Populist Pot Pandering
I'm pretty fed up with this whole "Ron Paul is SOOO GREAT" vibe that seems to be so popular online.
Ron Paul is no different or better than any other right-wing Republican in any substantive way. His primary basis of support among young people comes from his support for cannabis legalization and his penchant for framing his arguments in populist rhetoric - a trick that plenty of other hard-right conservatives have played many times (see: Party, Tea).
Part of what prompted this show is an interview with Paul by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks - possibly the only remaining news organization on the planet with any consistent integrity - during his MSNBC run. Paul's statements and positions during this interview are typical of his rhetoric, and expose glaring holes both in his logic and in his saccharine populism.
Before we go into this, I want to make clear: I don't think Ron Paul is stupid. If he was, he might have an excuse for some of his positions.
Uygur's first question to Paul was in reference to his vote in favor of a $30 Billion subsidy to oil companies. The question, verbatim: "Why did you do that?"
Paul's very first response: "Well that depends on how you define subsidies." Classic political avoidance. He goes on to say "I don't consider any tax break a subsidy," and launches into a self-righteous spiel about how it wasn't a spending bill (something that wasn't asserted in the first place) and pats himself on the back for "never voting for a spending bill."
This myth that Ron Paul opposes government spending needs to be exploded.
Paul spend 5 years drawing paychecks from the United States Air Force and Air National guard. After being elected in a special election for a short term as US Representative in 1976 (replacing Rep. Robert R. Casey who was appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission by then-president Gerald Ford), he lost in the general that year but ran again in 1978. He won that election, and was re-elected to Congress again in 1980 and 1982.
Paul ran for the senate in 1984 - attempting to draw another six years of federal pay - and in 1988 ran for President as the Libertarian Party candidate.
Paul returned to medical practice after the campaign, and I'll credit him for not accepting funds from government health programs, choosing instead to work pro-bono for poor patients. (His son Rand, who pushes the same empty fantasies, *did* take medicaid funds in his practice.) Of course, he had several other sources of income, so he wasn't hurting for money. However, it would be unfair and biased of me not to recognize that in this, at least, his behavior was consistent with his stated positions. Additionally, he has consistently refused to collect a congressional pension.
In 1992, Paul supported noted race-baiter and homophobe Pat Buchanan in his bid as Libertarian Party presidential candidate, and was an advisor to the Buchanan campaign.
In 1996, Paul returned to congressional politics, running for and winning again in Texas with the support of billionaire "flat tax" fantasy shill Steve Forbes and some quid pro quo support from Buchanan.
It was during this campaign that some of Paul's offensive and condescending attitude towards minorities became widely known. Several excerpts were made public from his newsletter, including a remark under the 1992 headline "Terrorist Update" where he remarked that "if you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."
He also referenced (but did not cite) surveys of blacks in a 1996 article asserting that "Opinion polls...show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions." He went on to remark in response to a report that 85 percent of all black men in Washington, D.C. are arrested, that "Given the inefficiencies [of the system], I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
Furthermore he wrote, "...it is hardly irrational [to be afraid of black men.] [They] commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings, and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers." In that same newsletter, he endorsed lowering the age at which juvenile criminals can be prosecuted as adults, remarking "We don't think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such."
This is the guy preaching small government and personal liberty?
But there's a more troubling suggestion that Paul has an issue with blacks. In the Summer 1999 issue of The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, it was reported that Paul - alone among 86 senators and 424 congressmen - voted _against_ awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks, citing opposition to the cost of the medal. The same article reported Paul's characterization of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan as a "fraud" and a "half educated victimologist" whose "race and sex protect her from criticism." In yet another article, Paul wrote that (quoting the JBHE article) "blacks were more inclined to crime than any other profession and 'intellectually incapable of grasping important social and political issues.'"
Further, the following unattributed statement appeared in his newsletters:
"Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressmen (sic). What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day." Note that Paul claims this was written by someone else…who refers to their congressional votes in the first person.
But it's not just blacks. Paul (or, as he now claims, his ghostwriters) seems to have a problem with homosexuals, too:
"Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities."
Paul apologists will quickly jump to say "oh, but he didn't actually *write* that newsletter, it was done by ghostwriters and just had his name as the newsletter title for much of the time." So if I have David Duke post an article about how evil black people are to this website without using a byline, that means I'm not responsible for the racist content of the message? What a pile of chicken lips.
Three Decades Of Opposing Government By Drawing A Paycheck From The Government
Paul won re-election as representative of his rural Texas congressional district in 1996, and has remained in Washington since.
