Mr. Paul Strikes Again

Rand Paul is the gift that keeps on giving. The would-be non-politician politician has established himself as a principled man, willing to take bold stands, to tell the truth, a modern day Mr. Smith dressed up in libertarian garb. He and his Tea Party crowd aim to throw out the bums who have betrayed American principles and restore the country to its first principles, its constitutional principles, and they do not intend to let typical politics get in their way.

After stumbling over his own quibbles about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, his handlers deemed him not ready for primetime, yanked him off a previously scheduled appearance on a Sunday talk show, and sent him to "message discipline" classes. Alas, they did not prevent the GOP’s Senate candidate in Kentucky from telling a Russian interviewer, "We’re the only country I know that allows people to come in illegally, have a baby, and then that baby becomes a citizen. And I think that should stop also." All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Mind you, it was the failure to enforce the clear intent of this amendment that led to the Civil Rights movement and to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Paul has now stated he would not repeal. In the Jim Crow South, the dominant political powers connived at the disenfranchisement of blacks from their civil rights and now, Mr. Paul, questions whether or not those rights of citizens should be withheld from the children of immigrants. His pedigree is an ugly one.


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is pretty clear on this point. It states: "

His statement is also telling because of the way he describes the problem which is surprisingly accurate and, just so, undercuts his argument. Paul states "We’re the only country that allows people to come in illegally…" Exactly. For years, American business with the tacit complicity of the government has winked at our neighbors south of the border: "C’mon over! We aren’t going to prosecute you." A law that is systematically unenforced at some point loses the force of law, if not juridically, in the scale of justice. Now that it suits the politics of GOP primaries, everyone wants to crack down on undocumented workers but their culpability is severely diminished by the actions of employers and the inactions of the government on this side of the border.

There is another, more ironic, difficulty with Mr. Paul’s stance. This is a man who has said, and said repeatedly, that he is a "constitutional conservative." He has insisted that every law passed should state in its first article where it is justified in the text of the Constitution. Well, Mr. Paul, where in the text of the Constitution does it permit the Congress to change the birthright of an American citizen? This is not the first time that Mr. Paul’s idolatry of the Constitution has been at odds with one of his poll-tested policy requirements. He calls for term limits for members of Congress, but the Constitution is quite clear on the subject of qualifications for office and it did not set term limits for members of Congress. So, what Mr. Paul is saying is that the text of the Constitution is sacrosanct, except when it’s not, and he gets to decide which is which.

So much for principles. Paul’s conservative constitutionalism is not the principled stance it appears. It is akin to Antonin Scalia’s textualism regarding the Constitution. He is in favor of strict, textualist analysis of the Constitution, and opposed to judicial overreach, except when he is not. Remember Bush v. Gore? That judicial putsch, too, betrayed the partisanship of the Court in a way rarely seen, and without all the rhetorical garb about textualism. Something similar is going on with Mr. Paul. Throughout the primaries, he dressed up his simplistic anti-government spiel with some high-minded phrases, as he sought to portray himself as a principled, stand-up guy, an independent who was not part of the status quo and was going to Washington to shake it up. Alas, turns out he is just another politician, albeit one singing a different tune. Every time he is forced to back-off some outrageous claim, he looks more and more like a typical politician.

The Tea Party may blow off some steam, and they may yet win the election in Kentucky. But, they are not going to return America to first principles because, despite their rhetoric, we are already there. Obama and the Democrats have not betrayed American principles. They have articulated the kind of progressive principles that date back to Jefferson and Jackson and Roosevelt. They are progressive, not conservative, principles to be sure but they are as American as Apple Pie. The language about "taking back the government" is partisan cant, not principled argument. Ask the man who wants to gut the Fourteenth Amendment.

