Foreign and Defense Policy

Christie vs. Paul

Luigi Novi via Wikimedia Commons

Luigi Novi via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Christie took to the stage of the Republican Governors’ forum in Colorado yesterday to light into libertarians, the new isolationist strain of the Republican Party, and Rand Paul in particular. The casus belli in this instance was a vote in the House of Representatives over the National Security Agency’s data-gathering that Paul and others of his ilk deem an unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of Americans.

AEI’s Marc Thiessen and Gary Schmitt have written on this question [here and here] and I don’t have a lot of substantive comment to add to theirs. Let’s set aside the obsession with the notion that the federal government is peering into our email and phone calls with lascivious interest, the subtext being that we’re all secretly a bunch of Anthony Weiners or Mark Richs hiding from the predations of Uncle Sam. Let’s set aside the fact that no actual content is being gathered, merely patterns and broad data. The reality is that this week’s vote in the House of Representatives is a sign of serious problems within the Republican Party. And more broadly in the American body politic as a whole.

Jon Kyl and Joe Lieberman, who head the American Internationalism Project here at AEI, had a piece on this subject earlier in the year. Others too have raised the alarm. And now Christie’s signed on as well. The problem is simple: too many conflate the growth of the federal government and the unbridled economic interference embraced by Obama and his followers with what they see as a  Soviet style security state they believe is growing up in the bounds of Metropolitan Washington. Mind you, Obama isn’t helping, attacking his opponents via the IRS and calling it a “phony” scandal. But that security state doesn’t exist.

Why is it that so many Republicans (and quite a few Democrats, too) believe the state is out to get them? The answer, for the most part, is that this administration and its predecessors in the Bush administration did a terrible job briefing Congress, looping Congress in, and helping Congress understand what exactly the federal government is up to. No surprise that those suspicious of the government for whatever reason might wonder if no one is bothering to actually read them in. That’s the administration’s fault, and it must be rectified.

Then there’s Rand Paul, his father, and their acolytes. These are the fringes. That they have managed to latch onto the mainstream is an indictment both of the administration and those of us who believe in internationalism and understand what is necessary to fight terrorism.

The fact that almost half of the House Republican caucus voted for the Amash amendment to effectively shut down the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program is a flashing red light on the dashboard — and we’d better take heed.

It’s time to start educating those who can be, and isolating those who cannot. Chris Christie has started what should be a serious public debate. Let’s keep it going.

39 thoughts on “Christie vs. Paul

  1. Really bad article. If you support Christie, you’re just another RINO. RINOs are what’s wrong with the Republican Party, not Rand Paul.

    • That is what most of these commentators are. RINOs pretending to support liberty but acting in ways that reduce it. With friends like this it is no surprise that the GOP is dying and cannot produce a candidate who is capable of beating a weak candidate like Obama.

  2. Nope, nothing to see, nothing to worry about with the NSA spying. Then there is this:

    http://cowboybyte.com/23310/report-obama-regime-demanding-web-firms-turn-over-user-account-passwords/

    No, the Barry O administration is colluding with the likes of John McCain and Jon Kyl, merely for the protection of our security.
    NOTHING from AEI on how our interventionism on the international front has unintended consequences, just like all economic intervention.
    NOTHING about how we support and have supported brutal dictators, which did anything but endear the US to the citizenry.
    NOTHING on how we have armed our future enemies in the past, and today have and are poised to continue arming al Quaeda and Muslim Brotherhood aligned terrorists attempting to overthrow Mr. Assad in Syria. SInce the above 2 groups are committed to our demise, this constitutes TREASON!!

    So HOW many bridges do you want to buy? Years ago, I warned that the terrorists I fear most come from Washington DC, Madison WI and city hall. I see nothing but more and more evidence to support that comment.

    I guess the adage is true. Those who do not know and understand history are doomed to repeat it.

    I submit it is the NEOCONS who need to get their heads out of the sand and perceive reality. If the GOP succeeds in shedding the likes of me and Rand Paul, if the GOP thinks it will stake its future on being Dem. lite, it does not have one. Only 3 yrs left for the GOP to either remain a political force, or to become a footnote in history.

    • Ken, you raise many points and issues. I believe some, maybe many, are based on faulty information, logic and assumptions. But to address them in an informed logical way, without undue emotion, I will study and respond when I have examined all facts available. Your submission about what NEOCONS should do, your guess that “those who do not know and understand history are doomed to repeat it” applies in this instance, your fear that the most dangerous terrorists we have to fear come from DC, and your claim that treason is the motivation behind allegedly supporting Al Quaida and the Muslim Brotherhood are themselves extreme. If you are looking for logic in our political system, I understand your frustration. But unsupported Fox like claims do nothing to advance informed balanced public discourse. I’ll respond point by point when I’ve studied reliable, unbiased sources.

  3. Seems our fringe is going mainstream among your readers. You’re losing control. For your power’s sake Iran better attack Isreal pretty soon. Except that isn’t going to happen is it?

