The left, naturally, will ignore any facts that contradict their narrative
Rand Paul, the libertarian-minded freshman senator who was once viewed as a formidable presidential contender, is suspending his White House bid.
Paul discussed the matter with staff Wednesday morning and sent out a statement confirming the decision to drop out of the Republican presidential primary.
“It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House,” Paul said in the statement. “Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.”
Paul, a Kentucky Republican, is expected to instead place his focus squarely on his Senate reelection bid, where he faces a wealthy Democrat, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who has the money to partially finance his campaign.
Paul finished a disappointing fifth place in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, registering just 4.5% of the vote despite placing a heavy emphasis on the state’s college towns to bring out younger voters inspired by his libertarian-minded message. He promised that night to continue his campaign.
Paul will not make an endorsement in the GOP presidential race before next week’s New Hampshire primary, his spokesman Sergio Gor told CNN.
But sources close to Paul said a morning-after review made clear to Paul that there was not a viable path to winning the Republican nomination and that fund-raising was becoming extremely difficult.
Indeed, as the New Hampshire primary approaches, where his father Ron Paul won 23% of the vote in 2012, polls have found the younger Paul struggling to gain traction.
Paul’s calls for a less aggressive foreign policy, which his critics have dubbed as “isolationist,” failed to connect with GOP voters at a time of growing national security fears. Moreover, Paul had a hard time reestablishing his father’s libertarian coalition because he had sought to broaden his appeal to more establishment-minded Republicans, hurting his credibility with some in his core base of supporters.
Dropping out this early is a disappointment for Paul. He had engineered a major change in Kentucky’s primary system to allow him to run for two offices at the same time, a move aimed at circumventing a prohibition in state law prohibiting candidates from doing so. The state party agreed to change its traditional paper ballot primary to a caucus system in early March, in order to let him avoid the restriction that he couldn’t appear on the ballot twice.
Still, as he now focuses on his Senate race, he remains the heavy favorite in a state that has grown increasingly red.
“The Democrat Party in Kentucky has been very wounded by President Obama,” Paul told CNN Sunday when asked if he were concerned about Gray’s candidacy.
Paul’s campaign account tweeted a reminiscent video Wednesday morning, thanking his supporters and featuring highlights from the senator’s presidential bid.
Participants: Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina
NOTE: Kiddie table debate begins at 7pm and includes the following candidates: Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: Tied For 4th (6.6%)
DEBATE GRADE: A
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 4th
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 6th (6.2%)
DEBATE GRADE: A-
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 5th
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: Tied For 4th (6.6%)
DEBATE GRADE: B+
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 6th
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 7th (5.2%)
DEBATE GRADE: B
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 7th
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 3rd (10.6%)
DEBATE GRADE: C+
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 3rd
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 10th (2.8%)
DEBATE GRADE: C
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 10th
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 2nd (12.8%)
DEBATE GRADE: C-
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 2nd
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 9th (3.4%)
DEBATE GRADE: C-
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 9th
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 8th (4.8%)
DEBATE GRADE: D+
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 8th
PRE-DEBATE POSITION: 1st (23.2%)
DEBATE GRADE: D
PROJECTED POST-DEBATE POSITION: 1st
TED CRUZNICKNAME: CRUZ CONTROL
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Authored 70 U.S. Supreme Court briefs
Argued nine cases (five successfully) before the U.S. Supreme Court
Former partner at the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm
Former Solicitor General of Texas
Former Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Policy Planning
Former associate deputy U.S. Attorney General
Former domestic policy advisor for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign
Former Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law, specializing in U.S. Supreme Court litigation
Former associate at the Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal law firm
Former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist
Former law clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig
JD – Harvard Law School (magna cum laude)
BA – Princeton University (cum laude)
1988 Class Valedictorian – Second Baptist High School of Houston, TX
SCOTT WALKERNICKNAME: WALKER, TAXES RANGER
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Governor of Wisconsin
Former Milwaukee County Executive
Former member of the American Legislative Exchange Council
Former Wisconsin State Assemblyman
Former financial specialist at the American Red Cross
Marquette University attendee
Former representative of the American Legion’s Boys Nation leadership and government training program
Former Eagle Scout
BEN CARSONNICKNAME: DR. FEELGOOD
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Member of the American Academy of Achievement
Member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
Member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
Former Professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Former Director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center
Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor
Recipient of Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged
Recipient of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership
Recipient of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal, for exemplifying the qualities embodied by President Abraham Lincoln – including courage, integrity, tolerance, equality, and creative expression – through superior achievements
Elected into the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine
Ranked by Gallup as the sixth most admired man in the world
Designated a Library of Congress Living Legend
Awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees
MD – University of Michigan Medical School
BA – Yale University
MARCO RUBIONICKNAME: MR. AMNESTY MAN
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Former private law practitioner in Miami, FL
Former visiting professor at Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center
Former Florida State Chairman of GOPAC
Former Speaker of the Florida State House of Representatives
Former Majority Leader of the Florida State House of Representatives
Former Majority Whip of the Florida State House of Representatives
Former Florida State Representative
Former City Commissioner for West Miami, FL
Former intern of U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
JD – University of Miami, FL (cum laude)
BS – University of Florida
RAND PAULNICKNAME: MINI-ME
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Former campaign manager for U.S. Representative Ron Paul
Founder of the North Carolina Taxpayers Union
Founder and Chairman of Kentucky Taxpayers United
Founder of the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic
Former private medical practitioner in Bowling Green, KY
Former Resident at Duke University Medical Center
MD – Duke University Medical Center
Fomer member of the Young Conservatives of Texas
Baylor University honors program enrollee
MIKE HUCKABEENICKNAME: THE HUCKSTER
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Former host of Fox News channel’s Huckabee television program
Former Governor of Arkansas
Former Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
Former television producer and documentarian
Former host of the Positive Alternatives television program
Former pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, AR
Former pastor at Beech Street Baptist Church in Texarkana, AR
Former staffer for televangelist James Robison
BA – Ouachita Baptist University (magna cum laude)
Former news radio broadcaster
DONALD TRUMPNICKNAME: THE DONALD
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Former producer and host of ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ television program
Former producer and host of ‘The Apprentice’ television program
Founder, Chairman, President, and CEO of the Trump Organization
Chairman of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, Inc.
Owner of various product and service brands including: Trump Financial, Trump Sales and Leasing, Trump Restaurants, Trump Catering, Trump Ice Cream Parlor, GoTrump, Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, Donald Trump – The Fragrance, Trump Magazine, Trump Golf, Trump Chocolate, Trump Home, Trump Productions, Trump Institute, Trump – The Game, Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon, Trump Books, Trump Model Management, Trump Shuttle, Trump Ice, Trump Mortgage, Trump Vodka, and Trump Steaks
Owner of the Miss USA beauty pageant
Owner of the Miss Universe beauty pageant
Developer and owner of Trump International Golf Links in various locations, including: Doonbeg Ireland, Aberdeen Scotland, West Palm Beach FL, Rancho Palos Verdes CA, Bedminster NJ, Washington DC, Westchester NY, Philadelphia PA, Charlotte NC, and Colts Neck NJ
Developer and owner of Trump International Hotel and Tower complexes in various locations, including: Honolulu HI, Toronto Canada, Las Vegas NV, New York NY, and Chicago IL
Former owner of the New Jersey Generals USFL football team
Developer and owner of Trump Tower in New York, NY
BS – Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania
Fordham University attendee
Former cadet Captain at the New York Military Academy
CHRIS CHRISTIENICKNAME: GOVERNOR FAT BASTARD
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Governor of New Jersey
Former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey
Former member of the Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys for Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales
Former counsel for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign
Former lobbyist for GPU Energy, Hackensack University Medical Center, the University of Phoenix, and the Securities Industry Association
Former member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders for Morris County, NJ
Former member of the Election Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association
Former partner at the Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci law firm
JD – Seton Hall University
BA – University of Delaware
JEB BUSHNICKNAME: TWIG
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Former Governor of Florida
Former Executive Director of the 1992 Florida Bush-Quayle campaign
Former Chairman of the 1990 Bob Martinez Gubernatorial campaign
Former Florida State Secretary of Commerce
Former Chairman of the Republican Party of Dade County
Former member of the Dade County Homeless Trust
Former Chairman of the South Florida United Negro College Fund’s finance committee
Former co-Chairman of Floridians for Educational Choice
Former co-Founder and board member of the Liberty City Charter School
Former member of the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation
Former board member of the United Way of Dade County
Former member of the Zoology Society of South Florida
Former Founder and Chairman of the Foundation for Florida’s Future
Former Chairman of the Beacon Council
Former President and CEO of the Codina Group
Former Vice President of the Texas Commerce Bank, Venezuela
BA – University of Texas
JOHN KASICHNICKNAME: MR. PERSONALITY
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Governor of Ohio
Former Chairman of Recharge Ohio PAC
Former host of Fox News channel’s Heartland with John Kasich television program
Former Managing Director of Lehman Brothers’ investment banking division
Former associate at Schottenstein Stores Corporation
Former board member of Invacare Corporation
Former board member of Norvax Corporation
Chief architect of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act
Former U.S. Representative
Former Ohio State Senator
Former aide to Ohio State Senator Donald Lukens
Former researcher for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission
BA – Ohio State University
THE FOLLOWING CANDIDATES WILL BE ATTENDING THE 5PM FOX LEFTOVERS DEBATE
RICK PERRYNICKNAME: TEX-SPECS
BOBBY JINDALNICKNAME: BIBBIDI-BOBBIDI-BOO
RICK SANTORUMNICKNAME: SWEATER VEST
CARLY FIORINANICKNAME: THAT CHICK FROM THAT THING
LINDSEY GRAHAMNICKNAME: LINDSEY GRAHAMNESTY
GEORGE PATAKINICKNAME: THE PRETENDER
JIM GILMORENICKNAME: WHO?
Former Rep. Ron Paul, the father of presidential candidate Rand Paul and past two-time candidate for the Republican nomination himself, writes in his new book that he believes “Zionism has played a role in our post-9/11 march toward empire.”
Paul’s book, Swords into Plowshares: A Life in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity, was released last Friday.
“Zionism has played a role in our post-9/11 march toward empire, and its influence has encouraged extreme interference in the Middle East,” Paul writes in a chapter entitled “Making America Safe for Empire,” under the sub-chapter, “Tyranny takes hold.”
Paul was writing about “theocracy has always been abused,” in the paragraph preceding his comments on Zionism.
