The Rand Paul edition
About a week ago, Senator Rand Paul held the Senate floor for approximately nine hours in an unsuccessful attempt to filibuster the Obama administration’s appointment of John O. Brennan as CIA director. The filibuster is one of those quaint, almost yesteryear senatorial tools that, as far as we know, has only been used for the purposes of pure good or pure evil: Strom Thurmond famously filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for over 24 hours, ostensibly due to his concerns over too-widespread federal power (“all the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, into our schools, our churches and our places of recreation and amusement”), while Jimmy Stewart single-handedly rhetoricized evil fat men to death in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” with little more than folksy charm and failing brylcreem.
Paul is likely doing this just to be a jerk because, well, Rand Paul is a jerk. Republicans filibustered Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Secretary of Defense in a move that was widely criticized as little more than the latest in a series of thinly veiled attempts to slow President Obama’s agenda at all costs. Hagel is, after all, a proponent of using aerial drones in combat, and a pretty fierce war hawk, two of the only things that Republicans love more than legislating vaginas and gay men. If this were a GOP appointment, it would be smooth sailing.
The issue in question here is the Obama administration’s legitimization of aerial drone strikes against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, essentially an offshoot of the NDAA’s (the law, on the books since the George W. years, that allows the federal government to seize and detain, without justification or limit, U.S. citizens). It’s a screamingly unjust, invasive, downright stupid thing to do, and makes supporting the man that much more difficult.
Paul’s actions got a lot of grave head-nodding-in-assent from both sides of the aisle, though how much of that was posturing is up for debate. For the Paul clan, this is familiar senatorial game-making: it doesn’t matter how much crazy s**t either of them say or do throughout their careers, as long as they say or do at least one sane, inoffensive thing every now and then (protest the Iraq War, raise concerns about American imperialism, not crowing about a return to the gold standard) to wipe the slate clean. Fortunately, we have the internet, so all that gobsmacking insanity and douchebaggery is out there for all to see. So please, consider these Rand Paul tidbits, political science majors, before you Sharpie “Rand” over your Ron Paul bumper stickers. 1. White Supremacist: Check
My word. Where to start? With Chris Hightower, hired as Paul’s campaign spokesman, only to resign after a slew of — ahem — ethically questionable facts arose, including a message posted on his MySpace (remember that?) wall on Martin Luther King Day, wishing Chris a “HAPPY N***** DAY!” beside a picture of a lynched African-American man? Hightower didn’t post the message, but he also left it up there for two straight years. With his telling Rachel Maddow he thought it was alright for businesses to discriminate based on skin color? With his taking money from known and documented white supremacists like Carl Ford, William Johnson and the Stormfront organization (and not giving it back once he found out about it)? With his status as conspiracy-radio wingnut and race-baiting blowhard Alex Jones’ BFF?
Jeez. I spent so much time figuring out where to start, now I’m finished. 2. He Thinks Obama is a Bond Villain
Back on August 14, Rand Paul used his Senate Twitter account to post the following message, verbatim: “Mad a/b the weather or bad forecasts? I wouldn’t complain, Nat’l Weather Svc just ordered 46k hollow point bullets.” Now, uttered in a vacuum, that kind of statement has a sarcastic, self-effacing ring to it. It’s pretty harmless, in and of itself, and all you’ve got to do in order to make sure it doesn’t sound like far-right, survivalist-pandering, bedwetting conspiracy theory bulls**t is to not then direct your Twitter followers to Alex Jones’ infowars.com, the leading source of far-right, survivalist-pandering, bedwetting conspiracy theory bulls**t.
So of course Rand Paul directed his Twitter followers to the leading source of far-right, et.al. Now don’t get me wrong: if Paul were right, and Obama was arming the nation’s weathermen to suppress civil unrest, then, my friends, we would bear witness to the world’s slapstick-iest war ever. Turns out, however, the bullets were sent to the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. Rand Paul knows as much about fact-checking as a suppository knows about fact-checking. 3. He Doesn’t Understand the Way Government Works
After the Supreme Court declared Obamacare constitutional last summer, Rand Paul had this to say on the matter:
“Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional,” the freshman lawmaker said in a statement. “While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right.”
Constitutional scholars would agree with pretty much everything before “and after.” Rand Paul doesn’t understand that in order to have the authority to be against something — if you want, that is, to set yourself apart from slobbering lunatics and Unabombers — you have to first make an effort to grasp the concept of what it is you’re against in the first place. It’s why boxers study endless hours of tape on their opponents, and why a cat regards lint with utter wonder until it decides to pounce.
But not so if you’re Rand Paul. First of all, if just “a couple people on the Supreme Court” declared Obamacare constitutional, it wouldn’t have been declared constitutional. The Supreme Court found it legal by a 5-4 vote which, in freshman-level civics terms, translates to “majority, a-hole.” Second, Rand Paul boasts no prior political experience, no tangible leadership roles on his CV. His entire resume rests on “I began life doing the backstroke in Ron Paul’s nutsack,” and that’s what his entire political career will rest upon as well.
If the Republican Party has any sense, they’ll do to Paul, Santorum, Bachmann and the like what they did to the John Birch Society: say “f*** you very much, now get out.” If you allow your bigoted, white supremacist-courting, government-hating conspiracy theorists to speak out for you on any issue, you become the party of bigoted, white supremacist yadda yadda yadda. Look to the Democrats: when they risked becoming the Party of Exposed Genitals, they distanced themselves with the quickness. This is probably the most surreal sentence I’ll type all year, but the GOP could learn a lot from Anthony Weiner’s penis. Some facts, figures and paraphrasing from The Daily Kos, The Stranger, JackandJill.com. You Might Also Like: