This piece is dedicated to those who aren’t in America and don’t give a flying eff about who takes office as President of the United States in 2016 and therefore haven’t been following the travelling road show called The US Presidential Elections 2016 too closely, but at the same time they retain a mild interest in any news that shows human beings up as petty, scheming, back-biting carnivores.
`Rand Paul`s lone-wolf campaign just made him the Republican Party`s ‘Enemy No. 1`, says The Daily Beast
`The Fall of Rand Paul?` muses The Daily Caller
`We may look back at Sunday as the moment when Rand Paul went from being a wannabe mainstream Republican contender to a fringe message candidate like his father,’ says CNN
‘Rand Paul just sacrificed his presidential campaign for his libertarian principles’, commented The Week
‘An aide might want to remind Senator Rand Paul which party’s nomination he is seeking. Republicans who begin their campaigns assailing other Republicans rarely succeed.’ That was from The Wall Street Journal
The above quotes refer to a 52-year old ophthalmologist from Bowling Green, Kentucky, a man as rubbery and synthetic as the fried chicken that his home state of Kentucky is famous for – Republican Senator and Presidential contender, Rand Paul.
As the quotes suggest, Paul does not need a sex scandal to count himself out of the race. To the Republican Party, the words coming out of his mouth lately are going to be enough to disqualify him from the nomination.
At the heart of the storm is a Republican-sponsored Act of Congress that was signed into law in 2001, during the George W. Bush Administration and given the grandiose name Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. Any other nation would have called it just the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act’ or something else as simple, but this is America. In pompous naming, it certainly is the leader of the world.
But wait, the name of the Act is actually a ‘backronym’. If you take the first letter of every word, it spells ‘Patriot’. Thus, in short, it is the Patriot Act.
Pretty straightforward intent – detect and stop the bad guys, period. The Act, in a nutshell, was the trigger-happy law enforcement agencies’ wet dream. The FBI, the Secret Service and the Border Services were orgasmic, with broad-ranging powers to search, seize, detain (and water-board) without the requirement of a warrant.
The Patriot Act gave the US National Security Agency even broader powers – to intercept and monitor all telephone, cellphone and internet traffic, not only to and from America, but even through other internet traffic hubs such as the one running through Mumbai, without seeking individual warrants. The ostensible purpose – to pre-empt and foil terrorist attacks. It meant that not only Americans, but no one in the world would have any privacy of any kind whatsoever.
When the Act came up for renewal in 2011, Obama promptly had it extended. Yes, there are no real ideological differences between the Republicans and the Democrats. They are pathetically similar, showing up American politics to any discerning individual as a pantomime, more like those Civil War enactment extravaganzas that they like to hold every year, where Americans gather to celebrate the violence of conflict and the senseless act of slaughter (they even bring picnic hampers with lots of blood-red ketchup along). It is only the Obama Administration that is having a rough time with the Republicans, due to the unfortunate color of his skin. Not enough of his mother’s genes are in him, tsk tsk. I am sure Hillary, if elected, won’t have a single issue with the other side, besides those that can be accommodated inside the framework of the pantomime.
The once-extended Act was set to expire this June 1st and of course, the Obama Administration had proposed a further extension in the interests of the safety and security of ‘the great American people’, as if there were marauders massing around the Mexican and Canadian borders and armadas were waiting to make landfall on it’s Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, while Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles were playing catch-up with Chinese stealth fighter-bombers, trying to reach the American mainland, in the midst of which every middle-eastern looking man in the US was gathered in front of the White House, explosive belts strapped to their tummies.
This time, the Act passed the House of Representatives but it didn’t pass the Senate. The American Senate is the USA’s Rajya Sabha, except that Senators are elected and wield immense power, unlike in India where Rajya Sabha members are just patronage stooges, rich celebrities, film and sports stars seeking some sort of legitimacy and protection from extortion by politically connected hoods.
On June 1st, the Patriot Act came up against Rand Paul’s thumbs-down in the Senate and screeched to a halt. The gaul of the man. The Reps were furious, but that’s not all. He was unstoppable, giving interviews where he stated that Republican hawks “created” the terror group ISIS which is running roughshod in Iraq and Syria – “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were now in the hands of the ISIS.” But that is just history repeating itself, no?
The whole world feels that he is saying all the right things. The Republicans however are calling him everything, stopping just short of ‘traitor’. But they have to be cautious about their criticism. Rand Paul is a populist and his blocking of a deeply unpopular and draconian law is a sure vote gainer. Americans, like everyone else, don’t like to have their private lives under constant scrutiny. His words are the ones that the American public want to hear at the moment. Edward Snowden’s revelations have sickened them.
Hang on. Before you start loving the guy, here’s my take on Rand Paul……
Rand Paul comes from a Libertarian household that has made running for President into a compulsive habit. His Dad, Ex-Congressman Ron Paul, ran thrice but didn’t make it. Of course he wouldn’t. He is a Libertarian. Most Americans might be apathetic toward what is going on around them but even their apathy won’t allow them to elect someone who is not either a Republican or a Democrat. They are born with some sort of a brain implant that says ‘don’t try anything new’. Unless you are a foaming-in-the-mouth Christian with a birth cert to prove it, you might as well go have a beer and have some sex, instead of running for Pres.
Really it is a two-party system out there. One reigns for two terms and then the other – a very convenient ‘it’s our turn to f—k those poor schmucks out there’ political pantomime.
There is a third party (though it is way behind the other two) and that is the Libertarian Party. A libertarian is very likely a member of the Libertarian Party, though not always. Rand Paul is a Libertarian who is a Republican.
Rand Paul however, does not seem to have been able to make up his mind about how he wants to be seen – as a Republican or a Libertarian or a Republican Libertarian or a left or right-leaning Libertarian. I guess he has to play his cards with care right now, while the primaries are on. He will probably try to be a right-leaning Republican Libertarian in the primaries in order to win his party’s nomination and then, once nominated, switch to being a left-leaning Libertarian, which is no different from a Democrat. October of the year before the US Presidential election year, if you happen to hear a ‘swishhh…’, it is the sound of a nominated Presidential candidate switching his stands on almost all his mandates.
Unique to the US, Libertarianism is a school of thought that basically preaches the ideal way to live as essentially an ‘every man for himself’ style that early homesteaders lived, in 18th century America. Libertarians believe first and foremost in the rights of the individual, that individuals “have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.” This is a 200-year old quote from the gent in the next paragraph.
The third President of the US, creator of the constitution, founding father, all-American idol, a man whom western historians have skillfully managed to package for two centuries after his death, into a demigod – Thomas Jefferson – was a flaming symbol of Libertarianism.
Of course, Jefferson’s understanding of the English language was a bit different from yours and mine. That second part of the line from his quote – ‘so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose’ – had a rather narrow definition for ‘others’.
It failed to include Negroes. After all they weren’t considered human then (are they now??). Thomas Jefferson is recorded as having bought and sold more than 600 slaves during his lifetime, the morning roll-call on his tobacco plantation never falling below 150. Some of his women slaves were made to feel like God’s chosen ones. Why not? They shared his bed and bore him children – hurrah and amen. Founding father indeed. I always thought that children were born. But in Jeffy’s case, he was a founding father, even children were maybe founded. Hail the greatest American slave-driving idol, a man after whose name every second street, bridge and public building in America, is named. I raise a toast to thee.
Like Jefferson, most of America’s founding fathers were libertarian. Although every one of these gents sanctimoniously acknowledged that slavery violated the core of the American Revolutionary ideal of liberty, their libertarian commitment to private property rights, the right to associate with people of their choice, the right to choose whom they employed, the principles of limited government, prevented them from making a bold statement against slavery.
So? They chose not to lift a finger against slavery. The considerable investment of these same founding fathers (like Jefferson himself), in their own slave-driven plantations, combined with their deep-seated racial prejudice, posed additional obstacles to emancipation. Not that Jefferson and his ilk gave a crap about emancipation.
Ironically however, in his speeches and writings, Jefferson strongly opposed slavery. That libertarian façade lives on, easily revealed in all its delusional falsehood. There is that innate hypocrisy which rages through the veins of libertarians even today. Listen to the words of Rand Paul himself. Here’s his vision about wars, in his own words…..
America shouldn’t fight wars where the best outcome is stalemate. America shouldn’t fight wars when there is no plan for victory. America shouldn’t fight wars that aren’t authorized by the American people, by Congress. America should and will fight wars when the consequences….intended and unintended….are worth the sacrifice.
Please note that he is not discussing the morality of starting a conflict in two-bit foreign nations and territories or whether it is a just or unjust war. He is simply concerned with being able to tie up the loose ends and if possible, profit from the conflict.
99.99% of all libertarians in the US are white and not very well educated. That should by itself say something about libertarianism and Rand Paul’s constituency. They treasure their homestead building, claim-staking, gun-toting history and want to be able to keep reliving it without acknowledging the onset of the 21st century.
There are however some black libertarians in the US, no kidding. The actor and comedian, Chris Rock, is a libertarian. And why shouldn’t he be? Libertarianism today applies more to blacks in the US. The white folks in America are already successfully exercising their right to be free to do what they like, with impunity (especially their law enforcement officers).
Today, libertarianism has a civilized sheen. After all, it has to move with the times. Libertarians are beginning to realize that they can no longer openly treat black folk like slaves. Like everything else that is wrong with this world, even evil itself, libertarianism has gone to ground – in plain view.
But I’ll let you into a secret – about how to spot a libertarian in America –
If you find a white guy taking pains to condemn racism but with the same breath, blaming black people for their crime rate statistics, their drug addictions, their lethargy, their poverty, their dependence on food stamps and their lack of education – bingo! You have found a libertarian.