Rand Paul Parties Like It’s 1964

by matttbastard

Belated congratulations to newly-minted Kentucky GOP Senate candidate and latest Tea Party ubermensch of the moment Rand ‘Son of Ron’ Paul, for defeating the establishment candidate with Chuck Norris round-house kicks a well-fought insurgent primary campaign. 

Why, It’s enough to make those who should know better prove once again, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no, they really don’t know any better

Regardless, it’s nice to see that, after 40 long years, the pro-pot/anti-choice hater of all things federal (hissssss) has bravely reopened the segregation debate (h/t Think Progress):

INTERVIEWER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.

INTERVIEWER: But?

PAUL: You had to ask me the “but.” I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.

Oopsie.

Oh, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ain’t no party like a Tea Party (victory!) party. At a country club. A members-only country club.

Populism: yr doin it wrong.

Update: And thus began the damage control:

“I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person.  I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation.  Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
 
“Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”
 
“As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years.”
 
“My opponent’s statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims.”
 
“The issue of civil rights is one with a tortured history in this country. We have made great strides, but there is still work to be done to ensure the great promise of Liberty is granted to all Americans.”
 
“This much is clear:  The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs.  Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports.   The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product.   The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state’s rights must stand up to it.”
 
“These attacks prove one thing for certain:  the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign.”

Yes, how dare the “liberal establishment” draw conclusions based on, er, what Paul himself said, or (apparently) didn’t mean to say, or meant to say more clearly, were it not for him being transfixed at the time by Rachel Maddow’s clear-eyed lesbian gaze.

Regardless, for some reason, Weigel and Yglesias both do their damndest to try and turn a blind eye to Occam’s Razor without getting slit all Un Chien Andalous stylez, but Aimai ably puts the honest, rigourous, “(g)libertarian principles!!1one” canard to bed once and for all:

Here’s the thing: segregation at lunch counters didn’t exist because individual privately owned businesses were determining for themselves that they would not serve black people. They relied on the local government to enforce this discrimination. Otherwise it would have been possible for non whites to sue white businesses for physical assault. Just because something isn’t statutory doesn’t mean that it isn’t taking place with government aid. A truly libertarian stance on the Civil Rights Act that wasn’t covertly conservative/racist would be to argue that the government must withdraw all legal aid, police help, and rights to sue for damages from discriminatory businesses *and then* leave the business free to discriminate. As I said below, on one of Steve’s threads, and as Atrios and others have pointed out when the government liscences a buisiness it performs all kinds of functions for that business that are paid for by all taxpayers, regardless of race, class, creed, and sex. To allow a business to partake in taxpayer paid benefits like firemen, police, social security, medicare, etc…while refusing to serve taxpayers is absurd. The line between public and private property is guaranteed by government action and its something we all pay for and no private business has the right to take our money and then refuse service to us.

Buckley and other wealthy conservatives were conservatives because it was the party of christianity, property, racism and classism. They were and remain revanchistes who use the language of libertarianism because they (and many of their followers) think it washes them of the ugly term bigot and racist since it appears to put the argument on a higher intellectual plane. Rand Paul (and others) explicitly argue that it is their libertarian principles, rather than their personal racist or sexist inclinations, that lead them to certain inescapable economic and political conclusions. But, of course, this is absurd. Modern day American libertarians pick and choose among their principles all the time–Mr. Paul is opposed to a woman’s right to choose whether and when to carry a pregnancy to term but I bet if you ask him he will be opposed to men being forced to pay child support for children they have fathered.

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US Health Care Reform: Made in…Afghanistan?

by matttbastard

Stephen M. Walt, commenting on Obama’s recent AfPak escalation and the incongruity of domestic spending initatives vs expensive foreign military endeavours on the part of the US:

As I’ve said before, Americans have come to believe that spending government revenues on U.S. citizens here at home is usually a bad thing and should be viewed with suspicion, but spending billions on vast social engineering projects overseas is the hallmark of patriotism and should never be questioned. This position makes no sense, but it is hard to think of a prominent U.S. leader who is making an explicit case for doing somewhat less abroad so that we can afford to build a better future here at home. Debates about foreign policy, grand strategy, and military engagement — including the current debate over Obama’s decision to add another30,000-plus troops in Afghanistan — tend to occur in isolation from a discussion of other priorities, as if there were no tradeoffs between what we do for others and what we are able to do for Americans here at home.

Thankfully, E-Mart has proposed a modest solution to one particularly contentious domestic issue currently mired in the US Senate:

Maybe we can set up an efficient health insurance delivery system in Iraq or Afghanistan and then import it to the States. Call it a part of our COIN strategy, get Petraeus to endorse it and then ship it home under cover of night.

Wow. That’s so crazy, it just might work.

Le sigh.

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Al Franken’s Supreme Affirmation

by matttbastard

(Image: Al Franken for Senate)

Speaking as a long time SNL fan, I think it’s absolutely fabulous to see that the Minnesota State Supreme Court believes Al Franken is good enough and smart enough to represent the state as its junior Senator. Because, doggone it, people like him more than Norm Coleman (by a final margin of 312 votes).