So we have a man who campaigns against government spending...and has spent 27 years collecting a paycheck from the government. A man who claims to stand for individual freedom but wants to imprison thirteen year olds...so long as they're black, of course. A man who has been trying to impose term limits on Congress since the 1970's has himself served 12 full terms as a congressman, plus a partial term. In March of 2001 he introduced a bill to repeal the 1973 War Powers Resolution...and later that year voted to authorize response to 9-11 via that same resolution. Months later he turned around and made a "principled" stand against the Iraq War resolution, knowing full well that his vote would have no effect and serve only the interests of his continued political viability among the naive.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Paul has consistently promoted the abolishment of social welfare, citing the common fantasy that "private charity will take care of it." He opposes universal health care, apparently assuming (rather illogically) that all physicians have multiple political positions and campaign funds to cover their living expenses while they work for free. In the Uygur interview and consistently throughout his career he has pushed the chimera of job creation by lowering taxes on the wealthy and corporations. He claims to support taxation of corporations, but consistently votes against taxing them, as in the March oil subsidies vote.
He claims to "always give tax credits and always cut spending." These two things are diametrically opposed. Cutting tax income has *zero* functional difference from spending the money that those taxes would have brought in. Either way, the money isn't there any more and the government has to continue to provide everything it provides without that money. This is a vicious cycle perpetuated by right-wing fantasy economics - if we can just cripple the government enough so that it cannot provide any services, then we will have great government. If our people die in the streets, that's just fine...so long as the government isn't involved...and if you think that's hyperbole I've got a nasty shock for you - _our people are dying in the streets. Right now._
Paul's rhetoric and positions continue to thrive on the selfish, me-first attitude that has poisoned this country since Reagan was elected. Taxes are "stealing," but running a scam to collect money from stoned college kids is legitimate business.
Freedom! Just, you know, not for YOU. For corporations, though, FREEDOM~!
He claims to oppose "special interests" and "powerful corporations," and his opposition to those interests and corporations comes in the form of giving them free rein to poison the environment and exploit workers at will.
He make no distinction between payment of taxes to support services vital to a strong and evolved society like education and health care, and taking money out of poor people's pockets...and then he votes to give a $30 Billion tax break to oil companies, leaving the middle class to make up the difference and the poor to bear the costs of misdirected middle-class resentment over taxation in the form of opposition to health care and education. He approves of credit transaction, but opposes the regulation of interest rates to keep people from being raped.
"Education is not a right. Medical care isn't a right. These are things you have to earn." That's a direct quote. He cites increased tuition costs but fails to recognize that much of that cost has been introduced by decades of banks driving prices up so they could profit from interest rates on loans. He waxes nostalgic about the glory days of his youth but fails to recognize that in those days blacks and women rarely attended college at all and the entire country was run by white males. He characterizes collective bargaining by labor unions as "artificial power," and claims not to want to give corporations "artificial power" either...but then turns around and gives corporations precisely that power by voting for tax breaks and against common-sense regulation of industry. He claims to support individual liberty, but strongly supports state laws prohibiting abortion.
I could go on like this for days, and this article has already involved several hours' research on my part referencing several weeks' work by those I've cited and many others. The point is, *Ron Paul's politics make no sense.* He spouts things that sound good to pissed-off white people and college kids who want to smoke pot without worrying about going to jail, but his actual policy positions when examined closely are substantively no different from those of the fringe right - all the power goes to those who have the money in their hand, they should be allowed to exploit those who don't to whatever extent humanly possible, and there should be no entity to stand in defense of the individual.
He pushes the ridiculous fantasy that only government can be oppressive or act as a censor. He disguises his loathing for blacks, the poor, and gays as "libertarianism," and in the process sucks money out of people's hands like a vacuum cleaner.
Yes, he's done a few charitable things and yes his refusal to take medicaid funds in his private medical practice or accept his congressional pension are consistent with his rhetoric...but that's about all the good you can say about him, and frankly the only reason he is able to even maintain that much integrity is that he can *afford* to. He does not live in a world of reality, and he is not interested in your freedom. He just wants you to be too stoned and stupid to notice that his entire philosophy is unsustainable in practice outside of the narrow parameters which define his own life.
But my biggest objection to Paul isn't any of these things, taken singly. My objection is this: his "me first" attitude with "no right to medical care" and "no right to education" and "taxes are stealing" exemplifies what is destroying this country. He claims to pursue anarchy and meritocracy, but what he's really pushing is oligarchy and plutocracy - the maintenance and reinforcement of the same ridiculous status quo that has been pushing not only the spirit of this country but the conscience of its people down a garbage disposal of Randite objectivism and laissez-faire capitalist greed at the expense of individual freedom and opportunity for the last thirty years.
Ron Paul does not care about what is good for you, or for this country. Ron Paul cares about what is good for Ron Paul. Don't be fooled by his snake-oil salesman routine of legal pot and "liberty." The only liberty he cares about is the liberty for the rich to get richer at your expense.
