Part 4—With praise for Ferguson’s kids: Yesterday morning, Joan Walsh took out her Rand Paul doll, as she has sometimes does.
Presumably, piddle like this is good for business. It makes us the clueless feel good:
WALSH (8/14/14): [Sherilyn Ifill] made the important point that the militarization of the Ferguson police is something entirely new and enormously disturbing...Walsh likes to toy with her Rand Paul doll. In this instance, she even treated us to the silly fundraising snark that is so common when the other team plays with Obama dolls.
[G]ood journalists have been reporting on this for a while. I apologize for not writing about this sooner. This is a bipartisan disaster that ought to be inspiring a renewal of bipartisan cooperation between civil libertarians of every political stripe. Yet local and national political leaders have been under-involved.
Alderman Antonio French has become a folk hero on Twitter for his on-the-ground reporting. But Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has been mostly AWOL, and Sen. Claire McCaskill belatedly tweeted that she’s communicating with the Justice Department Wednesday night. (While her tweet seemed belated, I should note that McCaskill had been in touch with the Justice Department before that.) Missouri’s other senator, Republican Roy Blunt, has said nothing. In this obvious libertarian moment, Sen. Rand Paul has been silent, reportedly fundraising in the Hamptons this week.
Uh-oh! A few hours later, Paul posted a column for Time magazine. Warning! In this morning’s hard-copy New York Times, Jeremy Peters reports what he said:
PETERS (8/15/14): These reactions point to a larger debate inside the conservative movement today as Republicans struggle with how enthusiastically to embrace an ascendant strain of libertarianism within their ranks. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a likely candidate for president in 2016, starkly laid out one side of the argument in an op-ed published on Time.com on Thursday.Before we offer our warning, let us say this about that:
Mr. Paul, quoting from research by the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute and the conservative Heritage Foundation, noted the trend of police departments’ buying military-style vehicles and weapons, condemning “the cartoonish imbalance between the equipment some police departments possess and the constituents they serve.”
“When you couple this militarization of law enforcement,” he added, “with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, preconviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.”
Another question raised by the unrest in Ferguson—one that poses far more discomfort for Republicans—is how race plays into unequal treatment under the justice system.
On this delicate issue, Mr. Paul went a step further than many other conservatives this week. With a system so broken, he wrote, it is no wonder black people in Ferguson feel singled out.
He added a personal aside. “If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off,” Mr. Paul wrote. “But I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.”
Personally, we’re pleased and thrilled to see Rand Paul saying things like that. In part, we feel that way because of the party to which he belongs, which may let these thoughts spread into new precincts.
This isn’t a first time for Paul. Last September, Lawrence O’Donnell praised a remarkable set of statements Paul made in a Senate Judiciary hearing.
As Lawrence correctly saw, those statements were worth recording:
O’DONNELL (9/18/13): What you are about to hear Rand Paul say is absolutely extraordinary. What he said is all true. His reasoning is simple common sense.O’Donnell went on to say that these comments mean that Paul will never get the GOP nomination for president. Warning:
But virtually every word you are about to hear can and will be held against him in the court of Republican presidential politics. What you are about to hear is the politically bravest thing said in Washington today.
PAUL (videotape): If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago. Yet today a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting because of the War on Drugs.
The War on Drugs has disproportionately affected young black males. The ACLU reports that blacks are four to five times more likely to be convicted for drug possession, although surveys indicate that blacks and whites use drugs at the same similar rate.
The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white. But three-fourths of the people in prison for drug offenses are African-American or Latino. Why are arrest rates so lopsided? Because it is frankly easier to go in to the urban areas and make arrests than it is to go into suburban areas.
Arrest statistics matter when applying for federal grants. Doesn't take much imagination to understand it's easier to round up, arrest and convict poor kids than it is to convict rich kids. The injustice of mandatory minimum sentences is impossible to ignore when you hear the stories of the victims.
Edward Clay, 18 years old, was a first time offender when caught with less than two ounces of cocaine. He received ten years in jail for a mandatory minimum sentence. Weldon Angelos, who the chairman mentioned, was 24 years old and was given 55 years in prison for selling marijuana.
There is no justice here. It is wrong and it needs to change. Federal judge Timothy Lewis recalls a case where he had to send a 19-year-old to prison for conspiracy. What was the conspiracy? The young man was in a car where drugs were found.
