Friday, March 08, 2013

Don't Stand with Rand

Already we have the progressives in America praising the right-libertarian (propertarian) Rand Paul's filibuster to delay John Brennan becoming CIA director because of the Obama administration’s senseless drone warfare, even though Paul’s political philosophy is anathema to progressives. We witness many calling for the liberal wing to “Stand with Rand.”

It’s important to scrutinise Paul's motives.

Rand Paul became Kentucky's senator due to the support of the the Republican right such as FreedomWorks, the corporate-sponsored umbrella group,  who share Paul’s message about the dire fiscal calamity threatened by Keynesian spending. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, the de facto head of the Tea Party in the Senate, who now leads the right-wing think-tank, Heritage Foundation, also endorsed Paul. Rand Paul is often cited as evidence of a national, grassroots-led juggernaut. But the organization and activities of establishment rightists to promote Paul would suggest otherwise.

Kentucky is a poor state, with nearly 18 percent of its people living under the poverty line (the second highest rate in the union), and there's a timeworn strain of suspicion among Kentuckians that urban financial elites are seen as plotting against them. Most of those in the Kentucky Tea Party are small business owners -- folks who run a local heating and cooling business, hardware store owners, corporate franchisees, or independent professionals. Paul's filibuster played to his paranoid base, suggesting that the U.S. Government was targeting survivalist right-wingers as potential terrorists and might soon be launching drones against them.

To support Rand means to lend support to a man who opposes the 1964 Civil Rights Act because he thinks private owners of public establishments, such as restaurants, should be able to turn black people away on the basis of race. It means giving support to a man who held up a flood relief bill in order to attach an amendment that would “end abortion once and for all.”

Rand referred to a Supreme Court deciion in his filibuster. "You get to the Lochner case. The Lochner case is in 1905. The majority rules 5-4 that the right to make a contract is part of your due process. Someone cannot deprive you of determining how long your working hours are without due process. So President Obama’s a big opponent to this, but I would ask him — among the other things I’m asking him today — to rethink the Lochner case. . . . I think it’s a wonderful decision."

Others however view it as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in American history. It is taught in law schools, alongside decisions upholding segregation and permitting Japanese detention camps, in order to instruct budding lawyers on how judges should not behave. Even Robert Bork, the failed, right-wing Supreme Court nominee who claimed women “aren’t discriminated against anymore”, called Lochner an “abomination.” 

Lochner fabricated a so-called right to contract in order to strike down a New York law preventing bakery owners from overworking bakers, and it had implications for laws intended to shield workers from exploitation. In essence, Lochner established that any law that limits any contract between an employer and an employee is constitutionally suspect. If desperation forces someone to agree to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for a dollar a day in a factory filled with toxic air, then that is a fair voluntary contract.  Lochner placed any law benefiting workers on constitutionally weak footing. Paul claimed that Lochner helped end Jim Crow laws. What finally killed American apartheid was the Civil Rights Act of 1964!

Rand Paul wants to take America back to the bad ol' days when people were just powerless worker automatons to be used and disposed of when our usefullness is done.

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