Yesterday, I posed the conundrum of Rand Paul as an investment for major donors. From my perspective, the ratio of risk to reward tilts too heavily toward the former, and is a major cause of Paul’s fundraising troubles. I floated the idea that, contrary to some commentary from the pro-Paul camp, these troubles aren’t necessarily due to policy differences, but are a direct result of just how different Paul is from other candidates on a personal level.
One of my commenters decided to keep it 150% more real when he said, Let me make this simple – he’s a jerk.
I gave that a well-reasoned high five, because I don’t feel like we give simple, decisive judgment calls like the one my friend in the comments made enough credit. It’s easy to get carried away with a hyperanalysis of why a candidate succeeds, or fails, or loses relevancy in the middle of the pool – why not just say it? It’s not us – it’s you.
Yesterday, Paul proved just how true that platitude rings when he accused his colleagues and peers on the Hill of “secretly wanting there to be an attack on the United States” out of spite over policy differences.
The Daily Caller had it first. Watch:
People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.
One of the people in the media the other day came up to me and said, “oh, when there’s a great attack aren’t you going to feel guilty that you caused this great attack?”
It’s like, the people who attack us are responsible for attacks on us. Do we blame the police chief for the attack of the Boston bombers? The thing is that there can be attacks even if we use the Constitution, but there have been attacks while collecting your bulk data. So the ones who say when an attack occurs it’s going to be all your fault, are any of them willing to accept the blame? We have bulk collection now, are any of them willing to accept the blame for the Boston bombing, for the recent shooting in Garland? No, but they’ll be the first to point fingers and say, “oh, yeah it’s all your fault, we never should have given up on this great program.”
I’m completely convinced that we can obey the Constitution, use the Fourth Amendment as intended, spirit and letter of the law, and catch terrorists.
I’ve heard a lot of garbage come out of the mouths of politicians, but nothing – literally nothing – pisses me off more than an “I bet you hope everyone DIES” tantrum.
It’s lazy. It’s cheap. It detracts from your point – which I can’t imagine he would want unless achieving a Constitutionally-friendly method of conducting surveillance wasn’t really the point of this whole thing.
Paul – and others who have gone down this road before him – knows that he’s turning the crank on a rhetorical strife machine:
Still, by standing apart from the rest of the Senate – even from his allies – Paul became a punching bag for supporters of surveillance. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that Paul and his fans were basically misled and misguided.
“Edward Snowden has done a huge disservice to citizens of our nation,” he said. “Those who furthered the myth of how this program is being utilized, the folks saying phone calls are being listened to – it’s sad.”
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, scarcely concealed his irritation when asked if there’d been conversations about Paul’s suggested changes to surveillance policy.
“The time to negotiate was a week ago last Thursday, when he turned down every rational offer that was made to him,” said Burr. “I can tell you this: There won’t be any negotiations with Rand Paul from this point forward.”
Paul acknowledged the anger from his colleagues. Before the vote on the USA Freedom Act, he chatted with Massie and Amash and generally ignored fellow senators. He did not attend a pre-vote caucus with Republicans.
“You may have noticed, there was a little bit of tension on the floor,” he told reporters later. “I didn’t think it was going to be that collegial.”
Turn the crank, distribute lather, and market the hell out of it. Going into this, Paul knew that he could make a speech, lose on the vote, and still declare victory because his goal was never to move an alternative policy through the chamber.
He got exactly what he wanted in the short-term. Did he get a return on investment, though? Take a look at his fundraising numbers and you’ll get your answer.
On Tuesday night, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly conducted an incisive interview with Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) about his opposition to the National Security Agency’s metadata-collection program under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (the business-records provision). The abbreviated version of the interview as aired is on the Kelly File website, here; the full interview (which runs about 13 minutes and also features Kelly Paul, the senator’s wife) has been posted on Fox News’s blog, here.
I have been making the argument that, while there is a serious question about whether the metadata program violates the statutory limitations spelled out in Section 215, Senator Paul’s claim that it flouts the Constitution is frivolous. It was on this point that Ms. Kelly pressed him Tuesday night. I will address two of the senator’s constitutional claims: the “general warrant” objection and the notion that the Fourth Amendment protects private confidentiality arrangements. I will then add some closing thoughts on other misleading and misguided elements of Paul’s argument.
The senator contends that a court order directing a telecommunications company to turn over the records of usage by its customers is a “general warrant,” an evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. He evidently does not understand the concept he is invoking.
A general warrant is a government grant of authority to search and seize unspecified persons or places without limitation. To prohibit it, the Fourth Amendment requires that a search warrant describe with particularity “the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
There are two fatal flaws in Paul’s general-warrant claim.
One: The Fourth Amendment requires the government to obtain a judicial search warrant only if it wishes to search or seize categories of very personal property that are spelled out explicitly in the amendment – namely, one’s “person, house, papers and effects.” Business records that are the property of a third party (namely, a telecom) do not constitute the customer’s person, house, papers, or effects. You do not have a constitutional privacy interest in property that belongs to a third party. (You may have a statutory privacy interest . . . but I’ll come to that in due course.)
Consequently, to obtain a customer’s phone records, the government is not required to secure a search warrant. Indeed, in ordinary law enforcement, the government commonly compels the production of copious quantities of business records (very much including telephone records) by mere subpoena.
Note that this means the PATRIOT Act, which requires the government to go to court first and highly regulates what the government may do with the phone records it collects, provides more privacy protection than Americans get in everyday law enforcement. Prosecutors, for example, do not need court permission to issue subpoenas, and they may make unlimited use of phone records they gather, including scrutinizing the information that identifies the customers. By contrast, as Rich Lowry observed in his column a couple of days ago, the metadata program under the PATRIOT Act does not collect personal identifying information.
