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The State Of The Union, filtered through Charles Pierce

This is a bad week for me, encumbered with a lot of search committee work, a genetics exam, and agonizing distractions like Chris Hedges. Also, I hear the speech was really long. So I’ve completely skipped it, and instead trust Charles Pierce’s digest. I guess it was competent, had a few moments of clarity and passion, and neatly avoided some of the more unpleasant aspects of the Obama presidency, like drone strikes, the growing police state and violations of privacy, and pipelines exploding to my north. As was expected.

Actually, I thought the most interesting fact of the whole evening of political hoo-ha was the number 4. The Republicans put up four loons to reply to the president’s remarks. Not one unified front, but four.

I don’t need to listen to them to see the signs that the Republican party is breaking apart right now.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve never been a fan of political speeches and seldom watch them, whether the politician is someone I support, oppose, or ignore. The media’s over-kill coverage will always be available if something interesting happens despite the great tradition of boring predictability.

    In this case I have to agree that the most significant aspect is the inability of the Republican Party to achieve any kind of unity in formulating a response. The “official” spokesperson merely blathered about her past (why should we care?) and the others merely repeated their irrational and mendacious rants. Others are still elbowing their way forward to decry the growing oppression of their imagined Muslim-Marxist-Kenyan dictatorship. The GOP is well and truly screwed in 2014, provided that the Democrats take the battle to them with an unrelenting focus on the Republicans’ destructive policies. Which, of course, I fear the Democrats won’t do, given their history of timidity.

  2. says

    Political speech: n, 1) a contest wherein speakers strive to say as little as possible while using as many words as they can; 2) presentation that outlines a plan of public affairs for private advantage; 3) a socially acceptable form of public masturbation.

  3. says

    As for the Republican responses:

    1. I found it tragic that Rep. Rodgers talked about the importance of women being in control of their own bodies… and then returned to the House chamber and voted to eliminate women’s reproductive coverage from the Affordable Care Act. (This makes the 50th time that House Republicans have tried to gut the ACA.)

    2. As fractured as the GOP has become, the only surprise is that there were only four responses.

  4. ignatius13 says

    It seems like someone whose expertise is in the field of biology would appreciate the idea diversity of thought and bottom up organization. Not the top down centralized control offered by the Democrats. Of course everyone that doesn’t agree with you on something as subjective as politics is a loon.

    What’s going on in the Republican Party is actually something you should appreciate. Not for the fact that it shows them as weak, but because it shows an evolution. As the Libertarians take over they’ll become the party for civil rights. They’ll be the ones arguing against policing the rest of the world and involving ourselves in every foreign conflict. Most Americans are fiscally responsible and socially accepting and that’s the direction they seem to moving in.

    The official Republican response was basically the same thing Obama said: yes we can and look at how anyone can rise from humble beginnings to a position of authority. But Rand Paul’s response was an actual contrasting view. Instead of more vague promises about what the government can do (with what money?) he talked about increasing freedom and helping businesses actually create more jobs.

    Maybe if you didn’t portray people that disagreed with you as “loons” you’d have more luck with your reasonable arguments.

  5. David Wilford says

    Looks like the first shot of the 2014 midterms has been fired, and Obama’s aim is better than his opponents. Good. Keep it up.

    BTW, Xcel Energy did a good job coping with the interruption of natual gas supplies due to that pipeline explosion. It won’t make paying the next gas bill any easier, but at least I have heat.

  6. A Masked Avenger says

    neatly avoided some of the more unpleasant aspects of the Obama presidency, like drone strikes, the growing police state and violations of privacy

    What’s weird to me is how we can compartmentalize mass murder by Obama or Bush, in such a way as to continue supporting them. Would we do the same if they were rapists? Would we support a serial rapist as president, with rationalizations that the other guy would be worse on civil rights, or welfare?

    I realize it’s a bit of a fantasy world, but I envision a world in which not being a rapist–or more to the point, a mass murderer–is a prerequisite for participating in polite society, let alone being made ruler. There’s something fundamentally wrong if the Overton window is positioned such that we’re expected, with straight faces, to pull the lever for our preferred mass murderer.

  7. raven says

    right wing loon:

    As the Libertarians take over they’ll ….

    Never happen. Who is taking over are the christofascists. Oogedy Boogedy xian theocrats who have no liking or respect for democracy.

    It seems like someone whose expertise is in the field of biology would appreciate the idea diversity of thought and bottom up organization. Not the top down centralized control offered by the Democrats.

    Diversity is good. We have two parties right now.

    1. The GOP is the party of angry, old white men. They are open racists, open misogynists, open haters of atheists, science, nonxians, nonwhites, college students, and on and on.

    Look who they elect everwhere. It’s almost entirely…angry, old white men.

    2. The Democrats do well among nonwhites, women, urban professionals, and poor people. Look who they elect. Obama, Hillary Clinton, Wendy Davis, etc. and even a whole lot of white men.

  8. nowimnothing says

    @4, well even a biologist understands enough economics to know that unrestrained capitalism and libertarianism leads not to freedom but to a plutocracy.

    The idea that socialism and libertarianism are the only two choices is mind-numbingly naive. There are a great many systems out there that strive for a balance between personal liberty and collective goodwill.

  9. David Marjanović says

    The GOP is well and truly screwed in 2014, provided that the Democrats take the battle to them with an unrelenting focus on the Republicans’ destructive policies. Which, of course, I fear the Democrats won’t do, given their history of timidity.

    From the speech (as quoted by Pierce, emphasis added by me):

    “Now, I do not expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people are not interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another 40- something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda.”

    Obama mocked them.

    I think WAR WAS BEGINNING. :-)

    What’s going on in the Republican Party is actually something you should appreciate. [...] As the Libertarians take over

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    That’s the best wishful thinking I’ve seen all week! :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Maybe if you didn’t portray people that disagreed with you as “loons” you’d have more luck with your reasonable arguments.

    Maybe if you stopped tone-trolling, you’d regain your ability to recognize a loon when you hear one!

  10. raven says

    Maybe if you didn’t portray people that disagreed with you as “loons” you’d have more luck with your reasonable arguments.

    Maybe if you weren’t a loon, you would sound more coherent.

  11. kraut says

    “and pipelines exploding to my north.”

    at least that did not kill anybody – in contrast to the 50+ dead that were killed in a rail disaster transporting oil to the market.
    It is utterly stupid to fight against pipelines which are a safer solution when the oil and gas will get to the market any which way – unless you succeed to shut down the oil and gas industry.
    I wonder how you will heat your house then, and get to your conferences….

  12. raven says

    Most Americans are fiscally responsible and socially accepting and that’s the direction they seem to moving in.

    Some are.

    That is why Obama won two elections by a margin of 9 million votes and 5 million votes.

    Many are not. That is why the GOP still exists. The two times when the national debt ballooned were under Reagan and Bush. I wouldn’t call Bush’s Great Recession fiscally responsible. It all but turned into the Second Great Depression and we are still digging ourselves out from it.

  13. ignatius13 says

    Yes Raven, it’s all their fault.

    Bush may have steered us towards a cliff, but Obama accelerated. 5 trillion to 17 trillion in a few years, and rising. That’s more debt than every other president in history. I’m sure it’ll all work itself out. We just need some more stimulus.

    Have fun in your echo chamber.

  14. otrame says

    @4

    It would be fine with me to have an intelligent dissenting voice here. However, anyone who thinks Libertarianism is a good thing does not qualify.

    Why? Because we already tried it. In the 19th century. Your average family couldn’t feed their kids. A very few did great, all big houses and pretty clothes and lots of servants. What I can never figure out is why people like you think you will be one of the tiny minority who do more than merely survive in such as system.

    So, yeah. Loon.

  15. says

    @ignatius13 #14 – According to the US Department of the Treasury, which tracks the public debt, eight years of Bush II saw the debt increase 27.8%, as measured relative to the gross domestic product. So far during the Obama administration, the debt has increased only 18.7%

    For reference, the public debt DROPPED under Clinton, by 9.7%. During 4 years of Bush I, the debt increased by 13%. During the Reagan years, it increased by 20.6%. During Carter, it dropped by 3.3%. (Source)

  16. raven says

    right wing loon:

    Bush may have steered us towards a cliff, but Obama accelerated. 5 trillion to 17 trillion in a few years, and rising. That’s more debt than every other president in history. I’m sure it’ll all work itself out. We just need some more stimulus.

    Have fun in your echo chamber.

    This is false.

    Bush didn’t steer us towards a cliff. He drove us right off the cliff. Obama and the USA has spent his and our entire time, fixing the Bush Catastrophe. The deficit now is half of what it was with Bush’es last budget and heading down, not up.

    Bill Clinton, a Democrat left us with a budget surplus and a roaring economy. Bush cut taxes while increasing spending and starting two expensive wars. It was a huge mistake.

    Have fun in your reality denying Libertarian paradise. I’ve heard Somalia has some nice beaches.

  17. raven says

    Why? Because we already tried it. In the 19th century.

    It’s tried often today. In the third world.

    Taxes are low and regulations are all but nonexistent.

    The result is always oligarchies and monopolies. These are stagnant societies going nowhere.

    The problem is with basic human nature. We are a social species and living in groups is a huge advantage. A lone human is often a dead human. While there are huge advantages to living in groups, there are costs as well. And always someone who attempts to cheat the system to maximize the gains and reduce the costs.

  18. A Masked Avenger says

    Taxes are low and regulations are all but nonexistent.

    In fairness, that doesn’t exactly characterize what libertarians want (to the extent that their wants are consistent enough to speak collectively of them). Lots of people want low taxes and no regulation. Criminals and robber barons. Drug lords. Mafia dons. If taxes were cheaper than bribes, the mafia and drug cartels would pay taxes instead.

    Most people would like to pay less tax, and would like not to have to deal with regulations that hamper them. Hell, I recently did a massive amount of plumbing work in my house, because my county has a regulation requiring that only a “master plumber” do the work–and although I could easily afford a regular plumber, I couldn’t remotely afford a “master plumber.” So my choices were to break the law or do it myself. I’d like that law out of my way; it’s nothing but a handout to big plumbing.

    A libertarian would tell you that the third world is not libertarian, despite low taxes or lack of laws, because they expect laws against fraud, theft, extortion, etc., which those local warlords are guilty of breaking constantly.

  19. scienceavenger says

    What’s going on in the Republican Party is actually something you should appreciate. Not for the fact that it shows them as weak, but because it shows an evolution.

    Republicans don’t believe in evolution, or climate science, or all the science that puts the lie to “life at the moment of conception”, and or any of a host of other scientific knowledge.

    As the Libertarians take over they’ll become the party for civil rights.

    OK, you owe me a new keyboard from the coffee I spewed on it. First of all, the libertarians (and I’m an ex) will never take over, never, so stop dreaming. Second, libertarians like Rand Paul would remove many of the civil rights legislation that protects people like blacks in majority-racist communities who’d be basically forbidden from much of society without those laws, so forgive me for finding your claim laughable.

    Maybe if you didn’t portray people that disagreed with you as “loons” you’d have more luck with your reasonable arguments.

    Misrepresentation. Mere disagreement doesn’t warrant the “loon” label, but being loony does. Ditto for being labelled racist or sexist or whatever. Don’t like the labels? Stop earning them through loony, racist sexist speech.

  20. scienceavenger says

    Have fun in your echo chamber.

    Ah, the old “I know you are but what am I” retort. You guys are so cute when you try to parrot what intelligent people say, like your hero Sarah Palin. But words mean things (I believe Rush said that), and we can tell that you don’t understand what that is, like when you try to claim those pointing out racism are the real racists. You aren’t fooling anyone.

