(VIDEO) Rand Paul: All for Liberty and Freedom Unless You’re Black, Female, Disabled, or Gay

Jodi Jacobson

Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate who won the Kentucky Republican nomination for Senate, is one scary dude who is finding that his politics of division and hatred don't transfer very well under the harsh glare of fact and sanity.

This article was updated at 10:04 am Thursday, May 20th to replace the video originally embedded with the correct video intended for this piece.

Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate who won the Kentucky Republican nomination for Senate in last night’s election, is one scary dude. And like other scary dudes coming out from under a rock to face the national media he is finding that his politics of division and hatred don’t transfer very well under the harsh glare of fact and sanity.

Paul is an anti-government, anti-establisment agitator who ran on a platform of shaking up Washington, and “taking our government back.”  To him that means possibly dismantling pesky little laws such as the Civil Rights Act and other protections against discrimination that override the rights of business owners to run their businesses the “way they see fit.”  If, for example, they see fit to hang a sign saying “No Coloreds Allowed.”

As one example.

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Paul appears, however, not to have practiced articulating his arguments for a national audience, because either he doesn’t understand the implications of his own positions very well or he doesn’t have the courage to clarify them on national television.  It’s a long clip, but watch this one from Rachel Maddow tonight, during which Paul is completely incoherent in responding to questions about whether, for example, he would allow business owners to bar people of color from eating at their restaurant.

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Paul is also deeply anti-choice.

He claims he is a libertarian. According the website Libertarianism:

Libertarians believe that, on every issue, you have the right to decide for yourself what’s best for you and to act on that belief so long as you respect the right of other people to do the same and deal with them peacefully and honestly.

According to this definition, Rand Paul may be a LINO (Libertarian In Name Only). He is a libertarian, except, of course, when it comes to women’s rights, health, and lives, at which point he draws the line on women’s lives, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Men only in this club, gals. And by that I mean heterosexual men because gays, lesbians, transgender persons–and persons with disabilities–are all in the “women” category because they don’t deserve federal protections, according to Mr. Paul. 

Indeed, in an interview tonight on NPR Mr. Paul suggested we could just get rid of the Americans with Disabilities Act because (I am paraphrasing) companies that had offices with two or more floors could just put the “disabled” offices on the first floor, so business owners don’t have to spend a lot of money on elevators to accommodate the needs of disabled workers to, say, get around the rest of the building.  The true meaning of “able-ism.”

He’s for civil rights, but just doesn’t think we should “legislate them.” Like, leave them to the states, man. He feels, according to the Kentucky Courier-Journal, that while the federal government can enforce integration of government jobs and facilities, private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, or gays, or any other minority group. These and other views be what prompted Matt Yglesias of ThinkProgress to call Paul a lunatic.

He’s also a “personhood” guy and, if elected, he’d like to pass some laws that would basically make criminals out of women who have abortions or miscarry.  On his website:

I am 100% pro life. I believe abortion is taking the life of an innocent human being.  I believe life begins at conception and it is the duty of our government to protect this life. I will always vote for any and all legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion. I believe in a Human Life Amendment and a Life at Conception Act as federal solutions to the abortion issue. I also believe that while we are working toward this goal, there are many other things we can accomplish in the near term.

These, are, of course, sentiments strongly shared by the Republican Party, yet even though he’s still in the “family” on the rights of women, gays, and people of color, even they seem to be keeping a wary arm’s distance from Paul.

Yet despite his distate of government regulation of business (because lack of regulation is working out so well in, say, the case of the BP oil spill) Paul actually wants to expand government in other ways, once again focusing on those non-liberties of women:

I would strongly support legislation restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe v. Wade. Such legislation would only require a majority vote, making it more likely to pass than a pro-life constitutional amendment.

and:

I would support legislation, a Sanctity of Life Amendment, establishing the principle that life begins at conception. This legislation would define life at conception in law, as a scientific statement.

I didn’t know you could legislate a “scientific fact” that doesn’t exist. But give him points for creativity.

There is of course debate across the political spectrum of the meaning of the results in last night’s race in Kentucky, with various bets on whether Paul’s win is ephemeral or if he might actually end up heading to the Senate. Many of course hope that having Paul as the nominee will result in the addition of a Democratic Senate seat in November. Others shudder at the prospect that Paul might win. 

In a piece for Atlantic Wire, Nick Ottens summarizes reactions from a range of commentators:

Some are skeptical that Paul’s victory signifies much however. According to Joshua Green, writing for The Altantic, Rand Paul’s win doesn’t herald a Tea Party tidal wave. For one thing, “Paul’s celebrity dad brought him money, volunteers, name recognition, and media attention, particularly on Fox News. What other Tea Party candidate can match that?” he wonders.

Ottens writes that at Newsweek, David Graham warns against a “conservative backlash” to Paul’s victory, noting that, “Even some heterodox conservatives are voicing concern.”

