Ron Paul’s other 1964 (okay 1965) problem

Congressman Paul’s unfortunate newsletters should not blind us to the deeper message of his candidacy.

I missed the chance to chime in on the Ron Paul controversy during the Iowa caucuses. Congressman Paul’s unfortunate newsletters should not blind us to the deeper message of his candidacy. I find this deeper message is almost as objectionable as the various bigotries published under Paul’s name in is cheesy newsletter.

Not that one should ignore these newsletters. A surprising number of moderates and progressives find Ron Paul’s mix of views morally, politically, and politically complex. It’s not. The man is a charmingly eccentric bigoted crackpot who deserves the coolest of civilities. He’s interesting because of the many people who find him so, not because of what he actually says. That he holds the occasionally progressive issue position is really beside the point.

Much has been made of the impressive pile of racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay material that appeared under Congressman Paul’s byline in his own highly profitable newsletter. It’s depressing that people must be reminded—e.g. by Jon Chait and Kevin Drum—of some basic realities here. 

Paul’s apparent bigotry and his crackpot economic views attract scorn when they lead to his principled objections to (say) the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as an undue infringement on individual liberty. They certainly should. Those who admire Paul’s issue positions sometimes regard these unpalatable conclusions as oddly admirable, an example of Paul’s willingness to push basic principles to their logical conclusion. Or these views are treated as a freakish and embarrassing, yet now operationally irrelevant aspect of an otherwise justified way to look at the world. Conor Friedersdorf complains, for example, that “For Critics of Libertarianism, It’s Always 1964.”

Again Jonathan Chait is right note the oddness of such arguments. Racists have long taken refuge in libertarian arguments to oppose civil rights legislation. I would add that for generations, a key, often-explicit argument against federal programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare was that these programs would help minorities by imposing colorblind federal policies on states and localities.

Race conservatives were right to worry. Medicare’s first, often-forgotten achievement was to integrate hospitals throughout the south. A remarkable paper by Almond and colleagues documents that Medicare markedly reduced post-neonatal mortality rates among African-American infants in places such as the Mississippi delta. Medicare pried open the doors of hitherto segregated facilities, saving the lives of striking numbers of black infants who would otherwise have died from pneumonia, dehydration, and other readily-treated ailments. That was the human reality of segregation that federal civil rights laws, and the major Great Society programs, sought to address.

Thus one confronts what might be called Paul’s other 1964 problem: His opposition to basic pillars of our modern welfare state, which are so essential to maintaining a humane society. Several of these pillars–Medicare and Medicaid principally among them–were established during 1964 and 1965 by the same people who championed civil rights legislation.

The American welfare state, on Paul’s radically libertarian account, is unjustly coercive because we are forced to pay taxes that are used to finance government services we may not support, or that simply subsidize other people. To take one example among many, Paul opposes the Americans with Disabilities Act. Regarding other matters, he opines: “The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim – frequently a victim of his own lifestyle – but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care.”

Consider the attached FOX news clip of Congressman Paul, in which he considers the Supreme Court’s willingness to uphold the constitutionality of Social Security and Medicare as a fundamental threat to individual liberty, even somewhat analogous to an earlier court’s support for slavery.

Now consider another picture.

Yeah. That’s my wife Veronica giving her brother Vincent a shave. Oddly enough, people who perform such rituals every day are rarely Ron Paul supporters. Vincent lived until the age of 38 with his parents. He moved in with us after his mother died. He then made the transition to a nearby group home. He spends his weekdays with friends, coworkers, and staff at a sheltered workshop. He receives good medical care for various significant challenges.

Because of Social Security’s disabled adult child program, Medicare, Medicaid, and a host imperfect, sometimes costly, often essential programs, Vincent has been able to spend his adult life in relative dignity, safety, and comfort. Because of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act and subsequent legislation, Vincent was able to attend public school, where he received important services. Because of those onerous class action lawsuits and the like, conditions at public and private care facilities are much better, much more community-based than they used to be.

Were it not for a host of policies that Ron Paul has consistently opposed, Vincent might well have exercised his individual liberty curled up medicated on a cot in the back ward of a gigantic state mental facility. His mother might have spent her final years going bankrupt, struggling to care for him at home or sending him away for institutional care. These comments might strike you as blogosphere hyperbole. They are not. These were common experiences across the country for hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their families well into the 1960s. In many places, inhumane policies persisted long after. Federal money and federal mandates were absolutely essential to address these concerns.

Libertarians deserve credit for noting abuses of government power and for criticizing oversteps such as the drug war. Of course, there’s nothing distinctively libertarian about these specific concerns, which are standard fare among liberal Democrats. The federal government indeed poses worrisome threats to individual liberty. Libertarians err if they presume that federal power is the only or always the most concerning of these threats. Local governments, corporations, intolerant majorities can pose equally worrisome threats, too. There’s just more to fear in this world than are dreamt of in libertarian philosophy.

