PATRIOT Act

Rubio: Bush “did a fantasic job” as president

If you listen to Sean Hannity and others in the conservative movement, it’s clear that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is their pick to serve as Mitt Romney’s running mate this fall. They say that he offers a contrast to Romney that will bring a needed balance and excitement to the ticket to help motivate Republicans to go to the polls this fall.

It may be true that Rubio is much more conservative than Romney, but there should be some hesitation on the part of conservatives due to recent comments by Rubio where he said that George W. Bush “did a fantastic job” as president.

I’m not naive enough to believe that Bush isn’t a hero to conservatives for various reasons, let alone that Barack Obama, who frequently blames his predecessor for many of his own failures, makes that easy to do. But from a fiscal perspective, Bush’s presidency was a disaster, and that isn’t limited to the 2008 financial crisis. While some would defend Bush’s big spending as a necessity due to the so-called “war on terror,” Veronique de Rugy noted in her analysis on spending under Bush, domestic spending alone went up by more than 20% in his first term. He expanded Medicare, adding more in unfunded liabilities to the already unsustainable government-run health insurance program.

Conor Friedersdorf also explains some of the problems with the statement made by Rubio in context of, not just fiscal issues, but also foreign policy:

Jack Hunter on “ObamaCare and the Imaginary Constitution”

In his latest video, Jack Hunter takes up President Barack Obama’s comments last week on the Supreme Court and ObamaCare, which looks likely to be struck down. Hunter notes that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Obama believe that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is constitutional simply because they believe it’s a good law. However, as Hunter points out, if ObamaCare is constitutional “because it is necessary,” than a law like the PATRIOT Act, which liberals tend not to support, is constitutional “simply as a matter of perspective”:

Welcome to 1984 — The CIA to spy on you through your TV

The CIA may soon have a new way to spy on Americans. According to a new report from Wired, the intelligence agency will be using the Internet through electronic devices, including TVs and alarm clocks, to pry into our lives:

Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”

 

Living the dystopian dream

Like many libertarians, I’m a huge fan of science fiction.  In particular, I love reading about dystopian futures.  I don’t know why, I just always have.

I’magine a story where the President of the United States can not be criticized to his face.  You are no longer allowed to voice your opinions within earshot of the president because the Secret Service can designate any area as being off limits for your First Amendment rights.  Let’s say the main character of the story does it anyways, in an act of civil disobedience, along with many of his friends.  They tell the sitting president that if he doesn’t start doing right, they will spend every waking minute to get him booted out of office.

The group is arrested for a felony because they violated the Secret Service’s orders, but because they used “intimidation” in the process, they’re called terrorists and packed off without due process and held indefinitely.

At the turn of the century, this would have sounded so far fetched that no one would have believed the story, and it would have failed. Good stories have to be believable after all, so a story on this kind of premise would be called “unsellable”.

Today, we call it “current events”.

Dennis Kucinich falls in Ohio

The Congressional career of Dennis Kucinich came to an abrupt end on Tuesday night as he became one of the first victims of redistricting in 2012.  With his district eliminated, he was forced to run against 15-term incumbent Representative Marcy Kaptur.  Kucinich never had much of a chance, losing handily.

Kucinich has long been one of the most interesting members of the House, if only because he was someone who actually seemed to have principles. He was known for taking positions that often raised the ire of not only Republicans, but his fellow Democrats.  And from a libertarian perspective, he was someone that could be both an fierce adversary, and a surprising ally.

Among the many issues that he and libertarians could find common ground on were the Iraq War, the War on Drugs, abolishing the death penalty, legalizing same-sex marriage, and repeal of the PATRIOT Act.  But there were plenty of issues where he could not be further apart - single-payer healthcare, strengthening gun control, many environmental issues, and opposing reform of Social Security.  On all these topics, though, he had defined positions and largely stuck to them.

So, I’ll miss Dennis Kucinich.  I will especially miss his support for ending the War on Drugs and his work on civil liberties. It’s not often to find someone in Congress who seems to care more about principles that going along with his party.  Even when I strongly disagreed with him, I respected him.  Best of luck in future endeavors, Dennis.

Mitt Romney’s American Delusion

Republican voters are being put through the pincers. We are back to 2008. Heaps of strong candidates, but no consensus. Great speeches, but no substance. PAC money spent by the millions, but no conclusive results. GOP candidates are even welcoming Democratic voters, to smear each other, to add to their victories, or to just plainly embitter each other. The Republican race is not going to get any more civil. Once, we see these subterfuges, we can ask the real questions: what will it take to unseat Obama in November, and who can best do this?

