Monday, August 16th, 2010
68

The More You Hate Rand Paul, The More Kentucky Loves Him

THE PAUL IN THE CROWDBeing from the state of Kentucky, you get pretty used to being the butt end of tired jokes. Whether it's one of those uproarious "marrying your cousin" numbers needlessly tacked onto the end of an Alicia Silverstone movie or the classic "rides your horse to school" bit from some drunken Long Island-bred friend, the hits keep coming. And coming. And coming. Ironies be damned.

It happens so much that at some point you become inured and stop being appalled and hurt, at least outwardly. Whether it's through attrition or ambivalence, you learn to chuckle it off with a knowing "Yeah, we're pretty hilarious" and move on, forgoing outrage and internalizing the slight instead. Healthy? Probably not. It is what it is.

It is true that Kentuckians are generally, by nature, thin-skinned with long memories. That's the feeling I came across most while working for my uncle's GOP primary campaign last spring. As part of my duties, I did outreach among party activists, and seeing first-hand the hardcore Tea Party enthusiasts in action was illuminating. Their sense of outrage at perceived slights, and their coalescence around ciphers of outsider representation, seemed to jibe with what I have always considered a thread of mistrust woven deep into Kentucky's social fabric.

Maybe it's that negative popular image we're so often reminded of that keeps us stewing or perhaps it's something bigger-a sense of being outside culture's good graces in a border state possessing neither Northern industriousness nor Southern antebellum gentility. In Kentucky, you're in an indefinable kind of soft purgatory. Hell, our most famous folks are an arthritic chicken hawker and Florence Henderson, and possibly not in that order.

Such defensiveness has roots in the state's class makeup, to be sure. Principally rural outside of two mid-size metropolitan areas, Kentucky long ago more or less abandoned Jeffersonian ideals of agrarian democracy. In its place was born a hard-edged tensile strength, epitomized by Abraham Lincoln's log cabin upbringing. (Before Illinois stole him).

Kentucky used to-and in most corners of the state still proudly does-consider itself rough-hewn frontier country. Colonially an extension of Virginia, it was originally inhabited mostly by the intrepid and the damned, those restless souls who sought fortune or anonymity among its bountiful poplars and fertile soil.

But bolder pioneers kept moving west in search of riches, and the more industrious fled north to growing cities along the Ohio River and up to Chicago. Those who remained settled in for the long haul, for better and worse. As a result, what evolved was a proud people, girded by personal strength in the face of adversity, closely tied to a raw spirit of individuality and fiercely protective of their hard-earned freedom from the meddling intrusion of outsiders; in short, the kind of people you might expect to find in a mostly rural, often poor, landlocked region.

This is projection. But that zeitgeist, that preternatural urge for self-preservation and a natural distrust of the other, posits itself still among the Bluegrass masses, from its politics to its beloved basketball prowess.

From this came much of the support I witnessed last spring for Rand Paul. While our campaign courted Tea Party support and grassroots help, I was taken by the palpable excitement I found among Paul's base. Merely appearing with Paul was juice to the electorate, and name-dropping him was voter enthusiasm manna.

RAND

Wiseacre liberals-and plenty of curious Republicans-across the country are enthralled by the exploits of this stiff ophthalmologist and legacy anti-politician bent on taking on the establishment, even within his own party. Simultaneously engrossed and outraged by his off-the-cuff neo-Libertarian ramblings, political watchers have taken to the story of the first-time candidate like few others this election season. Much of it seems a fascination akin to bird watching ("Look, honey, ridiculous plumage! And now he's dancing!").

But if the national press and the news-hungry have latched onto the more preposterous elements of Paul's story-to wit, GQ's recent kidnapping and idol-worshipping allegations-then most Kentuckians appear to have accepted Paul's campaign as legitimate enough.

How else to explain his rump-kicking of the state's hand-picked GOP successor in last May's primary?

The son of a politician, Paul doesn't hail from Kentucky originally. He settled there with his wife, a Bluegrass native, about 20 years back. What, then, about Paul is inherently Kentuckian is a bit tougher to say. But it isn't a stretch to examine his lasting appeal in a state that, like the nominally Republican Rand Paul, exists forever "not quite"-neither flyover Midwest nor Deep South, neither Rust Belt nor Eastern establishment.

Bearing the state's aforementioned history in mind is instructional when looking at the so-far success of Paul's candidacy for U.S. Senate. In a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans mightily (despite recent trend of right-wing presidential winners there), it's not surprising that it's the state's Republicans and Independents who most reflect the "us against the world" vibe. You're looking at the skeptical and often insecure core of an already wary populace. No wonder, then, that Paul's brand of Libertarianism plays well in these pockets.