Two: Senator Paul confuses a demand for a large amount of information with a lack of specificity. The fact that Section 215 orders require the telecoms to produce lots of data does not mean the orders do not particularize what data is sought.
Again, because we are not dealing with matters that trigger Fourth Amendment protection (one’s person, house, papers, and effects) there is no requirement for a Section 215 order to comply with the Fourth Amendment’s specificity mandate. Yet it is quite specific nevertheless. The order does not tell the telecom, “Provide all your records, of any kind”; it directs the telecom to provide for all subscriber numbers (but not names, addresses, or other identifying information) records showing what numbers (not names) were called, plus the date, time, and duration of the calls. Yes, it is a lot of information, but the orders are particular about what may and may not be collected. Clearly, they are not “general warrants.”
Note that under Paul’s analysis, a prosecutor or FBI agent would not be able to subpoena, say, the ledgers kept by drug traffickers. After all, those ledgers might contain records pertaining to hundreds or thousands of drug transactions involving dealers and customers whose names are not specified in the subpoena and whose private activities the government would be able to pry into. Of course, this would be untenable: We all know that we do not have a property right in another person’s belongings, and if his papers and effects happen to detail activity in which we’ve been involved, we do not have a constitutional right to shield that information from government agents conducting legitimate investigations.
Private Confidentiality Arrangements
Senator Paul acknowledges that the Supreme Court, in Smith v. Maryland (1979), held that the Fourth Amendment is not implicated by a service provider’s records of the customer’s telephone usage. (Again, we’re talking here about subscriber numbers, numbers called, date, time, and duration – not the content of conversations.) From a constitutional standpoint, that should be the end of the matter. Yet Paul makes some futile efforts to distinguish Smith.
He claims, for example, that Smith is an old case (not from “modern times”), and that it involved the records of a single person who was suspected of crimes, not – as in the metadata program – the records of millions of people who are not criminal suspects. These assertions are at once irrelevant and odd.
First, the Smith Court’s rationale was that third-party business records do not trigger Fourth Amendment privacy protections. The question was not whether the customer at issue was a criminal; it was whether he had a cognizable privacy interest – his status as a suspect was beside the point. Second, what is Paul relying on to show that the 36-year-old Smith ruling is obsolete? Why, it’s the 226-year-old Fourth Amendment. Even if Smith really were ancient history (and it’s not), the justices were relying on an understanding of technology and privacy that was over two centuries more modern than that of the Framers.
Another claim that Paul posits warrants a bit more discussion because it has some surface appeal. The senator observes that a service provider has a contractual duty of confidentiality to the customer: It could be sued if, for example, it sold or gave away the customer’s calling data to another private party without permission. From this premise, Paul reasons that (a) this confidentiality duty is breached when the telecom gives this same information to the government pursuant to a court order, and (b) this purported breach somehow rises to the level of a constitutional violation.
The suggestion has populist appeal: The senator is tapping into the outrage we’d all feel if a phone company gave out information regarding our personal calling habits to just anyone. But legally, his contention, as applied to lawful investigative demands by the government, is specious.
There are some private confidential relationships our law protects by shielding communications from even judicial proceedings – e.g., privileges against disclosure for married couples, and for persons in a priest-penitent, doctor-patient, or attorney-client relationship. Other than these longstanding exceptions, however, the rule is that private confidentiality arrangements must yield to lawful investigative demands.
If you and I agree to share a secret, but you get subpoenaed to a grand jury, neither of us has an enforceable legal privilege that would allow you to refuse to disclose the secret. Even journalists, whose critical function in a democracy is recognized by the First Amendment’s nod to freedom of the press, are nevertheless required to disclose communications with their confidential sources if compelled by grand jury or trial subpoena. (That is why, to take a prominent example, reporter Judy Miller spent many weeks in jail upon refusing to honor a subpoena seeking information about her conversations with a source, then-government official Scooter Libby. The press has lobbied for a “shield law” precisely because the Constitution does not immunize reporters from investigative demands for information.)
Telecoms do and should have contractual and even statutory obligations to keep customer information confidential – not to mention having a competitive business interest in doing so. But those obligations have always been trumped by lawful investigative demands for information.
When, as we’ve seen, the information at issue is not itself protected by the Fourth Amendment, it is silly to argue, as Paul does, that a confidentiality agreement between the service provider and the company changes the Fourth Amendment analysis. The Supreme Court’s “expectation of privacy” jurisprudence involves one’s expectation of privacy from government intrusion. No one has a reasonable expectation of privacy that the government will not seek a corporation’s business records in an investigation. A confidentiality arrangement gives the customer an expectation that the corporation will refrain from irresponsible disclosures to private parties, but not from disclosures based on lawful demands made by government agencies pursuant to court process or federal statutes.
Finally: Honesty, Capability, and Regularity
Three last points.
One: Senator Paul repeatedly and disingenuously blends together his claim that the metadata program violates the Constitution with the fact that the federal appeals court for the Second Circuit recently ruled that the program is “illegal.” Transparently, he is implying that the court concurred in his legal analysis – an effort to give his Fourth Amendment claims the patina of judicial heft. But as the senator well knows, the Second Circuit did not hold that the metadata program violates the Constitution; it concluded that the program transgressed the limitations of a statute – Section 215.
