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Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Ron Paul's Policies Actually Affect Blacks

Friday, December 30, 2011

Two Related Videos


What I just read is absolutely unbelievable. I've read a lot of media Ron Paul bashing, but this one might just take the cake. The following headline has been on the front page of CNN.com for 9 hours:

"In book, Paul criticized AIDS patients, harassment victims."

It was accompanied by two unflattering pictures of Paul scowling. This is the link to the article:


The book they're referring to is his 1987 book "Freedom Under Seige: The U.S. Constitution after 200+ years. The author of the article, Peter Hamby, writes:

"Paul wrote that AIDS patients were victims of their own lifestyle, questioned the rights of minorities and argued that people who are sexually harassed at work should quit their jobs." - Hamby

I am literally shaking right now I am so outraged by these intentional misrepresentations. If this were an editorial, a statement like that would be a borderline stretch of the truth done for rhetorical appeal. But it is not an editorial, it's portrayed as fact; it is on CNN's Political Ticker which gives updates on recent political news. Let's compare that statement to the facts of what Ron Paul actually wrote, shall we? As quoted in the article, he writes:

1. "The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim - frequently a victim of his own lifestyle - but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care" - Paul

Saying that AIDS is "frequently" caused by ones own lifestyle is NOT the same as "criticizing" AIDS patients. And by omitting the word "some", Hamby makes it seem that Paul wrote that ALL AIDS patients were victims of their own lifestyle. He did not say that either! He didn't even say a majority, he said "frequently". Which is of course true. AIDS is transferred through sex, and people who have free unprotected sex increase their chances of getting AIDS. That is not a "criticism", it is an observation.

Imagine if he had said "victims of lung cancer are frequently a victim of their own lifestyle" in reference to smoking. Would it then be appropriate to write an article with the heading "In book, Paul criticizes cancer patients"? Of course not! That would be absurd! He was not criticizing them, he was not saying all of them have only themselves to blame. He was saying, as a DOCTOR no less, that a lifestyle of unprotected sex "frequently" leads to AIDS, just as a lifestyle of smoking frequently leads to lung cancer. But since AIDS has a colored political history and many people view Republicans as homophobes, the front page statement "Ron Paul criticizes AIDS patients" will of course contribute to the unfounded notion that he is a bigot. This is obviously on purpose.

2. "Until all these terms [referring to group-rights terms like "Hispanic-rights", African-American-rights", "childrens-rights", "employees-rights" and "homeless-rights"] are dropped and we recognize that only an individual has rights the solution to the mess in which we find ourselves will not be found...Every year new groups organize to demand their 'rights.' White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots. Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus, demonstrating the absurdity of this approach for achieving rights for everyone." - Paul
Once again, the CNN article is misleading, if not an outright lie. Paul was not "questioning the rights of minorities", he was questioning that minorities have MORE rights than others! He is 100% correct for doing so. He is very clear that everybody, regardless of race or age or job status, has equal rights AS AN INDIVIDUAL. It is the notion of clustering people into groups and assigning rights based on those groups which he criticized. If the heading had read "Ron Paul criticizes those who give out additional rights based on race", it would have been accurate - but much less controversial. Most of the other Republican candidates would probably agree with that statement. But CNN is clearly not interested in presenting Paul's ideas as they were written, it is interested in presenting his ideas in whatever way will make him seem like a racist. Headings that read "Ron Paul...questioned the rights of minorities" at best assumes the opinion that they do have more rights than others, and at worst make it appear that Ron Paul doesn't think minorities deserve the same rights as everyone else. Which is the polar opposite of what he was actually saying. Which is, of course, on purpose.

