, like Sen. Paul, became champions of civil liberties in the United States Senate.

Below are some clips from yesterday of Sens. Lee and Cruz discussing the issues with President Obama’s drones program, the DOJ white paper that made the case for drone strikes on American citizens on American soil, and the constitutional ramifications of the policy.

“We have a standard [of an imminent threat] that is so broad, that is so malleable, that is so easily subject to so many varying interpretations, no one can reasonably look into this and decide who the government may kill with a drone and who the government may not kill with a drone.” — Sen. Mike Lee

“I would note that your standing here today like a modern Mr. Smith goes to Washington because surely be making Jimmy Stewart smile. And my only regret is that there are not 99 of your colleagues here today standing with you in defense of the most fundamental principles in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, namely that each of us is endowed with certain unalienable rights by our creator and that first among them is life, the rife to life and the right not to have life arbitrarily extinguished by our government without due process of law.” — Sen. Ted Cruz

Eric Holder to Rand Paul: No, the President can’t Kill Americans on American Soil

Hours after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) ended his 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, Attorney General Eric Holder finally responded with a definitive statement. Here is a screenshot of the letter, which was released by Politico.

Holder's letter to Rand Paul

Sen. Paul — and more importantly, the Constitution and Bill of Rights — just won a big battle in a much larger fight.

Ted Cruz Reads Tweets in Support of Rand Paul’s Historic Filibuster

Ted Cruz

Because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had been speaking on the floor since late this morning filibustering the nomination of John Brennan, President Obama’s pick to lead the CIA, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) came to the floor to read tweets of support from #StandWithRand on Twitter, which is currentluy trending nationally.

Sen. Cruz joined several members of the chamber, including Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), in highlighting the lack of transparency of the Obama Administration’s drones program.

This happened in the eighth hour of Sen. Paul’s filibuster, which is now into its 10 hour — 10 hours, folks, without a real break:

Zero Tolerance for Guns Gone Even More Stupid

Gun Free Zone

Schools throughout the nation adopted so-called “zero tolerance” rules dealing with guns in the wake of school shootings and gang violence back in the 1990’s.  They haven’t really accomplished a whole heck of a lot, but keep popping up in the news from time to time due to various idiotic points of the rule that will occasionally ban a kid for using his fingers as a gun, shaping his breakfast like a gun, or disciplining a child for wearing a t-shirt that has a picture of an American soldier on it.  However, the latest incident that, at least to me, appears to be related to these idiotic rules comes to us from Fort Myers, Florida.

This time, the incident actually did involve a gun, so there’s that.  However, the whole story is even more confounding:

A Florida high school student wrestled a loaded gun away from another teen on the bus ride home this week and was slapped with a suspension in return.

The 16-year-old Cypress Lake High student in Fort Myers, Fla. told WFTX-TV there was “no doubt” he saved a life after grappling for the loaded .22 caliber revolver being aimed point-blank at another student on Tuesday.

“I think he was really going to shoot him right then and there,” said the suspended student, not identified by WFTX because of safety concerns. “Not taking no pity.”

Rand Paul asks important questions about Obama’s drones on “Fox News Sunday”

Rand Paul on

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been spending a lot of time recently working to bring transparency to President Barack Obama’s drones program.

A recently released memo from the Department of Justice laid out a tenuous legal justification for drone strikes on American citizens. While the Obama Administration has promised to explain the “mechanisms” by which they choose their targets, there are still many questions to be answered, including the constitutional issues that come with ignoring the right to due process.

Sen. Paul has said that the nomination of John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is more important than Chuck Hagel’s nomination, which Republicans successfully — though only temporarily — stalled last week. He has asked some hard, pointed questions of John Brennan about President Obama’s drones program, including whether or not the White House would carry out drone strikes on American citizens on American soil. But no real answers have been given, and the lack of transparency with this program and the role the CIA will play has prompted Sen. Paul to call Brennan’s nomination the “preeminent libertarian concern.”

Sen. Paul responded to criticism that he has faced from neoconservatives about this issue during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

Rand Paul wants answers on Obama’s drones program

Rand Paul speaks at Heritage

During the Tea Party response to the State of the Union address, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) mentioned the drones issue that has recently been the subject of deserved controversy. In a list of grievances against the Obama Administration, Sen. Paul said, “We will not tolerate secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial.”

The reference was a response to a recent memo from the Department Justice outlining the legal case for drone strikes against American citizens. There hasn’t been any attempt from the Obama Administration to sell the program to Americans, though it has certainly made neo-conservatives quite happy.

Sen. Paul, who is a strict constitutionalist, is doing more than talking about the issue, even though his concern over the drones program is being dismissed by some in the media. He wants answers from the Obama Administration. In a recent letter to John Brennan, who is President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, Sen. Paul asked a series of questions about the drones program — ranging from the use of drones against both American and non-American targets to the CIA and Posse Comitatus to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old, American-born son to the issue of privacy.

You can read the letter in full here, but here are some of the questions that Sen. Paul asked Brennan:


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