Yes, Virginia, there is a December headline cliché

Back when I still worked in a fully staffed newsroom — back when there still was such a thing as a fully staffed newsroom — we had a rule for the holidays. Once per year we would allow one headline beginning “‘Tis the Season …” and one beginning, “Yes, Virginia …”

But only one per year. And that was probably still one too many.

The “Yes, Virginia …” headline still seems irresistible, with about 500 recent examples in Google News, including:

  • “Yes, Virginia, consumers will buy big-ticket items via mobile”
  • “Yes, Virginia, there is no Newt (on the ballot)”
  • “Yes, Virginia, the Internet does not replace old-fashioned politics”
  • “Yes, Virginia, Consumers Won a Couple in Washington”
  • “Yes, Virginia, there is a Supreme Court”
  • Yes, Virginia, There Is a Pooping Log
  • “Yes, Virginia, There are Rainbow Trout in Texas”
  • “Yes, Virginia, there are things to do this weekend”
  • “Yes, Virginia, there is a Christ in Christmas”
  • Yes, Virginia, Ron Paul Is a Kook

That last one is from Kevin Drum, responding to a 1991 Ron Paul fundraising letter in which the Texas Republican warned that then-new paper currency designed to make counterfeiting more difficult was some kind of Stalinist plot.

It’s hard to know how to respond to the hyperventilating paranoia and conspiratorial weirdness of Paul’s newsletters when you stack that set of delusional extremist ideas against Paul’s other delusional, extremist ideas — the ones trumpeted in the explicitly racist, homophobic and misogynist articles of the congressman’s horrifying newsletters.

Those newsletters are now being tweeted, line-by-despicable-line.

Any single one of those lines ought to be, by itself, the kind of appalling gaffe that would end a political career — disqualifying Ron Paul not just from his party’s presidential nomination, but from re-election, even in Texas. Cumulatively, the effect is devastating.

It’s more than enough to raise the question asked by Ashley F. Miller: “Why does anyone like Ron Paul?

The erratically libertarian icon’s supporters rushed to answer that question in the comments to Miller’s post, noting that, for example, she’s a woman and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to vote or to express opinions. OK, then, question answered.

 

  • Baeraad

    Well, that was a… horribly informative… comment thread, if nothing else. I think I see what sort of person would vote for RP now. It’s the same kind of person who plans to have his head frozen after he dies. The kind who has read far too much sci-fi and is impatient with the way that other people are, y’know, trying to deal with the situation here and now instead of brushing all that aside and dashing off towards the transhumanist space age.

    So basically, idiots who think they’re geniuses.

    It’s amazing how much trouble is caused by those.

  • Donalbain

    Ron Paul is not opposed to the war on drugs. Ron Paul is opposed to the FEDERAL war on drugs. He has no personal stance on liberty of any kind. He is simply a Confederate who is opposed to the Federal Government in all its forms. If the states want to have segregation, Ron Paul is fine with that. If the states want to arrest people for being gay, Ron Paul is fine with that. If the states want to bring back slavery, I would not be at all surprised to learn that Ron Paul would be fine with that as well.
    He is one of the the most consistently vile, evil human beings in modern American politics. 

  • friendly reader

    Oh sweet mercy, if you wanted me to lose all respect for Ron Paul, letting me read the comments people post there was the best way to do it. Not the misogynistic ad hominem attacks, not the repetition of talking points after they’d been already debunked, not the conspiracy theories and gold-standard-pushers.

    This. Just… this. This is a conversation between a commenter who is the mother of a child with autism. She was arguing that Ron Paul’s desire to repeal the IDEA was horrible. Her opponent said that “Given human nature there is a good chance you and your family would be
    funded by people, the same people who were forced to help you via the
    government.” When she pointed out that this has never been the case, that people are generally never accepting of children with autism, and do not want them mainstreamed, his reply was:

    Jen, I’m sorry for your situation and I’d help as an individual and try
    to convince others to help too, but you don’t get to guilt trip me and
    all Americans into giving away our, and our children’s, and our
    children’s children’s rights to a totalitarian, corporatist, illegal,
    unconstitutional state just because it offers you the possibility of a
    better life for your kid.

