Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ron Paul, Another Round of SSDW

Unlike Bush's just as evil twin, Rudy Giuliani, and the other GOP preznut candidates, Ron Paul favors immediate withdrawal from Iraq and condemns the folly of U.S. empire through military force. Both supporters and rubberneckers laud him as "a defender of America's constitutional freedoms." Well, that's admirable but he's still a wacko and for more reasons than Kevin Drum articulated two days ago.

A reference to a Ron Paul 1992 article attacking Barbara Jordan as a "moron" and a "fraud" floored me. Racially-loaded quotes from his monthly newsletters courtesy The Austin Chronicle made my head explode.

Scrolling through the Houston Chronicle archive, I found a May 1996 article that validated some of the Austin Chronicle snips as well as the circulation of "a rumor that Clinton was a longtime cocaine user... Paul wrote in 1994 that the speculation 'would explain certain mysteries' about the president's scratchy voice and insomnia."

Why did Ron Paul lend credence to Beltway gossip like a Clinton-bashing Washington hack?

J. P. Green, focusing on the lackluster political reporting of "dead tree media" compared to the diggers of the blogosphere, cited Sara Robinson at Orcinus for her roundup of Ron Paul's unsavory affiliations and statements. Unsurprisingly, the major dailies of our rotting press corpse haven't dug very deep.

Back in June 2007, Sara wrote...

What I can tell you -- what all of us need to know before we run out and sign on for a summer of Ron Paul Love Feasts -- is that Paul has some long-standing ties to early-90s Patriot groups -- and some ugly attitudes on race and equality -- that should give us all long and serious pause. Diarist phenry at Daily Kos lays out the particulars here and here.
According to phenry, Paul's newsletter, The Ron Paul Political Report (renamed The Ron Paul Survival Report in 1993, in a bid to pander to the militia audience that was peaking that year) was a Patriot movement must-read, full of helpful advice on tax protest, gold-backed currency, urban race war and other pet legal and social theories of the extremist right. While content is very hard to come by now (Paul has scrubbed much of what was on the Web, and refuses to release the newsletter to the media), phenry dug up a few choice samples, including:
* A 1992 screed on African-American"racial terrorism" in Los Angeles, in which Paul insists that "our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists -- and they can be identified by the color of their skin."
* Another 1992 article, this one asserting that "complex embezzling" is "100% white and Asian;" and noting that young black male muggers are "unbelievably fleet-footed."
* A Houston Chronicle citation from 1996, in which he asserts that Barbara Jordan was a "fraud." Paul wrote: "Everything from her imitation British accent, to her supposed expertise in law, to her distinguished career in public service, is made up. If there were ever a modern case of the empress without clothes, this is it. She is the archetypical half-educated victimologist, yet her race and sex protect her from criticism."
In the second post, phenry outlines Paul's connections to various white supremacists groups. In 1996, Paul was one of only two candidates endorsed by Christian Identity leader Larry Pratt (who had previously worked with David Duke, and resigned from Pat Buchanan's team when his Identity role became public). Paul refused to repudiate the endorsement; and Pratt has stepped forward again with a quasi-endorsement of Paul's current campaign.
Through the 90s, Paul was also a regular on the far-right talk circuit. He spoke to Texas secessionists in 1995 on the "once and future Republic of Texas"; has appeared on a radio program affiliated with the Council of Conservative Citizens; and is a frequent speaker at John Birch Society functions -- the group has given him a perfect 100 in its legislative rankings. These days, those who monitor CCC, David Duke, and Stormfront say they can't get enough of him. They know he's one of their own.
Those of us who are interested in getting to a sane and functional immigration policy should also reflect on the fact that he stands right next to Tom Tancredo on that issue.
Which brings us to the Big Question: How can someone who's been such a darling of the extremist right for over 20 years now become the Next Big Thing on the left as well?
Straight talk is powerful. Americans are addicted to it -- and, too often, addled by it. We've seen this before with Ross Perot and John McCain, two other right-wing candidates who charmed us with their apparent penchant for telling us uncomfortable but necessary truths. (And to give the man his due: pointing out that 9/11 was the inevitable outcome of decades of monstrous US foreign policy was a very necessary truth.)
But -- as we learned the hard way on both those earlier occasions -- just because someone can cut through the political drivel and speak with some clarity now and again, it doesn't mean they're someone we should dump our principles and better judgment out the window for, and rush right out and follow. The fact is that Ron Paul has built a political career pandering to the far fringes of the proto-fascist right. There's twenty-plus years of documentary evidence that he does not believe in democracy as we progressives understand it. No amount of disarming straight talk should blind us to that core fact.
Sara added an update that pointed to a Libertarian-Patriot Banquet on April 2, 2004, in which Ron Paul reaffirmed his wacky ideological bent. TPM noted Paul's nuttiness in print. Liberal Values added more details.