    • There’s nothing “fringe” about being concerned we are turning into a police state. It’s absolutely imperative we hold our government accountable for their over-reach.

      You’re damn right we’re going mainstream. The mainstream is waking up.

  4. “educating’ and “isolating” ?? Isn’t that what Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, Castro and a few others did? The FEMA camps must be in our future. Trade our freedom for security?? You had best wake up Pletka. You seem to be addicted to kool ade. Bama and bunch are not concerned with our welfare. Your phrases are Marxist.

  5. Why is it that so many Republicans (and quite a few Democrats, too) believe the state is out to get them? The answer, for the most part, is that this administration and its predecessors in the Bush administration did a terrible job briefing Congress, looping Congress in, and helping Congress understand what exactly the federal government is up to.

    One primary reason her whole argument is idiotic is because these two sentences don’t really fit together.

    You can’t solve the problem of MY distrust of the state by holding more secret briefings for CONGRESS.

    It doesn’t matter how nice you are to Nancy Pelosi or Jay Rockefeller. Giving them more frequent briefings means absolutely nothing to me. You can only solve the problem of my distrust of the state by giving more information to ME.

  6. it’s astonishing to see several paragraphs for a point that could have been made in probably no more than two paragraphs.

    Also being we can’t read minds and literally have no idea where even patterns and “broad data” are going, then one could assume the obviously possibility to use the same methods to monitors politicians and the media. Which number call which number…….”oh so and so called so and so”. There are cameras everywhere, monitoring everywhere, all sorts of agencies etc etc. See even if the issue RIGHT NOW ISN’T “with lascivious interest,” it’s just a matter of time until it is, because as stated my people much smarter than you or me have stated. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and INFORMATION IS A TOOL OF POWER.

    What’s next, WASHINGTON DC isn’t INSIDER TRADING?

  7. Pletka is spot on. Rand’s argument is akin to the “Slippery Slope” argument. Looking beyond our borders it is clear to anyone willing to think critically that we are in immense danger from radical religious elements and governments that can lay no claim to authentic popular legitimacy (meaning tyrants and murderers). Looking at trends and patterns in “metadata” makes sense given the sorry state of the world. The U.S. is in enough difficulties internally. We must protect ourselves from those who would do us harm. True enough, we must protect ourselves from uncontrolled government intervention in our private lives. But there really are reasons to make distinctions between abuse and reasonable precautions. In the final analysis…we are in a state of war for our survival.

    • You do not think that the “slippery slope ” has any validity?
      Are you a proponent of the drug war and believe that it is also keeping us safe??

      • If folks didn’t know ant better, folks would have thought ATTACWATCH was looking for whistleblowers, considering obama’s efforts to prosecute them once they are no longer useful. Jon stewart and his piece about team obama’s victory LAPSE on TRANSPARENCY.

      • If folks didn’t know ant better, folks would have thought ATTACWATCH was looking for whistleblowers, considering obama’s efforts to prosecute them once they are no longer useful. Jon stewart and his piece about team obama’s victory LAPSE on TRANSPARENCY.

    • Looking beyond our borders it is clear to anyone willing to think critically that we are in immense danger from radical religious elements and governments that can lay no claim to authentic popular legitimacy (meaning tyrants and murderers).

      Really? Your dictionary must have a different meaning for immense than mine. Personally, I will side with James Maddison.

      We begin with, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

      Not enough? Then how about, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

      Or this? “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

      The biggest danger to the liberty of Americans does not come from abroad but from the growth of the warfare/welfare state at home.

  8. I’d like to point out that there is a huge difference between non interventionism and isolationism. Please get your propaganda correct, Mr. Insider.

  9. There are several words and terms conspicuously absent from your article. Constitution, probable cause, FISA, warrantless, I could go on. To stand up for the principles and meaning of the constitution is somehow wrong and misguided? There are only a handful of people in congress who get it and are brave enough to stand up against the ruling class. And yes, Rand Paul is one. But there is also Ron Wyden, Justin Amash, Massie and Ted Cruz. If that means partnering with the likes of John Conyers to do the right thing, well I can hold my nose. But I can’t abide the ruling class trampling our constitutional rights to achieve a false sense of security.

  10. What I find staggering in this is that the fact that content is being captured and stored. “In sum, the NSA is vacuuming up enormous amounts of communications involving ordinary Americans and people around the world who are guilty of nothing. There are some legal constraints governing their power to examine the content of those communications, but there are no technical limits on the ability either of the agency or its analysts to do so. The fact that there is so little external oversight is what makes this sweeping, suspicion-less surveillance system so dangerous. It’s also what makes the assurances from government officials and their media allies so dubious.” — http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/19/fisa-court-oversight-process-secrecy

  11. AEI is on the wrong side of freedom on this one, Ms. Pletka. The purpose of defunding this particular NSA program was to stop the NSA from “monitoring” (ie: spying) on American citizens. No Republican wants to stop the program from monitoring foreigners who display a penchant for terror sites,, language, organizations, et al. But, Americans have rights established in our Constitution, and the oBUMa administration is trampling on those rights. It matters not what some secret court says about the program, it is unconstitutional for the program to continuously monitor Americans without a proper warrant justified by probable cause. That you would conflate this basic precept with the supposed isolationist desires of a Rand Paul (and his “ilk”), is disingenuous for the supposedly smart writers at AEI.