And, notes Ottens, commentators on the left have been quick to convince themselves that Tuesday means nothing. Andy Ostroy at The Huffington Post believes that Paul’s victory only shows “that Republican voters are sick of establishment GOP candidates.”

The Tea baggers can beat their chests and crow all they want about the “hugeness” of their movement’s big victory, as Paul boasted last night, but all it portends for the party in November’s midterm elections is Republican-on-Republican bloodletting.

Ottens concludes, however:

Considering that Paul led Grayson by 59 to 35 percent of the vote; considering the predominance of the Republican Party in Kentucky politics, with the state opting for GOP candidates in the last three presidential elections; and considering today’s political climate in all of the United States, Rand Paul as senator is by no means unthinkable. Quite to the contrary.

“[B]y nominating a lunatic,” writes Yglesias, “Republicans have suddenly raised the odds that a lunatic will represent Kentucky in the United States Senate.”

News Politics

Rand Paul Takes Inconsistent Stance on Federal ‘Personhood’ Legislation

Jason Salzman

Sen. Rand Paul marked last week’s anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by arguing for the urgent passage of his federal ‘personhood’ legislation. But in 2013, he said he was in no rush to pass his own legislation, which, he claimed, was intended to spark a discussion.

Last week, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul sent an email to anti-choice activists pledging to continue his hard-line commitment to end all abortion in America.

Paul, however, might not be in a rush to push through radical anti-choice policies, if his 2013 comments on anti-choice laws are any indication.

Paul, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, bragged that he’s “led the fight to end abortion on demand in America” by opposing “funding for abortion under Obamacare” and “taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood,” and by introducing the “Life at Conception Act” in the Senate.

The Republican from Kentucky enjoys a national grassroots network of support around his Life at Conception Act, which gives legal rights to a zygote (fertilized egg) as a “person” under the 14th, Amendment, thus banning abortion, as Paul explained in this video, “once and for all.”

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But when he trumpets the Life at Conception Act to hardcore anti-choice activists, as he did again last week, Paul fails to mention that he’s in no rush to pass his legislation.

That’s what Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in a 2013 interview. Asked by Blitzer if the Life at Conception Act was designed “to overturn in effect, effectively Roe v. Wade,” Paul said:

I think it’s probably designed even more philosophically than that. It’s designed to begin the discussion over when life begins. And it’s not an easy discussion. And we’re divided as a country on it. So, I don’t think we’re in any real rush towards any new legislation to tell you the truth.

….

And I don’t think we’re ready yet for our society maybe to change any laws, but I think it’s worthwhile having the discussion, if we can keep it from being too much of a flippant discussion over this, that country, this and that, and that it’s an important philosophical foundation to the law of a civilization.” [emphasis added]

Paul’s attempt to cast his legislation more as a springboard for a discussion of when life begins than something he wants to pass right away is nowhere to be found in Paul’s promotional materials for the Life at Conception Act—which Paul’s email cited last week.

“But by passing a Life at Conception Act, you and I can end abortion in America!” Paul writes in a message urging people to lobby for his legislation. “The Supreme Court itself admitted in Roe that once Congress establishes the personhood of unborn children, they must be protected by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which explicitly says: ‘nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property.’

“Since the Supreme Court is waiting for someone to tell them who the law counts as persons, let’s not wait another minute!”

Pressed by Blitzer in 2013 about whether his anti-choice stance includes exceptions for rape and incest, Paul hedged, saying there are “thousands of extraneous situations where the life of the mother is involved and other things that are involved.”

That statement also conflicts with Paul’s own Life at Conception Act, which, as attorney Lynn Paltrow argues, would ban all abortion with no exceptions, even for rape, and subject pregnant women to criminal prosecution for a variety of crimes—in violation of their basic civil rights.

Paul’s office did not return an email seeking comment.

Paul, in another statement viewed as inconsistent with the Life at Conception Act, said in September that he was not opposed to Plan B, even though it could be banned if Paul’s personhood bill became law.

Paul’s hard-line support of “personhood,” as demonstrated in his backing of the Life at Conception Act, is seen by some, including his former medical partner, as a huge liability in his quest for the presidency, according to a New Yorker article published in October.

Commentary Religion

Rand Paul Teams With Ken Cuccinelli to Send Message to GOP Base

Adele M. Stan

Everything Rand Paul has said in recent weeks—from his comments about Monica Lewinsky and the "war on women" to his drafting of anti-choice Cuccinelli as lead counsel—is about proving his patriarchal bona fides.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) appears to have a rather low opinion of the American people: He thinks they don’t recognize politics when they see it.

After having grabbed the spotlight for the last two weeks by taking pot shots at the Clintons (for the Monica Lewinsky scandal of 1998) and declaring the “war on women” over and won (by women!), Paul, a prospective Republican 2016 presidential candidate, filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning against President Obama, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—ostensibly written by lead attorney Ken Cuccinelli.