That is a debatable conclusion. The Second Circuit makes a strong case, but the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (which Congress created to specialize in intelligence issues) clearly disagrees, having issued Section 215 metadata orders over two dozen times. The statutory issue is a complicated one (I’ve addressed it here), but it is statutory. Senator Paul should stop suggesting that the courts have found merit in his constitutional claims.
Two: Senator Paul and like-minded critics of government counterterrorism authorities misleadingly conflate government capabilities with government action. Paul, for example, told Megyn Kelly that an academic study of metadata showed that, by scrutinizing it, researchers could figure out personal information like what religion a person belonged to and what medicines the person took. As Ms. Kelly pointed out, the government’s program does not permit metadata to be scrutinized that way; access to the information and the manner in which it may be searched are tightly controlled by statute and court-ordered minimization rules.
Now, to be sure, the government has the capability to abuse the metadata program just as it can abuse any other government program or power. Senator Paul’s argument is akin to saying that because the enormous power of our armed forces could enable a rogue executive branch to take over American cities and impose martial law, we should disband the armed forces.
As I have frequently argued (and made a theme of Faithless Execution), it is a mistake to repeal government powers just because they can conceivably be abused. The powers exist because they may be needed to protect the country in a crisis. The objective should be to get rid of government officials who abuse their power, not to get rid of the power. Rogues will be rogues no matter what the rules are. When we repeal or hyper-regulate national-security authorities, we are simply making it harder for the law-abiding officials to do the job of protecting us; the rogues are largely unaffected.
In any event, when critics like Senator Paul inveigh against counterterrorism measures, it is a good idea to ask: “Is he talking about what they could do if they were of a mind to be abusive, or is he talking about what they are doing?” It is easy to spin imaginary worst-case scenarios, but we should be focused on what actually happens in the real world, especially in a program that features court supervision and congressional oversight.
Three: Finally, Senator Paul is entirely right that we need legal privacy protections that evolve with modern technology and societal views of what should be private. As a self-proclaimed constitutionalist, however, he should understand how the Framers thought this evolution should occur. In the Fourth Amendment, they gave us a core of protection from government intrusion on specific, intimate privacy interests – our physical persons, our homes, and our private papers and effects. But that core of protection is only the bare minimum of what we now call our “privacy” rights; it was never meant to be the totality of those rights.
We were always meant to have additional privacy protections beyond the Fourth Amendment. But those protections are supposed to be enacted by Congress, which can weigh competing concerns and strike the right balance between liberty and security. They are not supposed to be judicially manufactured by pretending that the Fourth Amendment is “organic” and that it says things it plainly does not say.
Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act attempts to strike the right balance. Even though the Supreme Court has said phone data are not protected by the Fourth Amendment, and therefore that investigators could scrub it for all kinds of personal information without violating the Constitution, Section 215 sharply limits the government. Investigators may only collect metadata, not scrutinize it, and they are prohibited from collecting personal identifying information. If they want to scrutinize the data, they must have just cause (e.g., known terrorist phone numbers calling various other numbers) and they must follow strict court-imposed rules for conducting their search – rules that are designed to minimize the chance that innocent people’s records will be analyzed. And they must destroy data periodically to minimize the amount of time the records of innocent people are retained.
Now, it is entirely possible that people will conclude these protections are insufficient to justify the collection of data on tens of millions of Americans, only a statistically negligible number of whom will have any connection to terrorism. As I’ve contended before, proponents have not done a good job of convincing people that the program materially advances our security. I happen to believe the program is important and that its privacy intrusions are trivial (and mostly theoretical). But if my side cannot persuade the public, then the program will be repealed or reformed in a way that ratchets up privacy protections. That is the way a problem left to the wisdom of legislators in a free society is supposed to be resolved.
As any real constitutionalist should recognize, that is the way the Framers designed it.
The rumors began trickling in about a week before the scheduled vote on April 23: Republican leadership was quietly pushing senators to pull support for subpoenaing Congress’s fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange – the document that facilitated Congress’s “exemption” from Obamacare by allowing lawmakers and staffers to keep their employer subsidies.
The application said Congress employed just 45 people. Names were faked; one employee was listed as “First Last,” another simply as “Congress.” To Small Business Committee chairman David Vitter, who has fought for years against the Obamacare exemption, it was clear that someone in Congress had falsified the document in order to make lawmakers and their staff eligible for taxpayer subsidies provided under the exchange for small-business employees.
But until Vitter got a green light from the Small Business Committee to subpoena the unredacted application from the District of Columbia health exchange, it would be impossible to determine who in Congress gave it a stamp of approval. When Vitter asked Republicans on his committee to approve the subpoena, however, he was unexpectedly stonewalled.
With nine Democrats on the committee lined up against the proposal, the chairman needed the support of all ten Republicans to issue the subpoena. But, though it seems an issue tailor-made for the tea-party star and Republican presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) refused to lend his support. And when the Louisiana senator set a public vote for April 23, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies got involved.
“For whatever reason, leadership decided they wanted that vote to be 5-5, all Republicans, to give Senator Paul cover,” one high-ranking committee staffer tells National Review. “So they worked at a member level to change the votes of otherwise supportive senators.” Four Republicans – senators Mike Enzi, James Risch, Kelly Ayotte, and Deb Fischer – had promised to support Vitter, but that would soon change.