    Just… jaw-dropping. Basically, I mean, the lack of any consideration for this mother and what she’s going through. Her very reasonable description of what life is like for parents of children with disabilities dismissed as a “guilt trip.”

    This reminds me of a great quote from Shusuke Endo’s Silence:

    Sin, he reflected, is not what it is
    usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one
    man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious
    to the wounds he has left behind.

    (Silence, btw, is one of those books that should have been on that list of “books all Christians should read.)

  • Ouri Maler

    This is only tangentially on-topic, but…
    “Yes, Virginia, there Is a Santa Claus” is an article that generally leaves me uncertain what to think of it. I mean, sure, it’s well-written, and it leaves one with a “hell yeah!” feeling…But every time I read it, I find myself wondering: What is it actually saying? That things without material existence have their own importance? Or that we shouldn’t rely on fact and reality, and just believe what’s convenient? I dunno, it always leaves me a bit uneasy.

  • Hawker40

    Ron Paul, like many Confederate State’s Rights types, is a hypocrit.  He is against the civil rights act and Roe vs. Wade as ‘violations of state soveriegnty’, but is perfectly ok with a Federal ban on gay marraige.  He says he opposses earmarks, then gets them added for his district.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    His acolytes never gonna give, never gonna give him up…

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    He’s a smarmy, out-of-touch, one percenter multi-millionaire who made his millions by laying off thousands of people and inveterate flip-flopper 

    fixxt

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    “Santorum surge”

    *snicker*

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    ” the effect is somewhat muted by the fact that these positions roll into his general War on Government, which by consequence also includes a War on Money, Racial Equality, Social Safety Nets, Consumer Protections, Commerce, Environmental Conservation, Health, Justice, Freedom, and Rationality.”

    Dang it, Astribulus, I’m still writing that blog!

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Because, you know, I want to be COMPLETELY original and not derivative in the least bit. Just like every other blogger out there.

  • Anonymous

    I supported him for three weeks, when all I knew about him was that he wanted to end the Iraq war. The more I heard about him, the more disgusted I became with him.

    I didn’t think it was still possible to become more disgusted with the man, but this blog proves me wrong on a regular basis.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t yet seen a Republican candidate who does have a chance at the nomination.  Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, and Trump are all (thankfully) out of the running, and nobody else has nearly as large a support base.

  • Baeraad

    Hooo boy. That sounds like every conversation I’ve ever had or seen with a libertarian who claimed to have a conscience. Ze cares about other people’s problems. Really, ze does. Zir heart absolutely bleeds for them. But, and ze wants to make this very clear, those problems needs to be solved in a way that does not require zir to *pay taxes.* Because innocent people being forced to *pay taxes* is the ultimate atrocity, and must be avoided at all cost!

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Jack Chick would be the *perfect* Republican candidate.

    Full of bitterness, rage, violence, contempt-masquerading-as-love-and-concern. Virulently anti-Papist, anti-Semetic, Muslim-and-Arabphobic.

    And, best of all, as a cartoon tract he’s easy to read and probably a lot of fun for them, too.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    “I’m sorry for your situation and I’d help as an individual and try 

    to convince others to help too,”
    Utter conservative/libertarian bullshit!

  • Anonymous

    I read far too much sci-fi, but only because it helps me deal with the utter rage at how horrible politics has become.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Let’s not forget that the lives of White people is much more important to Ron Paul than ten times that in the lives of Black people

    And also, slavery would have ended if we just paid slave “owners” to reimburse their property losses.