3. "[a business owner should have the power to] control property and run his or her business as he or she chooses...Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity...Why don't they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable." - Paul
Once again this is also not the same as "criticizing sexual harassment victims", and once again when taken in context Paul's quotes make sense. If somebody walks into your house, on your property, and says something you find offensive or that makes you uncomfortable or even requests a sexual favor, you have every right to demand that he shut up or leave and call the police. He is on your property. But if you are at work, on your employer's property, freedom of speech means that he ought to be able to say whatever he wants, even things which most people find disgusting or offensive. Just as you can say whatever you want in your house. Nobody has a right to not be offended. If anybody within earshot of what you say in your home doesn't like it, they are free to leave. And if any employer who chooses to work there is made uncomfortable by something their boss says, they are free to leave too. 
Paul was CLEARLY NOT defending sexual harassment; he even says "obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended". What he WAS defending was your right to say whatever you like on your own property. What Paul was criticizing was CLEARLY NOT those who have the misfortune of being harassed. What he WAS criticizing was the notion that government is justified in telling people what they may or may not say on their own property, and those who try to get their boss arrested for saying offensive things instead of just quitting. Just because some sexual harassment victims do choose to take their bosses to court instead of quitting, and thus do invoke a power of government which Ron Paul opposes, does not mean Paul was criticizing those who are harassed. It means he was criticizing those who file "civil rights" lawsuis for that harassment. That is a big difference.
Imagine the case of the military families and the Westboro Baptist Church. Paul, like most sane people, despises the Westboro Baptist Church and is deeply offended by what they say. But Paul, like many people, also feels they should be free to say it if they like, regardless of whether or not it offends the families of military victims. He does not believe that government should be able to censor that speech, and does not believe that the families of military victims should be able to file suit demanding that they censor it. So would it be appropriate, then, to run an article with a heading claiming that "Ron Paul criticizes the Families of Military Victims"? No! That's terribly misleading! So is saying he criticizes sexual harassment victims, and like the other two examples, it is misleading on purpose.

I am deeply saddened by these unabashed and intentional misrepresentations, but I am not surprised by them. We all know that Paul would be viciously attacked whenever he climbed up in the polls and became a threat to the other candidates. And we all knew that the media has tried to black him out and attack him for a long time before this. Probably as a consequence of these attacks, Paul's support has fallen 2% points in recent days and he is now ranked in second place in most polls. But unfortunately, it will probably fall more. We've known that if Paul is to win, it will be despite the media, not because of it. Our only hope is for people to see through it.

The Case for Ron Paul - An Open Letter to the American Patriot

When I initially sat down to write this letter, I tried to focus on the issues. I took each issue one by one, and passionately described how Ron Paul has it right. I talked about how as an Army ROTC Cadet, I feel his foreign policy is the strongest and safest path for America, how’s he’s anything but anti-military and anything but isolationist. Then I talked about the constitution, about free minds and free markets, and the dangers of activist monetary policy and the Federal Reserve. I tried to defend him against the absurd slander about racism, and did my best to shield him from all the other mud being flung his way. I promoted civil liberties, equality under the law, and individual rights.

But when I was finished, I realized what I had written was merely an eloquent endorsement of Ron Paul’s platform. It was well written and informative, and if you already liked Ron Paul it would probably have fired you up. But if you care enough about politics to still be reading this, chances are you’ve already developed your opinions on all those issues, and those opinions probably won’t change because some college kid convinced you otherwise. So I scrapped it. Instead of trying to tell you what to believe, I’d like to try to place what you know already in context. I’d like to provide perspective, rather than just opinion. To do that we need to begin with a miniature history lesson.

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice...moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” – Barry Goldwater

Barry Goldwater was another freedom-loving Republican with a propensity for speaking his mind. His beliefs were certainly not analogous to Paul’s, especially on foreign policy, but his platform was socially and economically very similar. More importantly, he saw the direction that big government was taking the country, and dedicated his life to trying to change that direction. In 1964 he ran for president against incumbent Lyndon Baines Johnson, the year after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. After winning a bitterly contested primary (in which a young Newt Gingrich endorsed his competitor) he was attacked by Johnson for being radical and dangerous. In one famous television ad (found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDTBnsqxZ3k ), the Johnson campaign suggested that Goldwater’s policies would lead to a nuclear bomb detonating in the United States. It was devastatingly effective, and sympathy for JFK’s recent assassination also helped Johnson’s campaign. Despite an impassioned endorsement of Goldwater by a young Ronald Reagan (found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXBswFfh6AY), Johnson won in a landslide.

