January 13, 2008

Paul of Mises; or How the New Republic Bewitches the Right

Hatched by Dafydd

Is it possible to publish a scurrilous hit piece -- on a scurvy knave? I believe it is.

The New Republic -- which used to be in the conservative doghouse, after its endless flogging of the American soldier via its "diarist" penned by Scott Thomas Beauchamp (and its even more endless halfwitted "defense" of those pieces) -- now appears to have found favor once more with prominent movement conservatives.

How? By attacking the hated Ron Paul with the same venom, and the same disingenuousness, that it normally reserves for attacking people the Right actually likes.

Tsk; are we really that easy a house of roundheels, falling on our backs for any man with a flashy smile and a nasty assault on Ron Paul? (If Bill Burkett shows up tomorrow with documents "typed in 1972" that accuse Paul of being a Soviet agent, will we swallow those, too?)

Still, even the worst barnacle on the bloated belly of the GOP deserves his Zola; and I figure I can do at least as well as that socialist Frenchie. John Adams defended the soldiers of the Boston Massacre; Horace Rumpole is willing to stand up for thieves, brigands, and murderers; and today, I'm willing to bat aside this atrocity exhibition of an article... while not conceding my right to fling my own mud at the appalling Paul in the morning.

Note that my defense is accompanied by the background music of Ron Paul himself, bleating that he didn't write it and had no idea what people were writing in his name for more than a decade:

“This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.” [Quotation marks in original]

So the louse is a lying libertarian! No matter -- I'm not defending Ron Paul per se (I have no idea whether he is merely a loser or a thug as well); I'm defending all those from whom such statements might be heard and grievously twisted to make them appear to be racist, sexist, homophobic, and all the other ists and ics in the demonology of contemporary liberalism. And I'm chastising (in future, that might be "horsewhipping") those Republicans and conservatives who are so anxious to hurt Ron Paul that they will champion any attack on him, no matter how unprincipled itself.

Let's start with hit-piece author James Kirchick's root accusation: The main attack on Ron Paul in this article is that he accepts a libertarian view of history. Libertarians, as a group, are obsessed with intellectualism; they wear it on their sleeve. One axiom understood well by them is what I call the Orwellian Observation, which I have quoted several times already:

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

That in mind, libertarians are unwilling to concede to the Left the holy task of writing history; they understand that if you allow socialists to write history, history will be viewed through the eyes of socialism. Ergo, libertarians love to reinvestigate historical "truths" (as seen by liberals and statists). They call this activity "revisionist history," "revisionist politics," and so forth.

The revisionist libertarian view of politics is that, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Some of you may still recognize that quotation. For the rest, shame on you; you need to go wash your brains out with soap.

The difference between libertarians and Ronald Reagan is only that they see this rule applying, not just in "this present crisis," but as a general matter: Thus, anything that vastly increases the cost, size, or reach of the federal government is the wrong approach, as far as libertarians believe.

From what I can gather by reading as much of Kirchick as I can find on the web, he is a conservative establishmentarian not much given to originality of thought. He is certainly not a liberal, but neither is he a libertarian (not even small-L). He doesn't see government as the problem... he sees liberal government as the problem, with more conservative government as the solution.

Kirchick is not even particularly Reaganesque, let alone Heinleinian. He is perfectly happy to submit his gems to a magazine like TNR -- alongside fellow-writers like Beauchamp, and under the editorial tutelage of Franklin Foer -- and magazine and editor are perfectly pleased to publish Kirchick. (He also writes long, run-on paragraphs and could benefit by tighter editing.)

At a guess, I would say Kirchick is a big fan of the Claremont Institute. It's a great bunch of folks; but it also happens to be more or less at war with libertarianism in general -- and with the Ludwig von Mises Institute in particular.

That is the first damning charge out of the blocks: Ron Paul is associated with the von Mises Institute. But to use the Institute as a bludgeon against libertarians displays the same bigotry as using the Federalist Society to beat down conservatives. One would think that conservatives would show some caution about an argument of "guilt by association with the innocent." One would think.

However, like the English Puritans -- who escaped persecution in England only to resurrect it in the American colonies -- what conservatives actually learned from being pummeled over their association with the Federalist Society is how effective such an attack can be. Thus, they applaud the same kind of attack on libertarians!

