mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Run Away As Fast As You Can!”: Ralph Nader Wants Liberals To Back Rand Paul. Don’t Do It.

This week, Ralph Nader returned to the political stage with a new book, Unstoppable, whose triumphant subtitle is The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. To kick off his publicity tour, he has argued that liberals should “definitely” impeach President Barack Obama, abandon the “international militarist” Hillary Clinton, and instead embrace Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as a possible leader of his dream coalition.

To what end? In the book, Nader writes that by marrying the Left with the libertarian Right, we can cut off government support for corporations and have “honest government,” “fair taxation,” and “more opportunity.” Nader sees relatively low-hanging fruit in opposing “sovereignty-shredding global trade agreements, Wall Street bailouts, the overweening expansion of Federal Reserve power, and the serious intrusions of the USA PATRIOT Act against freedom and privacy.” He also articulates loftier, if not fully fleshed out, aspirations to “push for environmentalism,” “reform health care,” and “control more of the commons that we already own.”

Some liberal commentators, like Esquire‘s Charles Pierce and the American Prospect‘s Scott Lemieux, are dismissing Nader’s vision as fantastical, since the Right will never join his progressive crusade. But Nader’s vision should not be dismissed so quickly. He leads his book with concrete examples from the 1980s of when he put Left-Right coalitions together to stop an over-budget nuclear reactor project and to pass legislation to protect whistleblowers who uncover wasteful government fraud.

More recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), and then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) joined forces to pass legislation auditing the Federal Reserve. Nader is correct that there are opportunities to build ideologically diverse coalitions and that coalition building is the key to getting most anything you want out of politics.

However, coalition building requires compromise and, most critically, prioritizing one set of issues over another. The trade-offs inherent in Nader’s path into Rand Paul’s arms should make liberals run screaming.

The Nader strategy of a permanent coalition with the libertarian Right greatly limits what liberals can accomplish. Where there is a joint desire to restrain government (end the drug war) and limit spending (stop corporate welfare), a Nader-Paul alliance can form. But you can forget about anything that involves new government regulation, higher taxes, and more spending. That would preclude big-ticket liberal priorities like capping carbon emissions, expanding anti-poverty programs, guaranteeing universal preschool, and investing in infrastructure.

Nader effectively deprioritizes those goals, because his primary agenda is to “Dismantle the Corporate State.” But the hard truth is that if liberals want to make progress on their core agenda, the coalition to nurture is not with the Paulistas. It’s with the CEOs.

The little-talked-about secret of most major liberal accomplishments over the past 80 years is that they received some degree of corporate support, at least enough to disempower conservative opposition. This is true for much of FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s anti-poverty legislation, and environmental regulation, as well as Obama’s stimulus, repeal of the Bush tax cuts, Wall Street regulation, and health-care reform.

As I observed in the New York Times following the Supreme Court’s upholding of ObamaCare, “When corporations are divided or mollified, reformers can breathe. The president can be heard. Business owners can be convinced that they will remain profitable. The dim prospect of perpetual gridlock can be trumped by the allure of regulatory certainty.”

Nader wants to scrap this long, if quiet, history of liberal success that has built the pillars of modern activist government in favor of prioritizing a civil libertarian agenda. His strategy makes sense if you think smashing the NSA is more important than saving the climate or feeding the hungry. I suspect most liberals would not make that trade.

There’s nothing wrong with forging temporary, limited partnerships with whoever is willing to play ball at that moment. You can work with libertarians against corporations on global trade today, and cooperate with corporations against libertarians on funding infrastructure tomorrow.

But Nader’s vision goes beyond ad-hoc coalitions. He wants to permanently side with government-hating libertarians over government-accepting corporations. That may have superficial appeal to liberals currently agitated over income inequality, but it’s not the strategy that helped liberals in the past century build the social safety net, reduce poverty, and avoid another a Great Depression.

 

By: Bill Scher, The Week, May 2, 2014

May 3, 2014 Posted by | Liberals, Libertarians, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Rights, Obligations, And Ignorant Libertarians”: If You Define Yourself By A Philosophy, At Least Have An Idea Of What It Implies

Oh, Rand Paul. What are we going to do with you?

I’ll tell you in a moment what I’m referring to. But first: One of the principal functions parties serve is that they act as a heuristic, or cognitive shortcut, for voters. If you have to vote for someone to serve on your city council and you know nothing about the candidates, you can use party as a proxy and you’ll be right almost all the time. You can also look to your party to see where you should come down on issues. It doesn’t necessarily make you lazy; sometimes it’s just efficient to look to others with values similar to yours for cues about what policies are worthwhile. We can’t all be experts on everything. In a similar way, parties give people who run for office a set of policy positions they can adopt without having to know everything about anything a lawmaker might have to address.

But if you call yourself a libertarian, you’re saying that parties aren’t enough for you, even if you’re a Republican. Instead, you’re motivated by a philosophical perspective to which you’ve given some serious thought. Every libertarian in politics, including Rand Paul, presents themselves this way. They’re concerned with ideas. So if you’re going to define yourself by a philosophy, isn’t it incumbent upon you to at least have an idea of what that philosophy implies, and a grasp of some basic philosophical concepts—for instance, like what a right is—so that you can talk about them with some modicum of sense when they come up, as they inevitably will?

