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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Webb’

Currently, five candidates are vying for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Jim Webb.  But could a sixth soon join the fray?

As far back as two years ago, I began wondering if Delegate Bob Marshall would seek Virginia’s Senate seat again.  After all, in 2008 he came within a handful of votes of upsetting the establishment favorite, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, at the Republican convention.  Along with Corey Stewart, rumors swirled that Marshall would run after he won re-election.

Throughout the past forty-seven or so months, the topic keeps popping up.  On multiple occasions, including The Leadership Institute’s 4th of July Soirée and the Agenda 21 presentation in Verona, I’ve spoken with several folks with very close connections to Delegate Marshall who indicated that he would enter the contest.

Now that his House of Delegates election is over, he can now focus on this race…assuming he chooses to do so.

But what are his chances of success?  Has the race solidified sufficiently to severely hinder any new entrant?  Have the coalition of activists and politicos that rallied behind him back in 2008 already selected a candidate in this race?  Well, it is true that Marshall’s former campaign manager has joined the Allen campaign, many social conservatives are supporting E.W. Jackson, and Jamie Radtke is working her tea party contacts.  Earlier, I argued that waiting until after Election Day 2011 would be too late for any candidate.  But perhaps I was mistaken.  After all, the field still seems pretty divided.

In addition, Delegate Marshall enjoys the highest name recognition of the non-Allen candidates.  For example, the marriage amendment to the Virginia Constitution bears his name as the Marshall/Newman Amendment.  If can gather together his loyal band of activists from the 2008 convention, maybe he can position himself as the best conservative alternative to Allen as he did with Gilmore three years ago.  Then again, perhaps Radtke, Donner, Jackson, or McCormick is already on his or her way to capturing that title.

So will Bob Marshall announce?  I cannot say for certain, but I expect we will have our answer very soon.

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Although fast tracking the renewal of several provisions of the Patriot Act proved to be unsuccessful, yesterday the House of Representatives voted to extend these constitutionally questionable powers.  The vote on H.R. 514 was 275 in favor, 144 against, and 14 not voting.  Although supporters of the Patriot Act claim that these provisions are a key tool in the fight against terrorism, they also strip away the rights and privacy of citizens.  In the wrong hands, I fear what sort of damage can be caused.

A few moments ago, I contacted my Representative, Bob Goodlatte, and my two Senators, Jim Webb and Mark Warner.  From Rep. Goodlatte, I hoped to get an explanation as to why he supported this bill.  From my Senators, I hoped to learn how they were planning to vote on this resolution.  As is typical, I was told I would be receiving a letter in the mail from Representative Goodlatte regarding this issue.  From Senators Webb and Warner, I got no real information other than assurances that my concern would be passed on to them.  Although I know that my Senators represent a whole lot more people than my Representative, is it too much to ask for a letter in reply?  Although I disagree with my Representative on this particular issue, I greatly appreciate his efforts to maintain contact with his constituents.  If only we had Senators who were as responsive as Goodlatte.  I hope Senator Webb’s replacement will be better.

Regarding this issue, earlier today Senator Paul of Kentucky released the following letter to his fellow Senators:

Dear Colleague:

James Otis argued against general warrants and writs of assistance that were issued by British soldiers without judicial review and that did not name the subject or items to be searched.

He condemned these general warrants as “the worst instrument[s] of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law, that ever w[ere] found in an English law book.”  Otis objected to these writs of assistance because they “placed the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.”  The Fourth Amendment was intended to guarantee that only judges—not soldiers or policemen—would issue warrants.  Otis’ battle against warrantless searches led to our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable government intrusion.

My main objection to the PATRIOT Act is that searches that should require a judge’s warrant are performed with a letter from an FBI agent—a National Security Letter (“NSL”).

I object to these warrantless searches being performed on United States citizens.  I object to the 200,000 NSL searches that have been performed without a judge’s warrant.

I object to over 2 million searches of bank records, called Suspicious Activity Reports, performed on U.S. citizens without a judge’s warrant.

As February 28th approaches, with three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire, it is time to re-consider this question:  Do the many provisions of this bill, which were enacted in such haste after 9/11, have an actual basis in our Constitution, and are they even necessary to achieve valid law-enforcement goals?

The USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the wake of the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, is no doubt well-intentioned.  However, rather than examine what went wrong, and fix the problems, Congress instead hastily passed a long-standing wish list of power grabs like warrantless searches and roving wiretaps.  The government greatly expanded its own power, ignoring obvious answers in favor of the permanent expansion of a police state.

It is not acceptable to willfully ignore the most basic provisions of our Constitution—in this case—the Fourth and First Amendments—in the name of “security.”

For example, one of the three provisions set to expire on February 28th—the “library provision,” section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—allows the government to obtain records from a person or entity by making only the minimal showing of “relevance” to an international terrorism or espionage investigation.  This provision also imposes a year-long nondisclosure, or “gag” order. “Relevance” is a far cry from the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of probable cause.  Likewise, the “roving wiretap” provision, section 206 of the PATRIOT Act, which is also scheduled to expire on the 28th, does not comply with the Fourth Amendment.  This provision makes possible “John Doe roving wiretaps,” which do not require the government to name the target of the wiretap, nor to identify the specific place or facility to be monitored.  This bears an uncanny resemblance to the Writs of Assistance fought against by Otis and the American colonists.

Other provisions of the PATRIOT Act previously made permanent and not scheduled to expire present even greater concerns.  These include the use and abuse by the FBI of so-called National Security Letters.  These secret demand letters, which allow the government to obtain financial records and other sensitive information held by Internet Service Providers, banks, credit companies, and telephone carriers—all without appropriate judicial oversight—also impose a gag order on recipients.

NSL abuse has been and likely continues to be rampant.  The widely-circulated 2007 report issued by the Inspector General from the Department of Justice documents “widespread and serious misuse of the FBI’s national security letter authorities.  In many instances, the FBI’s misuse of national security letters violated NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, or the FBI’s own internal policies.”  Another audit released in 2008 revealed similar abuses, including the fact that the FBI had issued inappropriate “blanket NSLs” that did not comply with FBI policy, and which allowed the FBI to obtain data on 3,860 telephone numbers by issuing only eleven “blanket NSLs.” The 2008 audit also confirmed that the FBI increasingly used NSLs to seek information on U.S. citizens.  From 2003 to 2006, almost 200,000 NSL requests were issued.  In 2006 alone, almost 60% of the 49,425 requests were issued specifically for investigations of U.S. citizens or legal aliens.

In addition, First Amendment advocates should be concerned about an especially troubling aspect of the 2008 audit, which documented a situation in which the FBI applied to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain a section 215 order.  The Court denied the order on First Amendment grounds.  Not to be deterred, the FBI simply used an NSL to obtain the same information.

A recent report released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) entitled, “Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001-2008,” documents further NSL abuse.  EFF estimates that, based on the proportion of violations reported to the Intelligence Oversight Board and the FBI’s own statements regarding NSL violations, the actual number of violations that may have occurred since 2001 could approach 40,000 violations of law, Executive Order, and other regulations.

Yet another troublesome (and now permanent) provision of the PATRIOT Act is the expansion of Suspicious Activity Reports.  Sections 356 and 359 expanded the types of financial institutions required to file reports under the Bank Secrecy Act.  The personal and account information required by the reports is turned over to the Treasury Department and the FBI.  In 2000, there were only 163,184 reports filed.  By 2007, this had increased to 1,250,439.  Again, as with NSLs, there is a complete lack of judicial oversight for SARs.

Finally, I wish to remind my colleagues that one of the many ironies of the rush to advance the PATRIOT Act following 9/11 is the well-documented fact that FBI incompetence caused the failure to search the computer of the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui.  As FBI agent Coleen Rowley stated, “the FBI headquarters supervisory special agent handling the Moussaoui case ‘seemed to have been consistently almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents’ efforts” to meet the FISA standard for a search warrant, and therefore no request was ever made for a warrant.  Why, then, was the FBI rewarded with such expansive new powers in the aftermath of this institutional failure?

In the words of former Senator Russ Feingold, the only “no” vote against the original version of the PATRIOT Act,

“[T]here is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.”

I call upon each of my Senate colleagues to seriously consider whether the time has come to re-evaluate many—if not all—provisions of the PATRIOT Act.  Our oath to uphold the Constitution demands it.

Sincerely,

Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator

So now fellow lovers of constitutionally constrained government, we must look to a Senate controlled by the Democrats to defeat this bill.  Like what was attempted in the House, they must find a coalition of liberals and conservatives to defeat the perhaps well meaning, but liberty-quashing middle.

Don’t misunderstand me, the government can and should protect the citizens against terrorism.  I’m just worried that in their zealous pursuit of this war on terror, liberty and the Constitution will fall by the wayside.  What I want to know is when will victory over terrorism be achieved?  Have we bound ourselves to a war without end?  Equally importantly, when, if ever, will the government willingly give up these Patriot Act powers?

After all, if we honestly believed that government could restrain and police itself, would the colonies ever have broken away from Great Britain?  Would this great nation even exist?  Furthermore, why would we need silly things like a Constitution?  Were our forefathers mistaken?  Or are we forgetting what it means to be free?

Fellow conservatives, I’ll end with a quote from our great former President, Ronald Reagan.  “Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.”  So do these provisions of the Patriot Act protect our rights or do they take them away?

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Yesterday, the “Dream Act” died…at least for now.  Fortunately, supporters of illegal immigration were unable to muster the necessary sixty votes in the U.S. Senate.  Although it seems obvious to me, if you wish to discourage a behavior, like illegal immigration, shouldn’t you reject potential policies that will likely result in a greater influx of undocumented aliens?  After all, did the last amnesty as granted in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 solve our immigration problem?  Or did it only give confidence to millions and millions more to flood across the border in the hopes of gaining similar treatment at some point in the future?  A little bit ago, I received this email from former Senator and Governor George Allen regarding his opinion on the matter.