There is something else, too. Each of us faces risks that would easily crush any one of us, if we were abandoned to face these risks alone. We need to take care of each other. If you don’t believe that, you don’t belong on the stage in American politics. Credible charges of racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism don’t help. In my book, these charges are almost beside the point.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

68 thoughts on “Ron Paul’s other 1964 (okay 1965) problem”

  1. Excellent post. I believe that the Ron Paul newsletters and other evidence from that era reveals a very disturbing and dark side to Paul which can’t be explained away or excused.But even if you give Paul the benefit of the doubt and accept the claim that his opposition to civil rights legislation and social welfare programs is based on libertarian principles, the fact remains that Paul and his ideological companions find themselves on the wrong side of history. Such legislation resulted in an incredibly significant set of changes in American society–changes for the better. Paul has had the wrong vision for America for decades.

    1. People confuse racism and bigotry. Many who are personally familiarwith Dr Paul is not prejudiced. Since I do not know him, I will take this on face value. Racism is a system, an ideology and does not require bigotry to be implemented. Bigotry affects the support for such policies, but many who have supported racist policies are not bigots. What they are is idealists, unrealistic in their conception of benevolence by businesspeople.

      1. You make an excellent point distinguishing between racist policies and bigotry. I know someone who worked for Paul back in the day. He says that he doesn’t believe Paul is bigoted. Nonetheless, many of his positions would foster racist policies if he were given any actual power.

  2. Racists have long taken refuge in libertarian arguments to oppose civil rights legislation. I would add that for generations, a key, often-explicit argument against federal programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare was that these programs would help minorities by imposing colorblind federal policies on states and localities.

    There is an element of truth here but this argument is deeply ahistoric. You are promoting outliers over the rule and privileging rhetoric over actual political alignment.

    At the end of the day, Segregationist politicians were part of the New Deal Coalition. That’s one reason why they almost exclusively belonged to the more progressive party. And this partly explains why hardly any of these politicians switched parties (yes, it’s true for those gobsmacking right now).

    Take a look at famous Dixiecrats. Wallace and Faubus were strong economic populists and were both able to win the Af-Am vote. The man most responsible for the great society was himself a segregationists. While you might think I’m being unkind, consider that even after he signed the 64cra he smeared MLK as a communist and used Goldwater’s pro civil rights (pre-64) stances against him in the south. He also killed the the 64cra in 57 (I’ll explain upon request). In contrast, Dirksen was a conservative anti-new-dealer with no baggage as a vicious racist.

    Lynching supporter Sen Claude Pepper was so left of center that Truman thought he was a communist. Among the most powerful segregationists in the land (by virtue of the role the filibuster played in maintaining the regime) are progressive heros like Al Gore, Bill Fullbright, and Sam Ervin. Men like Smathers and Byrd are much more in line with progressive politics than movement conservatism.

    The less liberal segregationists, bluedogs if you will, also stayed loyal to the more progressive party. Russell, Eastland, Stennis, Jim Wright, Ellender, and Byrd were all put into the presidential line of succession post-64. You can add that asshat Carl Hayden to the list too, for those of you who know what voting against cloture means.

    The correlation works in the opposite direction. The Segregationists were economic populists, not libertarians.

    1. Sure, you had Eastland et al arguing that Jim Crow was an inviolable part of states’ rights. So what? The fact that Paul-style libertarian arguments were deployed by Democrats doesn’t mean that they weren’t Paul-style libertarian arguments.

      (Much of the party-switching, by the way, was accomplished by racist voters, even if the racist politicians refused to change parties. When the Democrats became less reliably racist, racist voters switched to Republicans.)

      1. Sure, you had Eastland et al arguing that Jim Crow was an inviolable part of states’ rights. So what? The fact that Paul-style libertarian arguments were deployed by Democrats doesn’t mean that they weren’t Paul-style libertarian arguments.

        And they also used Jeffersonian style arguments. Slave owners for example used “Separation of Church and State” in an attempt to silence the (abolitionist) Church.

        Separation of Powers made its way onto Strom’s Dixiecrat platform. Racists have also usurped liberal policies like gun control and abortion. Chait is right that opponents of civil rights “made their case in in process terms” but oddly some terms have turned out more equal than others. No process served the Regime more (from at least the 1930’s on) than the Filibuster. Its unclear why this sorry tactic isn’t forever wearing the Scarlet Letter too.

        In America, racists have always couched their rationalizations in liberal terms. This line of argument brings down liberalism too.

        1. In America, racists have always couched their rationalizations in liberal terms.

          And they’ve always couched their rationalizations in conservative terms, too. So what? We’re talking about Ron Paul, whose rationalizations for racism are along conservative lines.

          1. Slave owners for example used “Separation of Church and State” in an attempt to silence the (abolitionist) Church.

            I’d love to see a citation for this, by the way. Theological arguments were routinely deployed in favor of slavery and post-slavery racism; it seems like it would be difficult for folks who were so reliant on religious argument to contend that it doesn’t belong in the public square. Who argued this?

      2. (Much of the party-switching, by the way, was accomplished by racist voters, even if the racist politicians refused to change parties. When the Democrats became less reliably racist, racist voters switched to Republicans.)

        A few points:

        1. Its awfully hard, but not impossible, for racist voters to switch while racist politicians remain democratic.

        2. When explaining the Southern Shift, you have to control for Jim Crow. One of its major characteristics is that it was a racially coercive one-party system. Republicans would’ve gained a lot of racist votes even if they didn’t practice the Southern Strategy…just by mere fact that folks who were normally inclined towards the Bankers Party, would naturally migrate once Segregation ended as a legal regime.

