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Area politician has some explaining to do

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Rand Paul is predictably walking his statements on the Civil Rights Act back as fast as he can. "Let me be clear," he says in a statement released today. "I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws." And that is, to be fair, a lot clearer than he was when he couldn't answer the question "should [the] Woolworth lunch counter have been allowed to stay segregated? Sir, just yes or no."

But unfortunately for Paul, this isn't over. Not by a long shot. There is a category of scandal that I call "area politician believes kooky but harmless thing." A candidate who thinks he was abducted by UFOs would fit here. It's weird, but it doesn't have many implications for public policy. What's gotten Paul in trouble, however, is that he's so skeptical of government power that he's not even comfortable with the public sector telling private businesses that they can't discriminate based on race. That, I fear, does have public policy implications.

For instance: Can the federal government set the private sector's minimum wage? Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants? Can it tell oil companies what safety systems to build into an offshore drilling platform? Can it tell toy companies to test for lead? Can it tell liquor stores not to sell to minors? These are the sort of questions that Paul needs to be asked now, because the issue is not "area politician believes kooky but harmless thing." It's "area politician espouses extremist philosophy on issue he will be voting on constantly."

Photo credit: By Melina Mara/The Washington Post

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 1:38 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Next: Torn apart by Walt and Mearsheimer

Comments

That is a wonderful photograph leading the blog post, nice find Ezra!

As far as Paul's candidacy, I get that people are pissed at the way government runs itself, but I don't get how the solution is to elect someone who hates government. Or, in comic form:

http://www.idrewthis.org/d/20060725.html

Posted by: MadIrishFrog | May 20, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

" Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants?"

Great point! I didn't see too many Teabaggers at the immigration rallies earlier this year. Conservatives believe in small government until it conflicts with their policy agendas.

Posted by: dcdude1 | May 20, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

We don't need the FDA--if drug companies make bad drugs that kill a lot of people, we'll just stop buying from them.

We don't need the NTSB or FAA--if airlines fly bad planes that crash and kill lots of people, we just won't fly them anymore.

We don't need the SEC--if companies lie about their earnings, we just won't buy their stocks.

Hell, we don't even need Senators. At least the Paul types.

Posted by: stevie314 | May 20, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The crazy thing is that Paul isn't really walking his statement back. I haven't watched the clip, but according to Ben Smith, Paul says he would have voted for it, that it was necessary, but that he still thinks it was unconstitutional (i.e., he's lying because he realized how politically ridiculous his honest-to-God position is . . .)

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0510/Paul_blames_loony_left_for_civil_rights_focus.html

Posted by: jesmont | May 20, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

A bunch of the lefty blogs are asking these sorts of "what-ifs" (abolishing the EPA, minimum wage, etc), but that just sorta dignifies his critiques.

Like I said over at the other thread, these debates distract from the real problem: if the guy is so troubled by the way we handled issues in the 1950s and 60s, how can he even approach the problems we have today? He still wants to fight battles that others like Barry Goldwater have lost; if nothing else, that's a complete waste of Kentuckians' time.

Posted by: Chris_ | May 20, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Mr. Klein. I have always appreciated your rigorous analysis of policy but am constantly disappointed at your attempts to spin everything in favor of the Left/Liberals/Progressives. And there you go again here.

From an earlier post: "And his views on it are clearly very, very far from the mainstream."

Do you have any evidence backing you up on this claim or do you just assert opinions and mask them as facts?

Rand Paul supports 9 out of the 10 Titles of the Civil Rights Act. He opposes Title 2 for a specific reason: the government should not be regulating businesses and forcing them to accept any customer they want. He believes community standards, not mandated laws, should drive anti-discrimination policy. Here's an example for you:

Fact: I was discriminated against at Bravo! Bravo! last year because I had white tennis shoes on and wasn't Latino. They wanted to charge me $20 cover when everyone else was getting $10. I proceeded to leave, and the guy said, all right, $10. I have not gone back to the club since and have encourgaed my friends not to go back either.

That's what he's talking about here. Until you actually show me evidence that his views are "very, very far from the mainstream" I will continue to stand with Rand Paul on this one.

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

journalists must keep exposing his positions, even as he evasively circles around questions.

ezra, keep fighting the good fight.

Posted by: jkaren | May 20, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Why is it dishonest to say that there is a policy that you think would be good but would also be unconstitutional?

Posted by: spotatl | May 20, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Nice Onionesque headline.

Posted by: SteveCA1 | May 20, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

thank you, ezra.

journalists cannot let up on this for a second.
do not let decades of legislation supporting human decency and equal rights be jeopardized by even one dangerous extremist in the government who thinks like this.
keep fighting the good fight.
the fight against ignorance and evil just never ends.
we must hold on to our ideals and our hope for a better world.
keep exposing the truth of this man's beliefs.
dont let evil gain any more of a foothold than it already has.

Posted by: jkaren | May 20, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

@ MichaelQuotes :He believes community standards, not mandated laws, should drive anti-discrimination policy.

Gee that "community standards" thing worked out sooo well during the last 150 years or so (local control and all that), we should go back to it.

I suppose protective covenants are just fine with you as well. After all its just private property owners agreeing not to sell to blacks. This was the norm in Chicago when I was growing up. Its their property, they should be able to make a private contractual agreement to keep blacks out of their neighborhood, right?

Realtors would not show black families homes in white neighborhoods in Chicago throughout the 60s, 70's, and 80's (when I bought my first home there). Yard for sale signs were prohibited by law so black families had no way to know what houses were for sale in which neighborhoods. The realtors controlled access to that information and it was their business decision to not show black families houses in white neighborhoods. Should this be legal? Wouldn't Paul support local control and not enforce a standard of service that companies should adhere to?

Posted by: srw3 | May 20, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein,

I can only assume the same level of scrutiny applies to Senator Bernard Sanders (Avowed Socialist-VT). His views are just as extreme, just on the other side of the spectrum. I fail to remember a similar uproar or close examination of his views when he ascended to the US Senate.

Posted by: CW13 | May 20, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein,

I can only assume the same level of scrutiny applies to Senator Bernard Sanders (Avowed Socialist-VT). His views are just as extreme, just on the other side of the spectrum. I fail to remember a similar uproar or close examination of his views when he ascended to the US Senate.

Posted by: CW13 | May 20, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Appearing on the Fox Business Channel, Palin acknowledged Paul's libertarian leanings and said they were a net positive.

"Seeing kind of that libertarian streak of his -- that is what we need to balance out the leftist liberal overreach of government that's in power right now," Palin said. "Rand's gonna be great, plus on social issues, right there, he's got some great positions."

.............................................

something this way wicked comes.

Posted by: jkaren | May 20, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

CW13: I'm sure you can spell out some of the equally extreme views of Bernie Sanders.

Posted by: lol-lol | May 20, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@ :Why is it dishonest to say that there is a policy that you think would be good but would also be unconstitutional?

Its not dishonest, but if you as a senator swear to uphold the constitution and you believe that a law is unconstitutional, isn't it your duty to try and change that law?

If parts of the civil rights act and the ADA are unconstitutional because they infringe on constitutional property rights then it is incumbent on a Senator to try to repeal them, yes?

Either the law is constitutional and senators should oppose changing it or it is unconstitutional and senators should work to repeal it.

Where does Paul stand on this?

Posted by: srw3 | May 20, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The dancing that he is doing, both now and in the interview, just makes it worse.

He should have answered the question directly and said "Yes, I oppose the part of the law that bans discrimination by private employers, and let me explain the reasons why...."

It would then still be controversial, but at least then it would be crystal clear that his opposition comes from the absolutist nature of his Libertarian philosophy. His murky protests that much of the law is ok and that he is not a racist just plays into the perception that he is in fact obfuscating.

I think his father would have dealt with this controversy in a more direct fashion, clearly stating his views, and letting the public make of them whatever they want. Rand is looking mighty weak-in-the-knees.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I have to second MichaelQuotes on this.

C'mon Ezra, what do you have to say about the Bravo!Bravo! white tennis shoe scandal of 2009? Huh? I can't hear you! C'mon! This is stuff that impacts peoples lives, not something esoteric you ivory tower liberals care about like a Senate election.

Posted by: Douglas4 | May 20, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

MadIrishFrog,

actually I'm a little bit upset with the picture. Couldn't he have scoured the internet for something without his shirt on too? Maybe with a bloated face like McConnell has.

To me it shows Ezra's lost his snark a bit or at least his zest for showing Republicans in the most unflattering light possible.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 20, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

@srw3: Before you go setting up a straw man as to what he believes, read his statement on the entire Act here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/20/rand-paul-civil-rights-rachel-maddow_n_583292.html

@Douglas4: Hahaha. That made me laugh. I know my example is nothing compared to what people went through in the '60s. I am not acting as if it was either. I just gave an example to clarify Rand's position on the manner.

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

@mquotes: "And his views on it are clearly very, very far from the mainstream."

Do you have any evidence backing you up on this claim or do you just assert opinions and mask them as facts?

Paul's view that private businesses can not be regulated to prevent them from discriminatory practices is a fringe view.

If it is not a fringe view (ie it is the "community standard" to discriminate against blacks, women, gays, etc. as it was during most of this country's history), then we need non-discrimination laws even more.

Posted by: srw3 | May 20, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes, when is government going to step in and tell private universities to stop discriminating against "Asians" instead of encouraging them to do so? Should we allow men's and women's rooms? Should we allow the NAACP or other groups that attempt to gain advantages for one race over others?

As Dr. Paul stated, the civil rights laws were necessary and important due to the imbecilic behavior of racists, but the Constitution seems to demand greater freedom. We must always be cautious when we take that freedom away?

Many of these pragmatic libertarian views are not kooky, so much as the conventional wisdom is nonsensical.

