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Bro-gressive Values Revealed: Attacking the Messenger By Any Means Necessary

Finding himself duped by Rand Paul’s publicity stunt, Salon's David Sirota misrepresents the work of an AlterNet writer.

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There’s a certain breed of progressive dude who, when told that the object of his latest man-crush is, say, a bit racist (or misogynist, or is stoking the fears of right-wing preppers), gets really mad. Unable to refute the fact of his worship of the racist, misogynist, prepper-stoker, he resorts to falsifying the intention of the person who pointed out the inconvenient facts. In a column published on Salon on March 7, David Sirota proves himself to be just such a dude.

At issue was my AlterNet blog post, published earlier the same day, in which I stated how horrifying it was to see progressives lauding as courageous and “heroic” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he took to the Senate floor in a 13-hour “talking filibuster” designed to win him a media tour of top right-wing talk shows as he signaled his intention to run for the presidency in 2016, an intention he confirmed to Politico just hours after leaving the Senate floor.

Heroism, by its definition, implies the taking of a risk. But Paul had almost nothing to lose and much to gain from his filibuster, which was born less of passion than careful calculation, according to a National Journal account. As political publicity stunts go, it was an act of genius.

Because part of what Paul had to say about the Obama administration’s policy on drones and the president’s dreadful nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA comports with progressive opposition to those things, a small but vocal cadre of progressives were slobbering over C-SPAN, tweeting the hashtag, #StandWithRand.

Never mind that to stand with Rand is to stand for a man who sponsored “fetal personhood” amendment that would “ end abortion on demand once and for all,” in Paul’s words, even for rape victims. Try not to notice that to stand with Rand is to exalt a guy who opposes the section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that desegregated restaurants, lunch counters and housing. He’s also opposed to the Americans With Disabilities Act, preferring the specter of people in wheelchairs barred from full participation in public life to an inconvenient demand on proprietors of establishments otherwise open to the public.

To Sirota, these are issues “unrelated” to the administration’s drone policy, which is after all, about the civil liberties of all American citizens, especially white survivalist guys (but apparently not so much, in Rand Paul's reading, those of non-citizens). The civil rights of women, black people and the disabled? Well, by Sirota’s lights, they’re “totally unrelated” to civil liberties overall. After all, no skin off his back should those rights go away.

It’s a telling flaw in Sirota’s logic. But the even greater flaw is in the moral character of a writer who all but lies in order to paint another as saying something she did not, and being something she is not.

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

Apparently in need of a straw-woman to knock down, Sirota draws out of context a few words from my blog post to convince his posse of fan-boys that I was painting them as paranoids for their support of the junior senator from Kentucky.

From Sirota’s Salon piece:

[Stan] says it is “horrifying to see” principled progressives cheer on Paul’s attempt to force the Obama administration to answer basic questions about civil liberties — horrifying not because Paul is wrong on that issue, but because he’s wrong on other, totally unrelated issues and represents an evil “paranoid base” that dares to fear a government that might soon be “launching drones against them.” (emphasis added)

Here’s how my sentence, from which those phrases are drawn, actually reads:

In his anti-drone filibuster, which admittedly offered C-SPAN viewers an often-enlightening education on the Obama administration’s flouting of the U.S. Constitution in its pursuit of al Qaeda and the Taliban, Paul also played to his paranoid base, suggesting that the U.S. Government was targeting survivalist right-wingers as potential terrorists and might soon be launching drones against them.

And nowhere in my post do I suggest that anyone is evil.

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