The Institute's faculty includes Bruce Bartlett, Wendy McElroy, and Paul Craig Roberts, and it is largely based around the writings (besides Mises) of the late Murray Rothbard. To see how "racist" and "radical" the Institute is, you can read the Rothbard article "Myth and Truth About Libertarianism" and decide for yourself whether you agree with Kirchick -- and with boatloads of "me too" conservatives -- that libertarians want to restore black slavery, put women back in the kitchens with leg irons, and institutionalize atheism.

Which brings us to what is certainly the most controversial belief of many libertarians -- one that Kirchick and the New Republic twist into a Gordian pretzel of inuendo and conclusion-jumping: Many (perhaps most) libertarians believe it was not a good day but a bad day when the North won the Civil War... but not for the reason that Kirchick maliciously implies. He wants to push the meme that libertarians lament the victory because they're all racists... which is utterly preposterous to any educated person who knows anything at all about the libertarian philosophy, to which slavery and racism are anathema.

Rather, libertarians lament the ending of that war because of the extraordinary expansion of authoritarian federal government that followed.

The three or four libertarians in America who are wise realize that it wasn't just the victory; it was the victory plus Abraham Lincoln's assassination, which led to the horrors of Reconstruction. Many of us believe Lincoln himself would have ensured that the South was not utterly subjugated. Slavery would have been abolished, good for liberty; but the secessionist states would not have been made permanent "wards of the court," which was bad for liberty. Alas, John Wilkes Booth shot and killed the Great Emancipator, leaving the Weak Equivocator in nominal control; and Andrew Johnson was unable to rein in the vengeful Republican Congress.

This accounts for about half the attacks in Kitchick's article, nearly all of which take this form:

The politics of the organization are complicated--its philosophy derives largely from the work of the late Murray Rothbard, a Bronx-born son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and a self-described "anarcho-capitalist" who viewed the state as nothing more than "a criminal gang"--but one aspect of the institute's worldview stands out as particularly disturbing: its attachment to the Confederacy. Thomas E. Woods Jr., a member of the institute's senior faculty, is a founder of the League of the South, a secessionist group, and the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, a pro-Confederate, revisionist tract published in 2004. Paul enthusiastically blurbed Woods's book, saying that it "heroically rescues real history from the politically correct memory hole." Thomas DiLorenzo, another senior faculty member and author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, refers to the Civil War as the "War for Southern Independence" and attacks "Lincoln cultists"; Paul endorsed the book on MSNBC last month in a debate over whether the Civil War was necessary (Paul thinks it was not). In April 1995, the institute hosted a conference on secession at which Paul spoke; previewing the event, Rockwell wrote to supporters, "We'll explore what causes [secession] and how to promote it." Paul's newsletters have themselves repeatedly expressed sympathy for the general concept of secession. In 1992, for instance, the Survival Report argued that "the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society" and that "there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it."

Well, I warned you about Kirchick's paragraphs.

The only way this can be twisted into something horrific is if one mentally edits the statement "the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society" into "the right of secession in order to push blacks back into slavery should be ingrained in a free society."

This is a very, very liberal way to argue. Isaac Asimov does it all the time; for example, when he confronted (in one of his thirty or forty autobiographies) the idea of a looser confederation of states, united regionally but not so strongly as today, his response was that we had already tried that before: We called it "feudalism," and it was notable chiefly for the bubonic plague.

There you have it: America must remain as nationalist and top-down authoritarian as we are in order to avoid the Black Death!

The people surrounding the von Mises Institute--including Paul--may describe themselves as libertarians, but they are nothing like the urbane libertarians who staff the Cato Institute or the libertines at Reason magazine. Instead, they represent a strain of right-wing libertarianism that views the Civil War as a catastrophic turning point in American history--the moment when a tyrannical federal government established its supremacy over the states. As one prominent Washington libertarian told me, "There are too many libertarians in this country ... who, because they are attracted to the great books of Mises, ... find their way to the Mises Institute and then are told that a defense of the Confederacy is part of libertarian thought."

Well... in fact, it is. It's not the only part, and not every libertarian agrees with the argument (I reject it on grounds that the Confederacy was in fact less free than the Union, so its victory would not have promoted liberty). But it is a long-established libertarian argument that is uncontroversial in libertarian circles... and it is not a veiled support for racist ideas about the supposed inferiority of blacks.

