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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arrogant Randian (Is there any other kind?)

by digby

Via Kevin Drum, I see that Rand Paul is an arrogant ass. That's shocking news. Usually right wing Randians are such humble, loveable types. But it also turns out that our man Rand isn't quite the civil libertarian he's touted to be either. Adam Serwer reports that while he's good on the Patriot Act, his strong civil liberties positions aren't what they're cracked up to be:

In an interview with Scott Horton last year, Paul said that "torture is always wrong," but hasn't spoken up on the issue since, and it's unclear whether he views "enhanced interrogation" as torture.

When it comes to due process for people accused of terrorism, Paul is indistinguishable from the neoconservatives who tried to prevent his rise. Early on, Paul reversed his position favoring Gitmo's closure and issued a statement saying he supported the use of military commissions:

Foreign terrorists do not deserve the protections of our Constitution...These thugs should stand before military tribunals and be kept off American soil. I will always fight to keep Kentucky safe and that starts with cracking down on our enemies.

It's clear from the numbers that most of the detainees who have been imprisoned at Guantanamo were not "our enemies," Of the 800 detainees, the government can only identify 10 percent who they are "certain" went on to engage in terrorist activity afterwards, and independent estimates put the numbers much lower. At best, one can say that the vast majority of those released were released without being convicted, which makes Paul's claim that they are all "thugs" and "enemies" dubious. Paul's Gitmo NIMBYism and support for ineffectual military commissions as a method of trying people he's preemptively declared guilty puts him firmly alongside the likes of Dick and Liz Cheney on due process and terrorism.

At the nexus of immigration and national security, Paul becomes downright incoherent:

I believe our greatest national security threat is our lack of security at the border. On 9/11, 16 of 19 hijackers were here on ‘legal’ student Visas but were not in school or in the states they were supposed to be in.
The 9/11 terrorists came in through the front door. Ergo, we need to secure the border. What? Paul also supports "a moratorium on Visas from about ten rogue nations or anybody that has traveled to those nations." That's even more extreme that the Obama administration's now-abandoned racial profiling lite policy -- you're a British citizen who went to visit relatives in Pakistan lately? Banned.

It should be said that Paul appears to have a fairly consistent -- if nativist -- constitutional philosophy: The Constitution grants certain inalienable rights to Americans but not to foreigners. That shouldn't be mistaken for Constitutional fidelity, the Constitution distinguishes between "citizens" and "persons" for a reason, and foreigners charged with crimes in the U.S. have always been given the same due process rights as anyone else, precisely because freedom is as much about what government is allowed to do to you as much as it is about what you are allowed to do.

So is Paul better than "most Democratic Senators" or Obama? Outside the PATRIOT Act, he seems to be your average Republican.

That means he's also pretty much your average Democrat, unfortunately. More importantly, though, it takes away his one redeeming value. If he's not good on civil liberties, he's got absolutely nothing going for him. On everything else he is so far off the map that he makes, well, Mitch McConnell, look moderate by comparison. He's a teabagger's dream (and proud to wear the label) but Paul is a progressive's nightmare when it comes to taxing millionaires and regulating business. The worst of all possible worlds in fact. And his views on equal rights are downright stomach churning.

Update: I'm reminded that he's anti-war. Let's see what he says about that in the campaign. He's running as a Republican in a southern state that has two big military bases, Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. I'm going to bet we'll see some serious hedging on the GWOT.