This is not to dismiss those who find kinship with the substance of his governing philosophy (in that there is any governance in it). A hands-off, regulatory-free government fits the Kentucky mold neatly, appealing to the defensive and the free in equal measure, be they gun-toting or bong-loading.

But mostly, it's been Paul's shrewd use of the perception that they are all out to get him, and, by proxy, the citizens he represents, that has resonated. Ask many of his less dogmatic advocates for his policy positions and beyond a general "smaller government" theme, you're more likely to get a diatribe on the media and governing elite rather than an exegesis of his tax proposals.

Fitting, then, that when cornered on the GQ allegations, Paul told FOX News, "I think they deserve a lawsuit. The problem is, in our country they make it almost impossible for politicians to win anything… we used to have journalistic ethics in this country… it's so ridiculous I don't know where to start."

No one ever lost a vote in Kentucky for smacking "the media." While Paul is certainly not the first to do it, he's mastered the art in short order.

Another example surrounded a comment Paul made to Details magazine, much reproduced, that, "The bottom line is: I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules."

At face value, it pretty clearly seems a ridiculous thing for anyone running for national office to say. However, examined in context, the quote was touching on a larger philosophy, one that has garnered him much of his hardcore support in his campaign. That is, if it's not something that concerns you directly, then why are you so hell bent on regulating it?

Taken to a further end, it's a representation of the height of outsider condescension. More simply: ‘Us vs. Them.'

But beyond his campaign's "populist outrage," Paul's popularity has morphed into something of a personal crusade. Despite his many missteps and the big-foot punditry's assumption that Paul would be exposed as the political neophyte he is, he's still up in the polls. And every time a Rachel Maddow or Maureen Dowd lobs another poison-dipped pretension arrow at him, his fundraising numbers skyrocket.

Were it a simplistic Palin-esque folksiness, it might be easier to explain away. But like many Kentuckians past and present, quietly toiling amid the ancient mountain hollers and flat-as-a-board limestone plateaus that make up much of the state, Rand is smarter than he comes across. Like those he hopes to represent, he's hesitant to reveal the breadth of his intelligence lest it be taken as bragging (or in his case misread by today's electorate as being, God forbid, genuinely thoughtful).

But while possibly good campaign strategy, this reticence causes him trouble, since when he does decide to swan dive into ideological waters, he more often belly flops, appearing overly flippant or cerebral about topics of real import to real people. This is what befell Paul during his disastrous Maddow appearance in which he opened the door to re-examining the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

As policy, this would appear a heartless, borderline racist endeavor, given the sacrosanct nature of the Act and its legacy for huge swaths of the American populace. But what Paul was doing, in addition to tossing out rhetorical candy to his people, was getting theoretical in a cable news interview, something more seasoned politicians know they should not do.

And yet, while the feeding frenzy on the Sunday talk shows and chatter at the white wine brunches in Prospect Park might appear to inflict irreparable damage on candidate Paul, back home he continues on his merry way, greeting an increasing horde of well-wishers-principally independents and disgruntled Republicans finding in Paul's emergence their own brand of "Change We Can Believe In."

It's all a bit schizophrenic, and I'd be hesitant to credit some balding political operative with creating it whole cloth, but it's working for him right now. If these are pieces adding up to a mythology around what is, ostensibly, a politically nerdy and overly paranoid ophthalmologist from a sleepy country town in one of the least populous states in America, then it's a little nugget of organic political beauty. Can you even name his Democratic opponent?

Whether such an erratic and ill-defined candidacy can carry Rand Paul first over the finish line remains to be seen. For now, those of us in the Bluegrass Diaspora will be forgiven if we offer a knowing shrug as we watch an adopted son suffer the slings and arrows of a smugly baffled political elite, all while outsidering his way to the anteroom of Washington's most hallowed halls.




JL Weill lives in DC. He has, on multiple occasions, seen Donald Rumsfeld ordering coffee. His excursions in politics and culture take place at TheNewDeterrence.com.

Top photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr.
Bottom photo by Rand Paul for Senate from Flickr.

68 Comments / Post A Comment

scrooge (#2,697)

Interesting and illuminating piece. I hate to say it, but if I were a flatlander I think I'd be pretty insulted by the condescension of the coastal liberals, too.

PS What kind of a coffee does Donald Rumsfeld order?

jfruh (#713)

Psst, "flatlanders" is what they call the coastal liberals! (I learned this from reading "Snuffy Smith.")

deepomega (#1,720)

I have a hard time ginning up outrage when the dude is actually factually talking about philosophical political principles. Isn't this something liberal elites should like? I mean christ, I disagree with half of what he says, but he's saying it for broader reasons than "because it gets votes."

jfruh (#713)

As policy, this would appear a heartless, borderline racist endeavor, given the sacrosanct nature of the Act and its legacy for huge swaths of the American populace. But what Paul was doing, in addition to tossing out rhetorical candy to his people, was getting theoretical in a cable news interview, something more seasoned politicians know they should not do.

