Archive for the ‘Intelligence’ Category
If this article is accurate, and I think it is, then HHS Secretary Sebelius is latest in a growing list of high-ranking Obama administration officials who don’t think this nation’s laws apply to them:
Ever wonder what Kathleen Sebelius does when she isn’t sentencing children to death, shaking down health care providers, or violating campaign finance laws? Well, it seems she spends her spare time, and a lot of taxpayer money, dabbling in illegal lobbying. The Anti-Lobbying Act forbids federal bureaucrats from using money appropriated by Congress to influence “an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose… any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.” Sebelius evidently didn’t get the memo.
Specifically, it looks like Madam Commissar and her HHS minions have been using federal money to lobby state and local officials to “favor, adopt or oppose” countless initiatives involving everything from local zoning rules to ordinances concerning tobacco use to the imposition of new taxes on soft drinks. The cash they are thus spreading around comes from an obscure Obamacare trove called the “Prevention and Public Health Fund,” which provides Sebelius with what amounts to $12.5 billion in pin money.
It’s pretty clear that Sebelius is spending money in a way that violates the Anti-Lobbying Act. Even if spending money this way wasn’t illegal, which it is, there’s no question that cabinet officials shouldn’t be spending the taxpayers’ money to lobby Congress, legislatures, city councils and county commissioners to make laws the administration favors.
Democrats have consistently whined about how Big Business has too much influence in the political process. Why aren’t these same Democrats complaining that Big Government has too much political influence? After all, Congress, legislatures, city councils and county commissioners represent the people. Actually, US senators represent their state whereas representatives represent the people of their district.
Therefore, Secretary Sebelius’ acts are how she’s using the taxpayers’ money to drown out the taxpayers’ influence. Think about this a bit:
For any reader too young to recognize the term “pin money,” this refers to a regular allowance your grandfather might have given to your grandmother for various incidental household purchases that she wasn’t expected to report to him or account for later. And this, despite the truly gigantic amounts of money involved, is pretty much how the “Prevention and Public Health Fund” works. As Stuart Taylor reports in Forbes, “[HHS] can spend the money as it sees fit and without going through the congressional appropriations process.”
And if you have become so jaded by the government’s fiscal profligacy that you’re not impressed by the $12.5 billion figure, consider that this is only for the first decade. After that money is gone, this fund will be replenished to the tune of $2 billion per year — forever. Yes, forever. The statute doesn’t actually say “as long as the wind blows and the grass grows,” but it does clearly stipulate that the fund never expires. Yet, as the law is written, HHS doesn’t have to account for its outlays in any meaningful way.
Think of all the different ways this money might be used. It might be used to lobby Minnesota cities to enact soft drink size limits. It might be used to lobby for laws that enable cities to harass fast food restaurants. That fund might be used to enact, at a city level, all kinds of statutes that the Obama administration can’t get through Congress.
The Anti-Lobbying Act probably didn’t ponder the possibility of an administration using the taxpayers’ money to get around Congress. Still, it’s pretty clear the Anti-Lobbying Act might be a valuable tool to prevent this administration’s attempt to ignore Congress.
If we had a real attorney general, Secretary Sebelius might join a lengthy list of potential criminals. Jim Geraghty identified some others in his morning newsletter:
LIE ONE: White House press secretary Jay Carney’s November 28 explanation about changes made to talking points about the Benghazi attack:
The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two — of these two institutions were changing the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility,” because “consulate” was inaccurate. Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened.
You can see the twelve rounds of revisions here, well more than a single adjustment, and mostly in response to State Department objections.
After it became clear that Carney had put forth false information, he dug in deeper. Carney paid for his lie with two days of hostile questions from the White House Press Corps . . . and then the storm seemed to have blown over.
LIE TWO: Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying under oath before the House Judiciary Committee, May 15:
Well, I would say this. With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be a wise policy.
Michael Isikoff later reported the precise opposite:
The Justice Department pledged Friday to review its policies relating to the seizure of information from journalists after acknowledging that a controversial search warrant for a Fox News reporter’s private emails was approved “at the highest levels” of the Justice Department, including “discussions” with Attorney General Eric Holder.
