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Rand Paul is still ducking the core issue

Maybe I'm wrong. But I think people still aren't focused enough on the core issue at the heart of the controversy over Rand Paul's comments about the Civil Rights Act.

Specifically: Paul, the darling of the Tea Partyers and one of the highest profile GOP Senate candidates in the country, cannot bring himself to say -- clearly and unequivocally -- that the Federal government should have the power to prohibit private businesses from discriminating on the basis of skin color, religion, or national origin.

Sure, Paul has now said he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act. And his spokesman has clarified under questioning that, yes, Paul believes the Federal government should have this power.

But Paul himself can't manage to say this. He visibly doesn't want to say this. It's remarkable.

Paul had a chance this morning on ABC News to clarify his views on the proper role of Federal power vis-a-vis discrimination by private entities and institutions. He conspicuously declined to do so.

During that remarkable appearance, George Stephanopoulos read aloud from that 2002 letter Paul wrote attacking the Fair Housing Act, in which he said "a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination" and added that discrimination should not be "prohibited for private entities."

Pressed repeatedly on whether he stuck by those views, Paul refused to answer.

Instead, he reiterated that he doesn't favor repealing the Civil Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act. Stephanopoulos then demanded to know whether Paul still believes what he wrote. Paul wouldn't give a direct answer.

In other words, Paul wants to focus the discussion solely on whether he supports repealing these old pieces of legislation -- something it's easy for him to deny. This allows him to cast the criticism as rooted in ancient history -- as a political smear. He visibly bristles when being quizzed on the core principles at play here: Whether the Federal goverment should have the power to bar discrimination by private entities.

Because, by all appearances, he doesn't think it should.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 10:40 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Republicans  
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Comments

Some roll out eh?

8^)

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 21, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

When you get stumped by George Stephanopoulos... it's over.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities and privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion or national origin."

From Title II of the CRA. He fundamentally does not agree with this core value of our Democracy, hence he is parsing his words and deflecting blame to others, like the "loony left". Now he will be asked to explain himself over and over and over until November. Good.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 21, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Appearance on Fox for damage control in 3, 2, 1....

But wait. Maybe Ailes doesn't want the GOP brand to have to face a conflict this way. I don't think you see Randy's old man on that network very often.

And yeah, Ethan, if GS scores on you, time to find another game.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 21, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"But Paul himself can't manage to say this. He visibly doesn't want to say this. It's remarkable."

Ezra Klein posted about this yesterday. He did indeed catch the significance of this.

Regardless of whether Paul does or does not support the repeal of the Civil Rights Act, etc., or of whether or not he himself is racist, a Senator Paul will have to vote many times on legislation that enables the federal government to exert power based upon present interpretations of the Constitution's Commerce Clause. There are many laws based upon this interpretation (a broad interpretation, if I understand correctly).

Paul obviously takes extreme exception to that interpretation.

THAT'S highly significant.

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 21, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

(Oh, and can I just say that it appears perhaps Rand Paul's skin is maybe too thin for politics?)

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

"Paul, the darling of the Tea Partyers and one of the highest profile GOP Senate candidates in the country, cannot bring himself to say -- clearly and unequivocally -- that the Federal government should have the power to prohibit private businesses from discriminating on the basis of skin color, religion, or national origin. Sure, Paul has now said he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act."

Greg. Next question for Rand Paul: Are you saying that you would have voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act EVEN THOUGH YOU BELIEVE IT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL? So much for principles. Sounds like Rand Paul has become a Republican.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

That interview this morning was really interesting. The way Paul contorts himself into a pretzel for the sole purpose of avoiding answering the question, it's remarkable.

I liked seeing Stephanopoulos actually seem to get a little annoyed at Paul when he started accusing George of smearing him, when all George did was read a letter Paul wrote. It was a shame that Stephanopoulos backed down and moved onto another topic...but it's better than nothing, I guess. It's not like he's a journalist or anything.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | May 21, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"When you get stumped by George Stephanopoulos... it's over."

This is going to be an orgy of embarrassment for Paul and the GOP. Good times and noodle salad!

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | May 21, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Spot on Greg! I noticed the same thing. Oh, and if you haven't seen it yet, ThinkProgress has the clip from today's Morning Joe where Joe is essentially blaming MSNBC when he states "What the hell was Paul doing on MSNBC"? As ThinkProgress notes, Paul announced his intention to run on Maddow's show and the mistake wasn't in appearing on Rachel's show but, in the actual comments he made. Let's see if MSNBC President Phil Griffen lowers the boom on Jethro. I can't stand him! I can't wait to see Rachel's show tonight!

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

Rand Paul; County Club Populist Darling Of TeaBaggers;

Does It Again.

Some Populist You TeaBaggers Fell In Love With!!!!!


" WASHINGTON (AP) -- Taking another unconventional stand, Kentucky's Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the Gulf oil spill Friday as putting "his boot heel on the throat of BP" and "really un-American."

Paul's defense of the oil company came during an interview as he tried to explain his controversial take on civil rights law, an issue that has overtaken his campaign since his victory in Tuesday's GOP primary.

"What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'" Paul said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America." "I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.""

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Apropos my prior comment (please pardon the re-post from earlier today):

Rand Paul defends Big Oil and says Obama is being "un-American" by criticizing the company that is destroying the Gulf of Mexico.

"Kentucky's Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul is criticizing President Barack Obama's handling of the gulf oil debacle as putting "his boot heel on the throat of BP."
Paul says Obama's criticism of the oil company sounds like an attack on business and "really un-American.""

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hcWDDpnvzUBPOjd-av800lfTR8AQD9FR7NJG3

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

@lmsinca
We have a republican form of government, not a democracy.

@Greg
I agree that Rand has not given a straight answer which is disappointing to me as a libertarian and supporter.

I do agree with him however.

If you believe the federal government "should have the power to prohibit private businesses from discriminating on the basis of skin color, religion, or national origin" as you put it--then we must amend the constitution as such power is not given to the federal government over private domain.

As Rand has explained, the federal government has the right (and obligation) to end all 'institutional' forms of racism in publicly owned facilities and services but has no right to be the thought police to individuals and their private property.