Michael Sean Winters


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8 years 9 months ago
I personally believe I could become a progressive if anyone could show me that it works to the betterment of mankind on earth.  In fact I was one when I was younger thought I did not know that it had a fancy title or was a movement.  I suppose I was part of the movement and didn't know it.
However, everything associated with the term progressive has failed since its implementation and it so easily morphs into some really undesirable consequences.  And over time I grown to appreciate the value of classical liberalism and what it can do for mankind.  A slow but relentless force to make things better for everyone and which the progressives want to throw out for their ''heaven on earth schemes.''
8 years 9 months ago
Here's a proposed deal, Mr. Winters:
Every time you put up a crazy comment from Rand Paul or a tea partier, you also put up a crazy comment from Alan Grayson, Maxine Waters or any number of lefty politicos you'd like.
My point: this tit-for-tat is tiresome.
8 years 9 months ago
Couple comments,
First, I wonder what percentage of the people would agree with Rand Paul on the idea that the granting of citizenship to babies born to illegals is an undesirable loophole in the constitution.  This could make for an interesting discussion.
Second, the names of those responsible for the progressive movement that Mr. Winters so proudly adheres to include a lot of others.  Some of these are Rousseau, Robespierre, Karl Marx, Bismarck, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson. Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Francisco Franco, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Father Coughlin, John Dewey and some others.   Progressive essentially means that the path to the most desirable end of mankind on earth is through a totalitarian top down imposition of this path.  Most often the people pushing for such a path are atheists because there is nothing else for them but a heaven on earth.  So most progressives in history have been hard core atheists but definitely not all.
The reason the term ''progressive'' disappeared from the lexicon during the second wave of it during the reign of FDR was that it was so undesirable a term.  They changed the concept to something that sounded more benign.  Namely, the term ''liberal''  The classical liberal was thought to be a dead philosophy and essentially the term conservative is means much of what a classical liberal means.  
The first fascist government in the 20th century was a progressive government here in the United States implemented by Woodrow Wilson with his own version of black/brown shirts and sedition laws whereby it was unpatriotic to criticize the government.  Mussolini went to school on Wilson and implemented his reforms in Italy during the 1920's.  Nice heritage the progressives have.  Certainly the progressives of today do not share all of the characteristics of their predecessors but the totalitarian top down one they do share.
Does Mr. Winters want to look to Jackson and his ''Trail of Tears'' as an example for us to emulate.  That was a top down way to a better life for some but certainly not others.
8 years 9 months ago
About the 14th Amendment.  I don't know if the following example is applicable so if anyone knows I would be interested.  If I own a store and in comes some one with a T-shirt that says ''F- the Virgin Mary and s- on her son.''  Do I have the right to not serve such a person?   Is that unlawful discrimination if I throw the person out?  Or if the person did not wear such a T-Shirt but was well known for having such views, could I do the same?
We could have an interesting discussion on what is unlawful.  Mr. Winters should start one and how the 14th amendment would apply.
James Lindsay
8 years 9 months ago
First, public means public as far as serving the person - although I suspect that the fighting rules exemption applies to the shirt and wearing it is not considered protected - at least in Virginia - which bans vulgar language. You could serve him and call a cop.

As for the 14th Amendment - it is an essential part of the doctrine of freedom and a form of it was included in the House passed Bill of Rights, although it was removed by the Senate for obvious reasons. As to the issue of anchor babies - the 4th Section of the 14th Amendment goes give Congress enforcement power - which means Congress can decide the details. It would be a travesty if they enacted an anchor baby provision - but it does have the power to do so - just as it has the power to recognize the humanity of the unborn at some earlier stage in pregnancy (a power the states do not have).
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 9 months ago
"... Most often the people pushing for such a path are atheists because there is nothing else for them but a heaven on earth.  So most progressives in history have been hard core atheists but definitely not all ..."
There are also those who believe that the Incarnation means that God is with us, and that life here on earth is sacred and holy, in and of itself.  Such people are sometimes known as authentically Christian, and definitely progressive and liberal.  Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, the French worker-priests, Robert Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Monsignor John A. Ryan and Fr. Mychal Judge come to mind.
Tom Maher
8 years 9 months ago
Michael Sean Winters strikes again with another muddled analysis.

Rand Paul's free speech is normal, expected, and wholesome part of political life in America. Paul's questioning of the provisons and impact of any provisons of the U.S. Constitution is perfectly OK and expected. Free speech especially political speech is allowed and expected in America.

Like many Catholic commentators MSW does not get the power and reach of free speech in American life. All topics are up for discussion, nothing is sacred including the provisons of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Contitution is legal document that can be changed. It is not an immutable sacred text like the Bible or the Gospel. The Constitution is "of the people". Discussion of any constitutional povision is perfectly OK. If enough people agree with Rand Paul then the provison in the 13th Amendment that authomatically grants citiizenship to anyone born in AMerica can be changed. This is not likely to happen since the amendment process requires overwhelming nationwide majorities to succeed.

