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    Reason interviews Thomas Massie

    Why not vote 'no'? | Thomas Massie | Just Asking Questions - Ep. 2
    https://rumble.com/v42knk1-why-not-v...ons-ep.-2.html
    {ReasonTV | 13 December 2023}

    Congressman Thomas Massie discusses his "no" votes on foreign aid, COVID relief, and labelling anti-Zionism antisemitism on episode two of "Just Asking Questions."

    00:50 - Why does renewing Section 702 threaten Americans' privacy?
    09:02 - Why does Massie oppose aid for Ukraine?
    14:20 - Why did Massie vote against 19 pro-Israel resolutions?
    18:10 - Is anti-Zionism antisemitism?
    26:12 - What was it like being slammed by Donald Trump for opposing COVID bailouts?
    30:08 - Does Congress have any remorse for bad COVID policy?
    31:55 - Can we ever tame the national debt?





    Thomas Massie: Why Not Vote 'No'?
    Congressman Thomas Massie discusses his "no" votes on foreign aid, COVID-19 relief, and labeling anti-Zionism antisemitism on episode two of Just Asking Questions.
    {Zach Weissmueller & Liz Wolfe | 14 December 2023}

    "I have a history of being the only vote that was a 'no,'" says Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). "I've developed some trust with my constituents on those lone votes."

    In the second episode of Just Asking Questions, Massie joins Reason's Zach Weissmueller and Liz Wolfe to talk about his recent votes against aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as a controversial meme that he posted on X (formerly Twitter), which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted as "antisemitic, disgusting, dangerous."

    Massie says charges of antisemitism are "simply not true" and that his objectives are to avoid "open-ended support" for Israel's war and resist encroachments on free speech.

    They also discussed Massie's attempt to force an in-person congressional vote on a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in March 2020, a move which prompted former president Donald Trump to label Massie "a third-rate grandstander" and demand he be kicked out of the Republican Party. Massie defeated primary challenger Todd McMurtry 81-19 less than three months later.

    "I was just trying to get people on record," says Massie. "The reason I was trying to get people on record is I knew this was one of the worst votes in history and nobody was going to be accountable for it… Here we are three years later, every bad thing that I said would happen as a result of [passing the $2.2 trillion relief package] has happened."

    Watch the full conversation on Reason's YouTube channel or on the Just Asking Questions podcast feed on Apple, Spotify, or your preferred podcatcher.

    Watch the full video here [see the video embedded above - OB] and find a condensed transcript below.

    [condensed transcript matter hidden to save space]
     
    Zach Weissmueller: I want to talk about something that's unfolding in D.C. right now, which is a vote on the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act. As part of that, the reauthorization of something called Section 702, which essentially allows the government to surveil communications between American citizens and foreign targets without a warrant. Though, after some resistance, a clean reauthorization of that is unlikely to happen. They're attaching it to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is kind of like the defense budget for the year. And they're trying to slip a more temporary extension into that. Could you tell us what is at stake for Americans with this issue?

    Rep. Thomas Massie: So we're not trying to eliminate the FISA 702 program. It was established to allow our intelligence agencies to spy on foreigners without a warrant. In order to qualify to be spied on without a warrant, you have to be outside of the country and you have to be not an American citizen. If you're inside the country, or if you're an American citizen outside of the country, you can't be spied on by this program. Sounds great, right? But we've got 250,000 people on that list that we're collecting information on.

    If you talk to a businessperson in France, for instance, your emails and stuff may get caught up in this data collection. Well, what they've been doing is going into this giant ball of data and they put in your name. They can put in Zach's name and search it without a warrant, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. They are using this not to investigate suspects, but to create suspects.

    Let's say that you and Liz are at a protest and they develop some nexus. They say, "Well, we think these protesters were inspired by Russia. We're just going to run all the protesters' names through this database." Now, even though the Intel community doesn't concede that they need a warrant for this, they've admitted that they violated their own protocols hundreds of thousands of times when they searched for U.S. persons data in this haystack. They say, "Well, it was created legally, so we don't need a warrant to go search it."

    There are two proposals to reauthorize this program. By the way, the only chance you ever get to reform these programs is when they expire. So it's important that they do expire occasionally, and this one expires in January. And in the Judiciary Committee, which Jim Jordan chairs, and on which I serve, we've marked up a bill that would require them to get a warrant. It would create criminal penalties for people in the executive branch who abuse the program. Because there's never any culpability or blowback for anybody that's abused this program.

