Rand Paul is suddenly in favor of big government after disaster strikes in his backyard

Rand Paul has long been a laughable lightweight – at Senate hearings, Dr. Fauci beats him up on a regular basis – but now he has outperformed even himself.

Republicans like him always equate “big government” with “socialism” and routinely condemn it as a matter of principle – until catastrophe hits their own backyard, and then suddenly, without even a scintilla of embarrassment, they dump their doltish boilerplate and plead for big government socialist money to rescue them.

Look, the tornado victims in Kentucky deserve all the help that Joe Biden can possibly provide, and he’s already doing it. But we can still take a moment to laugh ourselves silly at the letter Paul sent to the president over the weekend, where be begged for federal assistance and asked Biden to “move expeditiously to approve the appropriate resources for our state.”

Isn’t it amazing how all the idiot talk about the evils of “socialism” gets blown away as soon as killer weather ( the “new normal,” thanks to climate change) comes calling?

If memory serves, Paul is the purportedly principled “libertarian” who voted in 2013 not to send billions in federal relief aid to the New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy, who voted in 2017 not to send billions in federal relief to the Texas victims of Hurricane Harvey, who voted in 2017 not to send federal relief money to the Puerto Rico victims of Hurricane Maria, and who voted in 2019 not to appropriate billions in new relief money to several federal agencies.

As he once explained, “This (relief spending) has to stop. We spend too much. We owe too much. We cannot keep spending money we do not have.”

But now that his state has been hit hard, he wants to spend as much as possible with all expeditious speed. In the past he always insisted that if the feds wanted to hike disaster spending, they should offset those costs by cutting the budget somewhere else. But lo and behold, you can read the entire letter that Paul sent to the president, and not once is there any insistence that Kentucky should be helped only if the federal budget is cut elsewhere.

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No amount of air freshener can erase the stench of his hypocrisy.

Actually, that’s standard Republican behavior. Mick Mulvaney, the Trump budget director, was a congressman who voted in 2013 not to send money to New Jersey, insisting that Sandy relief should happen only if budget cuts were made elsewhere. But in 2015, when his state of South Carolina was flooded by a killer storm, he pleaded for federal money without first insisting on other budget cuts: “There will be a time for a discussion about aid and how to pay for it, but that time is not now.”

The state’s senior senator, Lindsey Graham, did the same thing. He’d voted No on the Sandy package, but suddenly, after his flood, he declared: “Rather than put a price tag on it, let’s just get through this, and whatever it costs, it costs.”

There’s much more. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas senator, voted No on the Sandy package, but pleaded for expeditious federal money a few years later after Arkansas was hit by floods. Four House Republicans from Colorado voted No on the Sandy package, but a pleaded for socialist help a few months later when Colorado was hit by floods. In 2011, the two Republican senators from Oklahoma voted No on the Sandy package and in 2011 they tried to cut the Federal Emergency Management Agency budget – only to pull a miracle switcheroo in 2013 when Oklahoma was hit by tornadoes.

One of those senators, Tom Coburn, told his constituents: “As the ranking member of the committee that oversees FEMA, I can assure Oklahomans that any and all available aid will be delivered without delay.”

So Rand Paul is merely one rotten egg in the basket of deplorables. Nevertheless, he was still a committed scrooge as recently as last month. When Biden’s infrastructure package reached the Senate floor – with its $47 billion outlay to combat climate change; with its $6.8 billion for FEMA – Paul again voted No. How fortunate for his benighted citizens of Kentucky that he was powerless to stop its historic passage.

And how fortunate Kentuckians are that Paul’s hypocrisy has been trumped by Biden’s sense of responsibility. The president has already approved massive federal relief aid with all deliberate speed – without fuming that the state’s red electorate had voted against him, without ranting that the state’s two red senators were horrible people or whatever, without offering to throw paper towels, without telling Kentuckians that maybe the tornadoes would’ve never happened if they’d bothered to rake their forests.

That’s called governing.


Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

We are suffering fresh breakthrough infections of idiocy

If only I had a magic wand, I would henceforth consign all conspiracy freaks and vaccine refuseniks (78 million in number) to some distant desert isle where they could breathe free upon each other until God sorts them out. I know that sounds harsh, but I am beyond fed up. I suspect you are, too.

Right now, in the wake of the discovery of the variant Omicron, we are suffering fresh breakthrough infections of idiocy that prove, yet again, that the MAGA loons have learned absolutely nothing – despite a death toll of nearly 900,000, driven ever higher by the unvaccinated.

For instance, it’s a disgrace to the human species that Fox News hack Lara Logan can appear on camera and equate Dr. Anthony Fauci with Nazi doc Josef Mengele (she did that yesterday), thereby schooling the network’s credulous couch potatoes that someone who’s dedicated to saving lives is the same as someone who abetted the murder of six million lives.

What a message for Hannukah week.

Elsewhere, Texas congressman Ronny Jackson (who was Trump’s White House doctor, and who, amazingly enough, still has doctor creds) tweeted on Sunday that news of the Omicron variant is just a Democratic plot to win the midterms in 2022: “Here comes the MEV – the Midterm Election Variant! They NEED a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to CHEAT during an election.”

I tend to doubt that the South African scientists who shared their evidence with the world, in the hopes of saving lives with an early warning, were thinking about what balloting options Americans might have one year from now. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the whole world is in on the Democratic plot.

That’s how the tinfoilers “think” – clearly it’s a tribal disease that defies treatment – as evidenced on Sunday by Kari Lake, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, who said of the Democrats, “They are going to try and sell us new ‘variants’ for the rest of our lives if we don’t tell them to shove it.” On Saturday, another Fox host, Pete Hegseth, insisted that Democrats will keep cooking up variants on the eve of every election: “You can count on a variant about every October, every two years.” But their logic (and I use the word advisedly) makes no sense. Fox host Rachel Compos-Duffy said (lied) that the Democrats are exploiting variants in order to justify “more lockdowns,” but wouldn’t more lockdowns hurt the Democrats at election time?

There’s no point in parsing these people. They’ve whined that Trump didn’t get any credit for speeding some of the vaccines to market…then they decided to pride themselves on not getting the vaccine. They’ve periodically insisted that Covid is overhyped, that it’s no worse than the flu…but now they’re complaining that President Biden isn’t getting Covid under control. (Yesterday, on the official GOP Twitter account: “Joe Biden promised he would shut down the coronavirus. He failed.”)

Of course he’s having trouble getting Covid under control – because the Covidiots refuse to cooperate. Urging them to do the right thing, to protect themselves and their fellow Americans, clearly hasn’t worked. And requiring them to do the right thing, via federal mandates, triggers rants about their vanishing Freedom. The right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial board complained the other day that “Mr. Biden had no plan to deal with the large numbers of vaccine holdouts.” What, pray tell, would Rupert Murdoch’s minions suggest that he do?

Statistics don’t seem to matter. Only 59 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated – lagging far behind countries like Cuba, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Aruba, and Ecuador – and those who refuse the jabs are disproportionately Republican. (Shocking, I know.) The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation reported in October that the unvaccinated are three times more likely to be GOPers than Democrats, and that the ratio has widened since the spring, when vaccines became widely available. Indeed, the redder the counties (in terms of their fealty to Trump), the higher the Covid case rate.

It’s hard to foresee how we can fight new variants, and curb the virus long term, when so many millions of Americans are a clear and present danger to public health – and still function as dumpsters for conspiracy garbage. Biden said yesterday, “I expect this not to be the new normal. I expect the new normal to be, everyone ends up getting vaccinated and the booster shot.” Good luck with that.

I was thinking that perhaps Fiji, a nation of 300 islands, would be willing to take our Covidiots…But nah. Fiji’s fully-vaccinated rate is notably higher than ours. A MAGA infestation would only lower its quality of life.

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.


Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Chris Christie's rehabilitation tour is embarrassing

If Bill Murray were to star in a sequel to Groundhog Day, he'd wake up to the Sonny and Cher alarm clock, take the cold shower, step in the puddle, parry the insurance agent, trudge to the gazebo…and see Chris Christie doing his same old song and dance.

Seriously, him again?

Didn't this guy end his gubernatorial tenure with a 15 percent approval rating, then crash and burn as a 2016 presidential candidate?

Wasn't it Christie who morphed from Trump foe to toadying manservant, then contrive to write a spin memoir and launch a rehabilitation tour just two short years ago?

Didn't Christie hit the road with a media blitz in 2019, sort of praising Trump (“he has many of the qualities that define America's leaders") while sort of knocking Trump (it was a “tragedy" that he was so ill-served by his aides), in the hopes of grabbing a piece of the action?

Apparently it's time to rinse and repeat. Christie has a new book out now about how Republicans should reboot themselves by flushing all the lying sewage of recent years and rediscover the virtues of truth. Which is fine as far as it goes.

Naturally, he thinks of himself as the 2024 nominee who can lead the party back to sanity, and you can't blame him for salivating at the prospect. But because Christie is always trying to keep all his options open, he still can't explain why in 2016 he endorsed the con artist most responsible for the lying sewage… or why he's unwilling to rule out endorsing exactly the same con in 2024.

Christie still seems to think Trump is capable of being a better person. If only Trump would stop obsessing about his re-election defeat, things would be just ducky. In Christie's words the other day, “If he wants to be a positive force in the future, he's got to let this other stuff go." Right. And if dog poop tasted like ice cream, it would be on dessert menus.

Christie's game is obvious. He's trying to stuff himself through the eye of a needle, damning Trump with faint praise and praising Trump with faint damns in order to (theoretically) woo the Republicans who are discomfited by Trump's fascist excesses – without quite alienating the MAGAts who still march in lockstep.

I guess we should give him points for trying. But good grief, it sure gets embarrassing.

Take, for instance, what happened on MSNBC this week when he ran into the buzzsaw best known as Nicolle Wallace. As my dear departed mother would have said, “It was a scream!"

Christie's new book laments about all the lies and disinformation that circulates in the media. But somehow, he just plumb forgot to mention the ceaseless contributions of Fox News. Wallace, the former Republican aide, decided to ask him why so-called media bias is more dangerous than conspiracy theories spouted by the likes of Tucker Carlson.

Wallace: “I don't think it's an intellectually honest case to make against conspiracy theorists without taking on Fox News."

Christie: “Well, then listen, you can write that in your book."

Wallace: “I'm not the one trying to 'rescue' the Republican party."

She continued:

Wallace: “So you may or may not support Donald Trump in 2024, you may or may not run for president, and a book about liars and conspiracy theorists doesn't have anything to say about Fox News."

Christie: “No, the book – you're conflating it."

Wallace: “If you want to solve the proliferation of conspiracy theorists without dealing with Fox News – it's like solving terrorists, without dealing with the terrorists."

Suffice it to say Christie's dumbo act with respect to Tucker Carlson – who has the highest rated show on Fox News – is more than a tad disingenuous. And suffice it to say that he omitted Fox News from his book because as a perpetual Republican candidate he can ill afford to alienate fans of the infauxtainment network. His whole shtick is quite tiresome.

Only fans of The Sopranos will get this closing reference, but so be it: I wish Bobby Bacala would just go away and play with his trains.

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star's Commentary Page. Readers may email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com


Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Don't look now, Democrats, but winter is coming

Democrats can certainly try to convince themselves that the Virginia gubernatorial defeat is no big deal. All kinds of rationales are available.

For instance, the incumbent president's party has lost 11 of the last 12 gubernatorial races. Virginia, when choosing its chief executive, tends to vote against Washington's “in" party.

And Terry McAuliffe, the losing Democratic candidate, has never been super popular – he's from the old-school Democratic establishment, with leftover Clinton ties, and when he won his previous gubernatorial race in 2013, he only managed to beat a right-wing nutcase by two percent. And it just so happens that deep blue states do elect red governors from time to time – most recently, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

Nevertheless, if we point forward to the 2022 midterms and beyond, the likeliest forecast for Democrats is that winter is coming. And we know what that likely portends for the future health of democracy itself.

A president's party almost always loses seats in midterm elections – there were recent exceptions in 1998 and 2002 – and some of the rumblings Tuesday night in Virginia fit that pattern.

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President Joe Biden's poll numbers have slid in Virginia (a state he won by 10 points) and nationally as well. We can debate whether he deserves such a fate, but fairly or not, it's been happening. And the issue mix that helped propel Glenn Youngkin to victory in Virginia – worries about the economy, general parental frustration with schools (some of it idiotic, but cleverly exploited by the GOP) – has potential national resonance. At the Democrats' expense.

Youngkin also hit on a winning formula that conceivably could work for House and Senate Republican candidates next year: Be Trumpish on the stump without the baggage of Trump. Make all the requisite MAGA noises, especially in the suburbs – “I'm gonna abolish critical race theory!" (Even though it's not taught anyway) – but do it with a friendly face. Ensure that Trump stays away, but say the stuff he says in ways that can woo back the Republican-leaning college-educated suburbanites that voted against Trump in 2020.

Meanwhile, if the current Republican minority on Capitol Hill (with the help of Joe Manchin, Krysten Sinema, and the usual Democratic infighting) can continue to stymie Biden's ambitious attempts to make life better for average Americans, then presto!, the Democratic base voters, who always stand ready to be apathetic and disillusioned, will be increasingly inclined to sit on their butts on midterm election day – just as they did when Barack Obama's party was routed in 2010 and 2014.

The result, of course, would be GOP takeovers of the House and Senate, and the death of any progressive agenda in advance of the 2024 presidential contest.

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Oh, and did I mention that Biden's poll slide in deep blue New Jersey briefly imperiled its Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, whose re-election bid remained a nail-biter well into Wednesday? Murphy narrowly won re-election in the end.

Granted, there are scenarios that could save the Democrats in time for the midterms. The pandemic could be in the rear view mirror next fall, especially now that vaccines for kids have been approved – a move that could drastically reduce parental tensions about the schools.

And Democrats on the Hill this week even managed to revive a Build Back Better provision that would lower prescription drug prices, and, who knows, maybe they'll even finally manage to pass something big that swing voters will notice. Because they need to prove they can govern; it ain't enough to just be anti-Trump.

Democratic pollster Geoff Garin tweeted a plaintive plea Tuesday night: “Hey Democrats, the circular firing squad is the problem, not the solution. Stop. We need to pass the strongest bills we can pass with our current majorities." Indeed. As two Democratic sources told the Politico website last night, everything “will get so much worse if we don't pass the agenda and aren't able to run on it…Democrats need to stop fighting each other and start delivering for voters. If we don't, 2022 is going to be brutal."

Gee, ya think?

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star's Commentary Page. Readers may email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.


Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.