Filibusting

posted at 10:41 am on March 7, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

By this time, most of you who stayed up for the nearly thirteen hour dance marathon in the United States Senate last night are probably up and around, or at least wiping the sleep out of your eyes. AP had some ongoing coverage of the spectacle as it unfolded, but now that it’s done I’m left with more than a few questions.

Right up front I will just say that there was nothing trivial about the subject Senator Paul was addressing, nor the method he chose to bring it to light. Nobody should be treating this as some sort of a clown show or stunt, and I’m certainly not going to do so here. In addition to stopping a vote on a new CIA director, he was highlighting questions about the use of drone strikes involving US citizens. An actual filibuster is a rare beast indeed, and the meat at the core of Paul’s argument (which we’ll circle back to in a moment) is on the minds of many Americans for good reason.

But the mechanics of the thing occupied much of my thoughts as it was rolling out. The original purpose of a filibuster as it’s commonly understood, is to prevent a vote from taking place. The vote waiting in the wings was the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director, a point that Senator Paul made himself quite early on.

“I’m here to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination to be director of CIA,” Paul announced, later vowing: “I will speak for as long as it takes.”

Fair enough. That’s his right as a member of the Senate and if he’s got the lung power to do it, then full steam ahead as far as I’m concerned. But less than five hours into the marathon speaking session, the state of the battle changed.

Nearly five hours into Paul’s filibuster, Reid threw in the towel, and said he hoped for a Thursday vote on Brennan’s nomination. “We’ll just finish this matter tomorrow,” Reid said. “We’re through for the night.”

Without unanimous consent, a final vote on Brennan could be pushed to next week.

Mission accomplished, to borrow a now infamous phrase. But the filibuster wound on for almost another eight hours. Why? With the vote called off, the job was done. And there’s only so many times you can rephrase the same set of arguments over and over again before it gets repetitive. I was left feeling as if the continued steamrolling was beginning to detract from the popular appeal of the senator’s decision to climb this mountain in the first place. Might it not have been better to yield the floor, save his voice and energy, and take it up again in the morning? And having thwarted the vote once – a vote which, let’s face it, is going to take place at some point – might he not simply use the mass appeal and attention drawn by the first five hours to gin up some serious PAC money and run national ads to bring more public attention to the question of drones and US citizens defined as enemy combatants? In the end, I simply don’t know why it went on for as long as it did.

As to the entire drone question, it’s good that Paul brought it front and center in the national debate. Of course, it probably left a lot of people with some conflicted feelings if they’re being truly honest with themselves. As I none too charitably quipped on Twitter last night, the people screaming about potential drone strikes on Americans who previously supported the Patriot Act remind me quite a bit of those who railed against the Patriot Act under Bush but are now strangely silent when Obama is the one calling the shots. (Both literally and figuratively.)

This would have been so much easier on everyone if it were another president named Bush proposing drone strikes on American citizens and a Democratic Senator Obama leading the charge against it. Then everybody could stay in their usual corners and come out swinging. But the faces and parties have changed, even as the tactics haven’t. Many years ago we opened a real can of worms when we began blurring the lines between criminals and soldiers with the idea of “enemy combatants.” Rand Paul wasn’t in the Senate at the time, so I’m not sure what his position was back then. I’ll assume it was the same for the sake of consistency. But for those who were around and engaged in this argument, this sets the stage for a whole new chapter in the saga. And maybe that was really the best thing Rand Paul accomplished with his now famous filibuster.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

BTW.. Remember how McCain was cool and relevant about 10 years ago? He is bitter about that.

Illinidiva on March 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

I keep coming back to this idiotic post. Maybe Jazz should take a gander at that gargantuan post from last night. Over 2,500 on topic, non trolling posts in one frickin day. This had huge impact, if only (and I don’t think this is the only impact) for giving those of us demoralized in the last election a small spark to tender and encourage into a lasting flame.

Being this stupid should hurt.

cptacek on March 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM

most of you who stayed up for the nearly thirteen hour dance marathon

Dance marathon? Weird. Nice way to try to marginalize Paul’s efforts, though.

LetsBfrank on March 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM

McCain is really pissing me off….
He is a senile old fool.
redguy on March 7, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I have no idea if he’s senile. But he is old and is a fool. Although I can’t recall a time when he wasn’t.
I’m sorry he was stuck in a Vietcong prison for years. I’m sorry for him personally and sorry for the rest of us that he’s been given this enormous platform for decades because of his POW ordeal.

happytobehere on March 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Besides, elections have consequences. If we wanted to block cloture, we shouldn’t have lost winnable seats in 2012.

Good Solid B-Plus on March 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Fair enough. So why filibuster?

Sure – wait until he votes for Brennan.

Schadenfreude on March 7, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Don’t bet against it.

