Friday, May 21, 2010

In defense of Rand Paul

Within 48 hours, Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul has managed to 1) attack the now-venerated 1964 Civil Rights Act, and 2) defend the now-villainous British Petroleum Company. 
Well, maybe he'll be more subtle in the future. 

Here's one of the transcripts of what Paul did and didn't say, according to The Wall Street Journal:

"What I've always said is, I'm opposed to institutional racism, and I would have--if I was alive at the time, I think--had the courage to march with Martin Luther King to overturn institutional racism, and I see no place in our society for institutional racism," he said in response to a first question about the act.

"You would have marched with Martin Luther King but voted with Barry Goldwater?" asked an interviewer.

"I think it's confusing in a lot of cases in what's actually in the Civil Rights Case (sic)," Paul replied. "A lot of things that were actually in the bill I'm actually in favor of. I'm in favor of--everything with regards to ending institutional racism. So I think there's a lot to be desired in the Civil Rights--and indeed the truth is, I haven't read all through it, because it was passed 40 years ago and hadn't been a real pressing issue on the campaign on whether I'm going to vote for the Civil Rights Act."
Here's his take on the public vs. private property portions of the act:
Paul explained that he backed the portion of the Civil Rights Act banning discrimination in public places and institutions, but that he thinks private businesses should be permitted to discriminate by race.

"I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I'm all in favor of that," he said. "I don't like the idea of telling private business owners. . . ."
And then, in another interview:
Interviewer: But under your philosophy, it would be OK for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworths?

Paul: I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent, um, but, the hard part--and this is the hard part about believing in freedom--is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example--you have too, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. . . . It's the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior.
Paul has said elsewhere that his preference for ending segregation would be through boycotts, shaming, and other forms of peer pressure. 
What Rand Paul should have said, of course, is that he loves, no, he actually adores the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in its entirety, including the punctuation, and that he sleeps with a copy of it under his pillow. 
That is the only sensible answer for a politician to give.  
The distinction between "government" and "private" property is lost on most voters. 
Private property owners are free to say "No shoes, no shirt, no service".  Others have signs up that state that they reserve the right to refuse service for any reason. 
If it is your castle, you really should be able to refuse entry to anyone you want to refuse: left-handers, Okies, blacks, whites, Palin supporters, or people who think To Kill A Mockingbird is overrated.
And the left-handers, Okies, blacks, whites, Palinites, and Harper Lee fans should be free to boycott your ass and encourage all their friends to do the same.  
As far as the effectiveness of the CRA of '64 goes, my public school classes at A.W. James Elementary school in Drew, Mississippi, were de facto segregated until 1969.   
My doctor's office in Merigold, Mississippi, had segregated waiting rooms (hello, Westerfields !) until the Doctor retired sometime in the mid-1970's. 
What changed everything?  Simple economics.  Boycotts.  Shaming.  The same remedies that Paul (foolishly, but truthfully) proposed in his interviews (as if he could go back in time to '64, and vote as a two-year-old senator).  People generally don't move to places that discriminate unfairly just for the hell of it.  And they eventually stop shopping there. 
What would have worked better for Paul would be to ignore the Bill's attacks on property rights and say "I support the goals of the Act, if not some of the wording.  I especially support the provisions that ended the Democrat party's vile segregationist practices.  When this bill came to Congress, there were Democrat politicians standing in the front doors of public schools and universities.  Racist, Yellow-Dog Democrats were setting attack dogs loose on citizens who merely wanted to use public transportation that their taxes paid for." 
Then remind the country that when the Act came up for a vote in '64, three-fourths of the "nay" votes in the House Of Representatives came from Democrats.  
Remind the country that 80% of the "nay" votes in the Senate came from Democrats, and that those voting "nay" included Al Gore's Daddy, plus  a former Ku Klux Klan Community Organizer named Robert Byrd, who, last I checked, is still a Democrat Senator representing the subsidy hawgs of West Virginia. 

Moving onward through the fog ! !
Here's the British Petroleum portion of the Rand Paul/George Stephanopoulosformerclintonadvisor interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you don’t want to get rid of the EPA?