Apparently not. Here’s Paul in a new National Review article:

“There’s a philosophic debate which often gets me in trouble, you know, on whether health care’s a right or not,” Paul, in a red tie, white button-down shirt, and khakis, tells the students from the stage. “I think we as physicians have an obligation. As Christians, we have an obligation. . . . I really believe that, and it’s a deep-held belief,” he says of helping others.

“But I don’t think you have a right to my labor,” he continues. “You don’t have a right to anyone else’s labor. Food’s pretty important, do you have a right to the labor of the farmer?”

Paul then asks, rhetorically, if students have a right to food and water. “As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care,” Paul muses. “But it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge, it’s servitude, you’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do. . . . It really shouldn’t be seen that way.”

Oh dear. Paul is obviously unaware of this, but saying that health care is a right doesn’t mean that doctors have to treat people without being paid, any more than saying that education is a right means that public school teachers have to work for free. Because we all agree that education is a right, we set up a system where every child can be educated, whether their families could afford to pay for it themselves or not. It doesn’t mean that any kid can walk up to a teacher in the street and say, “I command you to teach me trigonometry for free. Be at my house at 9 tomorrow. You must do this, because I have a right to education and that means I am in charge of you and you’re supposed to do whatever I tell you to do.”

All this talk of “servitude” and “conscription” is just baffling. The only way I can interpret it is that libertarianism is something Paul picked up from his dad, and it seems to go over well with Republicans when he mentions it, but he hasn’t spent any time thinking about it.

I don’t know if the 2016 Republican presidential contest is going to be quite the nincompoop parade that 2012 was. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Rand Paul presents himself as the candidate with the big ideas. Make of that what you will.

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, August 27, 2013

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Libertarians, Rand Paul | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I See Egg People Everywhere”: Rand Paul’s Anti-Abortion Extremism Disqualifies Him as a Libertarian

These days, it’s very Washington-chic to debate Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul’s viability as a presidential candidate. But despite what Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says – and despite the near-constant use of the word by the media – Rand Paul isn’t a libertarian.

Rand Paul is against my civil liberties, and those of every woman in America. He believes big government should be making our most private, personal decisions for us. Rand Paul is not only anti-choice, he embraces “personhood,” the far end of the extremist spectrum on opposing reproductive rights.

I’m tired of (mostly male) reporters and pundits calling Paul a libertarian because women’s civil rights are somehow a second tier issue. If you believe that, perhaps you can have a chat with Ken Buck – or the guy who beat him, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who’s now head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

As a senator, Paul has introduced the Life at Conception Act, which codifies the notion of “personhood” into federal law.

“Personhood” is a fringe movement that would give full legal and constitutional rights to fertilized eggs under the law. It would outlaw abortion in all cases, even for victims of rape or incest. It would outlaw many forms of hormonal contraception and IUDs, and limit emergency contraception and in vitro fertilization.

That’s not a limited-government libertarian. It’s the opposite in fact. It’s government both big enough and small enough to fit in your lady-parts and in the room with you and your doctor.

When he introduced the bill in March, Paul said in a statement, “The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress.”

Thanks to Rand Paul and his ilk, I see Egg People everywhere. But silliness aside, personhood is a toxic issue in swing states like Colorado for elected officials and those who aspire to be. As a veteran of the two personhood ballot measures – which both failed by landslide margins – I can tell you politicians embrace it at their peril and were running away from it in 2012. Colorado voters are inherently allergic to having government tell them what to do.

There’s nothing libertarian about Rand Paul. He’s a standard-issue right wing extremist with a few opinions outside the Republican platform on military issues. That doesn’t make him cute, and that doesn’t make him acceptable to women voters or any voter with a belief in civil rights and civil liberties.

Call Paul a non-interventionist if you like. Call him an anti-internationalist or opposed to defense spending. But do not call him a libertarian, because he’s not one.

 

By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, July 29, 2013

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Libertarians | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Delusions Of Libertarian Populism”: Here’s A Public Service Announcement For You, It’s Bunk

Have you heard about “libertarian populism” yet? If not, you will. It will surely be touted all over the airwaves and the opinion pages by the same kind of people who assured you, a few years ago, that Representative Paul Ryan was the very model of a Serious, Honest Conservative. So let me make a helpful public service announcement: It’s bunk.

Some background: These are tough times for members of the conservative intelligentsia — those denizens of think tanks and opinion pages who dream of Republicans once again becoming “the party of ideas.” (Whether they ever were that party is another question.)

For a while, they thought they had found their wonk hero in the person of Mr. Ryan. But the famous Ryan plan turned out to be crude smoke and mirrors, and I suspect that even conservatives privately realize that its author is more huckster than visionary. So what’s the next big idea?

Enter libertarian populism. The idea here is that there exists a pool of disaffected working-class white voters who failed to turn out last year but can be mobilized again with the right kind of conservative economic program — and that this remobilization can restore the Republican Party’s electoral fortunes.

You can see why many on the right find this idea appealing. It suggests that Republicans can regain their former glory without changing much of anything — no need to reach out to nonwhite voters, no need to reconsider their economic ideology. You might also think that this sounds too good to be true — and you’d be right. The notion of libertarian populism is delusional on at least two levels.

First, the notion that white mobilization is all it takes rests heavily on claims by the political analyst Sean Trende that Mitt Romney fell short last year largely because of “missing white voters” — millions of “downscale, rural, Northern whites” who failed to show up at the polls. Conservatives opposed to any major shifts in the G.O.P. position — and, in particular, opponents of immigration reform — quickly seized on Mr. Trende’s analysis as proof that no fundamental change is needed, just better messaging.

But serious political scientists like Alan Abramowitz and Ruy Teixeira have now weighed in and concluded that the missing-white-voter story is a myth. Yes, turnout among white voters was lower in 2012 than in 2008; so was turnout among nonwhite voters. Mr. Trende’s analysis basically imagines a world in which white turnout rebounds to 2008 levels but nonwhite turnout doesn’t, and it’s hard to see why that makes sense.

Suppose, however, that we put this debunking on one side and grant that Republicans could do better if they could inspire more enthusiasm among “downscale” whites. What can the party offer that might inspire such enthusiasm?

Well, as far as anyone can tell, at this point libertarian populism — as illustrated, for example, by the policy pronouncements of Senator Rand Paul — consists of advocating the same old policies, while insisting that they’re really good for the working class. Actually, they aren’t. But, in any case, it’s hard to imagine that proclaiming, yet again, the virtues of sound money and low marginal tax rates will change anyone’s mind.

Moreover, if you look at what the modern Republican Party actually stands for in practice, it’s clearly inimical to the interests of those downscale whites the party can supposedly win back. Neither a flat tax nor a return to the gold standard are actually on the table; but cuts in unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid are. (To the extent that there was any substance to the Ryan plan, it mainly involved savage cuts in aid to the poor.) And while many nonwhite Americans depend on these safety-net programs, so do many less-well-off whites — the very voters libertarian populism is supposed to reach.

Specifically, more than 60 percent of those benefiting from unemployment insurance are white. Slightly less than half of food stamp beneficiaries are white, but in swing states the proportion is much higher. For example, in Ohio, 65 percent of households receiving food stamps are white. Nationally, 42 percent of Medicaid recipients are non-Hispanic whites, but, in Ohio, the number is 61 percent.

So when Republicans engineer sharp cuts in unemployment benefits, block the expansion of Medicaid and seek deep cuts in food stamp funding — all of which they have, in fact, done — they may be disproportionately hurting Those People; but they are also inflicting a lot of harm on the struggling Northern white families they are supposedly going to mobilize.

Which brings us back to why libertarian populism is, as I said, bunk. You could, I suppose, argue that destroying the safety net is a libertarian act — maybe freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. But populist it isn’t.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, July 11, 2013

July 15, 2013 Posted by | Libertarians, Populism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Utterly Shocking!”: Just Like Dear Old Dad, Rand Paul Has Ties To Neo-Confederates

During his 2008 presidential campaign, then Texas Representative Ron Paul faced wide criticism for his newsletters—published as far back as the 1970s—which, at various points, were racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic. One newsletter from 1992 claimed that nearly all black men in Washington D.C. are “Semi-Criminal or Entirely Criminal”—while another from 1994 claimed that gays were “maliciously” infecting people with AIDS. Paul defended himself by saying that the newsletters were produced by a ghostwriter—with his name attached, and presumably, his consent—and the controversy didn’t do much to diminish his following among a certain set of young libertarians. But for those of us less enamored with Ron Paul, it did underscore one thing: His long-time association with the reactionary far-right of American politics.

Ron Paul has retired from politics, but his son—Kentucky Senator Rand Paul—is in the mix, and is clearly planning a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Ideologically, the younger Paul is indistinguishable from his father. And while he isn’t as close to the far-right as Ron Paul, it’s hard to say that he doesn’t have his own problems with race. In 2009, his campaign spokesperson resigned after racist images were discovered on his MySpace wall, and in 2010, Paul landed in a little hot water during an interview with Rachel Maddow, when he told her that he would have opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act for its impositions on businesses, i.e., they were no longer allowed to discriminate against blacks and other minorities.

Now, as the Washington Free Beacon reports, it also turns out that Rand Paul has his own relationship with the racist backwaters of American politics. I’m not a fan of the publication, but this looks terrible for the Kentucky senator:

A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career.

Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul’s office as his social media director in August 2012.

From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag.

When considered in light of everything I mentioned earlier, none of this comes as a surprise. We know that Ron Paul has ties to neo-Confederates, and we know that Rand Paul has faced criticism for beliefs that echo their opposition to civil rights laws. Hiring a John Wilkes Booth sympathizer fits the picture of the Pauls as a political family that—regardless of what’s in their hearts—is comfortable working with right-wing racists.

 

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, July 9, 2013

July 10, 2013 Posted by | Libertarians, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: