Politics

Lefty Defense, Righty Attack of Rand Paul

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Caught red-backgrounded

Once again, from Robert Scheer:

What is so great about our bloated federal government that when a libertarian threatens to become a senator, otherwise rational and mostly liberal pundits start frothing at the mouth? What Rand Paul thinks about the Civil Rights Act, passed 46 years ago, hardly seems the most pressing issue of social justice before us. It's a done deal that he clearly accepts.

Yet Paul's questioning the wisdom of a banking bailout that rewards those who shamelessly exploited the poor and vulnerable, many of them racial minorities, is right on target. So too questioning the enormous cost of wars that as he dared point out are conducted in violation of our Constitution and that, I would add, though he doesn't, prevent us from adequately funding needed social programs.

Meanwhile, Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid uses the Transitive Property of Media Appearances to saddle Paul with friends he doesn't even know he has:

How do you plead, Rand Paul???

[Judge Andrew] Napolitano recently joined John Stossel, another libertarian host on the Fox Business Network (FBN), to bemoan the federal prosecution of a pornographer by the name of John Stagliano. Napolitano defended Stagliano, who produces "kinky" and "fetish" material, and said it was wrong for the Supreme Court to outlaw obscenity. Stossel agreed, saying on his blog it was "obscene" to prosecute him. […]

Interestingly, it turns out that Stagliano is "a hard-core libertarian" and a donor to the Reason Foundation, which publishes Reason magazine. This libertarian magazine did its own interview with Stagliano before FBN picked up the story.

Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine would later comment that Stagliano and Napolitano are both "great friends of Reason."

If Rand Paul has any hope of winning in conservative Kentucky, he will have to cut his ties to his libertarian "friends" of that nature.

Reason on Rand Paul and civil rights here. One banal point perhaps worth mentioning: While many continue to contend that Paul's views on the public accommodation clause in the Civil Rights Act proves that all libertarians are hopeless poo-poo heads, many actual libertarians disagree with Paul's take (without necessarily thinking him a poo-poo head). A preliminary list would include Richard Epstein, Randy Barnett, Julian Sanchez, Brink Lindsey, and David Bernstein, plus plenty of others on Planet Reason (including me, FWIW).

Never forget!

I have no idea what a poll of self-described libertarians on Title II would turn up, but it would certainly be more contested than the presidential vote in the District of Columbia, in part because for most people under 40, the Civil Rights Act just hasn't been much of a pressing political issue. Libertarians disagree (and vehemently so) on all sorts of issues, from immigration to abortion to foreign policy to fractional banking, which anyone who has observed a Libertarian Party convention or toggled back and forth between Reason.com and LewRockwell.com or read the comments string on any Web piece critical of Ron Paul can tell you. Reason staffers disagree pretty sharply with one another on all sorts of things, and not just the cut of Nick Gillespie's jacket. I suspect that if libertarians were as monolithic and ideologically rigid as their critics this week have contended, we actually wouldn't be having this conversation, because there wouldn't be enough of the blue-faced sonsabitches to topple an establishment Republican candidate in Kentucky, let alone animate (at least in some part) a national political backlash against big government.

As long as we are out of money, and the economy does not remotely resemble the ponies promised by this administration [PDF], and the two major political parties keep slathering themselves in spending, the desire to limit government after a decade-long bender in the land of Thomas Jefferson will grow, not shrink. Even if libertarianish politicians occasionally get caught red-handed disagreeing with a provision of a 46-year-old law that they say they would have voted for.