Posted by: drumdome | May 21, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Could it be this simple?

Ron Paul "Revolution" started the Tea Party

Rand Paul "Devolution" ended it

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Greg, lemme ask what is probably a stupid question - but has anyone said that he IS in favor of repealing? I haven't seen anyone write that Rand Paul is IN FAVOR OF repealing these laws. Am I not seeing something someone wrote? I think maybe Rachel Maddow asked him if he was in favor but I don't recall seeing anyone say outright that he favors repeal. If I'm wrong, fair enough, but it seems to me that this is another strawman argument to deflect attention from the accurate statements he made at least 3 times in the past week.

Posted by: RoundedFork | May 21, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse


I'm confused. Could someone clarify for me if Paul believes private clubs should be allowed to discriminate or privately owned businesses open to the public should be allowed to discriminate.

Posted by: TrustNo11 | May 21, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

'Could someone clarify for me if Paul believes private clubs should be allowed to discriminate or privately owned businesses open to the public should be allowed to discriminate.


Yes, Paul believes that the government does not have the power to stop such discrimination.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

"How dare President Obama criticise BP(after they have worked around the clock for the past month, trying to give America it's own Black Sea."

Rand Paul, Country Club Populist.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

By the way, here's the link from ThinkProgress!

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/05/21/maddow-paul-scarborough/

Posted by: roxsteady | May 21, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

It’s impossible to be politically correct these days no matter what you say. Both conservative and liberal dissect every comment made by the other side and most times falsely extrapolate its intended meaning. Although I have observed this erroneous behavior on both sides the liberal element in our society is quite proficient at this. A perfect example is the current Paul issue with the liberals immediately trying to save their own rear ends by attacking the new upstart, an upstart which may be representative of a signal that the people are speaking out against a bigger, fatter more controlling federal government. Read the question posed by Madow on MSNBC and Paul's response. She asked " Do you think that a private business has the right to say “we don't serve black people”: His immediate response was “I'm not in favor of discrimination in any form". He then goes on to talk about freedom of speech and that abhorrent people and racist have a right to speak out even though "I would never want to be associated with these kind of people".....please .... Where oh where is there racism and controversy here? A poll from the WP/ABC showed that 60% of the OPPONENTS of the TEA Party movement believe that it is fueled because of racial bias against President Obama. Whoever continues to perpetuate this propaganda with all its half truths should be very careful, because the informed public can see right thru the crap. Quite frankly I'm sick of it and I hope you are too.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/20/rand-paul-tells-maddow-th_n_582872.html

Posted by: fens777 | May 21, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Like Palin, Rand Paul wants the national stage as long as he doesn't have to answer journalist's questions. Maybe Fox News will provide Paul the same safety bubble given to Palin.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 21, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Liam: I think Paul's defense of BP will prove even more damaging. Un-American for the President to criticize a company in the process of destroying America's Gulf of Mexico? The guy is a whackjob.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Would you trust this guy working on your eyes? I don't think so. Please keep focus on Oil Spill not this "flash in the pan". He will be defeated in Nov period. PS See his father close up in new Borat movie- very revealing profile. These people are idiots.

Posted by: 33jayave | May 21, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

drumdome, we are of course a democracy, you moron. You can be a Republic and obviously have a democratic form of government (representation). These are in no way mutually exclusive.

Where did you learn this coded crap?

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 21, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

It's only a matter of time before Rand Paul starts comparing his travails to the persecution of Jesus Christ.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Normally I wouldn't come on this rag site for love or money. The Washington Post is no different than almost all other forms of mass media that are owned by the same people who would rather lie repeatedly to whomever still reads this garbage when telling the truth about anything at all. The Post covers for the thieves and criminals that essentially run the United States. Just like most of the rest of mass media. That is the reason your losing readership and money. The people are waking up to the lies and the deceit. Rand Paul is making a point that when any legislative body starts to dictate concerning personal and private situations it violates Constitutional law, state law and there is tyranny. Example the FED has now stolen nearly $28 TRILLION DOLLARS, there should have been a criminal audit there was none. The majority of people demand an audit and it falls on deaf ears ?
I'd say tyrannical govt has a choke hold on the country. It muzzled and gagged the spineless media long ago...Your pathetic.

Posted by: riceowlex | May 21, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne,

The Teabaggers have found their hero in Country Club Populist, Rand Paul.

We Want To Take Back Our Country, And Give It To British Petroleum!

Not to worry Louisiana,Florida, and Alabama.

Rand Paul will make sure that no one Stops British Petroleum from providing you with your own Black Sea Coastal Areas.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

fens777, you miss the forest for the trees.

You really don't understand that Paul's "I'm not a racist but I don't believe the gov't has any role in enforcing discriminatory practices" is institutional racism?

Let's put it this way. If Paul owns a country club, and he prohibits black people from joining, and he then says "I am not a racist; I have nothing against black people, I just choose to prohibit them from my business," this is OK? It's not discrimination because he made a statement about his "feelings"?

No. It's what you DO, not just what you say.

Naive white people who've never suffered any adversity like this are really incredible. Read some freaking history.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 21, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Revere, Paul:

"The British Are Coming; The British Are Coming."

Rand Paul.

"Hurray For British Petroleum, Hurray For British Petroleum."

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

riceowlex, you didn't hear about the Fed audit that passed 96-0?

And if you think the WaPo is liberal, you need to take the tinfoil off your head.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 21, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Rachel Maddow goes after all who don't share her liberal agenda. it is what happens when those with pointed agenda are given a microphone. I heard the interview and repeatedly heard him tell her he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act. I am not a Rand Paul supporter at all but when did any piece of legislation past or future become sacrosanct and why cant we question anything that comes out of Washington DC any longer? to agree with and never question politicians or preachers is a dangerous thing as those with power left unchecked will become corrupt. just ask wall street.

i dont think Rand Paul speaks for the tea Party (he is a libertarian) nor do i think the republicans or democrats do nor do i think any in the Tea Party would ever condone racism at the woolworth's lunch counter nor anywhere else. i do agree it is easier to write conservatives wanting smaller government as racist end of story.

Nazism Facism Marxism were all social experiments that believed that social utopia was attainable with more government as it would make all more civilized and 'happy' the masses bought into it without questioning their political leaders as it was what they vehemently believed was welcome change.

Posted by: mlansdon | May 21, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

drumdome, in other words you agree with Paul that Title II of the CRA is not a legitimate power given to the government to protect the rights of others. Privately owned facilities, open to the public, should be allowed to refuse accommodation to whomever they choose? How far are you willing to go with your Libertarianism and have you ever wondered why no Libertarian has ever reached the WH?

To my knowledge we have a representative democracy, although the "corporate people" seem to have better representation than the rest of us have right now. That's one of the hindrances to true representation that some of us are trying to change.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 21, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Liam: I think Paul's defense of BP will prove even more damaging. Un-American for the President to criticize a company in the process of destroying America's Gulf of Mexico? The guy is a whackjob."

As someone stated on a comment thread at TPM, at this point the only reason Rand Paul opens his mouth is to exchange the foot inside it.

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 21, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

OK, I can't do troll patrol any more.

Old (or older, or acting older, or prematurely senescent) white people with no idea what's going on in the world or recent history.

Pathetic.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 21, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

My minority friends would much rather spend their money in an establishment that promotes civil rights than one that serves them only because the law says so. Wouldn't you rather buy products from someone who is more likely to contribute to the Negro College Fund, or one that contributes to some white supremacist group? Under the current law, there is no way of knowing if the business owner is scum or not.

Posted by: simplemoney | May 21, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"His immediate response was “I'm not in favor of discrimination in any form"."

Followed by the acknowledgement (but only after you read between the lines and notice what's left out) that it's wrong for the government to do anything about it, even though this clearly leads to a society that offers LESS liberty to its citizens, not more (unless you're one of the few who is already powerful).

No thanks. That's not a vision for a free society. That's a vision for an oligarchy.

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 21, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Pretty amazing that Michael Steele appears to be standing behind this clown. I really don't get it, but then again I'm one of those northeastern elitists (i.e., educated).

Posted by: usblues1 | May 21, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

drumdome,

Commercial private property is not, was not, and (hopefully) never will be afforded the same protections as the quiet enjoyment of ones own private residence.

As a matter of history and law we have always recognized that commercial rights on private property are subject to more restrictions and regulation than non-commercial uses of private property.

(e.g. going all the way back to blue laws of the colonial era and beyond which prohibited business owners from engaging in commercial activity on Sundays).

This is a really basic point.

Government at the local, state, and federal level since the ratification of the Constitution has had the ability to regulate commercial activity between private parties. This shouldn't be a controversial point for people who have studied our laws and history.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

How do we good liberals make sure all the Sunday talk shows book Rand Paul? Because at this rate, even if he wins the KY seat, by being the spokesperson for the 2010 Republicans, he'll help the Dems in races in OH, Fl, NC, PA, etc.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | May 21, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"Feed The Hungry" Jesus Christ.

"Woolworth Lunch Counters; Feed The Hungry, Only If You Like The Color Of Their Skin." Rand, Country Club Populist, Paul.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

simplemoney, that's the most convoluted reasoning I've heard in a long time. Let's take away 46 years of Civil Rights law so we can identify the enemy within and not frequent their establishment. Really?

As Wbgonne would say O&O.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 21, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"Feed The Hungry" Jesus Christ.

"Woolworth Lunch Counters; Feed The Hungry, Only If You Like The Color Of Their Skin." Rand, Country Club Populist, Paul.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

If Rand Paul is wrong, what do we do then about the Catholic Church? Their hiring practices are discriminatory and they refuse to serve gays.

Posted by: morattico | May 21, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Boycott that Global Pedophile Protection Mafia. That is what you do.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

While it's clear that Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act are stupid at best, abhorant at worst, as a disabled individual I'm a bit angered by the fact the media's let Paul off the hook on the issue of the ADA.

Paul doesn't support the Americans with Disabilities Act, just as he doesn't support the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act. Paul believes that, for disabled individuals at least, "seperate but equal" should be the law. He's said that a disabled individual should be given an office on the first floor of a building instead of on an upper floor and there shouldn't be a requirement for an employer to have an elevator. The really hilarious part of that viewpoint is that the ADA, as originally passed in 1991, has a large loophole that specifically allows employers to argue that a specific accomidation requested by an employee is an "undue burden" and therefore the employer doesn't have to comply.

I doubt Paul's even read any of the laws he says he's opposed to. But then again, I doubt most politicans of either party read any of the laws they vote on.

Posted by: CJMARTIN04 | May 21, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Not To Worry; All You Patriotic TeaBaggers.

Rand, Country Club Populist, Paul

Will get The Government Off The Back Of British Petroleum, For You.


He Knows The Difference Between Dumping Black Tea Into Boston Harbor, and Dumping Black Oil Into America's Coastal Waters.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I just don't understand how a libertarian can get so much national attention after the devastation that Wall Street and BP has on this country. Insufficient government oversight is what caused these catastrophes, and the hard-working middle class have taken the hard hit.
It just shows how inept the media is that a politician can gain the national stage talking about "less government" while millions of workers have been laid off and our gulf coast is being destroyed.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 21, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Libertarians Are Really Nihilists.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Paul said it right the first time: Government should never have the right to determine the actions of individuals,planning and deciding in the context of a free exchange. Only hostile infringements of those rights by individuals or groups bent on controlling others should be stopped by government force. All government is, in essence, is the monopoly use of force--nothing else. Anything that does not deal with domestic insurrection or foreign attack is not the domain of government, but the individual. Period. That's why I support Rand Paul.

Posted by: RandFan | May 21, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

If Rand believes in slavery and has a secret cotton plantation somewhere, it's a free country. But he has to stand behind what he says and be consistent. I wonder if the NAACP knows who he is?

Posted by: melba1 | May 21, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Then why is Rand, Country Club Populist, Paul; demanding that The Federal Government not reduce the amount of Tax Money that he gets paid for treating patients!!!

He is a fraud.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

All, check out my interview with Joe Sestak, very aggressive stuff:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/05/sestak_to_run_aggressive_campa.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 21, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

If you want to discredit Rand Paul, you should endorse him. The mainstream media is *out of bullets*. This *ultra-lame* idea that Rand Paul the Libertarian wants to get rid of the Civil Rights Act is *laughable*. I'd love to see how many few mindless sheep remain, who still buy into this garbage. The corrupt establishment is *failing*, thankfully! The people are taking back the government. There's nothing the globalist minions can do about it. Enough said.

Posted by: albinojones | May 21, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca,

Here's how to decipher @simplemoney's comment.

The main tell is the phrase "My minority friends".

1. Substitute "minority" with the word "imaginary".

2. The next part requires a recognition of the fact that simplemoney is describing an Ayn Randian Utopia -- not reality.

At that point it begins to make more sense.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Reading all these liberal comments you would think he went to a rascist church for 20 years like Obama.

Posted by: peterg73 | May 21, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

JPRS, thanks for the translation. LOL

Posted by: lmsinca | May 21, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

JPRS, thanks for the translation. LOL

Posted by: lmsinca | May 21, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

There are perfectly good non-racist reasons for not supporting Federal anti-discrimination laws while at the same time pushing and hoping for the utter extinction of racism and bigotry. I despise racism in all its forms.

You want to talk about racism? How about the drug war, which has put hundreds of thousands of non-violent people in prison? How about crack/powder sentencing disparities, which Obama court nominee Kagan persuaded Clinton to keep?

This whining about Rand Paul is just a distraction. I'm not an unabashed defender of Rand (he is a conservative, NOT a libertarian), but his main issue is the Federal debt. I think it was $13 trillion last I checked.

Posted by: tomwalls | May 21, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Why don't Democrats focus on JOBS? Huh?
Why Don't They?
Instead, Democrats have a pattern of focusing on Social issues that Wedge and Divide this Country.
This country is More Divided than Ever ---because Democrats are Trying to Find someone, somewhere discriminating against
someone.
GET YOUR PRIORITIES IN ORDER. You're Exposed, you're wasting our taxdollars and
our time, Democrats!

Posted by: ohioan | May 21, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Go tell your Libertarian theories to the families of coal miners who have buryied their wage-earner because of corporate negligence in the work place. Or to the families of the people who died on the oil rig. Your silly-minded ideology causes lives and great suffering.

Corporations will not regulate themselves because their only concern is about increasing profit. Anybody who hasn't recognized that truth in the last couple of years is just willfully blind.

Freedom isn't the right to destroy or kill people.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"Commercial private property is not, was not, and (hopefully) never will be afforded the same protections as the quiet enjoyment of ones own private residence."

Groundless statement.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: peterg73
"Reading all these liberal comments you would think he went to a rascist church for 20 years like Obama."

-------

Worse yet. Rand Paul is a racist himself.

Posted by: Freestinker | May 21, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Many people vote for conservatives without fully understanding what those conservatives' positions really are and what they would really do if they could get away with it with respect to making, repealing, or amending laws and regulations. Conservatives get and keep power by pulling the wool over the eyes of some of the public.

Paul's recent claim that he is in favor of the legislation and would not repeal it is a prime example. Note that not repealing it is not the same as not amending it. These word games are how conservatives get and keep power - these games are how they pull the wool over the eyes of some of the public.

Example: I bet that Paul's poll numbers will go down when people start to more fully understand what his real positions are, but then his poll numbers will go up again as he partly succeeds in re-pulling that wool over some pairs of eyes with these word games.

The idea is to educate the public fully on all the consequences that would occur from giving conservatives like Paul the power to repeal and even just amend present regulation, as well as the power to prevent future laws and regulations that are presently so desperately needed.

Posted by: Keefanda | May 21, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

This entire kerfuffle illustrates the danger and shallowness of liberal constitutional thought.

Liberals always assert that whatever is a good policy result is what the Constitution requires, forbids, or permits Congress to do. They are either too cowardly or too cynical to confront the other possibility. This leads to a lawless judiciary and Congress.

Questions about the constitutionality of various civil rights laws governing private behavior have never been simple, regadless of one's belief in their goals. You make a mockery of the issues by pretending otherwise.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"All government is, in essence, is the monopoly use of force--nothing else. Anything that does not deal with domestic insurrection or foreign attack is not the domain of government, but the individual. Period. That's why I support Rand Paul."

On the other hand, there is a view held by someone like John Locke in the Second Treatise:

"Sec. 127. Thus mankind, notwithstanding all the privileges of the state of nature, being but in an ill condition, while they remain in it, are quickly driven into society. Hence it comes to pass, that we seldom find any number of men live any time together in this state. The inconveniencies that they are therein exposed to, by the irregular and uncertain exercise of the power every man has of punishing the transgressions of others, make them take sanctuary under the established laws of government, and therein seek the preservation of their property. It is this makes them so willingly give up every one his single power of punishing, to be exercised by such alone, as shall be appointed to it amongst them; and by such rules as the community, or those authorized by them to that purpose, shall agree on. And in this we have the original right and rise of both the legislative and executive power, as well as of the governments and societies themselves."

I'll take John Locke over Ayn Rand 100 times out of 100.

I suspect there are probably a few of the Constitutional Framers who would agree with me on that score.

"All government is is the monopoly of force -- nothing more" ignores the question of the ENDS of CIVIL government.

The Constitution itself may talk about "domestic tranquility" and "common defense" but that's not all it talks about.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"Old (or older, or acting older, or prematurely senescent) white people with no idea what's going on in the world or recent history."

So "white people" don't count anymore.

Good of you to make your views on this explicit.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The bumper stickers are coming already. Re Paul's position that the Americans with Disabilities Act should never have been passed, there is already a sign saying:

Rand Paul's America: Not wheelchair accessible

Posted by: jhpurdy | May 21, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"The Constitution itself may talk about "domestic tranquility" and "common defense" but that's not all it talks about."

Locke said that governments are formed to protect individual property. Sure you want to rely on Locke to denounce modern libertarianism?

You are hard pressed to find the "ends" of modern socialist-liberalism in the Constitution or Locke.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Americans have the right to know that our workplace is safe and our livlihood will not be destroyed by corporations who put huge profits over safety and responsibility.

We have the right to know that our transporation is safe and a bridge won't fall when we drive across it.

If you want no government, then head for the Mexico border. Americans want accountability, so we have the freedom to be safe and seek a decent life for our hard work.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 21, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

@quarterback1,

How did the Civil Rights Act modify the PRIVATE behavior of individuals?

If a person wants to say N-word, N-word, N-word on their own time, they have that right. If a person wants to bar people based on race from entering their own home, they have that right. If a Church wants to discriminate against minorities and bar them from things like the priesthood based on race, they have that right. If a private school wants to discriminate based on race it still can -- it just loses the tax-exemption that it enjoyed (see Bob Jones).

When you're talking private businesses, private commerce has NEVER been sacrosanct in this country. Remember, we once had blue laws preventing business owners from operating on Sundays. These existed even during the early years of the Republic.

Rules governing weights and measures, and fraud, contracts, and patents all had regulation. With the passage of Civil Rights amendments we had an expansion of those rights into the commercial sphere as well (repealed by activist judges and replaced with a doctrine of "separate, but equal" later restored by Brown).

A person has an absolute right to be racist in their own PRIVATE behavior.

However, in the commercial sphere we live in a community. We use PUBLIC sewers, We use PUBLIC roads, we rely on the PUBLIC to provide an income.

This notion that a person can do whatever he or she wants in a private commercial transaction without facing civil or criminal penalties is pretty absurd.

History and law don't stand on the side of that view.

A second-rate writer with visions of a mass market Nietzschean Ubermensch might.

But, last time I checked, Ayn Rand wasn't around in 1789.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse


He may have polling among the Tea Partyees showing a big vote for that
stance. The nose thumbees say so in several posts today...for example one who writes Obama favors Health Care for Americans because so many who look like him don't have it...etc.

One good thing, Pappa Paul, who's bitterly complaining about the questioning of little Rand, is jettisoning his own chances of fooling anyone anymore.

Posted by: whistling | May 21, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Rand Paul's worldview is fundamentally missing the idea that one's rights can be abridged by anyone other than the government. It's the kind of worldview that you can only have if you've lived an incredibly sheltered life.

The crazy thing is that, in a democracy, the government is *us*. Rand Paul wants us to cede control over our own society to whoever happens to have money and power. At some point, you have to call a spade a spade and say that Rand Paul is simply wrong.

Posted by: jeffwacker | May 21, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

This is analogous to the ACLU suing the village of Skokie in 1977. Of course the ACLU doesn't support Nazis, but they firmly believe in the principle of free speech, as does Rand Paul. To interpret this any other way is to miss the point. Rand Paul is simply standing by his principles, and like the ACLU, he is not a racist.

Posted by: steve1231 | May 21, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I think any discussion of Rand Paul is going to gain the sort of people and absolutist heat that come with Palin threads.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 21, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I hate to go all Godwin, but for those that caul Paul a racist, would you support a synagogue's right to deny employing a Nazi skinhead, or would you force the synagogue to employ the skinhead?

Posted by: steve1231 | May 21, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

JPRS,

Splendid rant, if largely incoherent. I gather you recognize no distinctions between public and private spheres, or would shrink the private one to minature size (although you strangely seem to believe that private schools are not public under your scheme).

Apply your arguments to such realms as the "right to privacy" and abortion and see how you feel about it. Abortions are "public" by your description. So is homosexual marriage, and pretty much everything else.

You also fail to comprehend such distinctions as those between action and inaction (or compulsory action), and state powers (plenary) and federal power (not).

You just proved my point that liberals simply (and simplisitically) treat the Constitution as their policy wishlist.

"This notion that a person can do whatever he or she wants in a private commercial transaction without facing civil or criminal penalties is pretty absurd.

History and law don't stand on the side of that view."

I would agree that "history and law" don't tell us much about such a straw man.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Rand Paul's worldview is fundamentally missing the idea that one's rights can be abridged by anyone other than the government. It's the kind of worldview that you can only have if you've lived an incredibly sheltered life."

No, he is just espousing the "state action" doctrine that has been recognized as fundamental to the Constitution since such questions were first raised.

Like it or not, you have to deal with it, not just dismiss it because it is inconvenient or difficult.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Democrats can keep LOOKING for someone, anyone who's discriminating against someone, anyone.... and you know what, I guarantee they'll aways find someone being
discriminated against.
Get over it. Grow up. Get a job.

Posted by: ohioan | May 21, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

quarterback1,

Reducing Locke's thinking to "governments are formed to protect individual property" is reductive in the extreme.

How does Locke define "property"?

What does he have to say about "civil society" and the powers of the community with respect to the rights of the individual?

How does his concept of the state of nature tie into his ideas about the role of government?

Randian libertarianism has more in common with the state of nature that Locke describes at the beginning of the Second Treatise than the Civil Society that he describes in the later chapters.

With respect to "You are hard pressed to find the "ends" of modern socialist-liberalism in the Constitution or Locke."

The reality is that we have things like the General Welfare clause -- really broadly defined terms -- and processes like the amendment process to allow for future modification of the Constitution.

Adam Smith almost certainly would have had no objection to the idea of taxing the rich to support the poor and enlarge opportunity and prosperity for all. He may not have been a Constitutional framer, but his thinking has certainly informed political debate in this country.

With respect to the Framers my sense is that you probably would have had a mix of different views on the issue.

Someone like Franklin with his ideas like the public library and fire departments probably would define the common good and general welfare in broader ways than might be unacceptable to most Randian Libertarians.

It's pure speculation though, because we're dealing with the kind of questions that the Framers largely could not and did not anticipate. For most the industrial revolution was a glimmer in the future. The development of complex economies and global trade is happening at a level that the framers could never have envisioned.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Ask him about the Wal-Mart case. Women have accused Wal-Mart of denying raises and promotions based on gender, Wal-Mart says that's not true.

But Rand's point is that as a legal matter, it shouldn't matter if it's true or not, because Wal-Mart as a private company should be legally allowed to pay women less and deny them promotions simply because they are women.

The question for him is, should that be legal?

Not "should they do it, morally." But should they be ABLE to do it, LEGALLY?

