April 03rd, 2013
Here’s the back story that led us to the topic:
On March 6th of 2013, Senator Rand Paul filibustered President Obama’s nominee for the director of the CIA, John Brennan. His claim for filibustering was due to the ambiguity in the administration’s policy regarding domestic drone strikes. Essentially he was arguing that the President does not, and should not ever have the ability to kill a citizen of the United States in the United States on mere suspicion of a crime.
Senator Paul appeared to have support from both the left and the right on the issue. He managed to stand for about 12 hours and essentially concluded with the message that President Obama must assure due process in the country. Brennan assumed office 2 days later on March the 8th. As far as we know, nothing really changed.
The problem as we saw it is with respect to the question. The rationale behind Rand’s filibuster was phrased with such granularity that the illegality of the President’s new policy should be overwhelmingly obvious to every American, and really every person in the western world. But sadly it is not. This is what prompts us to explore “The Right Questions” and ultimately what it means to have others make choices for you.
Kevin: Hello and welcome once again to the JK Podcast. This week we’re presenting the 1st of a two-part episode, primarily focusing on the freedom of conscience. Our conversation on the topic was actually a spinoff from two other topics also included in this episode. Here’s the back story that led us to the topic.
On March 6th of 2013, Senator Rand Paul filibustered President Obama’s nominee for the director of the CIA, John Brennan. His claim for filibustering was due to the ambiguity in the administration’s policy regarding domestic drone strikes. Essentially, he was arguing that the president does not, and should never have the ability to kill a citizen of the United States, in the United States, on mere suspicion of a crime.
Senator Paul appeared to have support from both the left and the right on the issue. He managed to stay in for about 12 hours and essentially concluded with the message that President Obama must assure due process in the country. Brennan assumed office two days later on March, 8th. As far as we know, nothing really changed. Here’s a clip of Rand Paul delivering part of this filibuster:
Rand Paul: So when we ask the president, “can you kill Americans on American soil with your drone strikes – which is part of the military?” It should be an easy answer. Can the military operate in the United States? Well, no – the law says the military can’t operate in the United States. It’s on the books, and he should simply do the honorable thing and say he will obey the law – it’s simple. But I don’t get why they refuse to answer it. It worries me that they refuse to answer the question because by refusing to answer it, I believe that they believe they have expansive power, unlimited power.
The problem as we saw it is with respect to the question. The rationale behind Rand’s filibuster was so granularly stated that the illegality of the president’s new policy should be overwhelmingly obvious to every American, and really, every person in the western world – but sadly, it is not. This is what prompts us to explore the rights questions, and ultimately what it means to have others make choices for you.
Joining us again this week is our friend, Tom DeLorenzo. The other voice is the co-creator, Jad Davis; I’m Kevin Ludlow – welcome back to our show.
My favorite thing that happened in the last week – not that it had any impact on anything but for the sake of the libertarian type of movement in this country – I was very happy to see Rand Paul’s little filibuster. Now I get it’s a little bit of showmanship, I get that it’s – maybe doesn’t have a tremendous wing in the actual policy, but I think the fact that it happens and from what I could tell at least, it seemed to me that both sides of the aisle were actually pretty supportive of it – at least in my group of people which are generally pretty polarized from one another as pretty strong leftists, and pretty strong rightists, and so I was kinda happy to see a lot of people agreeing that this was good to talk about this because it was a pretty significant issue – or it is a pretty significant issue.
Tom: Yeah, but what do you think? Has it just come and gone? It happened, now it’s gone and now did it do anything? Did it put anything in people’s mind that’s going to stay?
Kevin: I don’t know – I’m torn. I guess for me, what I saw it as was kind of like a straw poll if you will, you know? If you put a real straw poll out it’s a bunch of bullshit because you’re only putting a straw poll out to the .001% of people who care about it in the first place, so it’s not a good sample size. But I thought with this what was interesting is just that a lot of people that I wouldn’t have thought would take notice actually did take notice, and a lot of people have just used Facebook or various social networking channels to voice that opinion. And so it was interesting reading the opinions that people were reading.
For the most part I think pretty much every single person that I saw was speaking favorably about it, just saying, “Well this is a really serious issue, it should definitely be discussed. It shouldn’t be getting overlooked.” So I guess I kind of take in the straw poll of reading the way that people in my peer group were actually seeing the whole thing, which led me to believe that people are actually being a little bit more open to it.
