Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ron Paul's vile newsletters

Today, Ron Paul claims that he didn't write the vile stuff in his own newsletters - Ron Paul's Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Political Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, the Ron Paul Investment Report - and direct mail appeals that made him millions of dollars.

He not only claims he didn't write them, he claims he didn't even read them. We're actually supposed to believe that he cared that little about what was going out under his name! Even more unbelievably, he claims that he doesn't know who did write them. He just made money off them - and became a hero to white supremacists nationwide.

And yet, as the above video shows, he used to talk them up all the time.

How vile are they? Here's TPM:
It’s hard to overstate just how extreme these publications are, from comparing blacks to zoo animals to speculating about Israeli involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Paul denies having written or read the offensive material in question, but even a casual glance at the newsletters would have revealed their basic formula. As a recently uncovered direct mail piece advertising the newsletters demonstrates, the most out there passages were the chief selling point, not out-of-context asides.

The New Republic has put together a collection of the vilest passages, conveniently organized as racist, anti-gay, antisemitic, survivalist, conspiracy theories, and other anti-government paranoia.

And it's not just the newsletters, either. It's direct mail appeals, which Ron Paul also denies writing, which nonetheless made him a great deal of money:
In a signed appeal to potential subscribers in 1993, Ron Paul urged people to read his publications in order to prepare for a “race war,” military rule, and a conspiracy to use a new $100 bill to track Americans.

The eight-page mailer obtained by Reuters via Jamie Kirchick, who unearthed Paul’s newsletter archives in 2008, is mostly focused on a rambling conspiracy theory about changes to the dollar. But Paul tries to bolster his credibility on the issue by noting that his newsletters have also “laid bare the the coming race war in our big cities” as well as the “federal-homosexual coverup on AIDS,” adding that “my training as a physician helps me see through this one.” He also condemns the “demonic fraternity” Skull and Bones, a Yale secret society that “includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, Congress’s Mr. New Money,” and “the Israeli lobby that plays Congress like a cheap harmonica.”

Given that the most shocking racist and homophobic content from his actual newsletters is reprinted in the span of just one eight-page mailer, it offers a stark picture of just how focused the publication was on these conspiracy theories. You can read the full letter here.

In the letter, Paul warns that the federal government is planning to put chemical tracking agents in new currency as part of a broader authoritarian plot and that he had personally witnessed future designs for currency while serving in Congress.

“The totalitarian bills were tinted pink and blue and brown, and blighted with holograms, diffraction gratings, metal and plastic threads, and chemical alarms,” he writes. “It was a portable inquisition, a paper ‘third degree,’ to allow the feds to keep track of American cash, and American citizens.”

Ron Paul's fanatic young supporters won't hear anything against the guy. He's their Messiah, leading them to the Promised Land. Any and all criticism just bounces off that obsessive devotion. They simply refuse to believe anything bad.

But his older supporters are also enthusiastic:
The American Free Press, which markets books like “The Invention of the Jewish People” and “March of the Titans: A History of the White Race,” is urging its subscribers to help it send hundreds of copies of Ron Paul’s collected speeches to voters in New Hampshire. The book, it promises, will “Help Dr. Ron Paul Win the G.O.P. Nomination in 2012!”

Don Black, director of the white nationalist Web site Stormfront, said in an interview that several dozen of his members were volunteering for Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign, and a site forum titled “Why is Ron Paul such a favorite here?” has no fewer than 24 pages of comments. “I understand he wins many fans because his monetary policy would hurt Jews,” read one.

Far-right groups like the Militia of Montana say they are rooting for Mr. Paul as a stalwart against government tyranny.

Mr. Paul’s surprising surge in polls is creating excitement within a part of his political base that has been behind him for decades but overshadowed by his newer fans on college campuses and in some liberal precincts who are taken with his antiwar, anti-drug-laws messages.

The white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy have not exactly been warmly welcomed. “I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Friday when asked about getting help from volunteers with anti-Jewish or antiblack views.

But he did not disavow their support. [my emphasis] “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say,” said Mr. Paul, who is now running strong in Iowa for the Republican nomination.

He doesn't disavow their support because these are the same people he's been wooing - and making millions from - for decades. Paul is a 76-year-old white man from the Deep South (admittedly, he was born in Pittsburgh), a man who was in the extremist fringe of the GOP when that was still just a fringe.

