Friday, November 30, 2012

Rand Paul’s victory over the NDAA Indefinite Detention clause

Senator Rand Paul, speaking before the Senate on Wednesday says: “If you don’t have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution. What are you fighting against and for if you throw the Constitution out? When zealots of the government arrest suspects or radicals without warrants, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.”

Earlier this month we learned that Sen. Paul was planning to force a vote on an amendment to protect the rights of American citizens detained under the controversial 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA is a federal law that is passed every year, specifying the budget and expenditures of the US Department of Defense, although each year’s act also includes other provisions. The explosive 2011-2012 NDAA bill included a wildly unpopular clause in Section 1021 which provided for the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens judged to be involved in terrorism or “belligerent acts” against the US.

Sen. Paul has been a vocal opponent of the indefinite detention clause in the 2011-2012 NDAA bill, lamenting what he considers “Orwellian” developments and staunchly defending the right of all American citizens to a jury trial. For two weeks he has been threatening to put the 2013 NDAA bill on hold unless he was granted a vote on his amendment to restore the jury trial rights of Americans in military detention.

Liberty activists were hoping that the massive public outcry which ensued following the passage of the 2011-2012 NDAA bill would pressure some Senators to swing over to Sen. Paul’s side. However, due to the fact that his colleagues in the Senate this lame-duck session were mostly supporters of last year’s NDAA bill, Sen. Paul’s chances of getting them to undo that legislation seemed slim.

On Wednesday evening, something different happened.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Real Problem With a Secretary of State Susan Rice

The problem with making Susan Rice secretary of state isn’t Benghazi. It’s war. Rice, like her “mentor,” former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and the current secretary, Hillary Clinton, has supported just about every proposed U.S. military intervention over the two decades. The president should nominate someone that occasionally opposes a war.

Of course, being reliably bellicose is no sin among either party’s foreign policy elite—in Washington today, extramarital affairs get you bounced from top foreign policy jobs, and unconstitutional wars get you nominated for them. Congressional Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, oppose Rice’s possible nomination because of her televised comments on the Benghazi attack in September, which killed four Americans, including Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. They say she was either lying or incompetent in arguing that the attacks were not premeditated terrorism but a spontaneous outgrowth of a protest against a silly anti-Islam video.

The problem with Republican complaints about Rice isn’t that they’re partisan; it’s that they’re trivial. We could have used more complaint and scrutiny, partisan or not, about the invasion of Iraq, the surge in Afghanistan, and the bombing of Libya—actions which Rice quietly endorsed, supported, and championed, respectively. Instead, she gets attacked for a relatively minor issue where her main role was public relations.

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No Soup for You! Bloomberg Bans Food Donations to Homeless

Fans of the beloved 90′s sitcom Seinfeld will no doubt remember the words of the Soup Nazi which were quickly directed at any customer who did not strictly follow his no nonsense rules for standing in line, ordering, and payment at his popular New York deli.

“No soup for you! NEXT!” the Soup Nazi would shout at the red faced customers who would silently slink away in shame after being lambasted for not adhering to his standards.

New York Mayor Bloomberg has taken Soup Nazi’s tactics to a whole new level with his Administration’s banning of food donations to all government-run facilities that serve New York City’s large homeless population.

The nanny-esque ban, put in place in March 2012, still stands despite city resources stretched to the breaking point by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy on the City’s five Boroughs in October 2012.

Perplexingly, the reason for the ban is not the result of homeless getting ill from food contamination!

Rather, Mayor Bloomberg has become New York’s new Soup Nazi by insisting that because the nutritional content of donated food cannot be adequately assessed by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), homeless shelters are thereby required to turn away all Good Samaritans wishing to donate even such innocuous items as soup and bagels.

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Congressman proposes 2-year ban on bills about Internet

In an unusual step, a U.S. congressman is proposing a two-year ban on all new federal legislation regulating the Internet.

Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California who has been an advocate for Internet freedoms, has posted online a draft of his legislation, the Internet American Moratorium Act of 2012. The bill would “create a two-year moratorium on any new laws, rules or regulations governing the Internet.”

Issa first posted the complete text of the bill Monday on Project Madison, the nickname for a crowdsourcing platform that allows citizens to amend individual passages of legislation by adding or striking language. On Tuesday, he posted a link to the bill on Reddit, the social news site, where users quickly voted it to the top.

“Together, we can make Washington take a break from messing w/ the Internet,” Issa said on Reddit, where he also invited users to suggest changes to the proposed bill. He said he will begin taking questions about it from Reddit users Wednesday morning.

Issa is one of the more tech-fluent members of Congress and was an outspoken critic of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have penalized websites that host pirated content. That bill died this year amid near-unanimous opposition from the technology industry.

It was not immediately clear whether Issa’s moratorium would apply to his own Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, which would seek to protect U.S. copyrights and trademarks from infringement by foreign websites.

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Rand Paul warns of GOP becoming dinosaur

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who’s known for his libertarian leanings, cautioned Tuesday that the Republican Party could meet the same fate as animals that went extinct millions of years ago.

“I think my party, the Republican Party, is shrinking. We’re in danger of becoming a dinosaur,” he said on CNN’s “Newsroom.” “We’re not competitive on the West Coast, we’re not competitive in New England.”

Paul joins a chorus of Republican voices offering criticism of their own party in the wake of Mitt Romney’s presidential loss earlier this month. The first-term senator, elected with strong tea party support in 2010, said change is in order.

“We need a new type of Republican (Party), I think, one that involves some of the ideas of libertarian leaning Republicans and people who agree in a less aggressive foreign policy,” Paul told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.

The senator, whose father Ron Paul ran for president for the third time this cycle, said last week he was considering a White House bid of his own in 2016. He attempted to clarify those remarks on Tuesday when asked about his presidential aspirations.

“What I’ve said is that I won’t deny I’m interested–a little bit different than ‘I am interested,’” Paul said, pointing to a need for reform in the party.

Paul also weighed in on the fiscal cliff–a series of tax hikes and spending cuts to kick in next year if Congress fails to reach a deficit-reduction deal. Focusing on the negotiations to find an agreement and avert the crisis, Paul said entitlement reform–one of the options on the table in debt talks–should happen on its own and not be part of a deal that also includes raising taxes.

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