The documents, which include harsh, prejudice attacks against the black community, are evidence of a libertarian movement trying to find an audience.
So as Ron Paul is on track to win the Iowa caucuses, he is getting a new dose of press scrutiny.
And the press is focusing on the newsletters that went out under his name in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They were called the Ron Paul’s Political Report, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.
There is no doubt that the newsletters contained utterly racist statements.
Some choice quotes:
“Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
“We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”
After the Los Angeles riots, one article in a newsletter claimed, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”
One referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as “the world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours” and who “seduced underage girls and boys.”
Another referred to Barbara Jordan, a civil rights activist and congresswoman as “Barbara Morondon,” the “archetypical half-educated victimologist.”
Other newslettersother referred had strange conspiracy theories about homosexuals, the CIA, and AIDS.
In 1996 when the Texas Monthly investigated the newsletters, Paul took responsibility for them and said that certain things were taken out of context. (It’s hard to imagine a context that would make the above quotes defensible.)
When the newsletter controversy came up again during the 2008 campaign, Paul explained that he didn’t actually write the newsletters but because they carried his name he was morally responsible for their content. Further, he didn’t know exactly who wrote the offensive things and they didn’t represent his views.
But it is still a serious issue. Jamie Kirchick reported in The New Republic that Paul made nearly one million dollars in just one year from publishing the newsletters. Could Paul really not understand the working of such a profitable operation? Reporters at the libertarian-leaning Reason magazine wrote that the author was likely longtime Paul-friend and combative polemicist Lew Rockwell.
Even though many of the newsletters are written in a first person, conversational style, many observers don’t believe that Ron Paul actually wrote them.
There aren’t any videos on YouTube with Paul speaking in incendiary terms about minorities. The newsletters don’t “sound” like Ron Paul — he doesn’t do wordplay like “Morondon” or use prefixes like “semi-criminal” or “half-educated” in his speech or his recent writings. Further, most newsletter and direct-mail operations in politics employ ghostwriters.
So why were Ron Paul or his ghostwriters engaged in racism and conspiracy theories? And why did Ron Paul allow this?
The first answer is simply that marginal causes attract marginal people.
The Gold Standard and non-interventionism have long been pushed to the fringe of our politics, and ambitious people tend to dive into the mainstream. That means that some of the ‘talent’ that marginalized ideas attract will be odd and unstable.
There are two strategies for dealing with this problem. You purge your movement of cranks to preserve credibility and risk alienating a chunk of supporters. Or you let everyone in your movement fly their freak flag and live with the consequences. Ron Paul, being a libertarian, has always done the latter.
The second answer to this question: These newsletters were published before a decade of war that has exhausted many Americans, before the financial crisis, and before the Tea Party.
All three made Ron Paul’s ideas seem more relevant to our politics. They made anti-government libertarianism seem (to some) like a sensible corrective.
But in the 1990s and 1980s, anti-government sentiment was much less mainstream. It seemed contained to the racist right-wing, people who supported militia movements, who obsessed over political correctness, who were suspicious of free-trade deals like NAFTA.
At that time a libertarian theorist, Murray Rothbard argued that libertarians ought to engage in “Outreach to the Rednecks” in order to insert their libertarian theories into the middle of the nation’s political passions.
Rothbard had tremendous influence on Lew Rockwell, and the whole slice of the libertarian movement that adored Ron Paul.
But Rothbard and Rockwell never stuck with their alliances with angry white men on the far right. They have been willing to shift alliances from left to right and back again. Before this “outreach” to racists, Rothbard aligned himself with anti-Vietnam war protestors in the 1960s. In the 2000s, after the “outreach” had failed, Rockwell complained bitterly about “Red-State fascists” who supported George Bush and his war. So much for the “Rednecks.” The anti-government theories stay the same, the political strategy shifts in odd and extreme directions.
As crazy as it sounds, Ron Paul’s newsletter writers may not have been sincerely racist at all. They actually thought appearing to be racist was a good political strategy in the 1990s. After that strategy yielded almost nothing — it was abandoned by Paul’s admirers.
You can attribute their “redneck strategy” to the most malignant kind of cynicism or to a political desperation that made them insane. Neither is particularly flattering. Phil Klein of the Washington Examiner is correct when he writes:
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.
This is undoubtedly true. The media seems to simply accept that Ron Paul has some oddities in his past and in his inner circle. They take his grandfatherly demeanor at face-value. In part this is because they believe he is not a serious candidate.
Winning the Iowa caucuses would change all that instantly. Undoubtedly the movement that Paul inspired has moved far beyond the race-baiting it engaged in two decades ago. Young people from college campuses aren’t lining up to hear him speak because of what appeared in those newsletter about the 1992 L.A. riots. Rand Paul tried his hardest to place Paul-style libertarianism into the context of the Tea Party. And he will likely carry on the movement without this 1990s baggage.
