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That Pro-Liberty Rand Paul


All I hear from the brogressive crowd is that Rand Paul is a great defender of civil liberties unlike those evil Democrats. Let’s remember Julian Assange after all:

“The libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice really in the U.S. Congress…[I] am a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the U.S. Congress on a number of issues.”

Today, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed the Senate by a 64-34 vote. How did the greatest defender of civil liberties of all time in the Senate vote on banning discrimination in employment based upon sexual orientation or gender identity?

No of course
. And this after trying to tack on an amendment to create a national right to work law, giving workers the definition of true freedom–exploitation by their employers. But I’m sure Matt Stoller and Conor Friedersdorf and Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange will still talk about Paul as the only senator willing to stand up against tyranny or something.

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  • rea

    Paul, of course, sees such laws as very serious infringments on civil liberties.

    • JKTHs

      There is no more important right than the right to discriminate.

      • Mike G

        Silly rabbit, employees don’t have rights in Glibertarian World.
        Because an employer’s right to discriminate counts much more than an employee’s right to not be discriminated against. Because Freedom.

        • Another Holocene Human

          The Pauls are the proverbial doctors for whom the Medicare hatin’ AMA of the 60s was too liberal.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            I have always had trouble believing these two creeps are actually doctors

            then I read the post from yesterday about the guy who had the state-ordered colonoscopy and I thought, okay, maybe there really are more mds like the Paul boys

        • DrDick

          Exactly. Only the real persons, corporations, have rights in their world. The rest of us just have whatever privileges they decide to grant us.

          • David M. Nieporent

            No; each side in the contractual relationship has the same right, to terminate the relationship at any time for any reason. The employer doesn’t have the right to force the employee to do business with him, and the employee doesn’t have the right to force the employer to do business with him.

            • And since the power dynamics between the two are equal, it’s paradise for workers. Just like it was in 1894 when this ideology was dominant.

              • joe from Lowell

                My favorite example of this is the use of the word “negotiate” to describe the process whereby someone agrees to work for poverty wages.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              just curious: what kind of jobs have you had in your working life?

            • DrDick

              I realize that not understanding reality is central to your point, but do you have to be quite so asinine along with it?

              • jb

                I don’t think David is capable of not being asinine. He clearly seems to see himself as a person of superior intelligence, and gets frustrated at having to explain things to us lesser minds. This, quite frankly, is one of the things that makes him so irritating. (Although it’s also quite funny in its own way).

                Don’t get me wrong, his politics are quite ridiculous, but the breathtakingly snide way in which he presents them puts the icing on the cake.

                In fact,I’ll go so far as to say that Dave Nieporent is the kind of smug, pompous, idiot who gives lawyers everywhere a bad name.

            • Cervantino

              Funny. I would have guessed libertarians as being instinctively opposed to unchecked corporate power.

              • Anonymous

                Then you have clearly not met most Libertarians.
                Most of them seem to think that only the government can ever oppress someone. This is especially true of David.

              • David M. Nieporent

                “Corporate power” [sic] is heavily “checked.” The only thing a corporation can do, legally, is do business with you or not. The same power you have vis-à-vis the corporation. It can’t take your stuff, anally probe you repeatedly, forbid you from eating trans fats, or require you to buy its products. It can’t even legally trick you into buying its product by falsely telling you that if you buy it, if you like your insurance you can keep it.

                • Malaclypse

                  The only thing a corporation can do, legally, is do business with you or not.

                  Yes, it is unpossible that a corporation could have externalities suffered by people. That implies a lack of market perfection, which as we all know is wrongthinkful.

                • joe from Lowell

                  The only thing a corporation can do, legally, is do business with you or not. The same power you have vis-à-vis the corporation.

                  Yes, exactly the same.

                  The threat of Coca Cola firing someone two weeks before his retirement kicks in is precisely equivalent to the threat of one employee quitting Coca Cola.