In America the conservative movement has been changing. Neo-conservatives, who had for roughly two decades (1980-2000) held the strongarm of the party, are gone with the Bush Administration’s doctrine of “pre-emptive strike” and the PATRIOT ACT. We are in the midst of the dregs. Still trying to find out which direction this country will spill it’s spirit of changelessness.

For all his grandeur, Mitt Romney just has not taken his campaign to the next level. Rick Santorum has peaked, but more likely will not hold his miniscule leads. Newt Gingrinch’s populism and Ron Paul’s constitutionalism, so similar to each other, are self-negating. None is in charge. Marginal candidates can’t win delegates, nor the RNC party’s nomination. Mitt Romney, the ever-chameleon like business mogul, can’t strike a human touch to save his life and political prospects.

If Mitt Romney is the front runner of the wolves, ready to flay Obama; what is his version of the American Dream? How does he see this country, through which prism? Is it a legalistic, rigidly technocratic, institutional approach? It seems, his advantage is not his base, his character, anything as much as his warchest. He won’t run out of steam. Even if the delegate count gets close in Tampa, FL this spring; he’ll be able to resurrect himself, make the necessary promises and sail away with the nomination.

The Hill names House GOP members that fight for limited government

It’s no secret that House Republican leadership, who often have to be prodded to stand on principle, has had issues with some members of their caucus. While they are often portrayed negatively by the media, many of us view them as the conscience of the Republican Party at a time when it would be easy to just “make a deal” with the White House and avoid big political fights.

The Hill recently went through a series of votes on key issues — ranging from the renewal of the PATRIOT Act to the government shutdown— and named off the dozen members who have consistantly stood for limited government values:

House Republican leaders had an extremely difficult time uniting their members in 2011, but some were far more exasperating than most.

But surprisingly, the most consistent GOP defectors during the last year were not freshmen, according to an analysis conducted by The Hill.

Veteran rank-and-file Republicans, not members of the historic class of 2010, have proven to be a greater challenge to keep in line.

The Hill’s review found that only two of the 12 biggest defectors in the House Republican Conference are freshmen: Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.) and Jeff Duncan (S.C.).

The other 10 are Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), Timothy Johnson (Ill.), Connie Mack (Fla.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Steve King (Iowa), Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Joe Wilson (S.C.). All 12 legislators consistently opposed their leaders at key moments during the House GOP’s first year back in the majority since 2006.

NDAA: How bad can it be?

With Congress passing the NDAA, the question many ask is simple: How bad will/can it get?  It’s a fair question.  While the constitutional questions this bill raises are a topic of debate amongst the talking heads and various other politicos, the average person must ask that simple question.

The NDAA essentially turns the entire United States into a warzone for the purposes of combating terrorism.  It also gives the government extra-constitutional powers for this very same purpose. Officially, this is about Al Qaeda and “associated forces”, whatever that means.

The thing is, when you look at how Obama’s White House has defined “domestic terrorists”, one is left to wonder when will they decide to define “associated forces” to include domestic terrorists.  Honestly, I don’t think it would take very long, and as there is no due process, it’s unlikely that the courts will get a say on this for a very long time.

So the first thing we have to understand is, “what is a domestic terrorist”?

((5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that—

Assassinations, Spying and The Constitution: ACLU President Susan Herman Talks Big Govt and Liberty

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NDAA moving forward in Congress

The very same week Gallup released a poll showing that fear and distrust of the federal government is at a near record high, the Congress is poised to move forward on the National Defense Authorization Act, which would allow for the indefinite detention of Americans:

Congress is pressing ahead with a massive $662 billion defense bill that requires military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S., with lawmakers hoping their last-minute revisions will mollify President Barack Obama and eliminate a veto threat.

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced late Monday that they had reached agreement on the policy-setting legislation that had gotten caught up in an escalating fight on whether to treat suspected terrorists as prisoners of war or criminals in the civilian justice system.

Responding to personal appeals from Obama and his national security team, the lawmakers added language on national security waivers and other changes that they hoped would ensure administration support for the overall bill.

“I assured the president that we were working on additional assurances, that the concerns were not accurate,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., who spoke to Obama last week, told reporters at a news conference. “That we’d do everything we could to make sure they were allayed, and met.”

White House officials said Tuesday they were reviewing the bill. It was unclear whether they would hold firm on the veto threat.


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