For the first time since I’ve been doing this, a video presentation has picked up some fairly substantial attention before I even blogged it. 115 views and over 20 comments, and all I’ve done is upload the video – didn’t share it, didn’t blog it, didn’t even tell anyone I’d done it.
This reflects the slavering fealty that Paulites display for the Congressman, and it also reflects just how effective his dishonest presentation of himself as a friend of individual freedom can be. Sure, he’s for “freedom,” except when you start paying attention he’s actually for freedom of corporations and industry to abuse and destroy the planet and enslave human beings for profit. Freedom from environmental regulation, freedom from minimum wage, freedom from the mandatory availability of health care, freedom from safety regulations, freedom from taxation (for businesses). He then draws an false equivalence between this and individual liberty…and his acolytes buy right in, as you can see from the comments on the video.
In his deliberate destruction of critical thinking skills and promotion of logical fallacy and distorted truth for the sake of giving himself a paycheck, Ron Paul is not just “as bad as” the Tea Partiers who are his legacy…he’s far worse. Those morons are just following his dishonest, manipulative, and fraudulent lead.
But what makes this truly fascinating to me, is how quickly his followers, these lovers of freedom, will rush to validate all this criticism without even realizing it. A few examples:
Critical flaw: Hopeful credulity leads to deliberate ignorance of facts
Ron Paul is not racist. Back in Jim Crow Texas he was one of the few doctors willing to take all black mothers and often accepted minimal or no payment for the births
Right, except that a) Paul got his doctorate about three years before the Jim Crow laws ended, b) he didn’t practice medicine at all during the Crow era, c) he was in the service for the early years of his medical career and didn’t go in to private practice until 1968, and d) he wasn’t in Texas until that same time…again, long after the US civil rights era was in full swing and the “separate but equal” philosophy behind Jim Crow had long since been declared unconstitutional. Oh, and e) no supporting evidence offered for Paul being “one of the few doctors willing to take all black mothers.”
Multiple logical flaws:; reliance on authoritarianism; special pleading; misdirection
MrWakethesheepleI don't like Beck and Limbaugh any more than you do. If I had a chance I'd kick both their asses. Fascism is the merger of state and corporate power. Obama and Bush exemplify this principle through the banker bailout, mandatory health care (BO), continued corporate tax loopholes, military spending, etc.. Ron Paul would get rid of alot of fascism which is why he can't get elected.
Kicking the asses of idiots like Beck and Limbaugh would, of course, only make them even more popular. The writer refuses to recognize that deregulating industry is, in fact, the handing over of power to corporations. The writer distracts from the point of the conversation by criticizing other people. The writer claims victim status for Paul and blames that status for his inability to get elected President.
Logical flaw: attempting to criticize the critical thinking of others from a position of incompetence:
i dont know if i completely support ron paul but i can tell you your logic is flaud.
You can’t even spell “flawed,” how can you possibly tell me my logic is flawed? (The writer offers no specific criticism or further detail, just this assertion and some meaningless and ugly remarks about the length of the video).
Logical fallacies: appeal to age as a substitute for intellect; argumentum ad hominem
Dude" PUNK.. whatever your trying too be, I'm 50 and Eat politics in my Cereal YOU JUST MADE A BIG ASS OF YOURSELF
Logical flaws: faulty premise, unsupported conclusion, presentation of false choices
There are three values in Politics.
Equality, Freedom, and Security (aka Order).
Favoring one means reducing the other. You are right that Ron Paul favors Freedom which is in opposition to forcing equality.
Logical fallacy: false equivalency
You defend corporatism by attacking Paul...that's what we currently have.
(No, I oppose corporatism by stripping the layer of fake populism off the tops of Paul’s philosophy and reveal it as anti-individual and pro-corporate. The fact that so many who blindly follow Paul’s populist rhetoric without actually paying attention to what he’s really saying have such a hard time with this reality is further evidence that Paul and his supporters are at core neither particularly progressive nor particularly interested in truth.)
Logical fallacy: argumentum ad hominem; use of sarcasm as a substitute for well-constructed rebuttal; dehumanization of dissenting opinions
OK, you've redefined some terms and changed my mind.
Government good, taxes good, eternal debt servitude good, subjugation good.
Or maybe not. Flushing you down in 3, 2, 1 ....
Critical flaw: deliberate misquote; assertions of error without supporting evidence; assertions of dishonesty supported by evidence validating the “dishonest” assertion; ad hoc redefinition of terms
So many lies in this video. Here's one example. You claim that RP supports "states to stop abortion" Reality: He is against abortion but says that it's up to individual states to decide - not the federal government. That's basic 10th amendment. He is a constitutionalist - not a libertarian.
(Reality: Paul supports state-level laws prohibiting abortion. Making abortion illegal – whether by state, local, or federal law - imposes power on women. Anti-abortion laws are therefore directly contradictory to the individual liberty that Paul claims to champion. Paul ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket – if you want to lie to yourself about it, go right ahead, but don’t waste time trying to lie to me about it. I can read. Further reality: you call me a liar but didn’t point out any lies; your assertion regarding my dishonest is therefore unsupported and thus invalid.)
Logical fallacy: well poisoning. Critical flaw: unsupported assertions, inability to recognize purposes of taxation; inability to understand concept of a nation rewarding its great people.
Ron Paul put up $100 of his own money to make a medal for Rosa Parks and encouraged other members of Congress to chip in as well, which would have paid for the medal with cash to spare. Instead of paying themselves, Congress paid for the medal by fleecing the taxpayer.
No evidence for the $100 assertion, and that would be typical Paul grandstanding anyway. I wonder how he has voted on other medals? And how exactly is the nation agreeing to show appreciation to a great citizen with a valuable token “fleecing” anyone? Yeah, that 1/10th of one cent we each chipped in, boy don’t I just feel ripped off now. The whole point is that the nation is rewarding and recognizing greatness in one of its people. Of course the nation – meaning you and I, the taxpayer – are going to pay for that. WTF, if someone returns your lost wallet to you, do you offer them a reward from your secretary’s paycheck?
Critical flaw: unsupported claims to expertise
Uhm, My parents are from India and I was born and raised my entire life in Canada and I love Ron Paul. He aint no racist couldn't be farther.
So wait…you’re from India and you are Canadian so that makes you an expert on bigotry? I’m 6’0” and have long hair and that makes me an expert in astrophysics. It’s not MY fault the guy is a bigot. It’s probably not even his, that’s the world he was born in.
Ron Paul is a fraud. The fact that he is personable or has done some nice things in his life does not negate that. His position as this legendary champion of individual liberty is almost entirely constructed of smoke and mirrors; Paul’s greatest championship has been for the cause of corporate and industrial liberty. He believes in allowing human beings to go without health care and education (and claims erroneously to support free health care by postulating universal will among health care professionals to treat the poor at no charge…which actually screws health care professionals and at any rate relies on a false premise).
No matter how nice or personable or even well-intentioned Paul may be, the facts remain:
- his policy positions benefit corporations at the expense of individual liberty;
- much of his “populist” behavior amounts to showboating with the full knowledge that his impact will be minimal to nonexistent;
- his objectivist approach to social welfare systems is cruel, inhumane, and promotes despotism
- his opposition to abortion directly opposes individual liberty for women
- his opposition to universal public education promotes and encourages a de facto caste system in which upward economic mobility from the lower and middle classes is deliberately stifled and opportunity is determined by pre-existing family wealth rather than intrinsic human worth
- his assessment of health care and education as privileges to be purchased rather than rights which are themselves critical foundations to other rights (such as equality of opportunity) is a direct action of opposition to equality of opportunity and therefore to individual liberty
Ron Paul gains support by portraying himself as a sympathetic and populist character who has the guts to stand up to the status quo and fight for what is right. The reality is that he’s had about the same amount of good and meaningful legislation as anyone else who’s spent a quarter-century or more as a lawmaker (regardless of party), no better, and his casting of himself as David against the Goliath of “big government”is a deliberately deceitful attempt to convince poor people that voting in favor of their own continued enslavement to corporations and industry is in their best interests, using the bait of legal cannabis.
In short, he is promoting exactly the agenda he claims to be standing against, he’s done it consistently throughout his career while making occasional “showboat” gestures in order to maintain his credibility among the remarkably credulous, and his philosophy and ideology are no less destructive to individual liberty than are any of the other policies generally promoted by the Randite-Objectivist wing of the Republican/Tea Party.
Bernstein, A. (1996, May 22). Newsletter excerpts offer ammunition to Paul’s opponent. Houston Chronicle. Houston, Txas. Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20070512114222/http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/aol-metropolitan/96/05/23/paul.html
Gane-McCalla, C. (2010, March 16). Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters Revealed. NewsOne - For Black America. News, . Retrieved August 7, 2011, from http://newsone.com/nation/casey-gane-mccalla/ron-pauls-racist-newsletters-revealed/
Kirchick, J. (2008, January 8). Angry White Man. The New Republic. Magazine, . Retrieved August 7, 2011, from http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/angry-white-man?id=e2f15397-a3c7-4720-ac15-4532a7da84ca
Ron Paul on MSNBC 3/2/11. (2011). MSNBC Live. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb5qkrpKVWw&feature=youtube_gdata_player
The Congressman Who Voted Against a Congressional Medal for Rosa Parks. (1999). The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, (24), 38-39.