  21. ignatius13 says

    This is why it is pointlessly try and introduce opposing views to a group like this.

    Let me get this out of the way. Bush was a horrible, belligerent president that even before he started two unnecessary wars was increasing government spending to buy votes. I don’t remember defending him.

    The rest of what I’ve read are straw man arguments and false dichotomies. Libertarianism is a spectrum, not an all or nothing event. I don’t know how libertarian it is to enslave a race. And protecting the environment from pollution is different from telling people they can’t drink raw milk if they choose. There’s good regulations and bad ones. All we’re suggesting is getting rid of the ones that overreach.

    Many of us would also like to stop distorting the market with subsidies and corporate welfare and let prices guide it. Corn subsidies keep Americans consuming high fructose corn syrup and increasing the cost of healthcare.

    And Somalia? Nice. That’s not exactly a place that protects individual rights.

  22. Anthony K says

    Have fun in your echo chamber.

    Did you have one of Rand Paul’s staffers copy this from elsewhere for you, little independent thinker?

  23. Anthony K says

    Libertarianism is a spectrum, not an all or nothing event.

    Except they all bleat ‘echo chamber’ whenever they don’t get a handy for spelling ‘civil rights’ correctly. So diverse (yet predominately white and male.)

  24. says

    President Obama did mention the drone program, if only obliquely:

    “We must enlist our values in the fight,” Obama said, in a portion of the speech dedicated to the “range of capabilities” the U.S. would deploy against suspected terrorists worldwide. “In the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/12/state-of-the-union-drones_n_2626160.html

    This is not enough, but you can’t say the problem was completely ignored.

  25. stillacrazycanuck says

    @22. On one level, I don’t have much problem with many of the aspirations of the libertarians. Many of their ideals sound really good. Of course, if one reads the constitution of the former Soviet Union, many of the ideals expressed therein sounded really good as well. The problem with libertarianism lies in the disconnect between the philosophy’s view of how humans act, both individually and in groups, and reality.

    I know that having to deal with reality is disturbing to many: witness the ability of fox news to capture market share and the deranged statements from the tea party or the stubborn refusal of so many americans to accept basic science. However, most libertarians seem to pride themselves on their intellect, so it really is disturbing to see such self-professed intelligent people living lives of self-delusion. Remove or greatly reduce regulation, and unmitigated greed rises to the top. Remove government intervention and societal prejudices, such as racism and religious schisms, proliferate.

    I am not an apologist for Saddam Hussein or for the communist rules of the former Yugoslavia, but the removal of the governmental constraints that they imposed upon their societies demonstrated pretty effectively how humans, in groups, interact with other humans in groups considered to be ‘other’. In a sense, those societies were unintended experiments in how humans interact in the absence of government policies that impose some semblance of tolerance or respect. Lest this generate a deluge of flame, I am NOT suggesting that the peoples of either region would be or were, in very important ways, better off under dictatorship than what has become democracy in the former Yugoslavia and may become democracy (but seems likely to become a dictatorship akin to the Hussein era, with a different ethnic group in charge) in Iraq.

    Nor am I suggesting that Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq etc became libertarian! My point is merely that the libertarian model of human behaviour doesn’t seem congruent with reality.

  26. scienceavenger says

    This is why it is pointlessly try and introduce opposing views to a group like this.

    That you’ll get called on the old, tired, idiocy contained therein? Your biggest problem is that you think what you have to say is news, and hasn’t been rebutted so many times it’s become a bore.

    Libertarianism is a spectrum, not an all or nothing event. I don’t know how libertarian it is to enslave a race.

    Ask Rand Paul. The policies he promotes would deprive blacks in the south and other places a good deal of the freedoms we take for granted.

    There’s good regulations and bad ones. All we’re suggesting is getting rid of the ones that overreach.

    Gee, ya think? Straw man you say? Have you ever heard anyone say “give me more overreaching regulations”? See the problem?

  27. says

    Here is a relatively good summary of the Republican reactions to the foreign policy aspects of Obama’s speech: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-world-literally-about-blow#break

    Excerpt:

    […] Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, said of U.S. policy towards Iran, “What I fear is that we’re making the mistakes of the past – the same mistakes the Clinton administration made with North Korea.” Cruz apparently doesn’t know the Clinton administration’s policy towards North Korea was generally quite successful. The dictatorship didn’t develop a nuclear weapons until Bush/Cheney abandoned Clinton’s policy.

    Cruz went on to raise the specter of Iran detonating a nuclear weapon over the skies of New York or Los Angeles, which seems like a rather fanciful scenario given the technology necessary to make such an attack possible.

    But Cruz was almost grounded compared to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). […]

  28. raven says

    @22. On one level, I don’t have much problem with many of the aspirations of the libertarians. Many of their ideals sound really good. Of course, if one reads the constitution of the former Soviet Union, many of the ideals expressed therein sounded really good as well.

    Libertarianism and communism are very similar.

    Both are utopian thought experiments that didn’t work in the real world.

    Communism always sounded good on paper. Let the workers own the means of production and keep the value of their work. In fact, sometimes it works on small scales quite well. There are a fair number of employee owned companies in the USA and they do fine. Where I used to live, my telephone and power companies were both coops and I shopped at two different employee owned stores. On a larger scale of course, we had the Soviet Union and Red China.

  29. says

    Here is a summary of the women’s issues discussed in the State of the Union speech, and of the Republican response: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/policy-towards-women-study-contrasts

    Excerpt below:

    […]

    * Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued Hillary Clinton can be criticized for Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky affair 19 years ago because “sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

    * Republican state policymakers continue to push new restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, including a proposed 30-day waiting period in Louisiana.

    * Sean Hannity suggested yesterday the creation of an “Adopt-A-Woman Birth Control Program” as an alternative to guaranteeing contraception access in federal health care law.

    * Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wrote a book in which he argued wives should “voluntarily submit” to their husbands.

    * Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck in Colorado explained his opposition to abortion rights by comparing pregnancy to cancer, which is why he doesn’t think a woman should “be in control of her body.”

    * Republican congressional hopeful Dick Black in Virginia opposes making spousal rape a crime and has called military rape “as predictable as human nature.”[…]

  30. says

    I wish there were a televised rebuttal to Obama from the left. Then I might have watched the speech. As it is, I ignore everything politicians say—especially corporate Democrats masquerading as liberals like Obama—and pay attention only to what they do. That speaks to the truth.

    Also: boring Libertarian is boring.

  31. raven says

    Cruz went on to raise the specter of Iran detonating a nuclear weapon over the skies of New York or Los Angeles, which seems like a rather fanciful scenario given the technology necessary to make such an attack possible.

    Cruz is a fear mongering idiot.

    1. Why not worry about something real. Both Russia and China have thousands of nukes and the missiles to deliver them. Or Pakistan, France, India, the UK, or Israel for that matter.

    Oddly enough, Iran has neither.

    2. Well I did grow up worrying about Russia or China exploding a nuke right over my head. We even had duck and cover drills in grade school. I can’t say it made much difference in the long run.

  32. says

    Here’s a more detailed discussion of the debate over executive orders, such as President Obama’s planned order to increase the minimum wage for workers under federal contract:
    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/defining-tyranny-down

    Excerpt below:

    President Obama told Americans last night, “In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.” Republicans aren’t taking it well.

    Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), for example, called the president a “Socialistic dictator” and the “Kommandant-In-Chef.” He probably meant “chief,” but the point was clear.

    And while Weber was more unhinged than most, he wasn’t the only one outraged by the prospect of the president using an executive order to give thousands of Americans a raise. Some are demanding federal lawsuits; others are calling the policy “tyranny.” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) appears to have forgotten what an executive order even is, complaining that Obama is trying to “write laws.” […]

  33. says

    Obama has averaged fewer executive orders, per year, than any president in the last 125 years.

    So, yeah, the far-right can set its hair on fire all it wants, that will still not make Obama a tyrannical leader.

  34. doublereed says

    The Democrats do well among nonwhites, women, urban professionals, and poor people. Look who they elect. Obama, Hillary Clinton, Wendy Davis, etc. and even a whole lot of white men.

    Biden, Nader, Gore, Clinton, Dodd, Frank, Gravel, Reid…

    It’s actually a weird fact right now that a lot of the Democrat leadership is not just white men, but old white men (obviously Obama is a massive counterexample). Even the women like Pelosi, Clinton, and Warren are not on the young side of things. Meanwhile, the Republicans have Rand Paul, Rubio, Christie, and whatever black republican they want to trot out, are comparatively younger.

    I don’t really know if it’s good or bad or whatever. Or maybe I’m cherry picking. I don’t know.

  35. Anthony K says

    * Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued Hillary Clinton can be criticized for Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky affair 19 years ago because “sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

    Treat us as individuals! says the libertarian.

  36. raven says

    * Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck in Colorado explained his opposition to abortion rights by comparing pregnancy to cancer, which is why he doesn’t think a woman should “be in control of her body.”

    Oh great Cthulhu.

    If you don’t own and control your own body, what are you? This is the definition of a slave.

    Contrary to the Gibbertarian troll, libertarians aren’t taking over the party. They do have a large contingent of christofascist female slavers though.

    It’s actually a weird fact right now that a lot of the Democrat leadership is not just white men, but old white men

    Yeah, I know. There are a lot of old, white male Democrats. But they aren’t weird, angry, old white males, or at least as angry. Here on the coast, a fair number of lower level elected officials are women.

  37. Sandy Small says

    protecting the environment from pollution is different from telling people they can’t drink raw milk if they choose. There’s good regulations and bad ones.

    Dude, a friend of mine died two years ago from a massive e. coli infection she contracted from drinking unpasteurized milk. I kinda wish she hadn’t had the freedom to drink that shit–she might have lived past 20.
    Why don’t you take your RonPaul2012 schtick elsewhere–a lot of us are weary of that particular avenue of silliness, and you have added nothing of substance.

  38. ChasCPeterson says

    Biden, Nader, Gore, Clinton, Dodd, Frank, Gravel, Reid

    one of these things is not like the others

  39. doublereed says

    Libertarianism is a spectrum, not an all or nothing event.

    Not really. Individual libertarians are on a spectrum, but libertarianism isn’t a spectrum. In order to have a spectrum, you need to rely on empirical evidence in order to make your claims. Otherwise, you can generally always go further on the libertarian front. There really is no extreme, because all the points are ideological, not based on evidence in the real world.

    A pragmatist would say we need fix the parts of the government that aren’t working, and leave (or strengthen) the parts of government that are.

    The libertarian says both need to be reduced, because he does not rely on evidence to make his case. Instead he talks about vagueries like implicit coercion to make his case. That’s the way libertarianism works.

  40. says

    Bush didn’t steer us towards a cliff. He drove us right off the cliff. Obama and the USA has spent his and our entire time, fixing the Bush Catastrophe. The deficit now is half of what it was with Bush’es last budget and heading down, not up.

    Why are you bothering to try to correct clowns like this? They only see the misinformation they want to be true, like the nimrod they talked to during the discussion of the speech last night, on MSNBC, who, in usual Republican delusional madness decided that the two most critical issues where a) some false conspiracy to not protect our people in Bengazi, and b) the “failure” of Obama’s policies. The first one is insane, and the second one… how the @%@$#% do you claim that policies are failing, if you never let someone implement them in the bloody first place? Its like calling someone a bad runner, because, the day before the race, you hired two thugs to beat the crap out of them, and they had to forfeit. We don’t know what the hell his policies would have done, almost nothing he has proposed has *ever* gotten past the line of thugs sitting in congress, just waiting for the next proposal to come along, so they can pound it into a formless mass, then claim, “He won’t negotiate with us!”

