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Posted at 10:53 AM ET, 02/15/2011

What happened to the Tea Party revolt over the PATRIOT Act?

By Adam Serwer

Last week saw the emergence of one of the dumbest recent political memes, the idea that the vote reauthorizing three expiring PATRIOT Act provisions failed because of Tea Party Republicans waging a principled anti-government rebellion against the party establishment.

What actually happened, as I wrote last week, was that the House was operating under rules used to pass "non-controversial" bills, making the chamber subject to the same two-thirds supermajority as the Senate. House Democrats, and a trickle of Republicans, essentially filibustered the bill. But yesterday, voting under ordinary rules, the PATRIOT Act passed easily -- with a majority of Republicans voting in favor, and a majority of Democrats voting against. 

Over at the Monkey Cage, political scientists Hans Noel, Michael Bailey and Jonathan Mummolo put together a chart showing how Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Party Republicans voted on the bill last week:

teapartypatriotact1-thumb-475x425-302.png

As they write, "It's hard to look at this as saying the Tea Party is in any way different from the rest of the Republican Party." It's also rather impossible to suggest that last week's vote reflected some sort of consistent, principled anti-statism on the part of Republicans. If anything, the common denominator between Republicans' unqualified hatred of the welfare state and support for the surveillance state is a sheer lack of empathy. Just as they can't imagine ever needing unemployment insurance or Medicaid, they can't imagine ever being subject to abuse through over-broad powers given to law enforcement. After all, unless you're a criminal, you have nothing to hide.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where, hopefully, some of Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy's oversight reforms will make it past his Democratic and Republican colleagues and into the final bill.

By Adam Serwer  | February 15, 2011; 10:53 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, House GOPers  
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Comments

"It's hard to look at this as saying the Tea Party is in any way different from the rest of the Republican Party."

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 15, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

After years of whining about the dreadful consequences of the patriot act, are the uber liberals commenting here expecting Obama to veto this?

If not, are they willing to admit that their position during the Bush years was nothing more than political posturing designed to destroy Bush's ability to act in his role?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 15, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

President Obama, leader of the Democratic party, ardent supporter of the surveillance state...

Posted by: sbj3 | February 15, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

If Fox wanted, they could get Republicans to vote against the Patriot Act for certain. Just hammer day in/day out how this gives Obama's unrestricted access to your personal information, your phone calls, your emails, text messages, etc. They can store all this information indefinitely that 'could' be used against you at a later date...say when you're rounded up into the FEMA camps with bobbed wire that was apparently set up to keep people in, rather than keep people out.

They could drive the paranoid right into a frenzy to the point they were storming their Congress person's offices and phone lines.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 15, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"President Obama, leader of the Democratic party, ardent supporter of the surveillance state... "

That both sbj and skipsailing support.

Teapartiers were an attempt to fix the image of the GOP and also get activists excited about something to go out and vote for. It succeeded in the vote part, but the libertarian branch of the GOP is a fairytale that doesn't exist.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 15, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

If House Republicans succeed in cutting tens of billions of dollars in discretionary spending over the next six months, some of the most immediate victims will be federal employees, many of whose jobs will be slashed as their agencies pare back.

At a press conference in the lobby of RNC headquarters Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shrugged this off as collateral damage.

"In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs," Boehner said. "If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We're broke."

Some of those employees will no doubt collect unemployment insurance, so the government's obligation to them won't disappear with their jobs.

Boehner didn't cite a source for the claim that Obama had added 200,000 employees to the federal payroll. And he said he didn't have an estimate of how many jobs would be lost as a result of the GOP cuts. But once the extent of the cuts is finalized, economists will provide them. And then we'll have an answer for a question Boehner made famous during the 2010 campaign: "Where are the jobs?!"

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/boehner-if-jobs-are-lost-as-a-result-of-gop-spending-cuts-so-be-it.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 15, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Back on topic --

There was, incidentally, an interesting motion to recommit from House Democrats.

Every Member of Congress takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. While Members of Congress are all united in their commitment to protect our country against its enemies, they should be equally united to uphold the Constitution.

Today, Democrats offered a motion to recommit on legislation to extend expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act to ensure that PATRIOT Act powers are not used to violate the Constitutional freedoms and protections guaranteed to all Americans. The motion included two parts:

No Constitutional shortcuts. When investigating American citizens, the government must comply with the Constitution, even in national security investigations

Challenging unconstitutional action. If a citizen challenges the government's use of PATRIOT Act power in a court of law, the case must be expedited to ensure the individual's rights are upheld.

A total of two House Republicans -- Texas' Ron Paul and North Carolina's Walter Jones -- voted for this, while 234 did not.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_02/028006.php

Why do Republicans hate the Constitution?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 15, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

@mike: your concept of libertarianism is way out of date.

Personal liberty? That was loooooong ago. Today's libertarian party is about freedom .. the kind with "economic" in front of it. Most saliently, the freedom to enslave.

Oh, yes, and guns.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 15, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

@mikefromarlington: ""That both sbj and skipsailing support.""

And I support president Obama. He is the pragmatist's pragmatist.

