The establishment media is getting nervous. Ron Paul just won’t go away. Last week, the Wall Street Journal sent out Dorothy Rabinowitz to attack Paul’s ideas on foreign policy, and express wonderment that anyone wishing to be President could be so negative regarding America’s imperial ambitions, or could have so much support among the populace as a result (scroll down to see my rebuttal). This week (Dec 28, 2011) the New York Times plays the race card against Paul for some newsletters he, or his political organization, issued several years ago.
This is getting tiresome. Again, I am not an avowed supporter of Paul’s candidacy, or connected with it in any way. Though his ideas and mine about the role of government in society roughly coincide, I’m mostly just an apolitical observer of the giddy human animal, politics being one of the many prisms through which to observe him. By my reckoning, it only makes a difference around the margins of history as to which particular individual is the political leader. As a practical matter, even the most powerful of autocratic leaders has very limited leeway in choosing upon the path with which history will tread.
But the Times shows how heavily vested it is in the status quo by its attack on Paul, who is the only candidate representing anything remotely resembling a fresh perspective. His ideas seem to be powerful enough that his candidacy is resonating with a significant number of voters, and that, apparently, has the Times scared enough to issue an attack on what it sees as racist pronouncements in a newsletter that Paul has already disavowed. The Times wants more–it wants Paul to disavow his own supporters who might be racist. What an outlandish proposition. Did the Times ask Obama to disavow the 90% or so of blacks that voted for him because he was black? (Or, at least half-black, which made him all black in their eyes).
Because of its unfair attack on Paul, I feel compelled to reprise my defense of his ideas, this time against the Times, the following quotes are from the editorial, linked above:
Ron Paul long ago disqualified himself for the presidency by peddling claptrap proposals like abolishing the Federal Reserve, returning to the gold standard, cutting a third of the federal budget and all foreign aid and opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
How exactly does one’s ideas disqualify one from any political office in a democracy? I thought the whole point of democratic self-determination was to allow one’s ideas free rein to compete in the marketplace. What the Times really means is that Paul’s ideas have disqualified him from enjoying their support, a far different thing than disqualification from the Presidency. But let’s take Paul’s “claptrap” proposals in turn and quickly evaluate their merit:
Abolishing the Federal Reserve: There is nothing in the Constitution providing for a central bank, let alone one so powerful (it thinks) that it can single-handedly determine the economic fate of millions, if not billions (when those abroad that might be affected by its policies are included). The Federal Reserve is not quite a century old. Before it came along, the country somehow managed to grow from just a few settlements on the East Coast, to span the continent, all of it linked together with railroads and telegraphs. Population and economic output grew, and industrial development along with them, all without the Federal Reserve. The Panic of 1907 resulting in its inception was somehow also weathered well enough that economic growth resumed without it. The existence of the Federal Reserve didn’t prevent the Great Depression of the thirties, nor the Great Recession of the late aughts, and in the eyes of many analysts, helped cause or worsen each of them. Why not try abolishing the Federal Reserve? It’d be hard to imagine how economic growth and income stratification could be any worse than that which has obtained during the meager time of its existence.
The truth about the Fed is that it controls nothing, and its actions tinkering with the money have very little long-term impact. But the Fed provides the illusion of control with which politicians are so enamored. If economic fates are subject to government whim through the auspices of the Fed (or any other entity), then government power relative to the people grows exponentially. This must be why the idea of abolishing the Fed is claptrap for the Times.
Returning to the gold standard: As a practical matter, it makes no difference what particular thing is used for money. It could be conch shells or juju beads or script or gold. It needn’t have any intrinsic, i.e., useful value, but may. It must always be remembered that money never buys anything; only goods and services buy things. Money is simply the benchmark used to value disparate goods and services such that they may be freely and conveniently traded. The problem with money arises when an entity such as the Federal Reserve has the sole power to create and value it, thereby having the ability to fix prices for goods and services in all places where the money it creates and values is required to be used. Forcing the Fed to value its currency according to an internationally traded commodity such as is gold would greatly impair its ability to fix domestic prices. Considering the Fed’s track dismal record at trying to price-fix its way to economic nirvana, it’s hard to imagine that impairing its power to fix prices could be anything but a good thing. Nothing claptrap here.