                • Phil

                  So corporations don’t, in fact, have free speech rights or free exercise rights? Interesting!

                • Of course it can “take your stuff”–corporations have lots of law on their side about how they can treat their employees and what employees can bring onto corporate property. Hell–they can “anally probe” you if they want–you sign away a lot of rights when you go to work for some corporations including rights to publish stuff online, to political action on or off work, you may have to agree to pee in a cup. You might have to agree to arbitration rather than take your case to court to defend your rights. They can require workers to “buy their products” and like it–what do you think company stores and scrip were all about?

                  Man, what you don’t know about corporations is pretty much everything there is to know about corporations. Also: of course they can lie to you and you have to sit there and take it. Thats how corporations routinely handle attempts by workers to unionize and/or complain about work conditions. Workers are routinely brought into a room and threatened or lied to or bribed to tattle on their co-workers.

                • I’m still getting over that government-mandated anal probe.

                • B. Adu

                  It can’t even legally trick you into buying its product by falsely telling you that if you buy it

                  Yeah it can via use of pseudoscience, phoney “evidence base” and such.

            • sibusisodan

              No; each side in the contractual relationship has the same right, to terminate the relationship at any time for any reason.

              And the law, in its equal majesty, forbids both the poor and the rich from sleeping under bridges!

            • tsam

              That’s right. Since unemployment is under 1% and there are tons and tons of good, high paying jobs out there, this phony bullshit makes perfect sense.

      • brad

        In a very, very twisted way that would almost make their crap coherent.
        Rights are all important in an abstract sense, and society will handle implementing the hierarchies necessary to defend the privileges these rights are only really meant to support. Without a right to discriminate there’s no way to enshrine the hierarchies into the system by the backdoor.
        Of course, that this is why glibertarians seem capable of breaking bread with racist fringe elements seems to elude GG and Stoller. Young Conor is not genuine and does not deserve even casual consideration as such. You’d think GG, at least, would have had enough experience with homophobia and the slow move towards equal rights and recognition for same sex couples to have developed some empathy and awareness, but that would mean something wasn’t about him.

        • rea

          You may recall Rand Paul saying a while back that the Civil Rights Act of ’64 was a violation of civil liberties, although he’s tried to back off that, somewhat, since.

          • What it boils down to is that Rand Paul will never, ever, vote for anything that protects the individual against discrimination by corporations or limits the freedom of one person to exploit another. And when it comes to government intervention he will support government intervention to strip women of their rights on the pretense that an embryo has rights that supersede hers.

            • Anonymous

              Face it, we’re less than 5 years from a serious movement to give guns the right to vote, and/or requiring ownership to vote along with an additional vote per gun legally owned.
              Or at least claimed to be owned, since obviously registering all one’s weapons would impinge on those poor firearms’ freedoms.

              • brad


                • Where are we going to find guns tiny enough for the fetuses?

                • brad

                  Why do you think they called GI Joe a real american hero?

                  Just imagine, North Dakota would go 80 by about an 80 million vote margin for Ted Cruz in 2016 under such a gloriously just system.
                  The question is how to properly allocate the votes of the fetuses who would have been voting Republican out of gratitude because the Bible.

                • Uncle Ebeneezer

                  @Amai- You rang?

                • ChrisTS

                  Uncle Eb:

                  EEEKS. That’s a blah fetus with a Blah Panther hat! Run, run for your lives!

            • Uncle Ebeneezer

              Your individual rights end where my corporate balance-sheet begins.

            • GoDeep


              In libertarian ideology protecting an individual from a corporation is “picking winners and losers”.

              There’s no kind of anti-discrimination law which is compatible with Libertarian philosophy.

              Gay marriage, though, should theoretically be something he’d have to support based on Libertarian ideals…but I doubt his presidential ambitions will let him.

              • Not only that but his “libertarian ideals” have nothing to do with his personal beliefs and predilections which are staunchly anti independence for women and for gays because they are icky.

  • Maybe they got Ron and Rand confused with RuPaul?

    • MR Bill

      …If only..

      I knew RuPaul when he was still a rock/genderfuck act in Atlanta with a band called WeeWeePole. They could put on show. Ron and Rand, not so much.

      • And Rand’s wig isn’t anywhere near as awesome as RuPaul’s collection.

      • I don’t know.

        I can definitely imagine Ron as someone who dresses up on Saturday nights like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”

        And I can definitely imagine Rand standing at some secret club in a crimson beret, a leather bustier and panties, with black fishnets, ‘fuck-me’ red stiletto heels, and cracking a metal-tipped whip.

        Can’t you?

        Can’t you? And by “can’t you,” I mean, CAN’T YOU help me un-imagine those things?!?!?!
        Why, oh why, did my mind go to that dark and dismal place?

        • Brain bleach!
          Someone get me some brain blea…

          • You deserve to suffer. Brain bleach will be shared out amongst the innocent victims.

        • rea

          a crimson beret

          An aqua beret, surely?

          • Woodrowfan

            no, raspberry, the kind you find in a secondhand store…

            • sibusisodan

              This comment hasn’t received the love it deserves. Nicely done.

          • Ooooh!
            Yes, much prettier!

            • rea

              And honors the Buddha, too.

        • Another Holocene Human

          Yeah, I can picture Rand Paul that way… with an attitude longer than his stiletto heels and sin-red lipstick.

          I think the shitty hair even works. It’s the beret that makes it.

        • tsam

          Going for Gloria, only hit Divine.

      • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.

        On the contrary they can put on a hell of a show. It’s called… the Aristocrats.

      • Anonymous

        Oh wow – that sounds incredible. RuPaul can do no wrong in my book. Her talk show was uh-maze-ing.

    • JL

      I have been in marches where people were shouting “RuPaul, not Ron Paul!” It was great.

  • Ronan

    Julian Assange is openly a libertarian though

    • JMP

      Well he believes in the “right” of men to have sex with unwilling women, which puts him close to the Pauls when it comes to only respecting the rights of those with penises.

      • JRK

        Which makes him different from most libertarians, how?

        • JMP

          Not at all – it goes hand in hand with the Libertarian dogma that only rich straight white men have rights.

          • ADHDJ

            Vadge-edy of the Commons

            • ChrisTS

              Why, yes, I will be stealing that. After all, my office is too busy with Real Work (TM) to bother with crediting you.

              • JMP

                Don’t worry, that’s just misplacing a footnote, no big deal; and if anyone does say you stole it, challenge them to a duel for such a gross slander.

              • My favorite line from Fringe. The father says, angrily, of the woman who sexually entrapped his son “He fell right into her Vagenda.” I feel proud to think that I have a vagenda.

  • stepped pyramids

    When has Julian Assange claimed to be a progressive?

    • TribalistMeathead

      What does that have to do with Assange claiming, by inference, that supporting employers’ rights to discriminate based on sexual orientation is a “principled position”?

      • tt

        That’s not the way inference works.

      • stepped pyramids

        I’m saying that

        Matt Stoller and Conor Friedersdorf and Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange

        do not form a meaningful political bloc worthy of being named. Assange and Friedersdorf are libertarians, Greenwald is a liberal, and Stoller is an asshole soi-disant progressive, but they’re all “brogressives”.

        I don’t agree with the idea of making common cause with Republicans to oppose the police state, mostly because of the scorpion-and-frog principle. I especially don’t agree with allying with Rand Paul, who barely even pretends to be a civil libertarian. But I also think it’s ridiculous to ascribe Julian Assange’s value judgments to the entire movement, which contains a lot of foolish idealists as well as assholes.

    • Another Holocene Human

      He plays one on tv. I know plenty of left-libertarian-soft-anarchist types who think he’s some sort of progressive savior.

      • LeeEsq

        Some of them have even appeared on this blog from time to time.

