Friday, June 5, 2015

Rand Paul's true act of freedom

If Rand Paul hasn't earned his meal-ticket to the Oval Office for 2016, then it can only mean that the American public really is as fat, happy and ignorant beyond belief as I have for a long time now believed them to be.
Earlier this week, the senator from Kentucky blocked a vote in the Senate on authorizing the extension of the Patriot Act, the "watered down" version favored by some Republicans and the White House, known as the USA Freedom Act. Nothing had been passed by the time the midnight deadline came and went.
Rand's attempt at lifting the surveillance yoke off the backs of Americans was short-lived as the USA Freedom Act eventually passed its second time around in the Senate and Obama signed the bill, allowing the National Security Administration to get back to work fighting terror—or so that's what we're expected to believe.
At least the bulk storing of phone call data has been halted. Authorities now have to obtain information with a warrant from a counterterror court in which a specific person or group has been identified.
The FBI has admitted that the bulk data collection which occurred under section 215 of the Patriot Act has not, in the space of fourteen years, led to one arrest. It did not prevent Ford Hood, it did not prevent the Boston Marathon bombings, it did not prevent the beheading in Moore, Oklahoma. No terror plots uncovered or halted for the fourteen years and billions of dollars worth of metadata storage. Isn't that groovy?
Neither, incidentally, has the TSA prevented any terror either. Agents from this offshoot of the completely corrupt Department of Homeland Security—the boobs who tell us that Tea Party members and returning veterans represent the terrorist threat to America—failed to detect bombs and other weapons on inspectors a whopping ninety-five percent of the time. This is your (big) government "protecting" you. Liberals may think a score of 5 percent is an acceptable passing grade, but I, and people who are actually normal, do not.
Do you want to know how section 215 of the Patriot Act worked? Say you have a street of eight houses. It is apparent to everyone, including local law enforcement, that house number eight is occupied by radical terrorists. But local authorities can't do anything because the law of the land, the Patriot Act, spies on houses one through seven, collects data from their phone calls, leaves house number eight alone and declares that there's not a problem on this street. In other words, it operates just like "security" at the airport: Your 80-year-old grandmother gets pulled aside, patted down, her luggage rummaged through and then she is eventually taken to a screening room to perform a geriatric strip act while Ali Baba, possessing a keffiyeh, luxurious dark beard and two gym bags, strolls through unaccosted and without a second glance from the high school dropouts in charge of deciding whether or not the rest of we poor working citizens make our flights or not.
I supported the Patriot Act. In the wake of September 11, 2001, it seemed like the right response. But the same folks who complained about the surveillance conducted under Bush and cried that it was unconstitutional (which it was) said nothing under Obama's continuance of such. It was only when Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the program and review panels found it completely ineffective at preventing terror that the President began to pivot on the issue. An overturning of the data collection clause, however, he preferred to leave in the hands of lawmakers. No executive order issued to prevent bulk phone call data collection from a man who releases EOs like Saddam Hussein launched SCUDs.
This recent history has changed my mind. The Patriot Act was something all good neocons could rally behind, but it stood in direct conflict with the Constitution's 4th Amendment. I can only shake my head in despair at people who continue to think that a nationwide police state is the answer to combating terrorism. I can hear them now: "What, it's safe! It's keeping us safe! Ah der der der ... Do you want da terrorists ta win?!"
Well, numbnuts, how about just some good old-fashioned detective work to capture miscreants as with the dispatching of Usamma Rahim in Boston? What's wrong with that? Maybe if we didn't saddle the FBI, Homeland Security and other authorities with political correctness, we'd have no need for agencies that watch you and me and pass that off as "fighting terror".
Benjamin Franklin said that those who are willing to give up liberty in the name of security deserve neither.  I concur. 
Rand Paul knew that a genuine freedom act would be one that completely overturns the Patriot Act, not just removes section 215, and single-handedly stood up to it by using his Senate perogative by blocking the vote and ensuring no action would be taken by the midnight deadline. A temporary victory it may have been, but it has solidified his Constitutionalist libertarian credentials beyond reasonable doubt.

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