From that same New York Times article:
In May, Mr. Paul reiterated in an interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC that he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing segregation. He said that he supported its intent, but that parts of it violated his longstanding belief that government should not dictate how property owners behave. He has been featured in videos of the John Birch Society, which campaigned against the Civil Rights Act, warning, for instance, that the United Nations threatens American sovereignty.

In the mid-1990s, between his two stints as a Texas congressman, Mr. Paul produced a newsletter called The Ron Paul Survival Report, which only months before the Oklahoma City bombings encouraged militias to seek out and expel federal agents in their midst. That edition was titled “Why Militias Scare the Striped Pants Off Big Government.”

An earlier edition of another newsletter he produced, The Ron Paul Political Report, concluded that the need for citizens to arm themselves was only natural, given carjackings by “urban youth who play whites like pianos.” The report, with no byline but written in the first person, said: “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self-defense. For the animals are coming.”

And Think Progress points out that Paul defended these newsletters and never denied authorship until just recently:
When the newsletters first arose as an issue in 1996, Paul didn’t deny authorship. Instead, Paul personally repeated and defended some of the most incendiary racial claims in the newsletters.

In May 1996, Paul was confronted in an interview by the Dallas Morning News about a line that appeared in a 1992 newsletter, under the headline “Terrorist Update”: “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.” His response:
Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation…

In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men.

“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them,” Dr. Paul said.

Paul also defended his claim, made in the same 1992 newsletter that “we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in [Washington, DC] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal” Paul told the Dallas Morning News the statistic was an “assumption” you can gather from published studies.

Paul’s failure to deny authorship was not an oversight. He was repeatedly confronted about the newsletters during his 1996 campaign and consistently defended them as his own. ...

Contrary to his statements to CNN last week, it was not until 2001, that he first claimed that newsletters were not written by him. He told the Texas Monthly in the October 2001 edition that “I could never say this in the campaign, but those words weren’t really written by me.” The reporter noted, “until this surprising volte-face in our interview, he had never shared this secret.”

There is no evidence that Paul denounced the newsletters in clear terms until he ran for president in 2008 when he said “I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.” Paul has never explained how this blanket denial squares with his vigorous defense of the writings in 1996.

It's not just liberals saying these things, either. Here's an excellent column by David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. (Although I disagree with him about most things, he's one conservative I can respect - if not for his support of Bush.)
Paul's core following has been small but fervid. However, Paul now is gaining a larger following, especially among younger voters attracted by his message of drug legalization and his comprehensive -- if utterly wrong-headed -- explanation of the country's economic crisis.

Unexpectedly, young voters seem also to appreciate Paul's grandfatherly anti-charisma: his self-presentation as a good-natured old codger, charmingly baffled by the modern world. The ill-fitting suits, the quavering voice and the slack-jawed laugh all support the image of an anti-politician, the lone voice of integrity in a sullied word.

There is however a flaw in this benign image of Paul: the now-notorious newsletters published under his name in the early 1990s. Paul collected nearly a million dollars in one year from newsletters suffused with paranoia, racial bigotry and support for the period's violent militia movements. ...

Paul now claims that he did not write the newsletters, was unaware of their contents at the time and now has no idea who did write them.

It's fair to say that almost no one who has followed the controversy believes that Paul is telling the truth about any of this. The authorship of the newsletters is an open secret in the libertarian world ...

But is this all there was to it? Maybe not:
Yet Ron Paul is something more (or less) than a racist crank. As Michael Brendan Dougherty aptly observed in the Atlantic last week:

"As crazy as it sounds, Ron Paul's newsletter writers may not have been sincerely racist at all. They actually thought appearing to be racist was a good political strategy in the 1990s. After that strategy yielded almost nothing -- it was abandoned by Paul's admirers."

A fellow libertarian offers more detail on Paul's racism-as-strategy. Paul and his circle aspired "to create a libertarian-conservative fusion ... [by] appealing to the worst instincts of working/middle class conservative whites by creating the only anti-left fusion possible with the demise of socialism:  one built on cultural issues. ... [The strategy] apparently made some folks (such as Rockwell and Paul) pretty rich selling newsletters predicting the collapse of Western civilization at the hands of the blacks, gays, and multiculturalists.  The explicit strategy was abandoned by around the turn of the century, but not after a lot of bad stuff had been written in all kinds of places."

