WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Some of Rand Paul's finest hours -- while filibustering

Whether or not you agree with Rand Paul's libertarianism (or fall somewhere in between), the Senator from Kentucky yesterday launched a principled filibuster, temporarily blocking the advance of John Brennan as C.I.A. director.

It had to do with the Administration's reluctance to categorically renounce the use of drones to attack U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. (I keep saying drones are a multi-layered issue that will continue to pop up as a flashpoint in our politics.)

Because of my work, I didn't have an opportunity to watch Rand Paul, but I understand from some observers (not necessarily libertarian conservatives themselves) that the Senator's oratory was weighty and frankly, brilliant. A masterful discourse on civil liberties.

Wow! An old-fashioned filibuster with substance. Gotta love it!

Here's one account - from FORBES on line - that also examines the status of libertarianism in the United States...


Texas blogger Kathleen McKinley - whose blogs appear on The HOUSTON CHRONICLE website - captures some of the magic...


From the Left, praise for Rand Paul. For example, Peter Beinart in The DAILY BEAST...


Posted at 7:54am on March 7, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 8:33am
The filibustering process has been abused too long in Congress. It is now used on almost every issue in which there is Republican dissent. The filibuster was never meant to be used this way. Much of it is grandstanding.

This is one area where I'd disagree with Rand Paul. If he feels there are concerns, he should simply allow an up-or-down vote to confirm the CIA director.

Allan Loudell
Thu, Mar 7, 2013 8:45am

Given your generally libertarian views - and opposition to further U.S. military interventionism - I find it interesting to read your "take" on this.

I would strongly differentiate between a filibuster of limited duration - with speeches of substance - and an endless filibuster where members of Congress are just reading ANYTHING to fill the time. Big difference!

(Although, admittedly, as the hours dragged on, some of Rand Paul's Senate colleagues got a little mischievous, and started quoting from literature to pop culture! And the filibuster - or blocking action - continues even today, although under the "new" form... Senators no longer have to drone on with speeches. Pun intended.)

Futhermore, this was as much about getting the Obama Administration to clarify its position on going after U.S. citizens on U.S. soil - and the use of drones to perhaps achieve that - as it was about Brennan per se.

Allan Loudell

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 9:10am
Uh-oh are the Tea Partiers getting some positive news?
2014 is going to be an interesting election cycle.

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 9:18am
I agree with Mr. Loudell...the main reason for this filibuster by Rand was for clarification on drone use on American soil on American citizens and to bring this issue to public discussion.

Eric Holder has waffled on this issue and given many answers to the question of drone use...and my understanding is that Brennan was the creator of the whole drone program. So, yes this is an important issue that needs to have light shown on it and clarification made known as to how United States citizens should be treated in a country with our Constitutional protections and rights.

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 12:49pm
I remember hearing of a conversation early on in the Obama Administration, I forget the source, but in it President Obama was expressing concern that his duties as protector of the people in these days of terrorism involving nuclear weapons were conflicting with his duties to uphold and protect the Constitution at all costs. As he became privy to the classified actions of former presidents, he found that often in highly desperate and classified situations, (use the old Fox series of 24 as a guide to where I'm going with this) protecting the rights of due process of one citizen could put entire cities of citizens in danger.

The common-sense thing would be to kill the citizen. But that is both un-American and un-Constitutional. The common-sense way out of this mess, then, is to classify blowing up a city as an Act of War and therefore use rules of war to justify the taking-out that citizen.

I think we are all good with that. However our laws haven't caught up to the reality of fighting war on our own turf. Lincoln recognized that war at home meant the curtailing of domestic Liberties. WWII recognized that indeed even here at home "loose lips could sink ships" and worked hard to psychologically keep domestic America constantly on wartime footing....

That is all Obama is doing. Drones exist. When can they, and when can't they, be used? That is what is being stated here. He is stating that as Commander-in-Chief, if and when it may becomes necessary to take-out an American citizen engaged in an undeclared act of war against the United States and its citizens, he will pull the trigger to save American lives. Whereas before that was shady, that is now the law of the land.....

Will there be errors? Do police still shoot-up wrong SUV's with guns and bullets? Yes, there will be some mistakes....

But consider this hypothetical alternative. "Known terror suspect, Iowanta Felsomteets, walks out of house with known detonator in briefcase, gets in car. Drone follows. Technology in drone certifies radiation-leakage being emitted from vehicle, confirming radioactive material of considerable strength. Near the approach to New York's Holland Tunnel, the subject pulls off the road, gets out of his car, pulls the tarp off a metal contraption in his trunk, opens the detonator briefcase and begins attaching it to the metal structure.... You are in command. What do you do, seeing this unfold in high definition right in front of you... The drone is armed....

You have two choices. One you say, "Take him out". Two, you say, "Can we get some police there to read him his rights?"

Our law needs to catch up to the reality we live in..... And hats need to go off to President Obama, who as a Constitutional lawyer, recognized as the icon of law that this nation is, it needs to have those situations where we are at war against possibly our own citizens, on our own turf, coded into our legal cannon, so all law enforcement can feel sufficiently safe, they will not be imprisoned for personally taking on the actions needed to save America....

What the other side - the Libertarians - need to recognize, is that this cat is long out of the bag, and that a check-and-balance must now be formulated to keep this technology from being misused, and constantly remaining under citizens' control....

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 1:16pm

Yes, I agree with Rand Paul that use of the drones is questionable and has led to the deaths of innocent people.

What I disagree with is the general use of filibustering to block issues from coming up for a vote. Filibustering is used too much, and almost every vote in the Senate now requires a two-thirds majority instead of a simple majority. I don't believe Mr. Paul was right in this case. He could simply let this come to the floor for a vote, and speak his mind prior to the vote.

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 2:15pm
Those of us who have studied past Congresses would disagree with Teatime's assessment of the filibuster. There are times when in arguments that stalling is important. For example, our Revolution may have gone a completely different way, if the vote for the declaration of independence had not been unanimous.... That was done because the first Congress was stalled long enough that Caesar Rodney could ride up, and vote for independence and force George Reed to change his "no" vote to "yes", making the statement unanimous.

There are times when legislation is "sprung" on the other side, in order to get passage when the party proposing that legislation knows full well, a particular opponent who could defeat that piece, is out of town. Virginia Republicans passed a gerrymandering bill cutting out a Democratic seat, on Inauguration Day, while Democrats were out, for that very reason.

The talking filibuster in this case would give 13 hours for that legislator to return, and give his take on that bill. Just knowing that a bill can be stalled until it can be defeated, puts a damper on the idea of trying to "sneak" a damaging bill through Congress....After all, what's the point when it will be defeated anyway. Filibusters can also be used to buy time for fact finding, which might make the argument in the bill, moot and an obvious mistake..... I think that was the reason for the famous "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" talking filibuster.

The talking filibuster means one has to actually talk. Prior to that ruling, and all parties here have voiced that too many filibusters have taken place since the Democrats have won the Senate. Prior to this Congress's ruling, all a Republican had to do was lift a little finger at the clerk, and if there were not 60 members voting to override, the legislation was stopped dead in its tracks....

The bottom line is that with a filibuster, Congress is frozen. Even if a majority of 59 Senators support, and are in favor of a piece of legislation or a much needed appointment to the bench, one bought-out corrupt Senator, can hold up the entire legislation from ever happening....

And that is exactly what happened the past two Congresses. On every issue brought forward by Democrats, Republicans filibustered. Being a minority, they would have lost the vote, but the legislation proposed never goes forward, because their minority is enough to prevent the required 60 vote override...

It is better, we think, having seen the filibuster so misused, to move forward with a majority vote, and have progress whether good or bad, go forward... If the progress is wrong, voters can make amends in the next election. As it is, we don't have progress, we don't have voting recoreds, and voters don't have no ideas of what to use on which to base their votes, and therefore are beholden to the media to determine which candidate is the most "outrageous" throughout the political campaign.....

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 8:07pm
I'm always encouraged when I see a Republican with guts. Hard to come by these days. Long live Ronald Reagan!

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 1:19am
Lol... you must be VERY happy with Christie then.... a republican with guts...

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 7:00am
Kavips: I guess Christie is better than nothing. In these lean times, you have to take what you can get.

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 7:52am
Christie has something that is rare for a Republican. He appears to be more interested in his people, than in promoting Republicanism as "a brand"....

Republicans need more like him.

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 11:44am
Yes, we need more RINOs to "help" the Republicans...when given the choice between a RINO (moderate) like Castle, Christie, Romney or a Democrat opponent...the RINO almost always loses.

I can see why kavips likes "Republicans" like Chris Christie, and wants more like him.

If the Republicans want to survive politically they need to find and support more people like Rand Paul and Cruz...instead of supporting moderates like McCain, Romney, or Jeb Bush.

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 12:54am
If Chris Christie doesn't shed some of that pork pretty soon he may not live to run for president.

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 1:19pm
Earl Grey is arguing that the Republicans take the Malcolm X direction of the old Democratic Party. We wisely said... no thank you, though some of its supporters fought pretty hard for it..

The extremism of Cruz is an exact fit; maybe by 2060 a movie will be made for the minority of white people which will win an Academy Award with a movie about every Conservatives run for a broken cause....

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 11:24pm
Thank God I won't be around in 2060 to see it.

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 11:33pm
Teatime: I would submit to you that the drones in Washington, particularly the "president" and his henchmen on the left, are killing a lot more innocent people than those little rocket things are doing.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 9:51am
Me thinks kavips is confused, it is the new Democratic Party (Socialist Democrats) that have embraced the Malcom X direction for the party and taken the party extreme left.

There are no more John F.Kennedys left in your party...JFK would recognize neither the current Democratic party nor the country he once led.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 10:28am
Looks like the Rand Paul R3volution has begun!

Those who supported Rand Paul and his opposition to drones targeting American citizens in America are about to be attacked from both sides...the "old guard" Republicans and all Democrats who fear losing both power and privilege.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 8:04pm
That's right, EarlGrey. Time to flush 'em out!

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