"Can the federal government set the private sector's minimum wage? "
It certainly seems to be doing a horrible job of it, raising the minimum wage 40% from 2006 in a time of rising unemployment , deflation, and global competition.

"Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants?"
It should be the government's responsibility to pursue this- illegal is illegal. The real libertarian though is opposed to the (racist) limits on immigration that cause illegal immigration.


"Can it tell oil companies what safety systems to build into an offshore drilling platform? "
Yes, it is protecting a common (the seas).

"Can it tell toy companies to test for lead? "
It can certainly devise a labeling program for public safety...but sure, why not.

"Can it tell liquor stores not to sell to minors?"
Well, this is sort of a mixed up question, because if it is illegal, they can tell a company not to do it. The question is really, should minors be allowed to purchase alcohol? (And of course, here we too we miss the real question, should non-minors (for example, those aged 18-20) be allowed to purchase alcohol?)

Libertarians can be good, as long they are pragmatic and "classically liberal". But really, Libertarianism, Conservatism, and Progressive Liberalism are all dangerous approaches in the hands of racists.

Posted by: staticvars | May 20, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

srw- I don't see an issue with having a law you support but simultaneously believing its unconstitutional while also believing that the supreme court would not find it unconstitutional. I don't think the constitution was perfect- there are good policies that I think are clearly unconstitutional. And since senators are not the final arbiter of what is constitutional and what is not I just don't see the problem with supporting a law.

The way our system works people end up supporting unconstitutional laws all the time. We even end up PASSING unconstitutional laws. If Senators would only pass laws that they knew 100% to be constitutional that doesn't leave a ton of room.

Just as an example I can easily see a senator who thought that restricting campain financing from corporations would be unconstitutional. I can see that same senator SUPPORTING a law restricting corporations from campaign contributions because its better for the system in case the supreme court did not agree that it was unconstitutional.

Posted by: spotatl | May 20, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"If it is not a fringe view (ie it is the 'community standard' to discriminate against blacks, women, gays, etc. as it was during most of this country's history), then we need non-discrimination laws even more."

You are twisting his words just like Ezra in order to set up a straw man. I wasn't asking if the Civil Rights Act was part of the mainstream. I agree that it is. I was asking if Rand Paul's views on discrimination and the way to approach were "very, very far from the mainstream." Mr. Klein has not demonstrated that to be.

I'd like to see what businessowners actually believe with regards to discrimination laws. I think community standards and boycotts places that discriminate can be effective to bring about change. The question is whether or not the federal government has the ability to infringe on someone's constitutionally protected freedom of speech in the name of anti-discrimination. Rand Paul believes it should be left up to the businessowners. If not, let's pass a constitutional amendment to do so. Although, I suppose that there could be an argument for regulating it based on interstate commerce, but I'm not entirely sure there.

This whole discussion is part of a broader conversation on what role government should be playing in our lives today. Paul is positioning himself perfectly. Once people hear his views on abortion, gay marriage, health care, the wars, etc. they will really take to him.

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

dcdude1 makes a good point similar to Matt Yglesias: http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/05/rand-paul-only-likes-the-easy-part-of-freedom.php

Conservatives SAY that they don't like government interference, but the truth is that they want it when it means enforcement of patents and copyrights; or restrictions on the supply of physicians or lawyers or accountants; or the subsidies that go to push down the price of corn leading Mexican farmers to move to the United States legally or illegally.

Posted by: bcbulger | May 20, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"Fact: I was discriminated against at Bravo! Bravo! last year because I had white tennis shoes on and wasn't Latino. They wanted to charge me $20 cover when everyone else was getting $10. I proceeded to leave, and the guy said, all right, $10. I have not gone back to the club since and have encourgaed my friends not to go back either.

That's what he's talking about here."


You shall overcome, some day.

Did you advise anyone in management at this establishment that you felt you had been discriminated against by the employee at the door?

If not, what effect can your tiny little boycott possibly have?

Is the establishment still in operation?

If so, I guess you have proven that simply taking your business elsewhere is not an adequate solution to discriminatory practices by private businesses.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

He can't walk this back. Furthermore this statement, "I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws," is just the same thing he said on Maddow. He thinks that the public sector should correct discriminatory laws, but he also thinks that the government should stay out of telling businesses what they can or cannot do. What an idiot.

Posted by: bcbulger | May 20, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Once people hear his views on abortion, gay marriage, health care, the wars, etc. they will really take to him."

once sane, rational people hear his views, they will realize he is a threat to the way of life that is protected by our government, and beloved by every rational person.
his extremist philosophy of government would bring chaos.
it is unthinkable to even go there.

the more he exposes his views, the more his dangerous extremism will be revealed.

let him continue to talk, and the truth will set us free of him.

his presence at this time, may be a result of america's frustration and anger, but he is a symptom, not a solution.
another exhausting fight in the neverending struggle.
we must stay courageous.

Posted by: jkaren | May 20, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"If so, I guess you have proven that simply taking your business elsewhere is not an adequate solution to discriminatory practices by private businesses."

I didn't have time, and it was an isolated incident (although my friend Eric had the same thing happen to him). If it had happened on a widespread scale and more people were discriminated because of their shoes/skin color, then I might have said something. Until then, all I can do is an individual boycott and encourge my friends not to go.

Community organizing (heard that somewhere before) can be very effective in changing attitudes and standards among people. (See: Gandhi, SNCC, MLK, Jr. etc).

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"The question is whether or not the federal government has the ability to infringe on someone's constitutionally protected freedom of speech in the name of anti-discrimination. Rand Paul believes it should be left up to the businessowners. If not, let's pass a constitutional amendment to do so. Although, I suppose that there could be an argument for regulating it based on interstate commerce, but I'm not entirely sure there."

Please enlighten us how running a whites-only restaurant, or refusing to hire qualified minorities, is a form of "speech."

What the hell are you talking about?

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

After reading the transcript of Maddow's interview with him, along with him answering EK's questions, someone should answer the one Rand Paul posed: if the gov't says a business must allow all patrons then why can't the gov't say a business must allow any and all guns people bring in with them?

Also, I think a lot of Ezra's questions aren't analogous: Paul was saying gov't shouldn't interfere with personal property (serving people inside your property); Ezra's questions deal with damaging others, the environment, or the law (giving employment to someone in this country unlawfully) using your property. I think a more analogous question would be whether it's ok for the gov't to regulate segregated hiring practices--that's a case where personal property (the job you need done) infringes on capitalism through inefficiency (hiring on anything but ability). But that still happens anyway.

Posted by: rglvr | May 20, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M

Paul's response: "Yes. I'm not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race. But I think what's important about this debate is not written into any specific "gotcha" on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? . . . I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things freedom requires."

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech (includes the right to expressive association).

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

It sure is a shame that most libertarians like Mr. Paul are so dogmatic and absolutist. They make a lot of great points about how government really shouldn't have much to say about what goes on in your bedroom, what you smoke, and how government can skew markets in ways that are at odds with the public good (farm subsidies, immigration caps). But for some reason they always have to take it to a reductio ad absurdum point.

It's like Rand knows that opposing segregation and discrimination is wrong, but he is forced to take his views to their logical conclusion, and rigorously oppose all government intrusion into the private sector, even if he disagrees with that conclusion. Consistency is certainly the hobgoblin of libertarian minds.

Posted by: jeirvine | May 20, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"After reading the transcript of Maddow's interview with him, along with him answering EK's questions, someone should answer the one Rand Paul posed: if the gov't says a business must allow all patrons then why can't the gov't say a business must allow any and all guns people bring in with them?"


You have a choice about whether to carry a gun (or whether to put a shirt or shoes, or any number of other things for which a business person might want to have a policy). You do not have a choice about the color of your skin.

There are sound reasons why one might argue that a business owner ought to be free not to allow guns. A business owner might worry that if you carry a gun into his bar, you might become inebriated and harm or kill another patron with your gun. You cannot harm or kill another patron with your skin color.

Is fundamental difference of racial discrimination really such a complicated question for you to wrap your mind around?

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

MichaelQuotes,

Nothing in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans racist speech. Racists can and do continue to say hateful racist things in the USA every single day. There is NO connection whatsoever between prohibiting racial discrimination and prohibiting racist speech. Paul's remarks on that subject are incoherent, and they are a dodge.

Speech is protected in the Bill of Rights, racial discrimination is not.

So I ask once again: What the hell are you talking about?

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"Community organizing (heard that somewhere before) can be very effective in changing attitudes and standards among people. (See: Gandhi, SNCC, MLK, Jr. etc)."

You're right, we should have just left the abolition of slavery to the likes of John Brown. They would have gotten there eventually. Slaves can be so impatient...

Posted by: dcdude1 | May 20, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Once again:

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech (includes the right to expressive association).

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

@dcdude1:

That was done via, wait for it, Constitutional amendment, not Act of Congress.

Process matters.

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Can the federal government set the private sector's minimum wage? Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants?"

Yes it can, but it is an overreach of govt. An unpleasant fact, a subtle distinction that Paul's critics don't seem to see. The point is that it would be much better if the govt didn't find a need to set a minimum wage, because it would be much better if the govt didn't get this directly involved in private enterprise. When it does, there can be unpleasnat unintended consequences. If we are at the point that we don't see this ongoing tension between what is necessary and what is right, then as a bleeding heart liberal, I despair for liberalism.

Posted by: ThomasEllis | May 20, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

MichaelQuotes,

I know what the First Amendment says. You can parrot it all day long. However that is not an answer to the question of how you believe that running an all-white lunch counter or refusing to hire qualified minorities is covered by the freedom of speech.

By the way, when you go out to Bravo!Bravo! with an all white group of friends, that constitutes "association." When you have a policy that says you only hire white people, that is not "association," even if you consider it to be somehow "expressive."

So now for the third time, what the hell are you talking about?