PAUL: No, the thing is is that drilling right now and the problem we’re having now is in international waters and I think there needs to be regulation of that and always has been regulation. What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, you know, “I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.” I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault. Instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen. I mean, we had a mining accident that was very tragic and I’ve met a lot of these miners and their families. They’re very brave people to do a dangerous job. But then we come in and it’s always someone’s fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you believe that the regulation of BP was adequate?

PAUL: I don’t know exactly what the regulation of BP is. I think there’s hundreds of pages of regulation of drilling in the ocean and I think most of that’s justified. I think we’ll have to figure out from this accident, is there anything that could have beend one to prevent it? What can we do in the future to make sure that it doesn’t happen again? So, I think we use logic. We use objective facts. And yeah, we try to go forward. Nobody wants this to happen. I love the beautiful beaches down in the panhandle of Florida and nobody wants to see oil washing up on those white sand beaches. 

All of that sound plenty vague to me, but if you pull the "shit happens" quotes out of context, and ignore the point he's trying to make about our Nutcase-In-Chief trying to demagogue the issue, you won't hear anything except a defense of BP. 
I would still trust Rand Paul to protect the beaches of Kentucky.

As an officer in the Libertarian Party, I can't endorse any non-Libertarians, but I can give some advice.

Someone in Paul's campaign needs to go to the Louisville, Kentucky, Border's or Barnes & Noble, and get Dr. Paul a copy of Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals. 

Then Dr. Paul needs to go to that Trappist Monastery in Kentucky, the one where Thomas Merton lived, and spend two weeks there, studying Alinsky's book, the playbook that the Statists have used since the day it was published. 

When Paul leaves the monastery, he will perfectly understand what has just happened to his campaign.  He will understand how to avoid those situations in the future.  He will understand that the public cannot understand nuance or ambiguity.  He will understand that whoever controls the narratives about the past will control the narratives about the future. 

And maybe he'll never play into his opponents' hands again.  He'll use every interview, every position statement, and every editorial to attack, attack, attack, even if the attack has nothing to do with the topic at hand.  That's how the game is played.   

Here's a video of Barack Obama picking his nose:


Nick Rowe said...

First rule of being a libertarian politician:


You're supposed to BE a libertarian, not talk like one. It's not about "hiding" what we believe but rather walking the walk instead of talking the talk.

People like us who think... no, KNOW, that there's no Constitutional authority for:

- A large standing Army
- An Air Force
- Social Security
- Medicare
- Fiat money
- Most everything the government does...

have a hard time getting along with all the brain-dead zombies of the nation who get rather perturbed when you rattle their cages. They can't handle the truth and, unfortunately, they vote.

IF you're going to be truly candid about your libertarian philosophy, then you can't soft-pedal it. You have to be forceful, clear, point directly to the words of the Constitution, preach about liberty, and show no fear.

How do you dismantle a leviathan that was born before the ink on the Constitution was dry, suspended individual and state rights during the Civil War, and began enacting anarchist/socialist inspired legislation from on Roosevelt to the next, spawned The Great Society, elected Jimmy Carter, Slick Willy, and My Hero, Zero? You certainly can't do it alone.

Being Ron Paul's son was more than enough cause to arouse suspicion. Now Paul's got to teach a course in US Constitution 101 instead of running for office. The entire state is enrolled in NASCAR 202.

Well, I was a professor in that state. They're very good people but not particularly bright. After all, they elected Jim Bunning.

We all know it's a media hatchet job about what he said and meant. They're diverting attention from the left's bungling of the economy, two wars, an oil spill, a Supreme Court nomination, and financial reform.

But when you join the Big Leagues you're supposed to know better. How can you have confidence in a myopic eye doctor?

The Republican voters of Kentucky made a big mistake and now the Demon Rat will likely win the seat. We can't afford to lose the EASY ones.

If Rand does manage to pull out a victory, he'll be dismissed as a serious senator and relegated to minor committees for his term.

Nick Rowe said...

In this blog about Everett Dirksen I talk about the events leading up to the CRA of 1964 and how Republicans got it passed.

You won't learn about that in school unless you're from Texas.

Cedric Katesby said...

I've never heard of Rand Paul before.
Wouldn't know him from a bar of soap.
Normally, as a foreigner, I would not comment on American politics.
Yet on this occasion, I'm going to break my own rule.

(Apologies all 'round)

I'm going to break it because of this interview.
I have never seen somebody squirm and wriggle so badly on television.