    So we created this reform bill. And then the Intel committee has created a bill which is less than ideal. It doesn't have a warrant requirement. It doesn't have many of the reporting requirements back to Congress that the judiciary bill has. And in fact, it expands their ability to collect information. For instance, if you had free Wi-Fi at a cafe, that service provider would be treated like Google or Verizon now. And they would have to create a direct pipeline to the intel agencies for any of the communications that go through that.

    So you've got two proposals out there, and we're running out of time. What Speaker Johnson has proposed and some senators have proposed is "Let's just keep the old program in place for a little bit longer." Your basic congressional kicking the can down the road exercise that's going to be passing the Senate probably today unless Mike Lee and Rand Paul can stop it. Then it comes to the House probably tomorrow.

    Now, an interesting thing here is I serve on the Rules Committee, and Chip Roy and Ralph Norman do as well. And we told the powers that be that we can't go along with this. So they couldn't pass a rule to combine the FISA program with the NDAA. That's how they're going to try and get it through, attach it to must-pass legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act. Well, we said, "Nope, this shall not pass the Rules Committee." So they're going to try and do this on suspension. There's a House rule that says if you want to suspend all of our regular rules and expedite something, you need a two-thirds vote of the House. So this is going to be interesting to see if they can get effectively 290 people to vote for it.

    Weissmueller: It is interesting because if you think back to when a lot of Americans were first awakened to this with the Snowden revelations about a decade ago, there were some lonely dissenters and most people just rubber-stamped this stuff. It does seem as if now there's more resistance. I assume some of that has to do with the way FISA was used against the Trump administration. Do you feel the political tides have shifted somewhat to the advantage of people who care about privacy and government surveillance?

    Massie: The tides haven't just shifted, the stars have aligned. We've never had a chairman of either the Intel Committee or the Judiciary Committee who made reforming this program one of their priorities. So with Jim Jordan, we're very lucky to have him as the chairman of this committee. And one of his signature agendas is to get this reform, because we have seen abuses that have been used against President Trump.

    So a lot of conservatives have woken up to the fact that this program is being used against them. You have liberals who are upset about the program. Obviously, the FBI's using this against Black Lives Matter as well.

    So you do have this coalition of the left and the right. It used to be a coalition of a dozen people, Right? It was me and Justin Amash, Zoe Lofgren, and Tulsi Gabbard, maybe who were concerned about this. We used to come together and we would offer amendments to try to fix this in the funding bills. We would try to defund some of this stuff, which is a really blunt instrument. It's a lot easier to write legislation that affects the laws than it is to just defund something. And they would pat us on the head and say, "Well, you know, we appreciate the sentiment, but this isn't the time or place to do what you're doing. And you shouldn't be mucking around with the funding." But now is the time and place, the program is expiring. We've got a chairman who's sympathetic to the cause. You know, this reported out of the Judiciary Committee 35 to 2. There were only two dissenters.

    Liz Wolfe: Congressman, I want to ask about foreign aid. This week, Zelenskyy came to Washington and made his pitch for why the United States, in his eyes, ought to be funding Ukraine's war against a horrible invasion by Vladimir Putin. There's also obviously a terrible foreign policy situation in the Middle East right now between Israel and Hamas. You have called funding Ukraine and funding Zelenskyy, "economically illiterate and morally deficient." Make the case for why you oppose this form of funding.

    Massie: Well, the "economic illiteracy" is in reference to a letter that the White House sent to the House of Representatives last week. And in two or three of the paragraphs of the letter, they espouse the virtues of spending money with the military-industrial complex and sending that to Ukraine as a job creation program. That it would reinvigorate our military industrial complex. You've got to believe in the broken window fallacy to think this will be an economic stimulus for the United States.

    Meanwhile, the moral deficiency comes from some of the senators who have said that this war is a great deal for America because all we have to do is supply the weapons and Ukraine supplies the soldiers and that we're grinding down the Russian army. We're degrading their capacity to do this elsewhere or to commit war against us. The problem with that is the number of people who are dying. Zelenskyy allegedly told the senators that he's raising the draft age to 40 and admitted that they are running out of soldiers either through attrition on the battlefield or from people who've defected and left the country.