""It succeeded in the vote part, but the libertarian branch of the GOP is a fairytale that doesn't exist.""

Of course it does, and it's name is Rand Paul. There's also Ron Paul. I'm not aware of any Republican who ran (other than the Rand) on a libertarian platform. The rest ran as rightwing Republican alternatives to RINOs and milquetoasts.

In any case, the "statist" vs. "anti-statist" argument is being poorly made, re: the Patriot Act. If lefties wanted to make progress in their opposition, they should talk about how much the implementation of the act costs. Then make Republicans justify the expense of the Patriot Act vs what is spent on feeding poor people or providing unemployment benefits.

This (from Greg): "" If anything, the common denominator between Republicans' unqualified hatred of the welfare state and support for the surveillance state is a sheer lack of empathy. Just as they can't imagine ever needing unemployment insurance or Medicaid, they can't imagine ever being subject to abuse through over-broad powers given to law enforcement. ""

Is extremely weak-tea. Oh, boo-hoo, Republicans and conservatives are mean and stupid and clueless. They're out of touch! Wow, I've never heard •that• point of view before. What a great point. Convinced me.

That, my friends, is what we call •insight•.

:P

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 15, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

@cao: "Personal liberty? That was loooooong ago. Today's libertarian party is about freedom .. the kind with 'economic' in front of it. Most saliently, the freedom to enslave."

Libertarians are, generally, the same as they have always been: they believe in a truly minimalist government, very little regulation, and a society that stops just short of anarchy. The government would essentially exist to enforce contracts and protect property rights. That's not new.

"the freedom to enslave"

Who has the freedom to enslave who, and how? Are we talking sex-trafficing here or something more bland, like the working drones being de facto slaves of "the man"?

Do you ever listen to No Agenda with Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak? In the Curry lexicon, essentially everybody (except a few oligarchs and one-worlders) are slaves.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 15, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

You may be a le to write JS Kevin but judging from that barely restrained mockery above you can't read your native tongue.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 15, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

@pragmatic: "Why do Republicans hate the Constitution?"

I'm not sure they "hate the constitution". Sounds kind of like a question with a a priori assumption contained in the asking. I don't know they voted as they did (I'm with Ron Paul on this one), but I would suspect it might be because of other language associated with the provision, or they are merely suspicious that it might somehow be used to protect Democrats?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 15, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

well, this is a complete dodge:
===============
Teapartiers were an attempt to fix the image of the GOP and also get activists excited about something to go out and vote for. It succeeded in the vote part, but the libertarian branch of the GOP is a fairytale that doesn't exist.

=========

My question wasn't about the tea partiers. Today must be national liberals micharacterize the opposition day. Between Mike and RUK I'm enjoying a vivid display of what amounts to willful blindness. Such fun.

The question is simple: do the liberals who complained so loudly about the patriot act when a, gasp, republican was in office expect Obama to veto a renewal?

If he doesn't, and the liberals say nothing much, then it will be safe to conclude that all that nonsense was just a tantrum designed to limit Bush's ability and popularity.

For example, I note with great amusement that Gitmo remains open for business. Is Cindy Sheehan still on the liberal A list? I kinda doubt it. She's still against the war, the liberals were against Bush.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 15, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

@cao: ""You may be a le to write JS Kevin but judging from that barely restrained mockery above you can't read your native tongue.""

•Barely• restrained? How did that happen? I don't believe it's morally acceptable to restrain mockery. Mockery should be allowed to run free.

Because you know what they say about mockery.

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/you-mock-me/280540/

In regards to being unable to read my native tongue, that seems entirely plausible, to me. Perhaps you could educate me, in regards to what you believe, in your well-informed opinion, that I misread?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 15, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

What "might be somehow used to protect Democrats" Kevin? What "other language?"

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 15, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

in response to this:
==============
If House Republicans succeed in cutting tens of billions of dollars in discretionary spending over the next six months, some of the most immediate victims will be federal employees, many of whose jobs will be slashed as their agencies pare back.

==================

Here's a special message to the federal employees about to be put out of work. It is a quote from our dear leader, Barrack Obama:

" At some point, you've made enough money."

Sauce for goose kids, is sauce for the gander. yeah some nipple suckers will lose thier jobs. Pardon me for my lack of sympathy but I wonder how many jobs will be lost at internet porn sites when the federal employees can no longer visit them while on the job.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 15, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@pramatic:

""What 'might be somehow used to protect Democrats' Kevin?""

Well, what if Republicans wanted to wiretap suspicious Democrats with impunity? What if they need to detain certain dangerous Democrats for an indeterminate length of time?

"" What "other language?"""

French?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 15, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for clearing that up!

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 15, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul has consistently voted NO to the Patriot Act.

"Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him fighting for our country."
-Ronald Reagan

Paul is the only Republican who can steal Independent/Democrat votes from Obama.
You want Obama out of the White House? Ron Paul for President 2012!

Posted by: ladyliberty6 | February 15, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

You want Obama out of the White House, you wait for 2016.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 15, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Good news and bad news for Republicans...Forty percent of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire would back Mitt Romney.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 15, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

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