My doctor's office in Merigold, Mississippi, had segregated waiting rooms (hello, Westerfields !) until the Doctor retired sometime in the mid-1970's.
What changed everything? Simple economics. Boycotts. Shaming.

In this example, it seem that the waiting rooms changed because the doctor retired. Evidently, everything did not change.

People generally don't move to places that discriminate unfairly just for the hell of it. And they eventually stop shopping there.

What if the local people think that discriminating against the "left handers" is just fine?

The schools that have good funding, the good jobs, the local police force, the local banks, the local shop keepers, the local courts, the best housing locations, the places to eat, the parts of the bus you sit at is all reserved for "real people".
The "real people" like it that way just fine.

That state of affairs ticked along nicely for over a century.
The simple economics of it all did just fine.
There was precious little shame.
Indeed, there was a great pride.

A society can discriminate and get away with it.
It takes resources and political will to mobilise people and organise boycotts and protests.
They are rare events. Not everybody has the talents of MLK.

If discrimination is combatted only by boycotts and political mobilisation on a case-by-case basis then the answer is to just keep discrimination "just below the radar".

Certainly, boycotts can work.
Yet not everybody can get a boycott rolling.

Most people don't have what it takes to actively fight against discrimination.
There's a thousand reasons to just shrug your shoulders helplessly and try and move on.
That what happens the vast majority of times.

So what happens if somebody really does call you out on an act of discrimination?
Don't panic.
Wait for the gathering storm.

No storm? Good!
Then continue what you do.
Bring your own baseball bat and revolver.

A storm is really gathering this time?
Then capitulate..for the meantime.
(ha ha ha)
Smile for the camera.
Introduce reform.
Wait a while.
Then go back to the old ways once the heat cools down.

Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.

A gay person should not have to transform into another Rose Parks or MLK just to get a job or be allowed to visit their dying loved one in hospital.
A foreigner should not be denied service just because he "looks like a Muslim".
A veteran in a wheelchair should not be denied a good job because the company can't be bothered installing wheel ramps.

Everybody should have recourse to the law.

Dr Ralph said...

Re-reading some of your past posts regarding boycotts, I'm curious about your take on Dr Rand's preference for ending segregation "through boycotts, shaming, and other forms of peer pressure."

These only work when someone has a sense of shame. Not all do.

Given that Libertarians have made privatization of public functions a cornerstone of their political philosophy, Dr Rand's statement about accepting discrimination from private businesses is quite intriguing.

So we'll just privatize discrimination?

His statements on BP amount to shrugging, "sh*t happens."

I love you man, but this stuff will rot your soul.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

That was precisely my point about the Dr's office. The law was in place, yet little or nothing changed in relation to the problem. The government, however, granted itself powers that have cause massive amounts of mischief ever since then.
Second, you're not making Paul's distinction between "public" property and accomodations and "private" property. If a public hospital, restroom, park, etc., denies anyone access for any discriminatory reason, the government is right for going after their employees at those facilities. This should NOT apply to private property. I have a litter of dachshund puppies that I intend to sell in a few months.
But I reserve the right to sell them to who I please. The results might seem discriminatory to some.

Here's J. Dyer, of "Hot Air", explaining Paul's position more clearly than I might be able to:

"Federal overreach in a good cause is still federal overreach. Republicans must reflect on this fact: that if we refuse to reexamine the loose thinking about federal authority in the Civil Rights Act – thinking that was strongly opposed by many at the time, as older readers will remember – then we have already ceded the principle of federal overreach, and, by our own agreement, there is nothing the US federal government can’t do to us.
The funny thing is that in the 1960s, men like William F. Buckley, Jr., Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan opposed the title of the Civil Rights Act that constituted federal overreach: that is, the assumption of federal authority to regulate local business practices. Goldwater ultimately voted against the Act precisely because of that one concern. All of these men – unlike, say, George Wallace – were relentless opponents of state-level racist policies. Few on the right today consider them to have been extremists."

One other thing to remember.... It wasn't the Rotary Club, the Baptist Church, or even the Ku Klux Klan that wrote and enforced the Jim Crow laws.
It was the government.

You are correct. Not all of them do. They eventually just die in their sins (to use a Baptist phrase). And in the case I mentioned above (segregated waiting rooms) the law changed nothing. Absolutely nothing. Except government's extension of its own power.

Cedric Katesby said...

