The Conversation

Politics: Policy issues, legislation and political topics of all sorts.

Sens. Cruz, Paul Introduce Bill to Prohibit Drone Killings of U.S. Citizens

Mar 7, 2013 11:56 AM PT

Senators Cruz and Paul introduced legislation today to prohibit drone killings of U.S. Citizens on American soil. 

“Our Constitution restrains government power,” Cruz said. “The federal government may not use drones to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil if they do not represent an imminent threat. The Commander in Chief does, of course, have the power to protect Americans from imminent attack, and nothing in this legislation interferes with that power.”

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As predicted, left attacks Rand Paul over Lochner

Mar 7, 2013 11:17 AM PT

Near the start of Rand Paul's filibuster on Wednesday, I noted his call for President Barack Obama to revisit his understanding of the Lochner case. A few other libertarian-minded legal geeks noticed: Josh Blackman did, as did Randy Barnett, for example. At HotAir, Allahpundit quoted my piece and predicted that Paul might face pushback from Democrats if he ever chose to make a run at the presidency (as he has indicated that he might):

If he were to win the GOP nomination, a scenario that seems more plausible every day, the Democrats will attack him on his Lochner support relentlessly to try to prove that he wants to get rid of child-labor laws, minimum-wage laws, and basically everything else in the galaxy of labor regulations that they tout as proof that they’re better for the middle- and working-class. (Emphasis added)

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No. No. NO!

Mar 7, 2013 9:29 AM PT

From The Washington Times:

There is already a bumper sticker out there that says “Barack 2012, Michelle 2016,” spotted in the nation’s capital in the last month. In that mindset, consider new numbers just released: a Harris Poll gauging first lady Michelle Obama’s popular appeal among Americans, including a rating of her “job” performance and yes, a comparison with her hubby.

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Stand with Rand: 50% Disapprove Using Drones to Kill Americans on U.S. Soil

Mar 7, 2013 9:26 AM PT

A Fox News poll of 1,010 registered voters taken Feb. 25-27 of this year, shows that only 45% approve of our government using drones to kill a suspected terrorist who is American on U.S. soil. Fifty-percent disapprove.

Concern over the Obama Administration's murky answer to its policy regarding the use of drones against Americans in America is what prompted Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to launch a 13 hour filibuster yesterday.

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Obama on Taking the Civil Liberties High Road

Mar 7, 2013 7:40 AM PT

In August 2007, candidate Obama gave a major foreign policy speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington DC. In the speech Obama outlined five points that would define his approach to foreign policy if he were to be elected President. Point four was about insuring America would take the high road when it came to civil liberties:

This brings me to the fourth step in my strategy: I will make clear that the days of compromising our values are over.

Major General Paul Eaton had a long and distinguished career serving this country. It included training the Iraqi Army. After Abu Ghraib, his senior Iraqi advisor came into his office and said: “You have no idea how this will play out on the streets of Baghdad and the rest of the Arab world. How can this be?” This was not the America he had looked up to.

As the counter-insurgency manual reminds us, we cannot win a war unless we maintain the high ground and keep the people on our side. But because the Administration decided to take the low road, our troops have more enemies. Because the Administration cast aside international norms that reflect American values, we are less able to promote our values. When I am President, America will reject torture without exception. America is the country that stood against that kind of behavior, and we will do so again.

I also will reject a legal framework that does not work. There has been only one conviction at Guantanamo. It was for a guilty plea on material support for terrorism. The sentence was 9 months. There has not been one conviction of a terrorist act. I have faith in America’s courts, and I have faith in our JAGs. As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.

This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.

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Paul, Ryan, Rubio, and Jeb Bush 2016 Oh My!

Mar 6, 2013 4:35 PM PT

It would be cliche to say Washington can never get anything done because we are in constant campaign mode.  Both parties begin thinking about the next election the moment the last vote is counted; maybe before.

We can speculate on who's running in 2016 for the Democratic Party (does it matter if Hillary throws in her hat) but the 2016 GOP field already seems to be set.

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The theory of majority-making moments

Mar 6, 2013 3:06 PM PT

What if political strategy and tactics are far less important than the current debate about Republican fortunes implies? What if political outcomes are determined by particular media events--and reactions to them?

I've been kicking around a little theory I'll call the theory of majority-making moments. Basically, it holds that new political majorities come together in response to events that almost everyone in society experiences in almost the same way--sometimes with the help of the media, and sometimes in spite of the media.

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The debate we've deserved for a long time

Mar 6, 2013 2:27 PM PT

In response to It's On: Who Blinks, Rand Paul or Barack Obama?:

I agree with you, John--Paul's filibuster was brilliant, and shows that the GOP does have power, even in the minority, if it has the courage to wield it. Here at Breitbart, we've had a healthy debate about the substance of the drone issue. The difficult issue at the core of it all is how to distinguish a terrorist from a civilian, when terrorists often try to blend into the civilian population, especially in "sleeper cells" that may exist in the U.S.

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Candidate Obama Promised a Different Approach to Civil Liberties Issues

Mar 6, 2013 2:24 PM PT

In October 2007, Barack Obama had some pretty tough things to say about George Bush's approach to civil liberties. He also promised things would be different if he were elected:

You know I taught constitutional law for 10 years at the University of Chicago, so um your next President will actually believe in the Constitution which you can’t say about your current President.


In today’s environment in particular I want Supreme Court Justices who are vigilant about civil liberties. Because I think that when people are afraid--and terrorism has created fear--then that’s when the greatest danger to civil liberties happens. It’s easy to be for civil liberties when there are no threats. It’s when there are threats that you start seeing civil liberties chipped away at. So I want a President I want a Supreme Court that is not just giving the President a blank check for whatever power grab he or she is engaging in.

By the way that also means that when I’m President one of the first things I’m going to do is call in my attorney general and say to him or her I want you to review every executive order that’s been issued by George Bush--whether it relates to warrantless wiretaps, or detaining people or reading e-mails, or whatever it is--I want you to go through every single one of them and if they are unconstitutional or they are encroaching on civil liberties unnecessarily we are going to overturn them we are going to change them.

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