Sifting Through The Swamp - Earlier this year, we rolled out our Weekly Primers — 500 word briefings for Prime subscribers on the topics TPM...
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Before you fight, perhaps it would be wise to see where the parties actually stand.
Historically speaking, the Democrats were founded by slave-owner Andrew Jackson and have been the party of banking, slavery, bigotry, and big spending for more than 180 years. They only started to cover up their overt racism in the last fifty years.
OK, but let's look at those last fifty years, Extrano. Note that African Americans used to vote Republican. Funny, huh? I wonder what other changes there have been?
In 1964, Democrat Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act outlawing government-sponsored segregation. At the time, the South was solidly Democratic, as it had been since the Civil War. The right-wing "Dixiecrats" were furious that we were finally granting civil rights to African Americans.
Northern Democrats knew that this would lose them the South, but they passed the bill anyway. (Note that many Republicans, eager to see the Democratic Party destroy itself, helped them do it.) For Democrats, it was, after all, the right thing to do. Republicans were gleeful. This was their chance! So they developed their "Southern strategy" of deliberately wooing white racists. (Google it.)
And it was wildly successful. They took all those Dixiecrats, all those white racists, all those religious fanatics, all those hate-filled conspiracy enthusiasts from the Democrats. Now, the South is solidly Republican.
True, wooing white racists lost Republicans the African American vote, but they're less than 13% of the population. They lost the Northeast, too, which had formerly been the Republican base. Moderate Republicans turned off by deliberate appeals to hate-filled fanatics started leaving the party.
But they didn't lose Wall Street. By sucking up to the rich, they still had all that money. And gaining the South more than made up for losing... rational people, educated people, intelligent people. Sure, scientists used to be 40% Republican, and now they're less than 6% Republican. But America has far more bigots than scientists, so it's still a win, right?
The Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln was indeed admirable. But that was a long time ago. And the Democrats used to be slave-owners and racists, true. But the Democrats deliberately stood for civil rights against the racists in their own party, knowing that they'd lose the South and yet doing the right thing anyway. That's pretty admirable, I'd say.
The Republicans, on the other hand, did what helped them the most politically, regardless of what it did to our country. They thought to use those people - the racists, the fundamentalists, the homophobes, the conspiracy enthusiasts, the anti-immigrant fanatics, the fearful, the ignorant, the hate-filled, the gullible.
Well, there are a lot of them. And angry people actually get off the couch and vote. So this was hugely successful for them. Republicans have dominated nationally most of the time since, even despite such disasters as Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. They've taken all of America down their right-wing path.
But this was so successful that those angry, crazy, bigoted people - formerly just the loony fringe - took over the entire Republican Party. Now, these people are the Republican base. They thought to use these people, but now these people control the entire Republican Party!
So yeah, go ahead and remind us about history, Extrano. But don't stop at fifty years in the past. Today's Republican Party isn't the party of Lincoln, and today's Democratic Party isn't the party of southern white slave-owners. People who stick with the Republicans because that's their family tradition might want to remember that.
The lies Reich debunks:
1) Tax cuts to the rich and corporations trickle down to the rest of us. (No it doesn't and it never has.)
2) If you shrink government you create jobs. (No, you get rid of jobs that way.)
3) High taxes on the rich hurts the economy. (No, the economy grew when the US did this under Eisenhower.)
4) Debt is to be avoided and it is mostly caused by Medicare. (No, if debt is properly used to grow the economy, it becomes a smaller part of the budget because of increased revenue, and Medicare has the lowest overhead of any health insurance plan out there.)
5) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (No, it's solid for 26 years. Social Security is solid beyond that if the rich pay the same percentage in social security taxes as the rest of us do.)
6) We need to tax the poor. (This is what Republicans have been proposing when they say any "tax reform" needs to involve all Americans because poor people pay no income tax. The poor have no money and taxing them will not solve our budget problems.)
In this new article from Reuters we see that some mainstream journalists are turning from ‘Ron Paul’s history of racist newsletters back in the day’ to the fact that his current ideas are … well, they may not be explicitly racist but they’re still seriously whacked.
Let’s remember back to early September, particularly the debate on September 7th. I flagged this little nugget at the time but it got very little attention. This was when Rick Perry was still a real candidate and the border fence and immigration in general were a big to-do between Romney and Perry.
But there was a key moment when Ron Paul was asked about the fence. He was against it, which is sensible enough. But his reason for being against it wasn’t that sensible or even that sane. As I noted in my live blog, Paul’s objection was that the fence could end up being used to “keep us in” after the financial collapse; specifically its real purpose might be to stop Americans from “leaving with their capital” after the breakdown of law and order in the USA.
Now you don’t have to be that deeply steeped in the arcana of the militia movement and the extreme conspiratorial right to know where this kind of thinking comes from. It’s right there with the FEMA concentration camps, the black helicopters, the post-economic collapse race war and the like.
Think about this. Paul’s worried about the fence because after America’s disastrous 100 year experiment with a central bank (the Fed) collapses in Mad Max style rioting in the streets, the government will be trying to keep good Americans from fleeing to Mexico with their capital. Over the fence. With their capital. To Mexico.