The law was in place, yet little or nothing changed in relation to the problem.

The "simple economics" were in place too.
For a very, very long time.
Nothing happened.

The concept of shame was in place too, for a very, very long time.
Nothing happened.

I have a litter of dachshund puppies that I intend to sell in a few months.
But I reserve the right to sell them to who I please. The results might seem discriminatory to some.

Are you really comfortable comparing the sale of puppies (of all things) to what happened in the South?
Doesn't making that kind of comparison make you feel just a little bit hesitant?
Just a bit?

One other thing to remember.... It wasn't the Rotary Club, the Baptist Church, or even the Ku Klux Klan that wrote and enforced the Jim Crow laws.
It was the government.

It was the people.
Not "the government".
The people.
Of, by and for.

The "real people" liked those laws real fine.
There was lots of gleeful enforcement going on with those laws. Nobody had to send in federal troop to beat up on the "left-handers".
Them local boys went to it with great gusto.
There's strange fruit a'swingin' in those trees.

And in the case I mentioned above (segregated waiting rooms) the law changed nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Change doesn't happen overnight.
Laws are not magic words.

They need to be enforced.
They need to be popularised.
They need to be recognised at a local level.
Not all people are going to avail themselves of the law at the same time.
Cultural inertia and all that.

This will come as a shock to you but discrimination laws that have been on the books for decades are repeatedly the modern day.

It's foolish to point to those examples and say "See? SEE?? Nothing's changed".

Don't cherry-pick. Don't rely on anecdotal evidence. Don't rely on personal memories.

If you really want to find out about the effectivenes of discrimination laws then some scholarly research is in order.

People have looked at this.
(Historians, lawyers, sociologists.)
There is a rich and bloody history that has been carefully recorded.

...the law changed nothing. Absolutely nothing.

How do you honestly know?

The doctor retired, right?

Somebody took over, right?
Why did they change things?
You can't read their minds.

Maybe they were ashamed of the previous system?
That would be nice to believe.

Maybe there was a sudden and surprising influx of potential black customers in the neighbourhood that the new doctor wanted to serve and get money from?
That would be less noble but I'll take it as a possibiltiy.

Or maybe the new mangagement took over and dismantled the old system because they saw the segregated waiting rooms as an expensive lawsuit just waiting to happen.

A lawsuit that had been avoided so far by dumb luck and a lack of local poltical will.
One uppity, lawyered-up "left-hander" could change all of that real fast.

Second, you're not making Paul's distinction between "public" property and accomodations and "private" property.


In the context of what we are talking about, does the phrase "States Rights" mean anything to you?

Allen, this whole thing's not good.
It's genuinely disturbing.
It's ugly.

I really wish you would listen to the good doctor on this.
You are making some strange bedfellows and the dog whistles are blowing loud and clear.

Nick Rowe said...

Very interesting issue and discussion.

I shall take the liberty of speaking for Rand and WS: where in the Constitution was the federal government empowered to force private citizens to engage in economic transactions with parties they have no interest in trading with, WHATEVER THE REASON.

This is compelling for me even though it permits abhorrent behavior. I certainly believe private citizens AND public facilities can and should deny services to people who are drunk, on drugs, or reek from months without bathing. Others have a right not to have their senses assailed.

The argument in favor of the CRA64 is that a retail business is a public entity. The "open" sign in the window is an invitation for business to all. You can and should exclude people whose behavior or physical condition is disruptive of public propriety, but all others must be served.

Boycotts are childish and ineffective. Setting up a competing business which serves blacks would make one a pariah in the community, bringing violence.

People have rights, and it's government's job to protect them. I believe we have a right to purchase services offered to the general public as opposed to offers made to specific parties. Girls can be excluded from the Boy Scouts. Gays can be excluded from teaching in Catholic schools. A union could NOT prohibit a member or invited guest from parking a foreign made vehicle on their private lot - the vehicle is not integral but incidental to the offer of membership or attendance. They could ask someone to leave who wore a "Fuck unions" t-shirt because no one has to entertain someone deliberately insulting them.

I think the CRA64 was both effective and necessary. Affirmative action, on the other hand, is neither.

Dr Ralph said...

By the way, you may want to read what Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute has to say before piping up in Rand Paul's defense too loudly.

Not all Libertarians seem to think he's being picked on unfairly.