Rand Paul Radical Rhetoric Endangers Kentucky's Working Families

The list of bedrock American laws that Rand Paul is opposed to keeps growing longer. In addition to the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Paul has made it clear that he doesn't like the Clean Air Act either. Last weekend, Paul said that President Obama should leave Kentucky alone, especially when it comes to pollution. "You need to keep the EPA out of our affairs," he called on the president.

Paul prefers to have things "handled on a local level."But unlike Paul, I grew up in Kentucky, and I question this logic.

My elementary school sat on a cliff above an Ashland Oil refinery, and our playground was about eye level with the top of their smokestacks. When the paint on teachers' car started to peel and children started getting sick, the PTA tried to make Ashland Oil do something about it. After some fighting, the company finally installed air monitors on the kickball field - and a few months later the school closed its doors.

What sticks with me still is the way the problem was solved: As far as I can see, Ashland Oil didn't clean up its act at all. Our school shut down instead.

Federal efforts to cut pollution aren't perfect, but they are the last line of defense for places like my hometown. They literally save our lives: the Clean Air Act, for instance, has been documented to prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.

Kentucky has a long dark history of environmental injustice. Amazing groups like Appalachian Voices have been fighting for cleaner water, cleaner air, and better safety rules for miners. They often find local solutions, but they also turn to federal agencies like the EPA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration when they need to.

Paul may call it "federal overreach," but I call it protecting the health of Kentuckians. 
Of course, Paul trots out the old saw that cutting pollution kills jobs. But I think Paul is more concerned about ideology than jobs, because if he really wanted to create jobs for Kentucky, he wouldn't turn his back on clean energy and climate legislation. Clean energy jobs are growing 2.5 times as fast as traditional jobs. Paul would rather shoot down federal climate solutions than bring the jobs of the 21st century to his state.

Instead, he is banking on the same old dirty industries, and he seems to think that if children get asthma because they played on a field next to a refinery, that's alright because someone had a job. I am sorry, but I can't accept the misconception that my classmates and I were the collateral damage of some polluter's payroll. Good companies that are following the law and being good neighbors provide jobs every single day.

Companies have found time and again that a clean business model is part of the recipe for a successful company. That is why 5,171 small businesses from across the country are supporting the climate bill. That is why some of the largest companies in the nation are calling on Congress to take action immediately.

The parents I know in Kentucky have no interest in working jobs that sacrifice their children's health. They want to provide for their families AND keep them safe at the same time. This isn't an either or situation. Paul seems to forget this in the midst of his fixation with "federal overreach." I too respect states rights, but states still have to be good neighbors. Local empowerment doesn't give you the right to endanger your residents' health, export pollution into nearby states, or block national solutions to fight global climate change.

If leaders like Paul forget these lessons in responsibility, then I am glad federal agencies like the EPA can step in and remind them. 



Rand Paul’s Kentucky Problems

Most of Repub Senate nominee Rand Paul’s “gaffes” have been over national issues – calling the President un-American for criticizing BP, attacking the Civil Rights Act, presenting himself as a board-certified doctor when the board is pretty much just his family, etc. As Tip O’Neil said, though, all politics is local – and Paul has just as many problems with Kentucky politics as he does national politics.

Democrat Jack Conway’s campaign sent out the following email today, highlighting Paul’s attacks on local farmers and his lack of knowledge about Kentucky agriculture and history:

According to the Courier-Journal:

"Renewing his attack on federal farm subsidies, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul told a Kentucky Farm Bureau audience Thursday that three agriculture companies have received a total of more than $1 billion in aid…But, in fact, the 'companies' are all cooperatives that are owned by thousands of farmers. And the federal payments have gone to the farmers who own them over the past 15 years - as the Paul campaign later acknowledged in an interview."

In fact, Paul's spokesperson Jesse Benton told the C-J: "I don't know what a co-op is."…

Last week, in Details Magazine's profile, Paul's ignorance of the state he is running to represent in the Senate was once again apparent when the reporter - a non-Kentuckian - asked about the significance of Harlan County in history:

"'I don't know,' he [Paul] says in an elusive accent that's not quite southern and not quite not-southern. The town of Hazard is nearby, he notes: 'It's famous for, like, The Dukes of Hazzard.'"
The reporter did a little digging and found out Paul was wrong: "Harlan County, Kentucky, it turns out, is famous not for the Duke boys, or for the Hatfields and McCoys, as Rand Paul speculated, but for its violent coal battles."