“I don't know about you,” and this is Judge Lewis, “I'm pretty sure one of us might have been in a car in our youth at one point in time where there might have been drugs in the car.”
O’DONNELL: You just heard a Republican senator quoting an ACLU report on how the war on drugs visits disproportional suffering on black men—an ACLU report. You just heard a Republican senator say, quote, “There is no justice here.”
You just heard a Republican senator quoting a judge saying, I’m pretty sure we have all been a car at some point in our youth where someone had drugs. What other Republican senator would say that?
But Rand Paul wasn't finished. He improvised something that wasn’t in his written statements, something about President Obama that his Republican rivals for the presidency will never let him forget.
PAUL (videotape): Imagine this. And I’m glad the president has great compassion because he has admitted, like a lot of other individuals who are now elected to office, that one time he made mistakes as a youth. And I think what a tragedy it would have been had gone to prison.
What a tragedy it would have been if America wouldn't have gotten to see Barack Obama as a leader. I just don’t know why we can't come together and do something about this.
O’DONNELL: “What a tragedy it would have been if America wouldn’t have gotten to see Barack Obama as a leader.” Rand Paul’s words.
For months on end in 2011, O’Donnell insisted that Tim Pawlenty was going to be the Republican nominee in 2012. No one else would be able to get the nod, he constantly said.
Warning! O’Donnell was completely serious. He was also crazily wrong.
We aren’t warning you that Paul could be the Republican nominee in 2016. Our warning is more far-reaching.
Personally, we’re thrilled to see Paul say what he said about the lives of America’s black kids. It’s dangerous, though, when we liberals keep enjoying our Rand Paul dolls as these themes emerge.
Other liberals—we think of Frank Rich—like to play with their “American population” dolls. They tell us that demographics will sweep us liberals into power by the year 2042.
Warning! When you see figures like Rand Paul articulating these important new themes, you are seeing one of the ways the plutocrats could possibly fashion new coalitions and thereby hold onto power, demographics be danged. If liberals can’t learn to speak the American language, that could conceivably happen.
We’re full of praise for the things Paul has said about the lives of the nation’s black kids. We’re sick at heart when we see people like Walsh dumbing young liberals down through the use of her stupid-ass dolls.
Having said these things, let’s mention something we saw last night on our TV screen. As we watched the Chris Hayes program, we were struck by rare words of praise for the nation’s black kids.
The words of praise didn’t come from Hayes. Live and direct from Ferguson, Hayes spoke with Stefan Bradley, a professor at Saint Louis University. At one point, Bradley referred to the young people who stood behind him:
BRADLEY (8/14/14): When you think about these young people, one of the things—We don’t know what kind of image the officer had in his head. That said, we were glad to hear what Bradley said about the young people who stood around him.
I’m glad you’re here and it’s designed the way we have these young people behind us, because the images of the young people that have been going out around the world haven’t always been so positive.
When we talk about Mike Brown, the police officer had an image in his head of what black men are. I wouldn’t say that these young people represent that kind of image. And most of the young people around here don’t. And so I think that’s very important.
I’m part of the Young Citizens Council and that’s one of the major things we’re trying to push is the idea that young people, you ask what's going to happen next, maybe we’ll find out what the name of the officer was that shot Mike Brown.
It’s amazingly rare to hear someone say good things about the nation’s black kids. Since Bradley also mentioned the desire for better schools, we looked to see how Missouri’s black kids have been scoring in eighth grade math.
Scores in Missouri on the NAEP are way, way up. Black kids in the generation of the late Michael Brown are scoring much better than their parents did.
(That’s the way it’s supposed to be. The same is true of Missouri’s white kids.)
Many things have been getting better in the past few decades. It’s amazing how rarely anyone tells the public.
We were pleased to see someone go on TV and say good things about the nation’s black kids. Regarding those math scores, you never hear this good news on the cable arm of NBC News, which has been pimping “education reform” for years.
In a move which surely tracks to Bill Gates, NBC News keeps trashing our public schools and their fiendish teachers. Its cable stars constantly sidestep this topic, which is so widely discussed in so many counterfactual ways.
That said, you never hear this kind of good news at Salon neither. Warning:
How much do you want to bet? That Rand Paul learns how to deliver this news before the Walsh gang does?
We’re concerned about Rand Paul. We’re more concerned about Joan Walsh and her love for that Rand Paul doll.