Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Curious Case of Rand Paul

Who is this Rand Paul character anyway? We all knew who Ron Paul was of course, but few Politicos had any idea that he had a son, let alone a super Tea Party vigilante disguised by day in true Clark Kent-like fashion as a 47 year-old ophthalmologist. One thing is for sure: the entire political world knows who Rand Paul is now. After he trounced the GOP establishment's candidate in the Kentucky Republican Primary for the United States Senate seat, the Tea Party crowd exalted Paul from coast to coast as the proverbial second coming and perhaps as the answer they had all been looking for in order to solve the Obama problem. And for a second it all seemed possible...but then it happened. In a rather monumental "aha" moment, the likes of which had not been replicated since the infamous 2008 Katie Couric destruction interview of Sarah Palin, Rachel Maddow displayed her tiger-style investigative journalism skills and revealed the man behind the curtain last week to the world. The media, apparently encountering pure Libertarianism for the first time, has been buzzing about it ever since. So far be it for us to not provide our own break down of the curious case of Rand Paul.

Lady Z's take:

Rand Paul is my new favorite. His debut on the national scene last week was a complete and total train wreck (read: it made for very compelling teevee). It was very clear from his very first squirm on The Rachel Maddow Show when she asked whether he supports the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that Rand, was indeed not ready for prime time.

What could he have done differently to not come across as a bigot an intellectual with a Libertarian philosophy that while in theory seems to be a reasonable belief in smaller government involvement, actually works in the real world context to allow for discrimination of certain groups? Well for starters, Rand should never have gone on Rachel Maddow. I don’t know if he’s a frequent viewer, but his staff should know that if their candidate holds these crazy hard to explain and out of date beliefs, including being against the minimum wage, taking issue with certain provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, wanting to abolish the the Department of Education, and being against the Americans With Disabilities Act just to name a few, that you should not put him in the cross hairs of one of the toughest and most well researched interviewers in cable news. By the end of the week, Rand was flailing so much that he had to cancel his scheduled appearance on Meet the Press, being only the third person to do so in 62 years. This was likely his only smart move this week, even considering that David Gregory is no Tim Russert.

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson has an excellent op-ed out today, where he poses a few questions for Rand who he says cannot stay in his cave and avoid answering until the November midterm elections. It should be required reading for spokesperson/communications flack so they can make sure they prepare Rand with adequate answers that would be acceptable to the general public of 2010 and not 1910. He absolutely needs to defend his beliefs between now and November, because many of his arguments were used by segregationists to justify their discriminatory practices (pictured left).

My parting advice to Rand: Stick to Faux News or Morning Joe. They are the only ones in cable news who won’t ask you why your ideas sound like they are being spoken by someone standing in front of a whites only water fountain.

The Fed's take:

Being in the federal government, I look at this not as a racial issue, but as a TYPE of government issue. I differ from my colleagues in that I DON’T think that Paul is a racist or a bigot (at least not based on the current issue).

In my opinion, this is an issue on the role of the government and the role they play in the private sector? Ironically, it is BECAUSE of this view that we actually NEED the federal government. Not so I can have a sandwich at the local deli, but so we are a better country in fact and in the eyes of the world.

Paul is a Libertarian. The definition of Libertarian varies depending on who you ask. Generally speaking, a Libertarian believes in "as much liberty as possible" and "as little government as necessary." This isn’t a racist or bigoted view which is based in intolerance, it is quite the opposite. It is a point of view that is based in total tolerance. It is a view that acknowledges people have terrible ideas and beliefs, but it strongly supports the right of the individual to have that idea and/or belief. Simply, to obtain ultimate liberty, we must be tolerant, and in that tolerance, there will be things we don’t like. I believe for the most part, practical and reasonable adults agree IN PART with this idea. For example, I believe we all disagree with WHAT the KKK says, but we all agree with their right to say it. Paul’s view just extends this belief from the individual to private companies and business.

I do believe that the price of “freedom” is tolerance. I also agree with, and believe in, personal liberties and the rights of private businesses. However, I believe that the “greater good” is more important than both. I believe that the “greater good” is better served when the citizens of our country are treated equally and with respect. Among MANY other reasons, we became a better, stronger country by integrating places that serve the general public and recognizing that separate was inherently unequal. All of which are for the “greater good” of America.