    You would think if this were a war about the existence of Ukraine and protecting a democracy and such a fine government that people would sign up, would volunteer to fight for their country. But the reality is hundreds of thousands of them had the means and the money got out of the country. Some are dying, trying to escape over mountains and through rivers to get out of the country. And far too many have died on the battlefield. We can keep supplying them with weapons. We can keep depleting our treasure, but they're going to run out of fighting-age males pretty soon.

    Wolfe: Do you take that as an indictment of Ukraine's democratic system or more of a sense of leaving the country because they see it as a war that is totally unwinnable? How do you look at that situation? And more broadly, how should libertarians look at parallels, or lack thereof, between the U.S.'s involvement in funding Ukraine and the U.S. funding Israel?

    Massie: Well, to your first question, I think it's both. They lived in a country where they know that bribery and corruption are part of the culture and the current government isn't immune to that. And so if you're fighting for your country, that's one thing. But fighting for the government that's in charge of your country is another thing. So I believe that's part of it. Obviously, self-preservation is going to be part of it as well.

    When it's over, there's going to have to be some negotiated peace settlement. And nobody, I think, believes Crimea is going to go back to Ukraine. So why spend all their lives when the lines are going to be where they were when it started? Just realism is a third factor.

    Weissmueller: Let me pick up on Liz's second point there, which is about Israel, because you've been kind of on the lonely end, certainly on the Republican side, of several votes pertaining to Israel. Could you explain your stance on Israel, where you're coming from, and what you think some of these critics might be missing about your position?

    Massie: Sure. That was the first of 19 votes. Today. We're going to take our 19th virtue signal vote here in Congress. But I guess I got off on the wrong foot early and have been voting consistently ever since. The title of that bill is wonderful. I have no disagreement with the title of that bill, but there are 4 or 5 pages that go after that title.

    The first objection I had was that there is an open-ended pledge of military support for Israel. We never declare wars anymore. The administration just kind of goes and does it. And Congress keeps funding it, but they find the imprimatur for their activity right there in these resolutions. So the open-ended guarantee of support for that war that's contained in the text of that bill, but not the title, could have implied boots on the ground. And that may be the only vote we get to take in Congress on whether we're going to do that or not. So, number one, I don't support that notion.

    Number two, in that resolution they mentioned Iran. In the very first resolution, they're already trying to expand the war and incorporate as much of the Middle East as they can. There's some people that just can't wait to attack Iran, and they want to use this as the nexus to get there. So that was in the resolution, a condemnation of Iran. I think we should be trying to constrain the conflict, not to expand it in the first resolution of support that we passed.

    Part of that resolution wanted stronger sanctions on Iran. And I don't support sanctions, never voted to sanction a sovereign country in the 11 years that I've been in Congress. I think it leads to war. Sanctions actually create crimes only for U.S. citizens because we're not going to put somebody in jail in another country who trades with Iran. What we're proposing to do when we pass a sanction is to make a federal law that would result in the imprisonment of a U.S. citizen who trades with Iran, and it hurts the people who are in the country. I think it actually edges us closer to war instead of getting us out of war. Even though I support Israel and I condemned Hamas, I did that on my own. I put out a statement. I support Israel's right to defend itself and I condemn these attacks. But that wasn't enough.

    Weissmueller: You've taken more heat for what you would describe as a "virtue signal bill." It's essentially the House reaffirming the state of Israel's right to exist and recognizing that denying Israel's right to exist is a form of antisemitism. Where are you coming from on these sorts of bills that aren't even really directly tied to any sort of military aid?

    Massie: Well, I recognize Israel's right to exist. I have to preface all of this stuff with that because people would imply from a vote that I don't. But when they passed that, I said, "You're basically saying that anti-Zionism is antisemitism." And people argued with me about that.

    What's interesting is the next week they passed almost the same resolution and they replaced Israel's right to exist with Zionism. So maybe I'm just giving them clues for how to write their bills more directly because the next resolution said that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. And there are hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who disagree with that statement. In fact, Jerrold Nadler, who's the most senior member of Congress, who's Jewish, went to the floor and gave a five minute speech, which is a long speech in the House of Representatives. But, he gave a five-minute speech on why that's untrue, to say that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.

    There are a lot of people who are antisemitic who are also against the state of Israel, but you can't equate the two. And I think these 19 votes, after today, are sort of part of the war effort for Israel to make it hard for anybody in the United States to criticize what they're doing.

