Rand Paul is a moron

>> Thursday, May 20, 2010

CORRECTION: Dagnabit. I'm a moron, too. This is a piece about Rand Paul, not Ron Paul. The name's been corrected throughout; I will say that, unlike Rand Paul, I knew what I was talking about and merely typed the father's first name instead of the son's.

Thanks for catching that, Carol Elaine!




I had a chance to watch Rand Paul's epic Civil Rights fail on the Maddow show.

My. My. My.

The problem isn't that Paul is being ambushed on a law that was passed when he was two, or that Democrats are trying to earn political capital on "an abstract, obscure conversation" or that Paul is a bigot. The problem is that Paul clearly has no comprehension of what the real issue is.

If you watch the clip, Paul wants to talk about First Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights, property rights under (one presumes) the Fifth Amendment (not that he mentions it by name). That's not what the issue is really about, either.

The issue is the proper role of government in general and specifically whether the Federal government has the power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment's proscription against enforcing laws that abridge the privileges and immunities of American citizens and the proscription against denying equal protection of the laws to any citizen within any State. In the general sense, it is about the Federal government's ability to promote fairness and equality by, for instance, outlawing the de facto segregation that occurs when private businesses are allowed to deny service on the basis of suspect categories such as race (as opposed to de jure segregation, i.e. segregation by explicit operation of the laws, which Paul repeatedly says he opposes). In the specific sense, Congress either has a Constitutional mandate from the Fourteenth Amendment or it doesn't, and caselaw upholding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 answers that in the affirmative.

Government has a longstanding traditional right to regulate the conduct of business. Counties pass zoning ordinances. States delegate the responsible practice of fields such as law and medicine to licensing and regulatory authorities rather than allow anybody to just hang out a shingle proclaiming themselves a lawyer or doctor (or, if you're dentist/lawyer/real estate agent Orly Taitz, a little bit of this and a little bit of that). Federal regulations keep you from simply opening up your very own radiological waste site or smuggling medicinal heroin across the border. Paul's libertarian position may well, in fact, be that he thinks all of these things are bad and that local, state and Federal authorities have no business interceding in the free market, and if people don't think you ought to be running a dogmeat slaughterhouse/rendering plant/crackhouse on top of the toxic waste dump you opened between a nursing home on one side and a daycare center on the other, they can choose not to patronize your business that it is your God-given right to own and operate as you see fit so long as it remains a profitable venture. This is, however, and contrary to what Paul and some Randian libertarians might think, an extreme minority opinion that most of the public likely regards as "batshit insane." (Granted, I am making an assumption there. I could be wrong.)

Of course, the idea that somebody might combine a dogmeat slaughterhouse with a rendering plant, crackhouse and toxic waste repository is perhaps a little far-fetched. Hence, the use of pre-1964 America as an illustration of why Federal regulation of socially-undesirable business practices is pertinent. Because while my example is highly improbable, it is well within the lifetime experiences of millions of Americans that a significant portion of the population once had to pack meals and bedding materials in their cars along with any clothing or vacation necessities they might want when going on car trips solely because they would not be able to eat in any restaurant or lodge in any motel en route due only to their skin color and not to their ability or willingness to pay for food and lodging. We are not talking, one should emphasize, about bringing a nice little lunch along for a happy little picnic in mid-route, or a tent and sleeping bags for happy camping: we are talking about bringing food and bedding for every day of a family trip or vacation because if you didn't, there would be no food for you, no room for you. Bugs got into the food for the second day? We could swing into a restaurant at the next exit! No, we can't. We're black.

That Paul seemingly thinks being refused service at every restaurant along the interstate is the same as one person saying the "n-word" in the parking lot in one of them indicates such a profound level of stupidity and ignorance that one wonders if it's willful.

Paul also whimpers a bit about the Second Amendment, and whether private businesses can exclude people bearing guns. This superficially very nearly sounds like a cogent argument, but it really isn't. What one would have to do to make Paul's point for him, I think, is to make the case that gun-bearers are being denied the benefit of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment whenever a gun-bearer's Second Amendment right to bear arms is impinged upon by a private actor, and it will help (under the present understanding of the Constitution) if you can say that businesses excluding gun-bearers are having an effect upon interstate commerce. When one recalls that leaving one's firearm in the glove box is far easier than leaving one's skin in the car, this attempted line of reasoning begins to seem a little too silly to actually try to follow-through on; all a person bearing a gun needs to do to be served in a restaurant that bans guns is forgo carrying his firearm for a short period of time, whereupon he is presumably treated as any other individual wanting to partake of the fine dining of the Woolworth's lunch counter (or wherever).

This is actually a pretty good proof of Paul's idiocy and ignorance: that when you try to helpfully step in and lift up his fledgling argument for him, nurse it to health and move its wings about, you suddenly realize his little bird is ugly, and dead, and in fact was born without a brain (probably because of insufficient government regulation or enforcement concerning industrial pesticides), and that the only way it would ever get airborne would be if you threw it, and then it wouldn't travel very far and you'd look pretty stupid tossing a dead bird around. Sorry. That's possibly a terrible and disgusting metaphor. Still. It's a sorry thing, indeed, when your line of thought is so inept that when somebody tries to rescue it for you, you start to look even stupider than you did before.

Was somebody saying this man could be Presidential material?

Good Lord.




The Maddow clip in its entirety should post below, but it's acting finicky in preview. If it isn't appearing, I'll try to fix it later.



4 comments:

Carol Elaine Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 4:20:00 PM EDT  

Not to nitpick, but that's Rand Paul, not Ron Paul.

Rand is definitely a chip off his father's shoulder, but he's not as sharp.

Eric Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 4:52:00 PM EDT  

No, see, I'm a moron, apparently. I knew that, but I think I'm so used to all those damn Ron Paul bumperstickers all over the damn place, I kept thinking Rand and typing Ron. Derrrrr.

Not exactly nitpicking when it goes to the heart of the piece. Thanks, Carol!

neurondoc Friday, May 21, 2010 at 10:27:00 AM EDT  

For me, it all comes down to an inability to take anybody seriously who is named for Ayn Rand.

anabed = place where anarchists sleep

Eric Friday, May 21, 2010 at 12:38:00 PM EDT  

Apparently he sort-of isn't: his full name is "Randal" and his wife shortened it to "Rand" as a nickname. So there's been all sort of Internet buzz disavowing the Ayn Rand-namesake thing....

....Except, of course, "Randy" is a much more common nickname for Randal (as others have pointed out), and it's really, really, really hard to believe he didn't embrace it--or even that his wife didn't coin it--without some consideration of Ayn Rand as a namesake. So I suspect, in spite of Randal's bemused denials, that there is some sense in which he's named for Ms. Rand.

I don't know if anybody has inquired as to whether Rand's middle name, Howard, is a Fountainhead reference. I wouldn't be surprised....

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