The short term result was the disastrous Great Society, more burdensome and unsustainable entitlements, the creation of new and unnecessary executive departments, a drastic expansion of the bureaucracy, the Vietnam War, finalizing the break from the Gold Standard and allowing for perpetual manipulation of the money supply.

But more importantly, the 1964 election sent both parties the message that extremism in the defense of liberty was a politically unwise experiment, and that moderation in the pursuit of justice was much safer. Telling the “mainstream” what it wanted to hear could help them get elected much more easily than ideals or principles could, because most Americans didn’t think about those principles in practice very much. Sticking to principle required explaining how your principles applied to the issues; that could get confusing and wasn’t a very catchy campaign slogan. Plus, standing your ground meant that some people might disagree, and without the flexibility to move your position, you’d have no chance to get their vote. So for decades, political parties have focused more on assembling a winning “coalition” than on defending cohesive ideologies. The idea is that if they can give targeted groups of people whatever they want, and can add up enough of those groups to create a majority, they will win the election, which is all that matters to them. The larger, wealthier and more powerful the interest group, the better, because the more that group will help them get reelected.

It’s not that Democrats and Republicans don’t have ideological differences, because they usually do. It’s just that when those beliefs are pitted against what is politically convenient for the furthering of their career, both sides generally choose the latter. When you put so many congressmen with such different beliefs in a room together and ask them to work things out, oftentimes the only things they can agree on are the things which are in their mutual best interests: namely, getting reelected. And they’ve both discovered that the best way to get reelected is to increase their own power, so that they may sell favors to powerful interests in exchange for support. They’ve discovered that the best way to get reelected is to change their positions to whatever’s popular at the time, rather than saying what they believe is best for the country. They’ve discovered that the best way to get reelected is to pander to that mainstream by refusing say anything controversial that might alienate some people, by refusing to stand by what they believe in and instead standing where they believe the electorate will view them most favorably.

The result is that we voters are rarely given a choice between two competing ideologies and asked to pass judgment on which we prefer. Rather, we are given a choice between two ever-evolving parties that continually aim to tell their traditional supporters what they want to hear, and to give their powerful interests what they want. Both are obsessed with poll numbers, perpetually jostling for the “mainstream” middle ground that will grant them enough independents to assemble a majority. No politician dares to say anything that might engender opposition, and none dare to go against what the most powerful interests want.

Unfortunately for us, not everybody can have what they want. We’ve tried that for decades, and look where it’s gotten us? We’ve tried passing “compromises” that feed the most powerful interests on both sides; we’ve AARP massive, ever-growing entitlement programs, the military-industrial complex an ever-growing defense budget, the taxpayers tax cuts, the farm industry subsidies, the auto industry’s a bailout, big companies a favorable regulatory climate, and subprime applicants a cheap loan. Before we know it, we’re 15 trillion dollars in debt. Nobody on either side asks whether these are a good idea, unless it’s politically wise to do so in a grandiose campaign ad. If nobody sees them do the good, they reckon it’s not worth doing; if nobody sees them do the bad, they figure they will be able to get away with it.

If you’re still reading this, chances are I’m preaching to the choir. It’s a pretty big choir! Most people are fed up with this crap, and have been for several years. They see where this “mainstream” politics has taken us, and they want a change from that status quo. They were promised that change four years ago, and they didn’t get it. They are now even more disillusioned now than they were in 2008, but it doesn’t seem to be making any difference. Despite congressional approval ratings consistently below 15% and one of the greatest changeovers in American electoral history, about 86% of congressional incumbents retained their seat in 2010. The most depressing part about this selfishness, greed and dishonesty is that it works. The “public servants” who serve only themselves have a stranglehold on power that seems unbreakable, eternally reminding us of the system’s inherent brokenness. Even politicians who start out with good intentions seem corrupted by power and the desire to keep it, and soon advocate whatever will help them at the polls, whatever will give them popular talking points. All across the country, politicians tell voters whatever they want to hear, and get rewarded for it.