    Seriously.. At what point does this stuff stop being “politics” and start being “extortion”?

  41. says

    Rand Paul makes libertarians look ill-informed, and occasionally stupid.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/paul-the-clintons-and-the-war-women

    http://www.salon.com/2014/01/27/dim_and_divisive_rand_paul_self_destructs_again/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/11/05/whats-wrong-with-rand-paul/

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) desperately wants to be taken seriously […] But he is hampered by a sort of cluelessness that comes, I suspect, from trusting too few advisers and from a total lack of familiarity with the attitudes of those outside his narrow band of quasi-libertarianism.

    […]. He voted against immigration reform. He voted against cloture on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Where is the appeal to those socially libertarian, tolerant young people? He will argue the specifics of those measures aren’t to his liking. He might even argue, as he did but would like us to forget, that he doesn’t think private property owners should be prohibited from discriminating. But in the end, an anti-immigration reform, anti-gay employment protection senator is no different than a host of other Republicans who turn off a segment of the electorate. […]

    He has been accused of multiple instances of plagiarism — in speeches, in his book and in op-eds. He graduated from medical school and has lived in a world in which there have been scandals involving much lesser instances of plagiarism than his. If he were a journalist, any reputable publication would have fired him long ago. […]

    He hired the “Southern Avenger,” who advocated bizarre pro-Confederate sentiments. […] Again, does Paul have no sense of what is acceptable, doesn’t think standards apply to him or does he have ineffective staff that can’t spot trouble? […]

    – He went to Howard University to convince African Americans he was a different kind of Republican, but wound up lecturing them about how good Republicans had been to African Americans in the past and presenting a “you’re on you own” economic vision that has zero appeal to these voters.

    – He went to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to argue against help for the non-jihadi Syrian rebels, but wound up arguing Bashar al-Assad is good for Christians. […]

    There’s more, but I think we have enough detail here, all from public sources, that Rand Paul is a bit of a doofus and that he is often confused.

  42. says

    While there are huge advantages to living in groups, there are costs as well. And always someone who attempts to cheat the system to maximize the gains and reduce the costs.

    Yeah, and someone someplace commented that dear Ayn Rand called these people “corporate looters”, but then, that, by itself, is proof that American Libertarians, if not all of them, don’t even comprehend their own supposed dogma. To most of them, the only “looters” seem to be people too F-ing poor, or underpaid that being dead would, in some cases, be the only way to afford rent (and then only because we don’t generally dump people in mass graves, in this day and age).

  43. says

    I don’t know how libertarian it is to enslave a race.

    It may not be, but… a cast system, indirectly enforced through the removal of laws that forbid the formation of cast systems, which are designed to discriminate on the basis of “perceived” differences in status, due to what ever supposed criteria that may be, including skin color.. Yep, Rand Paul, for one, seems to be all for that.

  44. says

    Zeno @1:

    The GOP is well and truly screwed in 2014, provided that the Democrats take the battle to them with an unrelenting focus on the Republicans’ destructive policies. Which, of course, I fear the Democrats won’t do, given their history of timidity.

    I’ve only been interested in politics in the last few years (oddly enough, this growth has been concurrent with my reading *this* blog), so I’m curious why Democrats do not challenge the destructive policies of the Republican Party. Is it timidity? Is it that the Democrats agree with many of the policies of the Republicans? A combination? Something else?

  45. says

    Whacky uncle time again on the far-right-wing. Republicans insist that the federal government not pay for abortions. This insistence results in some odd healthcare rules. Then Republicans insist that the odd healthcare rules are a way to sneakily pay for abortions. Not true, not even close.

    Rand Paul is anti-abortion and easily confused, so yeah, he’s onboard with perpetuating confusion and lies.

    Paul has introduced the “Life at Conception Act,” a bill some call an abortion ban that simply states human life begins at conception.

    Raw Story link.

    Fox News fails at journalism, again:

    Insurance companies working under the Obamacare umbrella have secretly added a surcharge to cover the cost of abortions, an apparent violation of federal law that forbids the practice, congressional leaders charge.

    Consumers signing up for insurance in an Obamacare exchange won’t find a single sentence telling them that they will pay at least $1 a month to fund abortions.

    The real news:

    The provision that the right-wing media is hyping is an effort to prevent taxpayer funding for abortion. The ACA requires states to offer at least one health plan that does not cover abortions. Plans that do cover abortion, however, contain a surcharge that is assessed on consumers who opt in to that plan in order to prevent federal funds from being used, a violation of the Hyde amendment that prevents federal funding from paying for abortion except in case of rape, incest, or the woman’s life being in danger. Media Matters link.

    As for Fox’s assertion that insurers “have secretly added a surcharge,” there’s nothing about this that’s “secret” at all. The provision in question has been federal law for nearly four years, and it’s been the subject of political debate since 2009. Maddow blog link.

  46. says

    As usual, the Daily Show nails the flaws in the right-wing argument against raising the minimum wage:

    http://www.salon.com/2014/01/29/must_see_morning_clip_eat_your_mcnuggets_with_a_side_of_poverty/
    Scroll down to view the video segment.

    In a segment debating a minimum wage increase on “The Daily Show,” financial investor and commentator Peter Schiff told correspondent Samantha Bee that “people don’t go hungry in a capitalist economy.”

    Schiff, who believes that government assistance programs are “trapping ['the poors'] in poverty,” argues against increasing the minimum wage because “In a free market, there’s plenty of food for everybody, especially the poor.”

    “It’s socialism that creates scarcity, that creates famine,” Schiff insists, delusioned into thinking that the fast food workers on strike are just big whiny babies. […]

  47. David Marjanović says

    * Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued Hillary Clinton can be criticized for Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky affair 19 years ago because “sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

    ROTFL!

  48. Rich Woods says

    @Tony #49:

    Is it timidity? Is it that the Democrats agree with many of the policies of the Republicans? A combination? Something else?