Washington Liberals Push for Amnesty

When the government rewards illegal behavior, we will get more illegal behavior.

Mt. Vernon, Va. – Former Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen issued the following statement today regarding the US Senate’s vote on the so-called Dream Act:

“If the government rewards illegal behavior, we will encourage more illegal behavior.  The so-called “Dream Act” being pushed by Washington liberals like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leader Harry Reid, and Senators Durbin and Kerry is a flawed piece of legislation that rewards illegal behavior with benefits paid for by taxpayers.  It is unfortunate that Senator Jim Webb chose to put the political interests of his liberal colleagues before the valid concerns of Virginians.

“As the son of a legal immigrant, I believe in the American dream where immigrants legally come to these shores to seek religious, economic and political freedom. I strongly oppose rewarding illegal behavior through amnesty and believe our first priority needs to be securing our borders.

“As Senator, I supported numerous measures to enhance border security, to ensure that felons and criminals are not given citizenship, to protect the integrity of Social Security, to establish English as the official language of the United States, while also working to encourage legal immigration to attract the best and brightest to the United States.   We need to be serious in addressing illegal immigration, and once again, Congress is choosing politics over sound policy.”

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Mr. Allen.  Although I have not gotten behind a candidate for Senate yet, I strongly believe that Virginia needs a Senator who will protect our borders, defend our laws, and not reward illegal behavior.  I think we all can agree that Jim Webb is not such a Senator.  Thankfully, in less than a year Virginians will have the chance to replace him.

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With each passing day, America slips further and further into the grip of socialism.  I expect that both the House of Representatives and Senate will soon reach an agreement on the latest attack on our liberty, national health care.  Although I’d like to think that Senator Webb and Warner would uphold their vows to our Constitution and vote against the bill, in the end, it is highly likely that both will toe the Democratic Party line.  Sigh.  I suppose that at some point our government must have been pretty decent.  Then again, the Supreme Court finding a supposed right to privacy that allows you to kill your own children through abortion but doesn’t protect you from the intrusion of the government through the excesses of the Patriot Act makes just about as much sense in today’s society.  It’s amazing what you can get away with when you interpret the phrase “general welfare” as liberally as possible while ignoring the 10th Amendment.

I have a confession to make.  Like millions of Americans, I don’t have health insurance.  Why don’t I, you may ask?  The answer is simple.  I cannot afford it.  Although I have had health insurance in the past and will likely do so again in the future, my budget doesn’t allow it at the present.  Well then, should I look to the government for assistance?  Should I insist that the government take money out of your pocket and give it to me so that I too can enjoy the benefits of health insurance?  Is that scheme unfortunately becoming the new “American way”?  While we are on the subject, I have to wonder why we need health insurance for routine doctor visits.  My understanding is that originally health insurance was used for major things like surgery, hospital stays, and the like.  Using insurance for any health related issue under the sun makes about as much sense as requiring auto insurance for oil changes.  As a result, this increased reliance on insurance has greatly spiked the health care costs in this country.  Take it from me; to now seek medical assistance without it is tantamount to financial suicide.  And when this legislation passes, if you choose to go without insurance, then the federal government can fine you?  I’m starting to wonder, which side won the Cold War, liberty or statism?  To borrow a phrase from Yakov Smirnoff, in Soviet Russia, insurance chooses you!

Now we can scream foul at the top of our lungs, but will our elected representatives hear our cry?  Sure, some statesmen like Delegate Bob Marshall, Senator Mark Obenshain, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are actively fighting for your rights, but the vast majority of politicians simply don’t care.  After all, Washington insiders know what’s best for you and are more than happy to dictate policy.  You agree, yes?  Remember, Napoleon Obama is always right.  Anyone who supports federalized insurance must be voted out of office and I encourage you to read Senator Obenshain’s recent article on the subject found in the Washington Times.  Not only does socialism promote bad medicine through expanded bureaucracy and inflated costs, it also spawns bad governance.

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This evening, while working at the store, a customer mentioned to me that the cosponsors to HR 1207 (Audit the Fed) had now reached 245. Therefore, once I got home, (and remembered) I scanned the list to see the new names. Ok, ok…most of them I didn’t recognize. After all, there are 435 of them. Who can keep them all straight? Anyway, I was both surprised and pleased to see Rep. Eric Cantor’s name on the list. I guess that your all’s hard work has paid off. Thank you Representative Cantor for doing the right thing! If you live in his district, let him know that you appreciate it when he works to reduce the size and scope of Washington.

But the work is far from over. Assuming that it passes through committee and all of the supposed cosponsors actually for it, we still have the Senate. Therefore, we must stress the importance of this bill to our Senators. Three have already signed on: Crapo (ID), DeMint (SC), and Vitter (LA), with Senator Jim DeMint being the very first. If you are a Virginian, Senator Webb’s Washington number is 202-224-4024 and Senator Warner’s number is 202-224-2023. You know the drill.

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