The American Bear


There is danger in the belief we can remake the world by bribing some countries and bombing others. But that is precisely what the interventionists – be they liberal or conservative – seem to believe. When the world does not conform to their image, they seem genuinely shocked. The secretary of state’s reaction to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was one of confusion. ‘How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction,’ she asked. The problem is that we do not know and we cannot know enough about these societies we are seeking to remake. We never try to see through the eyes of those we seek to liberate. Libya is in utter chaos, the infrastructure has been bombed to rubble, the economy has ceased to exist, gangs and militias rule by brutal force, the government is seen as a completely illegitimate and powerless US puppet. How could anyone be shocked that the Libyans do not see our bombing their country as saving it from destruction?

Ron Paul (via azspot)

And he was the “crazy” primary candidate.

(via azspot)

The Fed is a reason for serious problems, but not the only reason. Unfortunately, Ron Paul’s proposal opposes paper credit itself, whether issued by the Fed or the Treasury. He wants to return to the gold standard and slash government spending – in effect, to create an economy without government. So what he actually advocates is not only the end of the Fed, but the end of a functioning credit and tax system. The idea is otherworldly and has no possible chance of being enacted, because it would cause a vast debt default as a result of plunging prices, incomes and employment. Michael Hudson on the Federal Reserve System

I’m not a Ron Paul fan at all. He is opposed to environmental protections — and would never provide the sorely needed leadership on the climate crisis. He also opposes the Civil Rights Act - and thinks that governmental protections against racial discrimination in public accommodations is an infringement of personal liberty. I could never support Ron Paul, although we come to the same conclusions about empire-building and the outrageous wars that have been waged by Bush and Obama. Rocky Anderson (via rockyanderson2012)

Yeah, Ron Paul Is Racist After All, Sorry | VICE

The natural response to this news, if you’re still a true believer, is that it’s from 16 years in the past. This is a newsletter operation divorced from the Ron Paul 2012 campaign. Unfortunately, that’s not what the hacktivist group Anonymous discovered.

As part of an ongoing online effort against white supremacists, Anonymous hacked the website of the American Third Position (A3P), a white nationalist group tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Like the SPLC, Anonymous found ties to skinhead groups, Nazis and David Duke’s flunkey Jamie Kelso. Unlike the SPLC, they also found significant ties to the Ron Paul 2012 campaign:

“In addition to finding the usual racist rants and interactions with other white power groups, we also found a disturbingly high amount of members who are also involved in campaigning for Ron Paul. According to these messages, Ron Paul has regularly met with many A3P members, even engaging in conference calls with their board of directors.”

In addition, someone who appears to be close to Paul expressed dismay that Kelso was shut out of the Conservative Political Action Conference and said he would speak to Paul about Kelso’s organizational value.

None of this should be surprising. In 2008, Paul accepted donations from and was endorsed by, America’s leading white supremacist site; he even had a campaign coordinator from the KKK.

Of course, the quickest and easiest dismissal is that the A3P stuff comes from Anonymous, not exactly the most credible of sources. But they parade around in the same Guy Fawkes masks as Paul supporters, tend to skew libertarian, and in 2008 many of their members supported Paul’s candidacy. At this point, there’s too much stuff to try to handwave away. In addition to years of “we told you so!” material that mainstream outlets have urged Paul supporters to confront, there are now the words of his aides and managers, as well as his own appointment book. [++]

Ron Paul Is, In Fact, Exactly Like Other Politicians | Matt Bruenig

“It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government,’’ said the person, who supports Paul’s economic policies but is not backing him for president. “I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman.’’ - Washington Post 1/20/2012

So what does this say about Ron Paul? There are two options. Either Ron Paul believed the bigotry he published, or he did it to pander to an audience that he knew would buy it — or both. Even if we accept at face value the claim that Ron Paul is not actually a racist or homophobe — something which nobody knows for sure except Ron Paul himself — that only means that he is a typical politician. In the newsletter, he is pandering to a white supremacist base that he knows will buy up his product and support him. Of course, that is the precise kind of unprincipled pandering that his supporters claim Paul would never do. According to his supporters, only establishment politicians do that kind of thing, not Dr. Paul.

Ron Paul supporters increasingly confronted with the reality of Paul’s past need to change their tune. Claiming that Ron Paul never saw the newsletters is no longer even remotely serious.

Our selective stance on bigotry | David Sirota

This is an important criticism:

[Ponder] the two-sided debate over Republican candidate Ron Paul and bigotry.

One camp cites Paul’s hate-filled newsletters and his libertarian opposition to civil rights regulations as evidence that he aligns with racists. As the esteemed scholar Tim Wise puts it: This part of Paul’s record proves that he represents “the reactionary, white supremacist, Social Darwinists of this culture, who believe … the police who dragged sit-in protesters off soda fountain stools for trespassing on a white man’s property were justified in doing so, and that the freedom of department store owners to refuse to let black people try on clothes in their dressing rooms was more sacrosanct than the right of black people to be treated like human beings.”