I don't disagree with much of what you say, but I call bullshit on this. I don't think most people who freaked out about Paul criticizing the Civil Rights Act had a problem with him getting "theoretical" on TV. I think they had a problem with him criticizing the Civil Rights Act because the Civil Rights Act is a good law that put an end to decades of injustice.

The problem with Paul's philosophy — or what I've read of it in the mainstream media, which, who knows, maybe there's more to it — is not that it's "too theoretical" in the sense that it's based on some underlying political theory rather than expedience; it's that it's "too theoretical" in the sense of being wholly detached from reality. It seems based on this sort of freshman-year-of-college dorm room ratiocination that doesn't survive contact with the real world. Paul asserted that private business owners shouldn't have been forced to serve blacks because that interferes with freedom, and that instead blacks and non-racist whites should have just patronized those restaurants that were willing to serve them, thus putting racist restaurants out of business. This option had of course been available for the decades leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and had gotten nowhere, since literally every restaurant in the south adhered to this racist code of ethics.

Similarly, Paul criticized government regulation of mining facilities, and said that miners would simply take their free labor to whatever employers were safest, and that the unsafe companies would have to shape up or they wouldn't have any workforce. Again, this ignores the fact that, when you have more labor than there is jobs and only a few employers, nothing even remotely resembling this economic behavior will happen in the real world.

In short, if you're going to "get theoretical," you can't complain when people start disagreeing with your theories.

deepomega (#1,720)

Can you complain when "getting theoretical" is equated with full-blown racism? Because the only coverage I heard of it outside of fringe libertarians was that he was a racist.

My point here is I would LOVE to be able to have a theoretical debate about the role that government should play in this, instead of just throwing out racist dog-whistles and racist-ist dog-whistles back and forth. And Rand Paul is just dumb/canny enough to actually try and have that discussion, and then gets excoriated.

jfruh (#713)

Well, but the arguments that Paul made in re: the Civil Rights Act — "I don't have anything against black people, I swear, I just think people ought to have the right to serve whoever they want to serve in the restaurants they own" — were in fact the same arguments that actual racists made when they were trying to sound "respectable" in opposing the Civil Rights Act, and anyone in politics in the South ought to know that. 1964 wasn't that long ago. You can't blame people for thinking it was a racist dog whistle. If Rand Paul isn't dumb — and the argument here is predicated on the notion that he isn't — then he knows this, and knows that this comes across as a winking message to exactly those sorts of people who are in fact racist.

If he honestly is reasoning to this point from first principles, then it shows a total unawareness of the social context in which this debate played out, which doesn't speak well of him either.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Here is some coverage that does not call him racist:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/weekinreview/23tanenhaus.html

I think if Rand Paul wanted to actually facilitate a discussion about the role of government, calling the Civil Rights Act into question was not the best way to do it, don't you think?

deepomega (#1,720)

@jfruh: I'd say he's not unaware, but he's unconcerned. He's a political idealist in the exact same way Kucinich is: which is to say, he's passionately followed by some fringe members of his party, and the mainstream members want him to silently disappear. And on top of that, I'd really rather have a Senate of Kuciniches and Pauls than a senate of Boehners and Reids.

@Mike: Well, except that he was asked point blank his feelings on it, and answered honestly (after a lot of prevaricating). So if the moral I'm seriously supposed to take home from the Dem talking points is "politicians should lie about their considered beliefs," then I am quitting politics entirely.

jfruh (#713)

So if the moral I'm seriously supposed to take home from the Dem talking points is "politicians should lie about their considered beliefs," then I am quitting politics entirely.

I would say the moral is, "Don't have political beliefs that are anathema to voters, if you want people to vote for you." I don't think anyone's proposing throwing him jail for thinking that the Civil Rights Act should be repealed. I don't think there's anything wrong with drawing someone out about their opinions and asking questions about the logical conclusions that those opinions would have in terms of public policy, especially if those opinions fly in the face questions that most people thought were settled in society (i.e., whether mine safety ought to be regulated by the Feds, whether restaurant owners can be forbidden by law from denying service based on race).

I'm all for us sitting around and having a reasoned debate about political philosophy. I just think that I believe someone's political philosophy increases the chances of people dying in coal mine explosions or people being treated as second-class citizens in their own country, I'm not some sort of persecuting monster for pointing that out.

At any rate, Paul is leading in the polls and will probably win election, so I'm not sure what great harm you think has come to him for expressing his opinion. Everyone has the right to free speech, and everyone else has a right to offer their opinions on that speech.