There is a claim from the usual, Media Matters, that Holder is in the clear because he was asked about prosecutions for publishing classified information, not solicitation for classified information; they assert that the two actions are totally different. A pretty thin reed for a perjury defense, and one that utterly fails the standard of the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States informing the public of his department’s operations.
For us to believe that, it would mean that during the entire Justice Department discussion of prosecuting Fox News’ James Rosen for soliciting the information, no one suggested or mentioned prosecuting Rosen for publishing it. Remember, Holder didn’t just say he didn’t agree with that idea; he said he never heard of the idea.
LIE THREE: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testifying under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on March 12, responding to questions from Wyden:
Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper: “No, sir.”
Wyden: “It does not?”
Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.”
The subsequent explanation from Clapper, to National Journal: “What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that.”
Lying to Congress is a crime. This isn’t just a scandal. It’s a criminal act. When Eric Holder told Congress that he’d never even heard of digging into a reporter’s private emails, that was a criminal act. That’s why we shouldn’t trust Secretary Sebelius when she says this:
HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson raised concerns a year ago about some grants, warning Sebelius that they may violate anti-lobbying statutes. The response was a general assurance that her department was taking care to remain in compliance with all such laws.
When an administration is involved in multiple criminal acts, which were committed in plain sight, they forfeit the right to be trusted.
Prior to this article, I thought that the IRS and DOJ scandals were the nastiest of government-sponsored fishing expeditions. That’s timid by comparison with this:
The Obama administration has been collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top secret court order, according to a British newspaper report which raised new and troubling privacy questions.
That information is the definition of a fishing expedition. Here’s why it’s that frightening:
The newspaper claims the document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens were being collected indiscriminately and in bulk, regardless of whether they were suspected of any wrongdoing.
Several words jump off the page at me. Millions of U.S. citizens is one of the sets of words that should frighten people. What’s the logic behind that? It’s one thing to collect a narrow group of records on a suspect. That isn’t what’s happening here.
Here’s another group of words that frighten me:
collected indiscriminately and in bulk
Again, what’s the justification for that? I’ll bet the administration can’t honestly tell the American people the logic justifying their actions. Finally, this phrase is troubling:
regardless of whether they were suspected of any wrongdoing.
Whatever happened to requiring probable cause? Did this administration throw that out? That sounds suspiciously like President Nixon telling the FBI that they didn’t need warrants to wiretap people.
Considering the fact that this administration is already catching fire for the DoJ looking at James Rosen’s personal emails and the indiscriminate searching of AP’s phone records, this potential scandal fits a specific narrative. Add the IRS targeting religious organizations, conservatives and TEA Party organizations and you get the impression this administration wants to collect intimiate information on everyone.
A year ago, had someone told me that this administration was spying on news organizations, indiscriminately collecting phone records and using the IRS as a weapon, I would’ve written them off as lunatic fringers. Today, I’d call them well-informed and justifiably suspicious.
This article shows that congressional Democrats aren’t interested in getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. They’re more interested in protecting their political flanks than finding out why this administration was caught flat-footed with Benghazi:
Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering has agreed to be deposed by Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) Oversight panel on June 3 after being threatened with a subpoena. Democrats say they’re wary of a trap, and want to be able to counter what they say is Issa’s habit of leaking “cherry-picked” portions of witnesses’ testimonies to the press.
“If it’s true to form, if it’s a closed deposition, his staff [will] cherry pick content and leak it once again to the press that’s only too willing to print it,” panel member Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told The Hill. “It might be grossly inaccurate. In fact, it may be the opposite of what’s being asserted. But by the time somebody gets around to reporting that, if they ever do, the damage is done.”
That’s rich. The Democrats are complaining that the press isn’t giving them a fair shake. That isn’t the full extent of the Democrats’ PR tactics:
Democrats say Pickering and his co-author, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, should be able to defend their report in a public hearing. Pickering could not be reached for comment.
