Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Senate candidate Paul taken to task for comments about making mine safety a local responsibility

In July we reported backlash against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky for comments he made opposing farm subsidies; now he is facing similar criticism for comments he reportedly made about decreasing mine-safety regulation. "The comments attributed to Paul in Details, a monthly magazine published by Condé Nast Publications, reportedly came from a public appearance Paul made at the Harlan Center in Harlan County before the May 18 GOP primary election," Bill Estep and Jack Brammer report for the Lexington Herald-Leader. The magazine says Paul said, "The bottom line is I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules. You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You'd try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don't, I'm thinking that no one will apply for those jobs."

Tony Oppegard, a Lexington attorney and mine-safety advocate, called Paul's statement "idiotic," and members of the United Mine Workers from Kentucky have scheduled a telephone news conference Tuesday to take Paul to task for the comments. Oppegard said Paul's comments show "a lack of understanding of Eastern Kentucky, the region's economy and of the history of underground coal mining in the region, where for generations coal operators strongly opposed efforts by workers to form unions," Estep and Brammer report.

The Paul campaign did not dispute the quotation but criticized the initial Details story and subsequent follow-ups as "sloppy reporting on more sloppy reporting." Paul spokesman Ryan Hogan said in a statement, "Dr. Paul has been clear that he favors more local control rather than ham-fisted, one-size-fits-all dictates from Washington. Insinuating Washington bureaucrats are the only solution to problems is insulting to Kentucky." Hogan also said Paul feels punishment is called for if the investigation into the April explosion that killed 29 miners at a Massey Energy mine in West Virginia reveals safety rules were broken, the reporters write.

The Details story, by Jonathan Miles, begins with him and Paul "trying to remember why Harlan, Ky., might be famous." Paul mentions the nearby county seat of Hazard and says, "It's famous for, like, The Dukes of Hazzard." While Hazard, Ky., used that supposed connection while the TV show was on network TV, the show was actually set in Georgia. Even when a campaign aide correctly says Harlan was known for "the coal battles" of the 1930s, Paul ignores him. Later, Miles confirms that and provides details, leading into Paul's comments's about coal, which also included an endorsement of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

UPDATE, Aug. 10: Though his concept of mine-safety regulation is clearly libertarian, Paul writes in an op-ed for USA Today that "I choose to use a different phrase to describe my beliefs — I consider myself a constitutional conservative, which I take to mean a conservative who actually believes in smaller government and more individual freedom. The libertarian principles of limited government, self-reliance and respect for the Constitution are embedded within my constitutional conservatism, and in the views of countless Americans from across the political spectrum." He says the libertarian label "has become an emotionally charged, and often misunderstood, word in our current political climate." (Read more)

1 comment:

Old Scout said...

If ever there was a fool ... Come to think of it who's the bigger fool? paul or the people who think he's so freaking great?