Brock Miller (#6,925)

"In short, if you're going to "get theoretical," you can't complain when people start disagreeing with your theories."

If that was the case I would agree. When a network spends the next 24 hours calling a racist I do not.

The debate was over private property rights and we sure enough can disagree with each other, but calling someone a racist has nothing to do with private property rights.

Not to mention you can argue till you are blue in the face about why the CRA of 1964 should have been passed, and I'm sure you may be amazed to know that Rand Paul said he would have voted for it as is.

If you heard a pop right there it was the ballon that just over loaded with hot air that you considered to be your argument.

jfruh (#713)

If you think a person's private property rights gives them a right to discriminate based on race when they're operating a public accommodation (a restaurant, a store, etc.), then you're either a racist or someone who doesn't understand how racism perpetrated by private citizens shapes society and makes people second-class citizens in their own country. We can disagree on that, but that's my opinion, and I have a right to it as much as you or Rand Paul have a right to yours.

Paul didn't say he'd have voted for the CRA until a day or two's worth of firestorm caused by him saying something that sure made it sound like he disagreed with parts of the CRA. Maybe he never meant to imply that in the first place, but it sure sounded like he did.

Brock Miller (#6,925)

"you're either a racist or someone who doesn't understand how racism perpetrated by private citizens shapes society and makes people second-class citizens in their own country."

Or as in your case someone who doesn't understand the argument. You take the argument and place it in this neat little box and only want to talk about the one effect but over look the entire dilema. By the same token should government force people to allow naked people, people bearing weapons, people who like to pee on walls in your establishment?

Of course you'd say well that's just nonsense, but that is the type of power you are advocating. While those notions are certainly ridiculous I'm sure the German's had some thoughts that seemed ridiculous before Hitler initiated some of the worst crimes in modern humanity. That is the question. How much bad can one person do given these powers over a government given these powers.

Historically speaking your argument is driven by emotion rather than objective material. Can you really honestly tell me that the individual is the greater threat than a government?

"Maybe he never meant to imply that in the first place, but it sure sounded like he did."

Well, perception is reality, but did you ever look for anything but what you wanted to find? He answered before the interview that he would have voted for the CRA of 1964, just had reservations based on free market principles about the government having power over the individual.

Your obviously against Rand but I'm not sure that you've ever read much on free markets. It's easy to see why the issue gets conflated.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Annnnnnd…GODWIN'D!

Brock Miller (#6,925)

"Annnnnnd…GODWIN'D!"

We are talking about race here. The law does not apply.

jfruh (#713)

Or as in your case someone who doesn't understand the argument. You take the argument and place it in this neat little box and only want to talk about the one effect but over look the entire dilema. By the same token should government force people to allow naked people, people bearing weapons, people who like to pee on walls in your establishment?

No, because being naked or trying to urinate on someone's walls are, you know, different from being black. More to the point, I think the democratic (small d there) electorate that ultimately sets government policy is capable of making that distinction, and so I trust a freely elected government to pass and enforce those laws.

You act as if the CRA was the first time in history the US government had ever interfered with how people could behave on their own property. This is, believe me, not the case.

I don't believe I'm basing my argument on emotion at all. I'm basing it on the reality that life for blacks in America — particularly the South — was demonstrably terrible before the 1960s. They were not permitted to fully participate in the American civic life that was their birthright as citizens, and this had as much to do with discrimination by private citizens, with property rights as the underlying basis for their right to discriminate, as it did with discrimination that was written into law. These are facts. You can look them up.

By contrast, since the CRA has been in place for more than 40 years and America has not become a Nazi-style dictatorship, I would say your argument seems to have more basis in emotion than reality.

Believe it or not, I actually do have a good deal of sympathy for many libertarian arguments. Ron Paul the father was the Republican candidate I had the most respect for, in the 2008 cycle, for exactly the sort of reasons that DeepOmega and JL Weill propose — his philosophy may have been wacky, I may have disagreed with most of it, but at least he had one. It doesn't seem to me that Rand Paul is as consistent as his dad, though. And I think the great failing of libertarian philosophy general is that it believes that government is and always will be the worst or even the only source of tyrannical restriction on individual freedom. I think if you were, say, a black person in the Jim Crow south, you would find that this was not the case, and that the remedies of free markets would not have lifted many or any of the social forces that restricted your behavior.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Brock – you sound like an asshole. (Maybe I do to?) Accusing people of not understanding the argument is bullshit. Also I'm not even going to touch your Hitler nonsense.

Also learn to spell.

@jfruh – Sorry if I sound like an asshole. I'm not trying to be! I just think that there's a tendency to knee-jerk away on both sides of the aisle, and since I am at heart a democrat I want to do what I can to let the argument be about the argument.

I'd put Paul's views in the same category as, say, discussions about slashing social security benefits. Politically inexpedient, probably tone-deaf or overly self-satisfied by ones own "bravery", but nonetheless arguments I'd rather be able to have. Rand Paul was immediately surrounded by a cloud of invective accusing him of racism, and I think you'd be hard pressed to argue he is a racist except in a third- or fourth-degree way (he does not think racists should be federally barred from being racist fuckholes). What I'd have liked to have seen in ideal DeepOTopia would be commentators discussing whether there are reasons to be wary of federal involvement in right to assembly concerns and how those reasons weight against current institutionalized racism and etc. etc. Instead I saw a lot of the R word.

[And to be clear: Obviously I think the CRA was great! I think it was necessary in the same way the Civil War was necessary: sacrificing a little freedom on one hand to gain a ton of freedom for a previously disenfranchised class! That doesn't mean I think people who are more defensive of economic freedoms than I am are racists - especially people who were a year old when it passed.]

jfruh (#713)

Or as in your case someone who doesn't understand the argument. You take the argument and place it in this neat little box and only want to talk about the one effect but over look the entire dilema.

Sorry for multiple replies, but: to turn this assertion on its head, you're a person who only sees the argument in the abstract and doesn't see how it affects people in the real world. Without the CRA provisions that you seem to take issue with, a substantial portion of the population of this country would have remained second class citizens. If you oppose the lifting of that second class citizens because theoretical ideas about libertarian government are more important to you than real injustice in practice, then that's troubling. Caring more about property rights than about whether millions of black people are kept down may not be racist, but it speaks to a certain callousness.

deepomega (#1,720)

Also yeah, Rand is no Ron. See his views on immigration, e.g., or defense budgets.

jfruh (#713)

@DeepOmega I don't think you sound like an asshole! Unfortunately I think that too much of "letting the argument be the argument" gets into "lets argue about how we're arguing." Maybe some people did just shout RACIST at the top of their lungs at Paul (I refuse to watch news on TV at all, because of the shouting), but I don't feel obliged to be nice to him when dissecting his argument as a result.

See my second reply to Brock below, but (and sorry I keep saying variations of this, but this comment thread is actually helping me formulate my thoughts more coherently) I have a hard time treating Paul's argument as repsectable even as I would things of the "cutting Social Security" type. The fact that black people were second-class citizens in the Jim Crow south is demonstrable. If someone is going to make the claim that a total commitment to federal non-interference in how public accommodations accomodate the public is more important than attempting to correct that injustice, then I find that person's priorities to be not just different from mine, but fundamentally troubling. Essentially they're saying "A person's right to discriminate is more important than a person's right not to be discriminated against."

It's true that this all happened decades ago, and I don't expect everyone in the country to get it. Arguing the point today, it's hard to imagine what harm there would be in letting people discriminate in stores or restaurants, because only half a dozen wackadoodles would do it, and they'd be shunned socially immediately. But we only got to that place today because of the CRA. And if you're running for public office in this country, you ought to know that, even if it happened before you were born, just as you ought to know why World War II was fought.

jfruh (#713)

@deepomega — oh, and I meant to add that the argument that laws like the CRA would inevitably lead to federal overreach and eventually tyranny seem patently absurd, as this hasn't happened in the subsequent decades.

deepomega (#1,720)

Well I mean I'd like to think (and maybe I'm being wishful!) that Rand wouldn't just say "sorry, no CRA!" if he were a senator in 1964. That he'd instead say "how can the federal government say 'fuck you' to racists without also shutting down right to association?" – and part of that would be finding ways to enforce the 14th without a new law, what with so much of the problem ALSO stemming from government. State governments were goddamn evil sons of bitches during this period, and I'd (like to) think Rand would say the feds should have focused on enforcing constitutional sovereignty over the states, undermining the governmental support to Jim Crow (which, keep in mind, Jim Crow was a set of laws, not a set of small business owners) and so forth.

I guess maybe my overriding frustration is with the implication that the only way to end Jim Crow was federal law targeting private businesses. And as a Young, who was not alive, maybe that makes me an idealist – but that's why god put me on this earth. To make Olds feel cynical and heartless, until I am an Old, and then I'll shake my walker/cane at the Youngs. The circle of life.

jfruh (#713)

(which, keep in mind, Jim Crow was a set of laws, not a set of small business owners)

There was to the best of my knowledge no law that forbade restaurants from serving blacks, forbade blacks from trying on clothes in department stores or returning clothes that they had purchased, etc. Jim Crow was both a set of (yes, state-level) laws and a set of iron-clad social conventions. It was an evil system and it needed to be broken, and it was right and proper to break it not least because the only "harm" to small business owners was that they would now have a new set of customers to sell to.