Senate staffers, according to a top committee aide, reported seeing Missouri senator Roy Blunt make calls to at least two Republican committee members, lobbying them, at McConnell’s behest, to vote no on subpoenaing the exchange. By the time the committee was called to quorum, Enzi, Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer voted no.
To many observers, it was curious that any Republican would move to put the brakes on an investigation into Obamacare fraud, and particularly curious that they would pull back in an instance where the federal government was actually defrauding itself, one that so clearly illustrates Obamacare’s flaws by exposing the bureaucratic jujitsu and outright dishonesty required of federal employees themselves to navigate the law.
Conservative health-care experts can’t understand the reasoning behind the GOP senators’ opposition. They see politics and self-interest at play, and they allege that Republican leaders are as invested as their Democratic counterparts in maintaining their subsidies, fraudulently obtained, while avoiding scrutiny from an overwhelmingly disapproving American public.
“We deserve to know who signed that application, because they are robbing taxpayers,” says Michael Cannon, director of health-policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. The staffers who signed the fraudulent application, he says, “know who was directing them to do this. And so we have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. This is the next breadcrumb, and whoever is farther up the trail wants to stop Vitter right here.”
The story of the ill-fated subpoena can be traced back to the debate over the Affordable Care Act, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) insisted that lawmakers and congressional staff join a health-care exchange set up under the bill. For government employees, that meant giving up government-subsidized health-care contributions of between $5,000 and $10,000 per person. The White House scrambled to find a way to allow congressional employees to keep those subsidies. In Washington, D.C., only the small-business exchange allowed them to do so. After secret meetings with House speaker John Boehner in 2013, President Obama instructed the Office of Personnel Management to allow Congress to file for classification as a small business, despite the fact that the law defines a small business as having no more than 50 employees and the House and Senate together employ tens of thousands.
When Vitter’s staffers tracked down the application and discovered obvious signs of fraud, Vitter requested approval to subpoena an unredacted copy of the application. The value of that document, says Cannon, is that it would reveal the name of the person who filed it. “Now you’ve got someone to call to testify,” he says, predicting that testimony would precipitate a congressional vote on whether to end the congressional exemption altogether.
“I think it makes sense to find out what happened,” says Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, a noted conservative health-care voice and a National Review contributor. “It would be pretty interesting to see whose name is on the forms,” he says. “It has to go beyond mid-level staffers.”
But some congressional Republicans, it seems, are also resistant to getting to the bottom of the mystery – or, at the very least, they are content to let sleeping dogs lie.
Committee rules for a subpoena require either the consent of the ranking member or a majority of the group’s 19 senators. Because Democrats quickly made their opposition clear, Vitter needed the approval of all ten Republicans. Nine of them quickly consented via e-mail; one senator was strangely unresponsive.
Senior committee aides say that Rand Paul’s staff didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail requesting the senator’s consent and, when they did, they refused to provide it. When Vitter attempted to set up a member-to-member meeting, his overtures were ignored or put off. Paul’s policy staff refused to take a meeting. When Vitter tried to confront Paul on the Senate floor, they say, the Kentucky senator skirted the issue.
It wasn’t until after the vote that Paul shared his reasoning. “Senator Paul opposes allowing Congress to exempt themselves from any legislation,” an aide told the Conservative Review. “To that end, yesterday, he reintroduced his proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit Congress from passing any law that exempts themselves. Senator Paul prefers this option over a partisan cross-examination of Congressional staff.”
But a constitutional amendment is a longshot that would take years, and it hardly precluded an investigation of congressional corruption here and now.
“That’s absurd,” says Robert Moffit, the director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “You don’t need a constitutional amendment to get a subpoena… I don’t know where he’s coming from.”
“The answers he has given do not make sense,” Cannon says of Paul. “And when someone with his principles does something that is so obviously against his principles, and does not give an adequate explanation, you begin to think that politics is afoot. It would have to be someone very powerful that made him a powerful pitch – or threat – to keep him from doing this.”
Paul’s press secretary tells National Review that the senator “examines every opportunity to [oppose Obamacare] individually, and does not base his vote on requests made by other senators, including the majority leader.”
Asked whether McConnell pushed Paul or any other senator on the subpoena, a spokesman for McConnell says the majority leader “didn’t make any announcements when that committee voted.”
The flip-flopping Republicans justified their change of heart. Risch said in the April 23 committee meeting that legal wrangling with the D.C. exchange could take time away from the committee’s small-business work. Enzi said he saw little wrong with the application as is.
“Each of us has our own budget, each of us has our own staff,” he said. “I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m way under 50 [employees]. So my staff qualifies as a small business.”
Enzi was one of the original sponsors of Vitter’s 2013 amendment to end the congressional Obamacare exemption, but his press secretary tells National Review he felt the probe “could inadvertently target staff who simply completed paperwork as part of their job.” He insists that Enzi “made up his own mind.” Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer declined to comment.
A spokesman for South Carolina senator Tim Scott, who voted for the subpoena, says that nobody lobbied him one way or the other, while a spokesman for Florida senator Marco Rubio, who also voted in favor of the measure, declined to comment.
Health-care experts dismiss Enzi’s claim that each member’s office is its own small business, and not just because the health exchange application was filed for Congress as a whole. “These congressional offices that think they’re small businesses, are they LLCs?” Cannon asks. “Are they S-Corps? Are they shareholder-owned? Are they privately held? What is the ownership structure of this small business that you’re running, senator? It’s just utterly ridiculous.”
