It's happening! Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is due to officially announce his candidacy for president Tuesday, featuring the actual campaign slogan: "Defeat the Washington machine. Unleash the American dream." Knowing how often Paul flip-flops on the issues, next week it'll be "Defeat the American dream. Unleash the Washington machine." We'll circle back to the flip-floppery shortly.
But in case you're just joining us, here's some background on the second official candidate for the GOP nomination.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, 52-year-old Rand Paul is the son of former congressman and cult leader Ron Paul, who recently retired from Congress to spend more time promoting secession, nullification and marketing in stereotypes about how African-Americans are only concerned with food stamps. Rand Paul, who's not named after objectivist svengali Ayn Rand, by the way, is also a licensed eye doctor, and has repeatedly lied about having a degree in biology.
Paul has hired several staffers with racially questionable backgrounds. You might recall how Paul's spokesman, Christopher Hightower, was forced to resign over racist posts on his MySpace page (made slightly worse by the fact that Hightower still had a MySpace page in 2009). You might also recall how during an MSNBC interview with Rachel Maddow, Rand Paul, like his father, questioned the wisdom of the Civil Rights Act, arguing that business owners should to be able to decide for themselves whether they can serve African American customers.
Back in July, 2013, Rand Paul's new-media director, Jack Hunter, was outed as a bit of a racist maniac. In his previous gig as a radio shock jock in the totally-not-crazy state of South Carolina, Hunter would regularly appear as a non-satirical superhero character named the "Southern Avenger," complete with a mask made from a Dixie flag. He was also a member of the secessionist group known as the League of the South and believed John Wilkes Booth's heart "was in the right place." Sounds like a classy guy. This about this when supporters tell you Paul will hire a crack White House staff to fill in his lack-of-experience gaps.
Politically, Rand Paul is one of the first tea party candidates to be elected to the U.S. Senate. He's mostly a hardline conservative with libertarian-leanings on issues like war and drug legalization, though he positions change so often it's difficult to know where he stands on anything -- one of the reasons why the "Stand With Rand" slogan during his filibuster of a vote to confirm John O. Brennan as CIA Director, allegedly objecting to the Obama administration's use of drones. When this happened, many activists on the left eagerly jumped up to support Paul's filibuster, totally misunderstanding what he's really all about. Indeed, during the forthcoming election, you're sure to hear from quite a few who will frivolously endorse him. But they shouldn't.
Here are 15 reasons why unhappy, disaffected liberals shouldn't "Stand With Rand."
1) Rand Paul opposes gun control measures and voted with his party to filibuster the Manchin-Toomey amendment, which would've merely expended background checks to include internet sales and gun shows.
2) Rand Paul, like Ron Paul before him, has repeatedly objected to key provisions of the Civil Rights Act.
3) Rand Paul is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Just because he's expressed an openness to a life-of-the-mother exception doesn't make him a hero.
4) Rand Paul believes that "redefining traditional marriage" is the leading cause of poverty, rather than a long list of other poverty-creating economic factors.
5) Rand Paul voted against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
6) Rand Paul wants to cut the corporate tax rate in half and attacked Obama's "you didn't build that" quote, which was widely taken out of context.
7) Rand Paul is a fan of paleoconservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and has appeared on Jones' show numerous times. He's also endorsed his share of wild conspiracy theories. More on this below.
8) Rand Paul proclaimed that the scientific consensus behind climate change isn't "conclusive."
9) Rand Paul has repeatedly voted to de-fund and repeal the Affordable Care Act, and would very likely do so as president. He's also spread "horror stories" about the law in Kentucky even though his state's exchange is one of the best and most popular in the nation.
10) Rand Paul famously filibustered the president's drone policies, but later suggested that the government could use a drone to gun down a criminal who just robbed a liquor store. He suggested we should use drones against the Taliban. More on this below.
11) Rand Paul supports the partial privatization of Social Security and once called the program a "Ponzi scheme." He also referred to Medicare as "socialism."
12) Rand Paul supports the flat tax.
13) Rand Paul marketed in the widely debunked "Obamaphone" myth, stating: "For those who are struggling, we want you to have something infinitely more valuable than a free phone, we want you to have a job and a pathway to success."
14) Rand Paul supports Voter ID laws, saying there's "nothing wrong" with them.
15) Rand Paul, in addition to a series of racially-questionable associates, is a supporter of both states' rights and nullification, archaic tent-post beliefs held by neo-Confederates.
Photo: "The Southern Avenger"
None of these positions matter much, however, because Rand Paul is such an egregious and well-documented flip-flopper. he makes Mitt Romney look like a pillar of steadfast integrity. Here are just some of Rand Paul's most insane flip-flops:
STANDING WITH RAND: FIGHTING ISIS
“If you wanna see a transformational election, let the Democrats put forward a war hawk like Hillary Clinton.”
Speaking to a ballroom later, some of the loudest applause for Paul came when he quipped: “If the president has no strategy, maybe it’s time for a new president.”
In an emailed comment, however, Paul elaborated by saying: “If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”
STANDING WITH RAND: DRONES AND THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE
I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat.
I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a President is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court.
I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on. If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him… If there’s a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them out, heat-seeking devices being used, I’m all for law enforcement.
The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it. Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security.
STANDING WITH RAND: AID TO ISRAEL
While this budget proposal does eliminate foreign aid to Israel, it is not meant to hurt, negate, or single out one of America’s most important allies. This proposal eliminates all foreign aid to all countries. Israel’s ability to conduct foreign policy, regain economic dominance, and support itself without the heavy hand of U.S. interests and policies, will only strengthen the Israeli community. The elimination of all foreign aid, including provisions to Israel, is not necessarily a new idea.
"I haven’t really proposed (phasing out aid to Israel) in the past."
STANDING WITH RAND: BANNING BIRTH CONTROL
In 2013, Paul introduced the personhood amendment that would not only have banned abortions but also would have in effect banned many forms of birth control, including some forms of the pill. Paul also supported the Blunt Amendment, which would have given employers an excuse to deny contraceptive health care coverage based on their conscience.
"There may be various opinions in here, but there’s probably almost nobody who wants to ban birth control. I haven’t heard any Republican politician who does."
STANDING WITH RAND: CIVIL RIGHTS ACT
"One [title] deals with private institutions and had I been around, I would've tried to modify that."
July, 2014. Denies ever opposing the section of the Civil Rights Act preventing discrimination in private businesses and institutions. Asked by NBC News if he ever opposed the title, Rand Paul replied:
So, good luck "Standing With Rand" when Rand doesn't know where the hell Rand stands.
Photo: Rand Paul ally Alex Jones
Here are five conspiracy theories Rand Paul has been connected with, making him a favorite of radio conspiracy huckster Alex Jones (yes, he's a kinda-sorta anti-vaxxer):
1) Martial Law. According to Media Matters, Rand Paul and Alex Jones agreed that the government might enforce mandatory vaccinations through declaring martial law.
2) The Bilderberg Conspiracy. In 2010, Rand Paul cited Alex Jones when asked about the Bilderberg conspiracy, answering that the Bilderberg Group is composed of "very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage. They want to make it out like world government will be good for humanity. But guess what? World government is good for their pocketbook."
3) 9/11 Truth. One of Rand Paul's staffers turned out to be a 9/11 Truther, arguably the worst of the worst. When confronted about the conspiracy theory, Rand Paul said there's "truth on both sides."
4) North American Union. Rand Paul, like his father, marketed in the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that the U.S., Canada and Mexico were going to form a single entity mirroring the European Union, and our currency would be replaced with the "Amero." In 2008, Rand Paul said, "It's not a conspiracy, they're out in the open about it. I guarantee it's one of their long-term goals—to have one sort of borderless mass continent."
5) Vaccinations. Yes, Rand Paul expressed uncertainty about the safety and constitutionality of childhood vaccinations.
"I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines," he said. "I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom."
Bottom line: Rand Paul says whatever he needs to say in order to make it through the day. He has no core convictions, making him very easy to manipulate by an ideological Dick Cheney type inside his would-be White House. But ultimately, it'll never come down to such a circumstance because there's very little chance of Rand Paul winning the nomination. In spite of his routine damage control efforts, he's already ostracized the far-right base of his party who don't believe he's fire-and-brimstone enough (he's not enough anything) and he doesn't have enough experience for the more pragmatic GOP center-right. At present, Paul is polling at around four percent, though his official announcement should bump that up slightly.
Good luck and godspeed, Senator Paul.