But the questions remain. If Ron Paul is so libertarian that he won’t even police people who use his name, if his movement is filled with incompetents and opportunists, then what kind of a president would he make? Would he even check in to see if his ideas are being implemented? Who would he appoint to Cabinet positions?
These are all legitimate questions. And the media is going to start asking them now. If there isn’t already a “ceiling” on Ron Paul’s support, widespread knowledge of the newsletters could build one quickly.
By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Atlantic, December 21, 2011. This article originally appeared at Business Insider, an Atlanticpartner site
Mitt Romney has reworked his stump speech and delivered the new version last night. It’s premised on … a total lie:
Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing—the government. The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off.
This isn’t just a casual line. In eight sentences, Romney asserts over and over again that Obama wants to create “equal outcomes” and give everybody the “same rewards.” This is nuts, Glenn Beck–level insane. Restoring Clinton-era taxes is not a plan to equalize outcomes, or even close. It’s not even a plan to stop rising inequality. Obama’s America will continue to be the most unequal society in the advanced world — only slightly less so. The alternative proposals accelerate inequality even further.
This is a form of insanity that has become extremely pervasive in the Republican Party since 2009. The response to liberal invocation of rising inequality from the right’s intellectual leaders has been to argue against not liberal policies but against socialism. This wild lie has become so widespread that press accounts don’t even bother to mention it anymore.
By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intel, December 21, 2011
In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd today, Mitt Romney asserts that “of course” invading Iraq was a bad idea now that we know Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. (“If we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction, if somehow we had been given that information, obviously we would not have gone in.”) Four years ago, Romney said just the opposite. (“It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now.”)
I can’t think of any important substantive facts that have changed between now and then that would lead Romney to alter his opinion. Indeed, Iraq is probably more stable than it was, and it’s now easier to justify invading on non-WMD grounds than it was before.
What’s changed is that Iraq is no longer so central to the Republican id. Four years ago, a Republican had to defend the Iraq war in order to defend George W. Bush. To conclude that the invasion was a mistake would be to indict Bush of a massive blunder, to subvert the commander of the War on Terror, to give in to the liberals. The importance of the issue has now receded to the point where Romney can casually take the completely opposite position without antagonizing any significant part of his coalition.
The thing I’ve always found endearing and (to some degree) comforting about Mitt Romney is that his flip-flops betray pure contempt for the Republican base. He treats them like angry children, and their pet issues as emotionally driven symbols of cultural division rather than as serious positions. Four years ago, conservatives were enraged that liberals would question Bush’s handling of foreign policy, so Romney was defending the decision to go to war and promising to “double Guantanamo.” (It made zero sense as a policy position and could be understood only as an expression of culture-war solidarity.) Likewise, conservatives are now outraged over Obamacare, so Romney promises to repeal Obamacare.
Nothing about Romney’s attempts to ingratiate himself with the right hint even slightly of genuine conversion. It is patronizing appeasement. Of course, none of this tells us the really crucial thing, which is what promises Romney would actually keep if elected. But at least it offers the modest comfort that Romney knows better.
By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intel, December 21, 2011
The proposed “anti-piracy” legislation is dangerous and unconstitutional. Congress is contemplating two bills that proponents insist will shut down “rogue foreign websites” bent on wholesale intellectual property infringement. In reality, these bills won’t do much to curb online piracy. What they will do is balkanize the Internet, undermine Internet security, and introduce a new, unconstitutional scheme of speech regulation.
Both the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers, and advertising networks. In other words, U.S. citizens would have access to an Internet that looks distinctly different from the one seen by residents of, say, Japan or Australia.
Leading constitutional scholars have explained why this blunderbuss approach won’t pass muster under the First Amendment. Leading Internet engineers oppose the legislation because it will undermine international efforts to shore up online security—efforts the U.S. government has actively supported. A broad coalition of human rights groups has also come out against the legislation, well aware of the contradictory message it sends about online censorship.
We’ve seen where this can lead: Over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been obtaining court orders authorizing the seizure of domain names. The seizures are supposed to be directed at infringing sites, but perfectly legal sites have been caught in the net. And when those legal sites have tried to get their property back, they’ve been met with delays and obfuscation. For example, when the founder of a popular music blog tried to follow the government’s bewildering procedure for retrieving his domain names, the government abused the process, seeking secret extensions and declining to cooperate with the blogger to get the matter resolved. Finally, the government dropped the case, with no apologies.
But it gets worse: Private actors can also get in on the act. If an intellectual property rightsholder thinks a site is “promoting” infringement, that party can go to court to seek an order forcing payment processors and ad services to choke off financial support to the site.
The payment providers won’t be able to fine-tune their response so that only infringing sites are affected, which means an entire business could be under assault. Moreover, there are vigilante provisions that can easily be read to grant immunity for cutting off a site if there is “credible evidence” that the site promotes infringement.