Posted by: theorajones1 | May 21, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, QB, since you are on patrol today let me ask you this: Was SCOTUS correct when it held earlier this week that the Fed Govt has the Constitutional power, under the Necessary and Proper Clause, to hold sexually dangerous people indefinitely?

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

quarterback1,

I absolutely recognize private and public spheres.

I also recognize that commercial activity can't be contained in either the purely private or purely public category. It falls somewhere in between in many cases.

Our laws and the practice of our laws have also recognized this distinction for generations.

e.g. If a person wants to open up a business in an area that's zoned as residential the community can effectively dictate how that person uses his "private property".

We recognize that the quiet enjoyment of others in that particular community supersede the right of that one individual to use his property for whatever purpose he conceives.

Commercial activity is not sacrosanct. It is subject to regulation and restrictions.

The problem is that libertarians can't seem to grasp the simple fact that the world is not black and white. Reducing the world to just "public and private" ignores the fact that there are areas that fall somewhere in between. Even in the extremes -- yes there are limits on government activity; but as part of the social contract there are also limits on individual property rights. Neither is absolute.

It's worth adding that government exists in part to resolve disputes over these kind of issues (not just to use its "monopoly of force").

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"for those that caul Paul a racist, would you support a synagogue's right to deny employing a Nazi skinhead, or would you force the synagogue to employ the skinhead?"

Last I checked, neither "nazi" nor "skinhead" are formal religions.

And the language in CRA is (thank you lmsnica, who posted it above) as follows:

"All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities and privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion or national origin."

So no, I wouldn't object to a synagogue denying employment of a Nazi skinhead. And, imho, anyone who DOES object to that on moral grounds is a disgusting fool.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Did Trey Greyson do any opposition research? Sure seems NOT.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 21, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"Did Trey Greyson do any opposition research? Sure seems NOT."

Greyson's problem is that Rand Paul's views are now GOP mainstream; they just try like h*ll not to answer any questions about real-life consequences from their policies. Them days are over. O-V-A. Now the GOP can't run and hide anymore. Thanks, Rand (But My Daddy Says I'm Smart) Paul.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Greg Sargent pisses himself because he sees an opportunity to play the race card. distractions from 10% unemployment perhaps?

Posted by: dummypants | May 21, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Look, the CORE ISSUE is job outsourcing and ending free trade, not some silly bogus claptrap invented by the Post. You left wing utter jerks have a lot of gaul, too, calling Paul's stance that discrimination by any government or public agency "racist", but that a private club or organization has no such limits. Especially after the Post CENSORED Calderon's insults in front of COngress yesterday. Heck, the Post STILL is censoring them. Not one word, not a mumble of any sort, about these criminal head of a failing narco state's lecturing us that we owe his country's poor access to free medical care, food stamps, schools, jobs, everything becasue it is their "civil right". It makes you kind of vomit a little, in your mouth, to see some ratbag hick of a reporter blather on and on about Mr. Paul in the aftermath of this. Do you have any self respect left whatsoever? How can you even all yourselves a newspaper? You're a joke, and a rather pathetic one at that.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | May 21, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The underlying premise of Rand Paul's thought is simple: Private business can do no wrong. Whether it is restaurants shutting out minorities or BP hiding how much oil is really leaking into the gulf, private business can do anything they want.

Since unregulated billion-dollar corporations and financial institutions just led us to the brink of worldwide depression, I find Paul's view ridiculous.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | May 21, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Rand Paul have good point here? Why SHOULD government be able to tell every single person and business what to do AND how to do it? If we start down that road, with good intentions of course, where does it end? Is there any meaningful limit on Federal authority?

Paul (both of them) believes there IS a limit, and I think most people would agree with that. We NEED limits on government, and it's a very good idea to have some serious discussion about what those limits should be.

Posted by: _BSH | May 21, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Nice article. Watching both the RM and GS interviews, it was amazing how far Paul went to back away from what he has written - that discrimination is OK. Today's interview was weak, though. GS let Paul ramble. Maddow was way better. I love watching this racist self-destruct.

For all those who support this clown, I guess discrimination and a lack of government support works if you aren't the one harmed. Republicans rail all the way to the bank about the stimulus, extended unemployment or Democratic reforms. The southern Republican governors sure want the feds to help them enforce the BP clean-up.

Posted by: hockeymom1 | May 21, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

_BSH,

We have limits on government -- these are enforced through elections, through litigation, through public debate, etc, etc.

Government tends to intervene when there are conflicts between INDIVIDUALS. This is one thing that the Pauls don't quite seem to understand.

By saying that they don't think the government should mediate disputes, they are effectively prioritizing the rights of the rich and powerful above the rights of everyone else.

The BP disaster illustrates this point.

The economic harm that BP's actions are causing will result in only partial compensation to the individuals who are actively harmed by BP's negligence. (e.g. BP will tie up legitimate claims against the company for decades in the court -- meanwhile, people along the Gulf Coast will likely lose homes and livelihoods while the litigation drags out. This is just the reality. If the crisis gets really bad, taxpayers will be called on to provide relief).

In the case of the Massey Mine disaster, there is no level of compensation that Massey can provide to resurrect the dead (same story with BP, Transocean, Halliburton).

A representative democracy is not entirely divorced from the people. This is something that the libertarian view also seems to gloss over.

In the case of civil rights legislation its worth noting that the laws were enacted with wide-spread public support. The possibility of reversing those laws seems remote at this point in part because of the level of popular support.

In the end that's part of the measure of the effectiveness of a federal solution.

If there was wide-spread discontent with civil right protections, we might see a reversal of those laws. There's a reason though that politicians like Rand Paul tend to run for the hills when he is forced to explain how he might vote on these issues. On some level he recognizes that his views are probably not wholly representative of his constituents. In a representative democracy that might create a problem for a given politician, but it's not necessarily an indictment of the system of government.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

WOW, I can't believe Rand won't lie and tell people what they want to hear!! What kind of corrupt politician is he??!! All he has to do is collapse on his own limited government principles and placate the big government progressives.

His win really is going to be a reality smackdown for WashPost readers.

Posted by: millionea81 | May 21, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"His win really is going to be a reality smackdown for WashPost readers."

Rand Paul ain't winnin' nothin'. Notice the deafening silence from his erstwhile compatriots in the Senate? Even the GOP doesn't want the guy. You know, Mitch McConnell is one slimy mofo but he ain't dumb: He knew what a disaster Rand Paul was going to be. When the present-day GOP thinks you're a whack job you are really a whack job.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Fact check: The more than 20% increase in the minimum wage signed into law by President Obama and passed by the Democratic Congress has caused a jump of 2 percentage points in the level of unemployment that can be attained without causing accelerating inflation -- raising it up to 7% from the 5% under Presidents Bush and Clinton. (Please see citation in, e.g., http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=3367&type=0, finding that for every 10% rise in the minimum wage there will be a 1 percentage point increase in unemployment.)

The increased minimum wage is harmful to those populations that can least afford the loss of jobs. Over the past five years, unemployment rates have risen from 15% to 25% for teens, 9% to 16% for African-Americans, 6% to 12% for Latinos, and 7% to 15% for those lacking a high school diploma. (Please see bls.gov).

Posted by: tomfwalton | May 21, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Wal-Mart:

What good is a job if you don't earn enough money to live on?

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010: that is a cop-out, as I would argue that Nazi-ism is a religion (i.e. the belief in supernatural B.S.).

Posted by: steve1231 | May 21, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

JPRS,

So you have some beliefs about the proper function and scope of government, and at most a disagreement with Rand Paul over precisely where the line should be drawn separating the public from the private.

What you don't have is any principled claim to your position as right and Paul's as wrong. And you don't have any constitutional basis for your position.

As for the "monopoly of force" theory of government, that is actually a Marxist theory, as stated by Gramsci among others. I think any libertarian espousing it is confused, and it certainly is not consistent with American history or our system of government, which presuppose unalienable rights to liberty and self defense (against tyrants and others).

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

WB,

It might be a lot of good. Otherwise, people wouldn't take such jobs.

How many people should be able to live on the pay for every job? And why should someone be allowed to have a simple and undemanding job that doesn't pay enough for someone to live on? Perhaps they don't need to live on it? How do you know that every job is worth enough to be paid "enough to live on"?

I don't think liberals have any meaningful answers to such questions.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

How come the same Right Wing Nut Jobs who are defending Rand Paul, by claiming that the Government should never interfere in the lives of individuals, are always the ones, who keep trying to pass laws to interfere in the private lives of homosexuals, and pregnant women?!

Posted by: Liam-still | May 21, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"How come the same Right Wing Nut Jobs who are defending Rand Paul, by claiming that the Government should never interfere in the lives of individuals, are always the ones, who keep trying to pass laws to interfere in the private lives of homosexuals, and pregnant women?!"

Well, that's DIFFERENT, Liam. You may have noticed that QB deferred answering whether the Supreme Court was correct ruling that the Fed Govt had the Const power to indefinitely detain sexually dangerous people. I feel safe concluding that there would be no hesitation if SCOTUS said the Fed Govt had the power to, let's say, help provide health care to Americans. If you detect a trend you aren't imagining it: For the GOP/Teabaggers "rights" are what Rich People and Corporations have. Everyone else only gets "privileges" that can be retracted whenever the majority feels like doing so.

And for QB and SBJ: I realize you feel under siege because your boy got knocked out before he got into the ring. But here's the thing: Live by the crazy, die by the crazy; Live by the stupid, die by the stupid. Turnabout's a b*itch.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I would have respected Rand Paul more if he'd stuck by his guns and answered from his heart. Nothing wrong with believing strongly in your convicts....but, one thing I can't stand is a squirming worm. Paul is acting more and more like a politician each day. One other question: Who does he think will want to work with him in passing a libertarian biased bill that he puts forward? Rand is going to have to ditch the Tea Party mantra and side with the GOP if he has any hope of avoiding political limbo....and then, it's over.

Posted by: massmedia77 | May 21, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

My "boy got knocked out of the ring"?

Don't even know what or whom you are talking about. If I feel under seige, it is by a sitting President and Congress whose ideology is hostile and alien to our country and culture.

"How come the same Right Wing Nut Jobs who are defending Rand Paul, by claiming that the Government should never interfere in the lives of individuals, are always the ones, who keep trying to pass laws to interfere in the private lives of homosexuals, and pregnant women?!"

Why are the same left-wing nut jobs who are attacking Rand Paul always the same ones who think there is a "privacy" right to go to a clinic or hospital and pay a doctor and support staff to perform an abortion, and who think the government has no business refusing to marry homosexuals? ("Get your government hands off my right to a government marriage!")

Think before you comment.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

@drumdome

A republican form of government IS a democracy.

Posted by: daiconradmi | May 21, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"there is a "privacy" right to go to a clinic or hospital and pay a doctor and support staff to perform an abortion, and who think the government has no business refusing to marry homosexuals?"

Of course, there are such rights. One has already been recognized the other will be in the not-distant future. Don't you like people having rights?

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

quarterback1,

With respect to the Constitutional basis, the Constitution does not specify an absolute right to private property.

It doesn't even define what public and private spheres are.

It does spell out the conditions under which government can deprive a person of the full enjoyment of his or her property (on the basis of due process and just compensation in the case of a "taking").

Precedent matters in terms of the interpretation of law, and at least on that basis, I'm comfortable in saying that cleaving the world into the purely private and the purely public without recognizing a third category somewhere in between strikes me as too simplistic.

In terms of principle, if Paul's approach did in fact expand "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" -- I'd have no problem with it.

In practical terms though, I hear him complaining about the injustice that Obama's mean words are doing to BP, and it becomes pretty clear that this guy has at the very minimum a nutty sense of priorities.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

JPRS,
quarterbrain is the recipient of a pretend legal degree from "top 5 law school." It says that in crayon in Gothic script across the top of his hand lettered diploma. He imagines that if he passes himself off as a lawyer, we will all be duly impressed and defer to his harebrained musings. His legal pronouncements are laughable at best, and unconstitutional and dangerous at worst.

He is a teabagger, and a none too bright specimen of that tribe of mental pygmies. Pay him no mind.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 21, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

WB,

You should ask yourself that question. You appear entirely to have missed the point of my turning it back on JPRS and Liam, which is that they are no more consistent than those they criticize. (I am amazed how frequently liberals fall into this trap.)

Abortions are no more "private" than any of the things they think are "public" and therefore subject to comprehensive regulation and prohibition.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Gasman1,

I must have missed quarterback1's claim of formal legal training. The great thing about libertarian thinking is that its simplicity gets to the fundamental issues quickly. It's a useful tool and a good point of departure.

When I was in high school, I remember agreeing with the live and let live approach on social policy. With respect to economic policy, I found the ideas appealing -- until I actually spent part of a summer between freshmen and sophomore years of college working in a warehouse for The Man.

It's probably no accident that libertarianism has its firmest roots in the non-industrial interior west and not in the northeast or the upper midwest. Most of the other libertarians that I know tend to be white kids from upper-middle class backgrounds who want freedom with only minimal responsibility towards The Other.

It's an easy philosophy if a person is born into some degree of privilege to begin with.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Poor, pathetic Gassy the Clown.

Keep trying, harder and harder. You don't look desparate at all.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

quarterback1,

Where does the Constitution define life as starting at conception?

If you want to talk about original meanings, abortion restrictions didn't really come into play until the second half of the 19th century.

The issue was one of public safety -- e.g. first trimester abortions were unsafe so doctors lined up with religious groups to have a prohibition put into place. Part of the original basis for the law -- the safety of the mother -- no longer existed by the 1970s with respect to first trimester abortions. If the original basis for a law no longer exists, then the law has served its usefulness.

This is after all part of the justification that some conservatives use for overturning civil rights laws. e.g. "Haven't you heard, a black president was elected? That means racial discrimination no longer exists!"

If you believe that abortions involve a dispute between individuals -- with society having an interest in protecting the most vulnerable individual -- then you are taking it for granted that life begins at conception.

If life begins at viability, then the legal basis for preventing abortions changes.

The Constitution tells us absolutely nothing about when person-hood begins.

As far as consistency goes, I guess I would say with respect to property rights, that my views are open to persuasion with respect to resolving grey areas.

Fundamentally, though Emerson had it right: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Ayn Rand's cartoonish rendering of Nietzsche's Will to Power in her simple-minded personal philosophy is a nice illustration of this ironic principle.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

"It's an easy philosophy if a person is born into some degree of privilege to begin with."

You make a ridiculous suggestion and generalization here. I spent a good deal more than a summer working for the Man in low-level, manual labor jobs. And I've now seen the privileged classes up close and personal. I see no such correlation and if anything more the opposite.

My father was an economic libertarian his whole life -- although he likely wouldn't have had the terminology -- even though, as he would have said, he never had two nickels to rub together. Why? It was a matter of principle.

I'm not a libertarian, although like most people I have some libertarian leanings. It's a bit absurd to claim someone like Rand Paul is a nut for having libertarian ideas, when you yourself admit it is a useful line of thought.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

JPRS,

My comment about abortion wasn't about the rightness or wrongness of Roe. Nor did I say anything about original meanings. I think your abortion argument is completely wrong, but it has nothing to do with the question at hand.

I simply responded to the suggestion that there is inconsistency between a libertarian viewpoint of the sort suggested by Rand Paul and support for restrictions on abortion:

Those who champion the "privacy" right to abortion are more often than not those who believe in little or no liberty or "privacy" in the areas Rand Paul suggests, and are therefore just as inconsistent.

I found your comments challenging the "private" nature of all manner of "commercial" or social interactions particularly striking in this regard, because abortion is a "public" act just as surely as the hiring of an employee, or the serving of a lunch, etc.

That was my only point. I think Roe is constitutionally indefensible, but this issue is one of claimed philosphical inconsistency.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

quarterback1,

Putting the legal question aside, just looking at this from a point of logical consistency -- the question of hypocrisy cannot be resolved without resolving a more fundamental question first: At what point does a person gain the rights of an "individual"?

If the answer is "at conception" then it's easy to reconcile personal liberty of the mother and an abortion restriction in almost every instance. Situations involving the health of a mother are still problematic.

However, if a person accepts that abortion involves a legal controversy between at least two distinct individuals, then it's easy to see how a person might formulate the "abortion is murder" line of thinking.

On the other hand, if the answer to the fundamental question is that personhood occurs "at the point of viability (when a fetus has the capacity to live separately from the mother's body)" then any prior restrictions only involves the rights of one person. Any state intervention would represent a clear infringement on the personal liberty of the pregnant woman to make a decision in a matter that effects only her body.

So under those circumstances there is no inconsistency in saying that an abortion restriction infringes on the personal liberty of the mother.

As a side note, the legislative history that I recounted in my prior comment is largely a recapitulation of Justice Blackmun's opinion in Roe v. Wade. My own view on Roe is not settled (I find Blackmun's reason compelling as a matter of logic -- as a matter of law I can recognize problems). It's an incredibly difficult case. The continuing controversy is evidence of that much.

In any event, thanks for the thought-provoking discussion.

Posted by: JPRS | May 22, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

quarterback1,

One final point for the night:

"It's a bit absurd to claim someone like Rand Paul is a nut for having libertarian ideas, when you yourself admit it is a useful line of thought."

I mean "useful" in a very narrow sense. Fascism and Communism are also useful in the sense that they provide a stark point of contrast for thinking about issues like state power -- that doesn't mean that I think they're useful or good governing models.

I don't think Rand Paul is a nut because he's a libertarian. I think he's a bit of a nut, because his views on the Civil Rights Act and his understanding of "property rights" seem to be more grounded in the works of Ayn Rand than in American legal traditions.

I also find his statement about "accidents happen" to be more than a little troubling with respect to BP. We already have enough Washington politicians who suck up to big business and let the Bigs dump the costs of their own negligence and excesses on the rest of the population.

It's one thing to talk in platitudes about loving freedom. It's another thing to explain in concrete terms what that understanding means in terms of actual legislation.

Posted by: JPRS | May 22, 2010 2:50 AM | Report abuse

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