Archive for the ‘Rand Paul’ Category

Rand Paul wants to end the draft as a tribute to Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

The death of Muhammad Ali has reignited a debate about the outspoken athlete’s legacy, particularly his famous refusal to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.

Now, Rand Paul is getting in on the discussion.

Paul recently introduced an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act that would end the selective service, which forces men between the ages of 18-25 to register for a military draft that, while still technically in existence, hasn’t been enforced since the 1970s.

Now he wants to do it in Muhammad Ali’s honor.

Sen. Paul wrote in the Louisville Courier Journal, “In honor of Muhammad Ali’s life work, I will introduce the repeal of the draft as stand-alone legislation with his name on it.”

“He was a conscientious objector and practiced civil disobedience, a proud American tradition that runs from the Founding Fathers to Thoreau and all the way through Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ali’s own time,” said Paul.

“Ali said in 1975 that he would like to be remembered, ‘As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him and who helped as many of his people as he could – financially and also in their fight for freedom, justice and equality,” Paul added.

If Paul’s bill passes, it will essentially end the draft, officially making the United States dependent upon an on all-volunteer military, as has functionally been the case since 1973.

“One thing I liked about Muhammad Ali is that he would stand on principle even when it was unpopular,” said Paul, speaking to a slew of reporters in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky this week.

Tying Ali’s opposition to the draft to contemporary disparities, Paul said, “The criminal justice system I say now has a racial justice disparity, selective service had a racial disparity, because a lot of rich white kids either got a deferment or went to college or got out of the draft. I’m opposed to Selective Service.”

Paul’s standalone legislation is called ‘The Muhammad Ali Voluntary Service Act.’

Rand Paul is working to end the draft—among other things libertarians will love

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential race may be a historical footnote, but the senator libertarians know and love is back at it as Congress works through its annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is passed yearly to allocate defense spending.

As civil liberties advocates will recall, the NDAA was controversially used in 2012 as a vehicle to allow the indefinite detention of American citizens on the mere suspicion of involvement with terrorism. This year however, Sen. Paul is harnessing the NDAA process to promote liberty-aligned priorities.

Sen. Paul has thus far introduced several amendments to the appropriations bill. The most exciting include ending the military draft, declassifying 9/11 documents that allegedly show Saudi involvement in the attacks, and forcing a new congressional vote to authorize Obama’s ongoing Middle Eastern wars.

Ceasing the use of military drafts has long been a libertarian priority, and Paul’s amendment is an exciting addition to the recent discussion about whether the U.S. should also draft women, or if this outdated practice of conscription is even necessary anymore.

And Paul’s move to declassify 28 pages worth of documents that allegedly implicate the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks comes on the heels of heated debate about this issue among lawmakers.

In the House, Reps Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), have been pressing this matter for months, with a major assist from former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.). Graham co-chaired the intelligence committee that wrote the classified pages in 2002.

This helped lead to the recent passage of a Senate bill that allows Americans whose family members were lost during 9/11 to sue the Saudi Arabian government. Sen. Paul and many others now believe it’s long past time to declassify the information that would apparently justify this legislation.

Sen. Paul is also using the NDAA debate to force a matter that has long been a pet issue of his: Acquiring congressional authorization for acts of war abroad.

Paul recently authored an op-ed at Time Magazine on this topic, writing: “One generation cannot bind another generation to perpetual war. Our Constitution mandates that war be authorized by Congress.”

Paul’s point of contention is that the Obama administration is still working off of two Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) measures passed by Congress in 2001 and 2002, even though many new fronts of war have been opened since.

In addition to his work on making the NDAA even the slightest bit more liberty friendly, Sen. Paul is a sponsor of other great standalone legislation. Paul’s most notable recent accomplishment is the passage through the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act.

This bipartisan piece of legislation would empower federal workers to identify ways to save taxpayer money by giving them bonuses for helping to reduce spending; a seemingly commonsense measure that has evaded Congress so far.

It’s only been three months since Paul ended his presidential bid. Obviously, he’s been busy, pursuing these and other important measures, working across the aisle to achieve his goals when necessary.

Liberty-lovers can sleep a little easier knowing he’s there.

How Rand Paul plans to stop the sale of U.S. weapons to Pakistan

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Senator Rand Paul is about to introduce a creative resolution that would halt U.S. arms sales to the government of Pakistan.

“This power hasn’t been used since the Reagan administration,” Paul told Rare, citing a 1986 push to stop arms salesto Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Paul said it’s dangerous for the U.S. government to continue arming that country, with its long history of human rights violations, particularly against Christians.

He plans to take advantage of a little-known procedural maneuver that allows senators to object to arms sales. “I object to continuing to feed the arms race in that area of the world,” Paul said. “Once we give planes to one side, the other side will need more planes,” he added.