Much of the groundwork of the civil rights era did involve the federal government asserting its sovreignity over the sates (see Brown v. Board, which was decided a decade before the CRA). But that couldn't fix everything.

I would also argue that the CRA didn't "shut down" right to association; it limited it in the specific context of commercial establishments that were open to the public. One still has the right to associate as one pleases in other contexts, as the continued existence of whites-only country clubs here and there testifies.

Brock Miller (#6,925)

"and so I trust a freely elected government to pass and enforce those laws."

The same freely elected government that allowed racism and Jim Crow Laws at a point in history? I'm not arguing for right or wrong. I'm trying to say there is far more substance to the argument than is talked about. There will always be infringements on what one considers a right when dealing with the scope of authority or government. I'm not so far right that I advocate it's complete removal from society thinking that to be the viable alternative.

I'm just saying that the concept of America was/is that the individual has inalienable rights. These arguments and discussions should occur, and should not be cast aside with simple rhetoric claiming your opponent be either a racist or someone who lacks knowledge of past racial divides. As humanity evolves needs of the past become road blocks of the future.

@deepomega – online we are all assholes. We must perceive the tone and nature of a person in conversation without sight or sound. I'm debating jfruh. If he thinks I'm an asshole he's certainly entitled to his opinion as are you. What I don't get is why it's ok for him to tell me I'm racist or don't understand but when I did it, it was WRONG! That's called a double standard.

As far as the Hitler nonsense, yes it's extreme. It's meant to be. Germany was a free democracy when he was elected. I'm just pointing out it takes one bad apple at the controls to take full advantage of the powers society has given a government and turn it into a hell humanity will remember forever.

Plus quit it with the learning to spell tidbit. I'm pretty sure you understood what I wrote. That does make one an asshole.

Hitler was never elected. That's some Jonah Goldberg-level nonsense.

Danzig! (#5,318)

"What I'd have liked to have seen in ideal DeepOTopia would be commentators discussing whether there are reasons to be wary of federal involvement in right to assembly concerns and how those reasons weight against current institutionalized racism and etc. etc. Instead I saw a lot of the R word."

Whoa whoa whoa. "Institutionalized racism"? You've hit the impasse right there. The REAL institutionalized racism is all those uppity blacks who think there's such a thing as an "advantage" to be being a white man. Nobody ever helped Rand Paul! He's his own man!

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

I only got partway through your "brilliant" analysis when I thought to myself…

I once walked through Devil Ant Hatfield's farm house and kind of remember that one of the most famous feuds in American history involved a family that didn't live in West Virginia.

Fucking read your history people! Before you fucking throw out what is famous about a place.

God, so many of you disgust me. Hurry up NASA and take me to Mars. I bet they're not as stupid.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

I apologize, I should have used the word obtuse.

What are you talking about? Sorry, maybe I'm being obtuse.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

I read some more and I can't let it go. How fucking detailed do I have to explain to wannabe writers (even you fucks who get 100K for the shit writing you churn out in between parties).

Not only would the Hatfield v. McCoy feud have demonstrated the whole point of how thin skinned Kentuckians are, but it would have dovetailed nicely with your "Virginia origins."

Shit, why do your commenters keep on sucking the ass of a badly written piece just to make the author feel all awesome? You married to him? Employ him? Have they fired all the knowledgeable editors in this country and turned it over to monkeys? I know, Worcestershire Sauce = RACIST!

Whatever.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Read.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Oh God, the fucker is from D.C. and has to invoke Palin for some SEO bullshit reason.

Come on. I'm trying to make this place an excellent go to place, not some useless throwaway place which lacks intelligent thought.

Myles Klee, teach this guy how to write (badly).

Ah. OK, cool. There are a lot of things I didn't use, including the one you reference. Thanks for "reading."

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

@J.L. Weill – I'll be charitable, but if you wade through that block of cheese you call a post you will find how you named the famous KFC Colonel and some actress as famous Kentuckians.

Yes, they are famous Kentuckians, but in terms of the content of your article not famous enough to make your claim that Kentuckians are thin skinned relevant as the McCoys.

I feel dirty having to explain that.

I'll concede the point. The piece is the piece I wrote. Appreciate the critique.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

You'll get nowhere trying to reason with that Barea character. He's batshit insane/schizophenic/something.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Add an "r" in there somewhere, thanks.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

That something is smarter and more experienced than you petejayhawk.

But it's nice that you can hide behind the age old "did you take your meds" argument. At least you kept away from "fat" "ugly" "no one likes you" arguments.