    They don’t want to upset their paymasters?

  49. says

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/ That’s the blog site for Barry Ritholtz, the guy featured in the Daily Show segment so ably conducted by Samantha Bee. (see link in comment #51).

    The blog page begins with a chart of cities that have raised the minimum wage on their own, without federal legislation. Surprise, those cities are doing remarkably well when it comes to employment. Raising the minimum wage does not increase unemployment. The experiment has been done. Rand Paul’s “free market” capitalism not withstanding.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/blogs/view/barry-ritholtz/

  50. stevem says

    calling it: “Rand Paul is not a True Scotsman Libertarian.” 5…4…3…2…

    or “Libertarianism is a spectrum, and Rand Paul is the UV (or, IR) [i.e. "extreme pole"] of that spectrum.” 3…2…

  51. stevem says

    re 54 and others:

    The point that Schiff completely glossed over with his ‘partial truths’ about supply-and-demand is the factor of Profit that needs to be included in S&D calculations. With Profit==0 then Price is totally governed by S&D. With Profit included, raising Cost *can* first reduce Profit before raising Prices. What is totally ignored by the “big companies” [looking at you Walmart and McD's] is the massive profits they make, not from selling hamburgers cheap, but by paying very little to the ‘burger flippers’.
    <preaching to the choir, I know>

  52. says

    More evidence of Rand Paul being a doofus, of him not doing research before he speaks about policy, and of him misinterpreting data (or maybe not even reading the data):

    […] Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) floated the idea of capping government benefits for women who have children out of wedlock[…]

    While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”‘ […]

    The idea of withholding benefits from women who have more than a certain number of children is actually current policy in many states.[…]16 states cap the assistance and don’t give any extra money for new children if someone in the household is already receiving aid.

    These policies were initially adopted in an attempt to dissuade low-income women from having more children out of wedlock. But the results haven’t panned out. A 2001 Government Accountability Office report on whether or not they change birth rates couldn’t conclude whether there was any impact. In California, for example, where the state has been considering a repeal of its family cap policy, most women who receive welfare from the state have a similar number of children as those who don’t. What the policies do end up doing, however, is pushing people further into poverty. That can have serious health risks, with one study finding that some limits on benefits lead to a higher death rate.

    The caps also get assumptions wrong about the people who rely on public programs. Overall, those who use public assistance have the same average family size as those who don’t. […]

    The Senator also told the luncheon audience that being “married with kids versus unmarried with kids is the difference between living in poverty and not” and that the government “should sell that message.” While it’s true that the poverty rate is far higher for single parents than for married couples, that doesn’t necessarily mean that getting married is the answer. It can leave low-income women more unstable and worse off financially. What they really need is better access to contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies and a much stronger social safety net to help them raise the children they do have.

    […] Paul […] voted in favor of the Blunt Amendment that would allow employers to deny their workers access to contraception through health insurance due to a moral objection.

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/01/29/3220881/rand-paul-welfare-cap-children/

  53. says

    Glenn Beck analyzed the State of the Union Address … and proved that he is more of a dunderhead than Rand Paul. I know, hard to do, but Glenn Beck did it.

    Over and over again, looking us in the eye, he [Obama] said he would use his executive power to get his way. He bragged about it! […] this was the State of the Union where our president declared he would become America’s first dictator[…]

    Right Wing Watch link.

  54. says

    Rand Paul is a fraud … not really a board certified ophthalmologist.

    In the spring of 2010 stories first swirled around Sen. Rand Paul’s certification as an ophthalmologist by an outfit called the “National Ophthalmology Board,” an entity he founded. This week I discovered that while he continues to present himself as “board certified” the NOB has been out of business since 2011, and in any event, does not under Kentucky law permit him to advertise as “board certified.” […]

    Rand Paul continues to perform eye surgery in his home state, often getting favorable media attention for performing free eye procedures. His profile on the website of the Tri-Star Greenview Regional Hospital, where Paul has privileges, includes the notation “Specialty Board Certifications: Ophathalmology.” Likewise on the Healthgrades Web site where patients can locate physicians his entry reads: “Ophthalmology, Board Certified.”

    Since 2005 Rand Paul has not been certified by any board recognized by the state of Kentucky, and since 2011 has had no certification since the NOB was dissolved.[…]

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/11/08/rand-paul-has-another-problem/

  55. says

    I wish ignatius13 would come back and argue the case for admiring Rand Paul.

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Wolf Blitzer, shortly after President Obama’s State of the Union address:

    BLITZER: He announced on increasing the minimum wage, the federal contractors would get an increase immediately to $10.10 an hour, which is not a huge amount of money by any means, but it’s a little bit more than the current minimum wage. Are you with him on that?

    PAUL: If you increase the price of something, you’ll get less of it. So, all of the studies, virtually all of the studies show that if you increase the minimum wage, you get higher unemployment, [bollocks] particularly teenage unemployment, particularly black teenagers –

    BLITZER: Do you believe in a minimum wage?

    PAUL: Well, I think when you look at raising it, all of the studies show that if you raise it, you get more unemployment. So, really, the market place does a better job at determining what…. [more bollocks]

    You’ll notice that Paul didn’t answer the follow-up question. Asked whether he believes in a minimum wage, the senator talked about why he opposes an increase. (He’s spectacularly wrong, by the way about the economic research on wages and unemployment, but that’s another subject for another post.)

    And that’s when the interview got a little more interesting.

    BLITZER: So, there shouldn’t be any federal minimum wage?

    PAUL: I’m not sure I’m saying that. But I think what I am – I’m not sure I have an answer as far as whether there is a right or wrong –

    BLITZER: You’re a United States senator. You thought about whether or not there should be a federal –

    PAUL: Not necessarily. […]

    I see, Rand Paul did not think. That makes sense.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/im-not-sure-im-saying#break

    Research on minimum wage and unemployment: New York Times link, economic blog.

    […] a raft of meticulous economic research, including work by David Card and Alan B. Krueger, who served as chief economist at the Labor Department in the Clinton administration and more recently as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration, has decisively demolished the old shibboleths. The weight of the evidence consistently finds no significant effects on employment when the minimum wage increases in reasonable increments. […]

  56. mikeyb says

    As far as I can tell the right basically stands for protecting the corporate state, plus a healthy dose of racism, sexism, homophobia, religion and a endless cavalcade of ever evolving conspiracy theories, i.e. it has been bankrupt intellectually since before the time of Reagan – just listen to any right winger on Fox or the 5000+ right wing radio shows for five minutes and anyone with half a brain can figure out what it’s all about. But until a plurality of people actually give a damn enough to recognize these simple facts and actually show up and vote, and permanently repudiate right wingers once and for all not a hell of a lot of much of any kind of progress is going to be made any time soon, no matter who the president is, and no matter how lukewarm he/she might be as far as being a progressive -it doesn’t much matter. Until then, state of the unions and other grand speeches and proposals are largely beside the point.

  57. mothra says

    The purpose behind FOUR republican responses is not that the party is fracturing. It is not fracturing- they are in lock step when it comes to voting. Four responses means they dominate the conversation rather than the one single speech of President Obama.

  58. scienceavenger says

    […] Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) floated the idea of capping government benefits for women who have children out of wedlock[…]
    While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”‘ […]

    Yeah, and maybe you should have free condom machines in every public place, and the pill for anyone who wants it, to achieve that goal. The payoff in decreased costs from a decreased number of unwanted children would be enormous, not to mention a great reduction in medical procedures YOU Rand Paul consider murders. Or so you say.

    It just goes to show it doesn’t have shit to do with abortions or size of government or any of the other blather they spew. It’s about keeping people from having more sex than Rand Paul thinks they should have, period.

  59. says

    mothra:

    The purpose behind FOUR republican responses is not that the party is fracturing. It is not fracturing- they are in lock step when it comes to voting. Four responses means they dominate the conversation rather than the one single speech of President Obama.

    The purpose in having four responses might be to dominate the conversation.
    I can’t imagine them purposely demonstrating that their party is fracturing, but that is one of the effects.

  60. latecomer says

    I wish ignatius13 would come back and argue the case for admiring Rand Paul.

    1 reason to admire Rand Paul is that in a party full of pretend small gov’t conservatives, he’s at least a legit libertarian. He may be wrong about a lot of things,but he stays true to his beliefs.

  61. Paul K says

    latecomer @65:

    Staying ‘true to your beliefs’ is necessarily a good thing? I know someone else who stayed true to his beliefs….

    Besides, I call bullshit. Rand Paul is as slimy a snake as any of the other asswipes being quoted and described here. He plagerizes, he ducks direct questions, he fabricates his own ‘board certification’. All these are documented and cited right in this thread.

  62. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Why do they get four rebuttals? Besides that the lunacy has quadrupled since President Obama took office?

  63. says

    latecomer, many people have really fucked up beliefs, like Alex Jones, Rand Paul, or the fucking pope. Staying true to their beliefs isn’t a good thing.

  64. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Why in the name of back-alley abortions and unwanted children are Republicans trying to block women’s freedom to buy insurance and corporations’ freedom to offer it?

  65. says

    @ignatius13 #22

    The rest of what I’ve read are straw man arguments and false dichotomies.

    Then you must have missed several comments that directly addressed what you were saying, such as #16 and #17. If you’re not going to reply to those, then don’t blame other people for not taking you seriously.

    If you think these qualify as straw men or false dichotomies, it might be more convincing if you explained why. Simply saying “straw man” isn’t likely to impress anyone.

  66. Nick Gotts says

    And protecting the environment from pollution is different from telling people they can’t drink raw milk if they choose. There’s good regulations and bad ones. All we’re suggesting is getting rid of the ones that overreach. – ignatius13@22

    Who is the “we” here? Poke the average libertarian and you’ll find a climate change denialist. The Cato Institute, the Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and all the other libertaian “think tanks” (an oxymoron if ever there was one!), along with your hero Rand Paul, deny the scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real, and a problem requiring urgent action, because it shows up their fuckwitted ideology for the anti-human, corporate-shill trash it is.

  67. anteprepro says

    He may be wrong about a lot of things,but he stays true to his beliefs.

    I really hope you are intentionally damning him with faint praise. “True to his beliefs” ain’t worth shit if those beliefs are dangerous and/or wrong.

    Being “true to his beliefs” is only noble if the beliefs are noble. Reminds me of the cultural obsession with “courage”. We overvalue this trivial shit. We praise recklessness and stubbornness, we pat people on the back for their indifference to facts and consequences, and we actively chastise people who point out those dangers and errors. Christ, our priorities…

  68. birgerjohansson says

    Re. “True to his beliefs”

    You-know-who was true to his beliefs about the Jews.

    But sometime it is useful to have a nutcase spell out what his clan of mutants are really thinking, behind the protecting wall of media consultants.

  69. latecomer says

    To all the people criticizing my comment, if you reread my comment you would see that I wasn’t praising his beliefs. I was saying that in a Republican party full of people who are pretend libertarians, he actually is a legitimate libertarian.

  70. says

    Rand Paul’s latest flea brained attempt to be a legislator: Guns! Lots of guns in our Post Offices.

    The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee met yesterday to tackle […] a wide-ranging postal reform package. It’ll tackle several key areas of postal policy, including postage rates, post-office banking, pensions for USPS employees, etc.

    […]Sen. Rand Paul had a new postal provision he’s apparently excited about. The Kentucky Republican wants to include a provision in postal reform that would “remove a federal ban on guns in post offices.”

    Paul said his gun rights amendment would allow licensed gun owners to carry weapons inside post offices, rather than having to unholster them and keep them in the car. Guns are banned in federal buildings, including post offices.

    Yep, when it comes to postal reform, Paul’s priority is allowing more guns in post offices.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/paul-targets-post-office-gun-ban#break

  71. says

    More detail regarding Rand Paul’s push to allow guns in post offices (see comment #77). The NRA sent out to all of their members a press release and a call to pressure U.S. Senators. That email/mail/media campaign features a photo of Rand Paul and the text “Support Rand Paul’s effort to end the Post Office Gun Ban. Contact the following U.S. Senators right away!”
    http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2014/01/rand-paul-is-upset-that-you-cant-take.html

    […]
    U.S. Senator Rand Paul is once again leading the pro-gun fight by proposing an amendment to eliminate the Post Office Gun Ban once and for all!

    But ending this gun ban won’t come easily.

    You see, several anti-gunners serve on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, and they’re preparing to fight tooth-and-nail against Senator Paul’s proposal.

    That means it’s up to pro-gun patriots like you to stand with Senator Paul by taking action right away.

    Please contact the members of the committee right away….[…]

    Emphasis is in the original.

  72. David Marjanović says

    The idea of withholding benefits from women who have more than a certain number of children is actually current policy in many states.[…]16 states cap the assistance and don’t give any extra money for new children if someone in the household is already receiving aid.

    what

    what is this, China?!?

    free condom machines in every public place

    Not outdoors in cold places, because then the condoms become brittle and break.

  73. says

    A discussion in Salon of the three-legged stool that is today’s Republican Party, emphasis mine:

    The battle for the heart and soul of the GOP is more than social conservatives parrying with establishment Republicans. It is a pantomime that has many actors performing on a number of stages, but with only one clown: libertarians.

    Libertarians are […] ignorant not only of basic economics but also the ride they’ve been taken on by the Christian Right and the neo-Confederates within the Republican Party.

    Nullification is the common cause that drives this anti-establishment triumvirate. Nullification of the federal government is now the weapon of choice for theocrats, libertarians and white supremacists.[…]

    “The nullification movement’s ideology is rooted in reverence for states’ rights and a theocratic and neo-Confederate interpretation of U.S. history. And Ron Paul, who is often portrayed as a libertarian, is the engine behind the movement.”

    Paul, who has been called the father of the Tea Party, has long been tied with reactionary neo-Confederate politics. The Southern Partisan, a blog site for neo-Confederates, endorsed Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign with the following: “Paul has given countless speeches in front of Confederate flags for Southern Heritage groups and has never faltered from his defense of Dixie.” In 2012, Paul declared secession to be a “deeply American principle.”

    […]the Cato Institute, defines libertarianism as “the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others.” In reality, libertarianism means corporations having more equal rights than people.,

    Libertarians are drawn to Ron Paul because he appeals to their anti-military and anti-drug war sensibilities, but they’ve been duped. […]

    “Paul is far more transparent about his paleoconservative—rather than libertarian—agenda when he speaks to audiences made up of social conservatives…And he sponsored the ‘We the People Act,’ which proposed stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction in cases related to religion and privacy, freeing state legislatures to regulate sexual acts, birth control, and religious matters,” […]

    Ron Paul libertarians have been swept up in this theocratic, Southern white power, nullification movement. […] while Rand Paul shares his father’s despise of federal programs like Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance, he has crossover appeal with libertarians on the left, who not only have trouble thinking, but also hear only the anti-drone, anti-NSA, and anti-foreign war messaging. […]

    Libertarianism and the nullification movement merge seamlessly with the Christian Right, because the “sacralized ‘lost cause’ of the South is often undergirded by Christian Reconstructionism,” writes Tabachnick. Reconstructionism, or Dominionism, is an ideology that calls on Christians to take over the federal government and then make the laws of the nation “biblical.”

    […]“It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism.”[…]

  74. says

    latecomer:

    To all the people criticizing my comment, if you reread my comment you would see that I wasn’t praising his beliefs. I was saying that in a Republican party full of people who are pretend libertarians, he actually is a legitimate libertarian.

    He holds abhorrent beliefs and it doesn’t matter whether he pretends to be a libertarian or if he publicly embraces that delusional ideology.
    “Staying true to your beliefs” is not inherently a good thing.

  75. says

    I’ll grant that being stupid and dishonest is worse than being just stupid, but at that point it’s a rather small and insignificant difference.

  76. says

    A Masked Avenger #6

    I realize it’s a bit of a fantasy world, but I envision a world in which not being a rapist–or more to the point, a mass murderer–is a prerequisite for participating in polite society, let alone being made ruler. There’s something fundamentally wrong if the Overton window is positioned such that we’re expected, with straight faces, to pull the lever for our preferred mass murderer.

    QFT. Seriously, it drives me up a wall. That was what pissed me off the most when everyone made such a fuss about Anwar al-Awaki because OMG he was an American citizen just murdered with a drone strike! No one ever could adequately explain to me why I should be so much more outraged about him than all the other people murdered by drone strikes.
    kraut #11

    I wonder how you will heat your house then, and get to your conferences….

    a) Better insulation, hypocausts, ground-source heat pumps, passive solar, etc.
    b) There are these things known as trains, you may have heard of them, they can run on all kinds of things, including electricity, which can be generated in all kinds of ways, and distributed far more efficiently than it is now, even unto moving trains.
    ignatuis13 #14
    Explain, clearly, why and how national debt is intrinsically a bad thing. Make sure your explanation accounts for all the places that are working at least as well as the U.S. with considerably higher relative debt loads.
    Tony! #49
    The short answer is the New Left.

    mikeyb#61

    i.e. it has been bankrupt intellectually since before the time of Reagan –

    Long, long before. Before the corporate state, the Right stood for the privileges of the aristocracy, plus the other things you mentioned. That’s all the right has ever been.
    raven #30
    Extended discussion is probably a matter for the Tdome, but it’s rather disingenuous to act like Stalinist state-owned planned economies are even in the same category as worker cooperatives.