Suggesting that Rand Paul's free speech is somehow sinster or harmful or dangerous is ridiculous. Free speech is the expected norm in American political life.
8 years 9 months ago
''Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, the French worker-priests, Robert Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Monsignor John A. Ryan and Fr. Mychal Judge come to mind.''
There is a lot of confusion here.  People fighting for the rights of others is not progressivism.  It is more classical liberalism or conservative in today's terms.  Progressivism is a political philosophy whereby the better life is mandated from above and will end up denying rights to implement such a system.  It has a 100% track record on this.  It is essentially an elitist philosophy which hides behinds a faux concern for everybody's rights when in fact it limits rights so it can enforce what it considers the best end solution.  
Progressive thinking is hubris in the sense that they think they know better than God.  But in most cases they do not believe in God so they themselves are the highest level for judging what is appropriate.  Classical liberalism recognizes human nature and then tries to build the best society given this nature by experimentation over time and letting freedom be the most important aspect that a society should have.  It is more in sync with Christianity than progressivism is which is an authoritarian philosophy and fundamentally incompatible with Catholicism.  Just look who is attracted to the progressive movement, nearly all atheists especially the elite of our universities, media and government, and guess who they will eventually come after once they get real power.
8 years 9 months ago
"Robert Kennedy"
Do you mean in between setting up liasons for his older brother with other women?
I'm sorry, but I'll give you the other names on that list, but Robert Kennedy most certainly does NOT belong in that list.
8 years 9 months ago
I meant to add that I thought the crazy Kennedy-Catholic mythology had ended with "Ghetto Catholicism".
And while I'm not a fan of denying people Catholic funerals, hagiography such as this is why I think some people think there are problems with allowing it.
James Lindsay
8 years 9 months ago
Please let progressive define themselves, JR.
8 years 9 months ago
''Please let progressive define themselv''
They have a whole history and it is not very pretty.
Christopher Scaperlanda
8 years 9 months ago
Mr. Winters,

This analysis is incredibly facile, and I'm pretty disappointed to be reading it from someone whose analysis and opinion I so often respect.

If I had to guess, if asked, Rand Paul would say that to change any of the things you've mentioned, there ought to be a constitutional amendment. That isn't a difficult guess to make, and in fact I think it is rather obvious. To criticize the constitution for policy reasons is not to say that the criticizer disrespects the constition - the constitution itself recognizes that it is not infallible and creates a mechanism for changing it.

For example, I think that the instution of the vice presidency is idiotic, and the notion that an essentially unelected person takes over office if the president dies is beyond the pale for an ostensib democracy. But I would never want congress to enact a law changing the institution; that isn't how our system of government should work.

Paul's criticisms are of instances when - in his view - congress has taken action not permitted by the constitution. It is not that the constitution is sacrosanct except when he thinks it shouldn't be. It is that congress has no business exceeding its authority under the constitution absent a constitutional amendment giving it the authority to do so. Whether his interpretations are correct is one thing, but his position is far from inconsistent. I think that if you weren't so badly looking for reasons to disparage the tea partiers, this pretty obvious thought would have occurred to you at least once.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 9 months ago
"Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” – Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Kennedy was the most devout Catholic of the children of Rose and Joseph Kennedy.  As Attorney General to President Kennedy, Robert underwent a conversion whereby he came to see the rightness of the civil rights movement and he joined that struggle with great passion.  His commitment to racial equality extended his firm sense of social justice in all areas of national life and foriegn and economic policy.
Robert Kennedy is an icon for liberal (progressive, whatever you want to call it) thought in the United States.  That is why I included him in my list of those who are deeply religious and identified with progressive social thought which is built upon a concern for the common good.
Vince Killoran
8 years 9 months ago
Cosgrove's understanding of progressivism is lifted word for word from Genn Beck whose  understanding of the shape and character of the American Progressivism is downright wrong. This isn't about interpretation of wacky professors. When I write "wrong" I mean in a basic, factual way, e.g., kind of like claiming that the Battle of Waterloo happened after the Civil War (it didn't and it does us no good to pretend otherwise).
For a start, check out Jane Addams TWENTY YEARS AT HULL HOUSE. It's an American "classic" and is a good starting point to discussing the Progressives' view of religion, community, and the role of government.
8 years 9 months ago
''Cosgrove's understanding of progressivism is lifted word for word from Genn Beck whose  understanding of the shape and character of the American Progressivism is downright wrong. ''
I have seen Glenn Beck on television about twice and have never read anything he wrote.  My understanding comes from history and reading it.  Theodore Roosevelt ran on the Progressive Party in 1912 and Woodrow Wilson identified himself as a progressive.  Taft ran for president essentially to keep Roosevelt from winning and thus giving it to Wilson.  Wilson instituted a fascist type government from 1916-1919 and Mussolini speaks favorably of it.
Off for the day on a business trip so this is my last comment.
8 years 9 months ago
RFK's support for Civil Rights is admirable; however his actions with respect to procuring women for sex with his brother are despicable & for that reason I don't believe he belongs in a list with Oscar Romero.
If you really want a Kennedy family hero, go with Eunice Shriver, who remained opposed to legalized abortion to the end of her life, thus not selling out her moral principles that RFK lauds in your quote speech for the sake of political expediency.
And before I hear all this stuff about how much the Kennedy's did to reduce abortions, remember that Ted Kennedy had a 100% NARAL rating at the time of his death.  You cannot define Church teaching for political expediency.  Among all the various threats to the life and dignity of the human person, the threat of legalized abortion remains the most fundamental and most vital, as taught by John Paul the Great and his successor.  Catholic should mean standing for something, not just a cultural expression that helps you get elected.
Vince Killoran
8 years 9 months ago
Cosgrove:  You're engaging in "guilt by association" to prove your argument.  It's a "first level" fallacy.
Michael Cremin
8 years 9 months ago
Mr. Paul is entitled to speak his truths in public, completely protected by the first ammendment. Likewise, the people of KY are entitled to vote for him as their representative in the US Senate, or not to vote for him. We who are outside of KY are also free to take exception with Mr. Paul's comments, or not. Isn't liberty great?