  • runsinbackground

    You know, it’s funny: I just read Anthem (Ayn Rand’s second novel) for the first time since I was assigned it in high school, and one of the things that struck me is how Ms. Rand will go from something like “people are made worse to the extent that they are harmed” to putting into the mouths of her antagonists sentences like “what is not done collectively cannot be good.” I don’t know what it is that makes people jump from trying to do what’s best for the education of mentally-challenged children to “a totalitarian, corporatist, illegal, unconstitutional state,” but it’s something Rand and this commenter have in common.

  • Baeraad

    Yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that “too much sci-fi => clueless libertarianism” as some kind of direct cause and effect. I suppose that strictly speaking, I should say that a certain kind of sci-fi has contains the same kind of wrongheaded sentiments as a certain kind of clueless libertarianism, and that indeed I have gotten the impression that the adherents of the latter often read a lot of and are probably strongly influenced by the former. But it kind of loses its sting when you put it like that…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Remember how Rick Perry was vilified, not for that time he executed an innocent person, but because he tried to stop young girls from getting cancer and let the children of illegal immigrants go to school. Perhaps the only two decent and compassionate things he ever did as Governor of Texas, and that’s what he got beaten up for.

    In the case of the vaccinations, Rick Perry was getting campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical manufacturer which was getting paid by the government for every person treated with their cervical cancer vaccine.  While the net result was certainly positive (and I do not begrudge people making a profit by helping society at large) I doubt that compassion had anything to do with Perry pushing for the vaccination to be mandatory.  

  • Anonymous

    “Ron Paul Thought is rapidly gaining momentum among young white men.”

    And always has been.  Among, of course, a very ‘select’ group of young white men.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Laugh all you want, suckers, but the Santorum surge is quite real. And, yes, that link is safe for work.

  • Anonymous

    And also, slavery would have ended if we just paid slave “owners” to reimburse their property losses.

    Waiter, I’d like a plate of US-centrism with a side of ignorance?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_Abolition_Act_1833

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The thought occurs that libertarianism is basically what you get if you’re a privileged young white man who wants to protect your privilege, but you care less about authoritarianism-in-general and more about being able to smoke pot.

  • friendly reader

    Oh yeah, it absolutely stinks of Rand’s Manicheanism (oh come on, Firefox, that is a word!). There’s either total liberty or total tyranny.

    And what’s even nuttier is how collectivist his rebuttal is! WE the COUNTRY can’t let your INDIVIDUAL problems get in the way of OUR rights. The MAJORITY trumps all. People were calling them fascist on that forum thread, and while I don’t think all Ron Paul fans are fascists, there is that trend there.

    Which reminds me of a marvelous interview with William F. Buckley where he talks about Rand. She liked him for a time because of their mutual anti-communist stances, but then he let someone publish a review of Atlas Shrugged which argued that her utter dehumanization of a class of people to the point of wishing them dead was one stepped removed from the Holocaust. At which point he was persona non grata to her. Buckley said that the review might have been a little hyperbolic (today we’d say it pulled a Godwin), but that it had a point, which is what so many Randians miss… or maybe they just don’t care.

  • Alicia

    Just because they did that way in Britain (per the Wikipedia article):

    The Act also included the right of compensation for slave-owners who
    would be losing their property. The amount of money to be spent on the
    compensation claims was set at “the Sum of Twenty Millions Pounds
    Sterling”.[11]
    Under the terms of the Act the British government raised £20 million to
    pay out in compensation for the loss of the slaves as business assets
    to the registered owners of the freed slaves.

    Doesn’t mean that we should have done that in the US. People who subjugate an entire race, ripping children from their parents, treating people like cattle, obliterating their culture and language shouldn’t be financially compensated in any way for that. The British probably did it because it was the only way to get it done at the time but it was hardly ideal and it was perhaps the only shameful aspect of what was otherwise a noble act. I’m a little surprise that you would even allude to that reprehensible argument here of all places.

  • Anonymous

    My argument was not about what the US should or should not have done. My argument was, Jas-nDye was wrong to say that slavery could not have ended other than by bloodshed, because plainly, slavery did end other than by bloodshed.

