Rand Paul drew praise from both the Right and Left last year when he mounted a 13-hour, talking filibuster from the Senate floor to block a nomination over objections related to drone killings of American citizens. And he might do it again this year.
The Republican senator from Kentucky plans to block the nomination of David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Barron, a former Justice Department official, was a main author of a secret Obama administration “drone memo,” which reportedly offered a legal justification for the killing of American extremist Anwar al-Awlaki, who was living in Yemen at the time. After mounting pressure from both liberals and libertarians, the administration allowed senators to read the memos, of which there are two documents.
“I’ve read David Barron’s memos concerning the legal justification for killing an American citizen overseas without a trial or legal representation, and I am not satisfied,” Paul said in a statement Thursday. There is “no valid legal precedent to justify the killing of an American citizen not engaged in combat,” the senator added, saying he plans to filibuster Barron’s nomination.
Senators look to block action on the Senate floor all the time, but not through a talking filibuster. Asked whether Paul’s plan to block Barron’s nomination means another marathon filibuster, Paul’s press secretary said he “will do everything in his power to oppose the nomination of David Barron, and thus a filibuster is not out of the question.”
Thanks to C-SPAN and social media, talking nonstop to thwart a bill — which was how lawmakers filibustered bills in the old days — has the potential to draw massive amounts of attention. Take Democratic legislator Wendy Davis’s filibuster of an abortion bill in the Texas state House. Her effort went viral and propelled her to the national stage.
Paul’s filibuster last year spurred surprising support from both conservatives and liberals. Back then, the senator was blocking the confirmation of John Brennan to lead the CIA, after the administration had refused to rule out the use of drone strikes on American soil.
“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said on the Senate floor last March. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
The timing of the filibuster, which spawned the hashtag #StandWithRand, came shortly before the conservative confab at CPAC. There, it became clear that Paul’s political stock had risen considerably thanks to his speech.
But there’s a crucial difference between last year and the current case. Whereas Paul’s filibuster did effectively block Brennan’s nomination from moving forward, this potential speech will take place in a post-nuclear Senate. The upper chamber has since changed how it confirms judicial nominees — last March, 60 votes were needed to confirm a nominee; now, just 51 are required. That means that Paul can talk all he wants, but it won’t matter much if 51 Democrats back President Obama’s nominee.
Liberals have also voiced concerns over Barron’s nomination. Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, for instance, has said he won’t back Barron’s nomination until the memos are made public.
On Thursday, White House counsel met with the Democratic caucus to discuss the memos and Barron’s nomination. A Senate vote on Barron’s nomination will come next week.
“It’s a difficult issue. He’s a brilliant judge, who on most issues, is in sync with the vast majority of Democrats. And the question is this memo,” Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, said before the meeting. “The people who have read the memos — I have not at this point — say when you read them, it’s far more exculpatory of Barron than the news reports might indicate.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”