The other camp tends to acknowledge those ugly truths about Paul, but then points out that the Texas congressman has been one of the only politicians 1) fighting surveillance, indefinite detention and due-process-free assassination policies almost exclusively aimed at minorities; 2) opposing wars that often seem motivated by rank Islamophobia; and 3) railing against the bigotry of a drug war that disproportionately targets people of color. Summarizing this part of Paul’s record, the Atlantic Monthly’s Conor Friedersdorf has written: “When it comes to America’s most racist or racially fraught policies” affecting the world today, “Paul is arguably on the right side of all of them (while) his opponents are often on the wrong side.”

So which side is right? Both of them, and thanks to that powerful oxymoron, Paul has become a mirror reflecting back our own problematic biases. Specifically, his candidacy is showing that the conventional definition of intolerable bigotry is disturbingly narrow — and embarrassingly selective.

This reality is best demonstrated by those voters who say they detest Paul not because of his extreme economic ideas, but because they feel his record represents an unacceptable form of racism. These folks will likely tell you that their alleged commitment to policies promoting racial equality has moved them to support Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, politicians who, of course, support bigoted civil liberties atrocities, Islamophobic foreign invasions and a racist drug war.

In making such a choice, then, these voters are tacitly embracing the definition of unacceptable bigotry as only hate speech (Paul’s newsletters) and opposition to civil rights laws (Paul’s odious position), but not also various forms of institutional bigotry that their favored candidates support and that Paul has fought to end. Incredibly, this selective definition asks us to ignore many of the most destructive tenets of what legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s celebrated book calls “The New Jim Crow.” And yet, as the reaction to Paul proves, it is precisely this definition that pervades so much of American society.

To be clear: Noting this hypocrisy is not meant to urge a vote for Paul (I’m not a Paul supporter), nor does it absolve those Paul fans who wholly ignore the objectionable parts of their candidate’s record on race. Instead, it is simply meant to argue that if we’re going to have a long overdue discussion about bigotry, then let’s have an honest conversation about all forms of bigotry — not our current talking-points-driven screamfest that rightly criticizes one kind of prejudice but wrongly tolerates other forms of prejudice that are often just as destructive.

Perpetuating that kind of naked bait-and-switchery may help one set of candidates and hurt another in a given presidential campaign, but it does nothing to advance the cause of equality in America.

Okay Progressives, What's Your Alternative to Ron Paul? | Conor Friedersdorf

Over the years, including the Obama years, I’ve known [Mother Jones reporter, Kevin] Drum to consistently speak out against needless war-making and to be alarmed by excessive claims of executive power, so I don’t doubt his earnestness, and I respect what he has to say on basically every topic. But here’s my problem: though Drum disagrees with those of us who acknowledge Paul’s flaws but value his ability to inject important issues into the national conversation, he offers no alternative. As far as I can tell, most on the left who dismiss Paul are similarly without a plan of their own. It isn’t as if they’re saying, “Your strategy for drawing attention to these issues and trying to effect change is flawed — but how about this other viable civil libertarian strategy.”

It’s just, “Your strategy is flawed.” Left unsaid is the fact that if it’s abandoned, these issues will be aired even less, and the prospect of effecting change will be delayed or killed off.

One day soon, Ron Paul will pass from the scene. At that point, his son, Rand Paul, the civil libertarian and Republican senator from Kentucky, will be one heir apparent. Libertarian Gary Johnson will be another. And inevitably, progressives will find plenty not to like about them too.

So why not do something about it?

If progressives are frustrated that relatively doctrinaire libertarians are attracting the attention and support of people who care deeply about civil liberties, why don’t they work to offer some alternative? […] Is it really the case that the Democratic Party can’t produce a prominent civil-libertarian politician who [Progressives like] Glenn Greenwald would prefer to Ron Paul?

That is itself a devastating truth about the post-2009 left.

As Election 2008 proved, however, it isn’t impossible to change. Democrats can in fact unapologetically run against indefinite detention, excessive executive power, and needless wars, and get elected doing it. What’s additionally required is a civil-libertarian constituency big and motivated enough to hold them to their promises. That is what progressivism apparently lacks. Until progressives have a plan to change that, they should think twice about marginalizing and dismissing a civil-libertarian voice that, however flawed, is better than any they’ve got to offer.

As usual, this will be ignored and spat on by my followers, but this is important. What are we (the disappointed left) going to do here?

