Saturday, August 14, 2010

In defense of Rand Paul (no, seriously)

Democratic candidate for Senate Jack Conway (right) draws a police officer's attention to a group of pot-smoking hippies in need of incarceration.

Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Kentucky, is a Very Reasonable Liberal running against the crazy, kooky Republican nominee Rand Paul. Being sensible and mainstream, Conway -- who as attorney general has overseen a state prison population that has grown 45 percent over the last decade, one of the fastest rate's in the nation -- believes the best solution to the "problem" of people who prefer smoking a joint to drinking Kentucky bourbon is imprisonment. As I said, he's a very reasonable man.

As the sensible one in the race -- did I mention Rand Paul once, OMG!#!EXTREMIST!!, smoked pot and engaged in stupid pranks while in college? -- Conway has gone on the attack against his opponent for outrageously suggesting that maybe, you know, the whole federal war on drugs thing has been a huge waste of money (editor's note: and lives).

"Rand will handcuff local sheriffs trying to combat the drug epidemic, and I will make sure Kentucky's law enforcement has the tools they need to protect our families," Conway said in response to Paul's proposal to cut federal aid to state drug enforcement programs, according to a humorously slanted, drug-traffickers-will-rape-your-blonde-haired-and-blue-eyed-children account from the AP. "That's my record as attorney general, and that's what I'll do in Washington."

Now, if Paul really was proposing to handcuff local sheriffs, I might actually consider breaking my whole no-voting thing and becoming a Kentucky Tea Party activist. What he is suggesting, though, is only that "issues like drug use and abuse are best dealt with at the local level." Scary.

Of course, Paul has plenty of actually silly and stupid ideas, having enjoyed The Fountainhead a bit too much as a young man, and has said a number of actually silly and stupid things -- like arguing oil giant and global asshole BP was somehow being unfairly treated in the wake of its destruction of the Gulf of Mexico. He also rather, uh, inarticulately defended his philosophical opposition to a piece of 1960s-era civil rights legislation, to put it mildly.

What's interesting, though, is that Paul has been called a no-good dirty racist for opposing a law that has absolutely no chance of going anywhere while his opponent, Jack Conway, has been lauded by all Right Thinking progressives even as he demagogically defends a federal war on drugs that has led the U.S. to have the largest prison population in the history of the world -- disproportionately affecting Hispanics and African-Americans, who are jailed at a rate roughly twice that of whites.

Rand Paul may be a racist, I don't really know, but it's his Democratic opponent who is grandstanding on behalf of a policy that is actually racist in its implementation. If only the professional left got as angry about that as they do about fucking Aqua Buddha.

Image courtesy of the Conway campaign.

UPDATE: Just to make this abundantly clear: Rand Paul is still a total prick, as evidenced by his recent statement that he opposes the legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. My intention was merely to point out that his ostensibly more liberal opponent viciously attacked him over his opposition to federal funding for the drug war in the silliest fashion possible, and that Democratic partisans who had attacked Paul as a racist have said nothing about his opponent's outspoken support for -- and background enforcing as attorney general -- a policy that disproportionately impacts minorities.



    I'm reminded of how I was told that it would be racist to call oneself anti-war and not vote for Obama... as if there was anything un-racist about any of our charming imperial excursions around the Mid-East.

  2. Yes, thank you.

    This is yet another manifestation of that bizarre liberal tendency to believe speeches and actively disbelieve concrete actions.

  3. jcapan5:04 PM

    But if we ended the war on drugs, what would we do with all the police and prisons? Could we retrain sadistic guards and cops to patrol our borders against the same brown menace or redeploy them to Af-Pak-istan? I mean, these industry jackboots need our assistance, right?

    "Someone should put together a ballet under the title Guantanamo, Guantanamo! A corps of prisoners, their ankles shackled together, thick felt mittens on their hands, muffs over their ears, black hoods over their heads, do the dances of the persecuted and the desperate. Around them, guards in olive green uniforms prance with demonic energy and glee, cattle prods and billy-clubs at the ready. They touch the prisoners with the prods and the prisoners leap; they wrestle prisoners to the ground and shove the clubs up their anuses and the prisoners go into spasms. In a corner, a man on stilts in a Donald Rumsfeld mask alternately writes at his lectern and dances ecstatic little jigs.

    One day it will be done, though not by me. It may even be a hit in London and Berlin and New York. It will have absolutely no effect on the people it targets, who could not care what ballet audiences think of them."

    -J.M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year

    BTW, Conway sounds like a bitch, but is it necessary to defend Rand Paul, even glancingly/1/2 in jest? His dad, ok, but this guy is an absolute charlatan.

  4. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Good point. It's amazing what passes for reasonable and what passes for nutty these days.

    To be fair, Rand Paul wasn't opposed to all of the 1964 civil rights act. Barry Goldwater was labeled a racist for the same reason, even though he did support other civil rights bills.

    You have to admit, some of Goldwater's fears about the legislation going too far did come true.

    As it is now, private employers have to prove that they are NOT discriminating rather than being innocent until proven guilty.

    Have you noticed how freaking sappy companies are about how much they embrace diversity? Or, how many medium to large companies have silly "diversity celebration" days?

    Yeah, all that half hearted crap is to prove in court that they are not discriminating. "See!?!? We have a corporate diversity policy! Have have diversity fairs! We recruit at historically and racially self-conscious black colleges!"

    And oh, I love how diversity means "black".

    So, yeah, it was silly for Rand Paul to get railroaded by an MSNBC host. But, the idea that the 1964 act wasn't perfect. You just can't have an intelligent conversation about it.

    It's like questioning the Bible in other circles.

  5. Politics is not about policy.

    Unfortunately, Rand is a squish. He doesn't have half the backbone of, say, Jim Webb, in standing against the system. Which is not to say I think Webb would have the guts to try ending the drug war.