Cutting a third of the Federal budget: Roughly one-third of the Federal government budget during Obama’s presidency has been provided by deficit spending. Annual deficits of over a trillion dollars the last three years, and into the forseeable future, mean that the debt load of the American government is rapidly approaching 100 percent of the value of the annual output of its people. This is not sustainable. And the Keynesian idea that it is stimulative to run deficits never imagined an economic system that was rich, aging and only very slowly expanding its population base. Every additional dollar borrowed today only digs the hole deeper out of which our children and grandchildren must climb. Cutting a third of the Federal budget, so long as doing so resulted in a drastic reduction in the annual deficit (i.e., without also cutting taxes) is the only way to free our descendants from the terrible oppression that awaits if we continue to support our lavish lifestyles today through borrowing as if there were no tomorrow. Again, no claptrap here.
Cutting all foreign aid: Without qualifiers, this one is a bit more problematic. If what Mr. Paul means is to end what amounts to sending tribute abroad to aid the oligarchies of our foreign trading partners in order that they might better keep their people subdued and complaisant, such that our capitalists might better exploit them, then by all means, end foreign aid. It can only be assumed he doesn’t mean to end humanitarian aid, such as earthquake relief in Haiti, or tsunami relief in Indonesia. There is nothing wrong with foreign aid of this sort, even if it helps keep oppressive regimes afloat. Worry about the politics only after helping see that people’s lives are secure.
Opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964: This is really a no-brainer. Anyone wishing to see the country move past racialism should be opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, at least as it is applied. When the Act was passed, specific language was included that barred racial set asides. Through some of the most disingenuous mental gymnastics ever undertaken, the Supreme Court found its way clear to read a requirement for racially-determined set asides (affirmative action) into the Act, though the plain language of the Act prohibits it. (Read some of the Warren Court opinions on the affirmative action–your head will wish to explode at the contortions in logic required to say a thing means exactly what it says it doesn’t mean, and to do so while pretending to be upholding the law).
Affirmative action is as much a blight on American race relations as were the Jim Crow laws. Two wrongs does not make a right. The government, ever mindful of the politics of race, tilted the playing field, through affirmative action, in favor of minorities, particularly blacks, because they are minorities, and were presumed to have suffered from racialism in the past. Racialism in favor of any racial group is still racialism and is still repugnant. Whatever might have been reasonable justification for affirmative action in the past, exists no longer, nearly a half-century later. Ron Paul is courageous to identify it as a blight on a society that should be striving for harmonious and equitable treatment of all its citizens, and to urge its elimination.
Now, making things worse, he has failed to convincingly repudiate racist remarks that were published under his name for years — or the enthusiastic support he is getting from racist groups.
Mr. Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas who is doing particularly well in Iowa’s precaucus polls, published several newsletters in the ’80s and ’90s with names like the Ron Paul Survival Report and the Ron Paul Political Report. The newsletters interspersed libertarian political and investment commentary with racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and far-right paranoia.
Among other offensive statements, the newsletters said that 95 percent of Washington’s black males were criminals, and they described the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as “Hate Whitey Day.” One 1993 article appeared under a headline lamenting the country’s “disappearing white majority.” Other articles suggested that the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, praised the Louisiana racist David Duke and accused some gay men with AIDS of deliberately spreading the disease, “perhaps out of a pathological hatred.”
“Convincingly”? Really? Whether or not one believes a repudiation to have been done convincingly enough is a subjective matter. Given the Times’ general disapproval of Paul’s positions, it would be hard to imagine he could subjectively convince them of anything of which they didn’t wish to be convinced.
Whether or not 95% of Washington’s black males were criminals at the time of the newsletter’s publication is a matter that can be factually determined. If they were, or if even a large percentage of them were, it would likely have been the result of draconian drug laws and the amorphous, never-ending Drug War, that Paul would put to an end. How racist is that?