    Every two or three days here in Congress, we're taking these votes that a lot of what's in the resolution is just obvious and doesn't need to be stated. It's kind of like Black Lives Matter. You have to say "black lives matter." They're doing the equivalent with Israel. Now Israel matters. And so I agree that Israel matters, but we don't have to take all these votes. And some of them are going into campuses and trying to limit free speech by withholding federal money.

    I've been called antisemitic for merely not supporting the money that goes to Israel. American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spent $90,000 in my district running ads implying that I was antisemitic and then in a tweet, said that I was "antisemitic for not voting for the $14.3 billion to go to Israel." Even though I've not voted for foreign aid to go anywhere.

    Weissmueller: Chuck Schumer has accused you of being antisemitic. He's blasted you on Twitter. Here's the tweet, he said: "Representative Massie, you're a sitting member of Congress, this is antisemitic, disgusting, dangerous and exactly the type of thing I was talking about in my Senate address. Take this down." And what he is referring to is the Drake meme, where you're saying, "No to American patriotism, yes to Zionism, Congress these days." What was your reaction to this?

    Massie: Well, we ratioed him on that pretty soundly. I quote tweeted him and said, "If only you cared about half as much about our border as you care about my tweets."

    It's just simply not true. By the way, in the replies to him, you'll find somebody who pointed out that of all 535 members of Congress, this cycle, he received more money from pro-Israel lobby according to Opensecrets.org than any other member of Congress. So it rings hollow when he says that. He's even in disagreement with Jerrold Nadler.

    And I'll admit memes are not the most precise way to convey a point. But they can be effective. There's nothing in that meme that implies those two things are mutually exclusive. And that wasn't my intent. It's okay in Congress to be patriotic for Israel, but you can't be patriotic for America. That's considered nationalism, which American nationalism is a dirty word. And I know it's loaded. There are a lot of people that have attached themselves to it. But if you take it in the generic sense, it's pride in your country. Pride in America is looked down upon right now. It's out-of-fashion. But pride in Israel is something we have to vote on two or three times a week now in Congress.

    Weissmueller: You have this reputation in your own district and nationally as the guy who's willing to make the meme and take the unpopular vote. I think that one of the prime examples of that is back during the depths of COVID, in March 2020, everyone was pushing for this $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill, including the president of the United States. And it was Representative Thomas Massie who was saying, "If we're going to have a $2 trillion vote here, let's follow the Constitution and have everyone come back to D.C. and actually do it in person."

    And for that, going back to Twitter, President Trump's response to that was "Looks like a third-rate grandstander named Representative Thomas Massie, a congressman from, unfortunately, a truly great state, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers bill in Congress. He just wants publicity. He can't stop it." He goes on to say that "the Republicans should win the House, but they should kick out Thomas Massie." What was that like having the Eye of Sauron on you for insisting on an in-person vote in March 2020?

    Massie: I'll have to write a book someday. But those tweets happened about 60 seconds after a phone call ended between me and President Trump, where he basically burned my ear off, screaming at me for probably three minutes and said he was coming at me, he was going to take me down. That's a sobering proposition when you've got a primary election eight weeks away and you've been trying to keep the president out of your race. The person running against you says you don't support the president enough. And the president had a 95 percent approval rating among the primary voters who were going to vote in my election. But I just stood strong. I said, listen, if truckers and nurses and grocery store workers are showing up for work, then Congress should show up for work too. And that was, I think, an unassailable message. Because, ultimately, I was just trying to get people on record.

    The reason I was trying to get people on record is because I knew this was one of the worst votes in history and nobody was going to be accountable for it. Here we are three years later, and every bad thing that I said would happen as a result of doing that has happened. And even my colleagues here in Congress, a lot of them admit to me that they were wrong about that. They won't say it too loudly lest anybody hear it.

    The reporters came up to me as I walked out of the chamber that day and said, "Your own president just called you a third-rate grandstander. What do you have to say?" And I said "I was deeply insulted. I'm at least second-rate." And they didn't ever come back to that.

    Wolfe: How much COVID policy remorse is there among your colleagues in Congress?

    Massie: Not enough. Not nearly enough. The policy isn't just the spending, the vaccine mandates, the shutting down of our economy, the compulsory masking, the way people were treated like cattle. There should be far more remorse. But frankly, that's a reflection of the voters as well. If you poll this, most people have moved on. Even a year ago, most people had moved on.

