Sunday, August 1, 2010

Robbing People to Pay Paul

“The bottom line is I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules.” – Rand Paul, while seeking a job as a lawmaker

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)

It would be hard to find a more intelligent and erudite yet more ignorant and more passively racist candidate than Rand Paul. Beloved of Libertarians that he’d inherited largely by default from his father’s failed presidential campaign, shunned by the establishment GOP (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw his toxic support behind Paul’s primary opponent Trey Grayson) and reviled by liberals, Rand is actually nonetheless leading by a comfortable margin in the polls against his Democratic rival, Jack Conway.

The support is inexplicable until one remembers what many people in Paul’s adopted state of Kentucky do for a living. Paul prefers smaller crowds yet seems as equally tongue-tied with them as he was during his Hindenburg interview with Rachel Maddow a day after his primary victory. These are multigenerational coal mining people, people whose livelihoods depend upon an energy industry whose fortunes, we’re told by people like Paul, ride entirely on the amount of regulation we impose on them.

More regulations, say pro-corporate Libertarians such as Paul, means a smaller bottom line. Smaller bottom lines inevitably turn into layoffs, with the surviving workforce obliged to work harder for the same pay. What these coal-mining families seem to forget is that regulation could mean less empty seats at family gatherings, meaning less coal mine explosions and less collapses.

So what’s even more inexplicable than Paul leading Conway in the straw polls is why these people who would vastly benefit from a progressive such as Conway are rallying to Paul’s side as if he was the Second Coming.

As with so many other Republicans and Democrats, Paul’s main appeal seems to be as a neophyte, an outsider, someone whose stunning lack of qualifications for public office and complete absence of a legislative track record has somehow, maddeningly, been turned into a set of attractive bullet points. Yet if Rand Paul needed to write a position paper stating his views, it would be virtually indistinguishable from any other pro-corporate, scorched earth Republican, including Mitch McConnell.

With Paul, conveniently running under the banner of a Republican Party that’s doing its best to pretend he doesn’t exist, we’d see a complete lack of regulation even to the point of repealing the hallowed Civil Rights Act of 1964, regulatory standards on the energy industry and virtually anyone else with a bit of property, money and power. In fact, Paul’s actually saying, like Reagan before him, “Don’t look for help from the federal government to whom you pay taxes and don’t look to me for any solutions, either, even if you elect me.” What Paul hasn’t explained is, if he doesn’t think making rules should be within his job description as a US Senator, then why is he running for public office?

Small wonder his own campaign, as with fellow Tea Bagger darling Sharron Angle’s, is keeping Paul more under wraps than al Qaeda is keeping Osama bin Laden. We saw and heard the same thing with the McCain campaign, with media access to both McCain and Sarah Palin being severely restricted. In other words, buy sight unseen and don’t ask any questions.

There’s a dangerously thin line between the Republican/Libertarian laissez faire, anti-regulation, sink-or-swim mantras and the sometimes hysterically anti-government, borderline sedition/treason of the Tea Party movement. It’s a No Man’s Land thinner than that between light and shadow yet one on which conservatives like Paul seem comfortable teeter-tottering.

It’s a stretch to say that Paul’s entire support base is from the Tea Bagger movement and liberal journalists and bloggers are more than most responsible for this misperception. As stated earlier, many of his supporters are working-class Kentucky coal mining families whose personal family fortunes are symbiotically tied to that of the coal companies for whom they work.

But between shifts in the largely de-regulated coal mines, these same families ought to read the sardonic article written by Jonathan Miles for before Election Day then Karoli’s post about this article on Crooks and Liars.

Here’s a sample of some of Paul’s infuriatingly stupid comments:
“We've had a couple accidents in the coal industry, and we just had a big accident in the oil industry. And they'll use that as an excuse for more rules, more control.”

Well, duh. Regulation and regulatory agencies are created to help save lives and preserve the ecosystem. That’s like Paul and other conservatives saying, “Well, just because you just got shot during a mugging, are we supposed to go after the guy that did it and impose rules on him?”

Note, also, the casual shrug of the shoulder. A “couple of accidents” (one costing 26 human lives) and the one in the Gulf (another 11 lives). Deregulation, to Republicans, never seems to add up to human lives and corporate greed and irresponsibility. At this point, Paul is just one shrug way from the equally anti-regulatory George W. Bush who’d years ago melted down the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians as a mere “comma” on the glorious road to Democracy.

