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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Lee’

Rand Paul rails against ‘weak sauce’ surveillance deal: ‘Big disappointment’ | TheHill

Posted by M. C. on March 11, 2020

There is Paul and Lee. The rest are war whores.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) knocked a last-minute deal in the House to reauthorize expiring intelligence programs, saying its reforms to the court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) fall short.

“The ‘Deal’ on FISA is weak sauce diluted [and] made impotent by A.G. Barr. None of the reforms prevent secret FISA court from abusing the rights of Americans. None of the reforms prevent a President of either party from a politically motivated investigation. Big Disappointment!” Paul tweeted early Tuesday evening.

His comments come after House lawmakers announced on Tuesday that they had struck an agreement ahead of the March 15 deadline for expiring provisions in the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 law that overhauled the country’s intelligence programs.

The agreement includes more privacy protections and transparency in the FISA court process, including requiring legal representation for an individual targeted if the government’s application “presents exceptional concerns about the First Amendment rights of U.S. persons.”

It also bolsters penalties for those who abuse the FISA court.
But Paul, a long-time critic of the FISA court, wants language that would prohibit a FISA warrant being used against an American citizen, and prohibit FISA information from being used against an American in domestic court.
The House deal was largely negotiated without the input of senators, a potential curveball in its chances of passing the Senate this week. It is expected to go to the House floor for a vote Wednesday.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has also advocated for changes to FISA, told reporters shortly after the deal was announced that he was still reviewing it.

“Based on earlier drafts of it I don’t like it at all,” he said.

Because of the tight time frame to get legislation through Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is going to need consent from every senator to speed up consideration of the bill.
That could give leverage to senators like Paul and Lee to try to push through changes or force a lapse of the expiring USA Freedom provisions.
Paul previously used the Senate’s procedural tools to force a brief lapse of the post-9/11 Patriot Act.
A spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a question on Tuesday night about what his tweet means for his willingness to let the House deal move quickly through the Senate.
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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : US to Iraq: ‘Vote All You Want, We’re Not Leaving!’

Posted by M. C. on January 14, 2020

Lead by example and demonstrate how free markets and peace benefit all. A “force for good” means not forcing others to bow to your will.

Written by Ron Paul

President Trump’s decision earlier this month to assassinate Iran’s top military general on Iraqi soil – over the objection of the Iraqi government – has damaged the US relationship with its “ally” Iraq and set the region on the brink of war. Iran’s measured response – a few missiles fired on an Iraqi base after advance warning was given – is the only reason the US is not mired in another Middle East war.

Trump said his decision to assassinate Gen. Qassim Soleimani was intended to prevent a war, not start a war. But no one in his right mind would think that killing another country’s top military leader would not leave that country annoyed, to say the least. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said the Trump Administration’s briefing to Congress on its evidence to back up claims that Soleimani was about to launch attacks against the US was among the worst briefings they’d ever attended.

After initially claiming that Soleimani had to be taken out immediately because of “imminent” attacks he was launching against the US, Trump Administration officials including Secretary of State Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper have been busy walking back those claims. Esper claimed over the weekend that he had not seen the intelligence suggesting an attack on US embassies was in the works. If the Secretary of Defense did not seen the intelligence, then who did?

No doubt the Iraqi leadership recognized these kinds of deceptions: the same kinds of lies were used to push the US into attacking their own country in 2003. So it should not have come as a big surprise that the Iraqi government met last week and voted that all foreign military personnel should leave Iraqi soil.

Then a funny thing happened when the Iraqi prime minister attempted to communicate to the US government the will of the Iraqi people through their democratically-elected officials. On Thursday Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi phoned Pompeo to urgently request that Washington enact a US troop “withdrawal mechanism” in Iraq. American troops are in Iraq by invitation of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi government had just voted to revoke that invitation.

The State Department responded with a statement titled “The US Continued Partnership with Iraq,” in which it essentially said that the US would not abide by the request of its Iraqi partners because the US military is a “force for good” in the Middle East and that as such it is “our right” to maintain “appropriate force posture” in the region.

The US invaded Iraq based on Bush Administration lies and a million Iraqis died as a result. Later, President Obama ramped up the drone program and also backed al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists to overthrow the secular Syrian government. Obama also attacked Libya based on lies, leaving the country totally destroyed. Trump is assassinating foreign officials and threatening destruction of Iran.

And the State Department calls that a “force for good”?

The United States can be a true force for good, however. End the military occupation of the Middle East, end foreign military aid, stop using the CIA to overthrow governments. Allow Americans to travel and do business in any country they wish. Lead by example and demonstrate how free markets and peace benefit all. A “force for good” means not forcing others to bow to your will.