Jaibones on March 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Another perspective

Schadenfreude on March 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

And having thwarted the vote once – a vote which, let’s face it, is going to take place at some point – might he not simply use the mass appeal and attention drawn by the first five hours to gin up some serious PAC money and run national ads to bring more public attention to the question of drones and US citizens defined as enemy combatants? In the end, I simply don’t know why it went on for as long as it did.

This “question” is NOT ABOUT MAKING MONEY JS—it’s about the abuse of power by the executive branch. Killing/assassinating non-combatant American citizens on American soil by our military is certainly NOT CONSTITUTIONAL, and I find that quite “simple” to understand, even if some here don’t.

Rovin on March 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Don’t bet against it.

Jaibones on March 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I’m not a betting type, good one.

Schadenfreude on March 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Food for thought

Schadenfreude on March 7, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Yep, fundraising and commercials are waaaaaaaayyyyy more effective than an epic 13 hour filibuster about the constitution that thousands cheered.

You’re sharp there, Jazz. Hey what do you think J Mcain’s platform should be in 2016?

LetsBfrank on March 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM

cptacek on March 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Pessimism is easy. Yesterday’s performance by Rand Paul was uplifting, encouraging and inspiring. It’s always easy to knock that down. Optimism is difficult.

happytobehere on March 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

I’ve read conservative columnists argue about the filibuster and Paul’s libertarian stance.

I think they are largely missing the accomplishment of the filibuster.

These constitutional issues are important and worthy of deliberative debate.

Do I want President Obama to use armed drones on the Texas Border?

That’s a real issue to me as a Texan.

The Governor of my state promotes his use of surveillance drones along parts of the Texas border because large stretches of the Texas border is rough terrain and remote…But I seriously doubt Gov. Perry would be OK with arming them under Federal control because then they become more than law enforcement information tools…they become federal weapons on domestic soil.

What criteria is used to define the domestic terrorist exactly and why is this not a public concern open to scrutiny?

Exactly how is collateral damage dealt with in domestic situations?

If all Sen. Paul did was to expose on the floor of the Senate how “Nothing to see here…shutup and move along” doesn’t cut it with the American Public…And that Americans should dialog with each other and expect open dialog from their elected representatives.

That is significant.

workingclass artist on March 7, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Yay, Scrappleface!
http://scrappleface.com/?p=450

onlineanalyst on March 7, 2013 at 12:27 PM

This bears repeating—bravo onlineanalyst.

Rovin on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

“What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused.”

- John McCain

No, what we saw last night were our tax dollars being abused by Obama and 12 Rep Senators at the Jefferson Hotel.

BTW, f*ck you, McCain. Is that all Maverickery enough for you?

Resist We Much on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Is this post for real?

gophergirl on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

BTW, f*ck you, McCain. Is that all Maverickery enough for you?

Resist We Much on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Amen. What a loser.

Jaibones on March 7, 2013 at 12:52 PM

AP had some ongoing coverage of the spectacle as it unfolded, but now that it’s done I’m left with more than a few questions.

Right up front I will just say that there was nothing trivial about the subject Senator Paul was addressing, nor the method he chose to bring it to light. Nobody should be treating this as some sort of a clown show or stunt, and I’m certainly not going to do so here

Why did you call it a “spectacle” then?

Schadenfreude on March 7, 2013 at 12:17 PM

God BLESS you, Shadenfreude – for EXPOSING the DISINGENUOUSNESS of Jazz!

williamg on March 7, 2013 at 12:54 PM

How far John McDrone has fallen.

LetsBfrank on March 7, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Is this post for real?

gophergirl on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Sadly. Yes, the knives are coming out since you can get them through security at the airport… Et tu, Jazz?

Fallon on March 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM

“What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused.”

- John McCain

So Senator McCain is fine with the federal government shooting American citizens with drones on American soil but without due process. But God help us all if the Senate rules are abused.

Good to know.

Lily on March 7, 2013 at 1:03 PM

“What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused.”

– John McCain

No, what we saw last night were our tax dollars being abused by Obama and 12 Rep Senators at the Jefferson Hotel.

BTW, f*ck you, McCain. Is that all Maverickery enough for you?

Resist We Much on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Well said! And the same for Miss Lindsay.

bofh on March 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Ok, I have to ask… why the heck does Jazz Shaw post here? Does he not see the need to make a statement by standing up to El Presedente? Does he think that all people are high-information voters who already know everything there is to know about history and what the Constitution actually says? Does he think the media happily reports on 5 minute speeches and presents Conservative viewpoints objectively?

Do unicorns fart Skittles?

I agree with a previous poster…

Being this stupid should hurt.

cptacek on March 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Jazz should be in physical pain after wasting this many words on something he clearly does not understand…

dominigan on March 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM

“What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused.”

– John McCain

What an idiot. Even Kos was saying this was a “good filibuster” (as opposed to procedural filibusters).

steebo77 on March 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM

“What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused.”

