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Sen. Rand Paul - Photo: Facebook

Sen. Rand Paul – Photo: Facebook

In the mid-20th Century, conservatives fulminated about the “monstrous commie plot” of water fluoridation. Today, sadly, there appears to be a modern day equivalent of this imaginary bogeyman.

According to a rather disturbing story in this morning’s Charlotte Observer, Kentucky Senator and presidential wannabe Rand Paul has endorsed the dangerous idea that childhood vaccinations should be left to the whims of parents.

“Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., claimed Monday that vaccines can cause ‘profound mental disorders.’

Paul, in an often contentious interview with CNBC, argued that parents should have a choice whether to vaccinate their children.

‘I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,’ Paul said.

The scientific community overwhelmingly believes that vaccines are safe and the alleged link between vaccines and autism has been discredited.

As the country was reminded in recent days with the outbreak of measles at Disneyland, vaccinations are a critical, life-saving public health tool — a tool that’s built in large measure on universal compliance. How do people think we got rid of dreaded killers like smallpox and polio — through prayer and fasting?

Whatever the source of Paul’s wacky views — be they old-fashioned conservative fear and paranoia or, as journalist Amanda Marcotte argued persuasively on Talking Points Memo yesterday, elitism, for the sake of all our kids and grandchildren, let’s hope Paul’s ridiculous stance falls flat and is quickly consigned once more to the dustbin of history.

Commentary
Sen. Rand Paul - Photo: Facebook

Sen. Rand Paul – Photo: Facebook

North Carolina’s Governor and state legislative leaders have indicated that they will appeal today’s Fourth Circuit ruling that enjoined two key voter suppression provisions that they helped enact in the 2013 “monster voting law.” Interestingly, however, this position runs directly contrary to several strong statements by one of the nation’s most prominent GOP presidential contenders, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

As MSNBC reported yesterday:

Backed by the Supreme Court, Republicans are looking to crack down on early voting. But one of the party’s potential 2016 front-runners doesn’t sound like he’s on board.

“I think it’s a dumb idea to spend a lot of time on Republicans trying to change early voting,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the Associated Press in an interview published Tuesday. “My position is I want more people to vote, not less.” Read More

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Gun violenceSchool “lockdowns” in response to gun violence: It’s become almost a daily occurrence in the U.S. Indeed, school gun violence incidents have gotten so absurdly commonplace that many of us don’t even blink an eye as the latest red-letter alert crawls across our computer or TV screens. As I write this, two more such lockdowns are underway — at Yale University in Connecticut and here in North Carolina at Vance-Granville Community College.  Talk about evidence that this madness is an equal opportunity plague.

It’s gotten so bad that it probably won’t be long before we see a news story like the following:

NRA calls for universal lockdown to combat school shootings

In response to the 750th American school shooting in the last six months, the National Rifle Association announced today that it is calling for an immediate, national and permanent lockdown of all schools, businesses and places of worship in the country. Under the NRA proposal, only individuals carrying firearms will be allowed to enter or exit any of the specified facilities. The proposal would make an exception for children under 12 entering and exiting under the protection of an armed parent or guardian.

“We’re just plain tired of people saying the NRA doesn’t care Read More

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While Sen. Rand Paul was filibustering last week over drones, his Republican colleagues were engaged in stalling tactics of another sort, designed to prevent federal judicial nominees from ever taking their seats on the bench.

In this New Yorker piece today, Jeffrey Toobin explains why judicial appointments are becoming “one of the great missed opportunities of the Obama Presidency.”

Case in point: Caitlin Halligan, Obama’s nominee for the  D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — considered the second most important court in the nation:

A majority of the Senate voted to bring up the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but forty-one Republican Senators voted to prevent her from receiving consideration. This is the modern version of the filibuster, far more common than Paul’s thirteen-hour speech. Without sixty votes, it’s now virtually impossible to accomplish anything in the contemporary United States Senate.

This was the second time that Halligan received majority support, but, because she never passed the threshold of sixty, her nomination now appears doomed. And so, in the fifth year of his Presidency, Obama has failed to place even a single judge on the D.C. Circuit. . . [which] now has four vacancies out of eleven seats.

Halligan is widely viewed by attorneys on both sides of the aisle as impeccably qualified to sit on the bench.  So what’s the problem? It turns out that while working in the New York Attorney General’s office Halligan wrote a brief supporting the efforts of her boss, Andrew Cuomo, “to make gun manufacturers legally responsible for some of the violence in New York, a position that the National Rifle Association opposed. The N.R.A. punished Halligan for doing her job for New York, and the Senate Republicans followed.”