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The Patriot Act Is Not Fit for Purpose. Nor Is Its Replacement.

June 1, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

Perhaps nowhere on earth is the will to ignore facts stronger than in America’s Capitol. The ongoing debate over whether to reauthorize three expired provisions of the 2001 Patriot Act is a perfect case in point. And the proposed reforms in the USA Freedom Act hardly fare better.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellSenate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio have repeated more times than I can count that these Patriot Act provisions are “vital” to preventing another 9/11.

But they are objectively wrong. Last month the Department of Justice Inspector General (DoJ IG) released a partially declassified version of a long overdue Patriot Act compliance report.

With respect to Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act, which encompasses the controversial telephone metadata program as well as a much larger business records dragnet that just expired, the report found that, “The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders … ”

Nearly 14 years of using this provision—which has swept up tens of millions of records of innocent Americans in the process—has resulted in zero terrorist plots against America being uncovered, much less disrupted.

Real Patriot Act ‘reform’ should substantively bar the government from indiscriminate bulk surveillance.”

And this applies not simply to the telephone metadata program exposed by Edward Snowden two years ago, but to every Sec. 215-related program since the Patriot Act was enacted in October 2001. The DoJ IG report’s findings mirror those of President Obama’s own Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, which issued its own report over 18 months ago.

This is exactly the same dismal record uncovered by The New York Times’s Charlie Savage with respect to the once-illegal Stellar Wind warrantless surveillance program initiated by then-NSA Director Michael Hayden three days after the 9/11 attacks. And both programs have cost millions to run and to store the personal data of every American who has ever used a phone, computer, or tablet—a de facto “mass surveillance tax.”

Yet this Patriot Act national security boondoggle is held up by senior congressional leaders, and even President Obama himself, as critical to protecting the nation when all available data says exactly the opposite.

In his weekly address the day before a fresh Senate debate over renewing the useless authorities, President Obama engaged in the kind of fear-mongering and proffering …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Marco Rubio and Rand Paul Pose Greatest Threat to Hillary Clinton

June 1, 2015 in Economics

By Emily Ekins

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Emily Ekins

A recent CNN/ORC poll finds 75 percent of Republican partisans prefer that their party nominate a “presidential candidate who can beat the Democratic candidate,” while only 25 percent prefer a nominee who agrees with them on issues that matter most to them. This clashes with partisans’ reported preferred candidates for the Republican nomination. Numerous polls find disproportionate support among partisans for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; however, U.S. senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio perform better in general election matchups against likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Contrary to Republican voters’ perceptions, Marco Rubio’s and Rand Paul’s stances on non-traditional issues may capture independent-leaning Democrats.”

Despite this, 2016 election coverage has tended to pay more attention to Bush and Walker over Rubio and Paul. In fact, a May Fox News poll even excluded Paul from its general-election matchups with Hillary Clinton.

One reason less attention is being paid to these candidates is that only a quarter of Republican voters believe either Rubio or Paul have the “best chance of beating the Democratic nominee in the general election,” according to another recent CNN/ORC poll. But the matchup data say differently.

To be sure, Clinton enjoys a sizable lead against all Republican contenders. That being said, Quinnipiac’s latest poll shows that in a hypothetical general-election matchup, Paul and Rubio come the closest to beating Clinton. Paul would garner 42 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 46 percent and Rubio would capture 41 percent to Clinton’s 45 percent.

Higher Heights, Lower Lows for Paul and Rubio

This poll is not an anomaly. In fact, an analysis of major polls conducted in 2015 shows that Paul has fared best against Clinton from January-March of this year, with Rubio pulling ahead in April. Quinnipiac found that Paul and Rubio are the only widely known candidates whose favorables are not “under water.”

If Republicans care about nominating a candidate who can beat the Democratic nominee in 2016, they might want to pay more attention to Rubio and Paul.

Why might Paul and Rubio lead other Republicans in match-ups with Hillary Clinton? There are a number of possible explanations. One likely explanation is that Paul and Rubio beat Clinton on empathy.

Perception of candidate empathy matters. Readers may recall going into the 2012 presidential election that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were tied on several candidate qualities, including being honest and trustworthy and being strong …read more

Source: OP-EDS