You’ll remember Cuccinelli, the failed gubernatorial candidate, as the former attorney general of Virginia, who made a specialty of doing everything possible to deny women their constitutional right to an abortion. You probably didn’t know that Cuccinelli is an expert in national security and spying. Because he’s not.

Apparently, reports Dana Millbank of the Washington Post, another lawyer thought he was the lead attorney on the case. His name is Bruce Fein, a well-known Republican legal eminence, and not a man to be trifled with. Fein says he wrote the complaint for Paul’s suit against the NSA, which accuses the agency of violating the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment in its metadata collection of telephone records, and has yet to be paid in full for his work. But when the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., his name was replaced with Cuccinelli’s.

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So why would Paul do this? Per Millbank:

Cuccinelli has never argued a case in that courthouse, and he isn’t even a member of the D.C. bar (he also filed a motion Wednesday seeking an exception to allow him to argue this case in D.C.). But he is, like Paul, a tea party darling.

Millbank also notes that, in Fein’s original draft, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) was listed as a plaintiff, but in the complaint that was filed with the court, Udall’s name was struck and replaced with that FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-allied astroturf group that backed Paul in 2008, and has been a player in the Republican primaries.

With his eye likely cast to the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, which draw their electorate largely from the right wing, Paul apparently seeks to ingratiate himself, by placing himself in direct opposition to the president (regarding an issue on which many progressives agree with Paul), but in alliance with a champion of the anti-choice, anti-birth control cause. Paul himself holds a no-exceptions anti-abortion position, but right-wing evangelical Christians don’t necessarily see him as one of their own.

Which brings us to Rand Paul’s attitudes and policies regarding women. On the January 26 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, Paul was asked to respond to comments made by his wife to Vogue magazine about former President Bill Clinton, whom she suggested maybe doesn’t belong back in the White House, because of his scandalous behavior with Monica Lewinsky. Paul replied:

I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this. He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that, and that is predatory behavior, and it should be something we shouldn’t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office.

When host David Gregory pressed Paul over whether Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for her husband’s behavior, Paul said, “Yeah—no, I’m not saying that. This is with regard to the Clintons, and sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

Yeah, no. Not her fault, but hard to separate her from her husband.

Bill Clinton’s past, Paul suggested, revealed how Democrats had “concocted” the notion of a Republican war on women.

By invoking the memory of Clinton and Lewinsky, writes Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast, Paul is again setting himself up as a hero to the Republican base, whose members love Clinton-trashing almost as much as they love Obama-bashing. Per Tomasky:

The more Paul talks about the Clintons, the more he sets up the mental picture in the brains of Republican primary voters of him being the logical guy to step into the ring with them. After all, they’ll think, he’s sure not afraid of them!

Another image conveyed by Paul’s talk of Lewinsky is that of the senator himself as the chivalrous defender of the honor of young maidens—perhaps a hedge against the countless retellings of his “Aqua Buddha” highjinks that would likely accompany any presidential bid he might make. (As a college student, Paul and a friend kinda-sorta abducted a young woman and demanded that she worship an idol he called Aqua Buddha.)

Chivalry also plays into the right-wing worldview this way, writes Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:

Many conservatives sincerely believe that abandonment of a stoutly patriarchal society has been a disaster for women: they’ve lost the stability of “traditional marriage,” the presumption men will be held accountable for their material welfare, the chivalric accommodation of their weaknesses, the ability to concentrate on child-rearing and home-making, and most of all, the exemption from the terrible burdens of bread-winning, decision-making, and sexual autonomy. In exchange they have obtained all sorts of empty tokens of independence—some actively unnatural, like the “right to kill their babies”—while men have been liberated to act out on their true nature as perpetual children and sexual predators.

Sarah Posner, writing at Religion Dispatches, sees a religious pitch in Paul’s digs at Hillary Clinton—a way of drawing a contrast between the former secretary of state (painted as the defender of a predatory husband) and the “godly” women political figures of the right, such as Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA). That pitch is ultimately one to right-wing women voters.

But even as Paul cast himself as the defender of vulnerable young women, in the same Meet the Press interview, he offered a counter-message: You are strong! You are invincible!

Via the Meet the Press transcript:

This whole sort of war on women thing, I’m scratching my head because if there was a war on women, I think they won.  You know, the women in my family are incredibly successful.

I have a niece at Cornell vet school, and 85% of the young people there are women.  In law school, 60% are women; in med school, 55%.  My younger sister’s an ob-gyn with six kids and doing great. You know, I don’t see so much that women are downtrodden; I see women rising up and doing great things. And, in fact, I worry about our young men sometimes because I think the women really are out-competing the men in our world.

Fun fact: Among the Republican presidential primary electorate in 2012, men made up the majority, 53 to 47 percent. Just sayin’.