        3. The electorate is much less transparent than politicians are. So this remains a matter of considerable debate. For example, Byron Shafer and Richard Johnston (both academics, neither rightwing) argue that Carter actually took the Wallace vote. If you think this implausible, consider this forgotten Neshoba moment from the Southern Democrat:

        “I’m not going to use the federal government’s authority deliberately to circumvent the natural inclination of people to live in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods…”

        That’s a not so subtle anti-fair housing act (68cra) dog whistle. He went on to use terms such as “ethnic purity,” “black intrusion,” and “alien groups”. (The original Time magazine link no longer works, but the quote comes from them).

        1. 1 – Right. But a racist voter who was going to let that attitude guide his vote was going to switch from the Democratic Party. Paul isn’t a Democrat, and wouldn’t have been even in Jim Crow times – unless he were one of the Southern Democrats, whose racial attitudes were conservative.
          2 – Right, but so what? Institutionalized political racism switched to the Republican Party. Prominent politicians switched, and the ones who didn’t switch were ultimately supplanted by Republicans.
          3 – Still right. The Southern Shift wasn’t anywhere near complete in 1976.

          Not sure I’m getting your point here. You seem to be trying to suggest that Paul is a liberal, and merely reflecting the racism inherent in liberal politics. In fact, Paul is a conservative by any sensible standard, and the Southern Democrats who supported Jim Crow were conservatives on racial policy, whatever other policies they might have supported. Surely you’re aware that Southern Democrats had a hard time getting along with Democrats who were liberal on racial issues, and that this difference ultimately split the Party.

          1. But a racist voter who was going to let that attitude guide his vote was going to switch from the Democratic Party.

            Such a voter could continue to vote Democratic. The most likely candidate would be someone in a high income group, i.e. a group more likely to favor the Bankers Party. Someone in that group had to be voting for Hollings, Heflin, Stennis, Etc…

            Prominent politicians switched

            ,

            Since the vast majority of prominent (segregationist) politicians stayed, and hardly any of them repented (Wallace and Faubus get credit here, to be fair) and many of them were promoted…this metric indicts Dems to a much larger degree, Strom Thurmond notwithstanding.

            and the ones who didn’t switch were ultimately supplanted by Republicans.

            Well, the next generation (after 64) of southern politicians were largely dems (Allen, Bumpers, Chiles, Nunn). Some were segregationists (Hollings). And Some Repubs who were part of the southern shift were fine on race (Howard Baker managed to win TN while being married to Dirksen’s daughter).

            Still right. The Southern Shift wasn’t anywhere near complete in 1976.

            Well, Goldwater completed it on the Presidential level. Then came Wallace followed by Nixon. So Carter took it back.

            You seem to be trying to suggest that Paul is a liberal, and merely reflecting the racism inherent in liberal politics.

            I have no idea where you’re getting that. We rightwingers and libertarians own Paul and his sorry ass Southern Strategy, to be clear. I’m not trying to put that on you.

            Surely you’re aware that Southern Democrats had a hard time getting along with Democrats who were liberal on racial issues, and that this difference ultimately split the Party.

            I would dispute the degree of this. There were splits to be sure (in ’46, ’64 and ’68) but nothing that I would characterize as “ultimate”. My views on this are more along Malcolm X’s The Ballot or the Bullet speech (the dems never kicked out the dixiecrats).

    2. I’d love to see a citation for this, by the way. Theological arguments were routinely deployed in favor of slavery and post-slavery racism; it seems like it would be difficult for folks who were so reliant on religious argument to contend that it doesn’t belong in the public square. Who argued this?

      http://volokh.com/2010/10/20/how-separation-of-church-and-state-was-read-into-the-constitution-hint-the-kkk-got-its-way/

      “7. The first mainstream figures to favor separation after the first amendment was adopted were Jefferson supporters in the 1800 election, who were trying to silence Northern clergy critical of the immoral Jeffersonian slaveholders in the South.”

      “10. Separation was a crucial part of the KKK’s jurisprudential agenda. It was included in the Klansman’s Creed (or was it the Klansman’s Kreed?). Before he joined the Court, Justice Black was head of new members for the largest Klan cell in the South. New members of the KKK had to pledge their allegiance to the “eternal separation of Church and State.” In 1947, Black was the author of Everson, the first Supreme Court case to hold that the first amendment’s establishment clause requires separation of church & state. The suit in Everson was brought by an organization that at various times had ties to the KKK.”

      1. Me, I’d like to see a citation with a source from somewhere other than a demented right wing blogger who cites himself as the authority cited.

          1. Ah, okay. So the author isn’t concerned about racism; he’s got an axe to grind about freedom of religion. Figures. Did you know Robert Byrd was in the Klan, and isn’t sorry about that fact?

    3. Ah, okay. So the author isn’t concerned about racism; he’s got an axe to grind about freedom of religion.

      I thought you wanted a source confirming the fact that this concept (separation of church and state) was used by racists to further their racism, not unlike States Rights. So I provided it.

      Figures. Did you know Robert Byrd was in the Klan, and isn’t sorry about that fact?

      This seems like a misapplied retort. Liberals often mock conservative use of Byrd’s Klan days because they believe the issue is old hat and was settled a long time ago. Yet unforgiving RWingers continue to hit him on it long after he apologized, or so the liberal narrative goes.

      Be that as it may, the events I bought up have none of those characteristics.

    4. “At the end of the day, Segregationist politicians were part of the New Deal Coalition. That’s one reason why they almost exclusively belonged to the more progressive party.”

      Actually quite the opposite is true. The New Deal was opposed by Southerners like Wallace because federal spending would benefit black communities. In fact the black communities began to switch from voting Republican to voting Democratic during the New Deal era because so many of the programs benefited the black community. The Roosevelt administration instituted the first minimum wage in order to break the back of sharecropping.

      Segregationist policies, on the other hand, are almost always the exclusive element of the conservative party. Hence you see Southern Democrats oppose desegregation and oppose the civil rights act and vote for Goldwater in 64 and later switch and become Republicans under Richard Nixon.

      “And this partly explains why hardly any of these politicians switched parties”

      And here is where your argument totally fails. Strom Thurmond, you lose.

      1. The New Deal was opposed by Southerners like Wallace because federal spending would benefit black communities.

        Completely ahistorical. The New Deal was supported by Segregationists in part because it was discriminatory. For heavens sake, FDR ran with segregationists in his VP slot and allowed anti-lynching legislation to die.

        Wallace was a strong economic populist. Here is the Paper of Record on the issue via Wallace’s obit:

        Mr. Wallace an ardent New Deal Democrat.
        http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/14/us/george-wallace-segregation-symbol-dies-at-79.html?pagewanted=all

        Please retract.

      2. Hence you see Southern Democrats oppose desegregation and oppose the civil rights act and vote for Goldwater in 64 and later switch and become Republicans under Richard Nixon.

        Demonstratively false. Below, list of Dem Senators who voted “Nay”…’64cra. I defy you to find more than one who became Republican:

        Byrd, Harry [D]
        Byrd, Robert [D]
        Eastland, James [D]
        Ellender, Allen [D]
        Ervin, Samuel [D]
        Fulbright, James [D]
        Gore, Albert [D]
        Hill, Joseph [D]
        Holland, Spessard [D]
        Johnston, Olin [D]
        Jordan, Benjamin [D]
        Long, Russell [D]
        McClellan, John [D]
        Robertson, Absalom [D]
        Russell, Richard [D]
        Smathers, George [D]
        Sparkman, John [D]
        Stennis, John [D]
        Talmadge, Herman [D]
        Thurmond, J. [D]
        Walters, Herbert [D]

        And here is where your argument totally fails. Strom Thurmond, you lose.

        Going from the list above, I win…20-1.

        Please Retract.

          1. The South voted for Nixon overwhelmingly:

            Yeah…I said as much upthread: “Well, Goldwater completed it [The Southern Shift] on the Presidential level. Then came Wallace followed by Nixon.”

            Nixon won states that hadn’t voted Republican since reconstruction. Please retract.

            Since I never indicated otherwise, I have no idea what you want me to retract.

            Oh, and check mate, you lose.

            Let me get this straight. The Paper of Record informs you that George Wallace was an “ardent New Deal Democrat”. Yet you do not have the decency to retract; “The New Deal was opposed by Southerners like Wallace.”

            While you could be excused for not knowing about discriminatory practices built into the New Deal, your behavior after you learn puts you in neo-confederate whitewashing territory. Rather than concede that the most powerful segregationists in the land were indeed New Dealers, a notion substantiated by the fact the fact that none of Strom Thurmond’s colleagues in the Senate switched over to the Right-Wing Party, you decide instead to erase a major chapter in America’s long sorry history of racial discrimination.

            And then you shamelessly declare victory. The Party of Jim Crow, Indeed.

          2. “Since I never indicated otherwise, I have no idea what you want me to retract.”

            Let’s see, the claim that Wallace was a New Dealer. Since Roosevelt died before Wallace won his first election, that would be retraction number one. Also stating that southern democrats did not switch and become Republicans under Nixon, which you called “Demonstratively false” and then admit under the weight of evidence “Yeah…”. That would be retraction number two. Retraction number three would be the idea that the New Deal was discriminatory as a prime element, which I see you have abandoned trying to argue again under the burden of evidence mounted against you.

            Your partisan rewriting of history is shameful and contemptful and I expect a full apology.

          3. I almost forget, the fourth retraction you owe is the allegation that I am a segregationist Jim Crow supporter. Such petulant name calling is beyond the pale. I never called you any names, but crossing that line is usually grounds for banishment from this blog.

      3. “In fact the black communities began to switch from voting Republican to voting Democratic during the New Deal era because so many of the programs benefited the black community. The Roosevelt administration instituted the first minimum wage in order to break the back of sharecropping.”

        […]
        The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which regulated the wages paid on construction projects paid for by the federal government, was designed to exclude African Americans and other workers deemed “defective” from the labor market for federal construction projects.

        The influence of the progressive economists’ belief that low-paid African American workers were “defectives” who should not be permitted to compete on price with white workers continued during the New Deal. Like jobs held by women and children, jobs held by African Americans were often considered “substandard” by New Dealers and were slated for permanent elimination. This mentality was reflected in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which imposed a high uniform national minimum wage, even though its architects knew that this would lead to substantial unemployment among African Americans.

        Finally, the 1930s witnessed the resurrection and expansion of single-sex, state minimum-wage laws in the 1930s. These laws were upheld by a Progressive Supreme Court in 1937. The Court adopted the conventional wisdom in contemporary liberal circles: women who could not command a “living wage” as defined by statute should be expunged from the labor force.
        […]

        Excluding Unfit Workers: Social Control Versus Social Justice in the Age of Economic Reform

    5. Let’s see, the claim that Wallace was a New Dealer. Since Roosevelt died before Wallace won his first election, that would be retraction number one.

      “…Mr. Wallace an ardent New Deal Democrat.”
      -New York Times Obituary, George Wallace
      http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/14/us/george-wallace-segregation-symbol-dies-at-79.html?pagewanted=all

      Please retract your denialistic claim…and lose the sophistry.

      Also stating that southern democrats did not switch and become Republicans under Nixon, which you called “Demonstratively false” and then admit under the weight of evidence “Yeah…”. That would be retraction number two.

      I said Nixon won the South long before you entered this thread. I’m happy to acknowledge that some segregationists in the electorate must have switched parties at that time. I couldn’t tell you who but its certainly not the majority of Jim Crow supporters….since the region went Dem in ’76 on the presidential level and was still dominated by Dems on the state and local level.

      And most importantly, the most powerful segregationists in the land were still almost exclusively part of the more progressive party. You need to acknowledge this truth.

      Retraction number three would be the idea that the New Deal was discriminatory as a prime element, which I see you have abandoned trying to argue again under the burden of evidence mounted against you.

      Since I never used the phrase “prime element” I never abandoned such an argument. I said the New Deal was discriminatory full stop. And that the Dixiecrats were part of the New Deal Coalition…which you deny.

      Your partisan rewriting of history is shameful and contemptful and I expect a full apology.

      Yours is racist.

      I almost forget, the fourth retraction you owe is the allegation that I am a segregationist Jim Crow supporter. Such petulant name calling is beyond the pale. I never called you any names, but crossing that line is usually grounds for banishment from this blog.

      I don’t believe you are a segregationist. Thats why I didn’t call you one. I think your behaviour //’s that of neo-confederates…you deny racism.

      I think you are like Haley Barbour. Maybe, Ron Paul….lefty version, of course. That’s about where I put you.

      1. I can see from your libelous ad hominems that you are conceding the argument, and also admitting that you are merely trolling this website from your mother’s basement. Why don’t you get a job like normal people?

    6. Anyway, just in case anyone really believes Benny’s assertion that the Segregationists were not part of the New Deal Coalition…here is the vote on the 1935 Social Security Act. I took all the Senators from the 11 former Confederate States (except Virginia, since Govtrack is missing the data…along with some Senators from GA TN, and LA). But I’m pretty sure no Southern Dem voted “Nay”, thought that’s academic considering all the Ayes.

      Alabama
      Aye Bankhead, John [D]
      Aye Black, Hugo [D]

      Arkansas
      Aye Caraway, Hattie [D]
      Aye Robinson, Joseph [D]

      Florida
      Aye Fletcher, Duncan [D]
      Aye Trammell, Park [D]

      Georgia
      Aye George, Walter [D]

      Louisiana
      Aye Overton, John [D]

      Mississippi
      Aye Bilbo, Theodore [D]
      Aye Harrison, Byron [D]

      North Carolina
      Aye Bailey, Josiah [D]
      Aye Reynolds, Robert [D]

      Tennessee
      Aye McKellar, Kenneth [D]

      Texas
      Aye Sheppard, Morris [D]
      Aye Connally, Thomas [D]

      South Carolina
      Aye Byrnes, James [D]
      Not Voting Smith, Ellison [D]

  3. I just turned down the opportunity to rent a house from a landlord who wanted to inquire into my childbearing plans as a qualification. She was complaining she couldn’t advertise the house because she wanted to control what kind of person lives in it.

    Interestingly, she’s actually exempt from the Fair Housing Act because she owns fewer than three rental houses. Her jacked-up fear is just one more example of the radical right’s irresistible fondness for exaggerating reasonable regulations as intruding into personal choices and living situations far more than they actually do.

    In fact, their fear of government intrusion is just their own attempts in their personal lives to impose their moralities and prejudices on the lives of others, turned around unconsciously and projected onto the larger society in which they live, as “Big Government.”

    Call these impulses of the Right feudalism or fascism, in fact these fevered projections are the best argument of all for civil rights legislation.

    1. I should have written, “their fear of government intrusion is just THE MIRRORED IMAGE OF their own attempts to impose their moralities and prejudices on the lives of others”.

  4. Bravo.

    I didn’t need any help to understand that Paul and his like are wrong, on the policy level. Your post has helped me understand why, on the human level, they are wretched, horrible people.

    BTW, I don’t know how actively you RBCers police your comments boxes, but you’ll want to keep an eye on that Manju. He is an obnoxious crank who will jack every thread if you let him, usually to the effect that Democrats are the real racists because Robert Byrd.

    1. One of the joys of reading this blog, and particularly the comments, is the general absence of snide put downs (“lib-dems”), schoolyard insults and escalation, juvenile patronizing attitudes, etc. that pollute most other sites. I second the suggestion that RBC moderators check on this poster in order to avoid the comments descending into puerile scat throwing.

  5. I think intentions and mental images matter. Are you a libertarian (or a “radical libertarian”) because it really does feel to you an intolerable imposition on your liberty and the liberty of others that the state or society are dictating choices that feel personal to you? Or is it because you have some neurotic dystopian fantasy of a social Darwinist jungle, “red in tooth and claw,” in which, in your own mind, you’re some kind of caged lion whose natural superiority is somehow “unfairly” unable to be realized — and, it goes without saying, seen, feared, and admired by those around you.

    For the nerdy teenagers who find Ayn Rand’s books so compelling, I think we know what the answer is. That’s why most of us grow out of it eventually. But some of us don’t.

  6. Typo note: “Medicare markedly post-neonatal” should probably be “Medicare markedly reduced post-neonatal”

  7. I agree with every word of Harold’s post, but I think Paul nonetheless presents a problem for civil liberties-oriented liberals, to wit: How do civil libertarians respond to Paul when, on key issues, he is clearly superior to every other national-profile politician?

    Obviously, Paul has many repugnant views. Further, Paul’s repugnant views outnumber and outweigh Obama’s repugnant views. But in the areas where Paul is right – Bradley Manning, various Middle Eastern wars and potential wars, Patriot Act, etc. – he’s the only voice out there.

    I think the answer for those liberals has to be: Find a better voice. But that merely bypasses the question, which is: In the course of finding a better voice, how does one treat Paul and his views?

    Sympathetically, I say. Greenwald has struck something close to the right balance – applauding Paul for the right things, criticizing him otherwise. I do think, however, that Greenwald and others err when they try to excuse Paul’s dead-wrong, indeed nutty, attacks on the Fed. And Greenwald is wrong to criticize those who characterize Paul as crazy. Many of Paul’s views are crazy.

    It is an additional problem that Paul’s crazy views spring from the same doctrinaire libertarianism that spawns his sane views. But in the end, he’s all we’ve got. If I were a Republican, I’d vote for him in the primaries in a heartbeat.

    1. Alternatively, you could consider the hypothesis that dingbat Paul’s not right on these issues either, and that Barack Obama has not transmogrified from clean-cut professor of constitutional law to malevolent dictator, torturer of Bradley Manning, and killer drone demon, but rather is doing more or less what any decent person with his responsibilities would do.

      1. And while we’re at it we could consider the hypothesis that people who support crazy — Greenwald, say — are themselves crazy. In general, people who are 100% clear that they’re in possession of the One Truth are.

      2. Being a clean-cut professor of constitutional law and a proponent of torture and the killing of Muslims are not mutually exclusive. See John Yoo.

        1. So your belief is that Obama is a proponent of torture and the killing of Muslims? And what do you mean by “killing of Muslims” — the implication is that he is a proponent of killing them because they are Muslims. Is that what you mean, that Obama (or for that matter, even the contemptible and lamentable John Yoo) is a proponent of killing people because they are Muslims?

          1. I think that the fact that they’re Muslims makes it a whole lot easier for Obama. Don’t you? But if you’re saying that Obama would kill Christians for no good reason, that might be true. We haven’t seen that yet, though.

            I don’t think Obama is a proponent of torture; he’s just an advocate for torturers, and willing to turn a blind eye to torture. Neither of those things is unusual in American politics. Heck, they’re pretty much job requirements for the president. But I think that’s a bad thing, and Obama has expanded, in some ways, on his predecessors’ malevolent actions and ideas.

            Greenwald has a substantive problem with Obama’s policy choices, which he articulates plainly. You can defend those policies, or you can argue, nonsensically, that a Harvard professor wouldn’t do the things Obama has done. Or that people who oppose Obama on civil liberties issues are, more or less by definition, crazy. I think you’ve made the wrong choice here.

          2. I should add, larry, that I think civil liberties are really important, and that Obama’s positions on these matters is wrong. If you don’t think that, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that you find nothing valuable in Paul’s contribution to public discourse. Paul poses a dilemma for people like me, not you.

          3. It’s utterly slanderous to assert that “the fact that they’re Muslims makes it a whole lot easier for Obama.” There’s zero evidence for such a claim. Similarly the implication that he’s, right now, killing people, of any religious persuasion, “for no good reason,” is completely nuts. You might disagree that the reason is good enough, or you might even be a pacifist and believe that no reason is good enough. But to imagine that Obama has no good reasons, that he’s just doing this for the hell of it, or something, is just paranoid.

            Finally one can believe that civil liberties are important without believing that they’re the only thing that’s important. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Do you imagine that he did that lightly, “for no good reason?” If you find yourself agreeing with a paranoid and rigid personality like Ron Paul who imagines there are no trade-offs to be made among important values, that’s a good time to rethink your beliefs.

    2. I wouldn’t describe Paul’s libertarianism as doctrinaire, because libertarian doctrine says you don’t try to control people’s reproductive behavior. Doctrine also says all (almost) government power is bad, so that you couldn’t opportunistically, hypocritically embrace “states’ rights” to make yourself palatable to conservatives. Doctrinaire? No. A hot mess? Yes.

