Yesterday’s 13-hour filibuster got Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) the spotlight on CNN, a #filibuster twitter feed, and lots of buzz. Unlike other GOP-led filibusters in recent years, Paul’s supposedly had a purpose other than blocking routine legislation and presidential appointments. In delaying John O. Brennan’s confirmation as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Paul claimed that he wanted to spark discussion about the president’s policy for using drones on American soil, against American citizens. Now, even more people want him to run for president.
Paul received gushing admiration from progressives and conservatives alike. Atlantic Wire reporter Elspeth Reeve raves, “This Is What a Filibuster Should Be,” Slate magazine’s John Vorhees compares him to the protagonist in the iconic , feel-good political drama, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks tweets, “The Young Turks is literally trying to deliver a pizza to Rand Paul on the Senate floor. #filibuster going for 9 hours now, must be hungry.” Given the reason Paul ended his filibuster after 13 hours on the floor, perhaps Paul’s admirers should have delivered a porta-potty instead.
Paul appeals to some liberals due to their mutual mistrust of drones, support for loosening federal marijuana laws, and some of his stances on civil liberties. Many of us were also struck by the part of his unofficial Tea Party State of the Union response which declared that the U.S. “military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.” We all appreciate a politician who seems to stand by their principles — even when we disagree with them.
But …. WAIT! We progressives need to take a giant step back and remember who Rand Paul really is: An obstructionist, narrow minded teabagger who wants to destroy the government. Because when that warm, fuzzy Mr. -Smith-Goes-To-Washington glow subsides, be afraid, VERY afraid:
1. He’s got a “thing” for Strom Thurmond: Paul concluded his speech with an admiring allusion to the pro-segregation bigot and late Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC), who once stood on the Senate floor and filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for a record 24 hours and 18 minutes:
“And I would go on for another 12 hours to try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but I’ve discovered that there are some limits to filibustering, and I’m gonna have to take care of one of those in a few minutes here.”
So why did Paul fall 11 hours and 42 minutes short of beating Thurmond’s record? According to Julie Weiner’s piece in Vanity Fair, Thurmond did take one bathroom break “just once, during a few-minute break to update the Congressional Record.” In addition, he brought provisions, dehydrated himself in a steam room so he wouldn’t need to pee, and read state statutes and other government texts aloud. Back then, men were men, racists were “Racists” with a capital “R,” and farm animals were skeered sh*tless.
2. He opposes the Civil Rights Act: Speaking of the Civil Rights Act (which evolved into the one signed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964), Rand Paul opposes that, too. In an April 17th, 2010 interview with the Courier-Journal’s editorial board in Louisville, KY, Paul responded as follows to a question about whether he would have supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m, um, all in favor of that … [trails off, editor prompts, “But?” and Paul laughs] I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners … I abhor racism, I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anyone from a restaurant … BUT, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I think that absolutely there should be no discrimination in anything that gets public funding.
The part about how “there should be no discrimination in anything that gets public funding” sounds reasonable, until you consider that Paul doesn’t think ANYthing should get public funding. Paul also reduces the Jim Crow era’s myriad injustices to “a bad business decision,” because “in a free society, we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior.”
Which brings us to this writer’s essential issue with Libertarianism: If the exercise of one person’s freedom violates the freedom of another, then the bigger, stronger, and richer will always win, and that isn’t a government, that’s a nasty, brutish and Hobbesian existence.
3. … AND he opposes the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA): When NPR’s Robert Siegel interviewed Paul a month later on “All Things Considered,” Paul stuck his foot in his mouth yet AGAIN to reveal that he believes businesses should be allowed to discriminate against disabled folks as well. Though I suppose it technically doesn’t qualify as a “gaffe” when you speak correctly and just happen to have views that are utterly vile:
Right. I think a lot of things could be handled locally. For example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for people with disabilities and handicaps. You know, we do it in our office with wheelchair ramps and things like that. I think if you have a two-story office and you hire someone who’s handicapped, it might be reasonable to let him have an office on the first floor rather than the government saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to the solutions like that, the more local the better, and the more common sense the decisions are, rather than having a federal government make those decisions.
