Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jonathan Chait and Paul Krugman "Get" Ron Paul

Jonathan Chait gets it.

Ron Paul's a racist. Pure and simple. In fact, Chait goes as far as reckoning Paul a soul brother of Pat Buchanan.

Geez, the Professional Left sure hate Pat Buchanan. Joan Walsh sure does. There are some people on the Left, who even argue that Buchanan should be banned from MSNBC for his views, which is sorta kinda, like, against the First Amendment, ya know - the one both Left and Right love so much? (Sorry, to sound like a Valley Girl, but that kind of expression, these days, seems to go hand-in-glove with the EmoProg Left).

Pat Buchanan's views are vile and atrocious, and he's attacked for them because he throws them out into the public domain, as easy as referring to the President of the United States as "your boy Obama."

Chait shows us how Ron Paul's the ultimate spinmeister, citing writer James Kirchick's article from 2 years ago in The New Republic as ample evidence that Paul is not the avuncular and kindly old country doctor figure who just suddenly found himself immersed in national politics. He really is an angry white man.

Kirchick speaks about Paul, the candidate, in the 2008 Presidential campaign:-

Paul describes himself as a libertarian, but, since his presidential campaign took off earlier this year, the Republican congressman has attracted donations and plaudits from across the ideological spectrum. Antiwar conservatives, disaffected centrists, even young liberal activists have all flocked to Paul, hailing him as a throwback to an earlier age, when politicians were less mealy-mouthed and American government was more modest in its ambitions, both at home and abroad. In The New York Times Magazine, conservative writer Christopher Caldwell gushed that Paul is a “formidable stander on constitutional principle,” while The Nation wrote of “his full-throated rejection of the imperial project in Iraq.” Former TNR editor Andrew Sullivan endorsed Paul for the GOP nomination, and ABC’s Jake Tapper described the candidate as “the one true straight-talker in this race.” Even The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper of the elite bankers whom Paul detests, recently advised other Republican presidential contenders not to “dismiss the passion he’s tapped.”

Got that? The Nation. Hold that thought.

Ron Paul does, indeed, hark from another age - an age of ueber RightWing political philosophy, exiled from mainstream conservatism, which gained life in the political newsletter. Rick Perlstein gives a good analysis of the rise of the ueber Right and their newsletter tactics in his Goldwater work, Before the Storm. The newsletter and pamphlet were the stuff and thunder of the incipient John Birch Society, Phyllis Schlafly and Goldwater, himself.

Of course, these newsletters have been supplanted, today, by the internet; but they lasted long into the 1980s and early 1990s - and Ron Paul's was one of the most prominent and one of the most extreme.

Here's what Kirchick found out about Uncle Ron's newsletters (the emphasis is all mine):-

Paul’s newsletters have carried different titles over the years--Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report--but they generally seem to have been published on a monthly basis since at least 1978. (Paul, an OB-GYN and former U.S. Air Force surgeon, was first elected to Congress in 1976.) During some periods, the newsletters were published by the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, a nonprofit Paul founded in 1976; at other times, they were published by Ron Paul & Associates, a now-defunct entity in which Paul owned a minority stake, according to his campaign spokesman. The Freedom Report claimed to have over 100,000 readers in 1984. At one point, Ron Paul & Associates also put out a monthly publication called The Ron Paul Investment Letter.

The Freedom Report’s online archives only go back to 1999, but I was curious to see older editions of Paul’s newsletters, in part because of a controversy dating to 1996, when Charles “Lefty” Morris, a Democrat running against Paul for a House seat, released excerpts stating that “opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions,” that “if you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be,” and that black representative Barbara Jordan is “the archetypical half-educated victimologist” whose “race and sex protect her from criticism.” At the time, Paul’s campaign said that Morris had quoted the newsletter out of context. Later, in 2001, Paul would claim that someone else had written the controversial passages. (Few of the newsletters contain actual bylines.) Caldwell, writing in the Times Magazine last year, said he found Paul’s explanation believable, “since the style diverges widely from his own.”

Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined newsletters were written in the first person, implying that Paul was the author.

But, whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul’s name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.

Look, we've seen evidence of this. I've pointed out before that Paul is one big opponent of Title II and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and you can see him confirm that here, and you can watch his son, Senator Rand Paul, espouse those same views here and here.

Stormfront, the publicity arm of the American Nazi Party, has even endorsed Ron Paul. That's totally good company for Andrew Sullivan, with his recent endorsement of Paul. Still, politics make strange bedfellows.

As proof, here are some pictures - not photo-shopped, but genuine - of Paul, posing happily with some of Stormfront's leading members.

Here's Ron with the owners of the Stormfront website:-


Of course, Ron Paul denies - years after the fact - any involvement in any racist views expressed in those newsletters, much less any involvement with any white supremacist or racist group ... but, it seems, one of the American Nazi Party capos, Bill White, says something different.