Jad: Yeah, it’s one of those things I’m just keeping my head down like, I don’t know. I don’t know. It just seems like to me that if the best we can do is think about having a discussion about whether or now robots can murder Americans in this country without due process, if that’s the thing that rises to the level of warranting a some kind of discussion, then that’s just – I mean again, that kinda makes me feel the same way I guess you feel when there’s like, a million throning[?] –
Jad: – Catholics or whatever and it’s like, oh man, this can’t turn out well.
Tom: Yeah, it’s almost like no one really cares about the drones falling on other places outside of the country, but then when there’s the threat of it happening here, all of a sudden it’s an injustice because it’s an injustice against Americans –
Jad: Well Tom, it’s not an injustice necessarily, it’s just something that warrants thinking about, that’s all.
Tom: End[?] of discussions on filibusters, yeah.
Kevin: I mean – I think everybody is aware that I’m equally a cynic of these things – that said, I mean, the alternative is not discussing at all I suppose.
Jad: Some part of me thinks that that might actually be – and it sounds weird, so I’m going to couch this in a [?] caveats, it’s almost worse that this – every now and then – somebody’s like, “hey, maybe we should think about trying something else”, because if everyone and the government was just like, “no, we’re going to throw you in prison and kill you”, then maybe something else could happen, you know? Right now, things like the Rand Paul thing just suck the life out of everything else because people are like, “well, maybe we should get Rand Paul in office in 2016”, and like you know, that’s 4 years of doing nothing then, you know what I mean?
It’s just you know – not that nothing is going to happen anyway, I don’t really know you know, what the alternative would even be – but it’s just, the Rand Paul thing is not an actually discussion about should we consider the possibility of not having robots murder Americans, it’s just a way to like, lure everyone along who wants to believe that there’s got to be some sane way to deal with this apparatus that we’re supposed to use to get justice done and to get you know, things improved. It’s just a way to keep people believing that that’s still possible, and until everyone believes it’s not possible, it’s going to be the same show over and over again.
Tom: Yeah, I kinda go along with that because it’s almost like there’s these threats that people might perceive as being serious against them, or people they know, or the country, or human beings in general – whatever – and they have to feel like there’s something they can do about it. And then there’s this process that makes them feel like they’re participating and having their voices heard and are actually putting some effort in doing something to stop this bad stuff from happening.
And of course, I don’t think it has any positive effect like that and like you and like you say, Jad, maybe the best thing is for it just to get bad enough that more people don’t feel like, “well, if I go push a button on a piece of paper 4 years from now, that’ll fix it.”
Jad: Yeah. You know the analogy, Kevin, I think that you’ve actually gone with this part of the theory that you know, you kinda wish the fed would stop printing dollars right, because at some point their constant quantitative easing is going to lead to an economic collapse, and if it happens now you know – if they stop printing dollars tomorrow for whatever reason – then we have that economic reconciliation now when things are as bad as they are now.
But if it goes on for another 15 years, then you have the economic reconciliation with 15 more years of market distortion and you know, misallocation of resources, and everything is far worse off when they finally – when it finally ends, you know?
Kevin: Right. So basically, taking the side which I have taken with the fed before that if we just go ahead and let it destroy itself so much, at that point once the destruction hits, people effectively have to do something about it or they’ll be – I mean, it’ll just happen, right?
Jad: [?] – yeah, something else besides relying on bankers to print money and solve problems will have to happen.
Jad: And that’s eventually going to have to be what happens. At some point, that’s going to have to be – and the same thing is true with you know, government. At some point, something else besides this group of people in Washington supposedly protecting us you know, protecting our liberties, something else is going to have to take the place of that.
Jad: And the sooner that happens, the clearer – the faster people are clear about what those people are actually doing, then the sooner we can come up with something else, and the more resources we’ll have at our disposal to do so.
Jad: I mean, another 50 years of public education, and quantitative easing, and constant warfare, and you know, an increase in the size and strength of domestic police and surveillance, and you know, tracking and all that is just going to make it that much more awful. Whenever austerity hits and you know, all of a sudden they can’t send out social security checks you know, and people go in the street and start rioting, and then who shows up? Is it going to be guys with sticks, or is it going to be you know, robot helicopters with hellfire missiles. So, anyway –
Kevin: Well if that’s the case then, I mean – if I can play not so much devil’s advocate, but just illustrate the counter side of that then – I guess it’s kind of a – almost a mood point, or perhaps even there’s still some positive in seeing Rand do what he’s doing. For the reason that I was saying earlier is that if we go on that assumption that that’s the direction it’s going to go anyways like, he didn’t accomplish anything, right – nothing changed.
Jad: Well it did accomplish something, I mean – but go ahead.
Kevin: OK. So maybe he accomplished something, I don’t think he necessarily changed direction of anything, and if anything it’s going to make people just that much more passive that this particular guy is just doing something about it so miraculously it’s fixed, but it’s not. Is that kinda –
Tom: Well, he’s still part of the system and so whenever any part of the system kinda pushes back, then people jump on that and feel like the system can police itself. There are people there who can do something and they keep investing their effort and time in that system.
Kevin: No, but see I saw it as just the opposite in this case. I saw that the positive I saw from it was the fact that this was a pretty fucking trivial question that Rand Paul had put out there, and I again, I don’t really care for Rand Paul – he’s got far too many policies and thought processes that I just don’t like. I don’t think he’s actually very much like his father at all.
But there’s a certain fervor[?] that he definitely has that’s kind of exciting – there’s wishfulness[?] to it, and then there’s some hope in it, I think. The part that I saw was that this question that he put out there, none of the senators would come in and answer the question, and to me that was really the biggest telltale for that ultimate collapse that I guess, I’m hoping is accelerated day by day is just one more bit of information to say, “look, the only thing this guy asks” – the only thing he put out there was to say – and you’re right, it was a very granular – had nothing to do with the global picture – do you think it’s OK for the United States military to have devices flying through the air that the president – at a whim – can say, “kill this person”, when they’ve done nothing wrong, and they’re an American on American soil not posing a threat.
That was essentially the question that he phrased and even with that very, very, very granular, specific wording, it still couldn’t get the senate body to come out there and say, “I agree with you, that should not be allowed”, and to me that was – that spoke volumes that we have no voice. The machine clearly doesn’t work for you; the senate is worthless as is the house is as worthless as the executive branch –
Tom: Yeah, but there’s just example, after example, after example, after year, after year of that.
Kevin: Well that might be, but that’s all I’m saying is that in this case, I mean look, the fact of the matter is when we talk about the federal reserve, I agree very strongly with the Austrian type of model if you will – and probably even more stringent than that – but there are people who can make pretty valid claims on both sides. I mean and then there our economic theory is a complicated beast and you can certainly make claims to say, “Well, it might be good to support some type of currency for some stability in this thing”, you can make those arguments, and I would reject those arguments but they do exist.
And I’m just saying in this particular case, there is no particular – there’s no argument whatsoever that you can make that justifies the question that he put out there at all – there’s just not, unless you’re just saying that, “yes, the president should have the unilateral authority to execute a person who’s done seemingly nothing wrong, and is an American on American soil.”
Tom: I don’t think that the senators have the luxury of being able to say what they think. I think they probably have their people on the telephones trying to take polls to find out what their constituents think so that they can say what they think the people would want to hear.
Tom: I think that’s what a politician’s life is they’re not going to come out there and I mean, Rand Paul is maybe sitting out there talking about what he believes, and he doesn’t care how many people agree with him or not but I don’t think most of the elected officials are like that. They’re not going to come out strong on something like that one way or another until they find out which way the wind’s blowing.
Kevin: And so that’s kinda the point, right? I mean that the goal at very least is to – outside of having a true anarchist type of system, which has no centralized government whatsoever – I mean, that’s at very least the type of person that you’re looking for, right? I mean, frankly, I don’t have a problem with the politician who comes onto the pulpit and says, “Yeah, I absolutely think we should be able to do that.” Frankly, I have a great deal of respect for that person. I fervently disagree with him, but at very least, if he just believed it for whatever reason and could put out a reason, hey man, that guy’s as good as anybody else is. I don’t have a problem with one’s opinion, even if I reject it.
