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Tag: rand paul

Shilling For Putin, Republicans Like Rand Paul Undermine The West

Russian President Vladimir Putin is an autocrat with a near unilateral control of his country and what little freedom of expression its people have. Yet, his popularity in the Republican Party has grown unimpeded for years.

Russia’s sudden invasion of Ukraine and the mounting allegations of war crimes leveled against it — including accusations of repeated rape, unprovoked executions, and looting, among other crimes — have not dampened support for Russian amongst GOP leaders and lawmakers, including former President Trump..

Trump — as a candidate for president, president, and twice-impeached former president — has heaped praise on Putin, calling him, amongst other things, “savvy,” “strong,” and a “genius.”

“[Putin] is taking over a country for two dollars worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart,” Trump said in February at a Mar-a-Lago event. “Now they laugh at us. That’s why you have Ukraine, that’s why you’re going to have China. Taiwan is next, and you’re going to see the same thing,” Trump later added.

Taking a cue from Trump, some Republican voters now view Putin more positively than they do President Biden, Vice President Harris, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a January YouGov poll.

But it doesn’t end there. In early April, 63 GOP lawmakers voted against a resolution to express support for NATO. A subsequent vote simply asking President Biden to collect evidence of Russian war crimes was, shockingly, rejected by six House Republicans: Reps Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Scott Perry (R-PA), and, to no one’s surprise, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Greene, who played a prominent role in inciting the January 6 riot, has publicly voiced her support for Russia’s invasion. “You see, Ukraine just kept poking the bear, and poking the bear, which is Russia, and Russia invaded,” Greene said on a far-right radio show. “There is no win for Ukraine here. Russia is being successful in their invasion.”

The Georgian congresswoman isn’t the only Republican lawmaker to make controversial statements about Ukraine. After Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed both chambers of Congress in March, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), who arrived late and missed a large portion of the speech, called Zelensky a “thug.” He added, “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and it is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”

But that’s still not all the Putin-loving GOP members of Congress. In a heated exchange with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at a congressional hearing Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blamed Russia’s invasion on the United States’s support for Ukraine to join NATO.

Paul said the United States has for many years, and under Democratic and Republican leadership, been calling for Ukraine to join NATO, a move Moscow has long since labeled a “red line.”

““You could also argue that the countries that [Russia] has attacked were … part of the Soviet Union,” Paul said to Blinken during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, according to the Washington Post.

Blinken rejected Paul’s argument, noting that the United States had tried to assuage Russia’s national security concerns, but the country had invaded Ukraine, anyway. Blinken said that Putin had invaded because he believed “Ukraine does not deserve to be a sovereign nation,” per the Post.

Blinken also defended the United States’s continued support for Ukraine, saying, “We, senators, are not going to be more Ukrainian than the Ukrainians. Our purpose is to make sure that they have within their hands the ability to repel the Russian aggression and indeed to strengthen their hand at an eventual negotiating table.”

Paul, a self-proclaimed libertarian, has been shilling for authoritarian Russia for years. In 2018, disregarding evidence that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Paul headed a delegation of Americans to meet in Moscow with the Federation Council, Russia's Senate. Before that he was accused of "working for Putin" by the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) after :Paul blocked a vote on a treaty ratifying Montenegro's accession to NATO.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has called described the Putin supporters in his party as “lonely voices,” according to the Guardian. But McConnell has repeatedly dodged invitations to say if such Republicans should be booted from the party or, in the absence of party leadership spine, face disciplinary measures.


GOP Politicians Complain About Supply Chain While Promoting Trucker Blockade

For months, congressional Republicans have been falsely blaming troubles with international supply chains on President Joe Biden and Democratic policies. Now, as Biden's administration works to address the challenges, many of the same Republicans are urging anti-vaccine protesters to take actions to make it worse.

A group of Canadian truckers calling themselves a "Freedom Convoy" has spent the past few weeks blocking highways and bridges in the capital city of Ottawa and other places, including the Ambassador Bridge border crossing between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan. Their actions, they say, are in protest against COVID-19 safety mandates, including a requirement that unvaccinated truckers quarantine after reentering the country following visits to the United States.

Members of the convoy caused a shutdown of local businesses, damaged government vehicles, attempted to force an Ottawa homeless shelter to give them food, waved swastika flags, desecrated Canada's National War Memorial, and impeded border crossings. Eventually, the government stepped in and has been dispersing the wildly unpopular blockades.

Though experts say these extremists in trucks already have done significant damage to the economy and supply chains, some Republicans are openly urging American anti-vaccine activists to do the same thing at home.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the right-wing website Daily Signal on Thursday, "It'd be great" if truckers shut down U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

“I hope the truckers do come to America, and I hope they clog up cities," he said. "I'm all for it."

In a November op-ed for the West Kentucky Star, Paul wrote, "Lately, you might have noticed an increase in prices at the gas pump, the grocery store, and pretty much everything else you can buy. The shelves at stores are empty, employers can't find workers to fill positions, and Americans everywhere are bracing for higher taxes.

"Welcome to Joe Biden's and the Democrats' socialist America. In their America, it's seemingly okay to spend trillions of dollars, rack up copious amounts of debt, and ignore a crisis at hand."

"The United States didn't have a supply chain crisis until Joe Biden became president," Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas tweeted in October.

But Saturday, Gooden told Fox News, "I would absolutely welcome a similar pronouncement of protest in our nation's capital by truckers and anyone who wants their freedoms back."

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona said in December, "Our country is in the middle of a catastrophic supply chain crisis caused by Biden's incompetent administration."

On February 10 he suggested that Democratic officials easing safety mandates as the omicron waves subside might really be doing so because of what was happening in Canada.

"The Science hasn't changed, their poll numbers have. Oh and #freedomconvoy22 is making an impact. The last thing the [they] want is an American trucker convoy," he warned.

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert cheered on a protest against vaccine mandates by city workers that took place on February 7 in New York City, encouraging protesters to shut down American bridges.

"Freedom is contagious and there's no vaccine that can shut it down. The Canadian Freedom Convoy has sparked a fire in the hearts of patriots," Boebert tweeted on February 9. "Now the Brooklyn Bridge has been shut down with protests. Let's take our nation back from medical tyranny!"

Back in November, she tweeted, "Black Friday was better without supply chain shortages."

While Republican politicians in the United States and their Fox News allies are abandoning the pretense of wanting "law and order" and cheering on the convoy, politicians in Canada, including Conservatives, have seen enough.

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario and a member of its Progressive Conservative Party, scolded the truckers on February 11 and told them to leave. "Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of thousands of workers to make a living," he warned.

And after initially backing the protesters, the House of Commons interim Conservative Party Leader Candice Bergen also urged them to end their blockades.

"I believe the time has come to take down the barricades, stop the disruptive action, and come together. The economy you want to see reopened is hurting," she said on February10. "I believe this is not what you want to do."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Right-Wing Dreams Of Anti-Vaxxer Truckers Clogging Superbowl Was An Epic Fail

Last week, the buzz on right-wing social media was that a slew of American anti-vax truckers, inspired by their crybaby Canadian counterparts, were going to overwhelm the Super Bowl with a convoy of their very own. Because if there's anyone who could manage to ruin something as decidedly apolitical and fun as the Superbowl, it's a bunch of far-right faketriots.


Enter Senator Rand Paul

Republican Senator Rand Paul, never missing an opportunity to pretend to know a thing about freedom and the constitution, was apparently very stocked for this. Despite Paul and his party spending years maligning black football players kneeling to protest racial injustice and police brutality, as well as supporting violent crackdowns of Black Lives Matters protests, they suddenly care about civil disobedience when it nicely coincides with their pro-white, anti-science agenda.

Asked by The Daily Signal about his thoughts on the convoy and the potential for it to spill over into Los Angeles, home of Sunday's Super Bowl, or into the nation's capital, Paul said Thursday that "it'd be great" if the anti-mandate, truck-inspired protests popped in the United States to "clog things up."

"I'm all for it," Paul, a longtime opponent to masking and vaccine mandates, told the conservative media outlet. "Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, to you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates."

Well, it looks like Senator Paul and the GOP's wet dream of an anti-vaxx brigade of whiny truckers trying to destroy an event revered by normal people who were vaccinated didn't go as planned.

If any truckers showed up, they were barely visible.

"I think they ran out of time," Welton Chang, whose Washington-based firm, Pyrra, has been following online talk about the plan to protest the Super Bowl, said Saturday. He also cited the lack of consensus around whether the marquee sporting event was an appropriate target.

Also, a Reuters review of social media has also found very little support for a Super Bowl plan and very little mention of a Super Bowl protest on TruckersForFreedom, a popular Telegram channel devoted to sharing news from the protests in Canada and elsewhere.

I guess childish and ignorant right-wingers like Senator Paul can still dream.

Michael Hayne is a comedian, writer, voice artist, podcaster, and impressionist. Follow his work on Facebook and TikTok

Rand Paul Gets Torched After Making 'Empty' MLK Tweet

Many House and Senate lawmakers are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today, but social media users are correcting the record of so many Republicans who are trying to use the late, great American civil rights leader and icon as a shield for their own egregious attacks on civil rights and Black Americans.

Take, for example, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who posted this tweet attempting to paint himself as a bipartisan actor “working together for change” – which many were quick to provide proof of how he is not:

Sen. Paul’s Democratic challenger in the upcoming 2022 race, Charles Booker, offered some of the best examples:

Several others joined in to chastise the right wing Senator:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Fauci: Heavily Armed 'Crazy' Sought To Kill Me After Rand Paul's Verbal Assault

Defending himself against Senator Rand Paul's unrelenting and false attacks in a Senate Health Committee hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Kentucky conspiracy-theory wielding Republican his attacks led to a heavily-armed man driving cross country to Washington, D.C. on a mission, the gunman said, "to kill Dr. Fauci."

Fauci accused Paul of using the "catastrophic epidemic for your political gain."

After multiple and unyielding attacks from Sen. Paul, Fauci was forced to defend himself, telling committee members, "the last time we had a committee or the time before, he was accusing me of being responsible for the death of four to five million people, which is really irresponsible."

"And I say, 'why is he doing that?' There are two reasons why that's really bad. The first is it distracts from what we're all trying to do here today, is get our arms around the epidemic and the pandemic that we're dealing with, not something imaginary."

"Number two, what happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue, is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there, and I have the life – threats upon my life, harassments of my family and my children with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me. Now, you know, I guess you could say, 'well, that's the way it goes. I can take the hit.'"

"Well, it makes a difference because as some of you may know, just about three or four weeks ago, on December 21, a person was arrested, who was on their way from Sacramento, to Washington, D.C. at a speed stop in Iowa. And they asked – the police asked him where he was going, and he was going to Washington D.C. to kill Dr. Fauci. And they found in his car, an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition, because he thinks that maybe I'm killing people. So I asked myself, 'Why would Senator want to do this?' So go to Rand Paul website, and you see 'Fire Dr. Fauci' with a little box that says 'contribute here.' You can do $5, $10, $20 $100. So you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain."

Watch:

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Kentucky Republicans Now Demand Disaster Aid They Denied To Other States

Republicans in Kentucky's congressional delegation pressed President Joe Biden on Saturday for a disaster declaration after deadly storms devastated parts of the state. But the same lawmakers previously voted against emergency relief funds for victims of disasters in other states.

In a joint letter, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R), Rep. Andy Barr (R), Rep. James Comer (R), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R), Rep. Thomas Massie (R), Rep. Hal Rogers (R), and Rep. John Yarmuth (D) wrote that while Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear had declared a state emergency on Saturday, "additional assistance is necessary at this time." They cited "significant destruction of property, dangerous road conditions, significant vegetative debris, power outages for thousands of Kentuckians, and severe impacts to transportation and infrastructure" from severe storms that began the night of Dec. 10.

The storms, which impacted Kentucky and neighboring states, included massive tornadoes that left dozens dead and destroyed about 75 percent of the town of Dawson Springs. Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett told CNN, "The devastation is quite frankly something that you would see in a war zone. This is an event where we had commercial and residence properties literally stripped clean from the earth."

The lawmakers backed Beshear's official request for a speedy federal disaster declaration. Biden approved the request on Sunday, making more federal emergency resources available to help the state.

But while these lawmakers were quick to request federal emergency help in this crisis, they have previously voted against funding similar relief for other states.

Newsweek noted Saturday that Paul had voted against relief funds after Superstorm Sandy caused major damage in New York and New Jersey in 2013, after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, and after various other disasters strained relief agencies in 2019.

Spokesperson Kelsey Cooper on Sunday scolded Newsweek, "Kentuckians across the commonwealth are suffering and grieving today. This tragedy is uniting everyone around the common goal of helping and healing. Politicizing that suffering would be low for even the deepest partisan, yet here the corporate media is trying to do exactly that. Newsweek should be ashamed of themselves."

Cooper responded to the American Independent Foundation's request for comment with an almost identically worded statement.

Minority Leader McConnell voted against both a 2011 bill to fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a 2013 Sandy relief package.

The GOP representatives in the delegation also have voted against relief funds for others in the past.

Barr, Comer, Guthrie, and Massie voted against a September bill to extend government funding and provide emergency assistance funds.

Last year, Barr, Comer, Guthrie, Massie, and Rogers voted no on a bill to fund disaster relief and emergency aid to Puerto Rico.

In 2019, Barr, Comer, and Massie voted against the supplemental funding bill to provide $17.2 billion for disaster relief nationally.

And in 2013, Barr and Massie were no votes on providing additional FEMA funding for Sandy relief.

Their offices did not immediately respond to inquiries for this story.

Yarmuth, the lone Democratic member of the Kentucky delegation, has consistently voted for relief funding.

All seven Republicans have also opposed legislation like Biden's Build Back Better agenda, which would invest billions in climate change infrastructure to help curb devastation from future extreme weather.

Updated to include response from Sen. Rand Paul's office.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

It’s Better To Rebut Masking Opponents With Science, Not Censorship

Like many Americans, I do not like wearing a face mask that hurts my ears, steams up my glasses and makes my bearded face itch. And while I think businesses should be free to require face coverings as a safeguard against COVID-19, I am skeptical of government-imposed mask mandates, especially in K-12 schools.

At the same time, I recognize that my personal peeves and policy preferences are logically distinct from the empirical question of how effective masks are at preventing virus transmission. From the beginning, however, the great American mask debate has been strongly influenced by partisan and ideological commitments, with one side exaggerating the evidence in favor of this precaution and the other side ignoring or downplaying it.

Last September, Robert Redfield, then the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, described masks as "the most important, powerful public health tool we have," going so far as to say they provided more protection than vaccines would. In a 2020 New York Times op-ed piece, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asserted that "wearing a mask has been proven to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70%" — a claim that even the CDC said was not scientifically justified.

The CDC invited skepticism about the value of general mask wearing by dismissing it until April 2020, when the agency suddenly began recommending the practice as an important weapon against the pandemic. Although that memorable reversal supposedly was justified by evolving science, the main concern that the CDC cited — asymptomatic transmission — was a danger that had been recognized for months.

When the CDC changed its advice, research on the effectiveness of face masks in preventing virus transmission was surprisingly sparse and equivocal. Although laboratory experiments supported the commonsensical assumption that almost any barrier to respiratory droplets, including DIY cloth coverings, was better than nothing, randomized controlled trials generally had not confirmed that intuition.

A January 2021 review of the evidence in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" journal found "no RCT for the impact of masks on community transmission of any respiratory infection in a pandemic." The article, which also looked at observational studies, said "direct evidence of the efficacy of mask use is supportive, but inconclusive."

The authors then considered "a wider body of evidence," including epidemiological analyses, laboratory studies and information about COVID-19's transmission characteristics. "The preponderance of evidence," they concluded, "indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts."

In a "science brief" last updated on May 7, the CDC said "experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2." But it acknowledges that "further research is needed to expand the evidence base for the protective effect of cloth masks."

Where does that leave Americans who are unpersuaded by the existing evidence? Banned from major social media platforms, if they are not careful.

YouTube recently suspended Sen. Rand Paul's account because of a video in which the Kentucky Republican said, "most of the masks that you get over the counter don't work." This statement ran afoul of YouTube's ban on "claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19," which is similar to policies adopted by Facebook and Twitter.

While conceding that "private companies have the right to ban me if they want to," Paul said he was troubled by the fact that the leading social media platforms, partly in response to government pressure, seem to be insisting that users toe the official line on COVID-19. He has a point.

Paul's criticism of cloth masks was stronger than the science warrants, reflecting a broader tendency on the right to dismiss them as mere talismans without seriously addressing the evidence in their favor. But rational discourse entails rebutting arguments by citing contrary evidence instead of treating them as too dangerous for people to consider.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @JacobSullum. To find out more about Jacob Sullum and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com