This attack-track reminds me of those who repeatedly claimed that the Charles Murray-Richard Herrnstein book the Bell Curve was a "racist book." The claim never rose to the level of argument, because an argument requires actual citation of evidence... along with at least some indication that the argument's proponents have at least glanced once or twice inside the book they are denouncing. Having actually read that book -- and disagreed strongly with its conclusion -- I feel nothing but disgust for those conservatives who leapt aboard the "Charles Murray is a well-known racist" slanderwagon. Murray is, of course, anything but a racist.

In any event, the belief that the Civil War utterly remade America is not confined to libertarians; at the very end of the novel Lincoln, by Commie-symp leftist Gore Vidal -- the man who famously called William F. Buckley, jr., a "crypto-Nazi" in a 1968 TV debate (Vidal claims he misspoke, intending merely to call Buckley a "crypto-Fascist") -- we find the following passage. American historian Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler is speaking to John Milton Hay, erstwhile private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln, at a diplomatic reception at the Tuileries in 1867. He asks Hay what had become at that time "the question":

"Where," asked Mr. Schuyler, "would you place Mr. Lincoln amongst the presidents of our country?"

"Oh, I would place him first."

"Above Washington? Mr. Schuyler looked startled.

"Yes," said Hay, who had thought a good deal about the Tycoon's place in history. "Mr. Lincoln had a far greater and more difficult task than Washington's. You see, the Southern states had every Constitutional right to go out of the Union. But Lincoln said no. Lincoln said this Union can never be broken. Now, that was a terrible responsibility for one man to take. But he took it, knowing he would be obliged to fight the greatest war in human history, which he did, and which he won. So he not only put the Union back together again, but he made an entirely new country, and all of it in his own image....

[They compare Lincoln and Otto von Bismarck, who did the same thing among the German states.]

"It will be interesting to see how Herr Bismarck ends his career," said Hay, who was now more than ever convinced that Lincoln, in some mysterious fashion, had willed his own murder as a form of atonement for the great and terrible thing that he had done by giving so bloody and absolute a rebirth to his nation.

I would think that the basic fact that the Civil War constituted a "bloody and absolute rebirth" of America, which "made an entirely new country," would be by and large uncontroversial among historians. The only real difference here between establishment thought and revisionist libertarian thought would be the reaction of the thinker: The former applauds the rebirth, the latter bemoans it.

Shame on any "conservative" who condemns Ron-Paul libertarians simply because they disagree with the likes of Gore Vidal, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Isaac Asimov, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other lefties and liberals about the joys of unbridled nationalist authoritarianism -- or even internationalist authoritarianism.

Kirchick uses the "anti-nationalization = pro-slavery" meme to lay a foundation to interpret every other writing attributed to Ron Paul in a way that emphasizes race (tribe) over individualism. I hope all those conservatives who wave this hit piece as a "bloody shirt" against libertarian thought simply don't understand it (but why not?); because they are, in fact, championing "affirmative action" in all its inglory. I would be repulsed if they did so in full knowledge of their apostasy, so I prefer that they know not what they do: Their ignorance is my bliss.

But whether or not Kirchick thinks himself conservative, that is what he is doing. Viz.:

Paul's alliance with neo-Confederates helps explain the views his newsletters have long espoused on race. Take, for instance, a special issue of the Ron Paul Political Report, published in June 1992, dedicated to explaining the Los Angeles riots of that year. "Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began," read one typical passage. According to the newsletter, the looting was a natural byproduct of government indulging the black community with "'civil rights,' quotas, mandated hiring preferences, set-asides for government contracts, gerrymandered voting districts, black bureaucracies, black mayors, black curricula in schools, black tv shows, black tv anchors, hate crime laws, and public humiliation for anyone who dares question the black agenda."

Setting aside the inflammatory diction, exactly which part of this analysis is now rejected by mainstream conservatism?

This litany is simply a somewhat more aggressive phrasing of what has also been said -- before and since -- by such well-known "racists" as Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Bill Bennett, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, and Dinesh D'Souza (e.g., the latter's discussion of the cult of the "bad Negro" in his seminal book the End of Racism).

Kirchick is not utterly consumed by Paul hatred; he does toss the man one bone:

To be fair, the newsletter did praise Asian merchants in Los Angeles, but only because they had the gumption to resist political correctness and fight back. Koreans were "the only people to act like real Americans," it explained, "mainly because they have not yet been assimilated into our rotten liberal culture, which admonishes whites faced by raging blacks to lie back and think of England."