  12. “Why is it that so many Republicans (and quite a few Democrats, too) believe the state is out to get them? The answer, for the most part, is that this administration and its predecessors in the Bush administration did a terrible job briefing Congress, looping Congress in, and helping Congress understand what exactly the federal government is up to.”

    That’s it.
    “Republicans” believe “the state” is out to get them because one branch of “the state” (the executive) is not communicating with another branch of “the state” (the legislative). You speak as though the federal government is only the White House and is entirely separate and distinct from Congress.
    Meanwhile, the actual Republicans who are worried the state is out to get them are the voters, the taxpayers, the private citizens in this country who are finding it harder and harder to live according to their own consciences and pursue happiness in their own way without running afoul of some legal prohibition or regulatory mandate. In our view the government is ALREADY “getting us” and we see it becoming worse with every passing year.

  13. “It’s time to start educating those who can be, and isolating those who cannot” is revealing, to say the least. Christie’s remarks confirm the security state already recognized by the educated American body politic.

    “Mind you, Obama isn’t helping, attacking his opponents via the IRS and calling it a “phony” scandal.” Mind you, indeed. What other forms of “isolation” will be proposed for those who continue to resist unwarranted intrusions into the private lives of Americans?

      • That seems to be wishful thinking. Danielle Pletka has never had much of an interest in the liberty and freedom of the average individual. She has never wavered from the typical neoconservative line and has been a reliable voice for militarism and interventionism by the state for most of her career.

  14. “Let’s set aside the obsession with the notion that the federal government is peering into our email and phone calls with lascivious interest, the subtext being that we’re all secretly a bunch of Anthony Weiners or Mark Richs hiding from the predations of Uncle Sam.”

    It’s apparently your obsession, so you can do with it as you please. My problem with the federal government peering into our email and phone calls is that it’s intrusive and unconstitutional.

  15. Hey they said they won’ t execute snow. But can someone tell me the when is the last time the executed a spy? Seems like an empty negotiating gimmick purely dealing with extradiction pr efforts. A matter of public relations with foreign nations citizens and saving face for governments involved snowden asylum.

    • Remember the nebraska windfall, the louisiana purchase and gatoraide, ‘oofers’, to merely get from a to b for votes in committee, to move democare forward? They knew they d never make it. The politicians needed to save face to explain their vote. The bribe itself tells the entire story, IF it was even believed to be a true bribe by the the people being bribed. The whole thing became pyschological warefare completely because the citizenry was involved (subsidies)……..procedure, saving face and pyscological outs for portions of the masses…………false margins

    • Hey they said they won’ t execute snow. But can someone tell me the when is the last time the executed a spy? Seems like an empty negotiating gimmick purely dealing with extradiction pr efforts. A matter of public relations with foreign nations citizens and saving face for governments involved snowden asylum.

      A spy? Snowden was just a guy who blew the whistle on the government’s illegal activities. Had he been a real spy he would have gathered sensitive information on important people and sold that information to foreign powers that wanted to buy influence. For a guy who keeps talking about spreading freedom abroad you don’t seem to have much taste for it at home.

      • Vengal, you’re stupid and lack the ability to understand a point made by someone on the same side of the issue. The context of even considering the need to say no death penalty would be sought. The only context could be spy. You are literally a hareful, ignorant human being, the rides your donkey of justice with blindfolds on. You’re such an asshole that you can’t even let people generally agree with you. Moments of levety cause you pain. I never spported the concept of spy, I merely pointing to the obvious context put forth by the no death penalty statement. Degenerate.

        • You might try writing a bit clearer. Snowden was not a spy. End of story. And you might want to rethink calling others hateful because you are the militarist who wants to attack other countries so that you can spread freedom abroad.

  16. Wow what a lack of insight! TRUST ME , TRUST ME, TRUST ME…….Are you so clueless that you honestly think they are only collecting the header info for statistical analysis:?? They are absolutely keeping the entire conversations and e-mails…..so deep is your trust and so shallow your awareness of history and what happens with an all powerful state. So naive to believe that they are not keeping the entire call……Snowden helped get the word out…Otherwise we could not even be talking about what little they have admitted to….and you believe the UN-believable while calling citizens who are paying better attention a fringe group, you are no friend of liberty!!!…..RHINO RHINO, RHINO (ie democrat except you want the power rather than them……)…..
    Your piece was 100% right-off :( :( :(

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