Except, that is, for one. One man has held out. Out of the 536 people who make up Congress and the Presidency, and the thousands who have held those offices for the past four decades, exactly one has consistently resisted this temptation. The Congressman from Texas’ 14th district does not change his stances for political convenience. He never has. He has preached the same message of freedom and constitutionally limited government for his entire 35-year career. He has voted no for every single tax hike. He has voted no for every single pork-barrel spending project. He has voted no for every single proposal that is not within the Federal government’s enumerated constitutional powers, no matter how good that proposal would make him look to mainstream voters. Many times, he has been the only member of either house to do so.

Sometimes, he’s lost winnable elections because of it. But mostly, he’s been ostracized for it. He’s been relegated to the fringe by people who share his core beliefs, just because it was politically dangerous to present those beliefs in such an uncompromising manner. Both parties have distanced themselves from him because they’re afraid of what he’s going to say next. This fear is magnified because they KNOW what he’s going to say next. They know he will say the same thing tomorrow that he said yesterday, and the day before that, and the year before that, and the election cycle before that, and the decade before that. They’re afraid that each time he repeats the same set of beliefs will provide yet another testament to his outright refusal to toe the party line. They’re afraid that each time he opens his mouth, he might be able to convey the conviction that drives him, to portray the principles that guide his every vote and every speech. And mostly, they’re afraid that this will illuminate a distinction between what drives him and what drives them. It is the distinction between one who seeks the preservation of one’s own power, and one who seeks the betterment of the country. It is the distinction between self-service and public service. Politicians on both sides, and the powerful interest groups who depend on their assistance, are afraid of what might happen to their power if enough Americans get that message.

Consequentially, he’s been ignored every time he takes the floor. He’s been given less time at the debates than his competitors. He’s ridiculed as cooky, loony, out-of-touch, unrealistic and impractical, nicknamed “Crazy Uncle Ron” and “Dr. No”. He’s been shunned from the mainstream media and glossed over in reporting on the polls, unmentionable unless followed by the phrase “but there’s no way he could win”. He’s been the butt of every political talk show joke in the books, had his name defiled, been called a racist and a sexist and an Anti-Semite and a homophobe and a lunatic and everything else. In the dirty game of politics he’s had more mud flung at him than just about anybody, yet he trudges on unfazed. Alone and ostracized and insulted and ridiculed, he has fought against the tide for 35 years, guided only by what he believes in his core to be right.

What he believes to be right is freedom, and he has dedicated his entire life to advancing it. In December of 2007, he tried to advance that message by using a historical reference to another group of people who fought for freedom by creating the world’s first ever Tea Party Moneybomb. Many political scholars claim the Tea Party movement, designed to “take back our country” from the self-serving tyrants who dominate it, developed from the surprising success of that event.

And then, a curious thing happened. The theories that his opponents had ridiculed for so long turned into actual events. The predictions he made in 2002, 2006 and 2007 about the collapse of the housing and lending industries came to pass. The economy crashed, and the government used it as justification to increase spending and increase credit and bailout big business and increase its own power: just as this one man had predicted. The war’s overseas escalated and we lost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in longer-than-expected engagements: just as this one man had predicted. And as the Tea Party movement grew, suddenly the message of a constitutionally limited government didn’t seem so radical. Suddenly other politicians, in their eternal quest for electoral support, began saying the same things that this man had been saying for decades. Instead of changing his beliefs to fit the mainstream, this man waited for the mainstream to come around to his beliefs. At 76, in his last ever political go-round, it finally happened.

That man is Ron Paul, and he is not a perfect candidate. But there is no perfect candidate in this race, and Ron Paul just so happens to be right most of the time. His ideology provides a cohesive, conservative approach to politics that I truly believe is what’s best for this country on nearly all fronts, but the contents of that ideology are almost secondary. What’s more important, what makes him different than nearly everyone else, is that he HAS an ideology! He actually MEANS what he says, and he WILL follow through with it. We know this because he’s been saying it and doing it for the past three and a half decades. We know it because people have gone through hell and high water trying to get him to say otherwise, or at least to just shut up, and each time he simply refuses to do so.

There is no other candidate in recent memory, certainly not in this election, who comes with that guarantee. In four years when 2012’s victor is up for reelection, we don’t know what the economy will be like. We don’t know what the mood of the country will be, or what rhetoric will be received most favorably by the middle ground. We can’t know what will be convenient for other politicians to do, and for that reason we can’t know what they will do. But we can be absolutely certain of what Ron Paul will do, or at least of what he will try to do. Ron Paul will cut a trillion dollars year one. He will decrease the debt, decrease regulation, end crony capitalism, level the playing field and drain the bureaucratic swamp. He will bring the troops home, preserve civil liberties and protect our freedoms from both foreign governments and our own. He will heed the constitution instead of trampling on it, and transform the suddenly mainstream desire to shrink the power of government into actuality.

These are important issues, but there are important issues in every election. Petty squabbles over trivial distractions like the payroll tax or the debt ceiling do not make this year unique. What makes this year unique is that this year, an honest patriot is in the running. The t-shirts his supporters wear don’t say “join the campaign!” because it’s not a campaign; they say “join the Revolution!” Campaigns are movements organized for the primary purpose of winning the election. Ron Paul would like to win the election and he certainly can, but that is not his primary purpose. His primary purpose is to change the way we view politics, to orchestrate a fundamental shift from the maintenance of the establishment to the preservation of liberty. That is a truly revolutionary change, and it’s the same revolution that the protestors at the Boston Tea Party were waging.

If you disagree with some the details of Paul’s policy stances, that’s more than okay. So do I! However, as a former Republican who’s now a libertarian, I do feel you’ll be surprised by how much sense he makes if you give him a chance. There are 11 months left in this campaign, and it’s gonna be a long haul; there’s plenty of time left for him to work you over like he did me! And even if you reject certain elements of his platform outright, recognize that his winning the election would not automatically make the whole country his libertarian playground. The beauty of the constitution he holds so dear is that it has a system of checks and balances, and no one man can get his way on everything. Besides, there is no such thing as a libertarian tyrant, because once in power libertarians only want to leave you alone!

2012 is a chance to make a statement that lasts long beyond the next four years. A Ron Paul nomination would produce a realigning election that shocked the political status quo and significantly furthered the debate on the proper size of government. The only thing preventing Ron Paul from winning that election is the political talking heads who say he can’t win; the beauty of democracy is that we can decide that for ourselves! Polls show that Paul actually has the best chance against Obama in a head to head, because he is much more likely to convince foreign policy doves, minorities, young people, and disillusioned independents to vote Republican than any other candidate. And while he might anger some traditional Republicans, he wouldn’t anger them enough to vote for Obama!

But even if he doesn’t win, a Paul ticket would help others follow in his footsteps. The more the country flounders over big government policies, the more support is drawn to the ideas of limited government, which is ultimately more important to the historical direction of our country than the economy over the next 4 years. A Paul ticket would attract legions of young people into the Republican party and perhaps even erase the Democratic party’s advantage in that demographic, securing an idealistic core of Republican supporters for decades to come. It would give the party an ideological direction for the future, whereas defeat by any other Republican candidate would simply throw the party back into the confusion and disarray of 2008. And it would pave the way for similarly dedicated freedom fighters to take up the fight, just as Reagan followed Goldwater. In short, voting for Ron Paul sends the message that the principled defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. There is no more patriotic a vote than that.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

If Ron Paul Wins Iowa...

...this site will be getting a makeover. I will be abandoning my goal of giving an overview of the election, and adopting the goal of helping to get Ron Paul elected. I've half adopted that second goal already, but I'm still trying to pinch myself that for the past 2 weeks at least, Ron Paul is a legitimate frontrunner. When I created this blog I thought that would never happen. If he wins Iowa, objective strategic analysis and poll updates will seem trivial; all I'll want to do is write whatever I can to further his campaign and get his message out there (and, doubtlessly, shield him from all the mud that's going to be flung his way!) That means changing the blog's title, design, links, everything. Just a heads up.

Great Video on Paul's Character

Meanwhile in New Hampshire

Cool Paul Fact

Unlike many political candidates, Paul receives the overwhelming majority of his campaign contributions from individuals[69] (97 percent during the 2006 cycle), and receives much less from political action committees (PACs) than others, ranging from two percent (2002) to six percent (1998).[70] The group Clean Up Washington, analyzing from 2000 to mid-2006, listed Paul as seventh-lowest of PAC receipts of all House members; one of the lowest in lobbyist receipts; and fourth-highest in small-donor receipts.[71] He had the lowest PAC receipts percentage of all the 2008 Republican presidential candidates.[72][73]

Very Not Cool Links from the Front Lines

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Comprehensive, Fair Roundup of the Whole Newsletter Thing

