Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

May 20, 2010

RAND PAUL, THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, AND 'THE HARD PART' OF 'FREEDOM'.... When Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky, sat down with the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal, the paper understandably wanted to get a better sense of the right-wing ophthalmologist's ideology. It led to a logical question about the scope of government power.

INTERVIEWER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I'm all in favor of that.

INTERVIEWER: But?

PAUL: You had to ask me the "but." I don't like the idea of telling private business owners -- I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant -- but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that's most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.

When the interviewer noted that Paul's approach would have allowed lunch counters to deny service to Dr. Martin Luther King, based on nothing but his race, the Republican candidate said he would not go to that lunch counter, and he would criticize that lunch counter, but suggested it would be wrong to legally prohibit a business from discriminating. "[T]his," Paul said, "is the hard part about believing in freedom."

This wasn't an isolated exchange. Paul was on NPR yesterday, explaining that he only supports laws to prohibit "institutional" racism, not discrimination in private enterprise.

Paul then spoke to Rachel Maddow last night on MSNBC, and during the interview, the Republican candidate was more than a little evasive, perhaps realizing that his ideological extremism probably doesn't sound compelling to the American mainstream. Nevertheless, when Paul was asked about the desegregation of lunch counters, he replied, "Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion."

Rachel replied, "Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen's lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership. This is not a hypothetical Dr. Paul."

I have to admit, I find myself at a rare loss for words. At a certain level, I just find it painful to fathom the notion that, in the 21st century, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate would publicly express his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I'm well aware of the dangerous shift of today's GOP, but I like to think there are some lines that even Republicans wouldn't cross. And yet, here we are.

We all casually throw around words like "crazy" and "fringe" when describing contemporary politics, but once in a while, developments like Rand Paul's candidacy come along, and the need to reevaluate the blurred lines between Republican politics and sheer madness becomes apparent.

In the larger context, I also suppose it's time to start asking Republican leaders across the country a straightforward question: "Your party's Senate candidate in Kentucky has a problem with the Civil Rights Act. Do you think he's right or wrong?"

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (91)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

That being said, it's pretty clear he's not a racist. Most of the GOP members who have a problem with the civil rights act don't do it on pure liberterian principles....

Rand is wrong on a whole lot of issues, but this line of attack must be construed carefully.

Posted by: Justin on May 20, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

In the larger context, I also suppose it's time to start asking Republican leaders across the country a straightforward question: "Your party's Senate candidate in Kentucky has a problem with the Civil Rights Act. Do you think he's right or wrong?"

Ask early. Ask often.

@justin: Wanna bet the rest of the Replicant racists don't run to this line of argument?

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on May 20, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'd ask Dr. Paul another question: what about the municipal services and police protection private businesses get, paid for by yes, their tax dollars, but also by their customers'? If minorities you don't like are helping pay for services you receive, aren't they entitled to patronize your business? The line between "public" and "private" isn't as bright as Dr. Paul would like you to believe. That's aside from all the moral stuff about all Americans being equal, of course...

Posted by: dalloway on May 20, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul hasn't fully thought out the meaning of social compact, and sees no cultural problem in sanctioning bigoted-freedom!

WTF Teabaggers! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 20, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think Paul is an overt racist either, but his political ideology enables overt racism. It also enables slavery. The next question for Paul is does the government have the right to tell anyone that they can't "own" another human being? Was Lincoln right when he ended slavery? Didn't that strip people of their property rights?

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 20, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, let me see if I understand your position Dr. Paul:
You are against government telling businesses who they can and cannot serve.
But, you are FOR government telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body?
If you want to be considered a Libertarian, at least be consistent.
I'm no Libertarian (spit 3X's), and neither, I think, is he. He is an opportunist - cherry-picking talking points and meme's from the Republican, Conservative, and Teabaggers to get himself elected.
Make that a shameful opportunist. And sorry, a racist and sexist one at that.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 20, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Serve up some salmonella with those eggs. It's my damn restaurant, if you don't want to get poisoned, go eat somewhere else.

There's a reason Stormfront and the JBS are tickled pink about Dr. Paul.

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on May 20, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Without white racism, the Republican party would get fewer votes than the Libertarian party. Anyone who thinks this opinion will hurt Paul is very naive.

Posted by: JMG on May 20, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Freedom to hate.

Posted by: Mudge on May 20, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I think these comments speak more to his vanity than anything else. He seems to think that what's important is his ethical stance and not the very real impact that discriminatory laws had, and have, on our fellow citizens.

Posted by: wister on May 20, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

it's time to start asking Republican leaders across the country a straightforward question: "Your party's Senate candidate in Kentucky has a problem with the Civil Rights Act. Do you think he's right or wrong?"

Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

This is just one example of the libertarian mindset. We don't need regulation on, say, the safety of food. If a business sells tainted food then the public won't buy it and it'll go out of business -- after a couple hundred children die.

The difference between Rand Paul and the Teabaggers is that Paul has actually thought through the consequences of his anti-government philosophy. But like the author of his "bibles", he simply doesn't care about what happens to the little people.

This is what you get when you create a political movement based on a couple of badly written fairy tales.


Posted by: SteveT on May 20, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Paul is bat-shit nuts. So is his father, but Ron gets away with it because he's old and he has a sort of "crazy uncle" thing going, so people hear his nonsensical mutterings and go "Oh, that's so charming!"

But when ugly ideas spew from the mouth of the younger version, you see it for what it is: crazy and dangerous.

If Paul had his way, companies could dump toxic sludge into the river (not that they don't already), because, hey, who are WE to tell companies what to do?

Posted by: rob on May 20, 2010 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

@wister-- Therein lies the inherent weakness of the libertarian argument. Libertarianism is based upon certain ideas that would work in an ideal world. However, we will never live in an ideal world, ergo, pure libertarianism will never work!

Posted by: The Caped Composer on May 20, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

I've talked online with libertarians like Rand Paul, and his views don't surprise me, because they're pretty consistent with some strains of libertarianism. Based on my experience, here are a few more things I think Paul might give interesting responses about:

Do laws against sexual harassment that apply to private businesses infringe on employer/employee rights?

Would you be in favor of eliminating government-funded agencies that regulate food, product, and environment safety?

Broadly speaking, do you think of taxation as being theft?

I'd predict that Paul would say Yes to all of the above, though he'd waffle quite a bit first, thinking that these are "hard" aspects of "freedom".

Posted by: RSA on May 20, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

We don't have to go back to history to find flaws in Dr. Paul's ideology. Just ask him about the BP disaster in the Gulf or coal mining disasters. A couple of questions about the power of the government to regulate off shore drilling and mining safety and either he will have a tv conversion or he will be political toast.

His big problem, however, has to do with the people of Kentucky. How does he intend to help them when he gets to Washington? The Kentucky Democrat should focus most of his time telling Kentuckians who he wants to help them.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 20, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

given we're talking about a candidate for senate in kentucky, i don't really think that anything paul would say about the civil rights act would be a net vote loss for him come november.

Posted by: me on May 20, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

We conservatives are NOT RACIST! We just want to go back to a strict interpretation of our original constitution.

Lacking that, we will settle for the repeal of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 19th amendments.

Posted by: ConservativePointOfView on May 20, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

It is funny, Mr. Paul is showing tolerance and all those who deal with a racist label are those who are intolerant. So I have no right to deny access to anyone at my store, because I know you are a fan if they belong to a minority? What if they do not allow access because they are Republicans or Democrats, or libertarian? He did it on race/sexuality. No Paul. If I am denied access to their private business because of my career, nothing happens, I will just tell everyone I know and maybe organize a demonstration outside his tent.

Posted by: sumvision cyclone on May 20, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul's comments echo another libertarian - Barry Goldwater. He voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and defended his vote late into his life. Goldwater was quite famously not a bigot - he even favored gays in the military.

What libertarians are guilty of here is philosophical preciousness. That is, their ideas matter more than your reality. Ideologues are customarily inebriated with thought itself. They self-congratulate about consistency and principles. That's why they're incompetent to govern. The real world is merely an afterthought to their zealotry.

Posted by: walt on May 20, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

It is funny, Mr. Paul is showing tolerance and all those who deal with a racist label are those who are intolerant. So I have no right to deny access to anyone at my store, because I know you are a fan if they belong to a minority? What if they do not allow access because they are Republicans or Democrats, or libertarian? He did it on race/sexuality. No Paul. If I am denied access to their private business because of my career, nothing happens, I will just tell everyone I know and maybe organize a demonstration outside his tent.
sumvision cyclone

Posted by: enricksspaikers on May 20, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Is he against abortion? How can he be? If a business has the right to refuse service to anyone, then doesn't a woman have the same right?

Posted by: Eleanor on May 20, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Barry Goldwater was not an overt racist, either. But, as a Libertarian, he voted against the Civil Rights Act on the basis of 10th Amendment. He felt the Federal government did not have the Constitutional authority to over rule any state government's position. As a result, thousands of racists in the South fell in line with Goldwater, misunderstood his reasoning, and switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party. The Texas Rep from West Houston is spouting the same line. When, they fall back upon the 10th Amendment, they want to destroy the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, social security, medicare and any other Federal program not, specifically, cited in the Constitution for Federal powers.

In a way, I would prefer a blatant Bull Conners to a veiled nuanced Rand. Rand is nothing more than a "some of my best friends are..." A racist is a racist, no matter how nuanced they may appear. Now, start telling those UK players, they can't sit at any lunch counter in Lexington, Rand.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

These civil rights act questions are just the beginning. With Rand Paul we are going to be exposed to the entire Libertarian crazy. Keep this in mind--libertarianism is just another 19th century utopianism. Like communism, socialism, fascism and all the other "ism" it fails because there is no ideal state. Life is messy. It isn't pure and we shouldn't try to force purity for the sake of purity.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 20, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Well, OK. I don't believe that 'private ownership' gives a business owner license to do as he/she pleases with their property. I think that there is a social compact, and, as well, I think there are unacknowledged costs to a libertarian ideology that are borne by the society at large. And I'm not afraid of putting these questions up to a vote.

Posted by: MattF on May 20, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul is not crazy. This is straight up Libertarianism. The problem that many Libertarians run into when talking about what they believe is that a lot of their ideology comes across as flat out crazy. They assume that the majority of people will always do the right thing, just as free-marketeers trust businesses to do the right thing. It just sounds crazy.

