Larry David had a good rant on Curb Your Enthusiasm about people who say "Having Said That" in a context which allows them to state one thing and then use "Having Said That" to proceed to make a sharp turn and contradict themselves. "I hate all dogs. Having said that, I really love Rin Tin Tin."
Bear with me, here, then:
As I've often stated on these blogs, I have zero interest in terrestrial politics. I long ago gave up the rigged shell-game of believing that terms like "left", "right" "liberal", "conservative", "republican" and "democrat" have held any real meaning in my lifetime. Both political parties are controlled by the same hive-mind packs of superstitious and short-sighted men, and neither party even comes close to addressing the issues that I consider the most important ones facing humanity today. In the immortal words of William S. Burroughs, "Fuck 'em all, squares on both sides."
Also, whenever I post here about some "weird politics" story, it invariably touches off knee-jerk reactions from people who assume that if I make fun of something really stupid that Gov. Beshear does, then it logically must follow that I am a Republican. I most assuredly am not - I don't use Brand X or Brand Y.
So that's why I tend to avoid political posts altogether, especially during election years.
But having said that........
The recent revelations about Rand Paul's college days, printed in GQ Magazine, are just too wacky not to examine. The article claims that Paul belonged to a fraternity well known for its anti-Christian and anti-religious sentiment. As part of this frat's rituals, the article alleges, Paul took part in tying up a woman and forcing her to kneel in obeisance to a comical mock-god of theirs they called the Aqua Buddha.
That's pretty crazy stuff, if true. And when Jack Conway used this information for an attack ad of his own, Paul decried it as despicable, and reportedly called Conway a "liar." But since the source of the Aqua Buddha cult story comes from GQ, not Conway himself, I think Mr. Paul is a tad confused there. Nonetheless, Paul has since several all ties of civility with Conway after the ad aired, refusing to even shake hands with him in debates. Says Paul: "I will not shake hands with someone who attacks my religion and attacks my Christian beliefs."
Again, while I understand Paul's outrage, this response doesn't make logical sense. In no way has Conway attacked Christianity itself by calling attention to the GQ story. And that's my real beef with Paul in the end: he may have some good think-outside-the-box ideas, but he's a very poor communicator. And I distrust people who cannot communicate. In fact, I turn and run from them whenever possible.
(I suppose I should say something critical about Jack Conway here just to keep it from looking like this is strictly an attack on Rand Paul, but honestly, I don't know anything about the guy. He bores me. Like I said, I don't follow politics and couldn't care less. I will say that, in order to campaign against someone, if you have to reach all the way back to your opponent's school years to dig up dirt on them, then your campaign is obviously in deep, deep trouble.)
According to FOX News:
Conway's team made it crystal clear Thursday that their candidate would be at the forum, regardless. In an e-mailed statement to reporters, campaign spokesman John Collins said, "Attorney General Jack Conway will be at the debate - regardless of whether Rand Paul has the guts to answer basic questions about his own actions. Jack understands and will always stand up for the people of Kentucky. Rand should stop his huffing and puffing and start answering people's questions."
Yeah, yeah, whatever - I don't care about any of that. I just wanna know more about this Aqua Buddha cult! How did it work? Does it still exist? Do they have an official religious text? Membership dues? Why is it "Aqua"?
The fraternity in question, known as The NoZe Brotherhood was not a legitimate one. It was banned by Baylor University for its sacreligious and racist views espoused in their newsletter The Rope, but continued to operate anyway as a sort of pathetic poor man's secret society. According to a female student quoted in the GQ piece:
"He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They'd been smoking pot." After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. "They told me their god was 'Aqua Buddha' and that I needed to bow down and worship him," the woman recalls. "They blindfolded me and made me bow down to 'Aqua Buddha' in the creek."
Is any of this relevant to the current campaign, though? Absolutely not. Rolling Stone magazine disagrees (but of course, they would):
The sneering, intellectually superior tone of Paul's society-brother newsletter is the one thing that to me seems still relevant to Paul's campaign. If you follow Paul enough and go to enough of his events, you won't be able to miss how much smarter he thinks he is than everyone else; he puts even Al Gore to shame in this department. If you ask him to explain some of his old comments, or something from his father's old libertarian newsletters, as I did, he's liable to roll his eyes at you. He apparently finds the whole answering questions and explaining himself thing very tiresome, and seems put out that he even has to bother with it en route to the Senate. If you read these NoZe articles, you might get an idea of where some of this comes from.
Maybe so, but that still doesn't make it relevant. If doing stupid things in college is enough to dash a professional/political future, then heck, we're all doomed. The NoZe frat may have been idiotic, but they're not half as cause for alarm to me as, say, the Skull and Bones Society, of which both President Bushes and John Kerry were members, and which has been accused of grave-robbing and borderline necrophilia.
If a man can be elected President of the United States after being a member of a group whose initiation ritual requires laying naked in a coffin and reciting one's deepest and darkest sexual fantasies to his fellow frat boys in a room filled with illegally-acquired human bones, I think we have more important things to worry about than Randy's goofy college past.