This follows an earlier AP story that highlighted Paul’s growing unpopularity with Kentucky’s poor. Paul quoted Soviet materials to make a bogus point about American poverty while bashing programs incredibly important to the state’s citizens:

Paul's recent remarks at his first forum with Democratic opponent Jack Conway stirred some anger in impoverished pockets of Kentucky, where as many as a third of residents live in poverty.

The libertarian-leaning Paul addressed the issue of poverty by alluding to a decades-old, anti-American propaganda film by the Soviet government designed to criticize the free-market system…

Charles Hardin, a Democratic judge-executive from eastern Kentucky's Magoffin County, said Monday that Paul's comments rubbed him the wrong way and he criticized Paul for relying on "anecdotal tales."

Two polls released in the last two days show this to be a close race: CN|2/Braun Research has Paul leading 41-38, and Rasmussen has Paul leading 49-41. I’d never heard of Braun Research before, but their methodology seems more sound than Rasmussen’s – they use live interviewers rather than phone buttons and a three-day frame rather than one day. One encouraging CN|2 finding: "Conway scored higher with women than Paul did, 42.5% to 35.9%."

To help defeat Paul and elect a true progressive, help Conway out at our ActBlue page.

Does Rand Paul Want To Abandon NATO?

A new Rasmussen poll shows Democrat Jack Conway just seven points behind Repub Rand Paul in KY-SEN, 49-42. The news of this flimsy lead comes on the heels of a failed money bomb attempt where Paul raised far less than he had been able to do before his comments regarding the Civil Rights Act and the BP oil slick.

Paul just doesn’t know when to stop digging. From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul said Wednesday that the United States needs to continue rolling back its defenses in Europe and allow counties there to foot the cost of defending the continent.

"You know, it's been 70 years since World War II and I think that the expense for defending Europe really should be borne by Europeans and there should probably be changes as to how many troops" are deployed there, Paul said in response to a question on Germany on WHAS radio's Mandy Connell show.

First of all, though we haven’t “defended” Europe in decades, doing so would be part of our NATO treaty obligations, and asking NATO to step up its commitment to our defense in Afghanistan makes this the wrong time to criticize our role in the organization. Second, many if not most of our installations in Europe are about deployment and logistics, not European defense. As the Courier-Journal article goes on to point out, Germany is home to “Landsthul Regional Medical Center, the largest American hospital outside the United States and the destination of seriously injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Either Rand Paul is suggesting we abandon NATO, which would make sense given his father’s criticism of the UN, or he doesn’t know a thing about policy but is still willing to run off his mouth, which would make sense given Sarah Palin’s endorsement of her.

Paul’s opponent, Jack Conway, has been a part of our Act Blue page since before the primaries. It’s almost as easy to support him as it is to oppose Paul.

Weekly Pulse: Prostate Health is Girly and Other Health Care Paradoxes


This week’s health care news was full of mind-bending paradoxes: Prostate health is girly, abstinence-only education works through failure, “principled” libertarian Rand Paul would protect all-white lunch counters but ban private abortion clinics, and more.

Prostate health is girly

The Prostate Cancer Foundation recently rolled out one of the most bizarre and ill-advised public health advisories in the history of advertising. The takehome message? That there’s something sissy, or god forbid gay, about getting checked for prostate cancer.

The ad features a bunch of retired sports legends in a suburban living room, knitting. They proceed to quiz each other about their prostate exams.

There's more...

Rand Paul Trying to Back Out of "Meet the Press" Interview

It's never a good sign for a campaign when the candidate is forced to cancel scheduled interviews. But that's exactly what's happening in the Kentucky Senate race, according to "Meet the Press" producer Betsy Fischer:

BetsyMTP Friday drama here @DrRandPaul having a tough week. Now trying to cancel big #MTP interview for Sunday that he committed to on Wednesday. #ky

It's certainly a strategy for a candidate enmeshed in a national political scandal to try to hide away from the press -- but it's not necessarily a good one. It's always possible that some other news will overtake discussion of Rand Paul's controversial racial stance -- but it's also possible that left in the public square, debate over the Paul's position will only continue.

Regardless, considering that if Paul does cancel his appearance he would, according to Sam Stein, join just Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar as "Meet the Press" guest canceling last minute, this can't be good news for the GOP's Senate nominee from Kentucky.


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