Death Sentence For The Patriot Act Means New Life For GOP

It looks like the ironically named Patriot Act is finally set to expire despite the best efforts of some of Washington’s worst scoundrels, specifically the sitting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who watched his futile attempts at extending the Patriot Act get crushed by the Senate on Saturday.

This decision of the Senate to block the extension of several sections of the Patriot Act, which allows the NSA to spy on innocent citizens, comes at the end of a tumultuous week of political action–most notably from Senator Rand Paul, who delivered an inspiring 11-hour filibuster last Wednesday where he decried the NSA’s phone snooping and blamed the Obama administration for allowing these affronts against the Constitution to take place.

Rand Paul certainly didn’t pull any punches as he spoke. He stated that “the bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records all of the time is a direct violation of the fourth amendment.” And he’s not the only one who thinks so. The Second Circuit Court ruled that Section 215, the heart and soul of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA to collect data, is illegal and unconstitutional.

And while this might seem like cause for celebration, the fight isn’t over yet. Discussion over the Patriot Act in the Senate will be renewed on May 31, and part of that discussion will involve a possible reform measure called The Freedom Act.

The Freedom Act is being touted by its supporters among the political elite and mainstream media as a good compromise, a bill that assures national security but doesn’t infringe on any individual rights. The Freedom Act would extend the lapsing provisions of the Patriot Act but would theoretically apply some checks and balances on the government by forcing authorities to seek records from phone companies rather than collect data in bulk.

And who are two of the biggest supporters of this “new” measure? President Obama and the NSA! Sorry, but I for one am not about to fall for the same trick twice.

The debates on May 31 will surely hinge on the fate of the now-infamous Section 215, which is set to lapse June 1. Section 215, also known as the business records provision, allows the government to ask companies to turn over the metadata they hold on their customers. Mitch McConnell insists that without a renewal of the Patriot Act as is, our national security would be dealt a killer blow. But let’s look at the facts: there is no documentation to suggest that the Patriot Act has ever been effective. In fact, a recent audit conducted by the Department of Justice Inspector General and the FBI could not determine a single crisis that was averted or extinguished through bulk data collection! Nevertheless, the FBI still expanded the use of that section more than 50 times in a three-year period, showing once more that the government simply cannot be entrusted with such far-reaching powers.

The Patriot Act is part of the same old lie that big government has been peddling since the days of the founding fathers; it is the lie that safety and security can be bought at the expense of freedom. And with the 2016 election knocking at the door, it is paramount that the People elect someone who understands the very real threat that the Patriot Act and other like-minded bills pose to our core national values of personal responsibility and individual liberty.

So far, it’s been hard to ignore the fact that Rand Paul is the loudest spokesman against the Patriot Act and the main patron of freedom from within the GOP’s ranks–especially when his fellow Republicans and presidential nominees Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio have been staunch defenders of the NSA and the Freedom Act. It may all be a campaign stunt, meant to deliver a jolt to his flagging ratings; but this is a conversation the American public should be having.

Whether he’s the leader we need is for the country to decide, but one thing’s for sure: if the GOP is going to take the White House in the upcoming election, then we need to be united in standing up for the values central to the Republican Party. And coming out strong against the Patriot Act seems like the perfect place to start.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Watch Live: Rand Paul Is Now Filibustering The Patriot Act

He did it in 2013 — Sen. Rand Paul famously filibustered for nearly 13 hours against the Obama administration’s policy to use drone strikes to target U.S. citizens deemed enemy combatants operating in foreign countries. Now, the Kentucky Republican and GOP presidential hopeful is doing it again — taking to the Senate floor to try to block reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, especially the section that supposedly empowers the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk.

Sen. Paul took control of the upper chamber at 1:18pm on Wednesday, just as the Senate heads down to the wire over parts of the PATRIOT Act slated to expire at the end of the month. Senators are set to leave Washington at the end of the week; so if Paul’s talk-a-thon is successful, the legislation to keep the NSA mass surveillance program intact could be in jeopardy.

As The Daily Caller notes in its coverage of Paul’s filibuster, the presidential contender has made his commitment to reining in what he considers to be excessive government domestic spying a centerpiece of his campaign.

“In a campaign email to supporters, posted online by a reporter from Time magazine, Paul said: ‘I will not rest. I will not back down. I will not yield one inch in this fight so long as my legs can stand.’”

In opposing the parts of the PATRIOT Act he considers excessive and overbearing, Sen. Paul is standing against his fellow Republican senator from the Bluegrass State, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has pushed for a straight extension of the controversial surveillance law.

