‘Henny Penny’ Paul

rand paulKentucky ’s junior senator reminds me of Henny Penny, AKA Chicken Little.

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” hapless Henny was ever clucking.

“A Hitler is coming! A Hitler is coming!” Republican Rand Paul frequently forecasts.

Henny was a chicken who was chicken. The tea-party tilting Paul wants to be president.

He fired up the far-right faithful — and a few lefties — in his filibuster against John O. Brennan as CIA head. “In a democracy, you could some day elect someone who is very evil,” he warned. “That’s why we don’t give the power to the government.”

Paul summoned Hitler’s ghost while he droned on about drone strikes under President Obama.
It was another Paul fudge.

The senator seldom misses a chance to slam our “socialist” president. So he brewed another tempest in a teapot, this time over a letter Attorney Gen. Eric Holder sent him about drones.

Paul had written Brennan wanting to know “the Administration’s views about whether ‘the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen, on U.S. soil, and without trial.’”

Holder replied that “as members of this Administration have previously indicated, the U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so.” The attorney general added, “the question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront.”

Holder also supposed it was “possible…to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which” a president, “under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States” could employ military force to kill an American on American soil. “For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.”

drone rand paulNever mind that Holder’s response to Paul’s letter was only a supposition in response to a hypothetical. Paul pounced. He cranked up the fear-mongering and started his gabfest.

Some Republicans supported his talkathon. So did dovish Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon.

On the other hand, Sen. John McCain, hardly an Obama fan, took Paul to task. He said Paul and lawmakers who backed his filibuster did the country a disservice by trying to scare John and Jane Q. Public into believing “they’re somehow in danger from their government. They’re not.” McCain added, “We spent 13 hours talking about a scenario that won’t happen and can’t happen.”

For extra measure, he called Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Justin Amash — a GOP tea party trinity — “wackos.” (Wyden and McCain voted for Brennan; Paul didn’t and Amash couldn’t.)

Anyway, after Paul’s bloviation, Holder wrote the senator again. This time, he declared flat out that the president doesn’t “have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.”

Paul said he was happy with Holder’s answer. But the senator was predictably “disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it, but we did get the answer.”

I suspect mum would have been the word from Paul on domestic drones had Mitt Romney won last November.

Even so, I was surprised Paul stopped at drones. Did he forget the black helicopters?

To be sure, the senator swore up and down he wasn’t comparing Obama to Hitler. He wanted John and Jane Q to make the link.

More than a few of Paul’s tea party boosters don’t shy from Obama-Hitler comparisons. They love Paul’s Hitler rants and his raves about how government run by “socialist” Democrats — and even “statist” Republicans — imperils “freedom.”

Usually, Paul’s targets are down to earth. He is crazy about unfettered, red tooth in claw, survival of the fittest, greed-is-good, capitalism. But he’s not big on unions and laws that safeguard workers’ rights to have unions. Likewise, he’s not a fan of regulations that promote worker safety and health on the job, safeguard the environment and protect consumers against shoddy or dangerous products.

Paul was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Texas and ended up in Kentucky. I’m a Kentuckian, born and reared. I have lived all of my life in the Bluegrass State, the state that gave the country some of our greatest senators: Henry Clay, Alben W. Barkley and John Sherman Cooper, to name a few.

They skipped the demagoguery and fear-mongering. They had faith in republican government and in the majority of the body politic to do the right thing by the country.

So do I. I’ll believe my country could democratically elect somebody like Hitler when hogs fly and kids don’t shoot hoops in Kentucky any more — nah, not even then.

Okay, there’s not much that John McCain and I agree on.

Berry CraigBut McCain was on the money when he said of Paul’s talkathon, “It’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”

I’m a union card carrying lefty and proud of it. But I’m the first to admit that some far-lefties are looney-tunes, too. I mean the ones who, like uber-righties, are given to conspiratorial flights of fancy. Only the loopy lefties use “Hitler” and “Nazi” as synonyms for “Republicans,” but sometimes, too, for “Obama” and “Democrats.”

It’s way past time for those on the political fringe to cool it with the Hitler stuff.

Berry Craig

Monday, 11 March 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on March 11, 2013
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.