Posted by: chrenson on May 20, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

In one way, I agree with Paul. Geez, if I had my own lunch counter, I would only allow those wearing Chiefs, Jayhawk and Oakland A's caps to enter. To hell with any Mizzou, UK, UNC, Bronco, Chargers, Raiders, K-State, Cubs, Mariners or Angel's guys and gals trying to enter my joint. Oops, I forgot the Texas Rangers. Ah, a lunch counter only for the choir and purist of the pure.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

I'm disappointed in this post. It's pretty clear that Paul is taking a principled Libertarian position, and not a racist one. Benen is choosing to react to this viscerally, without really addressing his point. I disagree with Paul, but I think the political dialogue is degraded when people attempting to make rational arguments are met with emotion and hysteria.

Posted by: Shag on May 20, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Building on RSA's list above, he should also be asked:

Should the government license doctors?

Should the govt insure bank deposits? (his answer to this one will be REALLY popular these days)

Should the govt prosecute businesses that commit fraud on their customers?

I'm sure his answers to all of these will be shocking to most normal people, including Kentucky voters. Hopefully, now that one of them is a major party candidate, there are a lot of rocks in libertarian philosophy that will get overturned.

Posted by: Basilisc on May 20, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

You're right as usual, Steve. Every single interview with a Republican should include a question as to whether they would favor the repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Posted by: JD on May 20, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with dealing with the Libertarian (big L) types is they argue from a fixed inflexible principle. Unfortunately, we "liberals" argue by example. So Paul can say he's not racist, but we can't violate the racists' rights to private property. Liberals just won't say that we are not and never have been a Libertarian country, and that the Gov't was created to provide for the common good, via electe representatives. The common good requires individual sacrifices, under due process of law. Everything in our gov't is based on that, and not the fantasy world of the oft times entertaining Libertarians.

Posted by: martin on May 20, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Wonder how Rand Paul feels about laws that require businesses to allow patrons to openly carry guns on their premises.

It's interesting how the right has reacted when private property rights and Second Amendment rights collide. Not only does the Second Amendment win, but there isn't really even an argument about it amongst the wingnuts.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on May 20, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kevo - I think you nailed it. The absence of thought with respect to the social compact.

I am appreciative of many of the comments on this thread, very thoughtful, even when Steve trumpets (sorry Steve) the conventional progressive response that some things are so sacrosanct that they cannot be question. Bullshit, everything can and should be questioned.

So, Paul raises some important issues and I think they are the defining issues of our time. What do we expect from our government and our fellow citizens. What moral and ethical beliefs knit us together into a cohesive fabric, rather than a group of warring tribes. Do we believe in individually based, civil liberties, and how do these liberties intersect in the social context. Are we in the process of rejecting individual liberties and replacing them with statist, collective liberties (I think that is where, ironically, the Republican's (ala Palin) are headed, okay I said it "Fascism"). Also, do we respect the tradition that has brought us to where we are, or are we in the process of rejecting that tradition and starting over. Are we more like France, post-revolution, or are we more like England?

Rand's radical individualism is one response to the social compact, and, while we might not like the result, I think we miss an opportunity by not engaging in that conversation. In the end, I am convinced that the majority of citizens will conclude that Rand's individualism benefits too few at the expensive of too many to be a viable socal compact model. So, let's have the debate.

Posted by: Scott F. on May 20, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Paul's position isn't crazy. It's perfectly intelligible both what his position is and why he holds it. Moreover, he can give, and has given, a coherent argument in its defense.

The problem is that his position is deeply wrong and indeed morally outrageous. His argument for it is unsound, resting on premises that are only superficially plausible. Call him on that stuff. Show that he's wrong (e.g. to overlook the elements of the social contract in play).

But I don't think it's either correct or helpful (to 'our' side) to call him crazy.

Posted by: Ted H. on May 20, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers said:
Life is messy. It isn't pure and we shouldn't try to force purity for the sake of purity.

But in the fairy tales that shaped the views of the Paul father and son, the stalwart capitalists that are all strong-jawed, aristrocratic (or at least upper, upper middle class) heros surrounded by a halo of light while the members of government are all cackling, mustache-twirling villains.


Posted by: SteveT on May 20, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

How about Cornhusker gear, berttheclock?

Posted by: 2Manchu on May 20, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

The question I would ask, plus a follow up:

Mr. Paul, do you believe in the statement "All men are created equal", and if so, do you believe the government, having stated this belief, has any responsibility in enforcing this belief?

Posted by: victory on May 20, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the comment immediate above mine above -- from Scott F. -- which puts the point better than I did.

Posted by: Ted H. on May 20, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Er, Shag, those "Principled" Libertarian views espoused by Rand and fellow Libertarians would destroy our social fabric. Do you really want to see our society lose the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Social Security, Medicare, public funding for education, National Park treasures be turned over to Private Corporations run by the states, if, they have any money left to keep Yellowstone open? Do you really want that?

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Another point Rand completely evades is that in many towns and neighborhoods in America today, private spaces have replaced the public square. When the only place to gather is the local mall, what happens when mall owners decide to exclude black/brown/gay/Muslim/non-Christian/liberal or any other kind of people?

And if that mall received tax breaks to build there (as most do), that means the rest of the community is supporting it with their taxes. Doesn't that mean they should have a say in its use?

Ultimately, libertarianism is a child's view of the world, simplistic, selfish and unworkable.

Posted by: Gummo on May 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

I am glad that Rand Paul is finally shedding light (or exposing) what the tea party movement is really all about with his recent statements on civil rights and the introduction of segratation again, which is racism, pure and simple!