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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The Islamic Republic of Restraint – Original

Posted by M. C. on January 9, 2020

The administration lied about the Iranian general’s mission that day in Baghdad; he was actually likely there for secret talks to ease tensions with Saudi Arabia. Talk about a counterproductive killing.

What if it’s Iran that’s avoided war?

Don’t buy the hype 1.0: Look, the administration, Fox News, and a Twitter army of Trumpsters are about to unleash a wave of propaganda. The president was right to assassinate Soleimani all along, they’ll say. The Iranian missiles fired on Tuesday night missed all American targets – perhaps on purpose – resulting in zero U.S. military casualties. Trump must’ve known the Iranians would flinch, we’ll be told. His hard line, his provocative escalation, was all part of a grand strategy – the master dealmaker strikes again!

That’s all balderdash! Remember: according to the most loyal Trumpeteers, every time the president’s rash actions don’t result in nuclear Armageddon he’s clearly a “stable genius” (his words). Now, that’s a pretty low bar, folks. We should expect better. Seems to me that Trump’s foreign policy is more aptly characterized, as William Hartung – of the Center for International Policy – coined it, the “P.T. Barnum strategy:” more show than substance. It goes both ways, of course, what with Iran potentially “retaliating” against the US for their own domestic consumption, whilst carefully avoiding American casualties.

The main problem with the Trump-as-genius argument is that, at best, he’s left in place an unacceptable status quo. Tensions remain unnecessarily high between the US and Iran – mainly due to Trump’s original sin: pulling out of the multinational nuclear deal that even American intelligence agencies assessed that Iran had adhered to. In fact, the execution of Soleimani may have only made matters worse. The administration lied about the Iranian general’s mission that day in Baghdad; he was actually likely there for secret talks to ease tensions with Saudi Arabia. Talk about a counterproductive killing. War could still break out at any moment. Both sides have mobilized and repositioned troops. Heck, a brigade of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division is already on its way to the region. The two inessential adversaries remain on hair-trigger alert.

Now, at worst, Trump has only weakened the US position in the area. After all, right on the heels of the Soleimani assassination, Iraqi’s Parliament and Prime Minister officially called for the withdrawal of all US troops from the very country upon which Iran and America have been waging war of late. Naturally, in a fun twist on the widespread global understanding of national sovereignty, Defense Secretary (Incorporated) Mark Esper has emphatically declared that US troops “are not leaving Iraq.” International law, international shmaw – we’re America, and Trump is president.

Finally, lost in the sure-to-come “Trump was right” talking points will be a few other inconvenient facts:

  1. The president provided zero evidence to the public that Soleimani himself posed an imminent threat to US forces. We’re just supposed to trust the government? Really? After the mountain of lies fed to the people reference the 2003 Iraq invasion, CIA torture program, and Afghanistan (as shown in the oh-so-quickly forgotten Afghan Papers)? Count me out! What’s more, after a closed session congressional briefing on Wednesday, even some Republicans complained that they were given “no specific information” on any “specific” alleged “attack.” Now that’s fishy.
  2. Furthermore, the very legality of the strikes – and targeted assassinations in general – under domestic and/or international law was highly dubious.
  3. The constitutionality of the killing was also questionable. Yes, the president possesses Article II commander-in-chief powers, however, those ought to be used sparingly and only as a last resort. By design, the Founders placed the preponderance of martial decision-making in the hands of Congress. Trump isn’t alone here, as one executive after another has gradually stripped war-making authority from an all-too-willing, and complacent, legislative branch. What was particularly dangerous in this case, however, is that President Trump unilaterally committed an egregious, risky escalation – an act of war – that set all the pieces in motion for a potential regional conflagration, essentially leaving Congress and the People to pick up the pieces. He presented America with a perilous fait accompli.

So let’s not fall for the administration talking points or its loyal social media trolls’ undoubtedly absurd musings. The Soleimani operation was far from prudent and hardly a slam dunk. Don’t take my word for it: Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee told CNN Wednesday that the “way the whole thing went down” was “un-American and unacceptable.” I couldn’t agree more; we can do better!

Don’t buy the hype 2.0, either: No matter what the US Government has long claimed, Iran is not the world’s most dangerous state; nor is it really the globe’s greatest “state-sponsor of terrorism” – whatever the “T-word” even means anymore. Nor, contra the Mikes (Pompeo and Pence) – who seem genuinely intent on pursuing policies designed to sow the de rigueur chaos to bring forth their own insane hopes for the Rapture – would regime change in Iran accomplish much of anything or serve US or regional interests. These mad eschatological millenarians are deeply mistaken in their belief that Iran represents something uniquely evil in this world. They should take a hard look at their own diplomatic Facebook friends for exhibit A: Saudi Arabia.

