Beware The Trojan Horse Wednesday, Dec 17 2014 

By DEVIN GRIGGS

It’s hard to deny that the past six years have been rough for the American worker.
 
The greatest economic catastrophe since the 1930s struck out of nowhere in 2008, compounding the negative effects of nearly four decades of economic decline and wage stagnation. Millions were tossed out of their homes and onto the streets as Washington moved to bailout the banksters that caused this mess in the first place.

At the same time, millions turned to an incoming administration to fix the mess that had been wrought. Young people, minorities, women, and all those who had felt the brunt of the right-wing turn in American politics since the 1970s, rallied at the polls in big numbers to reject the kind of big business politics that had brought the nation to the brink.

And yet six years into the crisis, we are faced today with many of the same problems that faced us back in 2008. The financial sector today is more concentrated than it was at the time of the crash in 2008.
 
Millions are still without homes, without jobs, and without hope. In response, young people have mobilized, as have other groups that have continued to get the short end of the stick in an era defined by bankster bailouts, austerity, and unending war.
 
The Occupy movement, reflecting the revolutionary currents in the Middle East and Northern Africa, hit American streets in September 2011. From Zuccotti Park to a cramped room at Murray State University, where I was a student, young people made their voices heard.

They denounced the control of government and the economy by the banksters -- the one percent -- and called upon government to make policy in the interest of the workers, the 99 percent. Young people have subsequently acted as the leading force in the protests against police brutality stemming from the tragic slaying of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
 
I don’t pretend to speak for everybody in my generation, but I’d like to think that these outbursts of activity on our part stem from the realization that something is fundamentally and undeniably wrong with the society in which we live. A college diploma is too often worth less than the paper it’s printed on these days. Millions of us toil for long hours at more than one job to make ends meet. Unpaid internships are the rule, rather than the exception. With all that in mind, what else can we do but strike out at everything allayed against us?

There are, however, others waiting in the wings who wish to take advantage of this mass discontent among young people and workers in the United States. These demagogues blame the victims of the Great Recession for that catastrophe, rather than placing the blame upon the one percent that so rightfully deserves it.
 
One of these demagogues is the scion of the Paul family, the junior senator from Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul. Like his father before him, Paul talks a good talk on a lot of issues, but these belie his actual agenda.

Many young people were attracted to Rand Paul’s father, former GOP Texas Congressman Ron Paul, in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential election campaigns. Paul the Elder gained something of a reputation as a maverick, antiwar Republican during the Bush years, giving him a base that he might not otherwise have had had his record been more closely examined.
 
The elder Paul was intimately connected with far-right, proto-fascist hate groups for a good bit of his career, and never shied away from playing on the racism of his support base to raise funds from neo-Nazi websites like Stormfront.org.
 
His son, by contrast, has attempted to chart a more ‘moderate’ (as far as Republicans go) course. Unlike his father, the younger Paul is not a committed non-interventionist. He’s also been a quite vocal advocate of using the federal government to enact his chosen policies, which the “states’ rights” oriented Ron Paul shied away from during his Congressional career.
 
For example, Sen. Paul has time and time again attempted to introduce a national version of a so-called “right-to-work” law during his time in the United States Senate, although thankfully these attempts have, for the time being, been beaten back.
 
The younger Paul seems poised to take up his father’s mantle and seek the Republican nomination next year. Should he obtain it, his candidacy will focus on smoothing out his differences with the Republican leadership while also attempting to make the youth vote competitive, focusing on those issues with which young voters may readily identify: opposition to the ongoing war in Syria, opposition to the War on Drugs, or opposition to mass surveillance programs operated in the name of counter-terrorism.

However, this is just part of the continued Trojan Horse campaign by the Pauls to push their actual agenda: more power and wealth for the one percent.

What would a President Rand Paul, acting in concert with a Republican-controlled Congress, do? He may yet end federal enforcement of the War on Drugs, and devolve that issue to state governments. Further, he may yet cut off funding for anti-ISIS operations in Syria and withdraw troops from the region. But these will be small potatoes compared to what else we can expect from a President Paul.
 
Those of us who remember the 2010 Senate election in the Bluegrass State will well remember Paul’s flip-flopping on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. First he claimed that the Civil Rights Act interfered with the right of private individuals to conduct their businesses as they saw fit (which, in this case, means the right of bigots to treat minorities as second-class citizens), and after strong public pushback on that antediluvian position, eventually came out in favor of federal government intervention in the civil rights arena.
 
Still, it makes one wonder how a President Paul would enforce that law and other laws like the Voting Rights Act, which is currently under a multi-faceted assault by Republicans intent on kicking black and brown voters off the voting rolls.

Paul likewise voted against the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would have barred discrimination against LGBT Americans in employment. A 2011 poll conducted by the Center for American Progress found that 73 percent of Americans (including 66 percent of Republicans!) favored barring discrimination against LGBT Americans in employment, putting Paul far out of touch with public opinion on that issue.
 
Paul opposes universal health insurance, favors the militarization of the border with Mexico and opposes birthright citizenship for immigrants. He is an open, vociferous enemy of organized labor, and will likely do everything in his power, should he be elected president two years from now, to undermine the position of American workers and their unions.

Young people should thus not be fooled by Sen. Rand Paul. Low wages, bigotry, and union-busting will not put a single one of us in a better position. We have to instead fight to break down those barriers created by the one percent which divide us as workers, be they racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other -ism or -phobia which benefit those at the top first and foremost.
 
And we have to do so in the context of re-building a labor movement that can not only fight for higher wages, shorter hours, or better working conditions, but that can also act as a battering ram for the 99 percent in its ongoing and unceasing conflict against the one percent. That is change that we can believe in, and that is change that we, and only we, can bring.

Editors note: Devin Griggs, who grew up in Marshall County, Ky., is a Murray State University graduate who lives in the Chicago area where he belongs to UFCW Local 1548. The son of Cliff Griggs, a member of the United Steelworkers, Devin received the 2011 Kentucky State AFL-CIO Youth Award.

In Other News… Cards/Cats brawl, Paul on Garner, Lawrence’s hit song Friday, Dec 5 2014 

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Unions lose either way with Rand Paul Thursday, Dec 4 2014 

Rand Paul says his hat is in the ring for 2016 – for another senate term. But Kentucky’s junior senator didn’t rule out a presidential bid.
 
Team Rand still hopes their guy can run for the senate and for president at the same time. Yet still on the books – and likely to stay there – is that Kentucky law that says he can’t do that.

Oh, the Republicans figured they’d be able to change the law when the General Assembly meets again in January.
 
All they had to do was flip the Democratic-majority House of Representatives. They talked like they had the election in the bag.
 
Meanwhile, the GOP-majority state Senate voted to change the law when the legislature got together last January. The measure failed in the Democratic-majority House.

Despite Sen. Mitch McConnell’s romp on Nov. 4, the Democrats held their 54-46 state House edge.So it looks like Team Rand is back to square one.

To be sure, candidates can – and have -- run for two offices at the same time in other states. The latest double-dipper was Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. In 2012, he won reelection to the House but lost his bid for vice president.
 
Having been thwarted by the Democrats hold in the House, Team Rand is claiming the Kentucky double-dipping ban is unconstitutional. They’ve considered challenging it in court, an interesting prospect considering that Paul professes to be a “states’ rights” guy.
 
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, doubts that changing the law to benefit Paul would pass constitutional muster. Such a switch could be considered special legislation, which the state charter forbids, Stumbo has pointed out.

The Speaker has more than a nodding acquaintance with the Kentucky constitution. He was the state attorney general in 2003-2007.

Anyway, the Paul camp has also mulled over skirting the law by calling for Kentucky to change its presidential primary for a caucus system.

That, too, would require the legislature’s approval. The Senate might go for it. But hogs will fly before the House of Stumbo would.
 
Caucus or no, if Paul became the GOP’s presidential standard bearer, his name still would be on the ballot twice when it counted – on November 8, 2016.
 