Posted by: angellight on May 20, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

@2Manchu, nah, I had to take them off the list after spending some very pleasant time talking with Suh's father in the parking lot of our local Lowes. Classy family. He was beaming over the educational aspects of his son's career in Lincoln.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Wow...the "future of the Republican party" turns out to be Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrats of 1948....

Posted by: MrBenchley on May 20, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

good thread. kudos, all. (almost all).

Posted by: Rathskeller on May 20, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

It's as if Rand Paul has never heard of the term "public accomodation" and why restaurants, taxis, and other places of business that are open to the general public are not free to discriminate on the basis of race, any more than religion, sex, etc.

Posted by: David W. on May 20, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

..it's pretty clear he's not a racist.

Allowing for discriminatory practices is implicit sanction of those practices, no matter what the philosophical grounds are.

Paul simply does not 'abhor' racism strongly enough to let it override his other, anti-government convictions.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 20, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Paul's position isn't crazy. It's perfectly intelligible both what his position is and why he holds it. Moreover, he can give, and has given, a coherent argument in its defense.

Not in the Maddow interview. He answers her in a series of feints and dodges, and attempts to change the subject.

Just because a viewpoint is said to come from libertarian underpinings, if the resulting position is racist, then it should be labeled as racist.

Posted by: Chester on May 20, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

He is not a racist?

How low have we sunk!

Posted by: gregor on May 20, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

I can recognize a little libertarian streak in myself, a "progressive." Probably most of us can if we look hard enough. But libertarianism on the right -- like most belief on the right -- comes down to being "liberties for me but not for thee."

Ron, Rand's father, is a sympathetic person but (like father, like son) all over the place politically. I think both Pauls enjoy being "characters" so much that the larger meaning of their beliefs evades them.

Posted by: pw on May 20, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Charles Johnson at www.littlegreenfootballs.com has been documenting how Rand Paul is a racist in Libertarian's clothing. Rand's backed by the John Birch Society (as is old Ron) and, as Jeff in Oh above noted, Stormfront loves them some Paulian thinking.

IMHO, this guy is freaking scary. But the likelihood he'll win the general seems very slight.

Posted by: MsJoanne on May 20, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

What's typical here, and what works politically, is the way libertarian views (however principled) act as enablers for out-and-out racism and total corporate control of society.

Rand (or some other, more genuine and less cynical libertarian) may claim a principled position that private property rights trump an otherwise virtuous regulation like our Civil Rights Act, and may argue that market pressures would ultimately bring about the same result.

Naturally, overt racists in our society -- those who DO want to exclude African Americans from their lunch counter because they "don't like n***ers" -- will seize on such positions, because they justify outcomes that the racists favor while providing a philosophical veil for views that are no longer publicly tolerated.

Additionally, the people I'd call 'reflexive propertarians' ("It's my damn store, keep your hands off it") will feel validated by libertarian views. In this case, the person may well not be racist at all, but simply follows an unreflected definition of 'property'. This position, it seems, appears strongly among Tea Party and other right-wing voters, ("keep your hands off my money"), the no-tax crowd. The Republican party has been pandering to this group since Reagan (think of Bush II's repeated use of the "it's your money" meme about taxes), and it works, even though the Republicans in fact work for corporate interests that are very effectively extracting that money from the very people that Republicans claim they are protecting. These people, of course, also feel entitled to all the government benefits they enjoy (police protection, and 'their' Medicare).

In short, Rand's rhetoric is politically very effective with a substantial bloc of voters whose own behavior is not in the least libertarian. Under the right circumstances, it gets politicians elected, so expect to hear a lot more of it.

Posted by: PQuincy on May 20, 2010 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

I watched that Rachel Maddow segment and what struck me was that Mr. Paul seems to lack the courage of his convictions. He was tap-dancing furiously, trying to avoid the question. It wasn't a pretty sight. He's not prepared for the scrutiny he's going to get now.

At the outset, if he wanted to tap-dance, he could have said "The Civil Rights Act is 40 years old, it's settled law and I wouldn't try to change it."

A more principled and honest approach to the whole subject would be to say "I oppose racism and discrimination. I don't practice it and urge everyone not to, either. But I don't believe the Federal Government should get involved with telling individuals and local businesses who they must serve and how they must serve them. Let me be clear: The Civil Rights Act had noble goals, and I support those goals. But if you're going to have principles like limited government, you have to stand by them even when you're trying to achieve a noble goal that you support passionately. Otherwise the government will end up intervening in all sorts of personal affairs, because one party thinks it's important to do this and the other thinks it's important to do that. Which is exactly what we've seen with laws intervening in all sorts of areas that really aren't the government's business. I'm saying let's not have the Federal Government doing any of that."

I don't agree with that position but it's a legitimate topic for debate and the kind of thing we have elections to decide. It would have been refreshing to hear him say that. But now he looks like just another pol who's afraid to own his views, who values his electoral prospects more than his integrity.

Posted by: eyescribe on May 20, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Glibertarians: sure, that works in practice, but what about the theory?

Posted by: latts on May 20, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

There were, also, some men who sat around a conference table on January 20,1942 at a villa by Grossen Wannsee, who believed in their "principles".

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Paul ran AGAINST the GOP, not with it. To ascribe his beliefs to the GOP is disingenuous.

Posted by: J on May 20, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?

I'm shocked, shocked that a loony libertarian like Paul would indulge in a false equivalence.

The owner owns the restaurant, and the government that secures his right to own the restaurant can and should, in return, require that he not violate the rights of others in exchange.