Again, I'd like a show of hands of all conservatives who believe that defending one's own property from rampaging mobs is now a disreputable act. It must be so in Kirchick's mind, because he uses it as the "counterweight" that negates the praise "Ron Paul" seems to heap upon a racial minority at the expense of the white majority. Without such a negation -- sure he did X, but that's only because of Y! -- would otherwise severely undercut the "Ron Paul as racist" meme that Kirchick is developing here.

The only correction I would make -- bear in mind, I was in the middle of the riots, as I lived in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles in 1992; buildings were torched on all sides of my duplex -- is that most of the "raging" rioters were illegally resident, Spanish-speaking immigrants... though a solid 40%+ were unquestionably "raging blacks."

Note, by the way, that the writings to which Kirchick objects (and which he believes paints Paul as a racist) were not published in the sober light of detatched analysis after years of brooding. They date from June, 1992... published a scant month and a half after the explicitly racial riots ended... and likely written a fortnight to a month before then. These newsletters were written in the white heat of passion, with echos of gunfire still reverberating in the night and a pall of smoke from thousands of arson fires still wafting across the Southwest.

I believe a little excess passion can be excused.

Where is the racism that Kirchick so evidently sees (or imagines)? It comes from one simple identification he makes at the beginning, which I believe to be a misidentification: When "Paul" (or whoever ghostwrote the pieces) writes about "blacks," Kirchick clearly believes he means, "People with significant African ancestory." But what I think he really means is, "People who accept and live within the American black culture."

There is a huge difference between these two meaning: The first is immutable; the second can be changed. While you cannot change the color of your skin (except via the Michael Jackson method), you can always change your culture.

Look, white people aren't born as "white people;" they have to learn to be "white" (that is, the majority cultural norm) over many years of growing up. Certainly immigrants have to struggle even harder... and we have a special word that corresponds to this effort: to assimilate. But native-born Americans -- black and white and everything else -- must assimilate just the way foreigners do; they must jettison those personal and family characteristics that hinder their advancement in their chosen world and encourage and inculcate those characteristics that enhance their advancement.

It's impossible to tell from the snippets that Kirchick gives us whether the writer of the newsletter pieces was always careful to refer to black culture; or whether he occasionally slipped up and said something that applied onto to blackness as a race or color issue. Nor would I take Kirchick's word for it, because I have already seen that he'll say anything to dig the knife in deeper. But I have certainly known libertarians who have said similar things; and in those cases, their attacks were meant for the negative aspects of black culture, not skin color. None of those I personally knew applied those same stereotypes to Sowell or Williams or Justice Clarence Thomas, to Ward Connerly or Larry Elder, or even to Alan Keyes.

But look how Kirchick uses such ambiguous phrases for the purpose of painting a very ugly picture in primary colors:

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."

Odd; I'm sure I've heard Bill Cosby say much the same thing.

Each of these mini revelations about Ron Paul is designed to play into conservative stereotype of libertarianism as a cover for racism, sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, and everything else that too many conservatives think is the natural consequence of "godless" libertarianism, which they tend to see as simple libertinism tarted up with a fancy pedigree.

You would think that with all this "racism" going on, Kirchick would be able to fine one, single, unambiguous example of bona-fide racial prejudice. But the most he can offer are a few instances where a Paulite newsletter referred to savage street thugs who happen to be black as "animals" and noting the propensity of many urban dwellers, who happen to be black, to "celebrate" by violence.

You would think; but I haven't seen one. Instead, Kirchick reports with incredulity verging on parody that the "Ron Paul" newsletters predicted a collapse of civilization when South Africa became a "multiracial democracy" (or as a libertarian would see it, yet another socialist, authoritarian state); and in fact, we saw exactly that, with South Africa moving from a net exporter of food to a net importer.

And then Kirchick writes -- as if relating the shocking news that Ron Paul believes in the Tooth Fairy -- that one of the articles warned of a "South African Holocaust."

Kirchick was right; we never saw a South African Holocaust when that country shifted from a de facto colony run by the Boers to a "multiracial democracy" run by Nelson Mandela.

It happened in Zimbabwe instead, as it shifted from a de facto colony run by the heirs of Cecil Rhodes to a monoracial, bloodthirsty dictatorship whose president-for-life, Robert Mugabe, has nearly succeeded in ethnically cleansing all the whites out of what was once Rhodesia... using mass murder and "nationalization" to turn "the breadbasket of Africa" into yet another African basket case. This is supposed to make you shake your head and tsk-tsk about Ron Paul and his groupies and surrogates who actually write the column.

