Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rand Paul: "I am not complaining about spying or the NSA"

By Robert Wenzel
Rand Paul addressing Lincoln Labs Reboot 
Rand Paul was in San Francisco, yesterday. He spoke at a Lincoln Labs Reboot conference there. The conference brings together libertarian-leaning techies. They paid from $300 to $600 to attend the event.

This is the third time I have heard Rand speak and he was by far the most comfortable and relaxed delivering this speech. I am not sure if it was the libertarian crowd or just him having more experience on the speaking circuit that caused the more relaxed manner. He spoke for 25 minutes with just a few notes and then participated in a panel discussion titled "Where has our freedom gone?"

But the fun for close Rand followers began even before Rand stepped to the podium. Frieda Levy introduced Rand. As part of her introduction, she told the story of the time Rand was a keynote speaker at one of those secretive Koch brothers conferences.

Charles Koch's son, Chase, introduced Rand at one of those conferences and said he could identify with Rand and how difficult it was to be a child of a prominent libertarian. Levy than noted that Chase told the Koch crowd that as a child he was required to read Mises and Hayek. This caught my ear, since Rand had just scrubbed from his Senate page a book list that included works by Mises and Hayek (SEE: The 17 Books Scrubbed From Rand Paul's Web Site)

Rand's speech could best be described as Reaganesque, not in the style of delivery, but in the abundance of free market rhetoric, like with Reagan, if you listened carefully, though, it was free market rhetoric with a lot of BUTS.

Early in his talk, Rand referenced the Ayn Rand characters, Ellsworth Toohey and Howard Roark. He said that Silicon Valley was filled with Howard Roarks and that Washington D.C. was filled with Ellsworth Tooheys.

I took this as a cheap political trick, a way for Rand to distance himself from Washington. I had heard Nancy Pelosi do pretty much the same type of distancing from D.C., when she spoke to a lefty crowd in SF. She referred to DC as "that place where I have to live."

Rand then made clear that he wasn't against government. Apparently never having read Walter Block's The Privatization of Roads and Highways, or not buying Dr. Block's argument, Rand used roads as an example of why government is required. He said, "Government created the roads you came here on. I am not against government."

The crowd at Reboot, just before Rand started to speak.
Most likely referencing unemployment insurance, he then went on to say, "If I had my way, there would still be a [government] safety net."

And then, "We have to have some government...for schools, roads and national defense."

He then name-dropped Milton Firiedman (He never mentions Mises, Rothbard or Hayek) and said, "This isn't an argument against government but to minimize government."

And apparently to make very clear he isn't against government operations, he then said that he wasn't against the NSA. He just wants NSA reform.

"I am not complaining about spying or the NSA. It is about the process," he said.

He then went full bore pro-government and contradicted his earlier remark that DC was filled with Ellsworth Tooheys and said, "Most people who work for government have good intentions."

With that Rand left, most likely headed to "that place," where the Ellswoth Tooheys work and play.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

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