“House Republicans have politicized this investigation from the beginning, and they have recklessly accused Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen of being complicit in a cover-up,” said the panel’s ranking member, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). “It is time for the Chairman to honor his commitment to hold a hearing to allow these officials to respond to these reckless accusations, instead of imposing new conditions to keep them from testifying. Members of Congress and the American people should hear directly from these officials, in public, and the Chairman’s efforts to keep them behind closed doors undermines the Committee’s credibility and does a disservice to the truth.”
Trey Gowdy explains why the committee is deposing witnesses:
The goal of a deposition, oversight panel member Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told The Hill, is to get “the full facts.”
“It’s hard to unlock the mysteries in five-minute increments in a committee hearing,” Gowdy said. “So if you want to find out what happened and who he interviewed, what questions he asked, why he didn’t interview certain people, you need to do it in a deposition.”
These investigations aren’t a witch hunt. They’re part of a real investigation, complete with initial questions that establish a base of facts, followed by the rarest of things in Washington, DC: thoughtful followup questions. That’s what happened during a bygone era when investigations went where the facts took them. That’s what happened when investigations found the truth and let the political chips fall where they may.
Speaking of political chips falling where they may, this speaks directly to that:
Democrats say Issa’s real target is Clinton, the presumptive Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential election.
It’s possible Hillary will suffer political consequences as a result of her mismanagement. Had she made the right decisions, she wouldn’t be getting criticized for making a string of stunningly foolish decisions about the security forces in Benghazi.
It’s time to detonate the ‘Republicans are politicizing Benghazi’ storyline. Foolish decisions were made. American patriots died as a direct result of Hillary Clinton’s shoddy decisionmaking. Hillary lied when she told the diplomats’ families that a video caused the terrorist attack was done to protect a president during a political campaign.
If Hillary gets tarnished because Republicans ask intelligent questions about what happened in Benghazi, then it’ll be because Hillary made foolish decisions. It isn’t because Republicans politicized the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Finally, there’s this:
Democrats say they should have been given a chance to interview Mark Thompson, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, ahead of the May 8 hearing. They say his Republican attorney, Joseph diGenova, shielded him from Democrats.
Issa strongly denied interfering during the hearing.
“Mr. Thompson, is it your decision who you talk to?” he asked. “And did any of my people ever tell you not to talk to the Democratic minority?”
“No,” Thompson answered.
The Democrats’ accusations are essentially empty. They’ve had the right to access witnesses and ask questions. It isn’t Chairman Issa’s fault that these whistleblowers’ testimony is making the administration look bad.
This past week, lots of pundits from across the political spectrum have warned Republicans not to overreach on the AP story. They’re warning that this is a national security issue. That isn’t exactly accurate. It’s time to unravel the DOJ’s disgusting behavior.
At the heart of the scandal is this statement from Attorney General Holder:
Here’s what Attorney General Holder said that isn’t accurate:
HOLDER: This was a serious leak, a very, very serious leak. I’ve been a prosecutor since 1976 and I have to say that this is among, if it isn’t the most serious leak, it is among the top 2 or 3 leaks I’ve ever seen. It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk and trying to determine who was responsible for that required very agressive action.
First, this wasn’t a leak. Here’s the real story:
Although the Justice Department has not explained why it sought phone records from the AP, Pruitt pointed to a May 7, 2012, story that disclosed details of a successful CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Usama bin Laden.
The AP delayed publication of that story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security.
“We respected that, we acted responsibly, we held the story,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said the AP published the story only after officials from two government entities said the threat had passed. He said the administration still asked that the story be held until an official announcement the next day, a request the AP rejected.
This wasn’t a leak. The AP apparently got word that the CIA asset wasn’t in danger. The CIA said they wanted another day to issue a press release on spoiling this terrorist plot. At that point, the AP decided that they didn’t need to hold their story any longer.
It’s believable that the CIA was upset that they didn’t get to issue their press release first. Based on the fact that the DOJ hasn’t disputed the AP’s statements, it’s fair to assume that the AP acted appropriately in terms of taking the national security and intelligence gathering needs of the nation into serious, sober consideration.
That’s the front end of this scandal. The next part is what makes this one of the most disturbing scandals in recent history. Based on what we know from the first part of the scandal, we know that there wasn’t a need for urgency in stopping a leak that might’ve compromised a CIA asset in the Middle East. That means the DOJ wasn’t entitled to grab the records it did without telling the AP about this massive grab of AP phone records. That means the DOJ was obligated to going to court to apply for a search warrant and for the AP to contest the scope of DOJ’s phone records grab.
