Everybody got a kick out of Rand Paul’s filibuster last week. I noted that he actually made the case for what filibusters should be — and thus why filibuster reform is so important. Others focused on the his conspicuous defense of civil liberties. But something has been rattling around my head since that all went down. Was this too-seldom defense of civil liberties or a dog whistle appeal to the black helicopter crowd?
As I said, I’ve been wondering about this for a few days. But my attention was focused when a Facebook friend flagged this piece at Right Wing Watch on Larry Klayman’s new call for armed rebellion to stop “Obama’s Mission to Enslave the Nation.”
This doesn’t take away from the legitimate questions about just how far the President’s war powers can go within the United States or outside for that matter. But when Paul used the example of the President ordering a drone strike on someone sitting in a coffee shop or someone at home with their family, I think most people saw this as an outlandish and highly implausible example that nonetheless pointed to a very real issue: where do the President’s powers stop?
I’m not sure everybody saw it that way.
I think there was another audience. There’s a sizable subculture of folks on the far right — Paul’s political hunting ground, his dad’s political hunting ground — who are still in the mode of the people who in the 1990s were worried about the government sending those black helicopters to take them off to internment camps or take away their guns or whatever else. Now it’s drones.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.