    I’m a little appalled that you consider the deaths of six hundred thousand people the only appropriate way to end slavery. Especially since waiting around for the war to happen, rather than ransoming the US slaves when the British ransomed theirs, caused who knows how much suffering and how many deaths in the decades between the 1833 act and the 1861 war.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    ‘Jas-nDye was wrong to say that slavery could not have ended other than by bloodshed,”

    I said that? Really? I suggested that? Where?

    Other ways would have been appropriate and better, but I’m supposing you didn’t read the link so I’m not about to retread my arguments.

    “Waiting around for the war to happen, rather than ransoming the US slaves when the British ransomed theirs”

    Do you honestly think that was an option? Because it wasn’t. Too much money and profits for southern slave owners to lose.

  • Lori

    Do you honestly think that was an option? Because it wasn’t. Too much money and profits for southern slave owners to lose. 

    Sadly true. It’s not as if no one suggested going the freedom through compensation route here in the US. It was a total non-starter, among other reasons because it would have bankrupted the country and the South still wouldn’t have gone for it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Doesn’t mean that we should have done that in the US. People who subjugate an entire race, ripping children from their parents, treating people like cattle, obliterating their culture and language shouldn’t be financially compensated in any way for that. The British probably did it because it was the only way to get it done at the time but it was hardly ideal and it was perhaps the only shameful aspect of what was otherwise a noble act. I’m a little surprise that you would even allude to that reprehensible argument here of all places.     

    As usual, it is more complicated than that. 

    While yes, enslaving is reprehensible and morally the slaveholders do not deserve compensation, practically something like it is necessary.  Slavery goes beyond the simple forced servitude of one human to another; rather prolific slavery creates an insidious system of co-dependence that is very difficult to unravel once it has become so entwined. 

    On the one hand, the slaver-owerns need the labor the slaves can provide to keep their economy going.  On the other hand, the slaves have no education or assets with which to strike out on their own and build a life apart from the slave-owners.  Declaring an end to slavery is a necessary first step, but it is not nearly sufficient. 

    A big part of the reconstruction period in the wake of the civil war was the attempt to make the society and economy of the south restructured to do without slavery.  It was not an easy task, and it was not completely successful either.  It took almost another century after that just to get the society in the south to actually be at least ostensibly equitable, and the process of making society as a whole equitable in actual practice is still on-going.

  • Tonio

    When Jas-nDye made the comment about compensating slaveowners, I thought this was meant as ridicule of Ron Paul’s suggestion that the US should have done that.

    prolific slavery creates an insidious system of co-dependence that is
    very difficult to unravel once it has become so entwined.

    And that includes emotional co-dependence. Southern whites who didn’t own slaves were among the institution’s most fervent supporters, because it meant they weren’t at the bottom of the social hierarchy:

    http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-overview/why-non-slaveholding.html

    the South still wouldn’t have gone for it.

    It’s possible that compensation might have found broad support, at least in concept, if it had been pushed right after the Revolutionary War. Slavery had been a threat to unity even during the war – an original draft of the Declaration included a passage condemning slavery and the importation of Africans for it. I suspect that if any opportunity to do away with slavery without war had existed, it was probably gone by the time of the Missouri Compromise, which only delayed the inevitable. Southerners correctly believed that the institution had to grow or it would die, and not just because slaveholding states were in danger of being outnumbered in Congress. Ultimately it can be preserved only through force and the threat of force, for conquering new lands to sustain it (the Mexican War) and for suppressing slave rebellions. The fear of the latter was so great that by the 1850s South Carolina was a police state.

  • Jlipton

    Why limit it to politics? Other than an extensive knowledge of Left Behind, I haven’t seen many signs of intelligence on any subject.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @e85bede4f90669b787be42b2913e35ce:disqus Thanks for the Silence reference; that was a fantastic quotation. It is on my reading list. (One of my 2012 goals to to finish many of the 12ish books I’m “in the middle of”, which I make more difficult by adding new books at a rapid clip!)


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