Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rand Paul's 13 Hour Epic Filibuster: True Patriotism Or Typical GOP Grandstanding?!?

So yeah, while I was at home waiting on a massive snowstorm that never materialized yesterday, I managed to catch a bit of Rand Paul's 13 hour filibuster. As much as I'm in disagreement with the (theoretical) use of drones on US soil against US citizens, part of me wonders just how sincere Paul was.
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, began an old-school, speak-until-you-can-speak-no-more filibuster on Wednesday just before noon, and was still going strong hours later.

Mr. Paul, who opposes the nomination of John O. Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, had previously said he would filibuster President Obama’s nominee after receiving a letter this month from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that refused to rule out the use of drone strikes within the United States in “extraordinary circumstances” like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

On Wednesday, Mr. Paul did exactly as promised, taking to the Senate floor to filibuster Mr. Brennan’s nomination.

Mr. Paul is the first senator to use an actual filibuster after the Senate reached a deal earlier this year to take some basic steps to limit the filibuster.

As Mr. Paul’s filibuster — quickly nicknamed the “filiblizzard” by Twitter users, poking fun at the Washington snow storm that failed to materialize — entered its fourth hour, the senator from Kentucky got an assist from his friends, as Senators Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, joined him on the Senate floor to help with the effort.

Mr. Paul did not yield the floor — a move that would effectively end his filibuster — but he did, with some apparent relief, yield to take questions from his Republican colleagues.

And then, as the (now bipartisan) filibuster began to feel a bit like a Shakespearean drama, none other than Senator Marco Rubio of Florida entered from stage right, complete with a water joke — a reference to his recent State of the Union response, in which a video of a parched Mr. Rubio chugging water quickly went viral.

“You’ve been here for a while, so let me give you some advice,” Mr. Rubio. “Keep some water nearby. Trust me.”
Let's be real here: the use or drones to spy on US citizens is something that makes me uncomfortable. The feeling that 9/11 has now permanently turned us into a country where nearly every public activity needs to be filtered through the potential of terrorist action is sobering. I don't like that a black President and black Attorney General are responsible for this latest overreach of power. While I'm happy these drones (theoretically) are being used to keep us safe and secure, the fact that it has come to this just feels very wrong. If you need to understand this sentiment in far more eloquent words, written by a professional, look no further than Ta Nehesi Coates' excellent piece, "The Art of Infinite War" in the Atlantic.

With all that said, it's hard to separate Paul's message (which I generally agree with) from the messenger here. Paul conveniently ignored the fact that such incidents (the government bombing its own citizens) have indeed happened in the past. Google "Philly MOVE Bombings" or "Tulsa Black Wall Street bombings". Both are not-so-cheery reminders that this country sometimes takes drastic (and unnecessary) measures against its own citizens. There is already a precedence. Ignoring this, and pretending you're so concerned about the mere potential for something happening now, when it has already in fact happened in the past smacks of opportunism at best, hypocrisy at worst. To my knowledge (I had better things to do that watch a 13 hour circle jerk) Paul mentioned neither incident yesterday.

I also just can't look past the possibility that Paul chose this occasion to boost his national profile for 2016. There's also the (now totally predictable, yet still annoying) fact that the GOP is now using Paul's performance to raise campaign funds. So yeah, whatever.

I'll willingly admit my bias here: I simply don't trust (or for that matter like) Rand Paul. The same guy who equated ObamaCare to slavery, who asserted that free market capitalism would have ended segregation without the Civil Rights Act, and who thinks all government is evil, yet draws a government paycheck. I think he is disingenuous, and I wonder why he needed to burn 13 hours to make a point that could have easily been summed up before lunchtime. So yeah, my issue here is more with the messenger than the message.

And this messenger is an a$$hole.

Question: What did you think of Rand Paul's epic waste of time filibuster?!? Was he being genuine, opportunistic, or a little of both? What do you personally think about this new domestic drone policy?!?

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