Paul's take on child labor and workplace safety laws would be interesting too.

Posted by: Gregory on May 20, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I have no problem with a private club deciding it will only take certain members. Example: a private gulf club could say not accept whites and christians as long as it did not accept public monies. That is perfectly fine.

However, if you are a private business open to the public and not a private club, you must let those poor oppressed white christians in. It would be unfair otherwise.

Posted by: cheflovesbeer on May 20, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

[RAND] PAUL: You had to ask me the "but." I don't like the idea of telling private business owners -- I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant -- but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership.

Translated: "I'm sick and tired of having to eat around a bunch of n***ers. If business owners want to deny service or have seperate water fountains if it's good for business, then let 'em."

Posted by: electrolite on May 20, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Great questions in these comments, and they deserve to be shared widely. I have no problem believing the eye doc is not a racist, but he does have trouble seeing that courts, with or w/o "tort reform," are not an efficient means of addressing the issue of segregated lunch counters any more than courts are the solution to oil pollution on our nation's beaches.

Ayn Rand admired black smoke belching from industry chimneys as a sign of capitalism's success. Perhaps her namesake disagrees with that point of view, but someone does need to demand a clear statement.

Let him use this "teachable moment" to explain the horrors of financial regulation, pollution control, and the need for nullification. Does he in fact favor privatizing water supplies, dams, and highways? What about national parks? Sea shores?

Does he want to repeal Civil Rights Act title he opposes? How does he feel about tort reform and "onerous" restrictions on lawyers? Does Paul favor drug legalization? Then what about bongs? Condoms? Dildos? Does the free press allow for child porn? False advertising? Deceptive contracts?

Does Ron Paul agree with his son's political positions, and vice-versa? ALL Republican candidates should be forced to go on the record about repeal of Social Security, Medicare, and the new health care act, not just these two pseudo-libertarians.

What constitutional amendments would he like to have repealed? Which federal laws? How valid is succession from the United States? Are corporations citizens? These are not matters of merely theoretical interest.

And, racist or not, if Stormfront and the John BS are backing him, let's promote those endorsements as widely as possible. Yes, let's have the Civil Rights debate all over again and see how racist this nation-- and this particular dying, regional political party-- actually is.

It will also be good fun to force the Pauls to separate themselves from the theocrats on the right to die, government definitions of marriage (miscegenation, anyone?), religious texts in courtrooms, religious symbols in public parks, and all the rest. After all, if a birth certificate is mandatory for full citizenship, why not baptism?

Maybe it IS time debate the New Deal all over again. Perhaps it's even time to reconsider whether the US was on the wrong side of WWII, as the John BS society (or at least many of its supporters) have always insisted. What does it mean "to promote the general welfare"?

If the fundamental principles of this country are under attack, let's bring in some sunlight and sort these matters out once and for all. And let's get all the campaigning anti-tax, small government hypocrites on record.

We've got a Fox in the messy barnyard of democracy. Since the baggers have brought these fundamental issues to the fore, let's give 'em something to do until this fall's big gains by the non-insane Obama party by putting the *ahem* Spotlight on them and making Them play defence for a change.

Posted by: Tomm on May 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

I think folks are wrong to guess at Mr Paul's motives. We don't know if he's a racist or not. He could be incredibly racist. He may just be embarrassed about it. Or he could believe what he says, and would be fine with a return to Whites Only restrooms, with everyone else having to relieve themselves in the fields.

He is a politician and the son of a politician. He's definitely defending and winning the "I'm not racist, I just hate colored people" vote.

Posted by: Gene Ha on May 20, 2010 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

The big problem with Tenthers is they can't count. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments come AFTER the Tenth and therefore, to the extent that they conflict, modify and supersede the Tenth. That is a complete answer to Goldwater's Tenth Amendment argument against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also many of the arguments made by Tenthers.

Posted by: Dave in DC on May 20, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

@ The Caped Composer: Therein lies the inherent weakness of the libertarian argument. Libertarianism is based upon certain ideas that would work in an ideal world. However, we will never live in an ideal world, ergo, pure libertarianism will never work!

Ironically, the same is true with Communism.

Posted by: Gregory on May 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

That Maddow interview was absolutely gobsmacking. At least 10 times, she asked him whether he thinks it should be legal for a private business providing public accommodation to discriminate. And he would not do it. Would. Not. Answer.

From restating 50 times that he's "against discrimination in government institutions" to trying to change the subject to whether public accommodation laws mean requiring privately owned businesses to allow customers to bring guns in. (maybe--now let's get back to the question you were asked, Mr. Paul), he went through everything in his very limited repertoire of oratory tricks to avoid putting his actual views on record.

From Paul's refusal to actually stand up like a man for his beliefs -- unlike the avowed racists who support him and his father -- I conclude that he is both a bully and a coward. Nice combo: a sleaze and a sneak in every way it's possible to be one, while congratulating himself for being a rare man of principle.

Posted by: shortstop on May 20, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I think folks are wrong to guess at Mr Paul's motives. We don't know if he's a racist or not.

His motives are irrelevant. The fact is that his stated position gives aid and comfort to racist policies like whites-only drinking fountains. (And hey, since loony libertarians are all about slippery-slope arguments, why not slavery as well?)

Moreover, as shortstop points out, the fact that Paul refuses to embrace the implications of his loony libertarian views does allow us to draw conclusions about his motives, or at least his character.