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Keep going to the extreme on either the right or left, and you eventually end up with a government that can't govern, a failed communist state or a corporate run banana republic. The American left wing is a long, long, long way away from their extreme. The right is only a skip and a jump away from their extreme. Rand Paul and his father are the extreme to the ungovernable wing of the GOP.

Posted by: theamazingjex | May 20, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M,

I didn't go out to Bravo! Bravo! with a group of all-white friends. I was celebrating my Mexican friend Alexandra's birthday with a girl from China, a girl from Bahrain, a girl from Romania, among many other people.

>>>>When you have a policy that says you only hire white people, that is not "association," even if you consider it to be somehow "expressive."

Why is it not association? You don't have a right to a job in this country. Work is a privilege.

I will gladly boycott all businesses that DO discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. though. Just like, wait for it, Rand Paul.

Yelling the same question three times at me doesn't make your point any stronger. It just makes you louder.

Posted by: MichaelQuotes | May 20, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

@ ThomasEllis : The point is that it would be much better if the govt didn't find a need to set a minimum wage, because it would be much better if the govt didn't get this directly involved in private enterprise.

Nice attempted dodge, but ultimately a failure.

Its not whether it would be better. The question is does Rand believe that it is constitutional.
Rand Paul says it is a basic constitutional issue. Does the federal government have the power under the constitution to tell private businesses that they can't discriminate? The SCOTUS says yes it does. Regardless of the state of current law, does Rand agree with the SCOTUS or not? This is not an academic question. There are lots of recent laws (ledbetter fair pay act., employing undocumented workers, employment discrimination suits against Walmart for gender discrimination, etc.). I think it is fair to get some specific answers to these questions. The voters have a right to know where he stands on these recent legislative and legal issues.

Posted by: srw3 | May 20, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The ultimate question for R. Paul: Would you have supported the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution?

Posted by: golewso | May 20, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

"Wow, Mr. Klein. I have always appreciated your rigorous analysis of policy but am constantly disappointed at your attempts to spin everything in favor of the Left/Liberals/Progressives. And there you go again here."

You have no experience with blogs, with opinion pages, or the Internet in general, I take it. Just fall off of a turnip truck, did you? Well, no worries. After about ten or twelve years, you might have some sophistication about you...

Posted by: AnAmericanLion | May 20, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"I didn't go out to Bravo! Bravo! with a group of all-white friends."

It was a hypothetical example. Congratulations on being a charter member of the rainbow coalition.

"Why is it not association? You don't have a right to a job in this country. Work is a privilege."


You do not enjoy a right to a job. You do enjoy a right to an equal opportunity to compete for a job. That is a right that you enjoy largely because of the portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which Rand Paul finds objectionable.

When you associate with an all white group of friends you are engaging in purely voluntary behavior that does not abridge the rights of others.

When you deny the right to fairly compete for employment, you are denying them equal opportunity and thereby abridging their rights. And in a society where your conduct is perfectly legal, employers throughout the entire community, or the entire region, may follow suit, destroying all opportunity.

If a minority objects and insists on the right to make an application at your place of business, or the right to sit at your lunch counter, you may call the police (who are paid with my tax dollars) and ask them to forcibly eject that person, since your conduct is legal. So suddenly the government is involved in enforcing your racist policies.

None of that is "speech" or "expressive association," MichaelQuotes. You really need to think about this subject and learn some history.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"After reading the transcript of Maddow's interview with him, along with him answering EK's questions, someone should answer the one Rand Paul posed: if the gov't says a business must allow all patrons then why can't the gov't say a business must allow any and all guns people bring in with them?"

Paul and the writer are making a false distinction. I believe it is constitutional for the gov't to say a business must allow any customer with a gun to be allowed into your store. I just think it is bad policy and would not support it. But, it does not mean I do not think it is unconstitutional. Paul believes non-discrimination laws for private businesses are unconstitutional. Just because you believe some regulation is constitutional and good policy, it does not follow that you support all and any regulation. That is the distinction Paul is missing.

Posted by: egalite522 | May 20, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

egalite, I don't think Paul's missing the distinction. To him, there is no distinction (ie, strict adherence to the constitution is good policy).

Patrick_m, sorry my mind can't wrap around "fundamental differences." yeesh. I was just asking someone to answer Paul's question. It hadn't been talked about.

Posted by: rglvr | May 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"I will gladly boycott all businesses that DO discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. though. Just like, wait for it, Rand Paul."

And this approach worked so well during the century that passed between the abolition of slavery and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Let's try that again, it worked so well the first time!

Wouldn't your life be a lot simpler if discrimination were made unlawful so you would not have to figure out which businesses are engaging in discrimination?

Oh ("wait for it"), it already is illegal (thanks to the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to which Rand Paul is opposed), so your life already has been made easier and you can patronize any business that you wish.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"To him, there is no distinction (ie, strict adherence to the constitution is good policy)."


Strict adherence to the Constitution is something that Americans of every political philosophy claim.

