This seems pretty accurate

This seems pretty accurate December 20, 2011

Dave Weigel on what to expect if Paul actually threatens to upset the status quo in DC:

Paul is in a curious place—a three-time presidential candidate who has barely been vetted by the media. He’s been the GOP’s proudest anti-war, anti-torture voice for four years. That position has earned him soft interviews with Jay Leno, and countless segments on The Daily Show.

If Paul wins Iowa, that stops. The conservative press, which has been bored but hostile to Paul all year (just see the National Review’s cover story), will remind its readers that Paul wants to legalize prostitution and narcotics, end aid to Israel (as part of a general no-aid-for-anyone policy), and end unconstitutional programs like Medicare and social security. The liberal press will discover that he’s a John Birch Society supporter who for years published lucrative newsletters studded with racist gunk. In 2008, when the media didn’t take him seriously, Paul was able to get past the newsletter story with a soft-gummed Wolf Blitzer interview. (“Certainly didn’t sound like the Ron Paul that I’ve come to know and our viewers have come to know all this time,” said Blitzer.) This was when Paul was on track to lose every primary. It’ll be different if the man wins Iowa.

I have no problem with ending foreign aid, nor with ending aid to Israel.  I am skeptical of the War on Drugs, and open to arguments that it’s not the Fed’s job to prosecute it or prostitution.  His tolerance for nutty racists (while I’ve seen no evidence he shares their views) is under discussion below.  So far, that looks like the biggest strike against him.  On the whole though, I still prefer politicians who tolerate racist nuts to have their views more than I like politicians who kill 100,000 brown-skinned people in military campaigns to establish the Great Society abroad, or politicians who labor to kill millions of brown-skinned babies in obedience to some theory by white population planners saying, “Just enough of me.  Way too much of you.”

I think the odds of his ending Medicare and Social Security are considerably outweighed by the odds of Obama or whoever the GOP burps up for us to rubber-stamp doing still more massive mischief such as new wars, more abortion and crushing of conscience, or even more draconian usurpation of basic human rights.  So, on the grounds of proportionate good cited by Cdl. Ratzinger, Paul still seems to be the best bet.

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  • kenneth

    You know, I don’t consider myself a conservative of any kind nor a true libertarian, and I certainly don’t take my moral marching orders from the Pope, but I might just take a Republican primary ballot this year and give him a shot. The main wings of BOTH parties have essentially come to a shared consensus that they want to run this country like Syria, as long as they and their corporate masters get to be the Alawites. (Well, like Syria but a bigger exporter of terror).

    They’ve both reached the point where they don’t really even feel the need to pay pro-forma lip service anymore to the rule of law nor any over-arching commitment to even try to make the country work for everyone. As nutty as some of his platform may be, at least he’s not a mental midget or rank amateur like all of the other “outsiders” the Tea Party has embraced.

    In a sense, terminal illness of a nation is as liberating as it can be for an individual. You have little left to lose, so you have much to gain by thinking outside of the box. Or to hack another metaphor, if your on a 747 headed into the side of a mountain, your flight crew is dead and the one guy who claims to be a pilot is wearing a straight jacket and has a facial tic, you might as well undo him and let the bugger have a run at it. He might pull it off and either way it will at least be a more interesting ride.

    • Manwe

      “and I certainly don’t take my moral marching orders from the Pope”

      And what is that supposed to mean? I take it your not a Catholic, nor even a Christian, am I right? If so, then why bother to read this blog? And I don’t mean this to be offensive either, hear me out. I just don’t see the point in it. For example, I have no use for atheism, so I don’t bother hitting atheist blogs, let alone one called ‘Atheist and enjoying it’. Is it just that you enjoy Mark Shea’s writing?

      • Mark Shea

        I think Kenneth calls himself a pagan.

      • kenneth

        It is true, I am a pagan, by way of Catholic apostasy, no less. I don’t often find myself in agreement with him, and quite frankly I sometimes find him to be a contemptuous fellow.

        That doesn’t mean he’s not worth reading. It’s too easy these days to only read things that parrot one’s own world views and never challenge them. We’ve done it so long that most people have lost the ability to engage or criticism or craft a logical argument at all. Despite my radical disagreement with most of his worldview, I have a certain respect for Mark for much the same reason that I respected Christopher Hitchens.

        Both have/had a wide independent streak that you just don’t see anymore in writers who engage ideological or culture war issues. Most ideologues on the left AND right won’t ever paint outside of partisan lines for fear of “letting the other guy score.” Most religious conservatives these days grant a blanket exemption on morality when it comes to their own guys. Their only bottom line belief is power and their own narrow agenda, and they’d fall in line behind Bashar al Assad if that’s what it took to win.

        I may think Mark’s perception and conclusions on any number of issues are cracked, but at least he’s morally consistent. When he calls something out as evil, like torture, he applies that to “his own” team as well as the opposition. He’ll break rank and name names. I respect that.

        I also find him to be spot-on on some of the big-picture issues facing this country. He gets the fact that the elites we so blindly fight for in our little culture wars are in fact collaborating to steal this country’s legacy and future from MOST of us. Most Catholics have nothing to gain by letting that happen and I daresay none of us pagans stand to gain either.

        • Tominellay

          Ron Paul’s ideas are attractive to pagans and non-pagans…that’s the beauty of freedom…

  • kj

    That ‘will end social security’ junk is demogoguery. He considers the senior entitlements a contract right, possibly in part because he refused the government pension as immorally rich, so had to pay in to social security and medicare just like the rest of us plebians. His budget plan to balance the budget in 3 years fully funds social security without need to reduce benefits nor raise age, and bolsters medicare, although the cost curve for medicine will also need to be reduced long term to crack that nut. Otherwise something might still have to happen there ultimataly. During his three year plan, though, it is fully funded.

    But he lets those under 25 opt out, paying for it by cuts elsewhere, so the next generations aren’t forced into the same dependency as current generations.

    So, sure, he’d end it. For your grandchildren. IF they opt that way. That isn’t how people understand it when you say ‘end social security’, now is it?

    His plan is under the issues tab on his campaign web page, as part of the ‘Restore America Now Plan’ if you want to look it up.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      So, sure, he’d end it. For your grandchildren. IF they opt that way.

      And seriously: I’m 30, and I’m quite sure that there won’t be a dime left in Social Security by the time I retire even if it’s kept the way it is.

      • Matt B

        I wonder how Congress is going to pay for the SS tax cut so generously bestowed on us last year, and possibly next year as well? I guess after awhile the fiction of making future SS payments becomes so improbable that respectable politicians don’t even mention it. Or is it just another example of pulling money out of your pocket, Andy, to salvage somebody’s political career? “Let them eat twinkies!”

  • keddaw

    Social Security will be funded by debt, which itself will be funded by inflation as per the policies of the two main parties (Keynesian or monetary, they’re both going to try to pull the same trick). The actual value of SS will be massively reduced due to inflation to make it hardly worth the bother, forcing more and more of us into private schemes that will lead to the eventual phasing out of the state system over time, except for those at the very bottom.

    How do I know this? Look at the UK pension system.

    • Matt B

      That’s OK, except that the private retirement dollars will be chasing fewer and fewer real investment assets, what with anemic growth in the economy and the explosion of small investment. Sounds like a recipe for even more inflation.

      Private investments, otherwise known as “the Market” is looking more and more like a giant ponzi scheme, or a way to rake off fees by investment advisors and fund managers. Small investors are under the mistaken assumption that the Market will always go up. That’s what they thought about real estate.

      The underlying weakness in that theory is that the economy is in a permanent, endemic stall – like Japan has been for the last 20 years. The reason: demographics. Populations are on the decline and the population is aging. (Only people, and especially young people, produce anything. Old people produce the timeshare economy and health care costs.)

      Your “elites” are hoping that really shallow and false growth items like iphones and computer technology can offset demographic changes. It’s the first time in history that toy-development dominates the economy. Meanwhile government-driven birth control measures like “no jobs for young people,” and “20-year degree programs before you have a marketable skill” continue to sap the real strenth of the economy: young people having more children at an earlier age.

      This is the real defining issue of our day, but it goes practically ignored. All that jive about 1984 is just window dressing.

  • William

    Ron Paul’s own words in response to a Wolfe Blitzer (2008) question about the newsletter: “And of course it’s been rehashed for a long time and it’s coming up now for political reasons. But everybody in my district knows I didn’t write them. And I don’t speak like that. Nobody has ever heard me say anything like that. I’ve been reelected time and time again. So everybody knows I don’t participate in that type of language.
    But the point is when you bring the question up you’re really saying, you’re a racist or are you a racist? And the answer is no. I’m not a racist. As a matter of fact Rosa Parks is one of my heroes. Martin Luther King is a hero. Because they practiced the libertarian principle of civil disobedience, nonviolence.
    Libertarians are incapable of being a racist because racism is a collectivist idea. You see people in group. A civil libertarian like myself see everybody as an important individual. It’s not the color of their skin that is important. As Martin Luther King said. What is important is the character of the people.”

    • “Libertarians are incapable of being a racist because racism is a collectivist idea.”

      It’s statements like this that make me hestitate. Either he doesn’t believe such a crazy thing, but just says it anyway to avoid the meat of the issue, or he actually beleives such a crazy thing.

      • S. Murphy

        Or he means, ‘one can’t be consistently Libertarian and racist.’

        • That’s a bit like saying real Muslims can’t be violent, or real Christians never sin. It’s a very questionable view to have. Certainly for someone wanting to be prez.

    • ds

      “If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.” – Ron Paul Newsletter, 1992

      Ron Paul’s own words responding to that quote, 1996: “If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them.” This was back when he was still claiming he wrote it, only that it was taken out of context. He only felt it necessary to claim he didn’t write it in 2001.