But Kirchick went even farther, trying to hang David Duke from Paul's neck like an albatross. But again, it's a mendacious melange of inuendo and sly wording:

While bashing King, the newsletters had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke [But Kirchick cites no "kind words;" only factual analysis]. In a passage titled "The Duke's Victory," a newsletter celebrated Duke's 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary. "Duke lost the election," it said, "but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment." In 1991, a newsletter asked, "Is David Duke's new prominence, despite his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?" The conclusion was that "our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom." Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.

If Kirchick wants us to believe that Ron Paul is an enthusiastic Duke supporter, then riddle me this: Why is Paul dismissing Duke as being insufficiently pro-freedom? Isn't the simpler explanation that Paul liked "the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message" espoused by David Duke (who was probably lying about what he really believed) -- but that Paul did not like the racism and other anti-freedom positions?

James Kirchick and the New Republic are not content to smear Paul as a racist; he must be discredited with all special interests. So naturally, he must be shown to be homophobic as well. Kirchick spends another pair of interminable paragraphs lambasting Paul for the withering scorn he heaps upon "the gay lobby" (does Kirchick think there isn't one?) and upon gay activists who have transformed AIDS into "a politically protected disease thanks to payola and the influence of the homosexual lobby" (does our intrepid "diarist" imagine AIDS research has no federal funding advantage over, say, research into prostate cancer, adult stem-cells, or allergies?

Each of these areas of medicine has the potential to save more American lives than if we developed a full-blown cure for AIDS tomorrow. But on the other hand, none is considered "sexy;" and none has a guardian angel like AIDS has in ACT-UP, GLAAD, and Queer Nation.

First he came for the blacks, then he came for the gays, and at last he has come for the Jews, as we all knew he would: Ron Paul the Closet Nazi is nothing if not predictable.

By "Jews," of course Kirchick means "Israelis;" and by "obsession with Israel," he means Paul frequently denounces the country that veers between being socialist, when somebody like Shimon Peres is in command, and being welfare-statist, when a Likudnik like Yitzhak Shamir sits in the big chair.

False inference piles upon misunderstood argument, forming towers of paralogical paradox. Each piece of misinformed speculation solidifies into a foundation for a confabulated conclusion.

I hope the Colossus of Kirchick is emerging from the clutter. As I have said many times, it's easy to win an argument when you get to script both sides. Kirchick has mastered the art of cherry-picking (or hairball-picking) a word, a phrase, even a sentence fragment that is ambiguous enough that by judiciously presenting it in the worst possible light... he can make anybody, including Ron Paul, resemble Paul Josef Goebbels. Let me give you another example:

Well, this fellow claims to have spend more than a year trying to prevent a war; but he inadvertently reveals that he thought all along that "insurgent agents" -- whom he doesn't name -- secretly intended to "make war rather than let the nation survive." This seems rather dishonest as a diplomatic effort (and more than a little paranoid, to boot).

But then, he shifts the blame for war to "colored" people, writing quite openly that "this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war." Without even realizing the irony, he wonders aloud how he "should dare to ask a just God's assistance" to rain death and destruction upon innocent people. I think we all know the answer: He should not.

Having gone wholly over to the dark side, the president opines that God Himself conveniently ordained the subjugation of black persons (when that was good for the white economy), then made an abrupt U-turn and suddenly declared evil what He had previously blessed as good when that became the president's new position. What a perfect religious rationalization for political flip-flopping!

Having now declared himself fully justified by God to do whatever he feels like doing ("as God gives us to see the right"), and while acquitting himself of the charge of "malice," for of course he has only the best of intentions, the president is able to countenance the horrific death and destruction he unleashed by making his followers the too-easy promise "to care for... his widow, and his orphan." He forgets to mention that he was the one who created those widows and orphans in the first place.

Thus might James Kirchick analyze Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address.

There is much more in this article, including a hoot of a section on Paul's supposed conspiracy mongering: That is, Paul evidently peaceably assembled with people who espoused "anti-government paranoia that festered among right-wing militia groups during the 1980s and '90s." I'm not sure when conservatives shifted to the FBI's side in the Ruby Ridge incident and to Janet Reno's side at Waco, but the transformation appears to be complete.

At least Paul's "conspiracies" are "shopworn," according to Kirchick -- meaning they're the sort believed in by wackos who imagine the government spies on dissident groups, assaults children and dogs, besieges compounds for the crime of wanting to live apart, and tears screaming children from their loving relatives' arms in order to ship them back to a Soviet-style hellhole in the Caribbean. How droll! Fortunately, not even Kirchick goes so far as to accuse Ron Paul of believing himself the victim of alien abduction or demonic possession; but that's about all I can say in Kirchick's defense: He may submit to the New Republic, but he draws the line at the Weekly World News.

But I think we've all seen enough. I would have to say I gave Kirchick a fairer shake than Kirchick gave Paul; but the former's selective quotation, inuendo, and paralogia convict Kirchick via his own words.

What's worse, he puts people like me in the irritating position of having to defend the indefensible Paul -- not because we like or support him, but simply because we're appalled by the unfairness of the attack... and its broad brush, which might apply to any movement libertarian who ever dared read the evil Murray Rothbard or support the wicked economics of Ludwig von Mises. I haven't felt this dirty since Rudy Giuliani pulled a shabby lawyer's trick to deny John "the Dapper Don" Gotti counsel of his choice (Bruce Cutler, for those with short memories).

But I'm sure it will sell magazines. And I'm sure it will further Kirchick's career. And heck, it's only Ron Paul, the nutty uncle in the attic; who cares if he's libeled?

The conservative blogosphere forgets everything it has ever known or believed about such magazines and such smears: It laps up Kirchick's unctious implications as eagerly as a rat terrier at the River of Lethe.

If this is today's "intellectual" conservatism, you can have it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2008, at the time of 6:41 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Seaberry

Excellent post! Very informative and interesting...

The above hissed in response by: Seaberry [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 9:13 AM

The following hissed in response by: Beldar

Dafydd, I agree with you that many of Kirchick's attacks are unfair or unpersuasive. But the fact that Kirchick's specifics don't hold up ought not obscure the fact that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and his campaign have attracted a large number of fringe elements who sense in him something in common with their own particular and peculiar species of political/mental illnesses.

It's amusing to many Texas conservatives (especially to those of us with a strong libertarian bent) how America has suddenly "discovered" Ron Paul. We've known that he's a crackpot for decades — which is why he's never been able to progress beyond the status of a largely ignored Congressman.

I first heard about him and met him at a Texas Young Republicans convention in Dallas in roughly 1974, when I was a high school student. I was strongly attracted to his pitch. Although I am a fourth-generation Texas Republican, my own particular personal politics were just forming. Dr. Paul was a fount of opinions and ideas, strongly expressed, many of which made sense to me. And I was frankly surprised that he was already treated as an outsider, almost an insurgent, at that convention.

But in the intervening thirty-something years, I've seen and heard enough of him to become thoroughly disappointed, and then thoroughly disgusted and annoyed, with this fellow. It's well and good to be committed to a largely self-consistent set of principles. But it's not useful — and ultimately, it's distracting and destructive to one's own cause — to ignore the existing political realities in one's state, country, and world. The line between "simple" and "simplistic" is easily blurred. Just like pure oxygen under high pressure can become toxic, so too can strident, radical libertarianism, or any other -ism.

Dr. Paul himself seems blind to those risks, such that he can stand on a debate platform in 2008 and argue with a straight face that America ought to abandon its world position and immediately retreat within its borders at any cost. That's how he can suggest that 9/11 is our fault. If the consequences are that our economy is crippled, our enemies take effective control over most of the world's oil supplies, and we and our free-world allies are all forced to revert to a national industrial capacity comparable to that we "enjoyed" in 1920 — well, then, that's just part of Dr. Paul's "cure."

I generally am not a fan of "focus groups," but I was more than mildly interested in the Fox News graphic after the South Carolina Republican debate in which they graphically displayed the results of their real-time "dial-a-reaction" while Ron Paul was speaking. The audience members reacted to Paul exactly as those of us who aren't psychotic react to someone profoundly mentally ill who's engaged in a rant against the angels (or whatever) from a street-corner. It sets our teeth on edge; we don't want to be within arms'-length of him; we're not quite sure whether he's a harmless crank or a dangerous one. And it's a kind of craziness that's not remotely excused by the fact that the ranter may occasionally spout two or three sentences in a row that are true.

The 2008 campaign has marked the point at which long-time Texas political crank Ron Paul became a nationally dangerous crank.

