Shorter Question Everything
• Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow point out the white supremacists in the Republican Party and the Paul family in particular.
• Rand Paul’s team has another white supremacist. Jack Hunter, who co-authored Rand Paul’s 2011 book and now directs new media for the Kentucky senator, has a past alter ego as the “Southern Avenger,” a provocative radio personality known for wearing a luchador mask emblazoned with the Confederate flag and for making outrageous comments about race and Southern secession, Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon reveals today. As the arguably white nationalist Southern Avenger, Hunter praised the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, saying he “raise[s] a personal toast every May 10 to celebrate John Wilkes Booth’s birthday,” compared Lincoln to Saddam Hussein, and suggested the great American president would have had a homosexual relationship with Adolf Hitler, had the two ever met. He also advocated against Hispanic immigration and in favor of white pride, warning that a “non-white majority America would simply cease to be America.”
• Racists Love Ron and Rand Paul for Some Reason. One strange thing about Ron and Rand Paul is that racists keep popping up in their inner circles for no apparent reason. Ron Paul was surrounded by neo-Confederates and published a virulently racist newsletter. Libertarians attracted to his candidacy condemned the newsletters but treated their existence as a kind of indiscretion. His son and progeny Rand Paul also has a close aide who is a huge racist, reports Alana Goodman. Jack Hunter, author, with Rand Paul, of The Tea Party Goes to Washington, is not just kinda bigoted in an uncomfortable, old-guy sort of way. He’s a serious neo-Confederate.
In other news
• McCain’s Attempt to Undermine Afghan Pullout Strategy Blows Up in His Face Spectacularly. Last week, in one of the more ill advised trips in recent diplomatic memory. Republican Senators John McCain (Arizona), longtime buddy Lindsay Graham (South Carolina), John Cornyn (Texas) and Jeff Sessions (Alabama) made an Independence Day-themed journey to Afghanistan. Prior to engagement with the troops, the insubordinate Gang of Four met with Afghan President, and American frenemy Hamid Karzai. Without the benefits of a wire tap or printed transcripts, suspicious parties such as myself cannot do more than guess at the meat of this exchange, but what we can say for certain is that just days after the meeting, President Obama is suddenly re-evaluating the withdrawal of American forces on a more extreme timetable. Consider the following headline from the Los Angeles Times, shortly after the lawmakers’ arrival: Republican senators criticize Afghan pullout plan. The article quotes McCain as characterizing the President’s official troop reduction blueprint as an “unnecessary risk…that can undermine the whole effort and sacrifices that have been made ever since this important surge.” Senator McCain, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but that is a far cry from the rather treasonous act of venturing to Afghanistan to try to pit that nation’s leader against the POTUS to turn events your way.
• Concept of “Limited Government” Is Right-Wing Bunk: Try to Find Anything Remotely Like It in the Constitution. The Cato Institute’s Handbook for Policy Makers says, “The American system was established to provide limited government.” The American Enterprise Institute states its purpose to “defend the principles” of “limited government.” The Heritage Foundation claims its mission is to promote “principles of … limited government.” A multitude of Tea Party associations follow suit. At first glance the concept of “limited government” seems like a no-brainer. Everybody believes the power of government should be limited somehow. All those who think totalitarianism is a good idea raise your hand. But there is one problem with the ultra-conservatives’ “limited government” program: it is wrong. It is not just a little bit wrong, but demonstrably false. The Constitution was never intended to “provide limited government,” and furthermore it did not do so. The U.S. government possessed the same constitutional power at the moment of its inception as it did yesterday afternoon. [PDF]
• Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who has been holed up in a Moscow airport for more than two weeks, has agreed to an offer of asylum from Venezuela, a top Russian lawmaker said on Twitter on Tuesday before removing the post.
• FBI nominee: Waterboarding during Bush administration was illegal torture. During his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning, FBI director nominee James Comey said the use of waterboarding by the Bush administration was illegal. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Comey about his opinion on the matter. “When I first learned about waterboarding, my reaction as a citizen and a leader was this is torture. It is still what I think. To his great credit, [FBI Director] Bob Mueller made sure the FBI had nothing to do with that business, and if I were FBI director it would never have anything to do with that.”
• Sabotage governing: It’s now become accepted as normal that Republicans will threaten explicitly to allow harm to the country to get what they want, and will allow untold numbers of Americans to be hurt rather than even enter into negotiations over the sort of compromises that lie at the heart of basic governing.
• Canadian police on Tuesday said they had opened a criminal investigation into the train explosion that likely killed 50 people in Lac-Megantic, and some 200 officers were scouring the town’s devastated center for clues. Inspector Michel Forget said police did not believe terrorism was involved when a runaway train hauling 72 cars of crude oil barreled into town early on Saturday, derailed on a curve and exploded into a huge fireball that destroyed the center of the lakeside community. “I will not speculate on the evidence that we’ve recovered because (it is) secret,” Forget said. But he indicated that some evidence might point to “criminal acts.”
• Will Portugal Be Austerity’s Next “Catastrophic Success”: I’ve written a few times about how austerity has done a number on Portugal. It’s increased inequality, shrunk the economy, increased the country’s death rate, driven unemployment to record highs, led to a mass exodus of educated-but-unemployed young Portuguese (much as happened in Ireland), and left the country in a state of disrepair and despair. Meanwhile, public workers and Portugal’s poor have born the brunt of a “more pain, less gain” budget, that combined steep tax hikes with massive pay cuts, slashed state college funding, put schools on the chopping block, devastated the country’s health care system, raised the national retirement age, and increased work hours for public sector workers. Now, it looks like austerity may topple Portugal’s center-right, pro-austerity government.
• Texas lawmakers are now one vote away from sending a controversial abortion bill to the desk of Governor Rick Perry. The Texas House voted 98-49 to pass House Bill 2, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the facility, and require doctors to administer abortion-inducing drugs in person—rather than allow a woman to take it at home.