Don't get the idea, however, that racism-as-strategy was some brief, futile dead-end for Paul. Paul exploited bigotry throughout his career, before as well as after the newsletter years. As Dave Weigel and Julian Sanchez reported in the libertarian magazine Reason, "Cato Institute President Ed Crane told Reason he recalls a conversation from some time in the late 1980s in which Paul claimed that his best source of congressional campaign donations was the mailing list for The Spotlight, the conspiracy-mongering, anti-Semitic tabloid run by the Holocaust denier Willis Carto until it folded in 2001."

Crane is the president of the premier institution in the libertarian world. If his recollection is correct, Paul was appealing to consumers of Holocaust denial for political purposes half a decade before the newsletters commenced.

Nor is it wholly accurate to describe Paul's strategy of appealing to the extremes as "abandoned." Ron Paul delivered the keynote address to the John Birch Society as recently as the summer of 2009. He is a frequent guest on the Alex Jones radio program, the central station for 9/11 Trutherism. As I can attest first-hand, anybody who writes negatively about Paul will see his email inbox fill rapidly with anti-Semitic diatribes.

Not all the "bad stuff" of Ron Paul's newsletter period was racist, exactly. Some of it was just general-purpose paranoia, designed to trick money out of the pockets of the fearful and gullible.

Ron Paul's supporters may never believe it - or just not care - but the evidence clearly indicates that Paul knew exactly what kinds of vile stuff he was pushing. Whether he believed it himself or just used it for political advantage and financial gain, well,... does it really matter?

From TPM:
At the end of the day, does it matter if Ron Paul’s actual fingerprints are found on the original of the direct mail piece that went out in his name, over his auto-pen, selling his newsletters, and making him money? Hard to see why we need forensics for what is plainly obvious: Ron Paul was trafficking in some of the most noxious extremism of the early ’90s.

And the Washington Post, which gave him "three Pinocchios" for his claims, made this good point, too:
Paul offers implausible explanations for why so many derogatory statements made it into his publications, insisting he knew nothing about them. It’s hard to believe that a man who wants to oversee the entire U.S. government — albeit a smaller version — would provide zero oversight of his publications, or even bother to read them from time to time.

This is the guy you want running our country? I guess you were serious about drowning America in a bathtub, weren't you?


Anonymous said...

The important thing here (because there is no sane person to vote for anyway) is HOW exactly can I make millions with a mere newsletter?

WCG said...

You probably can't now. There's too much of it available everywhere, especially online. I think you lost your chance.

But did you look at that direct mail solicitation? That might give you some ideas, if you have no ethics at all.

PS. No sane person? You may not like Barack Obama, but he is sane - one of the very few sane people running for president, in fact.

Jeff said...


What are your thoughts on guys like Alex Jones? He will defend Ron Paul to the Nth degree. No conspiracy is too wacky for him. Of course, in his mind, we've all been brainwashed by the so-called "New World Order."

But, I must confess, I find myself sometimes delving into the "conspiracy theory" mindset. Perhaps it's out of cynicism I feel about the world around me.

WCG said...

Jeff, I don't know enough about Alex Jones to comment, but I tend to be skeptical about conspiracy theories in general. You know that old saying about how "three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead"? There's a lot of truth in that.

And the more people required to be part of any conspiracy, the less likely it will succeed - certainly not for long. Any kind of massive conspiracy is just incredibly unlikely.

No, IMHO, the bigger problem is people acting in unison because that's how they all benefit. For example, you don't need a conspiracy to keep CEO pay climbing all the time. That's because everyone involved has an incentive in keeping CEO pay high. They don't have to agree on that, because they all benefit when that's the case.

Actual conspiracies tend to be small and short-lived. But there's a mindset which is really attracted by conspiracies, and as you know, it's always easy to believe what we really want to believe.

Have you heard the one about aliens on the Moon? Yeah, everyone in both the Russian and American governments knows about it, but they're keeping it a secret from us. But that's why we haven't been back to the Moon in 40 years, because we discovered aliens living there. :)

I'm not kidding. I've actually heard that one. But if you believe that, then you become important - one of the select few who see through the conspiracy, one of those brave souls who know the truth. That's got to be a real ego boost.