Tom: Well then the worst case scenario would be that senators didn’t want to come out there and agree with him, and maybe it’s true that the majority of people agree with the president. Maybe the majority of the people think that well, the president should be able to do that if he needs to to protect us – that’s a very real possibility, I think.
Kevin: Well – and on a lighter parallel topic, maybe not parallel topic, but parallel mentality to that sort of thing you know, individual rights versus what people actually think and all that – the Mayor Bloomberg issue right now with the soda law – it’s real interesting. I’ve been listening to NPR and various other channels and you know they’ve been interviewing a lot of people. I don’t know what the actual on the ground polling data suggests, but it seems to be that most people are really unhappy with that for various, “you shouldn’t be told what to eat and drink” sort of – that type of thing.
But I definitely heard a lot of counterclaims to it that they’ve recorded – people saying, “well, you know, yeah he probably shouldn’t be telling people what to eat and drink, but at the end of the day, it probably is better for us, so I think it’s probably something that we should go ahead and follow through with”, you know? And hearing shit like that is the same sort of thing.
Tom: Yep, and I think that if not a majority, there’s a whole lot of people who have that mindset. I was going to bring up this example as well because it is a slight parallel – you know, people are all happy that this judge reversed his decree or – I don’t even know too many of the details – but supposedly didn’t – some New York judge said, “no, you can’t do that”, and then people are happy about that and I was almost like, thinking the same way that you were thinking about you know, looking for the claps.
I’m like you know, when you’ve got a bunch of people who really believe that someone like a mayor has the power to make decisions about their lives, about what they eat, and drink, and all that stuff, then they deserve the worst case possible. They don’t deserve that the judge reversed it. It should go downhill as fast as possible because like you say you know, people are like, “well, he went over the line there – that was too much – but yeah you know, we shouldn’t have smoking” – you know, everyone’s got their own little lines and they’re in aggreeance[?] with the idea that someone should be able to make those decisions as long as they don’t go beyond commons sense, and then the court should be there to reverse it and that’s the great system, and that’s blah, blah, blah – you know?
So many people are still miles away from even just like you said, considering you know, why would we have a system, or are there people who have power to control what you eat?
Tom: And what kind of money you use and you know, whether drones should – just various degrees of the same question, why [?] –
Kevin: Well –
Tom: – system or there should be someone who can legislate those things.
Kevin: Well I mean, this just goes to the whole gay marriage topic I’ve brought up on a number of occasions you know, and I love bringing it up with my gay and lesbian friends with frequencies – it’s the wrong debate, right? Why are we debating whether or not a homosexual couple should be able to get married when the debate should be, “why must I ask a governmental permission to be with somebody”, I mean, that’s [?] –
Tom: Well I think the whole point of marriage is getting the tax break I mean, that’s what it’s turned into. They want the right to be able to be married so they can deduct more taxes –
Tom: – and that’s it, so the assumption is that it’s a state institution and it’s tied to taxes and they want to be able to take advantage of it like everybody else.
Kevin: Sure and I’m fine with that, but it’s – the point being that the – you’re asking when people debate it on the street – debate it with friends of mine – you know, I think everybody I know is probably in favor of it of course, but it’s just the point. I tell them all the time this, “You’re asking the wrong question, you should be asking why do you need to get married in the first place. Why is that the legal institution?”
Tom: Right and it’s almost like trying to draw a parallel between all these disparate cases. Do you think it’s OK that the mayor should ban large drinks like, that’s the wrong question. Why do you think anybody should be in there being involved with what someone buys, and eats, and drinks? Why should they be involved with how people decide to live together?
The questions posed in the media are always, “did they step over the line”, because we know they have the authority to do this, but where should that line be and what’s reasonable, and what’s not – instead of just saying, “Why are they there at all?” “Why are they involved?”
Kevin: Yeah I mean –
Tom: Because they shouldn’t be.
Kevin: And that’s where we’ll leave you this week. Remember that this is a two-part episode, and the next installment of the show will pick up right where we just left off. In the meantime, if you’d like to get in touch with either of us, you can reach Jad on his website at www.Jad-Davis.com, or Kevin at www.KevinLudlow.com. We’ve got all sorts of contact information, as well as how to reach Tom DeLorenzo on our podcast website at www.JKPod.com. Thanks again, and we’ll be back next week.