Ron Paul's Foul Old Newsletters Back in the News

You could see how someone might get the impression....With the libertarian Republican'scompetitive showing in early-state polls has come the inevitable rediscovery of the fact that Ron Paul published and earned money from "Ron Paul"-titled newsletters in the late '80s and early '90s that contained racist remarks, both vile and juvenile, such as calling black people "animals," and saying "we can safely assume that 95 percent of black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." As The New York Times put it today,
Emerging as a real Republican contender in Iowa, Representative Ron Paul of Texas is receiving new focus for decades-old unbylined columns in his political newsletters that included racist, anti-gay and anti-Israel passages that he has since disavowed.
Here's a fresh response from the candidate:
Asked by CBS News and National Journal if the newsletters are fair game on Tuesday, Paul responded, "I don't know whether fair is the right word."
"I mean, it's politics," he continued. "Nobody talked about it for 20 years until they found out that the message of liberty was making progress. And everybody knows I didn't write them, and it's not my sentiment, so it's sort of politics as usual."
Strictly speaking "nobody talked about it for 20 years" isn't true–it was an issue in his 1996 congressional campaign, an issue in 2001, and an issue in 2008. As is referenced later in the article by Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton:
Asked if the issue was fair game, Benton responded, "He has answered questions about these newsletters for 20 years, but it is reasonable that he answer them again now."
"We are confident that Americans will look to his vast, consistent and principled record, his life [as] a doctor, faithful husband and family man, and accept his answer," he added.
If I can get the embed code to work, you can watch this contentious interview from today on CNN (or just follow this link), in which Paul says (among other things) "they have to dig these things up that they really can't pin on me, because they've been disavowed," and then, when pressed on the fact that he could just straight up ask the "six or eight people" who worked on the newsletters at the time to reveal who wrote the damned things, he said, after a silence, "Well, possibly, I could, but uh...."
Aside from the new responses from Paul and his campaign, I've seen no reporting so far that advances the story from where it stood 47 months ago. Speaking of which, please scroll down toward the bottom of this post for a semi-complete list of Reason reporting and commentary on the issue from during the 2008 campaign.
Some more recent commentary from the commentariat, starting with the witnesses for the prosecution:
* "Angry White Man" author James Kirchick, in The Weekly Standard:
It is Paul's lucrative and decades-long promotion of bigotry and conspiracy theories, for which he has yet to account fully, and his continuing espousal of extremist views, that should make him unwelcome at any respectable forum, not only those hosted by Jewish organizations. [...]
In the four years since my article appeared, Paul has gone right on appearing regularly on the radio program of Alex Jones, the most popular conspiracy theorist in America (unless that distinction belongs to Paul himself).
Ta-Nehisi Coates, in The Atlantic:
Had I spent a decade stewarding an eponymous publication steeped in homophobia and anti-Semitism, I would not expect my friends and colleagues to accept an "I didn't write it" excuse. And I have no (present) designs on the launch codes. It is a peculiar thing when the basic standards of honesty and decency are lowered in direct proportion to the power one seeks to wield.
Philip Klein, in The D.C. Examiner:
[I]f you're a public figure, it's your responsibility to monitor what is being published under your name. And if your best defense is massive disorganization within a business you ran that had just a few employees, it's a pretty severe indictment of your management abilities as you seek the presidency. And this is where we get to the double standard part.
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have both attacked each other for what was written in their respective books. If either of those books had included a number of overtly racist statements, their candidacies would be over before they started. If they used the Ron Paul defense – that they didn't write the words themselves, they didn't know what was in the books and don't even know who wrote them, it would only make matters worse. They could kiss their political careers goodbye.
For the defense?
E.D. KainThe League of Ordinary Gentlemen:
This is silly. I care more about actions than whatever Ron Paul's newsletter once published ages ago. Has Paul espoused any of those views himself? Not that I can tell. Do his preferred policies lead as much killing as the preferred policies of Obama or Romney or any of the other candidates currently swarming about? No, they don't. Do you think the children we blow to shreds with our aerial drones care if Ron Paul's associates published a racist newsletter in the 90′s or do you think they care more about being blown to shreds?
Paul obviously should not have allowed things like that to be published under his name and I completely and utterly condemn that newsletter and those behind it. It's just not as big a deal to me as the aforementioned wars and assassinations under this president.
Andrew SullivanThe Daily Beast:
I think the papers (and comments almost two decades ago) should definitely be considered, in context, when judging his candidacy, and not because the neocons are determined to smear anyone challenging their catastrophic record. But compared with Rick Perry's open bigotry in his ads, or Bachmann's desire to "cure" gays, or the rhetoric around "illegals" in this campaign, these ugly newsletters are very, very old news. To infer from them that Paul is a big racist is a huge subjective leap I leave to others more clairvoyant than myself.
But ask yourself: you've now heard this guy countless times; he's been in three presidential campaigns; he's not exactly known for self-editing. And nothing like this has ever crossed his lips in public. You have to make a call on character. Compared with the rest on offer, compared with the money-grubbing lobbyist, Gingrich, or the say-anything Romney, or that hate-anyone Bachmann, I've made my call.