For over a decade, we’ve had a system in place that gives rightsholders effective tools for fighting online infringement, while creating space for online innovation, economic growth, and creativity. These bills would rewrite the rules and give government and big content providers new powers to regulate the Internet, with little regard for the collateral damage it would cause.
SOPA and PIPA have sparked an explosion of opposition, including Democratic and Republican lawmakers, progressive and conservative public interest groups, technology companies and investors, constitutional scholars, and human rights groups (who know a plan for censorship when they see one). It’s been called a “geek lobby,” but you don’t need to be a geek to see that this legislation is a profoundly bad idea.
By: Corynne McSherry, Published in U. S. News and World Report, December 21, 2011
Atop the House chamber Wednesday morning, the flag fluttered in the breeze. In his office underneath the Capitol dome, House Speaker John Boehner twisted in the wind.
His House Republicans had killed a bipartisan plan to cut taxes for 160 million Americans, earning themselves an avalanche of criticism and condemnation from friend and foe alike. So Boehner assembled nine of his House Republican colleagues in his conference room, invited in the TV cameras, and proclaimed that Republicans really and truly want to enact the payroll-tax break that they just defeated.
“We’re here. We’re ready to go to work,” Boehner announced.
But the only thing he was working on, it turned out, was damage control.
Fox News’s Chad Pergram, noting that Boehner’s talking points were mostly about legislative process, asked: “Do you think that you’ve lost the argument?”
“We’re here. We’re ready to work,” the speaker repeated.
Reuters’s Tom Ferraro asked what Boehner made of the criticism from Senate Republicans “like Scott Brown, who says you’re playing politics.”
“We’re here, ready to go to work,” Boehner answered.
CNN’s Deirdre Walsh further annoyed the speaker by mentioning the savage editorial in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal that branded the GOP payroll-tax strategy a “fiasco.” Another reporter asked if there might be some way to back down on his refusal to accept the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll-tax cut.
“We’re here, ready to work,” Boehner said.
The Associated Press’s Dave Espo asked “if any of the 10 of you intend to go home for Christmas.
“We’re here, ready to do our work,” Boehner said.
At exactly the moment House Republicans were executing the failed photo-op, Democrats were on the House floor, trying to disrupt the day’s “pro forma” session with a stunt designed to further embarrass the majority.
Although most House members had gone home for the holidays, House leaders arranged the perfunctory sessions so that the chamber wouldn’t technically go into recess without passing the payroll-tax cut.
But as the speaker pro tempore, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), sought to bring the pro forma session to a close, “pursuant to Section 3B of House Resolution 493,” Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip, interrupted to request that the chamber bring up the Senate bill. Fitzpatrick walked off the dais.
“Mr. Speaker, you’re walking out!” Hoyer called after him. “You’re walking away just as so many Republicans have walked away from middle-class taxpayers.” A few seconds later, the sound system was cut off and the C-SPAN cameras were disabled.
Hoyer, joined by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), took his case to the microphones outside the House chamber, where a statue of the late humorist Will Rogers, hands in pockets, seemed to gaze at the pair with a look of amusement.
“The speaker of the House and the Republican leadership were AWOL,” Van Hollen complained.
That’s because the leaders were conferring nearby with their “conferees” – the people Boehner wants to negotiate a new tax deal with Democrats. But there is a problem with this plan: Senate Democrats already negotiated a compromise with Senate Republicans, and the House Republicans rejected it. And, to the Democrats’ delight, several of the “conferees” Boehner appointed are on the record opposing the payroll-tax cut.
“I’m not in favor of that. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said one conferee, Dave Camp (Mich.), according to the Hill newspaper.
“From a policy standpoint, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” another conferee, Tom Price (Ga.) told National Public Radio.
The conferees did not address this awkwardness at their photo-op (aides, handing out seating charts to the photographers, didn’t pretend it was anything more than that), instead turning the discussion to non-sequiturs.
Price gave his perspective “as a physician.” Renee Ellmers (N.C.) delivered her remarks “as a nurse” and “as a mom.” Rep. Nan Hayworth (N.Y.) added the information that “I’m a doctor and a daughter of elderly parents” and has “also been a small employer.” Tom Reed (N.Y.) let everybody know “I have an 11- and 13-year-old at home.”
Congratulations, all around. None of these credentials, however, avoided the conclusion that the House Republicans had screwed up badly and now stand to take the blame if payroll taxes rise.
Two minutes after their photo-op, the conferees, abandoning the conceit that they were conferring over anything, left Boehner’s conference room.
“Is the conference over?” I asked Price.
He chuckled. “Legislation is not a game of solitaire,” he said.
But for House Republicans, it’s getting very lonely.
By; Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 21, 2011