Paul waffles over to the gun example because he thinks Maddow is a liberal who would support the rights of a business owner to ban guns, and that banning an object like a gun inside a business is somehow analogous to banning persons of a particular color.

He waffles over to the first amendment because he wants to throw up some smoke and mirrors connecting racial discrimination to speech.

The constitution ensures the right to free speech and to bear arms. It does not ensure a right to discriminate based upon race, religion or gender, and Paul presents absolutely no argument to support any contention that any provision in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 conflicts in any way with constitutional rights.

Paul may or may not be a good eye doctor, but he is a terrible thinker on the subject of constitutional law in this area.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

This moron has already said what he thinks. Any attempt to "walk it back" is a lie used in an attempt to win a Senate seat so that he can apply the same faulty logic displayed on Rachel Maddow's show to U.S. legislation.

Posted by: bcbulger | May 20, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

"Jesse Benton, a spokesman for the Paul campaign, confirmed that Paul does in fact think the Federal government should have the power to ban private businesses from commiting racial discrimination. He told me:

"Civil Rights legislation that has been affirmed by our courts gives the Federal government the right to ensure that private businesses don't discriminate based on race. Dr. Paul supports those powers."

----------------------------

OK freedom-loving trolls, your leader has now flip-flopped and backed away from the position you have been defending all day.

Is he wrong to "support those powers?"

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

In truth, Rand Paul has really made it plain that he is to the right of the conservative wing of the Supreme Court. He has also made it plain that, like many physicians who are mostly educated in science and are very lightly educated in the humanities — social sciences, history, philosophy, and who are no less interested in getting rich than are Wall Street bankers, he has little interest in the real welfare of mankind.

Posted by: bezvodka | May 20, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

In a May 30, 2002, letter to the Bowling Green Daily News, Rand Paul's hometown newspaper, he criticized the paper for endorsing the Fair Housing Act, and explained that "a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin."

Paul went on CNN late this afternoon and told Wolf Blitzer of the Civil Rights Act: "I would have voted yes ... There was a need for federal intervention."

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

rglvr,

There are several big differences between allowing shopkeepers to discriminate by race and allowing them to discriminate by armament.

(1) Your 13th Amendment rights apply against the state and individuals, while your 2nd Amendment rights apply only against the state. Thus, Congress can use s. 2 of the 13th Amendment to protect you from individual discrimination. It can't use s. 2 of the 14th Amendment to protect you from individual discrimination based on arms.

Many people forget, for what its worth, that the Radical Republican Congress banned a lot of private discrimination in the Civil Rights Acts between 1866 and 1875. Its just that the Democrat-dominated Supreme Court neutered the laws.

(2) If you want to use the commerce clause as your hook, its very easy to show that discrimination in employment and accomodations have interstate economic effects. That's a much weaker case for gun ownership - you can leave your gun in the car, but not your skin color.

As for why I called Paul dishonest - he's claiming the law is unconstitutional and that he would have voted for it. Either he's breaking the oath he plans to take or he's lying.

Posted by: jesmont | May 20, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

"Please enlighten us how running a whites-only restaurant, or refusing to hire qualified minorities, is a form of "speech."

What the hell are you talking about?"

Lots of things are considered speech under the First Amendment.
Heck, flag burning, selling porn, what kind of clothing kids wear to school, throwing blood on people to protest fur, chaining yourself to a construction fence, pies in the face, etc.

So throwing a pie at someone is protected free speech, but not selling them a piece of pie is to be forbidden?

That doesn't make sense. Anyway, who cares if it is technically "speech". The point is really that people are entitled to have their own beliefs and live according to them.

If someone really is a racist and doesn't want to serve blacks, why is that to be banned, but not being a pacifist and refusing to serve in the military?

These are crimes of conscience. Just because you happen to find that set of beliefs abhorrent shouldn't modify the underlying principle of the thing.

Posted by: tjk1 | May 20, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

"Please enlighten us how running a whites-only restaurant, or refusing to hire qualified minorities, is a form of "speech."

What the hell are you talking about?"

Lots of things are considered speech under the First Amendment.
Heck, flag burning, selling porn, what kind of clothing kids wear to school, throwing blood on people to protest fur, chaining yourself to a construction fence, pies in the face, etc.

So throwing a pie at someone is protected free speech, but not selling them a piece of pie is to be forbidden?

That doesn't make sense. Anyway, who cares if it is technically "speech". The point is really that people are entitled to have their own beliefs and live according to them.

If someone really is a racist and doesn't want to serve blacks, why is that to be banned, but not being a pacifist and refusing to serve in the military?

These are crimes of conscience. Just because you happen to find that set of beliefs abhorrent shouldn't modify the underlying principle of the thing.

Posted by: tjk1 | May 20, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

"So throwing a pie at someone is protected free speech, but not selling them a piece of pie is to be forbidden?"

First of all, where do get the idea that throwing a pie or a bucket of blood at someone is protected speech? It is not, and if you hit someone with a pie in the face you can be prosecuted for assault.