Guess we are in the post-fatass paradigm at least.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

It's chill. We just got trained in two different environments with differing focuses. My mentors focused on history and finding references that were more intensive to the content to bolster its support.

Also, petejayhawk is that gay hookup you were too drunk to satisfy so just shot on his ass and he's still pissed about it 10 years later.

iantenna (#5,160)

@pete: i'm pretty sure he's just bitter and drunk, but you might be right.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Nah – read his delusional rantings on his website sometime. That's mental illness at work, unfortunately.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Since this is Kentucky we are talking about, almost any regular old Republican would have won this seat. The only reason why we are even thinking about the possibility that a Democrat might win instead is that Rand Paul has been exposed and ridiculed as a total nut. The moment we start treating him with respect, we'll be back to the default of an easy Republican win. I thought that was pretty clear.

Baroness (#273)

But the important things go unaddressed..

Q: How does Kentucky feel about a mosque in lower Manhattan? Betrayed patriotism , or liberal treachery?

A: Who cares? Drop a triumphalist mosque on their cluck-farms. Rand Paul is pretty much guaranteeing he'll lay further waste to what's left of Kentucky's pretense of wanting to be nominally part of the First World. Go vote for Rand Paul, go Galt, secede, whatever. Hey, you have those uppity bitches Maddow and Dowd to blame, they made you do it.

barnhouse (#1,326)

If Kentuckians are depicted by the lower-grade media as bumpkins, we here in "La-La Land" are stoned, delusional narcissists, and New Yorkers are rude, noisy grasping careerists. None of it is true; the ratio of intelligent to not-so-intelligent people is constant, no matter where you go, so let's get that out of the way.

I liked this a lot, but it gives Paul too much credit, I think. Talking Points Memo has had some of the best coverage. Try this article on mountaintop removal, for instance, wherein Paul shares his wisdom re: mountaintop removal:

"Most people, he continues, "would say the land is of enhanced value, because now you can build on it."

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

"the ratio of intelligent to not-so-intelligent people is constant, no matter where you go"

False. It's only true among the newborns. When we are talking about an adult population, you have to account for those among the intelligent ones who move to places where life is perceived as more rewarding. Also, it's not necessary just intelligence you are talking about here, it's largely education and life experience I think, which people from "less developed" areas do lack in (even though not necessary by their own fault).

barnhouse (#1,326)

I disagree. I've seen no evidence that people move away from anywhere, or to anywhere, because they are intelligent. Just calling 'em as I see 'em, though. (p.s. I don't think of intelligence as related to education or IQ or any of that.)

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

"I've seen no evidence that people move away from anywhere, or to anywhere, because they are intelligent".

So what drives people from Kentucky to New York? Gravity? (Please don't tell me next that you've seen no evidence of migration of people from Kentucky to New York).

barnhouse (#1,326)

Vehicles.

scrooge (#2,697)

So what drives people from Kentucky to New York?

Have to go with the Yugo on this one. Only idiots voluntarily move to a place that's so crowded, noisy, dirty, expensive and climate-plagued.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

"Only idiots voluntarily move to a place that's so crowded, noisy, dirty, expensive and climate-plagued".

See what I'm talking about, barnhouse?

barnhouse (#1,326)

hahaha golly it is too hot to argue, but yes I do. I bet a researcher would simply love to argue with a lab rat, though, if only it were possible.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

How much of a git do you really want to make yourself look like?

You actually reassure yourself that you are right by engaging a fellow cocktail partier as your proof that you are right.

That is like asking Chip from down the block to reassure you that peeing on an electric wire is a smart thing.

You do realize we are in the age of the Internet where you are no smarter than a 5th grader, right?

Scum (#1,847)

@jfruh Hearing racist dog whistles seems to me more of a cause for self reflection than accusations of racial bias. Its ridiculous to accuse someone else of racism just because you immediately think "BLACKS!" every time someone talks about criminals or welfare cheats.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Except that it has to do with a valid logic that when you call society's problems "criminals and welfare cheaters" instead of "crime and welfare cheating" there's gotta be xenophobia somewhere at the bottom of it.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Sexy attempt at making a point, but losing the point by making it somthing (or whatever that word is for word differences is).

This is where I think we need to divorce sociological dissection from scientific or statistical empirical evidence.

What is the ethnicity percentages of those in jail compared to the general citizenry?
What is the ethnicity percentages of those on welfare compared to the general citizenry? (Law of averages applies to welfare cheats, so just stop and learn it).

You just went straight to xenophobia as the default.

I noticed that you went straight to xenophobia which should have alerted you to the validity of what you are arguing against. If it's xenophobia (be it a high school rivalry, subdivision rivalry, etc.) it's not racism.

You make it racism when all you see is the color of one's skin. Even then, not sure it would be racism since the color of one's skin doesn't actually detail the race.