  • Another Holocene Human

    This is the deadly harvest of “voluntary” re-segregation, with heavy government subsidy… er… “investment” to relocate middle class whites to the burbs and ex-urbs, raising their children in modern zoning house farm hell where they never have to be troubled by the realities of the lives of the poor or the black or the brown or the visibly queer or the recent immigrant or really anyone who might be subject to REAL state intrusion and police brutality.

    • Another Holocene Human

      These are the kids who made pipebombs after school because they were bored but now are paranoid that someone might find out about that shit and they’ll become unemployable and lose their precarious middle class dudebro status.

    • Informant

      or the visibly queer

      I’m curious as to how zoning, HOA rules, etc. preclude openly gay people from living in such communities.

      • rea

        There have been cases in which zoning restrictions for single family housing have been used to keep gay couples out of the neighborhood.

  • Nick

    “Right to work” should be an clear shibboleth for self-professed Libertarians. Libertarians generally claim to believe that voluntary, private contracts are the best means for organizing society. Why would a Libertarian want the Federal Government to tell two private entities — in this case, an employer and a union — that one, narrow aspect of the contract they agreed to and signed is unenforceable? Should it be illegal for a store owner to sign an exclusive contract with a beverage distributor?

    Rand Paul is officially a Libertarian who believes in more Federal interference in voluntarily-negotiated contracts between private parties.

    • Anonymous

      Marriage, r2w, sodomy laws, the list goes on.

  • Aidan

    What is so difficult to understand about Rand Paul being decent on certain civil liberties issues and rotten on others?

    • NonyNony

      Name me one civil liberties issue that Rand Paul is actually good on and then we might consider the question.

      • Brien Jackson


        Also too, because that’s never how he and his fellow traveler types are framed by brogressives.

      • Aidan


        Apparently Assange supports employees’ rights to discriminate against gay employees “by inference.” Does that also mean people who universally criticize Paul’s civil liberties record support mandatory minimums?

        • Malaclypse

          Apparently Assange supports employees’ rights to discriminate against gay employees “by inference.”

          Who said that?

          And when you say that you inferred it because Loomis mocked Assange, irony will finally, mercifully, sink into death.

        • joe from Lowell

          I was very pleasantly surprised to see Rand Paul come out with that.

      • He introduced that Fetal Personhood bill that would protect zygotes from the threat of death by medical procedure!

        The Life at Conception Act would declare that human life began at conception, providing fertilized eggs with the same legal status as born persons.

        “The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward,” Paul said in a statement. “The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress.”


      • njorl

        He’s very good about opposing the power of the government to assassinate American citizens on American soil. How many politicians are willing to go out on that limb? Just last week I found Barbara Mikulski hiding in the back seat of my car waiting to garrote me.

        • Rigby Reardon

          You’d be surprised at how high her monthly garroting quota is.

        • BigHank53

          Have you met Barbara Mikulski? She’s like 5’1″ tall. Trust me, if she hides in the back seat of your car in order to garotte you, we’ll find out about it on page 7 of the Annapolis paper, when somebody finds your corpse being nibbled to bits by blue crabs.

          • Sharon

            I don’t think Babs hits 4’11”.

            She’s tiny.

            Tough, but tiny. And yeah, she’d slit you from head to anus ’cause that’s how much of a badass my senator is!

        • He’s very good about opposing the power of the government to assassinate American citizens on American soil.

          I hear Rand claim that and go on and on about drones, but then I don’t hear him say anything when e.g., the LAPD goes apeshit and shoots random bystanders or when the cops kill some kid for playing with a toy gun.

          Somehow I don’t find him sincere.

          • And I clearly didn’t read the sarcasm tags properly.

          • njorl

            Whoa there. That’s a local government matter. Rand has no opinion on whether local government should be assassinating their citizenry. It’s not the place of the federal government to interfere one way or another.