  8. “The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim – frequently a victim of his own lifestyle – but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care.”

    I find this truly repugnant, and so wrong that it can only be attributed to bigotry or idiocy. For the word “AIDS” in the above we could substitute, “diabetes,” “lung (and presumably some other forms of) cancer,” “heart disease,” “injuries incurred in a car accident,” etc.

  9. You point to Greenwald as an example of progressive who finds Ron Paul’s “mix of views morally [and] politically complex”. I do not think GG finds moral or political complexity among Paul’s virtues. GG’s account is of a crazy libertarian racist who **is using a national platform to denounce the drug war, US aggression against Muslims, and domestic incursions on privacy**. Whether these views follow from his libertarianism (they don’t, given Paul’s inconsistencies and the inevitable outcomes of libertarian policies) or some other source is not particularly relevant. (It is relevant whether Paul’s anti-war views stem from an extreme states’ rights Federalism, but Greenwald says he has evidence that Paul’s anti-war position is actually not an outgrowth of his co-option of states-rights politics.)

    Paul’s politics and morals are rightly characterized as incoherent, and GG would agree, I think. Incoherence is not complex.

    Nonetheless views **with which progressives agree** on the drug wars, slaughter of Muslims, and privacy are getting a national airing because of Paul and no one else. Add to this the willful blindness of liberals on Obama’s positions on these matters, and, well….that was the whole of GG’s point.

    This is incidental, but I am guessing GG would agree with you that Paul’s **liberarianism alone** disqualifies him from the presidency.

    1. What exactly do you imagine Obama’s position on the “slaughter of Muslims” to be, to which liberals are being blind?

      1. “Imagine?” I’m not imagining anything, and you’re not beginning well by impugning my grasp of the facts. This administration has escalated the drone program WAY above Bush and preceding levels, and routinely kills civilians, including children, in drone strikes in Muslim countries. If you’re oblivious to the drone killings you have only yourself to blame. (Such obliviousness is what we might metaphorically call “blindness”.) Moreover, the administration has enforced a manic secrecy around the details (and even existence, in that officially it is a “secret”) of the program and lashed out legally against critics. And by the way, responsibility for actions of high administration officials are fairly assigned to the President. The administration pressed to have the international ban on cluster bombs lifted. If pushing for the reinstatement of a grotesque and inhumane weapon is not a repugnant “view”, I don’t know what is. None of this even includes the policy of assassination of citizens – all of whom have been and will be Muslims – without due process. All these programs of indiscriminate and reckless killings are taking place in Muslim countries, and only Muslim countries (or exclusively against Muslims in the case of extrajudicial assassination).

        You may support these actions because Obama, not Bush or a Republican, is doing them. In that case you’re “blind” and hypocritical. If you’d support them regardless if whose doing them, you’re consistent, but not progressive.

        1. Not all liberals (or if you prefer “progressives”) are pacifists — in fact most aren’t. Since all forms of military action carry the likelihood of killing innocent civilians, if your view is that the killing of innocent civilians makes military action entirely unethical, then you are for all practical purposes a pacifist. Since I’m not a pacifist, attacks on people plotting to attack us seems to me a painful necessity. The Bush administration didn’t use drones as much? That’s because they used far heavier-handed approaches that entailed even more death and destruction. I disagreed with lots of things they decided, but drone attacks on terrorists certainly wasn’t one of them.

          Most of your fellow citizens, including liberals, probably agree with me that the first priority of any president is to defend the country. I assume that all presidents all take this responsibility very seriously. No one could (or should) be elected to the office who didn’t. When we see what a man like Obama, who quite obviously would rather not be doing these things, seems to believe his responsibilities require him to do, that’s evidence that we need to think about in terms of what might actually be required. That the people being killed by our use of military force happen to be in Muslim countries is entirely irrelevant. In past conflicts, that hasn’t been the case, and it’s entirely likely that in the future it won’t be either.

    2. The problem, as Kevin Drum has pointed out, is that you don’t get to have just the parts of Ron Paul that you like. If you offer him support, you are offering support for everything he stands for. This is the difference between advocating for a policy and advocating for a politician. You don’t get to qualify your advocacy to just the parts of Paul’s platform that you like. No matter how hard you try to qualify it, you are either helping the entire package or you’re not.

      Glenn Greenwald is, at best, completely oblivious to this. Much like Andrew Sullivan, he doesn’t understand that Ron Paul, as an indivisible package, is toxic. It is a form of moral blindness to think that you can, on the one hand, say that Paul is crazy because of most of his beliefs, but that you want to support him because of his foreign policy and opposition to the drug war. (I’d argue that his foreign policy as a whole is every bit as nuts as the rest of the package, but, again, Greenwald and Sullivan want to split hairs and take only a part of it.) Before you advocate for any individual politician, you need to take a look at all of his positions and decide that you can support them as a whole, because that’s what you’ll be doing. You can argue that you support him because certain positions that you agree with outweigh others that you don’t, but you can’t support just a part of his platform.

