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June 01, 2011 8:35 AM Rand Paul, making a name for himself

By Steve Benen

Jon Chait, describing Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), recently said, “He’s not only an ideological fanatic, he’s not even a terribly bright one.”

The evidence to bolster this assertion keeps piling up. In the latest display, Kentucky’s junior senator chatted with Sean Hannity about his unique take on the First Amendment.

“I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic.

“But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.”

I guess Sharron Angle’s fans would be in big trouble.

Look, I realize there are some dangerous folks out there, some of whom promote the violent overthrow of the government. But Republicans have not yet repealed the First Amendment, and simply listening to radical speech is not yet a crime. The idea of the United States government passing a law making it illegal to be in the same vicinity as someone engaged in radical speech is ridiculous. What if you’re a reporter covering the remarks? What if you’re just curious about how crazy the speech really is? Paul, apparently, believes you belong in handcuffs.

It’s all the more offensive coming from a senator whose raison d’etre is supposed to be an unyielding commitment to limited government, civil liberties, and libertarian ideals. To hear the self-accredited ophthalmologist tell it, he’s practically obsessed with constitutional freedoms.

In other words, Paul, of all people, should find his own beliefs deeply offensive. That is, if he understood what he was saying.

Alex Pareene recently said Paul appears to be “America’s dumbest senator.” There’s stiff competition for such a title, but the Kentuckian appears well on his way to earning it.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on June 01, 2011 8:44 AM:

    Unbelievable! Not wanting to insult a bag of hammers ...but
    That must have been some show. The profoundly stupid discussing with the exceptionally dumb and shallow. Thank you for watching so I didn't have to

  • berttheclock on June 01, 2011 8:45 AM:

    "World's Dumbest Senator"

    Well, Kyl will have to retire first, but......

  • Todd for VT House on June 01, 2011 8:52 AM:

    He's also a self-accredited conlaw expert.

  • MsJoanne on June 01, 2011 8:56 AM:

    If listening to radical speech was a crime, all Fox News viewers would be in those FEMA prison camps that reside in Alex Jones' brain.

    That's what's so great about Republicans. They don't give a shit who knows that they want to undermine the Constitution and turn US into Saudia Arabia where men are men and goats are afraid (seriously, where women can't drive and get thrown in prison if they do). The GOP sees one "right" way to think, speak, act, etc. What's so blisteringly sad is how many "true patriots" support them.

  • c u n d gulag on June 01, 2011 8:58 AM:

    He's a firm believer in the Constitution.
    As HE sees it.
    Not as you might see it.

    With Inhofe, Kyl, Cronyn, and some others, Rand has made good time on catching up to them - you might say, in the old R&R days, with a bullet.
    You might hope that he's a 'one-hit-wonder,' but I get the sneaking suspicion that he's going to be The Beatles for the next 5+ years.
    And he may yet decide to run for President next year. I'm pretty sure this imbeciles ego will tell him to go for it in '16.

    competent termak CAPTCHA?
    Well, I wouldn't want an incompetent termak, that's for sure.

  • berttheclock on June 01, 2011 9:06 AM:

    At a time when we need Solons, so badly, why does the electorate keep electing Mortimer Snerds to political office?

    So similar to the times of Solon when the very wealthy were pitted against the vast hoi polloi. So little appears to have changed over such a vast amount of time, except, where are any Solons in the present Congress?

  • SadOldVet on June 01, 2011 9:12 AM:

    But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that's really an offense that we should be going after they should be deported or put in prison.

    I agree! Now, can we jail Sarah Palin or at least deport her to Alaska!

  • Steve P on June 01, 2011 9:15 AM:

    Forget the Senator. What about the voters?
    Not hard to create a standard based upon the degree to which they vote against their own rational interests, and elect crass, dishonest or stupid representatives.
    How about listing the nation's stupidest congressional districts?

  • hell's littlest angel on June 01, 2011 9:19 AM:

    Not just this "strange, self-certified ophthalmologist," but anyone who takes the self-serving drivel of Ayn Rand seriously is mentally defective. Paul's belief that others should be imprisoned for exercising a right he demands for himself is perfectly consistent with the moocher-denouncing Rand helping herself to MediCare.
    If only Kentuckians had enough brains to be embarrassed by him, but they probably don't cotton to spending tax money to promote book-learnin' and such.

  • Joe on June 01, 2011 9:21 AM:

  • berttheclock on June 01, 2011 9:24 AM:

    $ister $arah did agree to keep in touch with TrumpeD, as in "Doofus Two, this is Doofus One, come back, y'hear"

  • Wilco on June 01, 2011 9:27 AM:

    He's right! There is a right to free SPEECH, not free LISTEN!
    If the Founders had intended for us to not go to jail for listening to someone say something, then it would be in the Constitution.
    That man is a GENIUS!

  • emmie on June 01, 2011 9:27 AM:

    Giving a speech that advocates violence is not a crime, either. (You stated that simply being at a speech wasn't a crime and left the impression you think giving that speech is.) The Supreme Court ruled in 1969 in Brandenburg v Ohio that speech that advocates violence against the government is protected.

  • puravida on June 01, 2011 9:28 AM:

    Yep, between Paul, Brown, Kyl, and Inhofe, the Senate is quite the exclusive club, now isn't it?

  • jim filyaw on June 01, 2011 9:32 AM:

    reminds me of a clip i recently caught on the history channel. it was from a nazi propaganda film made during the war, warning good germans about how dangerous it was to listen to foreign radio broadcasts. things they heard there might sap their morale and lessen their admiration for hitler. what's scary to me is the idea that someday paul's ideas will prevail and those of us who surreptitiously listen to anything but fox news or rush limbaugh will be consigned to a re-education camp or lined up in front of a firing squad. secretly, that's what paul and his ilk have wet dreams about.

  • c u n d gulag on June 01, 2011 9:41 AM:

    jim filyaw,
    Then, I'll see you in the gulag!


    What's that CAPTCHA?
    You want rgenteg blood?
    OK, someone help me here. What's a rgenteg?

  • Decatur Dem on June 01, 2011 9:52 AM:

    "Dumbest Senator" is a title he inherited from the man he replaced. The previous holder was Jim Bunning (R-KY).

  • zandru on June 01, 2011 9:55 AM:

    The "Liberty" in "Libertarianism"

    Well, it's becoming clear that when right winger libertarians talk about "freedom", all they really mean is the freedom to not pay taxes. Important corollaries include the freedom to enjoy watching folks dying in the streets for lack of food, medical care, housing; the freedom to dominate economically, thanks to your expensive private school education and the absence of public schools for the less wealthy; the freedom to cheat, scam, overcharge, provide inferior services at will because there is no regulation ... well, you get the point.

    Actual FIRST AMENDMENT-style "freedoms" of self-expression - well, that's what those Libruls want.

  • JD on June 01, 2011 9:59 AM:

    The competition for dumbest senator is fierce, but Jim Imhofe took the honor when he cited snowfall as evidence against climate change. Paul does show promise, however.

  • lwh on June 01, 2011 10:26 AM:

    Paul is picking up the baton of stupid left by Jim Bunning.

  • Dude on June 01, 2011 10:28 AM:

    Thanks Emmie, I was thinking the same thing.

    "emmie on June 01, 2011 9:27 AM:

    Giving a speech that advocates violence is not a crime, either. (You stated that simply being at a speech wasn't a crime and left the impression you think giving that speech is.) The Supreme Court ruled in 1969 in Brandenburg v Ohio that speech that advocates violence against the government is protected"

  • rrk1 on June 01, 2011 10:29 AM:

    I think members of the reality based universe foresaw that the 2010 mid-terms were going to swell the membership of the crazy caucus in Congress. While there are many organized caucuses in Congress, I think we should reorganize the misnamed 'Crazy Caucus' and call it the 'Stupid Caucus' so that its members can more easily be subjected to withering media parody and satire.

    For instance: We need to submit (on this site or another) criteria that qualify one for membership, as well as a list of candidates. Once the membership is established then a mock election could be held to determine, ala Cinderella's wicked stepmother, who is the stupidest in all the land. By all accounts a tough competition, and the likely winner will no doubt be a Rethug. Is there any doubt that the caucus membership will be dominated by Rethugs?

    We might as well have some fun with this because laughing is better than crying.

  • toowearyforoutrage on June 01, 2011 10:30 AM:

    Can I suggest he also jail anyone not being properly solemn at the Bill of Rights' author's memorial?


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-buzz/post/bigger-dance-party-planned-at-thomas-jefferson-memorial/2011/05/31/AGzAwPFH_blog.html

  • exlibra on June 01, 2011 11:37 AM:

    What's that CAPTCHA?
    You want rgenteg blood?
    OK, someone help me here. What's a rgenteg? -- gulag, @9:41

    I think it's the product of the Regent "university" graduates; they seem to end up with egg on their faces with monotonous regularity.

    Vis the Idiot competition between Kyl, Inhofe, Brown (Mass) and Randy: the first two have seniority; that's why the two novices have to work twice as hard.

    "fortuate Urbicula"; the city version of Dracula was almost fortunate. But then he lost his en.

  • bigtuna on June 01, 2011 12:02 PM:

    Ok Rand. Lock me up. As a ugrad, I went to a Gus Hall [former head, US communist party] speech. The guy was hopeless, clueless, and in complete denial wrt communist state-sponsored repression, etc., but I went.

    SO now I am a suspected commiee? JFC - what a total tool.

  • Daddy Love on June 01, 2011 12:02 PM:

    All Randy is doing is giving cover to his racist GOP followers. "You see, you can't go after them just because they're brown or Muslim, but if you can find some radical speech they listened to, somewhere, sometime, they're fair game!" *wink*

    My CAPTCHA? adernin was

    Now I'm on tenterhooks! adernin was WHAT? TELL ME!

  • Typical purist liberal asshole on June 01, 2011 12:43 PM:

    Boy I am so glad all the democrats stayed home last fall to teach Obama and the Democrats a lesson. That's working out so well.

  • HMDK on June 02, 2011 6:35 AM:


    "Typical purist liberal asshole on June 01, 2011 12:43 PM:

    Boy I am so glad all the democrats stayed home last fall to teach Obama and the Democrats a lesson. That's working out so well."

    Yeop.
    Sell yourself piece by piece instead and haggle.
    Of course, not being a sell-out in the first place is somehow seen as some airy-fairy pie-in-the-sky ideal, instead of the simple act of saying no; of actually fighting something other than a retreating action. But hey, it don't pay as well and as quick.

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