The above hissed in response by: Beldar [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 9:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: Seaberry


I keep getting some Pet product and supply chain when clicking on my Big Lizards' link. They apparently also sell lizards and "Big Lizards"?!

Anyone else having this problem?

The above hissed in response by: Seaberry [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 11:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

Yes, I had the same problem earlier today.
It seems like google was either messing up or someone was engaging in a little web-jacking.
I wish Big Lizards mgt. had better contact tools.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 1:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

The Civil War nonsense is what annoys me the most about Herr Doktor Paul. The thought that this great country should have been split into just another Canada and just another Mexico just so ...? What happened to "futurism", Dafydd?

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 1:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Seaberry

Thanks hunter...today was the first time it happened for me, but it has done it several times today.

The above hissed in response by: Seaberry [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 1:59 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Actually, it was our host server... somehow, they forgot to renew our domain-name registration (it didn't get on their automatic renewal list). Fortunately, they were able to retrieve it, and we're back in business.


I was hoping I had been clear enough that I'm not in any way supporting Ron Paul's candidacy, or even vouchsafing his sanity. But I react very negatively to slimy hit pieces... even when they're against someone I intensely dislike.

Having come from the movement-libertarian tradition myself, I recognized so many of Paul's supposedly terror-inducing quotations, which Kirchick dragged out of context for public humiliation, as ordinary, garden-variety libertarian ideas -- some of which I subscribe to, others not -- that it enraged me enough to spend hours on a long, fisking style response.

Even though I'm no fan of Ron Paul and probably wouldn't even invite him over for dinner.

I was hoping my ambivalence and the purely public-spirited nature of my defense would come through, but I don't know if they did.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 4:25 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jim Treacher

Here's my favorite ordinary, garden-variety libertarian idea of Dr. Paul's: "I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming." (He probably meant lions!)

The above hissed in response by: Jim Treacher [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2008 6:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

There is a famous barbeque house in Paul's district.
Not only is it famous for its excellent barbeque'd meats. It is also famous for the large number of hunting trophies in the dining room. Literally dozens of animals from all over the world - from polar bears to African lions to feral hogs from Texas' Brazos river bottomland. Perhaps that is what Paul is refering to.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2008 5:57 AM

The following hissed in response by: George Dance

Being interested in the Newsletter Affair, I stumbled across your blog today. The phrase, "You're a scholar and a gentleman" is used too often, but in your case it looks like the only appropriate comment.
I'm bookmarking your blog, and will be returning to read frequently.

The above hissed in response by: George Dance [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2008 8:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: narciso79

You're trying to be contrarian, aren't you Dab. Maybe you're trying to compete with Herr
Lineweaver; for attention. When the Ron Paul newsletter was not evincing race sensitive arguments; it was espousing crazy conpiratorial arguments. Citing Gore Vidal, does not help in this context, as he 'understood' MacVeigh's crusade against the 'Zionist Occupation Govt' and was one of the first major figures to sign onto trooferism. His 1986-87 pieces in the Nation, berating Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, et al
for their support of the Reagan administration's
foreign policy goals, but more importantly their
objections to homosexual activism, went so far
as to call them "Naumanns" after the Jewish counsel collaborators in early Nazi Germany. He also laid the predicate for the indictment of neocons as crazy warmonger, that would circulate through a generation before PNAC became the curseword dejure. That speculative passage attributed to Hay in 'Lincoln' was an early sign of this as would his embrace of the 'FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to happen' and Lindbergh was the victim of the Anglo American plot to get us into the war.

The characterization of how conservatives saw the L.A riots, akin to Ron Paul is more than a little
flawed. Many thought the vaccuum of authority caused by the deliberate denigration of the LAPD by media and the liberal establishment; with particular imput from the Christopher Commission
along with the self-pitying conspiracy theories freefloating in the African American communities stoked by Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan and the like; had a good deal to do with it; along with pre-existing resentments against Korean Americans
and other ethnic businessman. The fatherhood gap,sense of entitlement, affirmative action programs didn't help things.

Now Libertarians like Paul is supposed to be; would have been more likely to blame it on abuses
of power, stemming from the drug war, and general
practices of a particularly paramilitary ethos of
departments like the L.A.P.D. There might have been discussion of corporate practices that hollowed out urban centers and contributed to unemployment. But there was little of that


The above hissed in response by: narciso79 [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2008 5:15 PM

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