Posted by: Gregory on May 20, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul is the type who would send Bull Conners out to do his dirty work, while, he kept his "principled" image safely behind his hood.

Bull Conners had more integrity, no matter, how despicable he was in real life.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Justin: "That being said, it's pretty clear he's not a racist. Most of the GOP members who have a problem with the civil rights act don't do it on pure liberterian principles...."


I'd like to see some evidence of that non-racism.

Posted by: Barry on May 20, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you Rand Paul, Sue Lowdon, and all the rest of you Republican Tea Party kissing hopefuls. Live by the Tea Party and die by the Tea Party. It's going to be so much fun watching these knuckleheads run for office and match up their REAL philosophy with the average american voter.

At the end of the day, I think the consensus will be that these people are NOT representative of America, they are whack jobs and living in a Fox News dream world.

Posted by: mike reilly on May 20, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, regarding the Maddow interview, Paul's harping on "institutional racism" is a dog whistle about affirmative action.

His weaseling in refusing to say private business shouldn't have a right to discriminate -- which is not, by the way, a First Amendment issue, jackass -- is truly astonishing.

Posted by: Gregory on May 20, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul opposes the 1964 Civil Rights Act as an unwarranted federal intrusion on private rights. The man is not fit for public office in the 21st Century. But there is an easy solution to defeating Rand Paul in the general election: every American who supports the Civil Rights Act and the government's right to put an end to racial discrimination should tell every corporation that if their PAC donates to Rand Paul's campaign then they will be subject to a boycott. These issues were settled 50 years ago with the blood, sweat and tears of thousands. We have no need to revisit them. Shut off the bigot's source of money and you shut out the bigot from being elected.

Posted by: Bells on May 20, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul is all about the further polarization (if it were possible) of America, whereby a Republican business owner can fire his Democratic-leaning employees because they didn't vote the way he thought they should have. More and more, the nutty teabaggers show their swooning over the midnight ride of Paul Revere and Concord Bridge; a time when women didn't have the vote, you only heard about the government when they wanted to start a war with somebody and wealth allowed you to exercise your power and influence more or less without restraint.

Posted by: Mark on May 20, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Agreed with those above who would rather we have it out on the failures of libertarian principle when applied to the real world, in which real, fallible, selfish, miserable human beings live, not John Galt and co. Rand Paul isn't crazy, he's just wrong.

He is interesting, though, no? Gotta give him that. Not just a run-of-the-mill, put-upon teabagger with their resentments and fears driving everything they say.

I think we should buy up some property in the middle of the Pacific, and give away parcels to the first 1,000 true Libertarians who sign up, so they can go prove to us how great their anarchist world would be. Fly 'em in, drop 'em off, and see how long it takes for a formal government to emerge. I'd give it 25 years before either they've all killed each other and there are 5 families left, or something closely resembling the legal structure of Iceland has cropped up.

Posted by: mca on May 20, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Bull Conners had more integrity, no matter, how despicable he was in real life.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Two things for the record:
One: it was Bull Connor, not Conners.
Two: Indeed he was a despicable, wretched excuse for a human being, but still had a slightly thicker residue of integrity -- in that he was at least honest and upfront with his disgusting racism -- than Rand Paul, who hides his behind the white sheet of libertarianism.

Posted by: electrolite on May 20, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Gummo and grape-crush - you have it right. I'm disappointed to see so many people in this forum easily dismissing the racism inherent in Rand Paul's reasoning. Lunch counters aside, he's saying that he should be able to refuse treatment to a black, gay, Jewish, female, or other person based on his freedom of speech. A black person fleeing Katrina could be denied service by a taxi driver because of someone else's freedom to speak by choosing only white passengers. This kind of "choice" can only be countenanced by someone who denies the humanity of others based on an essential characteristic. The denial of services, access to services, is not "speech!" (Although it certainly speaks.) PLEASE don't accept Paul's racism under the cover of "pure" ideals. I can't wait to hear Michael Steele defend them - but progressives should look at Paul and see him for what he is.

Posted by: ghillie on May 20, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

It is always amazing to me that commentors say someone is "obviously not a racist" after that individual has expressed incredibly racist things. Can we for once stop playing games? Anyone who would argue that a person can be discriminated against on the basis of their race when conducting business with a commercial enterprise (hotel, rental complex, housing development, bar, restaurant, airline, etc.) is either incredibly stupid, racist, or most likely, both. Racism is as racism does. Let's stop the nonsense: Rand Paul has expressed abhorently racist beliefs. There is no evidence whatsoever that he is not racist. No pun intended, but let's call a spade a spade here.

Posted by: Bells on May 20, 2010 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Who did Woolworth's rely on to remove their unwanted patrons? Oh yeah, taxpayer financed police. That's the question I would have asked Paul: the whole notion of property rights relies in no small part on state initiatives to support and enforce those rights. Otherwise I could go into Woolworth's and fill my shopping cart and leave without paying, if I could run away fast enough. It's not enough to say businesses have rights without acknowledging that it's the government that makes those rights tangible and worth something.

Posted by: Barbara on May 20, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

It's worth pointing out that a position can be racist without being crazy. I argued above that his position isn't crazy, but I claimed that it is nonetheless morally outrageous. I wouldn't dissent from the thesis that part of what makes the position morally outrageous is that it is racist in key respects.

Still, it's not a crazy view. One can see why he holds it. And one can engage it rationally.

