The Rand Paul Rant

Tea Party loyalist Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), during his filibuster.

Tea Party loyalist Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), during his filibuster.

I guess I will join the chorus of those applauding Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for his nearly 13 hour rant on the floor of the U.S. Senate in an effort to delay the confirmation of John Brennan as the new CIA director.

Supposedly Sen. Paul has presidential aspirations for 2016.

My thought is the more this loose cannon is allowed to talk the earlier he can be eliminated from contention.

To Sen. Paul’s credit I do agree that a national conversation needs to be had on the U.S. government’s drone policy. There is not enough transparency currently to tell if these devices are being used properly.

I appreciate the threat of an imminent terrorist attack, and that certain elements of due process might be suspended under exigent circumstances, but the definition of “imminent” and “exigent” are subjective.

It’s in the best interest of the military, intelligence community and political establishments to keep fear active in the civilian population.

Fear means fewer questions get asked about what the military is up to and why. It keeps budget money flowing, and makes constituencies more easily controllable – so there is good reason to have a discussion about our government’s drone program.

That is the cover Rand Paul used to stage his filibuster, but not why he did it.

This was about doing some grandstanding, and showing off the plumage on his Tea Party tail feathers.

By taking some action, Paul appears like more of a serious player, and perhaps elevated himself into the position of lead spokesperson for the Tea Party movement.

I’ll give the man credit, Sen. Paul had the gumption to go out there and talk till he was blue in the face.

But his credibility waned once he revealed the premise of this maneuver was to ascertain, in all seriousness, whether President Obama was looking at using drone strikes over U.S. soil against Americans that didn’t pose an imminent threat.

Mind you there was no evidence that this type of policy was being considered, but Paul knew this line of argument would get a warm response from the “black helicopter” conspiracy theorist-crowd in the far right-wing of the Republican Party.

It should be noted that it’s not President Obama pushing for drone usage domestically; instead it’s individual state-based law enforcement agencies that are petitioning to start their own drone programs.

Certainly there are legitimate uses for drones domestically, especially to send in to dangerous situations instead of risking the lives of police officers, but questions surrounding privacy issues and other constitutional violations that could occur unintentionally remain unanswered.

The funny thing about Sen. Paul’s filibuster is that Democrats really didn’t need to respond to his inquiries, the senator’s own rhetoric was more damaging to himself and the Tea Party than anything they could offer.

Actually it was other Republicans who were Paul’s harshest critics.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), both mainline Republicans, military hawks, and conservatives, considered Paul’s conspiracy theories ridiculous.

“We’ve done, I think, a disservice to a lot of American by making them think that somehow they’re in danger from their government,” Sen. McCain said. “They’re not.”

Experts in drone policy said the remarks by Paul showed an obvious misunderstanding of the president’s drone policy.

This all started when Sen. Paul asked Attorney General Eric Holder if the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

Of course he does, if it is in the interest of ensuring the safety of America.

Look at Sept. 11, 2001. Under exigent circumstances President George W. Bush was authorized to order military jets to shoot down commercial airliners full of innocent Americans over U.S. soil.

“To my Republican colleagues, I don’t remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President (George W.) Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone,” said Sen. Graham. “They had a drone program back then.”

This is what annoyed me about Sen. Paul’s rant – I’m just tired of stupid. We had a lot of that under George W. Bush, with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

They sunk our country into a historic recession with their bungled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, trickle-down economics, tax cuts, objectification of the middle class, and general paranoia politics.

I don’t want to go back to that.

We voted on this in 2012, and rejected guys like Mitt Romney (R-Mass.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Todd Akin (R-Mo.), and Richard Mourdock (R-Ind.), who all espoused discriminative politics and fear mongering.

Anyone giving Rand Paul credit for his pandering is rewarding poor behavior, and sanctioning further conspiratorial politics.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to simply look away and not take these fools seriously, because they will scare people into following them.

Attorney General Holder sent a dismissive letter to Sen. Paul in response to his filibuster stating, “It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no.”

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