The federal government’s need to protect intelligence-gathering assets in harms way isn’t disputed. In fact, the AP apparently acted responsibly in this respect.
Now that we’ve determined these basic, undisputed facts, it’s time to question DOJ’s actions. Did the DOJ need to sieze 2 months of the AP’s phone records? Did DOJ need 2 months of phone records of over 100 AP reporters and editors? If it didn’t, why did DOJ sieze these sensitive records, especially without giving the AP the chance to contest the DOJ’s actions?
Unless new facts emerge that support DOJ’s actions, Americans of all political stripes should question DOJ’s ham-handed behavior in this matter.
UPDATE: Follow this link to read more on the DOJ-AP scandal.
When Sen. Boxer talks, I start looking for my waders because the BS is about to fly. This op-ed is proof that the BS flies when Sen. Boxer speaks:
The facts are clear: The day after the attack, President Obama appeared in the White House Rose Garden and called the events in Benghazi an “act of terror.” And within eight days of the attack, Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and said that the “attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi” is “proof” that “acts of terror and violence continue to threaten our citizens and our interests around the world.”
It’s true that Matthew Olsen said that during the hearing. It’s equally true that he said it in response to a question. It’s equally true that Olsen got chewed out for admitting that in committee. Most importantly, President Obama repeatedly talked about an offensive video being the thing that triggered the terrorists’ attack. President Obama either referred to the offensive video or said it was too early to say anything, that his administration was still investigating.
The administration sought to relay the best information it had at the time. When Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Face the Nation, sharing information that was prepared and signed off on by multiple government agencies, she made clear that the information was preliminary and warned that “we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.”
That’s a bald-faced lie. This administration, specifically Victoria Nuland, insisted that most of the CIA’s initial intelligence report be deleted because she worried that “members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for ‘not paying attention to Agency warnings.’”
Furthermore, Gregory Hicks testified that there was never a mention of a protest by Christopher Stevens or any other diplomats in Benghazi. Finally, the CIA, the US diplomats and the Libyan president all knew within hours that this was a terrorist attack. The intelligence didn’t “evolve.” The only thing that evolved is the Obama administration’s story.
As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I well remember Secretary Clinton’s testimony following the Benghazi attack. She took responsibility and pledged to do everything in her power to put corrective measures in place. And she didn’t gloss over the profound pain and suffering this tragedy caused for the families of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
Pat Smith, the mother of slain diplomat Sean Smith, said Sec. Clinton talked to her and promised to stay in touch. Last week, Pat Smith said that Hillary never called her after the ceremony on Sept. 14. Hillary’s faux empathy apparently only lasted a couple hours.
Finally, Sen. Boxer glosses over the fact that Hillary’s State Department turned down Ambassador Stevens’ request for more security. In fact, the State Department cut the security team instead.
President Obama and his apologists have insisted that the changes in the CIA’s intelligence community’s report on the Benghazi terrorist attack were the result of bureaucratic infighting. We’ve been told that that’s typical. This morning, Jim Geraghty wrote this in his morning e-letter:
If there was evidence that everyone within the State Department, military, and White House were doing everything they could to rescue our guys on that awful night, we would have heard about it long ago. If there was a good reason for the “talking points” to get edited down from a false premise (a demonstration) but at least serious information (previous CIA warnings about terrorist activity) to false pabulum, we would have heard it by now; the latest lame excuse is that the 14 edits merely reflect “bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and State.”
It’s time to return to Realityville, people. Bureaucratic infighting is typical when people are putting a plan together or figuring out a long-term strategy. Bureaucratic infighting isn’t supposed to happen when people are trying to determine the truth about events.
Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to beef us security for diplomats. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to attempt a rescue of diplomats during a terrorist attack. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when people try to determine the proper response to repeated terrorist attacks on foreign missions.
Once the attacks have happened, however, the infighting stops. To determine the truth, the experts on the ground must be talked to. At that point, the only exercise left is determining whether the CIA’s report was accurate. If it was, then their report should be given to the proper people.