“They’re transparently absurd,” says Moffit of Senate Republicans claiming small-business status. “Who made the determination that Congress is a small business and is therefore eligible for subsidies that do not legally exist? How did that happen?”
No one quite knows what’s behind leadership’s apparent push to kill the subpoena. The move baffled some committee staffers. “The amount of blood that McConnell and Paul spilled to prevent [the subpoena] from happening makes me wonder [if] maybe that isn’t all that there is to it,” the high-ranking staffer says. “Maybe other people signed it… They’re clearly afraid of something bigger than a person’s name getting out there.”
Others, however, think the motives behind GOP leadership’s apparent obfuscation are clear. “If there’s one thing that absolutely drives Americans fundamentally crazy, it’s the idea that Congress can set one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else,” says Moffit. “That’s political poison, and that’s why they have been so desperate to avoid the issue.”
“The most powerful interest group in Washington D.C., is not the Chamber or the unions or anyone else,” Cannon says. “It is members of Congress and their staffs. And when it comes to their benefits, they are all members of the same party.”
Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, Governor Scott Walker, Senator Kelly Ayotte, and Governor Bobby Jindal take part in the New Hampshire Republican Party’s “First in the Nation” leadership summit in Nashua, NH. Streaming begins at 9:00am eastern time.
………………………Click on image above to watch stream.
Click HERE to visit the official website of the New Hampshire Republican Party Leadership Summit
Click HERE to watch day 1 of the summit.
A Republican presidential candidate did something new and refreshing when challenged on his abortion views by the press: he threw it back in the face of the Democrats.
When quizzed on his about his views on abortion, Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul avoided the gotcha game and told NH1 reporter Paul Steinhauser to ask DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz if it was okay to “kill a 7-pound baby in the uterus.”
“Why don’t we ask the DNC: Is it okay to kill a 7 pound baby in the uterus?” Paul reportedly said. ”You go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s okay with killing a seven pound baby that is not born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when it’s okay to protect life. When you get an answer from Debbie, get back to me.”
I think he handled that quite properly. He did not dance around, or get mealy-mouthed. He put the moral onus back on Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Well played!
The following quotes were taken from the above-embedded speech by Senator Rand Paul in which he declared his candidacy for President of the United States. After each one, I have posted a response in the hopes that every Paulbot in America will take a few moments out of his or her busy day to write me some hate-mail.
RP: “We’ve come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank.”
What political interests aren’t “special”? Which ones should we get rid of, and how? If I’m not mistaken, people have a constitutional right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Should we now amend the ‘Bill of Rights’ with respect to this issue?
RP: “If we nominate a candidate who is simply Democrat-light, what’s the point?”
There’s no more point in doing that than there is in nominating a Libertarian who calls himself a Republican in order to get GOP backing for an election.
RP: “Washington is horribly broken. I fear it can’t be fixed from within.”
If that’s true, then why are you running for president? After all, if change can only be made from without, why attempt to become the biggest insider there is?
RP: “Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a constitutional amendment.”
How are you going to convince Congressmen to do something that they could have done at any time in the past, but have consistently refused to do? Are you calling for a ‘Convention of the States’ for such a purpose? And if you could get Congress and/or the states to adopt a balanced budget amendment, would there be exceptions to it, such as during times of war?
RP: “We limit the president to two terms. It’s about time we limit the terms of Congress.”
How do you propose we convince members of Congress to pass a law that makes them leave office and actually work for a living? Again, are you suggesting we implement a ‘Convention of the States’? If so, I’d support that. If not, then this proposition is as shallow as a mud puddle.
RP: “I want to reform Washington. I want common-sense rules that will break the logjam in Congress. That’s why I’ve introduced a ‘Read The Bills’ act.”
Is there currently something preventing Congressmen from reading the bills they vote on? Even if you could force them to read their bills, where is the guarantee that they’d understand them, or that doing so would cause them to vote differently than they otherwise would?
RP: “Work is not punishment, work is the reward.”
No, work is just another word for effort, and effort is not a reward, it is the means by which one reaps a reward. For instance, the satisfaction derived from accomplishing a goal is a reward for effort, as is the money exchanged for it in a free market. Rewards are the results of work, not the work itself.
RP: “My plan involves economic freedom zones to allow impoverished areas like Detroit, west Louisville, eastern Kentucky to prosper by leaving more money in the pockets of the people who live there.”
How? Are you proposing that we create special tax rates for people in failing cities by modifying our already monstrously complex tax code? If not, then what do you suggest? And who gets to determine which areas of the country are worthy of such distinct consideration, and which aren’t?
RP: “Conservatives understand that government is the problem, not the solution. Conservatives should not succumb, though, to the notion that a government inept at home will somehow succeed in building nations abroad.”
What if we have no choice but to go to war with a country filled with radical Islamists? Do we just leave it in ruins afterward, creating a power vacuum for any lunatic to fill? Contrary to popular belief, America has never lost a war. However, in modern times it has often lost the ensuant peace. (e.g. Vietnam, Iraq)
RP: “We brought Iran to the table through sanctions that I voted for. Now we must stay strong. That’s why I’ve co-sponsored legislation that ensures that any deal between the U.S. and Iran must be approved by Congress. Not only is that good policy, it’s the law.”
If it’s already the law, why are you co-sponsoring a bill of identical effect? Wouldn’t your time in Congress be better spent supporting legislation that isn’t redundant?
