Friday, March 08, 2013

"Libertarian Porn”

Guest post by Jeffrey Tucker

    Twitter began by calling it "libertarian porn" -- the longest and most sustained attack on the State leviathan from the U.S. Senate floor in modern history. But then it became more. And more. It went on for 13 hours. It was about halfway through when the junior senator leaned over to an aide and whispered: "Can I get a candy bar?"
    He deserved it. Before the end of the night, the significance of what he was doing was being described as "epic." What began as a surprise political move became a bipartisan cry against all the evils of our times, which somehow all come down to the egregious power of the executive state and its omnipotent power over our lives and property. It became political theatre unlike any we've seen in many years. The target: all terrible things.
In short, it was a beautiful day on Capitol Hill.
    It all came courtesy of Senator Randall Paul, the man who has brought truth, excitement, fun, and the appearance of real-life morality back to the Senate.

    We aren't used to this. What normal person pays attention to politics, much less to the Senate? Here was something that actually happened -- for once. Something important. Something even... epic.
    This is a story about one man who decided to say, "Enough." It's a so-called "talking filibuster," a last-ditch effort that stops legislative action completely. Something undertaken only in an epic case, a time when there is a hinge of history. Is this that hinge?


Alice in Wonderland? Nicely played, Senator.

    Senator Paul's action began just before noon. He started by standing alone against the nomination of John Brennan for the head of the CIA. This Brennan guy is the top advocate of the drone program and the White House's super-creepy claim of the right to kill American citizens on American soil using unmanned aircraft.
    The White House that wants him appointed refuses to rule out killing you and me if dear leader thinks it is necessary. The policy as fact has been in place for a long time, but this administration wants it formalized.
    Are civil liberties at stake? It's a no-brainer. Well, why is there any controversy about this at all? How much despotism can the American people stand? How did we come to this point? How long will the politicians in Washington pretend like this isn't happening?
    There is an elephant in the living room. That elephant has been nominated to head an agency that has been up to no good since its inception after World War II. An agency that operates in secrecy and embodies everything that is wrong with the whole institution of government. And now some guy who favours the right to kill you and me on a whim has been tagged to head the agency.
Something's gotta give.
    Sen. Paul seemed to break the taboo. He finally said it: This winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is asserting the right to kill citizens right here, without any recourse to courts or law or anything related to the dead letter called the Constitution. His appointee is ready to do the deed.
    In his first hours, Sen. Paul said:

When I asked the president, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It's an easy question. It should have been a resounding and unequivocal, 'No.' The president's response? He hasn't killed anyone yet. We're supposed to be comforted by that.

    Again, his one question: Why won't the president say that he won't kill non-combatants with drones on American soil? The White House pretended none of this was happening.
    Just before noon yesterday, Rand Paul stood alone. Then others joined him. Still others. Rand talked and talked. He went on and on. The online crowd began to grow. And grow. The tweets grew and grew. Facebook went nuts. It went on all day. The Senate chamber filled up by the evening. The fracas became frenzy and then became a mania. Hashtag #StandWithRand became the Internet meme of the night.
    Here is how the global Twitter map looked a few hours before the filibuster ended, with #StandWithRand as the top hashtag used around the world (the larger the hashtag, reflects a larger number of tweets emanating from that area.)

    Everyone else is talking about what this means for the senator's political career. I have high respect for him, but truly, this is not the point. It is not about who is up and who is down. It is about the power of the government over the individual. It's been growing egregiously for a century. It's become absurd to the point that the "peace president" claims the right to kill us. When do we say no?
    Sen. Paul spoke for the multitudes. And he continued. And continued. It was brilliant. It stopped only once biological needs called.
    It's pathetic that it had to come to this to see some meaningful protest. Still. It's thrilling that this protest has finally come. That The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times heaped disdain on the Senator confirms that he was on the right track.
    I have my own theory about the meaning of all of this. I think it is about the digital revolution finally reaching the most impenetrable apparatus on the planet. Sen. Paul was the instrument, but the tune is made of technology.
I must invoke the memory of the prophet of our age Aaron Swartz. He is dead due to horrible hounding by the government. But before he died, he was working on a new software package that was extremely powerful. It offers a way to apply digital media to the cause of politics. He showed the power of his model with the 2012 attack on SOPA.  Pretty much working alone, he defeated this cursed legislation that would have disabled the Internet.
    Like most people, I long ago lost faith in the political process. It is a waste of time. It is a game for suckers and fools.  The government owns the system, and it will always be so, no matter who is ostensibly in charge.
    Yet... I respect Swartz. He might have been on to something. He posited that there is power when the people can swarm the state apparatus with digital communications: emails, petitions, tweets, memes, digital protests. This is different from regular politics. It is turning the machine upside-down and inside out, bypassing the lobbying, rallies, voting, and electing entirely in favour of direct confrontation between the ruled and the rulers.
    Remember that government is the most paranoid institution on the planet. It is extremely jumpy for that reason.  You know how the petty thief is always watching his back, worried that he is going to get caught? Government is like that. It is always and everywhere engaged in criminal activity. It mainly worries about being found out. It fears discovery. Digital media permit every American to say, "You have been found out!"
    Is that what's going on? It has made a difference in this case. The drone issue has been one that has sent a powerful signal to the power elite.
    Sen. Paul is a great political entrepreneur. He stepped out in front -- alone at first, but with the whole body behind him eventually, and today a large whole of the people too.
    Government should fear the people. Today, at least some sectors of the government are a bit more afraid than they used to be. My friends, that's victory. It is not about who will gain power next. It is about dismantling power completely, one step at a time.
    "Can I get a candy bar?"
    Someday, that candy will be freedom itself. It's coming. It's going to happen -- with or without our political leaders.
Sincerely,
Jeffrey Tucker
Laissez Faire Club

Jeffrey Tucker is the publisher and executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, the Primus inter pares of the Laissez Faire Club, and the author of Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo, It's a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes, and A Beautiful Anarchy: How to Build Your Own Civilization in the Digital Age, among thousands of articles,

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9 Comments:

Blogger twr said...

Very worthy I'm sure, but I still prefer normal porn.

3/08/2013 03:13:00 pm  
Blogger Eric Crampton said...

The GOP all cheered, but they wouldn't have under Bush. And next time the GOP get in, it'll be the Democrats who rally around civil liberties while the GOP stays the course. At least that's my odds-on pick.

3/08/2013 03:54:00 pm  
Blogger Dividist said...

I couldn't stop watching it. A guy standing at a podium on CSPAN for 13 hours is the most compelling TV I've seen in years. Who knew?

For the libertarianish, it was the combination of the message and the place. To hear the libertarian perspective articulated clearly and persuasively on such an important issue from the floor of the Senate with the media focus... yeah... libertarian porn.

It was good for me.

Was it good for you?

3/09/2013 05:02:00 am  
Anonymous David Blankenau said...

It was great that Sen. Paul did this, but in the end he voted FOR Brennan's confirmation. So much for "standing up" for the American people. (SIGH).

3/09/2013 02:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He voted in favour?

He did that?

You mean he actually voted OK?

After all that speaching he went along with them and voted OK?

yes?

Go Ahead?

What the heck was that all about? He coulda saved everyone a lot of botheration and, if it is true he voted in favour, he should have STFU. People like him is why libertarianism gets nowhere. All talkee talkee no doee doee.

Bring back his Dad. At least that guy had the balls to vote NO. NFW. Not OK.

Amit

3/10/2013 08:25:00 am  
Anonymous Mike said...

Attn: David and Anon.

Rand Paul was holding up the vote in order to get certain assurances. The Filibuster wasn't personally against the appointment, but was using holding up the appointment to get assurances, which were eventually forthcoming.

3/10/2013 04:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike

What assurances did he get?

Amit

3/11/2013 05:52:00 am  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

Paul said he started talking to get a clear answer from the Administration about killing Americans on American soil, and would stop talking when he did.
Late in the day,

Attorney General Eric Holder wrote Sen. Rand Paul,R-Ky., to confirm that President Obama does not have the authority to kill an American on U.S. soil in a non-combat situation, Obama’s spokesman announced today.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney quoted from the letter that Holder sent to Paul today. “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil?” Holder wrote, per Carney. “The answer is no.”

Paul said that was good enough for him. “I’m quite happy with the answer,” he said during a CNN interview. “I’m disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it, but we did get the answer.”

3/11/2013 10:12:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for that update. I since seen it from another source too.

"Paul said he started talking to get a clear answer from the Administration about killing Americans on American soil, and would stop talking when he did."

The reported response from Holder:

"Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil?” Holder wrote, per Carney. “The answer is no.”

My attorney laughs that ANYONE can be stupid enough to fall for this sort of double talk. Holder did not answer the question. He answered a different one. Look again at the exchange that took place.

It turns out that according to legislation recently passed (Dec 2012) the President DOES have the power to kill US citizens on US soil without the need for due process. That's an important violation with the US Constitution. When the President opines that the targetted victim is engaged in hostilities (and he does not have to do even this in public) then that is sufficient in itself to do the killing. Now this assertion of "engaged in hostilities" is tested how exactly? Turns out that's not for the public to know because the deliberations and decision process are "secret for reasons of state security and the safety of Federal officers." In practice the President already has the power granted to kill US citizens on US soil at will. He got given it last year. Also, Obama he already have killed US citizens on non-US soil without due process using exactly the same secret decision making processes as he is now allowed for doing on US soil.

Seems like there are still people around who believe in the old, "I won't cum in your mouth."

I know it is tiresome but read the legislation and you can see for yourself what I say is right.

Amit

3/11/2013 08:54:00 pm  

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