            • GoDeep


              I suspect Rand Paul’s strain of Libertarianism is nothing more than draped over pro-state’s rights dogma of antebellum vintage. Hence his pal the superhero, Southern Avenger.

              The gov’t shouldn’t have any power whatsoever, unless, of course, you’re talking abt the state gov’t, which–so long as its led by white, Christian men–should have ALL power.

  • All I hear from the brogressive crowd is that Rand Paul is a great defender of civil liberties unlike those evil Democrats.

    Which is why we laugh at bragressives and rebRAND Paul(TM).

  • Somewhat OT rant:

    Rand Paul really annoys me because he appeals to both right-wing Zionism and Islamophobia when advocating a (supposedly) non-interventionist foreign policy. He does things like frame lecturing Israel for building new settlements as “intervention” and justifies non-intervention in Syria* by portraying the Assad regime as a protector of Christians against the Muslim hoards. It’s all meant to fit in with the self-evidently loony viewpoint that Obama is a stealth Islamist who wants to destroy Israel and enable the creation of a global caliphate. Of course, he’ll never come out and promote such an insane theory directly, but he’ll do all he can to appeal to the people who believe that shit.

    Even the whole drone thing was framed around US citizens possibly being assassinated on US soil and had very little to do with concern about innocent foreign civilians being killed.

    *DISCLAIMER: I oppose intervention in Syria as well.

    • joe from Lowell

      He does things like frame lecturing Israel for building new settlements as “intervention”

      After the Honduran coup of 2009, libertarian Reason magazine decried the Obama administration’s imperialist interventionism…for denouncing the coup.

      • panda

        Rand Paul is actually exceptionally good in wrapping up his dad’s foreign policy views in rhetoric Christian Zionists like. One of his genuine political skills.

        • mds

          Yeah, it was pretty impressive hearing a Republican politician even mention Syrian Christians, albeit in defense of a brutal dictator who’s still technically at war with Israel, and all while retaining any Christian Zionist bona fides whatsoever. At least he hasn’t gone so far as to point out that many Palestinans are Christians, too.

  • Tom Servo

    Wow which 8 (or 9, has Booker taken office yet) republicans voted for it?

    • The prophet Nostradumbass

      Booker was sworn in a week ago.

    • Hogan

      Ayotte, Collins, Flake, Hatch, Heller, Kirk, McCain, Murkowski and Portman. (Casey didn’t vote.)

      • ChrisTS

        Of course Bob didn’t vote. Stupid &*^%$## Can’t we just kick him out of the party?

        • Larktom

          Casey’s been publicly supportive of the bill. He’s been out of town with his wife, who’s had medical issues.

          • ChrisTS

            Oh, Dear. My bad and I apologize.

          • Anthony

            Whatever happened to paired voting, the correct procedure in such circumstances?

            • Hogan

              Coburn also didn’t vote.

      • MAJeff

        Flake and Portman. I guess having a gay kid makes a difference.
        Kirk. I guess being gay makes a difference.

  • FlipYrWhig

    Does anyone who talks about “civil liberties” praise Paul for something other than vague skepticism about drones, anyway? The phrase “civil liberties” is grandiose for what this set of issues really is.

    IMHO we should be saying “executive power.” Maybe executive power and privacy rights — although on the latter Paul is no prize either.

    • Jeebus, does anyone think Rand or Ron would give a fuck about “executive power” if they were the executive? If anyone has ever been less principled than the big Me and the mini mememememewhataboutmeeeeee??? I have yet to see them. Well–I’ll give you Mitt Romney, actually. But to return to our Muttons the two “devolve power to the state” boys would right quick absorb power back into their own bodies if they had half a chance at it.

      • junker

        I wish I had a Fringe-style window into the alternate universe where Ron Paul became President of the USA. I’m willing to be his very principled opposition to executive overreach would have disappeared.

        • GoDeep

          I don’t anyone who, having assumed the Oval Office, actually relinquished Executive Powers. Unfortunately even Obama. Power is addictive.