By clicking on the video above, you can watch a live stream of Rand Paul’s filibuster. It’s unknown how long Paul will speak, given that the Senate is currently working through the 30 hours of debate on a trade bill and is scheduled to vote one hour after the chamber convenes on Thursday.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Democrats Block Human Trafficking Bill; Republicans Could Block Loretta Lynch Vote

Photo credit: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

After being passed unanimously through the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, the Senate failed to advance legislation tightening human trafficking laws Tuesday due to abortion language in the bill. As a result, Senate Republicans could end up blocking President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.

03172015_Senate Periodicals Cloture Tweet_Twitter

The Senate voted 55 to 43 on S. 178. It had 36 Republican cosponsors and 20 Democratic cosponsors.

According to its summary, the bill aimed to expand “the definition of ‘child abuse’ under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking deterrence programs that assist law enforcement and other entities in rescuing and restoring the lives of trafficking victims, while investigating and prosecuting offenses involving child human trafficking.”

The bill would have established a fund to raise money for victims. It also included the Hyde Amendment, which would prohibit the funds from being spent on abortions, a point of contention not raised when S. 178 was being voted on in committee.

“You can blame it on staff, blame it on whoever you want to blame,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week. “But we didn’t know it was in the bill, and…the bill will not come off this floor as long as that language is in the bill.”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cautioned ahead of the vote that the Loretta Lynch nomination won’t come to a vote until the human trafficking bill is complete. “We have to finish the human trafficking bill,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.

“Democrats filibustering help for terrorized women and abused women would represent a new low for the Senate,” stressed McConnell before the vote on the Senate floor Tuesday. “And the American people would not soon forget it. Nor should they.”

S. 178’s principal sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,  had some choice words for Senate Democrats who, he argues, turned their back on the legislation.

“To our colleagues who are filibustering this legislation, are you prepared to turn your back on the thousands of people living every day in bondage and who are desperately clinging to the hope that someone, someone will lend them a helping hand?,” Cornyn said Monday.

“Are you prepared to abandon these children and these other victims of human trafficking who deserve a roof over their head, someone to lean on, and somehow, some way to get a fresh start in life?”

h/t: Politico

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

McConnell Issues Ultimatum To President Obama About ‘Bad’ Iranian Nuclear Deal

Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss the imminent Iranian nuclear deal and the options congressional law makers have moving forward during President Obama’s negations.

“The President is about to make what we believe will be a very bad deal,” McConnell said. “He clearly doesn’t want Congress involved at all and we’re worried about it.”

“We don’t think he ought to make a bad deal with one of the worst regimes in the world,” he added.

His comments come on the heels of endless Democratic criticism calling the 47 senators who signed the open letter unpatriotic and traitors.

McConnell, however, stood firm, much like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., did when confronted with opposition, by pointing back to the Constitution and clarifying that any deal done without the consent of Congress will not last after Obama’s term is complete.

McConnell concluded by outlining two possible routes in the ultimatum: either a deal is done and it will come to Congress, or, if there is no deal, “ratcheting up sanctions” would be the next appropriate step.

h/t: IJReview

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama To Veto Keystone XL, Potentially Other Bills

Facebook/Barack Obama

President Obama is slated to veto the Keystone XL bill passed by Congress Tuesday, among the first of several key potential vetoes in his final years in office.

 

02242015_Veto Tweet_TwitterEven though the House passed the final version of Keystone earlier this month, only today is the lower chamber sending the bill to the White House for consideration. The president has 10 days to act on the legislation (except for Sunday), or else it becomes law. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Monday the bill will be vetoed.

“I would anticipate, as we’ve been saying for years, that the president will veto that legislation, and he will, so I would not anticipate a lot of drama or fanfare around it,” he said.

Earnest added that Obama will veto the bill because it would conflict with the U.S. State Department’s current review of the TransCanada pipeline, which he says could still be approved later. In a statement on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., encouraged the president to change his mind:

It’s hard to even imagine what a serious justification for a veto might be…I know powerful special interests and political extremists are pressuring the president to veto American jobs. I hope President Obama will join us in standing for the middle class instead.

This would only be the third veto during Obama’s presidency, noted The Detroit News. But the president has signaled he would ban a 20 week abortion ban if it came to his desk as well as any changes to his immigration policy.

“If rather than try to solve the broken immigration system they compound the problem, I’ll veto it,” he said at a retreat for Democratic House members in Philadelphia last month, Politico reported.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said earlier this month that there would be a veto override vote for Keystone XL. “If he vetoes it as we anticipate – I worked at the White House so I know that once a president says something it doesn’t change – yeah, we’ll have a vote.”

h/t: The Washington Post

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom