Friday, March 11, 2011

Rand Paul Equates Abortion to Light Bulbs

Rand Paul's U.S. Senate career may be just beginning, but his mind is in the toilet. Yesterday, the freshman from Kentucky participated in a hearing on appliance energy efficiency conducted by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. During testimony from Kathleen Hogan, Paul decided to get something off his chest.

"Frankly, my toilets don't work in my house, and I blame you, and people like you," said Mr. Paul to Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the Energy Department.
"I've been waiting for 20 years to talk about how bad these toilets are!"
To be fair, he didn't just blurt it out like that. He kind of worked his way up to it.

Paul is one of many conservatives who are disproportionately riled by the idea of government-imposed energy efficiency standards. They feel it is an unforgivable intrusion into the sacred, almost spiritual relationship between business and consumers. The fact that businesses unfettered by such regulation tend to produce what is profitable rather than what's sustainable is beside the point to Paul. If energy efficiency were truly necessary, the free market would be serving it up already. Take light bulbs, for example.
Paul, a Republican, blamed his plumbing conundrum on federal legislation that forces Americans to buy more energy efficient appliances.
"Light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets, you name it. You can't go around your house without being told what to buy," Paul said.
Paul's walking the walk on this issue, too. He's one of the personal freedom visionaries who are trying to repeal a law from 2007 that mandates the phase-out of the incandescent light bulb in favor of energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs. But make no mistake - for Rand Paul, this is more than a legislative action. It's an epic battle against the tyranny of an uncaring nanny state, in the form of the unfortunate Ms. Hogan, and he made sure she knew that he knew it.
"You restrict my purchases. You don't care about my choices..."
“You don’t care about the consumer frankly. You raise the cost of all the items with your rules, all your notions that you know what’s best for me.”
But wait, it's more than just not caring about the light-bulb and toilet buying public. It's a question of approach.
"I’m all for energy conservation. But I wish you would come here to extol me, to cajole me, to encourage, to try to convince me to conserve energy. But you come instead with fines, threats of jail, you put people out of business who want to make products you don’t like.”
Here, Politico writer Darius Dixon felt compelled to add, "For the record, at no point during the hearing did Hogan threaten to arrest Paul." But we all know that she would have if she could, because that's just how these energy efficiency Nazis roll.

Worse, however, people like Hogan are vile hypocrites, Paul suggested, laying a crafty trap for her to prove it to all the world.
“I was wondering if you’re pro-choice?”
“I’m pro-choice of bulbs,” Hogan responded.
“Actually, that’s the point,” Paul said... The point is that most members of your administration probably would be frank and characterize themselves — and upfront — as being pro-choice for abortion,” he said, “but you’re really anti-choice on every other consumer item.”
“I think there should be self-examination from the administration on the idea that you favor a woman’s right to an abortion but you don’t favor a woman, or a man’s, right to choose what kind of light bulb, what kind of dishwasher.”
Oh, snap! He sure got her there, didn't he? I can't tell you how many times it's struck me how my reproductive freedom of choice is directly analogous to the selection of light bulbs and dishwashers. Some people would be offended by the equation of a decision that will impact a woman's life and future health to buying light bulbs, but they're just not seeing the bigger principle at work, which is that the government shouldn't be telling anybody what to do.
"You restrict my choices. There is hypocrisy that goes on when people claim to believe in some choices but don’t want to let the consumer decide what they can buy and put in their houses. I find it insulting. I find it insulting that a lot of these products that you’re going to make us buy and you won’t let us buy what we want to buy and you take away our choices.”
I'm so grateful to Rand Paul for drawing this parallel. I wonder if anyone in the media thought to call his office and ask for clarification. Specifically, I want to know if, since government interference in people's personal decisions and choices is reprehensible, he's prepared to come out in favor of a woman's right to choose? After all, he's the one calling hypocrisy on "people like Hogan" for restricting consumer choice while favoring reproductive choice. If it's hypocritical to be "believe in some choices" but not others, isn't Paul saying that he, too, favors reproductive choice?

But what, you say, does any of this have to do with toilets? Well, Paul didn't make that especially clear during his rant, but he seems to be angry about today's "low-flush" toilets that use less water with each flush than the old toilets and are therefore more efficient. Seems that, at Paul's house, things don't get, er, carried away as they're supposed to.
"We don't even save money! We flush them 10 times! They don't work!"
If that's the issue, Sen. Paul, I recommend a better, more digestible diet. You won't have to flush so many times when you're less full of shit.

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