Chris Cillizza notes that despite Franken’s celebrity pedigree (which, as Cillizza points out, helped swell Franken’s coffers throughout the campaign and subsequent legal battle with Coleman), the former writer/comedian cannily avoided the public eye while lawyers tussled–except to play the role of statesman :

When the race ended in a tie, Franken did something very smart; he stayed out of the spotlight. He was rarely seen or heard and when he did pop into public view it was during an occasional visit to Washington when he was huddling with potential colleagues and getting briefed on issues by potential staffers — in short, acting like a senator. He gave Republicans nothing to use to sow doubts about whether he was ready for the office to which he was headed. While Franken’s personal discipline did little to effect the legal outcome, it played a critical part in slowly but surely securing public support behind the idea that not only had he won but that he was ready to be a senator.

Also, many thanks to the beltway bullshit shovellers at Politico for once again picking up the trusty steno pads to help their GOP patrons explain how an historic victory for the Democratic party is–wait for it–actually good news for Republicans (ZOMG NO WAIS!):

Franken’s upcoming seating will give Democrats their biggest majority in the Senate in a generation, ensuring their party holds a 60-40 majority – enough to quash GOP filibusters if they stay united.

And with that, some Republicans see an ironic silver lining – Democrats have nobody else to blame if their agenda falls short even though that will be tough with an ideologically diverse caucus and the absences of Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who have been sidelined by illnesses. GOP strategists say it will solidify their argument heading into the 2010 elections that electing more Republicans would be a critical check on one-party dominance in Washington.

“The implications of this Senate race are particularly significant because the Democrats will now have 60 votes in the Senate,” said Sen. John Cornyn, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “With their supermajority, the era of excuses and finger-pointing is now over.”

The more things change…(oh teh irony, indeed)

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“The Party of Hoover”

by matttbastard

"I really wanted to say 'Party of Douchebags,' but my CoS advised against it."

(Image: Kyle Cassidy, used under a GNU Free Documentation License)

Specter speak, you listen:

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., one of the three Republicans who voted for the [stimulus] legislation, said the GOP risks becoming “the party of Hoover,” echoing a warning that Vice President Richard B. Cheney delivered last year during negotiations over the Bush administration’s rescue of the auto industry.

After Hoover left office in 1933, amid the economic rubble of the Great Depression, Specter noted, “not until Eisenhower came up decades later did a Republican win the presidency, and he was a war hero.”

First he lobbies and votes for the recovery package; now he’s standing up against continued GOP douchebaggery in the legislative branch.  Arlen must have finally found–and cracked–the safe where the Senate Republican leadership was keeping his testicles locked up all these years.

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The problems of the modern GOP, encapsulated in two paragraphs.

by matttbastard

From yesterday’s WaPo:

“If you get the principles right in the first place . . . the politics will take care of itself,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), a leader of the new conservative vanguard. “It comes down to basic principles — who’s better at preserving jobs, small business or the government? If you think it’s small business, look to the Republicans.”

Curly Haugland, a Republican National Committee member from North Dakota, said there is little need for ideas when the main task for the GOP will be fighting back Democratic ones. “We’re going to have plenty to do just playing defense,” he said. “These people [the Democrats] are going to be aggressively on the march.”

Not to get all Eastern Elitist on y’all, but when you have a Taliban Wing “conservative vanguard” led by people named ‘Jeb’ and ‘Curly’ determining policy strategy, well, congratulations — you’re no longer a viable national party.

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Action, please, nao.

guest post by Sarah J

So on the “What Now” subject: The economic stimulus bill is up before Congress this week and it’s going to have a rough time in the Senate. The House has the votes along party lines, but the Senate, well, you know the score.

If you’re like me and you live in a state with a rational Republican senator, email/call/picket his or her office (I’m thinking Specter–my Senator–the two from Maine, Voinovich…you know what I mean.) Harass the hell out of ’em. Flood their offices. We need this passed and we need it now.

I’d prefer if we could get this back in, but Obama had to at least look like he was willing to compromise. If the Republicans keep stonewalling, we need to remind ’em who won this election.

We all do a lot of talking and writing, some of it can certainly go in the direction of elected officials. If one of those people isn’t your Senator, fake some sort of a connection and go for it. State you were born in? State where your grandma lives? State you slept in once on an all-night booty call? Whatever.

Let’s do this.

http://www.senate.gov/

(x-posted at Alterdestiny and Season of the Bitch)

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Lilly Ledbetter Act (Finally) Passes US Senate

by matttbastard

Well it’s about damn time:

The Senate approved landmark worker rights legislation on Thursday that will make it easier for those who think they’ve endured pay discrimination to seek legal help. The vote was 61-36.

The House of Representatives approved a similar measure on January 9, three days after the 111th Congress convened. Because the Senate made modest changes in the House version, the House must pass it again. Once it does, as is assured, this will be one of the first bills that President Barack Obama signs into law.

Steve Benen patiently explains why this is a good thing (just in case it wasn’t immediately obvious):

To hear opponents of the bill tell it, making it easier to challenge pay discrimination will lead to more lawsuits. That’s almost certainly true. But therein lies the point — if American workers are facing unjust wage discrimination, there should be more lawsuits. Those are worthwhile lawsuits, challenging an injustice. Ideally, employers would stop discriminating, as most already do, and in turn, there’d be fewer lawsuits.

Liss says that “Lilly Ledbetter has reportedly already been invited by President Obama to appear at the White House for the signing ceremony.” If so, that would be yet another politically astute symbolic gesture on the part of the new executive.  Let’s hope it works out.  Ledbetter has more than  earned a place at the President’s side.

Oh, and to the 36 Republicans who voted against this bill and in favour of discrimination against 51% of the US population, a message of post-partisan comity and respect for ideological difference, on behalf of the women of America:

natodutch

Now that gives me hope for the future.

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