      Sorry I didn’t reply sooner but I only just now stopped ROFLing at “Libertarians are incapable of being a racist.”

      • See, I don’t even know if that’s necessarily racist. Dumb, yeah. But is it a fact that black teenaged males are, on average, faster than non-black teenaged males? Well, I don’t know, but it is pretty likely. Do black teenaged males commit significantly more crimes than non-black teenaged males? I’m pretty sure they do, though the reasons for this are culturally based, rather than race based.

        If facts are true, is it racist to point out those facts? I guess an argument could be made either way. If that’s the worst thing he has against him, I am relieved, personally.

        • ds

          I think it’s racist, enough to offend me, but I can see how others might not think it is. He thought it wasn’t offensive enough to hurt him that bad in his own district in 1996 — and he was right, he won!

          But on top of the racism that offends me is the dodging inconsistent stories about the origins of his wackjob newsletters and some of the other content. New world order black helicopter conspiracy stuff, suggestions that the AIDS virus was engineered by the US govt, really nutty stuff like that.

          Maybe he didn’t write that either, but still that means he paid someone to write it under his name.

          • I guess I’d classify the statement as possibly coming from a racist. The statement itself is not necessarily racist, but if a person said that to me, I’d wonder if they were a racist.

            As to the other kooky stuff, I agree that he goes overboard sometimes, and can be a bad judge of other peoples motives. He said recently that Bachmann “hates” Muslims, for example.

  • Sam Schmitt

    The establishment Republicans over at National Review are calling people names and sounding desperate. What exactly are they afraid of? Maybe there’s something to this Ron Paul guy.

  • “I still prefer politicians who tolerate racist nuts to have their views more than I like politicians who kill 100,000 brown-skinned people”

    I don’t know. Again, I’m reminded that back in the 90s when Pat and the pitchfork brigade were all the rage, Christians on both sides of the aisle seeemed to unite in order to point out that America was not so important as to neglect the age old idea that we are, indeed, our brother’s keeper.

    While this doesn’t mean a blank check, do it wrong, do it stupid, or do it bad, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it. While we can’t force people not to sin, and can’t pass laws making such thinking illegal, there’s a thin line between freedom and apathy; of ‘we won’t force you to convert’ and ‘live and let die.’ Paul, and many libertarians, come dangerously close to that line (and some, quite frankly, take the plunge over it).

    Because the problem arises that ‘racist nuts’ with ‘their views’, if left alone, can someday become ‘politicians who kill 100,000 brown-skinned people’. Or millions for that matter. Which is why the unifying call in the 90s was that we are called to change, to convert, culture, not just shrug shoulders and let culture be culture. After all, we wouldn’t say ‘if only Nazi Germany would have abolished its federal extermination of the Jews and turned it over to individual districts, it wouldn’t have been that bad.’ Of course not. But it shouldn’t be about other things that are generally seen as that bad either.

    Maybe that was just a unification of Protestant theology, I don’t know. Maybe the Church does say, somehow, that it’s far better to accept the tears of the world rather than take a chance on doing the wrong thing in wiping them away. I get the feeling it doesn’t. I get the feeling that the Church’s view is that we as individuals and nations must find ways to wipe them away, but make sure we don’t do evil that the tears may dry up. That as individuals, communities, and nations, we are our brothers’ keeper, and on every level we must do – not just not do – what it takes to be salt of the earth, light of the world, and bring that cup of cold water to those who thirst. That to do nothing can be almost as bad as doing the wrong thing. Just a thought at this time of peace and good will.

    • Matt B

      The evangelical atheists are just as ecumenical as proselytizing protestants (and advocates for democracy) used to be:

      “The worst are full of passionate intensity while the best lack all conviction.” Yeats “The Second Coming” (paraphrase).

      Your discussion, Dave, reveals a deep ambiguity and confusion of purpose among what I’ll take to be “the best.” They are unsure of what to do, how or why.

      Obama didn’t manifest such existential angst as he marched toward obamacare, pushed conscience-based health care exclusions to the point of invisibility, expanded “reproductive health services” and “marriage equality” around the world, abandoned DOMA, “integrated” the armed services, cut and run in Bush’s war and expanded a few of his own, dismantled habeas corpus, assassinated US citizens in foreign countries and maybe at home, who knows?

      In fact, a president needs to have clearly formed ideas about what needs to be done – and needs to put them into effect. There’s no lack of certainty or resolve among the Obamanauts.

      It’s extremely relevant that the most that a divided opposition can agree on is what shouldn’t be done. Paul represents a great yawning negative. In fact, what he would do, besides “none of the above” is a huge disturbing question mark. Certainly for a chief executive, “nothing” is not an answer.

      • William

        “Certainly for a chief executive, “nothing” is not an answer.” As a huge Ron Paul supporter, I agree with you. Ron Paul will not do “nothing” as chief executive!