    I mean, look at Ron DeSantis. That was part of his signature issue. But he most famously opposed a lot of this COVID nonsense after it became obvious what we were dealing with. And he rode that wave and he was polling better than Trump. But I think people have moved on and they've got other issues to think about now. People have just moved on and so have my colleagues. And I think it's really unfortunate. And I wished that I had been able to get that recorded vote that day. We'd have a lot more people who wouldn't be back here in Congress perpetrating bad ideas like FISA.

    Wolfe: You were elected during the era of the Tea Party reining in government spending. We care about our fiscal health. And so as a result, we can't just have the money printer constantly print money forever more. We have to be prudent because the bill always comes due. Do you think that message has any hopes of having any sort of revival in the coming years, especially given the runaway inflation that we've seen? Or do you think it's just a totally lost cause and we're all screwed?

    Massie: Let me assign a 95 percent probability to that last proposition. I'm here with a 5 percent chance that we can save it. And in the 30 percent chance that if it all goes to hell in a handbasket, I can still be here and have some credibility to put it back together.

    I think what's starting to curb the appetite for spending and bring some realism into the discussion is the only thing that was ever going to curb our appetite for spending, and that is our creditors are starting to balk. The rates at which the government can borrow money now aren't what we want them to be. When we go out to do an auction or a sale for treasuries or bonds what we're finding is the appetite isn't there, even at 4.5 percent, you know, to get a guaranteed 4.5 percent return on your money from the government backed by the U.S. military? That's not enough to loan that money to the government. They want 5 percent. That's an indicator that when the private sector and the other countries, the sovereign funds, usually have the appetite for our debt when they're losing their appetite, that's a sign that things are going south.

    I wear this debt clock that I built in Congress to remind people of it. And one side effect of me wearing this is the rate at which the debt is increasing is going up. So for the math nerds, that's the second derivative. And today, the debt per second is $78,000. I don't think people realize. It feels like we're going over Niagara Falls right now. The rate of these bad things happening is increasing now.


    Thomas Massie Is Railing Against the 'Virtue Signal Vote'
    "I have a history of being the only vote that was a 'no,'" the Kentucky Republican tells Reason.
    https://reason.com/2024/03/03/agains...e-signal-vote/
    {Zach Weissmueller & Liz Wolfe | April 2024 issue}

    "I have a history of being the only vote that was a 'no,'" says Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.). "I've developed some trust with my constituents on those lone votes."

    In the second episode of Reason's new video podcast Just Asking Questions, Massie joined hosts Zach Weissmueller and Liz Wolfe in mid-December to talk about his recent votes against aid to Ukraine and Israel and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Reform and Reauthorization Act, as well as his attempt to force an in-person congressional vote on a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in March 2020, a move that prompted former President Donald Trump to label Massie "a third-rate grandstander."

    [condensed transcript matter hidden to save space]
     
    Reason: In light of the vote on the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act and the reauthorization of Section 702, which essentially allows the government to surveil communications between American citizens and foreign targets without a warrant, there is a push to attach it to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with a temporary extension. What is at stake for Americans?

    Massie: We're not trying to eliminate the FISA 702 program. It was established to allow our intelligence agencies to spy on foreigners without a warrant. In order to qualify to be spied on without a warrant, you have to be outside of the country and you have to be not an American citizen. If you're inside the country or if you're an American citizen outside of the country, you can't be spied on by this program. Sounds great, right? But we've got 250,000 people on that list that we're collecting information on.

    If you talk to a businessperson in France, for instance, your emails may get caught up in this data collection. What they've been doing is going into this giant ball of data and they put in your name and search it without a warrant, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. They are using this not to investigate suspects, but to create suspects.

    Let's say that you are at a protest and they develop some nexus. They say, "Well, we think these protesters were inspired by Russia. We're just going to run all the protesters' names through this database." Now, even though the intel community doesn't concede that they need a warrant for this, they've admitted that they violated their own protocols hundreds of thousands of times when they searched for U.S. persons' data in this haystack. They say, "Well, it was created legally, so we don't need a warrant to go search it."

    There are two proposals to reauthorize this program. By the way, the only chance you ever get to reform these programs is when they expire. So it's important that they do expire occasionally, and this one expires in January. In the Judiciary Committee, which [Rep.] Jim Jordan [R–Ohio] chairs, and on which I serve, we've marked up a bill that would require them to get a warrant. It would create criminal penalties for people in the executive branch who abuse the program. Because there's never any culpability or blowback for anybody that's abused this program.

    And then the Intel Committee has created a bill that is less than ideal. It doesn't have a warrant requirement. It doesn't have many of the reporting requirements back to Congress that the Judiciary bill has. In fact, it expands their ability to collect information. For instance, if you had free Wi-Fi at a café, that service provider would be treated like Google or Verizon now and they would have to create a direct pipeline to the intel agencies for any of the communications that go through that.

    So you've got two proposals out there, and we're running out of time.

    In the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations about inappropriate government surveillance a decade ago, there were some lonely dissenters, but most just rubber-stamped this stuff. Now, it seems there's more resistance, possibly influenced by the way FISA was used against the Trump administration. Do you feel the political tides have shifted to the advantage of people who care about privacy?

    The tides haven't just shifted; the stars have aligned. We've never had a chairman of either the Intel Committee or the Judiciary Committee who made reforming this program one of their priorities. So with Jim Jordan, we're very lucky to have him as the chairman of this committee. One of his signature agendas is to get this reform because we have seen abuses that have been used against President Trump.

    A lot of conservatives have woken up to the fact that this program is being used against them. You have liberals who are upset about the program. Obviously, the FBI's using this against Black Lives Matter as well.

    So you do have this coalition of the left and the right. It used to be a coalition of a dozen people. It was me and [former Rep.] Justin Amash [L–Mich.], [Rep.] Zoe Lofgren [D–Calif.], and [former Rep.] Tulsi Gabbard [D–Hawaii] who were concerned about this. We used to come together and we would offer amendments to try to fix this in the funding bills. We would try to defund some of this stuff, which is a really blunt instrument. It's a lot easier to write legislation that affects the laws than it is to just defund something. And they would pat us on the head and say, "Well, you know, we appreciate the sentiment, but this isn't the time or place to do what you're doing. And you shouldn't be mucking around with the funding." But now is the time and place: The program is expiring. We've got a chairman who's sympathetic to the cause. This reported out of the Judiciary Committee 35–2. There were only two dissenters.

    During his recent visit to Washington, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought more U.S. funding to support Ukraine's war against Russia's invasion. There's also a complex foreign policy situation in the Middle East right now between Israel and Hamas. You have called funding Ukraine and Zelenskyy "economically illiterate and morally deficient." Why oppose this form of funding?

    The economic illiteracy is in reference to a letter that the White House sent to the House of Representatives. In two or three of the paragraphs of the letter, they espouse the virtues of spending money with the military-industrial complex and sending that to Ukraine as a job creation program. That it would re​invigorate our military-industrial complex. You've got to believe in the broken window fallacy to think this will be an economic stimulus for the United States.

    Meanwhile, the moral deficiency comes from some of the senators who have said that this war is a great deal for America because all we have to do is supply the weapons and Ukraine supplies the soldiers, and we're grinding down the Russian army. We're degrading their capacity to do this elsewhere or to commit war against us. The problem with that is the number of people who are dying. Zelenskyy allegedly told the senators that he's raising the draft age to 40 and admitted that they are running out of soldiers either through attrition on the battlefield or from people who've defected and left the country.

    You would think if this were a war about the existence of Ukraine and protecting a democracy and such a fine government that people would sign up, would volunteer to fight for their country. But the reality is that hundreds of thousands of them who had the means and the money got out of the country. Some are dying, trying to escape over mountains and through rivers to get out of the country. And far too many have died on the battlefield. We can keep supplying them with weapons. We can keep depleting our treasure. But they're going to run out of fighting-age males pretty soon.

    Regarding individuals leaving Ukraine, do you take that as an indictment of Ukraine's democratic system or a perception that the war is unwinnable?

    I think it's both. They lived in a country where they know that bribery and corruption are part of the culture and the current government isn't immune to that. If you're fighting for your country, that's one thing. But fighting for the government that's in charge of your country is another thing. I believe that's part of it. Obviously, self-preservation is going to be part of it as well.

    When it's over, there's going to have to be some negotiated peace settlement. Nobody, I think, believes Crimea is going to go back to Ukraine. So why spend all the lives when the lines are going to be where they were when it started? Realism is a third factor in that.

    You've been on the lonely end, certainly on the Republican side, of several votes pertaining to Israel, including House Resolution 771, which is entitled, "Standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists." Could you explain your stance on Israel, where you're coming from, and what you think some of these critics might be missing about your position?

    Today, we're going to take our 19th virtue signal vote here in Congress. I guess I got off on the wrong foot early and have been voting consistently ever since. The title of that bill is wonderful. I have no disagreement with the title of that bill, but there are four or five pages that go after that title.

    The first objection I had was that there is an open-ended pledge of military support for Israel. We never declare wars anymore. The administration just kind of goes and does it. And Congress keeps funding it, but they find the imprimatur for their activity right there in these resolutions. The open-ended guarantee of support for that war that's contained in the text of that bill, but not the title, could have implied boots on the ground. And that may be the only vote we get to take in Congress on whether we're going to do that or not. So, number one, I don't support that notion.

    Number two, in that resolution they mentioned Iran. In the very first resolution, they're already trying to expand the war and incorporate as much of the Middle East as they can. There's some people that just can't wait to attack Iran, and they want to use this as the nexus to get there. So that was in the resolution, a condemnation of Iran. I think we should be trying to constrain the conflict, not to expand it in the first resolution of support that we passed.

    Part of that resolution wanted stronger sanctions on Iran. I don't support sanctions, never voted to sanction a sovereign country in the 11 years that I've been in Congress. I think it leads to war. Sanctions actually create crimes only for U.S. citizens, because we're not going to put somebody in jail in another country who trades with Iran. What we're proposing to do when we pass a sanction is to make a federal law that would result in the imprisonment of a U.S. citizen who trades with Iran. And it hurts the people who are in the country. I think it actually edges us closer to war instead of getting us out of war. Even though I support Israel and I condemned Hamas, I did that on my own. I put out a statement. I support Israel's right to defend itself and I condemn these attacks. But that wasn't enough.

    You've taken heat for what you would describe as a "virtue signal" bill that is essentially the House reaffirming the state of Israel's right to exist and recognizing that denying Israel's right to exist is a form of antisemitism. Where are you coming from on these sorts of bills that aren't directly tied to any sort of military aid?

    I recognize Israel's right to exist. I have to preface all of this stuff with that because people would imply from a vote that I don't. But when they passed that, I said, "You're basically saying that anti-Zionism is antisemitism." And people argued with me about that.

    What's interesting is the next week they passed almost the same resolution and they replaced Israel's right to exist with Zionism. Maybe I'm just giving them clues for how to write their bills more directly because the next resolution said that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. There are hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who disagree with that statement. In fact, [Rep.] Jerrold Nadler [D–N.Y.], who's the most senior member of Congress who's Jewish, went to the floor and gave a five-minute speech, which is a long speech in the House of Representatives, on why that's untrue to say that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.

    There are a lot of people who are antisemitic who are also against the state of Israel, but you can't equate the two. I think these 19 votes, after today, are sort of part of the war effort for Israel to make it hard for anybody in the United States to criticize what they're doing.

    Every two or three days here in Congress, we're taking these votes. A lot of what's in the resolution is just obvious and doesn't need to be stated. It's kind of like Black Lives Matter. You have to say "black lives matter." They're doing the equivalent with Israel. Now Israel matters. I agree that Israel matters, but we don't have to take all these votes. And some of them are going into campuses and trying to limit free speech by withholding federal money if you allow things that are considered antisemitic.

    I've been called antisemitic for merely not supporting the money that goes to Israel. [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee] spent $90,000 in my district running ads implying that I was antisemitic, then in a tweet said that I was antisemitic for not voting for the $14.3 billion to go to Israel, even though I've not voted for foreign aid to go anywhere.

    You have a reputation as the guy who's willing to take the unpopular vote. One of the prime examples of that is back during the depths of COVID-19, in March 2020, when everyone was pushing for a $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill, including the president. It was you who said, "If we're going to have a $2 trillion vote here, let's follow the Constitution and have everyone come back to D.C. and actually do it in person."

    President Trump's response to that was, "Looks like a third-rate grandstander named Rep. Thomas Massie, a congressman from, unfortunately, a truly great state, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers bill in Congress. He just wants publicity. He can't stop it." He goes on to say that "the Republicans should win the House, but they should kick out Thomas Massie." What was that like having the Eye of Sauron on you for insisting on an in-person vote in March 2020?

    I'll have to write a book someday. Those tweets happened about 60 seconds after a phone call ended between me and President Trump, where he basically burned my ear off, screaming at me for probably three minutes and said he was coming at me, he was going to take me down. That's a sobering proposition when you've got a primary election eight weeks away and you've been trying to keep the president out of your race. The person running against you says you don't support the president enough. The president had a 95 percent approval rating among the primary voters who were going to vote in my election. But I just stood strong. I said, listen, if truckers and nurses and grocery store workers are showing up for work, then Congress should show up for work too. And that was, I think, an unassailable message. Ultimately, I was just trying to get people on record.

    The reason I was trying to get people on record is because I knew this was one of the worst votes in history and nobody was going to be accountable for it. Here we are three years later, and every bad thing that I said would happen as a result of doing that has happened. And even my colleagues here in Congress, a lot of them admit to me that they were wrong about that. They won't say it too loudly lest anybody hear it.

    The reporters came up to me as I walked out of the chamber that day and said, "Your own president just called you a third-rate grandstander. What do you have to say?" And I said, "I was deeply insulted. I'm at least second-rate."

    How much COVID policy remorse is there among your colleagues in Congress?

    Not enough. Not nearly enough. The policy isn't just the spending, the vaccine mandates, the shutting down of our economy, the compulsory masking, the way people were treated like cattle. There should be far more remorse. But frankly, that's a reflection of the voters as well. If you poll this, most people have moved on. Even a year ago, most people had moved on and it wasn't in the top five issues that people care about in any congressional district.

    Look at [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis. That was part of his signature issue. He most famously opposed a lot of this COVID nonsense after it became obvious what we were dealing with. He rode that wave and he was polling better than Trump. But I think people have moved on and they've got other issues to think about now. So have my colleagues. I think it's really unfortunate. I wished that I had been able to get that recorded vote that day. We'd have a lot more people who wouldn't be back here in Congress perpetrating bad ideas like FISA.

    You were elected during the era of the Tea Party's emphasis on reining in government spending: "We can't have the money printer constantly printing forever. We have to be prudent because the bill always comes due." Do you think that message has any hopes of having any sort of revival in the coming years, especially given the runaway inflation that we've seen? Is it a lost cause?

    Let me assign a 95 percent probability to that last proposition. I'm here with a 5 percent chance that we can save it. And in the 30 percent chance that if it all goes to hell in a handbasket, I can still be here and have some credibility to put it back together.

    I think what's starting to curb the appetite for spending and bring some realism into the discussion is the only thing that was ever going to curb our appetite for spending, and that is our creditors are starting to balk. The rates at which the government can borrow money now aren't what we want them to be. When we go out to do an auction or a sale for treasuries or bonds, what we're finding is the appetite isn't there, even at 4.5 percent. To get a guaranteed 4.5 percent return on your money from the government backed by the U.S. military? That's not enough to loan that money to the government. They want 5 percent. The private sector and the other countries, the sovereign funds, usually have the appetite for our debt—when they're losing their appetite, that's a sign that things are going south.

    I wear this debt clock that I built in Congress to remind people of it. One side effect of me wearing this is that I've noticed the rate at which the debt is increasing is going up. For the math nerds, that's the second derivative. Today, the debt per second is an average of $78,000. I don't think people realize. It feels like we're going over Niagara Falls right now. The rate of these bad things happening is increasing now.
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 03-03-2024 at 01:51 PM.
    The Bastiat Collection · FREE PDF · FREE EPUB · PAPER
    Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)

    • "When law and morality are in contradiction to each other, the citizen finds himself in the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense, or of losing his respect for the law."
      -- The Law (p. 54)
    • "Government is that great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."
      -- Government (p. 99)
    • "[W]ar is always begun in the interest of the few, and at the expense of the many."
      -- Economic Sophisms - Second Series (p. 312)
    • "There are two principles that can never be reconciled - Liberty and Constraint."
      -- Harmonies of Political Economy - Book One (p. 447)

    · tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito ·



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  3. #2
    … a move which prompted former president Donald Trump to label Massie "a third-rate grandstander" and demand he be kicked out of the Republican Party.

    “I knew this was one of the worst votes in history and nobody was going to be accountable for it… Here we are three years later, every bad thing that I said would happen as a result of [passing the $2.2 trillion relief package] has happened."
    And yet, most Trump-Humpers consider that “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. If that is what “TDS” is, then I am very glad that Tom has it, because I have it too. This is one contagion that should have spread more widely, and then we wouldn’t be looking at another fascist term.
    ____________

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)



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