Paul noted Pakistan’s holding of Asia Bibi, a Christian, is troubling. “[Bibi] is on death row for supposedly criticizing the state religion. I think that’s a human rights violation to such a degree that we shouldn’t be subsidizing arm sales to a country that is persecuting any Christians,” Paul said.

Bibi has been jailed by Pakistan for five years for breaking that country’s blasphemy laws.

Paul also noted his opposition to U.S. taxpayers subsidizing this endeavor to the tune of at least $4 billion. Paul says he’s concerned because Pakistan’s behavior hasn’t been reliable.

Rare asked Sen. Paul what he believes those who support arming Pakistan expect to get from it. He explained that, “They say it’s a way to fight terrorism. But frankly, Pakistan has been an uncertain ally as far as the War on Terrorism goes.”

“There are some allegations that the ten years Osama bin Laden spent in Pakistan, that could have almost never have occurred without their knowledge,” Paul noted.

The senator noted that some politicians believe the United States influences Pakistan’s behavior by giving them weapons. Paul doesn’t buy it.

“Not only is Pakistan’s imprisonment of Asia Bibi wrong, they imprisoned Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped us get bin Laden,” said Paul.

“Until they release those [two prisoners], I will be forcing votes on any arm sales to Pakistan,” the senator insisted.

For Sen. Paul, who since leaving the presidential race has been focusing on reelection in his home state of Kentucky, the issue also comes down to a matter of priorities.

“As I’m traveling around Kentucky and I see the looks on the faces of people who are out of work, and we have a lot of people who have lost their jobs in the coalmines, it saddens me to think of where they are, and their situations. Yet then we’re sending money to Pakistan.” Paul said.

“We don’t even have enough money take care of our people at home,” he added. “We have no business sending hundreds of millions of dollars overseas, and fueling an arms race at the same time.”

Sen. Paul said that he expects that his objection to arming Pakistan will be heard on the Senate floor during the week of March 7th.

Rare Exclusive: Would Justin Amash run for president?

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is considered the most high profile libertarian Republican in Congress after Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), making national waves with his staunch opposition to the National Security Agency’s controversial metadata collection program. Along with libertarian firebrand Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Amash is one of two congressmen who are generally considered the most beloved by the Ron Paul-inspired liberty movement.

After originally supporting Sen. Paul’s presidential bid, who has since left the race, on Tuesday Rep. Amashendorsed Senator Ted Cruz for president. Amash noted in his endorsement in an op-ed at IJ Review, “Ted is not a libertarian and doesn’t claim to be.”

“But he is a principled defender of the Constitution, a brilliant strategist and debater who can defeat the Democratic nominee in the general election,” Amash said, adding that Cruz is “the only remaining candidate I trust to take on what he correctly calls the Washington Cartel.”

Some of Amash’s libertarian supporters cheered his Cruz endorsement while others seemed disappointed. Sen. Paul and Rep. Massie have said they’re not making any presidential endorsements during the Republican primary. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), also a leading libertarian Republican in the House, has endorsed Cruz. Former Rand Paul supporter Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Id.), a liberty-friendly leading member of the House Freedom Caucus and frequent Amash ally has also moved over to Cruz. Other former Paul supporters have also began to support Cruzin various states.

On Friday, Rep. Amash sat down with Rare to discuss his endorsement and what the future holds, both for him and the liberty movement.

Also: Does Justin Amash have any presidential ambitions?

Rare: Is there any context you can provide about the interactions you’ve had with Sen. Cruz that you allude to in your endorsement op-ed that make you believe he’s the remaining presidential candidate most likely to give liberty issues a hearing?

Justin Amash: I’ve seen Ted stand with Rand for hours on the Senate floor in opposition to U.S. drone policy. I’ve watched him vote against the NDAA, knowing he’d face attacks from people like Rubio, McCain, and Graham. I’ve spent time with him discussing our government’s failed interventions in Libya and Syria.

Ted cares about the Constitution, and that makes him a strong ally for libertarians despite our disagreements on some important issues.

Rare: Some of your libertarian supporters seem convinced that there’s no difference between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. You reference Rubio once in your article. Could you expand upon why you think they’re so different from your vantage point as a libertarian Republican congressman?

Justin Amash: While campaigning, Ted and Marco often use rhetoric that unfortunately conflates their very different records. Marco Rubio comes from the McCain-Graham school of foreign policy and surveillance policy. Ted Cruz’s voting record, while not libertarian, more closely aligns with Senators Paul and Lee. When an issue arises relating to war or privacy, I can usually count on Ted to stand with me or at least thoughtfully consider my position. I can usually count on Marco to take the anti-liberty position.

Rare: On one hand, Sen. Cruz opposed Obama’s regime change in Libya and Syria. On the other, he’s talked about carpet bombing and “making sand glow.” What are libertarians to make of those statements?

Justin Amash: We shouldn’t be happy about those statements. And those statements don’t do justice to his voting record, which has been much better than most senators on matters of foreign policy.

Rare: You’ve long said that your work in House has helped to persuade your colleagues toward a more libertarian vision. What would you say to those in the liberty movement who are convinced that working within the Republican Party is a fruitless endeavor?

Justin Amash: Our work in the Republican Party has made a difference. My colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus have told me many times that I’ve made them more libertarian. And it’s evident in the votes. They’ve stood with me against corporate welfare, against unconstitutional NSA spying, against encryption backdoors, against wasteful Pentagon spending, and against arming Syrian rebels. Recently, when a cyber-spying bill was slipped into the omnibus, the House Freedom Caucus jointly offered an amendment to strip that section. We have stood together in support of liberty and the Constitution. With each new Congress, our numbers grow.

Rare: If Trump or Rubio were to become president, do you think that would make the liberty Republican faction even more crucial? To stop them from undermining the Constitution?

Justin Amash: Yes.

Rare: Many libertarians are dying to know: Would you consider running for president some day?

Justin Amash: It’s important that we have a strong libertarian voice running for president. And it’s important that we win. So, yes.

This presidential race shows how influential liberty Republicans have become

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

When Senator Rand Paul dropped out of the presidential race, his supporters were justifiably disheartened. So many had worked hard for the cause and felt Paul was the only candidate pushing a liberty message.

But as I wrote when Paul exited, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come in just the last eight years.

A recent Politico piece helps put this in perspective. As Lauren French writes, “With Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul out of the race, the GOP field has been burning up Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s phone lines, hoping to win an endorsement from the influential member of the House Freedom Caucus.”

Mulvaney is a Republican congressman from South Carolina, and presidential candidates see him and his liberty-leaning colleagues as an important part of the Republican constituency. Can you imagine that being a consideration during the Bush presidency? Even six years ago, liberty Republicans barely registered as a factor. Remember when Mitch McConnell took the rare step of endorsing against Rand Paul during his Senate primary?

We’ve come a long way! Change doesn’t happen overnight. But it is happening.

Of the House Freedom Caucus, French writes, “Mulvaney has gotten…calls from most of the 2016 Republican hopeful… So did many of his fellow Paul supporters in the Freedom Caucus. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash and Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador said they were both the recipients of eager calls from campaigns angling to discuss an endorsement.”

While this doesn’t mean that Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz will adopt libertarian positions overnight—or even ever—it shows how liberty Republicans can begin to affect the political process in a tangible way if we’re enough of a constituency. Politics is, as always, a numbers game.

If there are enough liberty Republicans in Congress representing a sizable base of supporters, we will matter. So will our ideas. There will never be a perfect utopia in which only libertarian thought exists in Washington. But we can certainly keep up the fight and potentially become a dominant faction, especially as young liberty Republicans age into positions of leadership.

This is a point that Congressman Justin Amash has made time and again. When I was disheartened by Trump winning the New Hampshire primary, Amash wrote an encouraging note on my Facebook page (how cool is social media?!) that really spoke to the point.

Said Amash:

I have about 40 colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus who agree with my principles and positions to a degree I never would have imagined just a few years ago. I’ve run openly as a libertarian Republican (without using Ron Paul’s more paleoconservative rhetoric that appeals to Trump voters), have been challenged aggressively, and consistently win by large margins. Things are moving in our direction in the background, even as things get worse in the foreground.

I believe this is absolutely true. And I’m happy to know that the House Freedom Caucus has more influence now than ever.

As for Amash’s presidential plans now that Paul is out? He’s hinted at where he’s leaning.

Amash told French, “It’s not a close call comparing Ted Cruz to the rest of the field. We’ve been playing phone tag but I’m going to continue to have conversations with Ted.” Amash added that he thinks Cruz is “an excellent candidate.”

Amash, along with Ron and Rand Paul, endorsed Cruz during his U.S. Senate campaign in 2012. Throughout the presidential race, Cruz’s thinking has straddled the line between liberty-friendly and more establishment.

Disappointingly, Cruz came out against Apple’s recent stand opposing the FBI’s attempt to destroy their encryption standards. On the other hand, Cruz is the most likely of the remaining Republican candidates to support NSA reform.

As Rare’s Jack Hunter recently wrote, liberty Republicans have a lot to think about if they decide to back another presidential candidate. There is no monolithic or ideal choice. But we can certainly focus on growing our ranks within the GOP on a state and federal level, even if the presidency is currently out of reach. And in doing so, we can make a difference.