Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rand Paul's shallow philosophy

Rand Paul is already making a splash as the new rising star of the Republican Party. Last night on the Rachel Maddow Show, he reiterated his views that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should not prohibit private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.
If that is his position and he’s sticking with it, then Ezra Klein has a few more questions for him:

For instance: Can the federal government set the private sector’s minimum wage? Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants? Can it tell oil companies what safety systems to build into an offshore drilling platform? Can it tell toy companies to test for lead? Can it tell liquor stores not to sell to minors? These are the sort of questions that Paul needs to be asked now.

And Steve Benen has a few more:

If we follow the logic he’s already articulated, Paul must necessarily oppose the minimum wage, for example. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, in light of their burdens on private companies, would be equally problematic. Social Security must be out of the question. Child-labor laws would obviously be a problem, as would workplace safety regulations and OSHA.
We can even start exploring more details on discrimination. Paul talked about segregated lunch counters yesterday, but let’s also explore employment discrimination. If a private company decided to fire a woman for getting pregnant, Rand Paul would necessarily conclude that it’s not the government’s business. If a private employer refused to hire Jewish applicants, that, under Paul’s worldview, would be legally permissible, too.

I eagerly wait to hear Rand’s answers to these questions and many more.

Rand is an interesting guy. As the son of radical rightwing Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, he has an unusual poltical pedigree, but one that makes him popular with the current day Tea Party crowd. His Dad’s sterling reputation among the far-right Tea Partiers and his unusual first name made him the odds on favorite to win the Republican primary in the wingnutopia that is Kentucky. (Afterall, he is running to replace one of the looniest far-right Republicans in office today - Sen. Jim Bunning).
With a first name of Rand, many people are left to assume that he was named after the rightwing objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand, who is exceedingly popular among Tea Party cultists. Rand has not tried very hard to deny that he was named after the Goddess of Greed, even though it is not true. As it turns out, his birth name is Randall and he went by Randy for years before deciding at some point to shorten it to Rand. But he is without question a big fan of Rand and her objectivist philosophy.

I think there is a good chance that Rand will win in November in spite of the brewing Civil Rights controversy. And that will NOT be good news for the Republican Party as they try to distance themselves from his extremist views.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who is Jean Pierre Godet?

Don McLeroy is at it again. The lunatic, lame duck, former chairman of the Texas State Board of Education has a new list of amendments and changes he wants to make to the guidelines that dictate how public school textbooks are written.
His latest list of demands includes this gem:

B) *evaluate* contrast the *impact* tone of muckrakers and reform leaders such as
Upton Sinclair, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. DuBois *on American
society; and* versus the optimism of immigrants including Jean Pierre Godet as told
in Thomas Kinkade’s The Spirit of America.

Diversity of opinion and balanced presentation.
The words of Godet and immigrants like him were, “I love America for
giving so many of us the right to dream a new dream”. Such words
were as lost on the muckrakers as they are on many modern
historians obsessed by oppression.

What makes this proposed change interesting is that McLeroy apparently wants to downplay the accomplishments of four of our nation’s most prominent Progressive era reform leaders by contrasting their views with those of Jean Pierre Godet, an immigrant that McLeroy read about in Thomas Kincade’s book. McLeroy apparently likes Mr. Godet because he has this quote about how much he loves America for giving him the right to “dream a new dream.”
So rather than “evaluating” the “impact” that Sinclair, Anthony, Wells and DuBois had on American society, we are just going to contrast their rather downbeat and dispirited assessments of American life with those of Mr. Godet, the ever so happy-go-lucky immigrant. Gosh, those reform leaders were such downers, all obsessed with oppression and all. Why couldn’t they just be thankful for what they had like Mr. Godet?

But wait a minute! Who is this Mr. Godet anyway? Where did he come from and why was he always so happy? Seeing as how Mr. Godet would be elevated to a status equal if not superior to that of Sinclair, Anthony, Wells and DuBois in our students’ textbooks, shouldn’t we know a little more about him?
A Google search doesn’t come up with much. So what about that Kincade book? Who is this Thomas Kincade fellow anyway? Isn’t he that painter? Why, yes, as a matter of fact he is, but he did write a book called “The Spirit of America,” however it was a work of historical fiction. And, as it turns out, our Mr. Godet is a fictional character in Kincade’s book.
So, there you have it. Don McLeroy wants to take all these progressive era reform leaders and put them on par with a fictional character invented by the sappy, syrupy pop artist Thomas Kinkade.
No problem with that, is there?