The Libertarian view is a view of privilege. Like Paul, many Libertarians haven’t had to face the catastrophic adversity (like school segregation) that comes with a complete hands off approach by the government. It is a VERY short sited view.  While it sounds good on its face, it has a very detrimental effect on those that DID’T make the “system,” (but are forced to live by it) and make up the backbone of our society.

James Sterba said it best:
“The right of the rich not to be interfered with in the satisfaction of their luxury needs is morally trumped by the right of the poor not to be interfered with in taking from the surplus possessions of the rich what is necessary to satisfy their basic needs.

Paul has the luxury to say “the government should stay out of the private sector” because neither he or his parents were ever denied the right to buy food, shelter, or clothes for their family, because of the color of their skin. It’s easy to ignore the effects of racism when you never fully felt the blow it delivers.

The Tea Party says they are for the small business man! They are for the “common, everyday American.” They fail to miss the irony in their position. If it wasn’t for the federal government, there would be no small business man. And the common, everyday American would be in servitude to those who created, regulated, and benefited from the ‘system,’ rich, white men, the ones that look like Rand Paul. Kentucky is almost 90% white, needless to say, I’m not holding my breath for the November 2010 election.

GodSon's take:

Rand Paul is just another example of why the Tea Party Movement is dangerous. With the backing of Fox News, Rand Paul has made himself into the poster boy of what we all knew were the Tea Party's true intentions. Phrases like, "I want my country back," all of a sudden make much more sense. Black President, black Attorney General, this is too much for some people to take in. So how do you counter such progress? You attack the source. And since obviously it would be ridiculous to call for a repeal of the Emancipation Proclamation, then I guess the next best thing would be the Civil Rights Act. If we allow this madness to continue and Paul goes onto win the election in November, this will only be the beginning. Personally I do not need to hear Rand Paul's explanation and whether or not he went with the first statement or the last. As far as I am concerned at this point, Paul is a stone racist and has no place in American politics. Fortunately, he CAN be dealt with at the ballot box Let us hope that Kentucky does the right thing.

The Janitor's billable point-one (0.1):

For purposes of my 2 cents, I'm strictly focusing on the claim that landed Rand Paul in hot water in the first place, which was his claim that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is Unconstitutional. To be fair to Mr. Paul, he specifically said that out of the 10 titles to the Civil Rights Act, he only has a problem with Title II.

Title II states that privately owned businesses that provide public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, motels, stores, theaters, etc. and which are engaged in interstate commerce (which is basically every business in America) cannot discriminate against their patrons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. OK, that sounds pretty reasonable right? I mean, surely we don't want to live in a society where we have movie theaters or grocery stores that don't allow people to come inside because they are White or Jewish or because they are male or female. Right? Just making sure we're on the same page here. But setting that aside for a moment, let's return to the original question - is Title II Constitutional?

Short answer: of course it is.

The Federal Government is very limited in what it can do. Every law that Congress passes MUST BE backed up by a specific clause in the Constitution, otherwise that law will be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and wiped off the books. Title II, along with the rest of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, derives its source of Constitutionality from the Commerce Clause of Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress the authority to pass laws on any entity, public or private, which engages in interstate commerce. There is no asterisk next to this clause that gives privately owned businesses a pass. Moreover, since the beginning of this country in 1788, the Supreme Court has consistently given Congress much deference with regard to passing laws under the Commerce Clause that regulate both publicly owned (state government) and privately owned businesses.

We can have philosophical and esoteric debates about whether or not the Commerce Clause SHOULD be allowed to regulate private businesses, but the fact of the matter is, the final arbiter of whether or not the Commerce Clause CAN regulate private businesses (SCOTUS) has answered this question in the affirmative over and over and over again for the past 200 years. Both conservative and liberal Justices agree on this point. Congress can regulate privately owned businesses. To hold otherwise, as Rand Paul suggests, would be analogous to declaring that, from this day forward, all baseball umpires no longer have the ability to call balls or strikes because the fair minded, God-fearing players of the Major Leagues will simply "regulate themselves."

On a related issue, it should also be noted that if Rand Paul is against Title II, then logic dictates that he must also be against Title VII which allows the Federal Government to regulate, and ultimately prosecute, any acts of employment discrimination within privately owned businesses. As a clear regulation of private business, a Libertarian should be opposed to this section as well.
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