Yes, it’s expensive to install an elevator or do major remodelling to help customers and employees with special needs, and it can be hard for smaller companies. But it’s a lot harder to live with disabilities day in and day out, and the least we can do is to modify our buildings so everyone can fully participate in our society with a measure of dignity. Plus, it’s strange how conservatives always mention how hard regulations are on “small businesses,” but they never suggest providing seed money to bring these mom and pops into compliance?
4. He opposes Obamacare: Despite the recent ruling from the United States’ conservative-leaning Supreme Court, Paul insists that the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act is unconstitutional. According to Scott Wong from Politico, “Obamacare is wrong for Americans. It will destroy our healthcare system.” Um … as if the current healthcare system hasn’t already destroyed our healthcare system? Paul also apparently thinks that he and his fellow teabagger extremists in the Republican Party are above the laws of our land and can declare things unconstitutional, even after our Supreme Court has had what is supposed to be the final say:
“Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional,” Paul said. “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.”
Oh, and Paul’s also one of those conspiracy theory nut-jobs who thinks that Obamacare will “deputize” doctors to spy on patients and snitch on gun owners, so the U.S. government can record names in massive database. Never mind that this theory has been debunked numerous times
5. He opposes gun safety laws: And speaking of guns, guess where Paul stands on gun safety laws? Hint: Back in January, Mollie Reilly from the Huffington Post reported that the Kentucky Senator shared the outline of his pro-gun strategy for challenging President Obama’s executive orders on gun safety with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.:
“Our founding fathers were very concerned about us having separation of powers. They didn’t want to let the president become a king. In this bill, [that he introduced] We will nullify anything the president does that smacks of legislation.”
Because, you know how Paul’s fellow party members clamped down when Obama’s predecessor overstepped his bounds, started an illegal war, imprisoned suspected terrorists without due process or trials, and instituted invasive search procedures in all of our airports … oh wait … they never did that.
On Thursday — sounding all bright, chipper, well-rested, and (presumably) empty-bladdered the morning after his 13-hour screed, Paul appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show and confided that — although he doesn’t want Obama to have access to lethal weapons that could kill American citizens — he’s carrying around some mysterious lethal weapon himself:
“I’m not talking about people who are carrying a rifle around — that would be half of the South, myself included, and half of my staff,”
Yeah, we don’t need no stinkin’ gun safety laws. And in case you have ANY doubt about how Paul feels about guns and our president, here’s the “STOP Obama’s Gun Ban” email he endorsed with the image of a gun pointed at Barack Obama’s head.
6. He supports international tax dodgers: Rand Paul doesn’t just support privacy rights for potential terrorists, he also wants to help tax dodgers.
7. He opposes labor rights: Ian Milheiser from Think Progress observed on Thursday that “Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took several minutes out of his lengthy talking filibuster” to praise a 1905 Supreme Court decision for Lochner vs. New York, which rejected a New York state law limiting bakers’ work weeks to 60 hours per week.
This case is almost universally regarded as among THE WORST decisions that ever came from the bench. Even the hardcore conservative Robert Bork — a failed Reagan era Supreme Court nominee – called the decision an “abomination” that “lives in the law as the symbol, indeed the quintessence of judicial usurpation of power.”
8. He’s Anti-Choice: Paul constantly talks about “liberty” and “freedom.” Yet, here’s another @sshole in the GOP who rejects the ultimate freedom for women: The freedom to make reproductive choices, reach their full personal and economic potential, and decide when (if ever) to have children … as men do. And (yawn) his casual dismissal of the formidable, charismatic, and well-qualified Ashley Judd’s potential run against his colleague and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as “articulate” smacks of sexism.
9. He opposes marital equality: So much for the “liberty” Paul’s always going on and on about.
10. He opposes automatic birthright citizenship: So much for Paul’s supposed reverence for the U.S. Constitution and our slave-owning founding fathers. If Paul has his way, babies born on American soil won’t grow up to be U.S. citizens.