In reality, from this historian’s “hatch,” it is demonstrable that time and again, since at least 1979, it was Iran – not the US – which showed greater restraint and helped avoid war. Consider just a few examples. After the CIA and MI6 overthrew a democratically elected Iranian prime minister in 1953 and installed the vicious dictatorial shah – whose security forces killed thousands – it took 25 years for the Islamic Revolution to kick off. When that rebellion overthrew the U.S.-armed and -backed shah, how did the young revolutionaries respond? Well, famously they snatched and long held 52 American embassy personnel hostage. Sure, this was an unacceptable violation of diplomatic sovereignty, but, as compared to the deaths of thousands of Iranian innocents, it was a relatively muted response. No hostages were killed, and, though it took far too long, all were eventually released.

Then, in 1980, when Iraq invaded and threatened to destroy Iran, the US openly backed Saddam Hussein’s aggressive regime. The US provided key intelligence in the form of satellite photos to the Iraqi Army, and granted Baghdad over $1 billion in economic aid. In all, after eight years of existential war, perhaps 500,000 Iranians died. To this flagrant US provocation, Iran did retaliate substantially: in 1983, the Iranian-backed Amal militia killed 241 US Marines in Beirut (where they shouldn’t have been in the first place), throughout the 1980s Hezbollah took several American journalists and Intel officials hostage in Lebanon, and its Saudi offshoot (allegedly) killed 19 US Airmen in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. None of this is defensible; still, comparable scale remains relevant. Iran never directly attacked United States military personnel or the American homeland, even though Washington had clearly enabled the devastation of the Persian nation.

Then, when after a US ship struck an underwater mine (no fatalities resulted) the American Navy – in Operation Praying Mantis – overtly sank the majority of the Iranian Navy in a one-sided sea battle. Then, during the same undeclared Persian Gulf maritime conflict, a US naval vessel even shot down a civilian Iranian airliner, killing 290 people. The commander, Captain Rogers, claimed his crew mistook the jet for an Iranian fighter, but even so the plane was fully in Iranian airspace.

Then, Vice President George H.W. Bush even refused to apologize for the shoot-down. He callously announced “I will never apologize for the United States – I don’t care what the facts are. … I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.” Oh, and as for Captain Rogers – he was awarded the Legion of Merit. For all these immense, and deadly, provocations, Iran didn’t responded in any measurable way. So it was, in Tuesday night’s case of deja vu, that Tehran again showed remarkable restraint by appearing to retaliate without harming the hair on a single American’s head.

None of this is to say that Mr. Trump, if he shows relative restraint – and it appears he plans to, for now – doesn’t deserve some credit. He’s done it before. Months ago, after Iran shot down an unmanned American drone, Trump apparently shocked his own aides and backed away from military strikes. Whatever shred remains of the optimist inside of me likes to believe that – for all his PT Barnum posturing and absurd risky behavior – The Donald, unlike the John Boltons’ of the world, doesn’t actually want an outright war with Iran.

Still, overall, it must be Tehran that earns the gold star for restraint in this – and many past – instances. I mean, come on, an American drone blew away one of their national heroes, perhaps the third most powerful man in their sovereign government. The move was tantamount to war by any and all reasonable definitions. And how did they respond? With a sham, maybe symbolic, American-casualty-free missile strike. Now that’s self control.

All of which raises a profound opportunity for President Trump. Iran’s leadership has shown, once again, and quite profoundly, that they’ll eschew open war with the US and may even be open to détente, for reentry into the global community from which they’ve long been excluded (by America, it must be said). Trump, it seems, in spite of his bluster, fumbling, mad carelessness, and escalation, could still salvage a new “deal” with the Islamic Republic.

No doubt, mainstream liberals will hammer this author for even suggesting that all could work out in Trump’s favor – but it could! So, if our dear leader seizes this opening to pivot to diplomacy, to some degree of relational normalization, he’d come slightly closer to earning his self-styled sobriquet of “stable genius.” And, for my sins, I might even crack open The Art of the Deal

Be seeing you

Rise Of A Dictator | The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 1953







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How Bad Are Congressional Republicans?

Posted by M. C. on December 5, 2019

Economic liberty is the utopia that they keep promising to bring us, pending the higher priority of blowing up foreign peoples, jailing political dissidents, crushing the left wing on campus, and routing the Democrats. Once all of this is done, they say, then they will get to the instituting of a free-market economic system. Of course, that day never arrives, and it is not supposed to.


The only conservative magazine that I regularly and religiously read is The New American, where I am a contributing columnist.

The New American does all Americans a great service by publishing “The Freedom Index: A Congressional Scorecard Based on the U.S. Constitution.” The Freedom Index “rates congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.”

The new edition of the Freedom Index is the first for the 116th Congress, and looks at ten key measures. Scores are derived by dividing a congressman’s constitutional votes by the total number of votes cast and multiplying by 100. So, the higher the score the better.

This edition of the Freedom Index tracks congressional votes in the House on a consolidated appropriations bill, public lands, firearms background checks, Yemen, the Paris Agreement, the Equality Act, a disaster supplemental appropriations bill, indefinite military detention, the budget deal, and a short-term appropriations bill.

It tracks votes in the Senate on abortion funding, public lands, a consolidated appropriations bill, Yemen, a disaster supplemental appropriations bill, an amendment to a supplemental border appropriations bill, war authorization, the budget deal, a spending-cut amendment, and a short-term appropriations bill.

The average House score is 36 percent. The average Senate score is 28 percent. Only two representatives, Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Justin Amash (I-MI), and two senators, Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), earned a perfect score of 100 percent.

We know that Democrats are worse than horrible. The socialist and statist policies of the Democratic Party are well known. It is the party of liberalism, socialism, progressivism, paternalism, collectivism, abortion, transgender mania, feminism, social justice, economic egalitarianism, big government, organized labor, government regulation, public education, government-mandated employee benefits, environmentalism, an ever-increasing minimum wage, anti-discrimination laws, affirmative action, welfare, higher taxes on “the rich,” income-transfer programs, and wealth-redistribution schemes.

But how bad are congressional Republicans?

Really bad.

There are 197 Republicans in the House, plus Independent Justin Amash, who was a Republican until July. Two Republicans included in the Freedom Index recently resigned (Reps. Duffy of New York and Collins of Wisconsin). Three Republicans have no score on the Freedom Index because they only recently entered the House after winning special elections (Reps. Murphy and Bishop of North Carolina and Rep. Keller of Pennsylvania). This leaves 197 Republicans with a score on the Freedom Index, including Rep. Amash. The average Republican score is 54.35 percent. Forty Republican Representatives scored 30 percent or lower, including one who received a zero.

There are fifty-three Republicans in the Senate. The average Republican score is only 31.75 percent. Twenty-three Republicans senators scored 20 percent or lower, including three who received a zero. Aside from the two Republican senators who scored a perfect 100 percent, only 5 of them scored above 50 percent…

What Lew Rockwell wrote about the Republicans ten years ago is still the gospel truth:

Free-market capitalism serves no more than a symbolic purpose for the Republican Party and for conservatives. Economic liberty is the utopia that they keep promising to bring us, pending the higher priority of blowing up foreign peoples, jailing political dissidents, crushing the left wing on campus, and routing the Democrats. Once all of this is done, they say, then they will get to the instituting of a free-market economic system. Of course, that day never arrives, and it is not supposed to. Capitalism serves the Republicans the way Communism served Stalin: a symbolic distraction to keep you hoping, voting, and coughing up money.

The only limited government that Republicans seek is a government limited to control by Republicans.



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Can These Senators Prevail Over UAE-Saudi Lobby for War? | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 6, 2019

Saudi and Emirati lobbyists contacted Senate offices more than 100 times…

lobbyists organized a meeting between Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and the UAE’sCatherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), just days before the vote…

All three Senators then voted to maintain U.S. military support for the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen…


Next week the Senate is poised to pass a historic resolution to exert Congress’s war authorizing powers and to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the disastrous war in Yemen. But Saudi and Emirati lobbyists are likely doing everything in their power to make sure that never happens.

They’re spreading propaganda, meeting with key members of Congress and, in some cases, making campaign contributions to Senators just days before the vote. How do we know? Because this is exactly what they did a year ago to kill the same bill in the Senate.

When Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a resolution to remove U.S. Armed Forces from the Yemen conflict in 2018, lobbying firms registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to represent Saudi Arabia and the UAE began furiously contacting elected officials, the media, and think tanks in hopes of stopping the bill in its tracks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Senators Will Use War Powers Act to Try to End US Involvement in Yemen War – News From

Posted by M. C. on March 1, 2018

The war is the fault of one of the planet’s poorest countries, on the other side of the globe whom did not attacked US and does not poses such a threat to the US homeland.

At a Wednesday press conference, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) unveiled the bipartisan Senate resolution which aims to force an end to the US military involvement in the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen.

The bill makes use of the 1973 War Powers Act, which allows any legislator to introduce a resolution which would compel a withdrawal from any conflict that was not specifically authorized by Congress in any Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Neither of the two extent AUMFs have anything to do with the attack on Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi movement… Read the rest of this entry »

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