RP: “Let’s quit building bridges in foreign countries and use that money to build some bridges here at home.”
That may be an effective bumper-sticker line for a presidential campaign, but if my memory hasn’t completely failed me, back in 2009, Congress passed an $831B “stimulus” bill called the ‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’ for just such domestic purposes. And yet, our infrastructure is in worse shape now than it’s ever been. So tell me, how is not spending a few million dollars in Iraq or Afghanistan going to help us build bridges in America, when the billions we’ve supposedly allocated for that purpose aren’t actually being used to build bridges?
RP: “It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting ‘death to America’ in countries that receive millions of dollars in our foreign aid. I say, it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America.”
What if the penny you mentioned is one of many being used to stop Muslim extremists from overrunning U.S.-friendly governments – like the one headed by the Shah of Iran in the 1970s? Should we provide “aid” money to a bad government that’s at least willing to play ball with us on the international stage, or would you rather let it be replaced by a worse one that will cost us far more in treasure and blood down the road?
RP: “I say that your phone records are yours.”
Not if the records in question belong to your service provider. Which records are you referring to, exactly?
RP: “The president created this vast dragnet by executive order, and as president, on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.”
To which executive order do you refer? For that matter, which president? And how are you going to end said surveillance… by executive order? Tell me, is the NSA’s collection of metadata identical to the general warrants of search and seizure rejected by our founding fathers? I don’t believe so.
As Charles Krauthammer wrote in 2013: Thirty-five years ago in United States v. Choate, the courts ruled that the Postal Service may record “mail cover,” i.e., what’s written on the outside of an envelope – the addresses of sender and receiver. The National Security Agency’s recording of U.S. phone data does basically that with the telephone. It records who is calling whom – the outside of the envelope, as it were. The content of the conversation, however, is like the letter inside the envelope. It may not be opened without a court order. The constitutional basis for this is simple: The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for what’s written on an envelope. It’s dropped in a public mailbox, read by workers at the collection center and read once again by the letter carrier. It’s already openly been shared, much as your phone records are shared with, recorded by, and (e-)mailed back to you by a third party, namely the phone company. Indeed, in 1979 the Supreme Court (Smith v. Maryland) made the point directly regarding the telephone: The expectation of privacy applies to the content of a call, not its record. There is therefore nothing constitutionally offensive about the newly revealed NSA data-mining program that seeks to identify terrorist networks through telephone-log pattern recognition.
RP: “I see an America where criminal justice is applied equally, and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed.”
The enforcement of most violent-crime laws leads to a disproportionate incarceration rate among “people of color”. Should we suddenly decriminalize armed robbery and murder because a higher percentage – per capita – of non-whites are convicted of those crimes than whites?
Dear Rand Paul supporters,
I get why you like the good doctor. He seems like a man of integrity who keeps to his word and champions the cause of liberty in a way that few of his contemporaries do.
Good for him.
The downside to many of his policy viewpoints, however, is that he really hasn’t thought them through. They won’t work – despite his noble intentions – because ideology must be tempered with pragmatism, or else it is counterproductive.
Edward L. Daley
Reverend Al, who is a gasbag says Rand Paul should never speak about race. Maybe because Sharpton and his vile cohorts at MSNBS are ALWAYS talking about race, and usually lying about it I might add.
UPDATE! Gateway Pundit notes that Sharpton, self-proclaimed voting rights champion that he is, welcomed a known voter fraud felon recently
Melowese Richardson who was convicted of Voter Fraud and released early from a five year prison sentence is hugged by Rev. Al Sharton as he joins State Representative Alicia Reece to kick off the petition drive for Ohio Vote at Word of God Deliverance Family Life Center in Forest Park.
(Photo: The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger)
Melowese voted twice for herself in 2012 and three times for her comatose sister!
Melowese got a hero’s welcome by local Democrats at the party.
A Hamilton County poll worker who has been held up nationally as an example of voter fraud took the stage at a local voting rights rally – outraging Republicans and dismaying even top local Democrats.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, keynote speaker at Thursday’s rally to kick-off the campaign for an Ohio Voters’ Bill of Rights Ohio Constitutional amendment, even hugged Melowese Richardson.
Richardson, a Democrat, was convicted of voter fraud after using her position as poll worker to vote more than once in the 2012 presidential election. She got a five year prison term, but was released earlier this month after local Democratic activists pressed for a fairer term.
A judge sentenced her to probation instead.
Richardson was among the more than 400 at Word of Deliverance Church in Forest Park when Cincinnati National Action Network President Bobby Hilton called her on stage for a “welcome home.”
A tweet from an Enquirer reporter about the moment sparked immediate outrage from Republicans on Twitter.
Even Democrat leaders questioned the idea of applauding Richardson.
“I am very glad the county prosecutor and judge reconsidered and got her out of jail, but she is not a hero,” Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke, who was at the rally, told the Enquirer. “What she did was criminal conduct and was particularly problematic because of her role as a precinct executive.”
Hamilton County Democratic Party Executive Director Caleb Faux, who was also at the rally, saw it as an attempt to portray Richardson as a martyr because of the lengthy sentence
YEP! that is the Sharpton we know isn’t it?
HOLLYWOOD CONSERVATIVES (PANEL) – DINESH D’SOUZA (SPEECH)
DINESH D’SOUZA’S ‘AMERICA’ (MOVIE TRAILER)
……………………….Click on image above to watch video.
CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union.