“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination.”
– Senator Rand Paul during his 13-hour talking filibuster yesterday
One of the biggest disappointments for me during 2012 was Ron Paul’s failure to run as a third party candidate for President. Last January, I wrote a very popular post titled Why I Support Ron Paul in which I predicted that the Republican establishment would sabotage his attempted run and that he needed to break ranks and run on his own. The reason I was so adamant on this point was not because I thought he would necessarily win (although I think he would’ve done much better than most people think), but because his being up there next to Romney and Obama would have exposed both political parties for the frauds that they are. It would have exposed the fact that on the most important issues like the Federal Reserve, TBTF Wall Street criminal banks, aggressive and short-sighted foreign policy and civil liberties they are completely on the same page. It would have brought certain issues to the fore that the establishment parties don’t want debated in public. They’d much rather divide and conquer the nebbish with issues like abortion, gay marriage and gun rights. Issues that while very important to many, are easily used to split people along geographic and cultural lines and do not represent existential issues core to the survival of the spirit of the nation itself. To paraphrase, I agree with the statement “to know who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Ron Paul would have criticized those people and institutions in a very public forum in a third party run and elevated the debate for all of us. It didn’t happen and the public debate went back into the gutter.
Then Rand Paul stood up and talked for 13 hours.
Personally, I would have preferred the issue that united libertarian and progressive activists to have been the Federal Reserve, since it is the core cancer of this country and indeed the world. Without Federal Reserve funding, none of the awful things our government and multi-national corporations do at home and abroad would be possible, but you don’t always get what you want. If civil liberties is the issue that does it, so be it.
I follow an eclectic group of people on Twitter. Several of them are what would be best described as “progressive” journalists and activists. When I witnessed several of them tweet in support of Rand Paul, my antennae shot up straight into the stratosphere. Then I realized that Rand had quoted the work of several of them on the Senate floor (including one of my favorite journalists Glenn Greenwald), and I knew I something special was happening.
Ever since the dawn of Occupy Wall Street, I have pushed heavily to try to unite the “tea party” and OWS. I recognized that at their core these two resistance movements had the same grievances with “the system.” Unfortunately, the tea party was largely co-opted by mainstream Republicans, while OWS was crushed by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. In reality, it isn’t about these two “movements,” rather it’s about ideas. At this stage in the game, we have very established activists on both the libertarian and progressive side of things. As someone that reads them all, I can tell you that the prominent ones on both sides are genuine, moral and intellectual.
What Rand Paul did yesterday was finally bring the public debate to where it needs to be. In doing so, he united activists that are quite opposed on many issues (less than they think, but that’s for another day). This is extremely significant and we need this momentum to continue. Those of us that care about the core principles that made this country great need to stick together, find common ground and not allow the establishment to control the debate any longer.
It’s quite fitting that as Rand Paul stood for 13 hours in an impassioned attempt to call attention to the systematic dismantling of The Bill of Rights occurring in America, President Obama was having dinner with many establishment Republicans. These included the two Senators that have done more to destroy the GOP than any one else; John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Two guys who would drone their own grandmothers if it made them feel tough for a minute.
While they dined and talked about how best to rule over us, tens of thousands of Americans watched C-SPAN excitedly for the first time in their lives. This is a very good sign.
Thank you for that moment Rand. Now it’s up to us to carry the torch.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the filibuster. Enjoy.
“Alarm bells should go off when people tell you that the battlefield’s in America. Why? Because when the battlefield’s in America, we don’t have due process. What they’re talking about is they want the laws of war. They call it the laws of war. Another way to put it is to call it martial law. That’s what they want in the United States when they say the battlefield is here… When people tell you that America is a battlefield, when they tell you that the battlefield is here, realize what they are telling you. They are telling you your Bill of Rights don’t apply, because in the battlefield, you really don’t have due process, and I’m not arguing for that.
“Certain things rise above partisanship. And I think your right to be secure in your person, the right to be secure in your liberty, the right to be tried by a jury of your peers — these are things that are so important and rise to such a level that we shouldn’t give up on them easily. And I don’t see this battle as a partisan battle at all of the I don’t see this as Republicans versus Democrats.
“I would be here if there were a Republican president doing this.
“The interesting thing about these battles is they are not really always Republican versus Democrat. These are battles that are sometimes really coalitions of people from the right and people from the left who have gotten together and fought on these things.
Where is the Barack Obama of 2007? Has the presidency so transformed him that he has forgotten his moorings, forgotten what he stood for? Civil libertarians once expected more from the president.
“Barack Obama of 2007 would be right down here with me arguing against this drone strike program if he were in the Senate. It amazes and disappoints me how much he has actually changed from what he once stood for.”
But you will a never know because nobody is told who is going to be killed. It is a secret list. So how do you protest? How do you say, I’m innocent? How do you say, yes, I email with my cousin who lives in the Middle East, and I didn’t know he was involved in that? Do you not get a chance to explain yourself in a court of law before you get a hellfire missile dropped on your head? So I think that really, it just amazes me that people are so willing and eager to throw out the bill of rights and just say, oh, that’s fine. You know, terrorists are a big threat to us. And, you know, I am a so fearful that they will attack me that I’m willing to give up my rights, I’m willing to give up on the bill of rights? I think we give up too easily.”
“If there were an ounce of courage in this body, I would be joined by many other senators saying that they will not tolerate this, that we will come together today in bipartisan fashion and tell the president, tell any president that no president will ever have the authority to kill Americans without a trial.
Where are the civil libertarians in the president’s party that we must rely on a Tea Party Republican to champion this issue?
Big kudos also go out to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who was brave enough to join the filibuster and he powerfully stated:
Mr. President, what it comes down to is every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them.
Indeed we do.