Likewise if you chain yourself to a construction fence, you are interfering with someone's property and you can be arrested, as commonly happens in that sort of protest.

But please explain how "not selling someone a piece of pie" is a form of speech.


"If someone really is a racist and doesn't want to serve blacks, why is that to be banned, but not being a pacifist and refusing to serve in the military?"

During times of conscription, our military allows exemptions from the draft for conscientious objectors, partly in deference to the clear guarantee of freedom of religion in our constitution. There is no guarantee to not serve blacks in the Constitution.

"These are crimes of conscience."

Conscience does not require one to engage in bigoted behavior.

"Anyway, who cares if it is technically "speech". The point is really that people are entitled to have their own beliefs and live according to them."

People are entitled to have their own beliefs. They are not entitled to live according to them if by doing so they create harm to other people and to society. Segregation and discrimination harm other people. If you want to live according to racist beliefs, move to a "free" country that does have a government to infringe upon that limitless personal freedom, like Yemen or Somalia

Ezra, you need some smarter trolls.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

"Conscience does not require one to engage in bigoted behavior."

Not my conscience or yours. But for someone who is actually bigoted it might.

"People are entitled to have their own beliefs. They are not entitled to live according to them if by doing so they create harm to other people and to society. "

Define harm. Define "harm to society". What does that mean? All sorts of things can be considered "harmful to society". Porn. Violent video games. Not going to church on sunday.

Is not serving someone at a restauraunt really harmful to them? We're not talking about people going out and throwing bricks through windows. Everyone is against that. We're talking about small businesses discriminating by *not* engaging in business with someone. Not by taking positive actions to harm them.

So this is harm by inaction? But we're not taling about a drowning person or a life threatening situation either. We're talking about selling someone lunch or not. This is such an egregious harm that the state must intervene to prevent it?


Posted by: tjk1 | May 20, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

"Not my conscience or yours. But for someone who is actually bigoted it might."

By your logic, someone with an appetite for murder will be denied the ability to follow his or her "conscience" if we prohibit murder.

"Define harm. Define "harm to society". What does that mean? All sorts of things can be considered "harmful to society". Porn. Violent video games. Not going to church on sunday."

Now your argument is that there is no harm in segregation, denying economic opportunity and full participation in society? That's just harmeless? Really? You don't think society pays a price when someone is denied opprtunities based upon merit rather than their school color? Would society not be harmed if non-whites were not allowed to become scientists?

If you can't imagine that a person is not harmed when a resturant will not serve them a meal or a hotel will not give them a room, you have a very tiny mind. If those closed doors were the daily reality in which you lived, beginning tomorrow, you would not feel harmed? Funny that you are so concerned about the conscience of the bigot, but perceive no harm done to the victims of bigotry

"This is such an egregious harm that the state must intervene to prevent it?"

Yes, legal racial discrimination in America was an egregious harm, and all but a crazy few understand that and are pleased that the state intervened in order to prevent it from continuing. The freedom to discriminate is not a freedom that anyone but racists have missed.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Fact: I was discriminated against at Bravo! Bravo! last year because I had white tennis shoes on and wasn't Latino. They wanted to charge me $20 cover when everyone else was getting $10. I proceeded to leave, and the guy said, all right, $10. I have not gone back to the club since and have encourgaed my friends not to go back either.

We must do something about this...People who wear white shoes should have the same right to party as people in black shoes or loafers.

I am reminded of the old poem that starts: First they came for the white shoes and I did nothing...

Posted by: spc52 | May 20, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

He also said he wants to send less money to Washington because you know, Kentucky can better spend it's money.

However, in April 2009 The Tax Foundation listed Kentucky #9 on it's list of states that receive more from the federal government than it sends in taxes - Kentucky received $1.51 for every $1 sent to Washington.

Paul didn't say that the federal government could keep it's money.

Posted by: FauxReal | May 20, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

" I proceeded to leave, and the guy said, all right, $10."

spc52,

That was my very favorite part. The employee was in fact willing to allow him in the door for the same cover charge as anybody else, and yet the brief haggling over the cover charge is his analogy for the discrimination and segregaton that led to the civil rights movement and the passage of the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960's.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

He also said he wants to send less money to Washington because you know, Kentucky can better spend it's money.

However, in April 2009 The Tax Foundation listed Kentucky #9 on it's list of states that receive more from the federal government than it sends in taxes - Kentucky received $1.51 for every $1 sent to Washington.

Paul didn't say that the federal government could keep it's money.

Posted by: FauxReal | May 20, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

FauxReal,

My guess would be that Rand Paul does not care that his state receives more money back than it contributes. If Rand Paul, the individual, does not receive a check that is bigger than the one he writes, that is what is important. Benefits that accrue to the state as a whole would just be redistributive and socialist.

It is the freedom of the individual to keep his or her own money that is all-important, and society be damned. Much like retaining the freedom to discriminate is more important than preventing the harm to others and to society at large that results from discrimination.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 20, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Rand Paul is the John Mayer of politics. Unfortunately he doesn't have that typical "white boy" all american johnny quarterback looks like Mayer or Conway. He needs to set in motion the rules of "Blumenthal". Set up an elaborate press conference full of black people. He should let two black people speak before him. He should suddenly take the mic and say "the revolution will be televised", followed by, "I didn't land on Maddow, Maddow landed on me". Then for some added effect a whole bunch of black nationalist with their fists in the air chanting "say it loud I'm black and I'm proud". Problem solved.

Posted by: zappainfrance | May 21, 2010 2:52 AM | Report abuse

"He needs to set in motion the rules of "Blumenthal" ... Problem solved."


Neither Blumenthal nor Rand has "solved" the political problems created by their statements. They are both weasels in a world of hurt.

But hey, nice try at the "hey, look over there!" strategy.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 21, 2010 3:10 AM | Report abuse

The question is not set correctly. The question should be: does the constitution allow ..... Then the answer to all the questions would be NO.
Does the congress overstep its bounds? yes.
The same answer is if the question even said Should the congress..... do these things.... the answer is still NO.
So No.

Posted by: mickey1956 | May 21, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Quit calling it the "Tea Party," and call it what it really is: THE BIGOT PARTY !

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | May 21, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

No one seems to have said you can't both believe a law is a good idea *and* that it's unconstitutional.

A) Rand Paul said this . . . and then said, no he supports that law and would have voted for it.

B) If he in fact believes this type of "Good Law" is unconstitutional, there are a vast number of "Good Laws" whose constitutionality rests on the exact same foundations, some of which Ezra cites. His interpretation of the Constitution *is* outside the mainstream in the same fashion as 'unitary executive' and other hits of the right. It has policy repercussions, and Rand Paul needs to make his thought on this clear.

Many posters have gone to a great deal of trouble to obfuscate these facts rather than address them.

Jonnan

Posted by: Jonnan | May 21, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

1st, allowing business discrimination is inherently harmful to numerical minorities, since they will suffer more frequent instances of such discrimination.
2nd, as for the belittling the harm of not being served because of an innate human trait - just talk to those who had to live with Jim Crow, the daily humiliation and deprivation of such laws. Only a libertarian would be so emotionally autistic as to try to gloss over the misery that business discrimination enforced.

The discussion on this topic provides good insights as to why Libertarians never garner more than 3% of vote (unless they get unprincipled and backpedal from their positions, as Mr. Paul has done) - their absurd positions manage to offend almost everyone. They always try to defend their positions by crying "freedom!" as if it's some incantation that justifies their nonsense; in the process, they give freedom a bad name.

Posted by: dminnich312 | May 21, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"No one seems to have said you can't both believe a law is a good idea *and* that it's unconstitutional.

A) Rand Paul said this . . . and then said, no he supports that law and would have voted for it.

B) If he in fact believes this type of "Good Law" is unconstitutional, there are a vast number of "Good Laws" whose constitutionality rests on the exact same foundations, some of which Ezra cites. His interpretation of the Constitution *is* outside the mainstream in the same fashion as 'unitary executive' and other hits of the right. It has policy repercussions, and Rand Paul needs to make his thought on this clear.

Many posters have gone to a great deal of trouble to obfuscate these facts rather than address them.

Jonnan"

Actually that is not what Rand Paul has said.

It is clear from the three interviews that Paul takes objection to the provisions in the act that make it illegal for private businesses to discriminate. After the controversy erupted he said (for the first time) that he would have voted in favor of the bill, despite the fact that it contained those sections to which he objects, because the Federal government needed to intervene due to the magnitude of the problem. He has never said that he does not still wish that the ban on private discrimination had not been part of that intervention.

In the interview with Maddow, he frequently brought up constitutional arguments on other subjects, like gun bans and the freedom of speech, but never once did he articulate any clear constitutional argument against making discrimination by businesses illegal. And in fact he has since acknowledged that the courts have upheld the Act and that any possible constitutional question has been long settled.

The controversy is happening because Rand Paul believes that making private discrimination illegal is not good according to his own Libertarian philosophy, not because he believes that doing so is good but also in violation the Constitution.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Here are some answers to those rhetorical questions from my article at The Inductive:

http://www.theinductive.com/blog/2010/5/24/why-should-i-have-to-defend-libertarianism.html

(1) Can the federal government set the private sector's minimum wage?

Sure, but it means unemployment and all sorts of other problems.

(2) Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants?

There shouldn't be illegal immigrants, because we should encourage legal immigration. There wouldn't be any security concerns if we weren't perpetually at war.

(3) Can it tell oil companies what safety systems to build into an offshore drilling platform?

What the government should do is represent its citizens in charging corporations for creating externalities instead of doing the exact opposite.

(4) Can it tell toy companies to test for lead?

You wanna trust the toy companies to self-regulate? (It worked so well for tobacco.)

(5) Can it tell liquor stores not to sell to minors?

See (3).

Posted by: ChristopherCarr | May 25, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

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