Kentucky–Electing Even Worse People Than Indiana

I’ve been pretty hard on my home state of Indiana, for many good reasons. (We elected Pious Pence, and subsequently loosed him on the nation; our Attorney General is a pandering snowflake with delusions of grandeur; and our Statehouse is home to multiple gun nuts and culture warriors untethered to anything resembling intelligence.)

But you have to give props to our neighboring state of  Kentucky. Not only is Mitch McConnell the runaway winner of the “most evil man in American government” designation, Kentucky’s junior Senator–Rand Paul–keeps reminding us that we shouldn’t count him out when the awards for “most slimy” are announced.

Anyone who follows the news even slightly knows that Paul has spent a lot of time attacking epidemiology in general and Anthony Fauci in particular. Those attacks have been particularly distasteful since Paul purports to be an ophthalmologist– board-certified by an organization he invented, but still…theoretically, he’s  sort of a doctor.

Now, according to Talking Points Memo, he’s playing to the MAGA crowd and amplifying his racism by  encouraging Americans to emulate the Canadian Trucker Convoy that has roiled deliveries and other transportation between the U.S. and Canada.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an enthusiastic supporter of Canadian truckers’ anti-government protests which have been causing major blockages at the Canada-U.S. border, telling the Daily Signal on Thursday that he hopes the so-called “Freedom Convoy” travels down south to congest American cities, too.

Why? Because, Paul said, “civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition” in the U.S., “from slavery to civil rights.”

Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, shouldn’t be “commandeering the microphone” and “bullying people” and behaving like a “crazed mob.”

Well, there’s a difference, you know. Those Canadian protesters appear to be White…

As Paul Krugman wrote a couple of days ago, the U.S. right is loving the convoys’ lawbreaking. “People who portrayed peaceful protests against police killings as an existential threat are delighted by the spectacle of right-wing activists breaking the law and destroying wealth.”

According to Vox and a number of other reports, the protest is widely unpopular among truckers and Canadians.

The so-called “freedom convoy” is nominally protesting a vaccine mandate for truckers, implemented in mid-January on both sides of the US-Canada border. But the demonstrations have swiftly ballooned into a broader far-right movement, with some demonstrators waving Confederate and Nazi flags. Protester demands include an end to all Covid-19 restrictions in Canada and the resignation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

As the Vox article notes, it’s important to understand the broader Canadian context .

News coverage of the convoy, especially from sympathetic anchors on Fox News, may lead Americans to believe that Canada is in the midst of a far-right popular uprising. In reality, the mainstream consensus in Canada about Covid-19, and the nation’s institutions in general, is holding. The so-called trucker movement is on the fringe, including among Canadian truckers — some 90 percent of whom are vaccinated….

The January edition of the Covid-19 Monitor, a regular survey of Canadian attitudes about the pandemic, finds that about three-quarters of Canadians support vaccine passports for indoor dining and gatherings. Strikingly, 70 percent would “strongly” or “somewhat” support a vaccine mandate for all eligible adults — a vastly more restrictive policy than any province has actually attempted. What’s more, the researchers behind Covid-19 Monitor find that, on most issues, “support has remained relatively stable” throughout the pandemic — strong evidence that this isn’t just a short-term blip caused by omicron.

It makes sense, then, that the trucker protest is widely unpopular.

The protest is unpopular in Canada.  In the U.S., however, at least among the MAGA  contingent, it’s a different story. According to reports, sixty-three percent of the donations to the truckers’ now-removed GoFundMe came from the United States, and the American right played an important role in getting the protest off the ground.

The border crossing blockage added to pre-existing supply chain woes. Economists have estimated that it created some $300 million a day in economic damage. I’m sure Rand Paul considers that a small price to pay for the mayhem he applauds–after all, he has been all-in on attacks on vaccines and pandemic rules that demonstrably save lives. Since his ability to generate favorable coverage in rightwing media evidently outweighs any concern about unnecessary deaths, we shouldn’t be surprised that he considers $300 million in daily economic damage a reasonable price to pay for his 15 minutes of rightwing fame.

So–fair is fair. Indiana’s Senators may be feckless and undistinguished (Braun is actually pretty embarrassing), but on the scale of truly despicable, they can’t hold a candle to Kentucky’s entrants in the American Hall of Shame.


Celebrating Ignorance

I will never understand political “leaders” who actively celebrate ignorance–or those who vote for them.

The lack of  basic civic literacy–which I’ve ranted about for years–is bad enough. The utter cluelessness of people who piously declaim their reverence for life while making it easier for the violent and mentally-ill to acquire and carry firearms is appalling. But nothing–nothing–in my adult lifetime has been as incredible and ignorant as the anti-COVID vaccine “movement.”

A recent essay in the Washington Post echoed my reaction. The essay wasn’t written by a hated “librul,” but by Michael Gerson, an Evangelical Christian refugee from the GOP who served in the administration of George W. Bush. As he said in his introduction

When the future judges our political present, it will stand in appalled, slack-jawed amazement at the willingness of GOP leaders to endanger the lives of their constituents — not just the interests of their constituents, but their lungs and beating hearts — in pursuit of personal power and ideological fantasies.

That observation–the recognition that the GOP officials preaching anti-vaccination nonsense are actually complicit in killing their own partisans–is what I find so incomprehensible. I can’t decide if these people are truly as ignorant as they sound, or if they are playing to what increasingly seems to be a death-wish of their rabid base.

Gerson divides them into three categories.

The first, practiced most vigorously by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, uses an ongoing pandemic as a stage for the display of ideological zeal. In this view, the covid-19 crisis — rather than being a story of remarkable but flawed scientists and public health experts deploying the best of science against a vicious microbe — has been an opportunity for the left to impose “authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions.” Never mind that U.S. public health officials are not part of the left, and are authentically confused about the equation of their advice with ideology.

As Gerson notes, populists like DeSantis are demonstrating that “their MAGA commitments outweigh all common sense, public responsibility and basic humanity.”

The second category is populated by conspiracy theorists (and major twits) like  Rand Paul. These jackasses are playing “crackpot roulette.” They

 depict the most visible representatives of the United States’ covid response as scheming, deceptive deep-state operatives. Any change in emphasis or strategy by scientists — an essential commitment of the scientific method — is viewed as rich opposition research.

Paul talks of jailing Anthony S. Fauci in the midst of our public health crisis on the basis of imaginary claims. But the fundraising appeals to MAGA loyalists that immediately follow such attacks by Paul and others are real. And for a subset of true believers, Paul’s acts of dehumanization provide cover and permission for threats of violence against scientists and their families.

Senator Ron Johnson exemplifies Gerson’s third category of Republican ignorance peddlers. Gerson dubs this category “the practice of strategic ignorance” and he notes that in the case of Johnson —” one of America’s most reliable source of unreliable information” — such ignorance might not be feigned.

He might well believe that gargling with mouthwash call kill the coronavirus, and that thousands of people are regularly dying from vaccine side effects, and that a pandemic that has taken more than 800,000 lives in the United States is “overhyped.”…

Johnson is not only making dangerous statements about the coronavirus. He is using his willingness to cite stupid things as the evidence of his independence from the rule of professionals and experts. He is defining democracy, in the words of Tom Nichols, author of “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters,” as “unearned respect for unfounded opinions.” Johnson is practicing strategic ignorance.

As Gerson points out, all of these behaviors encourage the development of alternative realities, and make the pursuit of a common good difficult if not impossible. But the damage goes well beyond that–to celebrate ignorance during a pandemic is an invitation to die.

If a significant group of Americans regard the musing of a politician such as Johnson as equal in value to Fauci’s lifelong accumulation of expertise, the basis for rational action is lost. And the result is needless death.

Gerson is an example of the sane Republicans who used to dominate the GOP, partisans whose policy positions were based upon drawing different conclusions from a reality shared with Democrats and Independents, not upon invented “facts,” conspiracies, or a spineless need to assure the party’s increasingly lunatic base that–as Isaac Asimov would have put it–their ignorance is just as good as the hard-won knowledge of those stuck-up elitists.

A country where a significant percentage of people revel in, pander to and/or actively celebrate ignorance is in big trouble–even without a pandemic.


Rand Paul Is Insane..Or Worse

A friend of mine from what I’m beginning to think of as the “good old days of politics” spent time as a Republican member of the Indianapolis City-County Council. He has steadfastly refused to exit the party, insisting that the few remaining sane folks need to be there to pick up the pieces when the fever breaks.

I hope he’s right about the fever breaking…

In any event, he continues to be the recipient of rightwing emails and solicitations, and on occasion, he shares them with me. This one from increasingly bizarre Rand Paul hit my inbox a couple of days ago, accompanied by a simple message: “wow!” Here it is in its entirety.

From: Rand Paul <>
Sent: Monday, April 19, 2021 11:32 PM
To: Patriot (I’ve blanked my friend’s name)
Subject: throw away your masks and burn your ‘vaccine passport’


The left has gone completely COVID crazy.

They want government-enforced shutdowns, mask mandates, school closures, forced vaccines, and now they’re talking about a COVID vaccine passport.

It’s absolutely unconstitutional – not to mention, it’s absurd.

A Democrat politician famously said, “never let a crisis go to waste.”  Boy, did this pandemic really see them put their shoulder into that old axiom.

Throughout the COVID crisis, these radicals have embraced theatrics, abandoned science, and the longer it goes on, the more they double down. 

The newest power grab comes in the form of an alleged “Vaccine Passport” which would determine whether or not you’re “ALLOWED” to engage in your everyday life.

Want to go to the store? Show your vaccine card.

Want to go to a restaurant or concert? Did you tell the government what vaccines you’ve had?


This is the slippery slope I warned about and it’s exactly what I’m fighting to defeat in Washington. Will you chip in to join the fight today?

By donating below, you are making an immediate contribution:


 If you’ve saved payment information with Revv or WinRed, your donation will go through automatically.

 Patriot, this passport idea from these hypocrites in Washington is just completely unacceptable. 

Let’s not forget: these are the same people who are boycotting states like Georgia for implementing common-sense policies like voter ID.

Let me tell you something… if you think voter ID is racist, but the vaccine passport is just fine, you need some serious help thinking through public policy.

I will never be in favor of this COVID hysteria and I will never support a COVID passport. JOIN ME: CHIP IN NOW >>

It’s time to say enough is enough. 

I urge everyone to get the vaccine if you need or want it. And then I urge everyone in America to throw away their masks, demand their schools be open, and burn your vaccine passport if they try to give it to you.

If you’re with me, please chip in today to join the fight against the vaccine passport powergrab.

Where to begin? During the year-long fight against COVID, Rand Paul has consistently played to the (misnamed) “Patriots” –engaging in uninformed debates with Dr. Fauci, dealing in a variety of anti-science conspiracy theories, and just generally making an ass of himself. 

If he really believes half of what he spouts, we can shrug and chalk up his behavior to mental illness, but if–as I half suspect–he is playing the “patriots” on his email list for suckers in order to raise money, he’s  just venal. Either way, of course, the conclusion is the same: a member of the United States Senate who has absolutely no business being there. 

Rand Paul and his ilk have displayed exactly ZERO interest in policy, in deliberating in good faith, or in representing the genuine interests of a majority–or even a minority– of their constituents.

Most Americans would undoubtedly define “patriotism” very differently from the implicit meaning conveyed by Rand Paul’s (mis)use of the word .


I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means….

Rand Paul has assumed the mantle of libertarianism from his father Ron, and in all fairness, espouses some positions that are consistent with libertarian philosophy. But he’s anything but a genuine libertarian.

Peacock Panache recently reported on a Paul presentation at a private prayer breakfast sponsored by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network:

Paul told those in attendance at the breakfast he supports an intertwining of religion in government. “The First Amendment says keep government out of religion,” he said. “It doesn’t say keep religion out of government.”

Tell that to any Constitutional scholar who has done even a little research into the workings of the Establishment Clause and see how it goes over.

Continuing his pseudo-sermon Paul continued, “In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country, there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage, there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.” He continued, “We’re the most disconnected city on the planet from the people. So don’t have a lot of faith in what’s going on up here.”

Paul has the solution though. “We need a revival in the country,” Paul told an attentive audience that agreed with his every word. “We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.”

There are two ways to interpret this nod to religious hegemony. It may be that Paul really has no idea what authentic libertarianism is, or it may be that he is intellectually dishonest and willing to pander to the prejudices of his audience. (The two interpretations, of course, aren’t mutually exclusive.) Either way, he’s disqualified from holding a government position. (Not that disqualification matters much these days–if we held lawmakers to an intellectual honesty standard, most of Congress would be gone.)

Paul also opposes reproductive rights and  same-sex marriage, for example–positions at odds with libertarian philosophy but virtual litmus tests for the GOP’s Evangelical base.

Just for the record, Rand, the libertarian principle that emerged from the Enlightenment (and upon which this country was largely founded) celebrated individual autonomy: the right of each individual to establish and pursue his own life goals, free of interference by government or popular majorities, unless and until that individual harms the person or property of a non-consenting other–and so long as he is willing to respect the equal right of others to do the same.

Now, I realize we can all debate what constitutes harm, but when you aren’t even willing to respect the right of other people to live in accordance with beliefs contrary to yours, you’re an authoritarian, not a libertarian.

Google it.