“Sen. Paul needs to make up his mind where he wants to serve,” suggested State Rep. Gerald Watkins of Paducah. “If he has his heart set on running for president he should go for it and not try to run for the U.S. Senate at the same time.”

Watkins is a Democrat. But he hastened to add that what he said about Paul goes for Democrats, too. “Running for two offices at the same time is not fair to the state a politician represents.”
 
In any event, Paul hasn’t formally said he’s a presidential candidate, but, you know, if it walks like duck. The tea party-tilting, greed-is-a-virtue Ayn Rand fan has been going out of his way to diss Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
 
While Paul’s political future remains uncertain, his record on labor issues could hardly be clearer: he despises unions.
 
Don’t take my word for it. Check out the AFL-CIO’s Legislative Scorecard. It’s online at http://www.aflcio.org/Legislation-and-Politics/Legislative-Voting-Records. In 2013, Paul voted the union position on bills zero percent of the time. His lifetime score is 4 percent. Soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s score was 17 percent in 2013 and 12 percent lifetime.

Paul and McConnell teamed up to sponsor legislation to create a national right to work law.

So for those of us who pack union cards, a Sen. Paul or a President Paul is a lose-lose proposition either way.   

In Other News… Clinton visits, Grimes/McConnell debate, Paul likes his donuts, new ‘Hunger Games’ trailer Friday, Oct 17 2014 

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Rand Paul gave gays reluctant shrug of acceptance Thursday, Oct 9 2014 

Senator Rand Paul gave gays a reluctant shrug of acceptance in South Carolina recently:

Who might a ‘President Rand Paul’ pardon in bribery scandal? Sunday, Sep 21 2014 

Sen. Rand Paul. (Facebook)
Economic Policy Journal's Robert Wenzel has published an intriguing analysis of the 'prisoner dilemmas' now facing Senator Mitch McConnell's former campaign manager Jesse Benton, as well as former McConnell consultant Dimitri Kesari.

Wenzel's analysis triggers rational minds to formulate questions like: If the subjects were cooperating with the investigation, why would the FBI need to issue subpoenas? How are Benton, Kesari, and Paul going to get out of this? Why has Kesari chosen counsel from within the Paul circle of influence? Is it in the best interest of Kesari to play along?



Recap: Both Benton and Kesari appear to be subjects of a FBI bribery scandal investigation involving former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson's endorsement of former Congressman Ron Paul's 2012 bid for president. Since Sorenson has accepted a plea deal, we know at least one Paul campaign operative, if not a plethora, will face indictment in time. It takes at least two to tango.

Paul, Benton, and Kesari were already hoping on a victory for Senator Rand Paul 's 2016 bid for the U.S. presidency. But I postulate, the three are also counting on the victory to enable a "President Rand Paul" to conveniently relieve them of their potential convictions, as well as commute their potential sentences.

The President of the United States has the power to pardon or commute sentences. From Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution:
"...he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."
Would Rand Paul go through with it? It would be reasonable for him to pardon his father, and if he wants peace with his sister, he would surely pardon his niece's husband, Benton. But Kesari? Why bother?

Remember Susan McDougal? She was the only person prosecuted for the Arkansas Whitewater scandal that threatened the presidential aspirations of former President Bill Clinton. For her refusal to answer three questions about Bill Clinton's knowledge, she 'took one for the team' as they say.

McDougal was not related to Clinton, like Kesari is not related to the Rand Paul. Clinton waited to pardon McDougal until his last day as president, and by that time she had already served her full 18-month sentence (6 months of that sentence was spent in solitary confinement.)

Does Kesari actually believe that Rand Paul's election is a sure thing? If so, is he delusional enough to believe Rand Paul will show more compassion than Bill Clinton? Or is he both as loyal and disinterested in justice as McDougal?