Here’s another, this one from a give and take at the Harlan Center:
“I want to be compassionate and I'm sorry for what happened, but I wonder: Was it (the Big Branch disaster ) just an accident?”

As karoli says, No, it was not, Mr. Paul. It was the result of Big Government that you still brand as meddlesome allowing coal companies such as Murray Energy and Massey Energy (the owner of the Big Branch mine) to remain lawless, self-dealing entities that places human life at the bottom of their list of priorities.

It ought to be mentioned that a huge bubble of methane, what killed those 26 miners, was the identical reason for the Deepwater Horizon explosion that claimed 11 more lives.

It isn’t as if the GOP is diametrically opposed to everything that comes out of Rand Paul’s mouth: They are in perfect agreement when he inveighs against the evils of Big Gubmint regulation, the evils of depending on Big Gubmint to which we pay taxes being expected to do something for us once in a while. The GOP hates Rand Paul because he isn’t in lockstep with them every step of the way. Paul, like his father, has come out in opposition to the Iraq War. Paul isn’t yet part of the Ole Boy network presided over by McConnell but he’s trying to gain membership in it and the government he professes to distrust.

Rand Paul might as well have been named after his idol, pro-corporate Goddess Ayn Rand. He is a bouncing, squeaking, semen-flecked, Vaseline-smeared love doll for every corporate interest that ever set up a lobbying office on the Beltway. In spirit, he is absolutely indistinguishable from virtually every other Republican politician and aspirant in the land. It’s not surprising that his campaign immediately moved to put him under wraps. If I was his campaign manager, I would’ve moved for duct tape being stapled across his big mouth.

And, once again, people aren’t listening to this very dangerous man even as these people will be robbed to pay Paul over $170,000 a year to shrug his shoulders at them.


At August 1, 2010 at 9:21 AM, Blogger Mithras61 said...

I live in a very Republican-dominated area of the country, and have talked extensively with people who claim to be Republicans from many walks of life. I hear over and over again about "common sense solutions" that when examined will neither address the problem nor benefit either side. The simple fact is that there are too many people in our country that want everything to be simple when the plain facts are that it is too complex.

We see the same thing in Washington, D.C. with our Senators & Congresspeople and their staffs and the lobbyists. The facts are that no single person can master the breadth & depth of knowledge required to legislate intelligently to address all the issues facing our country (many of which are admittedly bogeymen created out of whole cloth of lies) that we expect our Government to address, so they rely on the simplistic answers provided to them by staffers and lobbyists, who are paid (often lucratively) to provide the corporate viewpoint to our governmental leaders.

It's as if we are so distrustful of any solution that the local ditch digger cannot understand that we cannot pick people qualified to do the actual work they are being picked to do. This is evidenced by things like the Rand Paul candidacy and the "election" of George W. Bush (the fact that he got close enough to steal the election not once but twice should scare the beejesus out of you).

Increasingly, I weep for the future of our country, not because we are incapable of facing our problems, but because we believe deep in our hearts and collective psyche that any man is as good as every man, when such is demonstrably not true. We would resist with violence any qualifying test for any of the most powerful offices in the country, instead preferring to pick from a handful of hucksters who will fleece us the moment they are installed. We have been conditioned to such a situation by nearly 50 years of incompetent governance and slick ad campaigns, and will do almost anything to preserve the status quo because we are "the greatest nation on earth" and any change is inherently bad because of that.

At August 1, 2010 at 10:15 AM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

Due to a 'clerical error' in the 1800s, corporations in America are deemed citizens.

Regulations are laws for these corporate citizens.

To demand an end to regulation is exactly the same as calling for the repeal of every law for human citizens.

The Republican 'common sense' solution is to allow these corporate entities to operate with complete abandon, no responsibility to society, and with a total disregard for human life.

The reason we even have regulations to begin with is exactly because of intentional mining 'accidents' like at Massey coal. Regulations exist specifically because the CEO orders managers to intentionally kill as many workers (human beings) as it takes to increase profits for the CEO.

To be a Republican means that you agree and support the intentional murder of your neighbors just so your boss can get even more obscenely wealthy than they are now.

Massey coal's methane explosion was NOT an accident, is was the only possible result of violating the regulations that are in place to safeguard human lives.


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