The Youthful Magic of Ron Paul


South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint, the darling of the Tea Party wing nuts of the GOP, is urging Republican candidates to listen to Ron Paul. “One of the things that’s hurt the so-called conservative alternative is saying negative things about Ron Paul,” DeMint told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. “I’d like to see a Republican Party that embraces a lot of the libertarian ideas.”

Why the sudden enthusiasm of Republican leaders for Ron Paul? Credit his surprisingly strong showing in New Hampshire, where 47 percent of primary voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for him.

No other Republican candidate has come nearly as close to winning over young voters – and the GOP desperately needs young voters. The median age of registered Republicans is rising faster than the median age of America.

The Republican right thinks Paul’s views on the economy are responsible for this fire among the young. Yesterday evening, on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program, I squared off with Larry and the Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore. Both are convinced young people are attracted by Paul’s strict adherence to the views of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and Paul’s desire to move America back to the gold standard.

Baloney. The young are flocking to Ron Paul because he wants to slice military spending, bring our troops home, stop government from spying on American citizens,  and legalize pot.

So do I, but I somehow doubt Jim DeMint would advise Republican candidates to listen to me, even if I were a Republican candidate for President.

Paul is attractive to younger voters precisely because of positions he takes that are anathema to the vast majority of the Republican base, including almost all Tea Party Republicans.

If other Republican candidates want to cozy up to him, fine. But if they do, they’ll have a lot of explaining to do in Bluffton, South Carolina.

On the other hand, if Republicans — or Democrats, for that matter — want to win over much of the nation’s young next November, they’d do well to listen carefully to Paul’s positions on national defense and civil liberties.

Who’s a real progressive? | David Sirota

It’s rather sad that nearly every article written by a non-libertarian about Ron Paul begins with a disclaimer that the writer is not endorsing Paul for president. Yet, with a virulent case of Ron Paul Derangement Syndrome plaguing partisan Obama loyalists, it bears repeating if only to preempt future mischaracterizations and slander: I am not endorsing Ron Paul for president. - David Sirota (and my basic position - TAB)

[…] An Obama supporter might argue that the set of issues they can agree with Paul on are less monumental than the set of issues they agree with Obama on. But don’t mistake such a conversation-ending declaration as fact. On the contrary, it’s merely a subjective opinion — and a debatable one at that. Indeed, Paul supporters would make a compelling case that it’s exactly the opposite — that the progressive side of Paul’s program relates to more pressing issues than Obama’s progressive positions in this, the age of multitrillion-dollar bailouts, deficit-exploding defense budgets, assaults on the most basic tenets of the Bill of Rights and what the Pentagon now calls “the era of persistent conflict” (read: Permanent War). And they have a strong case to make that by virtue of the modern presidency Paul would be guaranteed to actually enact the progressive parts of his program, whereas the progressive parts of President Obama’s program are more a question of congressional politics (a good example of that truism was the healthcare bill, which went from a mildly progressive White House proposal to a public-option-free boondoggle for the insurance and drug industries by the time Obama and his lobbyist friends finished massaging it through Congress).

In holding this pragmatic view, it doesn’t mean Paul’s progressive-minded supporters believe in the reactionary tenets of Paul’s agenda (eliminating major social programs, opposing civil rights laws, ending all taxes, having a history associated with racist newsletters, etc.) any more than it means Obama’s progressive-minded supporters are thrilled with all of the president’s ultra-conservative actions (wars, mass killing of civilians, trampling of civil liberties, bank bailouts, a racist drug war, etc.). It only means that there’s a calculation at work — one that takes into account the realities of presidential power.

Is this calculation reasonable, or at least defensible within the progressive coalition? I’d say yes (even though, again, I’m not endorsing Paul). To paraphrase the most standard apologia Democratic partisans use to defend President Obama (one overused with regard to Obama, IMHO), a president is not a Superman or a savior — on the issues in which he doesn’t have unilateral control, he has to work with Congress and therefore isn’t always the sole “decider” of policy outcomes. That’s especially the case at a moment when Washington is more gridlocked than ever.

Faced with that reality, and sick of a political system that is paralyzed by the Manichaean blood sport of red-versus-blue, many voters of all stripes are focusing primarily on the issues that the president has total control over. These issues, after all, are hardly insignificant — and they are the ones a presidential election can instantly change.

Paul’s progressive supporters seem to understand that truism, while many Obama supporters find it too inconvenient to acknowledge. That’s fine. In fact, that’s what democracy is all about — the freedom to make your own choice. But don’t think the choice being made by Paul’s supporters is so obvious a progressive litmus test when the same reductionism used to tar and feather those supporters (“they’re racist because of his newsletters!”) could be used against Obama backers (“they’re baby killers because of the president’s wars!”).

Despite media hype and activists’ glib talking points, such election choices between imperfect candidates are not so simple, nor should they be when a truly informed vote means factoring in the unspoken nuances of presidential power.