      I’d also argue that Greenwald is in no way a progressive. I believe that he would agree with that. What happened is that, during the Bush administration, he agreed with progressives on a certain set of issues and opposed the administration. He continues to agree with certain liberal criticisms of the Obama administration. Do not confuse this with him being a liberal. He’s not. When you look at his economic views, they show someone who agrees far more with the libertarians than he does with progressives overall. He has expressed skepticism to civil rights laws that are at least somewhat congruent with Paul, and I really don’t think, despite his protestations to the contrary, that he really finds the repugnant sides of Paul nearly as offensive as I, and presumably most of the commentariat here, do.

      1. You either didn’t read the GG piece, or – dare I suggest it? – your reading comprehension could use work. Who is the “you” who allegedly supports Ron Paul? Where in GG’S piece does he say he supports Ron Paul? Show me where he says that? Where did I say I support Paul? Where? This is exactly what GG tried to inoculate himself against in the preamble: the election-year Manichaeism that would reflexively accuse him of supporting Paul for the presidency. The piece pointed out that Paul is pressing liberal positions on issues have lost their progressive constituency since Obama became president, due to, yes, progressives’ hypocrisy. (“It’s okay if obama does it”) And that bucking the bipartisan consensus on privacy, war, and drugs has the potential to change the terms of the debate. It’s important for that reason. The bipartisan consensus is destructive. Puncturing that consensus is constructive. That’s it. End of story. It’s not that complicated. Read the piece, and please don’t opine on it without having read and understood it.

        And yeah, Greenwald is a libertarian (um…not!). That’s why he raised money in 2008 for Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson. Some libertarian. To accuse Greenwald of being a libertarian is (his word) to “discredit” him. Discredit. Okay? I’ve seen no libertarian positions in his economic writings. He supports Paul’s position on the Fed’s opacity, not its existence. So does Grayson, and progressives should be desperate for Fed transparency, since the Fed is hiding behind secrecy to bolster the position of the investor class, contrary to its mandate to bolster employment. If you’re a Keynesian, you should demand transparency at the Fed. Show me any other support in Greenwald for Paul’s or libertarians’ economic views.

        1. Saying that Ron Paul needs to be listened to *is* advocacy for him. That’s what Greenwald doesn’t seem to understand. By making Paul the centerpiece of his political arguments about civil liberties within the 2012 presidential campaign, Greenwald is offering him support. As a practical matter, that support carries over to Paul’s entire platform. He may or may not want to be doing that, but he is. That’s what happens when you start saying that we need to listen to a particular politician rather than advocating a set of policies.

      2. The problem, as Kevin Drum has pointed out, is that you don’t get to have just the parts of Ron Paul that you like. If you offer him support, you are offering support for everything he stands for.

        I think you’re misreading Drum, who suggests that Paul’s nutty views poison his sensible ones.

        That’s different from what you say here. Your view is essentially Naderite. For my part, I am very much opposed to a number of Obama’s policy choices, but I will support his presidential candidacy over pretty much any Republican. Because I support Obama’s candidacy, however, that doesn’t mean – doesn’t come close to meaning – that I find his conduct in office acceptable, except as an alternative to the other choices.

        For liberals who oppose our current wars and support civil liberties, what choice have we got but to notice that Paul is largely right on these issues, and Obama is largely wrong?

        1. Because I support Obama’s candidacy, however, that doesn’t mean – doesn’t come close to meaning – that I find his conduct in office acceptable, except as an alternative to the other choices.

          Right. I disagree with your assessment of Obama, but agree with your general principle that you can only decide whether or not to support a politician based upon the other choices available. If someone is better than all of the other choices, then his good points outweigh the bad ones. Someone has to be president, and so being better than the other choices is pretty much the ultimate good point.

  10. J.M. Neal asserts: The problem, as Kevin Drum has pointed out, is that you don’t get to have just the parts of Ron Paul that you like. If you offer him support, you are offering support for everything he stands for. This is the difference between advocating for a policy and advocating for a politician. You don’t get to qualify your advocacy to just the parts of Paul’s platform that you like. No matter how hard you try to qualify it, you are either helping the entire package or you’re not.

    If one crossed out “Ron Paul” in the above and replaced it with “Barack Obama” does it not have the same logical force and consistency? And if you are a liberal/progressive Democrat who is also deeply conflicted about our foreign policy and the continuing usurpation of our civil liberties, what is the political action you would advocate?

    1. Of course it has the same logical force and consistency. The political action I would advocate is figuring out what your best choice is and acting accordingly. Since “None of the above” is not an actual political choice, and neither is the perfect candidate, you need to make compromises when it comes to supporting politicians. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether a given compromise is acceptable.

      1. Right. One thing to note here, though, is that we’re not talking about “voting for” or even, in some more nebulous sense, “supporting” a politician. Paul has correct positions that are unique among the current crop of presidential candidates. Greenwald hasn’t done much more than notice this fact. Refusing to notice it seems perverse.

  11. The only reason why any liberals or progressives are giving the time of day to Paul is because he is the only national political figure who is willing to challenge the bipartisan consensus on the drug war and American imperialism. Find someone better as a standard-bearer for these causes, and Paul’s appeal will melt away. Ron Paul’s popularity indicates a crying need for not just more, but better Democrats.

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