Calling MLK’s birthday “Hate Whitey Day” is bad taste, but not worth much agonizing. Eliminate affirmative action and the only government-sanctioned reason for whites to believe blacks hate them would disappear.
The white majority is, in fact, disappearing. One has to wonder, if blacks or Hispanics were suffering the same sort of relative diminishment in power and lamented its occurrence, would it raise an eyebrow amongst the folks writing editorials for the Old Gray Lady?
Suggesting that Mossad was responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing is nutty, but so what? Except that Paul’s disavowal wasn’t convincing enough?
Without context, “praising David Duke” is meaningless. They could have been praising his golf swing.
And some gay men with AIDS were known to have intentionally spread the disease, and a few were even convicted for having done so, whether or not they acted out of pathological hatred (for whom, other gays? themselves?) is a matter for God, not man, to decide.
A direct-mail ad for the newsletters from around 1993 warned of a “coming race war in our big cities” and said there was a “federal-homosexual cover-up” to suppress the impact of AIDS.
Mr. Paul, who, beginning in 2008, has disavowed the articles and their ideas, now says that most of them were written by others and that he was unaware of their content. Even if that were the case, it suggests a stupendous level of negligence that should force a reconsideration by anyone considering entrusting him with the White House.
It is a fair question to ask whether or not these newletters really reflected Mr. Paul’s views, and if they didn’t, why didn’t he do something to clarify things earlier than his first presidential campaign? Point goes to the Times. But just this one.
When the newsletters first became an issue during his Congressional campaigns in the 1990s, however, he did not deny writing some of them or knowing about them.
Mr. Paul has never given a full and detailed accounting of who wrote the newsletters and what his role was in overseeing their publication. It’s especially important that he do so immediately. Those writings have certainly not been forgotten by white supremacist and militia groups that are promoting his candidacy in Iowa and in New Hampshire.
It seems neither has he denied knowing about the newletters or writing some of the articles, as the Times’ article makes clear, two paragraphs earlier. Rebutting a claim that has already been rebutted, in the same piece, seems a bit wasteful of time and gray matter, so I’ll refrain.
The Times reported on Sunday that dozens of members of the white nationalist Web site Stormfront are volunteering for the Paul campaign, along with far-right militias, survivalists and anti-Zionist groups. Don Black, the Stormfront director, said his members were drawn to Mr. Paul by the newsletters and his positions against immigration and the Fed (run by Jews, Mr. Black said), even if Mr. Paul were not himself a white nationalist.
Mr. Paul, saying he still hopes to “convert” these supporters to his views, has refused to disavow them or to chase them out of his campaign. If he does not do so, he will leave a lasting stain on his candidacy, on the libertarian movement and, very possibly, on the Iowa caucuses.
God help us all, the republic could surely not stand a racist stain on the Iowa caucuses. Never mind that Obama in large measure owes his presidency to racialism. Blacks voted for him because he was one of theirs. Whites voted for him (except, I’m sure, the editorialists at the Times) because he wasn’t. What does the Times’ expect after a candidate is elected in a campaign in which his race plays a pivotal role? Is it so naive to believe that Obama’s victory would be simply ignored by others holding similar, but opposing, racial allegiances?
Does not a white nationalist like Mr. Black have the constitutionally-protected right to support whomever he wishes, for whatever reasons, no matter how repugnant those reasons might be to Times’ editorialists? Would a Black Panther’s support of Obama have yielded such consternation? In fact, Obama did have to publicly disavow his own pastor because of his Black Power Theology. This was the man who married Obama and was a close consort over the twenty years preceding his campaign–and who ironically enough, was even more critical of America’s international and domestic policies than Paul’s newsletters ever were. So Obama disavowed him. So what. It was meaningless political theater, but apparently enough to win the Times’ endorsement of Obama’s campaign. I’ve got a feeling Paul could disavow folks like Mr. Black (with whom he has no personal relationship of which I’m aware) ’til hell freezes over, and never win the Times’ endorsement, a reality of which I am sure Mr. Paul is well aware, perhaps explaining why he doesn’t bother.