Click through some of Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk for further examples, both good ("hands off Social Security" reminiscent of Al Gore's "lockbox") and bad: On Mar. 27, 2000, he explained his opposition to an increase in the federal minimum wage, that "government is not the answer" to "the middle-class squeeze." While government isn't the only answer, we sure as hell need one that works for the benefit of all the people. Despite broad popular support this year for a higher minimum wage -- the first hike since 1997 -- Congressman Ron Paul voted against it.

Paul argued in his Apr. 16, 2007, Racism and Government column that the "true antidote to racism is liberty." Well, that's a philosophical bon mot, at best wishful thinking, but in practice, "free-market capitalism" does not automatically or voluntarily "[reward] individual achievement and competence" regardless of "skin color, gender, or ethnicity." The main thrust of Paul's column addressed the racial, sexist slurs of Don Imus and freedom of speech, yet he failed to recognize that boycotting and protesting as a collective is also free speech. Government did not intervene against Imus; public outrage did. Let us also remember that it was an act of government that freed the slaves, gave women the right to vote, legalized interracial marriage, confronted job discrimination (except for sex orientation) -- not free-market capitalism. Dave Neiwert described Paul's viewpoint as "a part of a larger right-wing attack on multiculturalism" and aptly deconstructed some of Ron's kookier notions. (If I had found Dave's link earlier, would have saved me Google time. Good stuff at the link.)

This morning, Gadfly posted the latest rankings for gender equality. Is America, land of opportunity and liberty, even in the top 10? Top 20? Hell, no. Not even close. In 2005, USA weighed in at a puny 17th place. Not anymore. In an America that's been dominated by conservative rule over the years, letting the free market reign has taken precedence. The slide in U.S. gender equality contradicts the Texas congressman's assertions. Oh, but, he was writing about racism. Uh-huh. I'm sure that's gotten so much better, right?

While I agree with Paul's sentiment -- "Bigotry at its essence is a sin of the heart, and we can’t change people’s hearts by passing more laws and regulations" -- legislation, law enforcement, and the courts do impact behavior, a critical step toward social justice, liberty, and equality that expands generationally. He blathered about "the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals," but oddly that didn't stop Ron from previously characterizing a mugger as a "black teenaged male." Here's another clue about free speech. Try yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded theater where there is no such danger. Ever heard of slander or libel? Intentional infliction of emotional distress? Terroristic threats? Yeah, there are legal consequences enforced by government. Just ask the Westboro Baptist Church (Snyder v. Phelps civil trial). So use freedom of speech wisely. From what I've read, Paul has some explaining to do.

Ron Paul likens himself as a Washington outsider and, boy, it sure fits. He's not only outside the Beltway, he's way far out of the American mainstream.

Ron Paul advocates less government, and I agree with Glenn Greenwald that "after six years of endless expansions of intrusive federal government power," one can understand the appeal of Ron Paul's "limited government" stance. Me? I would prefer that we champion smart, fair, and effective democratic government. In achieving that objective, a Ron Paul presidency would be a nightmare especially on the economic front. What's important about the sizzle around Ron Paul's campaign, Corpus Juris recently summarized. Congressional Democrats need to heed it and respond accordingly. And fast.

Long ago at Political Animal, I commented that Ron Paul was a Republican I liked, or some such platitude. Sheesh, was I off. And that's what happens when one does not fully inform oneself of a candidate's record and positions.

If it's unfair to tar and feather a candidate with guilt by association (e.g., a white supremacist group's endorsement), then why doesn't Ron Paul release his entire library of newsletters, speeches, and articles to the media? Care to guess why he hasn't?

Until I hear Ron Paul repudiate the ideals and objectives of the John Birch Society, the Council of Conservative Citizens, and a network of white supremacists and rightwing extremists who have supported him for decades, plus some of his crackpot ideas...

Oh, he's a Republican all right. SSDW.

Related WTWC Links:
* Ron Paul, On Education He's Just Another Borrow and Spend Republican
* Ron Paul Proves He Is A Real Pander Pol
* What Ron Paul Should Have Said At The Debate
* Ron Paul -- A Traitor Wanted For DoublePlusUngood OldThink
* And more...