9/21/14 Update:
How'd I miss this? Apparently Rand Paul has no problem with the pardons. From Christopher Weber in Politics Daily in 2010:
Rand wrote a newspaper opinion piece four [now eight] years ago, when then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher was under investigation for allegedly violating state hiring laws, The Associated Press reported. Paul, then a Bowling Green eye doctor, wrote in the now-defunct Kentucky Post that if he were Fletcher, he would simply pardon himself. 
"What would I do if I were governor? First, I'd have pardoned myself and everyone included nearly a year ago," Paul, a Republican, wrote in the Aug. 23, 2006 article. "Without a pardon the case goes on and on."

Another Mitch McConnell Tie to National Right to Work Scandal Friday, Sep 19 2014 

Doug Stafford, Source: Politico.
Sen. Mitch McConnell disbursed a total of $30,000 to the wife of National Right to Work Vice President Doug Stafford in 2013 for “fundraising consulting” according to his campaign's latest FEC report.  


In their report, the McConnell campaign listed a prestigious residential address in D.C. only blocks from the Capitol for Elizabeth Stafford. Incidentally, from Politico's profile of Doug Stafford:


"To minimize his commute and maximize his time at home when he took the Senate job, Stafford moved his family from western Fairfax to five blocks from the Capitol.

The Long Island native, who attended the University of Maryland, has four daughters — 21, 14, 5 and 17 months. He and his second wife, Elizabeth, adopted the youngest."
Doug Stafford has been implicated as spearheading an illegal off-the-books mass mail operation ran in coordination with legislative candidates through National Right to Work. The scheme was exposed by whistleblower Dennis Fusaro through the release of a secret recording to blogger Lee Stranahan and a letter from Fusaro to the NRTW board recommending they clean their own house.

Beth Stafford’s Linkedin profile
Elizabeth Stafford, if she is a fundraising consultant, keeps a low profile in that role on the internet. According to Linkedin"Beth Stafford" is a former Sen. Elizabeth Dole staffer who was employed as a Government Affairs Manager in D.C. for drug giant AmerisourceBergen while the McConnell campaign was paying "Elizabeth Stafford" as their fundraising consulting.

Dimitri Kesari, who was also paid as a McConnell consultant, and implicated as the 'bagman' in a separate Iowan bribery scandal, is at the heart of the RTW scandal as well. From report by Russ Choma with Open Secrets headlined McConnell Campaign Hired Key Figure In National Right To Work Complaint, Records Show:
"Kesari is a key figure in the new allegations: He was, at the time, NRTWC’s director of government affairs. An email exchange provided by Dennis Fusaro, the former NRTWC employee making the allegations, shows Kesari scolding Fusaro for pulling full-time staff paid by NRTWC from a candidate’s campaign without consulting the candidate; Kesari also criticized Fusaro for not keeping another candidate closely involved with the Iowans for Right To Work mass mail program."
Doug Stafford is now in charge of Sen. Rand Paul's 2016 presidential campaign, although he previously served as Paul’s top senate staffer. 

(Note: I first wrote here about the National Right to Work in March 2012:
Assessing threat level of 'right to work' in Kentucky


Update 9/20/2014 1:35AM: McConnell insider Bill Marshall didn't get the memo about disassociating the campaign from scandal. On Facebook yesterday:

Update 9/22/2014 Has been brought to my attention by Russ Choma with Open Secrets that he had already covered most of the information in this entry in December, but you'll understand I think in the context of Sorenson's indictment and Benton's resignation, it is a little more relevant now:

In Other News… Rand Paul on Ferguson, El Camino love, and Lawrence turns 24 Friday, Aug 15 2014 

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In Other News…Rand Paul, Forecastle, Mike Myers paints Colonel Sanders, GE and the Katniss workout Friday, Jul 18 2014 

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In Other News…McConnell’s latest strategy, Bridgewater draft follow-up, Atherton anti-discrimination Friday, May 16 2014 

Mitch McConnell and Elaine ChaoOnce More Into the Breach: The primary isn’t until next week, but as we’ve discussed of late, the McConnell campaign is already gazing toward November and the general election opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. And according to an in-depth feature in … Continue reading

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