The BS that this administration has been spreading since the caskets returned to the United States has been insulting. It’s time this administration puts to rest their ‘the video made them do it’ storyline.
Finally, it’s time to utterly discredit James Clapper’s statement that he felt sorry for Susan Rice for telling the truth. Nothing she said on those Sunday morning talk shows was the truth. Clapper’s insistence that the talking points are accurate indicates that he’s a political appointee, not an intelligence officer.
In a stunning statement this morning, President Obama insisted that the Benghazi investigation is much ado about nothing:
“And suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story,” Obama said in response to a question about Benghazi. “There’s no there there.”
The president continued, “Keep in mind, by the way, these so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice, five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.”
There’s plenty that’s new here. Prior to Wednesday, I didn’t know that Hillary Clinton talked with Gregory Hicks while the Benghazi attacks were happening. Prior to Hicks’ testimony, I didn’t know that Hicks told Hillary that there was an attack going on.
In addition to new information from the testimony, there’s also tons of new questions to get answers to. First, who eliminated the FEST option? Next, why was the FEST option eliminated? Third, who gave the orders to Lt. Col. Gibson to not rescue Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods? Fourth, why was this order given? Fifth, why did the State Department’s objections to the CIA’s report take precedence over the truth? After all, the CIA got it right the first time. Sixth, why did Beth Jones send out an email calling the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack? Seventh, why was the truth the final casualty of the terrorists’ attack?
As for President Obama saying that the “talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice” “pretty much the assessments” he was receiving during his PDBs, that’s BS. It’s insulting. The CIA’s initial report talked about a terrorist attack, with members of Ansar al-Shariah participating in the attack. The CIA’s initial report also talked multiple warnings from the CIA of mounting terrorist threats to foreign interests in Benghazi. That was deleted from the State Department’s talking points. Make no mistake, either, about the talking points. What started as a CIA intelligence report was eventually turned into a State Department CYA talking points memo.
This op-ed exposes a disturbing thought process:
For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession. But now there is something to it.
On Friday, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl revealed the details of the editing process for the C.I.A.’s talking points about the attack, including the edits themselves and some of the reasons a State Department spokeswoman gave for requesting those edits. It’s striking to see the twelve different iterations that the talking points went through before they were released to Congress and to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who used them in Sunday show appearances that became a central focus of Republicans’ criticism of the Administration’s public response to the attacks. Over the course of about twenty-four hours, the remarks evolved from something specific and fairly detailed into a bland, vague mush.
Why the media thought that the Republicans’ investigation into Benghazi is a matter of the media’s bias. Common sense always said that the administration wasn’t telling the truth on what happened in Benghazi. That and Libyan president Mugariaf telling Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer that it was a planned terrorist attack that took the lives of Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
The hearings have identified who ordered the rewriting of the State Department’s CYA document. What the hearings haven’t done yet is identify who told Lt. Col. Gibson not to attempt to rescue the diplomats stationed in Benghazi. The hearings haven’t identified who eliminated the FEST option. YET.
When President Mugariaf told Schieffer that terrorists had killed Christopher Stevens, most thinking people bought into that because presidents of countries know what’s happening in their countries. When Susan Rice started with the administration’s ‘the video made them do it’ lie, most people knew that was BS. A video that’d been seen by 100 people worldwide didn’t start the uprising.
We now know that the Petraeus-led CIA got it right the first time with their report on what happened that night. Similarly, we know that the State Department, with help from the NSC’s Ben Rhodes, turned the CIA intelligence report into a political talking points document.
What’s most disturbing, though, is the media’s intellectual curiosity was essentially nonexistent. The notable exception to that is Sharyl Attkisson. She dug into the administration’s spin and uncovered important facts. The good news is that the media finally appears to be getting curious. Jonathan Karl’s article is a step in that direction, though Steve Hayes’ article opened the floodgates on the subject.
The initial draft revealed by Karl mentions “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi” before the one in which four Americans were killed. That’s not in the final version. Nor is this: “we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”
Omitting the “five other attacks” and the “we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack” is like omitting the hijackers names from the initial 9/11 report. The ARB’s ‘investigation’ is filled with the same omissions.