Then again when I used to have to put race down on school census forms I only had Mongloid, Negroid, & Caucusoid choices so the changing nature of what is considered a race makes the whole racism issue moot if it can be changed.

I could make the petejayhawkasoid race at some point so we could all be racist at that lazy fuck of a thinker.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

I have no more desire to argue with you then a researcher has to argue with a lab rat. Thanks for running through the maze, though.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Kind of hard to keep from responding though, ain't it?

I know. I control your response reflexes like that. Thanks for all the fish.

KarenUhOh (#19)

He's like any other hounddog dragging around a leash. Happy as hell he's "free," no fucking idea where he's going.

brent_cox (#40)

Thanks for that.

Jim Demintia (#1,815)

This piece makes some good points, but I think the "raw individualism" stuff needs to be heavily qualified. Eastern Kentucky was at the center of some of the fiercest battles for organized labor in the early twentieth century. There was a strong enough sense of collective struggle and responsibility in those years to get miners to face down gatling guns and the U.S. government. The real question, in my mind, is how Kentucky got from there to the point they're at now: about to elect a quasi-libertarian candidate who is entirely ignorant of this history and reflexively prepared to take the side of the mining companies and the rich every time.

Bitch (#961)

Also might be worth noting the hypocrisy inherent to the "hands-off, regulatory-free government" preference you ascribe to the state, given that Kentucky receives more than $1.50 in federal tax dollars for every dollar in federal taxes its citizens pay.

Pokey (#5,599)

For the record, the line in Clueless referred to people in Kentucky marrying young, not marrying their cousins (obviously Cher had no compunctions about dating her stepbrother). And according to the 2000 census only citizens of Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma and Utah marry younger than Kentucky so it was not an unfair point. Most of the references to Kentucky do have mocking but not necessarily in an incestuous undertone.

shawtyhaggins (#6,921)

For the record, Florence Henderson and Harland Sanders are both from Indiana.

mellbell (#6,941)

And anyway, any Kentuckian worth their salt knows that Harland's wife, Claudia, was the one with a real knack for fried chicken. Her restaurant is a little harder to get to, there being just the one location, but it's well worth the trip.

But putting aside whether or not Colonel Sanders is a true Kentuckian, a lot of other famous people are, in fact, from Kentucky. For example, Muhammad Ali, Hunter S. Thompson, Diane Sawyer, Zachary Taylor (kind of a "forgotten president," but a president nevertheless!), Louis Brandeis (first Jew on SCOTUS), and Sue Grafton (author of the "_ is for _____" murder mystery novels), just to mention a few Louisvillians of note.

mellbell (#6,941)

Supposed to be a reply to shawtyhaggins, but oh well.

shawtyhaggins (#6,921)

That was my point, but I guess "our most famous folks are Muhammad Ali and Johnny Depp" wouldn't have been ridiculous enough.

Danzig! (#5,318)

"But what Paul was doing, in addition to tossing out rhetorical candy to his people, was getting theoretical in a cable news interview, something more seasoned politicians know they should not do."

Libertarians make the best revisionists.

Danzig! (#5,318)

"Like those he hopes to represent, he's hesitant to reveal the breadth of his intelligence lest it be taken as bragging (or in his case misread by today's electorate as being, God forbid, genuinely thoughtful)."

This reminds me of when I talk with Rand types (Ayn and Paul, both) and often they'll say "There is no such thing as selflessness. When people do things for one another it is invariably for selfish reasons." This strikes me as a rather pointless argument, since the consequences of an action tend to be more important than whatever labyrinthine logic would lead you to believe that altruism is really egoism. If you're doing things for other people it doesn't really matter what your motives are, you're doing things for people.

Likewise, if you act like an idiot but you're secretly a genius, you are, in actuality, an idiot. You're not smart if you don't act smart.

chasinky (#7,044)

Shucks as a Kentuckian since 1980, I have seen a lot, not that it is good or bad. Unfortunately the populaces are not deep thinkers. They like to be different, "Don't tell me what to do" attitude.
They honestly think Ol' Rand will shake up Washington? If he is elected and probably will be (Bunning was elected without any debates or intelligent discourse with an opponent)
Ol Rand will be a freshman senator doing what McConnell tells him to, that is a fact Jack!
Rand thinks local control over the environment? The mining companies destroy watersheds and have safety as a last concern but they can police themselves?
Rand wants to send everyone who is not blond hair and blue eyed back to Mexico?
Who will do the work, then? The white guy that smokes 3 packs a day and lives on Ale 8, who is trying to get disability for a bad back?
Kentucky and the country will get what they vote for …..Then complain, someone should have told them……….
Best regards,
ChasinKY

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