Posted by: Ted H. on May 20, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, regarding the Maddow interview, Paul's harping on "institutional racism" is a dog whistle about affirmative action.

Excellent point. I missed that and it should have been blindingly obvious.

His weaseling in refusing to say private business shouldn't have a right to discriminate -- which is not, by the way, a First Amendment issue, jackass

He knows that. He also knows his ignorant-ass base gets het up by any suggestion that "political correctness" is impinging on its free speech and loves to cast itself as the "real" victim of "discrimination."

He's a calculating, manipulative piece of trash whose every move is designed to bring out his supporters' worst instincts while pretending that he's above that because, like his father, he's too cowardly to pay the public (and, in most states, political--let's hope Kentucky's among them) price of candidly stating his position. Give me a frank and honest Stormfront member any day over this creepy family.

Posted by: shortstop on May 20, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul,(and I suppose other libertarians) redefines "institutional racism" as government racism. I always thought the "institutional" part meant "an integral part of the structure of society as a whole". Then he wants to privatise everything, which would reduce the reach of any sort of laws about fairness or equality (if any were left) to a tiny insignificant part of the picture.
I can't remember anything like an interviewee answering a question about national racism in the present with some esoteric discussion of something that happened in Boston a century and a half ago. The whole Maddow interview was a bizarre case of RP repeatedly obfuscating and changing the subject.

I think a lot of the appeal of his dad, particularly to younger people, is his questioning of just about everything. Like, why do we have military bases all over the world? The problem is that he would throw all the babies out with the bathwater, and we like most of those babies. And interpret the words of the Declaration of Independence to demand most of them. You know, the part about being created equal and being endowed with unalienable rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And a government being instituted to ensure those rights.

Posted by: emjayay on May 20, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Social compacts are not static but dynamic. Political "truths" are settled only for brief periods of time. Then they need to be reconsidered and refined or else they die.

American continues to wrestle with the philosophical premise that "all men are created equal." (that sentence alone should be shocking to any progressive for whom it excludes). This Country's history is defined by the struggle to understand what that statement of faith means and whether it is even collectively feasible. This is a profound opportunity to redefine our core values as a society, and I welcome the thoughtful comments on this blog, much less heat, much more light.

The problem for the tea party crowd is that the constitution is not a libertarian document, but rather an enlightenment document that values individual liberty in the context of larger social cohesion. In order to preserve private property, certain compromises were necessary. It will be fun to see where Rand Paul draws the modern day line between private and public. Something tells me the commerce clause is in for a workout.

As for the idea of dropping our libertarian friends on an island in the Pacific,that thought experiment was conducted by William Golding,no?

Posted by: Scott F. on May 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Paul is guilty of naive intellectual honesty.

He's willing to admit his theory has a real world shortcoming. This is more than any other politician, pundit, blogger or internet commentator is willing to admit.

He believes that if a business discriminated today, they wouldn't be in business for long, there would be true-grass-roots boycotts, people would pay higher prices at integrated establishments, all without government intervention. And if there are discriminatory businesses that survive the pressure, that's the price we pay for a limited government. And it is good to say, well what makes slavery different? Or What about BP? and so forth. If he wants to balance the budget without any tax increase, then we need to ask him how much of Social Security/Medicare/Military will he cut, will he close the National Parks, Shut down NASA, gut the VA... Paul will either be honest, or come off as a fool.

And this is the discussion this nation needs to have, it will force us to mature. We've been having it both ways since the 1980's without paying any of the consequences. The current GOP Leadership believes they can still get away with that mindset (as we've mentioned about the tea partiers multiple times).

Posted by: Dervin on May 20, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Wonder how Rand Paul feels about laws that require businesses to allow patrons to openly carry guns on their premises.

It's interesting how the right has reacted when private property rights and Second Amendment rights collide. Not only does the Second Amendment win, but there isn't really even an argument about it amongst the wingnuts."

Posted by: low-tech cyclist

Actually, Rand Paul DID talk about exactly that during the Maddow interview. He was trying to get the Liberal Rachel to agree that if you force a private business owner to provide equal public accomidation than you can force a private business owner to allow guns into his business.

Or to be clear, Rand Paul thinks that business owners have a right to deny patrons the right to bring their guns into the owner's business.

Make that clear to the NRA.

Posted by: Lance on May 20, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

He also knows his ignorant-ass base gets het up by any suggestion that "political correctness" is impinging on its free speech and loves to cast itself as the "real" victim of "discrimination."

As, indeed, he tried to portray himself in light of Maddow's questioning.

Posted by: Gregory on May 20, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

A klansman walks into a black man's restaurant and the owner is forced to serve him food in violation of his 1st amendment rights to free association.

Does discomfort with this situation strike anyone as insane?

The Constitution says things that we frequently do not like. Paul has expressly explained that he hates the behavior that the Constitution proclaims is legal.

Does an abstract concept like this so easily throw my fellow liberals that they cannot recognize conditions under which the opposite seems outrageous?

If a swap meet trades baseball cards and excludes all Catholics/Asians/Canadians/Game Show Hosts? That's legal. If they do it in a storefront: still legal. If a stranger walks notices the baseball card club and wants to buy someone's card and the two of them step outside the meeting to do so? Legal. If the stranger pays a fee and signs a membership form, the same two people step inside and exchange cards for money: still legal.

Now, a stranger walks into the "meeting" without going through some arbitrary membership ritual, the meeting is suddenly a "store" and trading money for baseball cards is illegal because the "store" is now "open to the public" and must sell to anyone who walks in.