Speaking in 2007 about Paul's denial of any involvement in white supremacist groups or any dealings with Stormfront, Bill White, one of the leaders of the American Nazi Party, says this:-

Comrades:

I have kept quiet about the Ron Paul campaign for a while, because I didn't see any need to say anything that would cause any trouble. However, reading the latest release from his campaign spokesman, I am compelled to tell the truth about Ron Paul's extensive involvement in white nationalism.

Both Congressman Paul and his aides regularly meet with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review, and others at the Tara Thai restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, usually on Wednesdays. This is part of a dinner that was originally organized by Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, and has since been mostly taken over by the Council of Conservative Citizens.

I have attended these dinners, seen Paul and his aides there, and been invited to his offices in Washington to discuss policy.

For his spokesman to call white racialism a "small ideology" and claim white activists are "wasting their money" trying to influence Paul is ridiculous. Paul is a white nationalist of the Stormfront type who has always kept his racial views and his views about world Judaism quiet because of his political position.

I don't know that it is necessarily good for Paul to "expose" this. However, he really is someone with extensive ties to white nationalism and for him to deny that in the belief he will be more respectable by denying it is outrageous -- and I hate seeing people in the press who denounce racialism merely because they think it is not fashionable.

Bill White, Commander
American National Socialist Workers Party

Council of Conservative Citizens? For those of you not in the know, this is a euphemism for the Ku Klux Klan. Oh, and here's a picture of Bill White, just so you can fix in your mind exactly what and who Bill White is (and, no, the surname isn't a bad pun):-


So, Chait asks, how is it that Ron Paul is so admired by social liberals?

One reason is that nobody is attacking him. Paul is (correctly) considered to have no chance to actually win the GOP nomination, so debate moderators have not bothered to research his past, instead tossing off generalized questions that allow him to portray himself on his preferred terms.

(snip)

In this atmosphere, Paul has been able to cast himself in the most flattering light. Since 2008, he has managed to rally Republican (and even non-Republican) opposition to the failures and excesses of the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

Not only is this true, what's amazing is when anyone alludes to documented evidence of Ron Paul's racism, or even his quirky reference to "property rights," supporters arguing his case, even those found amongst the Professional Left (who seem to be pushing Paul's viability at the moment) and the EmoProg spoiled kidults occupying the Progressive tranche of the Left, and they totally blank this. They move the goal posts. They become selectively deaf. They don't wish to listen or hear any of this. Because if they don't hear it, it won't be true, would it? Many of these people voted for Barack Obama in 2008. How do you think it looks that you vote for an eminently qualified African American for President in 2008, only to vote for a closeted white supremacist disguised as a curmudgeonly, old country doctor four years later? How is it that you can deride Pat Buchanan from one side of your mouth and express admiration for Ron Paul from the other?

Once again, Chait points us back to Kirchick's findings, showing us, not only Paul's abhorrent racist views, but also equally dispicable views on homosexuality:-

This “Special Issue on Racial Terrorism” was hardly the first time one of Paul’s publications had raised these topics. As early as December 1989, a section of his Investment Letter, titled “What To Expect for the 1990s,” predicted that “Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities” because “mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white ‘haves.’” Two months later, a newsletter warned of “The Coming Race War,” and, in November 1990, an item advised readers, “If you live in a major city, and can leave, do so. If not, but you can have a rural retreat, for investment and refuge, buy it.” In June 1991, an entry on racial disturbances in Washington, DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood was titled, “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.” “This is only the first skirmish in the race war of the 1990s,” the newsletter predicted. In an October 1992 item about urban crime, the newsletter’s author--presumably Paul--wrote, “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.” That same year, a newsletter described the aftermath of a basketball game in which “blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot.” The newsletter inveighed against liberals who “want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare,” adding, “Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems.”


Such views on race also inflected the newsletters’ commentary on foreign affairs. South Africa’s transition to multiracial democracy was portrayed as a “destruction of civilization” that was “the most tragic [to] ever occur on that continent, at least below the Sahara”; and, in March 1994, a month before Nelson Mandela was elected president, one item warned of an impending “South African Holocaust.” …


The newsletters were particularly obsessed with AIDS, “a politically protected disease thanks to payola and the influence of the homosexual lobby,” and used it as a rhetorical club to beat gay people in general. In 1990, one newsletter approvingly quoted “a well-known Libertarian editor” as saying, “The ACT-UP slogan, on stickers plastered all over Manhattan, is ‘Silence = Death.’ But shouldn’t it be ‘Sodomy = Death’?” Readers were warned to avoid blood transfusions because gays were trying to “poison the blood supply.” “Am I the only one sick of hearing about the ‘rights’ of AIDS carriers?” a newsletter asked in 1990. That same year, citing a Christian-right fringe publication, an item suggested that “the AIDS patient” should not be allowed to eat in restaurants and that “AIDS can be transmitted by saliva,” which is false.

There's a danger in thinking Ron Paul is more tolerant and certain of his policies are more liberal than the usual Republican offering. The danger lies in the fact that Ron Paul is certifiably crazier and, therefore, dangerous.

Paul Krugman gets Ron Paul too, but from Krugman's forte of economics, and the news ain't good there either, for all you bleeding Progressives who reckon Ron Paul's brand of hope and change is the one for which you've really been waiting. To paraphrase a noted sage, how's that hopey-changey thing workin' fer ya when the Progressive's favourite economist - a Nobel Prize winner, no less - shits from a great height on Ron Paul's economic views.

Unfortunately, Mr. Paul has maintained his consistency by ignoring reality, clinging to his ideology even as the facts have demonstrated that ideology’s wrongness. And, even more unfortunately, Paulist ideology now dominates a Republican Party that used to know better.

I’m not talking here about Mr. Paul’s antiwar views or his less well-known views on civil and reproductive rights, which would horrify liberals who think of him as a good guy. I’m talking, instead, about his views on economics.

Mr. Paul identifies himself as a believer in “Austrian” economics — a doctrine that it goes without saying rejects John Maynard Keynes but is almost equally vehement in rejecting the ideas of Milton Friedman. For Austrians see “fiat money,” money that is just printed without being backed by gold, as the root of all economic evil, which means that they fiercely oppose the kind of monetary expansion Friedman claimed could have prevented the Great Depression — and which was actually carried out by Ben Bernanke this time around.

O.K., a brief digression: the Federal Reserve doesn’t actually print money (the Treasury does that). But the Fed does control the “monetary base,” the sum of bank reserves and currency in circulation. So when people talk about Mr. Bernanke printing money, what they really mean is that the Fed expanded the monetary base.

And there has, indeed, been a huge expansion of the monetary base. After Lehman Brothers fell, the Fed began lending large sums to banks as well as buying a wide range of other assets, in a (successful) attempt to stabilize financial markets, in the process adding large amounts to bank reserves. In the fall of 2010, the Fed began another round of purchases, in a less successful attempt to boost economic growth. The combined effect of these actions was that the monetary base more than tripled in size.

Austrians, and for that matter many right-leaning economists, were sure about what would happen as a result: There would be devastating inflation. One popular Austrian commentator who has advised Mr. Paul, Peter Schiff, even warned (on Glenn Beck’s TV show) of the possibility of Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation in the near future.

So here we are, three years later. How’s it going? Inflation has fluctuated, but, at the end of the day, consumer prices have risen just 4.5 percent, meaning an average annual inflation rate of only 1.5 percent. Who could have predicted that printing so much money would cause so little inflation? Well, I could. And did. And so did others who understood the Keynesian economics Mr. Paul reviles. But Mr. Paul’s supporters continue to claim, somehow, that he has been right about everything.


Still, while the original proponents of the doctrine won’t ever admit that they were wrong — my experience is that nobody in the political world ever admits to having been wrong about anything — you might think that having been so completely off-base about something so central to their belief system would have caused the Austrians to lose popularity, even within the G.O.P. After all, as recently as the Bush years, many Republicans were all for printing money when the economy slumps. “Aggressive monetary policy can reduce the depth of a recession,” declared the 2004 Economic Report of the President.

What has happened instead, however, is that hard-money doctrine and paranoia about inflation have taken over the party, even as the predicted inflation keeps failing to materialize. For example, in February, Representative Paul Ryan, who is somewhat inexplicably regarded as the party’s deep thinker on matters economic, harangued Mr. Bernanke on how terrible it is to “debase” a currency and pointed to a rise in commodity prices in late 2010 and early 2011 as evidence that inflation was finally coming. Commodity prices have plunged since then, but there is no sign that Mr. Ryan or anyone else is having second thoughts.

Now, it’s still very unlikely that Ron Paul will become president. But, as I said, his economic doctrine has, in effect, become the official G.O.P. line, despite having been proved utterly wrong by events. And what will happen if that doctrine actually ends up being put into action? Great Depression, here we come.

I guess the young converts to Ron Paul - who actually detest his son (go figure that one) - will refuse to listen to this also, and Chait hate will be augmented by calling Krugman a cant (or another similar word), but all of that selective deafness makes me remember something my late Southern, Democratic and very liberal mother would always tell me, whenever I as afflicted with a bout of hardheadedness: Those who don't listen, live to feel.

Wonder how hope and change will feel in the World According to Ron Paul?

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