Other defenses from Paul Mulshine and Jake Morphonios. To scramble a delightful number of these narratives, here's Ron Paul on Jay Leno saying Michele Bachmann "hates Muslims" and Rick Santorum "hates gays":
And now a list of Reason's essential newsletter coverage and commentary during the last election cycle:
* In May 2007, seven months before James Kirchick's report in The New RepublicNew York Sunwriter Ryan Sager accused Paul of "anti-Semitism" ("it's not even a close call"), for his newsletter assertion that "the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government." Then-Reasoner David Weigel got Paul to respond. Part of that response:
I'd have to have you show to me that I wrote it because that doesn't sound like my language, and in campaigns, some things get into newspapers that aren't actually correct. But I wouldn't back away from saying that AIPAC is very influential in our political process. That's a little bit different than saying the Israeli government, but I think that the Israeli position is very influential [....] There were some things in a newsletter that wasn't actually written by me, so sometimes that gets a bit of distortion.
* After the Kirchick story, Weigel got another response from Paul, in which the candidate repudiated the content of the newsletters, said he didn't write them (and didn't have them anymore), and referred to Martin Luther King (who had been criticized in one of his newsletters for commiting "crimes" against "underage girls and boys") as "one of my heroes because he believed in nonviolence and that's a libertarian principle."
* I wrote a blog post soon thereafter fact-checking Paul's contention that "This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade" by looking at the paper trail, including his mixed responses to the charges back in 1996 and a more direct mea culpa in 2001.
* Weigel and Julian Sanchez then wrote a long piece for the website interviewing current and former Paul associates about who they thought wrote the newsletters, and placing the episode in its historical context of a "Paleo-Libertarian" fusion project back at the dawn of the '90s.
* Other Reason commentary at the time from (in order) Nick GillespieJesse WalkerRadley Balko,Brian DohertyDavid WeigelBalko againKerry HowleyWeigel againJacob Sullum, and Doherty again. Plus there were some other links-roundups back during those two weeks.
* Closing out that season's coverage was this Peter Bagge strip, plus a column of mine (my first Editor's Note), entitled "Ron Paul's Mistake." A section from that:
So why discuss the issue at all? Especially if, like me, you find Paul's candidacy a refreshing injection of limited-government principle into the flabby carcass of a national GOP that has grown careless with power at home and abroad?
There are, I think, a few good reasons. In a narrow campaign sense, if indeed Paul had no idea about the origins and content of "Ron Paul"-branded newsletters [...] that certainly speaks badly of the would-be commander in chief's managerial competence. The fact that he actually defended the newsletters in 1996 suggests either that he once believed in their content more than he currently lets on or that he was willing to look in the camera and pretend to endorse ideas he didn't actually believe. [...]
By now, the "free minds and free markets" strain in American politics and culture should be secure enough in its own place to withstand and even welcome uncomfortable discussions about its less-than-stellar moments.
And it's clear that, for a short while at least, some of libertarianism's leading lights let their focus on minority group behavior lead them down decidedly illiberal paths. [...]
Happily enough, these ancient-sounding race debates play no role in the Ron Paul rEVOLution of 2008. Paul was incorrect to say, as he did on CNN, that "libertarians are incapable of being a racist," but he was right to note that "racism is a collectivist idea." And like other forms of collectivism, it's an idea that has less and less resonance among a younger generation that's growing more and more culturally libertarian. It turns out that spreading a "freedom message" directly is more effective than trying to camouflage it in collective resentment.
This was on the stands when the newsletter stories hit. Very confusing for a lot of conspiracy theorists.All of which I stand by now, only with four more years of evidence that the movement Paul has helped inspire, to say nothing of the broader libertarian/limited government/classical liberal tendency in America, is not animated by this bizarro-world Archie Bunker crap, nor is Paul himself (in my observation). I'd also say that his campaign has had four years to come up with a better answer than "I don't know who wrote those things," and it hasn't. Front-runners get–and richly deserve–scrutiny, including by adversaries.
I don't begrudge anyone's reasons for voting against anyone, especially if you think he's the type of guy to consciously lunge for power by whipping up race hatred against the descendants of former American slaves. I don't think Ron Paul is that type of guy. I don't (and Reason doesn't) do endorsements, and I would have been happy to see a better GOP primary season from Gary Johnson, whose pragmatic, less hyperbolic, and less socially conservative case for libertarianism I have more natural affinity with.
But I'm rooting for Paul to do well in Iowa and New Hampshire and beyond, because his candidacy offers the only sharp course corrective to the pressing national issues of runaway government spending, bailout economics, entitlement time-bombs, foreign policy overreach, civil liberties intrusions, and the Drug War. These are not small issues, for me or for the country, and 99 percent of politicians are terrible on them. Yet that platform (along with fighting the Federal Reserve) is what Ron Paul is actually running on, in stark contrast to the frightening anti-libertarian candidacy of Newt Gingrich, the I-will-cut-everything-but-spending campaign of Mitt Romney, and the incessant foreign policy chest-thumping and quien-es-mas-deporty promises that pass for discourse in the modern GOP.
There is a small but growing number of politicians out there who share Paul's values without this godawful racist baggage, and I sincerely look forward to more of them getting into the ring. But until then–God help me–for one of the first times in memory, I'm eagerly awaiting the next few weeks of American presidential politics. And that is because of, not in spite of, Ron Paul.