          • I can’t blame Obama for not relinquishing power–look who’d take it up if he’d let them?

            • FlipYrWhig

              I have tried to make a similar argument for years. It hasn’t convinced that many people.

          • Manju

            Well, technically, Nixon.

  • Scott Lemieux

    I think we can all agree that the vote proves that Republicans and Democrats are the same, since a handful of Republicans voted for it. When the House defeats it on a party-line vote, of course, I will blame Barack Obama.

    • Bartleby

      He really needs to learn how to harness the power of his secret decoder ring, and unleash it upon America.

    • Hogan

      Leadership fail.

      • Morbo

        I’m Ron Fournier, and I approve this message.

    • Tnap01

      Don’t you mean Obama will be blamed when Boehner never brings it to a vote?

      • joe from Lowell

        Look, I’m saying the President giving a series of speeches demanding that the House vote on ENDA would have definitely worked.

        I’m just saying We’ll Never Know, because He Didn’t Even Try!

        • panda

          After all, if Boehner doesn’t bring the bill to the floor, this means Obama failed to lead.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Point conceded!

        • More Golf Outings!

    • And so we are spared the need to wade through dozens of cri de couers from various corners of the Thought-o-sphere.

      • sparks

        Wouldn’t that be skree de coeurs?

    • Manju

      I think we can all agree that the vote proves that Republicans and Democrats are the same,

      Well yeah. 10 Republicans = 52-54 Dems. You may have scored more points but you didn’t beat the spread.

      Where the hell did 10 sane republicans come from? I wasn’t expecting this. I fear we have lost the South for a generation.

      • Hogan

        One came from Utah. It’s a world gone mad.

  • Jesse Levine

    This bizarre obsession with Rand Paul and slamming everyone liberal in the public eye who might agree with him on some issue or the other really puzzles me in a stand alone context. But coupling it with the preemptive, albeit ostensibly sarcastic, Obama defense forcefield is really wacky. What’s realy bothering you fellas?

    • The guy is occupying pretty important political territory: a Senate Seat. If he wants to be a useless piece of blubber with a fringe of hair on top on his own time thats fine. But so far he has done nothing of any use in a Senate Seat of immense importance. He’s one hundredth of the chamber. And yet he isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit–he can (or will) neither put forward any actual legislation, nor support meaningful legislation, even within his own supposed field of interest. Meanwhile, for sane people and women, his theoretical goals are actively harmful. So while I’m grateful that he’s so solipsistic, selfish, and incompetent that he can’t get his act together enough to have any impact on actual legislation I still object to his sitting in that Senate Seat and wasting everyone’s time. Are we clear?

      • Jesse Levine

        Agree he’s the worst of a really bad bunch. Butt here are at least a halfdozen more nipping at his heels for that title.

        • I agree that he’s not even first among equals since this concept doesn’t include negative numbers among pond scum. But still. I hate the guy. He’s so transparently nothing but a cheap daddy’s boy, grifter, and he’s so fucking whiny about it. In that he’s just like Ted Cruz but oddly enough both of them make me think a tiny bit better of both Graham and even McConnell. They are horrible people, true, but they at least performed a legislative function more or less honestly rather than warming a seat waiting for the presidency.

        • Paula

          The libertarian racist/sexist/anti-labor defense force field has probably been in effect for far longer than the Obama defense force field.

          Your concern for the hidden feelings of the bloggers here is noted, I’m sure.

  • Bargal20

    Assange’s Wikileaks Party imploded before the Australian Federal election last September because deluded progressive members (who made up most of the party) discovered Assange’s collaboration with various ultra-right minor parties, and his praise of the Pauls was publicized.

  • mojrim

    Didn’t we go over this before Erik? You’re quoting Assange grossly out of context for reasons I can only speculate about. While I whole heartedly support your pillory of the Paul Dynasty, Assange has nothing to do with this.

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