Robert Higgs on the presidents’ murder spree and Rand Paul’s filibuster:
The discussion related to Sen. Rand Paul’s recent filibuster seems in nearly every case to be premised on a misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution, the ostensible basis for any powers the president or his subordinates may lawfully exercise. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment states, ‘No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’ This provision obviously prohibits the president or anyone else in the government from peremptorily killing anyone without due process of law. Note that this part of the Bill of Rights, like all of the others, does not apply only to U.S. citizens or, as Sen. Paul and others repeatedly put it, to ‘American citizens on U.S. soil.’ The Bill of Rights constrains the government across the board and provides areas in which all persons subject to its authority are to have freedom of action — or, at least, it purports to do so. Nothing in these provisions restricts them to U.S. citizens.
Like so many others I was happy to see coverage of Rand Paul’s filibuster yesterday, against the morally repugnant appointment of torture-advocate and drone promoter, John Brennan. Five minutes before the start of the filibuster Lew Rockwell referred to the Washington establishment as a “marble wedding cake of death.” What followed over the next twelve hours certainly confirmed the dark marriage of the two parties, as an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans waited on the Senate floor, hoping the junior senator from Kentucky would take his seat.
Ryan McMaken offered this analysis of the event, noting that for at least two reasons, it was a positive thing. In the first place it was a filibuster, and anything that gums up the works is almost always a net positive. Secondly, he argues, it “has been specifically used to oppose and discredit one of the worst abuses of the presidency in many years.” Specifically he meant the utterly reprehensible use of drone strikes abroad, as well as the claimed authority to use them against civilians far from any battlefield.
Radley Balko tweeted: “In an alternate universe, Sen. Obama just joined Sen. Paul’s filibuster against President McCain’s use of drones against U.S. citizens.” The Simple Voluntaryist asked whether Rand Paul would still have filibustered had Mitt Romney won the election. I’m less than optimistic that he would. However, it seems pretty clear that had the roles been reversed, and McCain was nominating some sociopath, the filibuster would have gone on much longer. This would be due to the Democrats’ steadfast concern for human rights, which has proven to be the most transparently partisan and wholly bankrupt effort, with few notable exceptions.
Senator Rand Paul will introduce legislation next week to suspend aid to Pakistan until the government frees Dr. Shakil Afridi, an informant working for the CIA, who helped with the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s house. Though Paul was critical of aid in general, saying “Foreign aid has been an abysmal failure,” such efforts are really only half measures if the goal is to end aid. In fact, withholding aid in this way and promising to reinstate it afterwards only reinforces its legitimacy as foreign policy bribe money.
Aid to Pakistan shouldn’t be cut because their government has prosecuted an informant. Aid to Pakistan (and all other nations, for that matter) should be eliminated because it’s immoral. In the words of Ron Paul, “Foreign aid is taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries.”
This is another reason (on a growing list) of why Rand Paul’s philosophy is to Ron Paul’s philosophy, what CATO/Reason is to LewRockwell.com/The Mises Institute. That is to say, it’s an intellectual and ideological lightweight in the libertarian school of thought. It’s libertarianism that is grounded on a pragmatic or utilitarian foundation, as opposed to one that rests on morality and a consistent application of the non-aggression principle.