– John McCain

No, what we saw last night were our tax dollars being abused by Obama and 12 Rep Senators at the Jefferson Hotel.

BTW, f*ck you, McCain. Is that all Maverickery enough for you?

Resist We Much on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Amen…

I would only add & the horse he rides in on…But I’m sure the horse bucked him long ago.

workingclass artist on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Thanks Schadenfreud for the Food for Thought.

One thing I would like to see is creative use of regular order instead of the habits of old being perpetuated. The filibuster is there, and as we were reminded this week, for everything except budget items. Scott Brown one said that he felt like D.C. was as corrupt and corroded as Beacon Hill (State House – MA) Nothing was happening. He had a list of cuts to offer…to no one…nobody there…no occasions to fix anything because the RULE is that Harry Reid keeps it all out of session so that nothing OFFICIAL can happen. No committee meetings…no bills from the House brought up and sent back…like regular order would usually mean. And, no chance to debate anything.

The one thing we know is that in debate, most of common sense is on the conservative side, most of bending meanings and sophistication and fantasy is on the liberal side.

It was a shame that more liberals did not come out to help Rand Paul out. There is no reason that common sense ideas should not be pursued in D.C. No need to call them bi partisan, that taints everything now. Americans do want common sense ideas to go forward…like cutting the FAT at the Pentagon, not the furloughs and cuts to defense that are being pursued in liberal obduracy today.

Fleuries on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

BTW, Rush has Rand Paul on the air with him now.

bofh on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Sen. Paul will be on America Live with Megyn Kelly later this hour.

steebo77 on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

So Senator McCain is fine with the federal government shooting American citizens with drones on American soil but without due process. But God help us all if the Senate rules are abused.

Good to know.

Lily on March 7, 2013 at 1:03 PM

.
Set up a Twitter account – it’s easy to do. Then go to #StandWithRand and spend a few minutes retweeting the critical tweets addressed to McCain and Graham’s Twitter acounts.

I found it a nice outlet for my anger with the GOPe.

PolAgnostic on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Rush has Rand Paul on his program now…

workingclass artist on March 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

BTW, Rush has Rand Paul on the air with him now.

bofh on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Hope he tells him “stop giving that snake Rubio credit, you racist oaf”.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

But the filibuster wound on for almost another eight hours. Why? With the vote called off, the job was done.

Good Lord… talk about missing the forest for the trees. The key question you failed at understanding Jazz, was… WHAT WAS THE JOB?

You think the job revolved around delaying an appointee.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A blogger/reporter should be able to dig a little deeper and have a better understanding of the context. Why is it that none of us conservatives/libertarians had problems understanding the point of it?

dominigan on March 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

“I’d rather be a hobbit than a troll.”

- Sen. Rand Paul to Sen. John McShamesty

Resist We Much on March 7, 2013 at 1:37 PM

I would only add & the horse he rides in on…

workingclass artist on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Or the horse that rode in on him…if you know what I mean. lol

Resist We Much on March 7, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Yo, Jazz!!!

What was the purpose?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/03/07/obama-holder-paul-drone-strikes/1970819/

Shining a spotlight on the weasels using one of the grand traditions of the Senate seems to have worked fairly well.

PolAgnostic on March 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Some of our troops were captured out of uniform during WW2, were liable as irregulars to immediate execution, and were executed by the Germans. We turned around and murdered General Dostler, handing him a bit of victor’s “justice” for doing his duty to his country, and acting within the Geneva Conventions.

Quartermaster on March 7, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Oh, really?
There seems to be another version of your story.

Even though these men were duly uniformed, Dohna was ordered to sign the execution orders. Dohna refused to do so as this would violate the Geneva convention and was dismissed from the Wehrmacht for insubordination. General Anton Dostler, who signed the execution order, was executed after the war.

Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/history/1250256-curious-why-german-general-dostler-executed-5.html#ixzz2MssDDCGS

Solaratov on March 7, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Van Jones ✔ @VanJones68

If a GOP prez implied he could kill US citizens on US soil without due process, we liberals would be marching down street #ConsistencyCounts

Van Jones ✔ @VanJones68

The point is not whether OBAMA would abuse that kind of authority. The NEXT prez might. So we must be vigilant now & #consistent. #NoDrones

J_Crater on March 7, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Everything from this is good. Obama squirms. Dems interested in civil liberties are now seriously and openly questioning Obama. Civil liberties are put to the forefront of the public discourse. And best of all, McCain and the old coots in the GOP are shown to be utterly foolish to everyone but themselves.

Just brilliant all around.

happytobehere on March 7, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Jazz, just to put a finer point on it.

cptacek on March 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Hey Guys! Remember when Jazz was conservative?

Me neither.

Irritable Pundit on March 7, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Comment pages: 1 2