Question: Are people in DC incapable of asking straightforward questions?
This morning, I wrote that Wednesday’s hearing on Benghazi will be explosive. This article assures us that President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice will be feeling the heat. Here’s some information that’s certain to increase the heat on the administration:
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”
The Obama administration has insisted that there weren’t military assets that could’ve reached Benghazi. Gregory Hicks’ testimony contradicts the administration’s spin. Hicks’ testimony also demolishes the credibility of the ARB’s report on Benghazi. That report didn’t point the finger at anyone. Instead, it spoke of the systemic failures that happened that day.
If Hicks’ testimony is that Lt. Col. Gibson was prevented from putting together a rescue operation, then someone had to have given that order. We know that because a special operator told Fox News’ Adam Housley that special operators were prepared to respond quickly.
It’s impossible to predict with any certainty whether other networks will start covering this scandal. What’s totally predictable, though, is that Hicks’ testimony will put a big hit on the Obama administration’s credibility on Benghazi. It will also hurt the ARB’s report, which cited “systemic failures” for the poor response for Benghazi.
This wasn’t a systemic failure. This was about Hillary Clinton failing to do her job. It’s about Leon Panetta failing in his responsibility to have troops prepared for the anniversary of 9/11. It’s about President Obama ignoring the needs of the diplomats in Benghazi.
In short, it was a human failure.
Bill Kristol’s article misses the point of Rand Paul’s filibuster. First, here’s part of what Kristol wrote about Paul’s filibuster:
On the other hand, Paul’s political genius strikes us as very much of the short-term variety. Will it ultimately serve him well to be the spokesman for the Code Pink faction of the Republican party? How much staying power is there in a political stance that requires waxing semihysterical about the imminent threat of Obama-ordered drone strikes against Americans sitting in cafés? And as for the other Republican senators who rushed to the floor to cheer Paul on, won’t they soon be entertaining second thoughts? Is patting Rand Paul on the back for his fearmongering a plausible path to the presidency for Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz? Is embracing kookiness a winning strategy for the Republican party? We doubt it.
This totally misreads what Rand Paul did. Sen. Paul’s filibuster was about defending the Constitution, nothing more, nothing less. Had Eric Holder said that presidents don’t have the constitutional authority to use a drone-fired missile on a US citizen on US soil, the filibuster never would’ve happened. If Mr. Kristol thinks that that qualifies Sen. Paul for the “Code Pink faction of the Republican Party”, he’d better quickly rethink that opinion.
The rest of Kristol’s paragraph is based on his misreading of Sen. Paul’s filibuster. Actually, it isn’t implausible to think that playing to the TEA Party “faction of the Republican Party” is a smart tactic for winning in 2016. That’s what Sen. Paul’s filibuster was about. Finally, there’s someone willing to stand up for the Constitution. Finally, there’s a Republican who’s willing to cut spending.
The past 2 weeks have been horrific weeks for President Obama. He tried intimidating the Republicans into another tax increase. He tried peddling the notion that reducing the size of the increase by $44,000,000,000 would cause poor children to starve, airplanes to drop from the sky and meat inspections to end until further notice.
And that’s before he cancelled White House tours that he said were the result of sequestration’s draconian cuts. Sen. Coburn and Sen. Lee have done a masterful job of highlighting the billions of dollars of wasteful spending in this year’s budget. While they were challenging President Obama on sequestration, Sen. Paul was challenging the Obama administration on the commander-in-chief’s authorities granted by the US Constitution.
As a result of these senators’ challenges, President Obama looks weaker than he did a month ago. His job approval ratine shows it, having dropped from 55% to 46%.
As for Sens. Cruz, Lee, Rubio, Toomey, Paul and Johnson, I’d argue that they’re part of the ‘picking smart fights faction of the GOP’. That’s the wing of the GOP that I’ll enthusiastically associate with.
Tags: Drone Strikes, President Obama, Eric Holder, Code Pink, Democrats, US Constitution, Rand Paul, Tom Coburn, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey, Sequester This, Not That, TEA Party, GOP, Election 2016