How money trumps the 1st amendment, I don't yet understand. I'm listening, though.

In America, folks have the right to be complete sphincters. We can change the Constitution to reverse this, but I don't see a legit loophole. That you wish to portray him as insane or wrong because his view is unpopular may some to overstate the downside of his election should he prove successful. This ONE tenet is an extreme form of support for individual rights. He might be nuts in fifty other ways, I'll read Kevin Drum's article, but the pounding of the drum that racism sucks misses the point.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on May 20, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

@Scott F: precisely, as to your final observation. I thought about making that point explicit by saying "they can bring all the copies of "Atlas Shrugged" they want, but it won't change the fact that "Lord of The Flies" is the more correct view of human nature" but decided brevity was already lacking in my post.

Posted by: mca on May 20, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Bull Connor. Thanks

But, as to "institutional racism" and affirmative action. Virtually, any right winger who has been a proponent for defeating affirmative action, such as John Carlson in his successful overturning of the Washington State AA, has used the "color blind" part of Dr King's speech. The nuanced racists love to talk about how they view society through the lens of color blindness. Yeah, cut funding for inner city schools, support increased funding for white flight schools, then, yell, "color blindness" when graduates of those two systems try to enter higher education state facilities. It is their misrepresentation of the views of Dr King which is despicable. They never refer to his views on the struggle to achieve equality. They only focus on the "color blindness" aspect. Of course, Pat Buchanan, once, talked of why no affirmative action was needed any more. He said, "Hey, look at them. They have some successful professionals. They don't need it, any more." Yeah, Pat, you really helped "them" to succeed, didn't you.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

@J - He ran against the GOP establishment choice. But he ran for the GOP nomination. So to say that he isn't GOP is not true.

If he or his father want to distance themselves from the GOP and be true Libertarians, then don't run as that party. Bernie Sanders caucuses with Democrats, but runs as an independent.

Posted by: EndTheEcho on May 20, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

So let me see if I have Ron Paul's core beliefs straight.

- The Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional on the grounds that the government shouldn't be in the business of telling private companies how to operate
- The Federal Government has way overstepped it's bounds and we should greatly reduce the level of government intervention into the lives of Americans

Which if I'm correct in translating means, laws against discrimination should only be applicable to services and goods provided by the public sector and...we need to get rid of the public sector.

Nooooo...not racist at all!!!

Posted by: Gotta Ask Why on May 20, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Can we also admit that libertarians don't really care about market forces when people attempt to marshal them in service of an idea with which libertarians don't agree?

Example: When the Whole Foods CEO put out his WSJ editorial arguing against the health care bill, lots of liberals, to whom the store nominally caters, were upset and decided to no longer give the store their patronage. In response, Radley Balko (of whom I am generally a fan) and the Reasonoids mocked the idea of a Whole Foods boycott and decided to start buying from the store not so much in support of the CEO's ideas, but because it would piss liberals off.

Aren't they supposed to be supportive of market-based solutions, and efforts to vote with your pocketbook? In a similar vein, can't we be sure that in a world with no Civil Rights Act protections on private businesses, enclaves would pop up where like-minded racists would reward racist business owners for their racism?

Posted by: Fargus on May 20, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

" These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion."

The problem with Libertarianism in a nutshell.

Posted by: king buzzo on May 20, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I very reluctantly find myself in sympathy with Paul. I am a bleeding heart liberal, but I remember when the debate about the Civil Rights bill was going on that I was very uneasy about its being rooted in the idea of interstate commerce, which was certainly a back-door approach. The statement from Paul, "[T]his," Paul said, "is the hard part about believing in freedom." is a very principled statement. Isn't this what liberals tell conservatives who complain about things like Miranda warnings, and "fruit of the poison tree" evidence issues?

Posted by: Thomas R Ellis on May 20, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

According to Rand Paul
"if private lunch counter owners want to prevent blacks from eating there, that's their right. "This is the hard part about believing in freedom."

So according to Rand Paul..... a corporation can refuse to hire someone because they are black or muslim or female or in a wheelchair or not pretty or not young.

I'm not comfortable with this. Women have made great strides over the years to overcome discrimination in the workplace. Giving some "good old boys" of private companies the sole description of not hiring someone for a job based on something that has no relationship to performing the job is a step backwards.

I know in some foreign countries in order to be an air hostess you have to be young and attractive. Qualified Men and experienced women over 30 need not apply.

Thank God we are beyond that sort of nonesense.

I suspect the Tea Party movement has many more surprises which we will continue to discover as their candidate gets closely examined for details

Posted by: norris hall on May 20, 2010 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Constitution is not only an enlightenment document, it is also the fundamental LAW of this country. The meaning (interpretation) of the Constitution are embodied in the Federalist papers.

The question, as I see it, is whether bending the interpretation of the Constitution to achieve the absolutely necessary goal of ending racism in this country was warranted. Or could there have been other ways? For example, shaming this so-called Christian country in realizing that Blacks were exactly like Whites in every respect except for genetic characteristics that are no more distinctive than a tall vs. short person.

The expediency was taken to forsake Private ownership rights for the public good. And yes, it WAS a public good. Racism needed to end. It was an expediency, and maybe this expediency didn't do greater harm. That should is probably left up to the historians.

Nonetheless, Rand Paul is a political novice.

Posted by: Jeff Thomasson on May 24, 2010 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly