Wright’s Terrible Arguments Against Rand Paul

I see people on my Facebook friends list share posts from Jim Wright, from a blog called Stonekettle Station, all the time. I’ve never found them particularly impressive, but this one is just a terrible set of arguments about Rand Paul and the Patriot Act. He seems to be so blinded by his hatred of Paul that he loses all ability to make rational arguments.

I agree that NSA domestic surveillance needs to be curtailed and placed under strict judicial review.

HOWEVER, the crap that Paul is currently pushing is nothing but pure distilled bullshit.

NSA domestic spying programs ARE NOT illegal. They were fully authorized by congress in the panicked wake of 911 via the Patriot Act and expanded under the Protect America Act. Warrantless wiretapping, mass collection, and total intrusion into global communications were authorized by Congress. The constitutional limitations put in place after Watergate, FISA requirements, and domestic intelligence oversight requirements were SPECIFICALLY dismissed by very same gun waving patriots who told us that fucking TORTURE was an acceptable tool for a civilized people.

This is really, really confused. He switches back and forth between “illegal” and “unconstitutional.” Both claims are incoherent. The fact that Congress passed the Patriot Act and reauthorized it does not mean that everything the NSA has done under cover of that law is actually legal. Indeed, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled a couple weeks ago that the cell phone metadata collection was clearly illegal even under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have read Section 215 to allow them to do pretty much anything they want, but the text of the law does not support that. So yes, those actions are illegal regardless of whether Congress passed the Patriot Act or not.

But then to make things really weird, he seems to think that the passage of the Patriot Act somehow overruled “constitutional limitations,” which a statute cannot do (nor were the new laws put in place in the 1970s that he refers to “constitutional limitations,” they were statutory ones. Statutes can overrule statutes). But it does raise the point that many of the things allowed by the Patriot Act, and mass data mining of any kind, are rather explicitly a violation of the 4th Amendment. Wright seems to accept this later, which makes the last part of that paragraph all the more baffling. It’s just gibberish.

Members of Congress, including Tea Party Patriots like Rand Paul and the head of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus herself, Michele Bachmann, oversaw these programs as part of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which SPECIFICALLY gave her authority over the CIA, NSA, DIA, and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community.

While the constitutionality of these programs has not been fully examined by the Supreme Court, they WERE fully authorized by Congress (on BOTH sides of the aisle, and the Tea Party) and two Presidents. They ARE are legal under the law and NO American including Rand Fucking Paul would have a problem with them if they only targeted dark skinned Muslims and don’t you goddamned pretend otherwise.

Really, Jim? No American? Not a single one? Funny, I’m an American and I had a problem with these illegal surveillance programs the moment the Patriot Act was passed, long before they were even implemented. So has the ACLU and their supporters. So has the Electronic Frontier Foundation and their supporters. So have hundreds of thousands of Muslim-Americans (they’re Americans too, you know). Millions and millions of Americans have objected to the Patriot Act and to the National Surveillance State and it has nothing to do with whether those affected are Muslim, Christian, atheist, Jewish or whatever. You seem to think that you’re the only principled American alive, which is pretty fucking stupid.

In point of fact, if these programs ARE illegal, then Rand Paul and his fellows in Congress on both sides of the aisle are guilty of conspiracy (in the legal sense of conspiring to break the law) by repeatedly funding this activity.

Uh, no. Rand Paul, and many other legislators, have consistently voted against this kind of surveillance and against funding it. To claim that they are “guilty of conspiracy” only shows that you have absolutely no idea what a legal conspiracy is. You’re just bloviating aimlessly.

While I am a huge advocate for returning to ALL intelligence gathering operations to strict FISA review and intense uncompromising oversight, the horseshit Rand Paul is currently shovelling is nothing but pure partisan grandstanding.

Partisan grandstanding? His stance is the exact opposite of the stance of the party he belongs to. In fact, during the fight Sunday night over all of this, he refused to even go in the room when the Senate Republicans were caucusing. You don’t seem to have any idea what the word “partisan” means either.

Look, there’s a lot to criticize Rand Paul about and I’ve criticized him a lot. But there are some issues, important ones, where he’s not only right, but where he’s virtually alone among Republicans in bring right on them. If you hate him so much that you let it force you to make ludicrous arguments like this, you need to turn in your rationality card at the nearest library.

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  • Artor

    I’ll admit, it does grate on me when I find myself agreeing with Rand Fucking Paul, but it does occasionally happen. Stopped clocks & all. But I won’t go and declare that all clocks are wrong because Rand Paul happened to be right on a particular subject.

  • velociraptor

    You skipped an entire paragraph, to wit:

    “Don’t believe me? Programs like this are unbelievably expensive – really, you have no idea (and you REALLY have no idea, because a lot of it is funded via classified budgets). They don’t operate without funding. Period. And that funding comes DIRECTLY from Congress, specifically the House. And here, right here, is where the steel meets flesh: CONGRESS has reauthorized funding for these programs for the last 14 years. Don’t believe me? Programs like this are unbelievably expensive – really, you have no idea (and you REALLY have no idea, because a lot of it is funded via classified budgets). They don’t operate without funding. Period. And that funding comes DIRECTLY from Congress, specifically the House. And here, right here, is where the steel meets flesh: CONGRESS has reauthorized funding for these programs for the last 14 years.”

    Is anything in that paragraph untrue?

  • raven

    Look, there’s a lot to criticize Rand Paul about and I’ve criticized him a lot.

    I suppose you don’t believe he is a multi-tentacled horror from beyond time and space either.

    Rand Paul has already presented his economic and tax plans. They would put an end to the USA. Which is probably his goal.

    His father’s hobby is supporting the secession movement, the old confederate one.

    They aren’t making any secret of it. They hate the USA and would like to see it disappear.

  • eric

    Man, it would be nice if this country could have an actual, reasoned discussion about how we’re going to spy on foreign communications (which is constitutional) without spying on citizens (not constitutional), given 21st century technology means anyone can buy a cell phone from anywhere, anyone can route a computer signal just about anywhere. I’m not asking for perfection – heck, even back in the rotary phone days, “in the borders/not in the borders” wasn’t perfect. But it was based on reasonable assumptions and was transparent as a policy. it would be nice if we could actually have a conversation about what we’ll accept and what we won’t, how much “oops we collected on a citizen when we didn’t mean to” we’ll tolerate, and under what circumstances we’ll tolerate that happening.

    IMO most NSA employees don’t like collecting on Americans. They want to limit collection to foreigners. The question is, how to do one effectively without doing the other given 21st century technologies.

  • comfychair

    “Is anything in that paragraph untrue?”

    So if there’s one valid claim in a bunch of other invalid claims you have to accept them all as valid?

  • mithrandir

    “Is anything in that paragraph untrue?”

    Irrelevant if nothing in that paragraph rebuts or invalidates Ed’s critiques. Which is the case.

  • bmiller

    I’ve read Mr. Wright in the past and sometimes enjoyed the….passion…with which he writes. Sometimes that passion does go way, way over the top.

    I can’t say he is wrong in important respects…the Patriot Act was authorized by Congress, funded by Congress, and probably is supported by a majority of the population.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Look, there’s a lot to criticize Rand Paul about and I’ve criticized him a lot.

    No, you really haven’t. In fact, you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time criticizing people nowhere near as relevant as Paul, while totally ignoring Paul’s most atrocious bigoted hatemongering. Remember when he tried to incite fear of ebola by using his “medical expertise,” Dr.-Oz-style, to convince people you could get ebola at a cocktail party? You were dead silent on that egregious lie of his.

    But there are some issues, important ones, where he’s not only right, but where he’s virtually alone among Republicans in bring right on them. If you hate him so much that you let it force you to make ludicrous arguments like this, you need to turn in your rationality card at the nearest library.

    Rand Paul brings that hate on himself by being a bigoted hatemongering lying con-artist. Ignoring his hateful dishonesty, and then ridiculing others for their reaction to it, is plain fucking dishonest on your part.

  • Dexeron

    I’ve enjoyed some of Wright’s posts in the past. He’s obviously passionate about what he writes (and is, in my opinion, more often correct than not.) But yeah, like anyone else, he can make mistakes, and in this case, I think he’s letting his bias against Rand Paul interfere with his judgement.

    And yeah, I think he’s missing the difference between “illegal” (we funded this secret plan to sell arms to terrorists in violation of the law) and “unconstitutional” (we funded these programs that were later found to be in violation of the constitution.)

  • eric

    Bee:

    No, you really haven’t. In fact, you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time criticizing people nowhere near as relevant as Paul,

    Ed does seem to like to report on the loony fringe. That’s his choice. But in fairness, Rand Paul isn’t going to win the GOP primary. He isn’t going to shift the other candidates to be more socially conservative, they already mostly beat him on that score. He’s a carbon copy of the other candidates on most issues. About the only “reportable” difference or effect he will have on the field is related to his oddball (for a GOPer) libertarian stance on things like this. Its the deltas that matter, no the absolute values. This issue is his delta.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Its the deltas that matter, no the absolute values. This issue is his delta.

    That’s a nice-sounding rationalization for ignoring Rand Paul’s overall vileness and dishonesty: Yes, he’s standard-issue Republican pond-scum — but all he has to do is say something different from what the rest of the pond-scum say, and henceforth he’s a “maverick” or a “gadfly,” and that’s the only thing about him that matters or is newsworthy. This is just one of the Republitarian propaganda system’s many tactics, and I’m kind of surprised that so few people here are willing to see it for what it is.