And personally, while I don't agree with his stances, I find it refreshing to hear a politician say what he actually thinks. If only President Obama had done the same.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 9 months ago
Jeff, not one person in my list of people who exemplify progressive thought resulting from religious convictions (rather than atheism, as JR suggested) is perfect.
Dorothy Day had an abortion, Fr. Mychal Judge was a homosexual, MLK had affairs.  I don't know the dirt on the others, but I'm sure they were sinners, every last one of them.
Maybe that's why I find them such good company. :-)
Stanley Kopacz
8 years 9 months ago
We can't shut the abortion industry down.  All those jobs lost.  No longer the need for suction equipment from the suction equipment industry importing Chinese-made suckulators.  How many of these abortion mills are small businesses creating the economy and new jobs?  I don't see how we can afford to shut them down.  It would be government interference in private enterprise.  Unconscionable.  Let the market reign free.  Oh, praise the free market.
8 years 9 months ago
'' You're engaging in ''guilt by association'' to prove your argument.  It's a ''first level'' fallacy.''
I have no idea what you are talking about.  My argument is that progressivism has a very unsavory past and I have no problems showing that.  To say that individual acts by progressives have been very helpful in no way invalidates the general trend of movements like progressivism.  And when one says that one is now a progressive is to assume that unsavory history.  Progressivism is essentially an attempt to remake the world by fiat according to the desires of elities.  A lot of times those desires are noble but to date the efforts have had some disastrous results.  If one does not want to accept this association then one is at best disingenuous.
In pursuit of understanding Jane Addams, someone whose name I barely heard before, has been interesting.  I now know a little bit about her.  Sounds like an idealist to me and one that actually did a lot of practical good in many areas.  However, I have to part with her on pacifism.  My understanding of history is that pacifism never saves lives but leads to massive loss of lives.  Also while she did a lot of personal good in many areas, trying to legislate do gooderness, if there were such a word, can be very counter productive.  Witness the Great Society and any attempt to install socialism.
In my wanderings to find out what Jane Addams was about I came across this very insightful article on ''liberalism.''  At least it is insightful for me as it confirms much of what I have read on liberalism and how they act in the world today.  Here is the link if anyone is interested
They have extreme contempt for the bourgeoisie and want to impose their ideas on the world.  If there is anything more anti Catholic than that, let me know.  That Mr. Winters and the Jesuits here run with that crowd is really telling.  This crowd has nothing but disdain for religion.  Occasionally, one will feign interest in religion but one has to question the sincerity on this.
There was a movie about 20 years ago called Metropolitan which had a line in it that nearly every important thing of the last hundred years was invented by the bourgeoise, the people liberals have contempt for.  It is one I never forget.  I will stick with the common people and not an elitist such as Mr. Winters.
Stanley Kopacz
8 years 9 months ago
I think the repubs here have done an admirable job and a constant one on MSW.  They deserve a nice vacation down in the Gulf of Mexico where they can do the backstroke, if they can find some water to do it in.  They can watch the wonder of capitalism producing jobs.  Where the inhabitants formerly had boring jobs fishing and providing food for mankind, now they can enter the high tech field of cleaning sludge and breathing in fumes.  We need more oil spills.  And we have the best politicians and political system 9to make that happen.
Vince Killoran
8 years 9 months ago
These "progressives" Cosgrove writes about sound like pretty powerful and scary people.  Thank God they're not the same people I know who call themselves "progressives" and are involved in environmental issues, anti-death penalty and poverty campaigns, the "living wage," and immigration reform (to name a few).
But it's best for me to step aside on this exchange because I'm not certain we are even discussing the same thing. My only observation was that his understanding of the Progressive Movement (ca. 1890-1925) is abysmal.  
William Kurtz
8 years 9 months ago
I find the new crop of anti-progressives intriguing, because they would take conservatism back another generation than their allies.
Neo-conservatives would repeal the Great Society, but they accept the New Deal, and would like a return to the 1950s.
Paleo-conservatives would also repeal the New Deal, but they accept the Progressive reforms, and would go back to the 1920s.
The anti-progressives apparently find the 1890s most to their liking.


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