The man who might win the Republican Party's first presidential nominating contest fears that the United Nations may take control of the U.S. money supply.
Campaigning for the January 3 Iowa caucuses, Ron Paul warns of eroding civil liberties, a Soviet Union-style economic collapse and violence in the streets.
The Texas congressman, author of "End the Fed," also wants to eliminate the central banking system that underpins the world's largest economy.
"Not only would we audit the Federal Reserve, we may well curtail the Federal Reserve," Paul told a cheering crowd of more than 100 in this small Iowa city last week.
Paul, 76, is facing questions for racist writings that appeared under his name two decades ago, which he has disavowed as the work of "ghost writers."
But Paul's dark-horse presidential bid ultimately could founder, analysts and others say, because of increasing questions about how his unorthodox vision of government would work in the real world. ...
Non-partisan analysts say his economic proposals - drastic spending cuts, elimination of the Federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard - would plunge the country back into recession.
"Paul appeals to people whose knowledge of major issues is superficial (and) he sees conspiracies where there are none," said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group, an analysis firm. "If he does well in Iowa, which is likely, it will be an enormous embarrassment to the Republicans."
Ron Paul denies he has anything to do with the fringe extremism published under his name in a series of newsletters and there’s little in his public rhetoric to link him to many of the most offensive passages. But the conspiracy theories he does talk up personally are plenty eye-opening on their own.
The most notable of recent years has been an elaborate international plot to build a highway connecting the United States, Canada, and Mexico as a prerequisite for creating a combined state, the North American Union, with its own currency.
The above theory — which is entirely fictitious — isn’t some issue at the margins of Paul’s campaign, either, it was a central part of his 2008 platform. He included a section about it on his official candidate website:
“NAFTA’s superhighway is just one part of a plan to erase the borders between the U.S. and Mexico, called the North American Union. This spawn of powerful special interests, would create a single nation out of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, with a new unelected bureaucracy and money system. Forget about controlling immigration under this scheme.”
The NAFTA superhighway has long been a popular icon in conspiracy theory circles, much to the chagrin of various elected officials working on actual unrelated highway issues. Rick Perry caught a lot of heat over his attempt to build a Trans-Texas Corridor from critics who believed it was part of the grand plot, among them Ron Paul, who took to extremist Lew Rockwell’s site to denounce the effort. It got so bad that Perry had to deny the plot in an interview with right-wing news site Human Events in 2006. ...
Paul teamed up with other fringe legislators, most notably former Rep, Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), to introduce legislation denouncing the nonexistent superhighway, even as both the Bush administration and the top ranking Republicans on the relevant transportation committees insisted there was no basis to the theory. Paul took their denials as further encouragement he was onto something and insisted that federal officials were using “secret funding” to advance the project.
The North American Union and NAFTA Superhighway are part of a theme for Paul, who often warns of shadowy efforts to give up US sovereignty to international authorities. It’s a tradition with roots tracing back to the radical anti-communist John Birch Society in the 1950s and 1960s. Richard Hofstadter, who wrote a seminal essay on far-right movements in 1964, “The Paranoid Style In American Politics,” described their worldview as a belief that “the old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots.” It’s a pretty good description of Paul, an old school John Birch Society supporter who recently spoke at their 50th anniversary gathering. In 1990, he appeared in a Birch-produced video on the United Nations, unearthed recently by researcher extraordinaire Andrew Kaczynski, in which he warned the UN was plotting to “confiscate our guns” and “repeal the Second Amendment.” ...
Paul’s warnings of an international plot to replace the American dollar are also a recurring issue, despite a lack of any evidence of such a move. He recently questioned Ben Bernanke about whether he had discussed plans to craft a world currency, a widespread conspiracy theory in recent years that Michele Bachmann has also denounced. Much of its spread is based on a misreading of news stories on how some countries are looking to diversify their currency reserves beyond the dollar, an issue that has nothing to do with the creation of a new form of money. These fears are echoed in Paul’s old newsletters, which warned that President George H.W. Bush was planning to print a sinister “New Money” that would be instituted under martial law to an unwilling public.
Are these theories the same racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic ravings contained in Paul’s newsletters? No. But they come from the same fever swamps of far-right fringe groups, militias, and conspiracy theorists and are a crucial animating force behind Paul’s political movement. It’s worth noting that many of the most pressing threats he identifies to the United States are, in fact, imaginary.
Ron Paul has faced a torrent of criticism in recent weeks over newsletters printed in his name during the 1980s and 1990s which contained racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic content. He is also on the hook for accepting the support of fringe right-wing groups. While Paul dismisses these concerns, his campaign seems to have no problem working with and enjoying the support of anti-gay extremists, including one supporter who has called for the implementation of the death penalty for homosexual behavior.
Paul’s Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, recently touted the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska who also draws members from Iowa, putting out a press release praising “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” But Kayser’s views on homosexuality go way beyond the bounds of typical anti-gay evangelical politics and into the violent fringe: he recently authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law. ...
Kayser’s allegiance to the Paul campaign may reflect who the campaign has chosen to sell Paul to the churches. Mike Heath, who became Ron Paul’s Iowa state director this fall, has spent his career on the Christian right. In Iowa, Heath has focused on outreach to the religious community in the state, where Paul has made an effort to target evangelical voters.
Heath spent 14 years running the Christian Civic League of Maine (which has since changed its name). As a prominent figure in Maine, Heath slowly alienated the Christian right in the state with his extreme tactics. In 2004, for example, he launched a witch hunt to out gay members of the Maine legislature, asking supporters, according to the Portland Press Herald, to “e-mail us tips, rumors, speculation and facts” regarding the sexual orientation of the state’s political leaders, adding, “We are, of course, most interested in the leaders among us who want to overturn marriage, eliminate the mother/father family as the ideal, etc.” The result was that his own organization suspended him for a month.
“He’s a well-known conspiracy theorist about the ‘gay agenda,’” says Travis Kennedy, chief of staff for the House Democratic Office in Maine, who says Heath was a big figure around the capital for many years. Heath made more enemies than friends, says Kennedy, whose “offensive and aggressive” tactics put off even his allies on the Christian right. In 2007, Heath played a big part in opposing a sexual orientation anti-discrimination ballot measure which ultimately passed by a wide margin. On Heath’s new job in Iowa, Kennedy said, “I’m not surprised he’d be hired in a state far away from Maine. He has a pretty poor reputation around here.”
From 2008-2010, Heath served as chairman of the board of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. AFTAH is a fringe, anti-gay organization and has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for promoting false information. For example, the organization and its founder, Peter LaBarbera, have published false reports about LGBT people, including allegations that they live shorter lives and that they are prone to pedophilia. LaBarbera disputes the SPLC’s label.
“Peter LaBarbera is among the most fringe elements of the anti-gay industry in America today,” Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, wrote in an email to TPM. “You’d be hard pressed to find another group that is so singularly focused on telling lies about LGBT Americans.”
It’s unclear if Ron Paul ascribes to some of Heath’s anti-gay beliefs. Paul’s newsletters do contain several quotes smearing gay Americans as well as the AIDS epidemic. Recently, a disenchanted former Paul aide described an instance when Paul refused to use the bathroom of a gay supporter. But whatever Paul’s beliefs, Heath’s work on his campaign is another strike against a candidate with a history of associating with fringe elements of the right.
"No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God," he said.
The 1,700-year-old church, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, is in a bad state of repair, largely because the priests cannot agree on who should pay for its upkeep.
I can't say I'm sad to see him go. He's played a major role in slowing down, stopping, or outright defeating some of the most important progressive reforms Democrats have tried to pass. He blocked real bank reform, stalled the fight against climate change, and killed the public option just to name a few.
Good riddance Ben Nelson. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
However, this does mean it's likely we'll get an actual Republican replacing Senator Nelson in Nebraska --- and one less 'Democrat' in the Senate makes it harder to keep the majority we need to stop a John Boehner Tea Party driven House.
It ups the ante for progressives like us to step up and make the difference by replacing other Senate Republicans with progressive fighters this year. It starts with making sure we do absolutely everything we possibly can to elect Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. And that's exactly what Democracy for America is going to do.
Contribute $10 right now to help DFA replace bad Democrats like Senator Ben Nelson with great progressives like Elizabeth Warren.
Yesterday, some Democrats in the establishment couldn't resist and reminded us what's wrong with Washington.
The day after Ben Nelson announced he was not seeking re-election, they decided to attack him. In their eyes, his votes to pass historic Wall Street Reform and Health Care Reform just weren't good enough.
Democrats labeling each other as "bad" and "good" Democrats makes compromise in Washington harder and only foretells more gridlock.
Here's what a Democrat in the senate means to Nebraska: Senator Nelson's record includes a secured STRATCOM that will bring jobs to Nebraska, new veterans clinics, a new veterans' hospital in Omaha, health care reform and the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
But that didn't stop one establishment group from attacking Ben Nelson. Rather than try to help build up grassroots support for Democrats in Nebraska, they attacked... [that DFA email was copied below] In the view of these Democrats, Nebraska is a hopeless cause -- they expect "one less Democrat" even before anyone has announced they are running to replace Senator Nelson!
I'm afraid I agree completely with Jim Dean, not with you. If the Democratic Party is dumb enough to support a senator who regularly joins Republican filibusters, I'm certainly not dumb enough to give them money.
I don't require that a politician agree with me about everything. Who does? But if there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans, why should I care?
You can look at this in two ways. First, if the Nebraska Democratic Party doesn't stand for anything, then why would anyone want to be a Democrat? The other way is this: Ben Nelson has been the top Democrat in Nebraska for years. How has the party fared during that time? Are you happy with the number of Democrats in office? How has Nelson been for Democrats in our state?
I do support Barack Obama, but look at what timidity has done for him. When he took office, we were all clamoring for change. Instead, he behaved like a typical Democrat, too spineless and too eager to appease Republicans and Wall Street both. Now, all that enthusiasm is gone. He squandered a unique opportunity to lead our country and maybe even deliver that change he promised. (Admittedly, Democrats like Ben Nelson were no help!)
Do you wonder why Democrats are so enthusiastic about Elizabeth Warren. It's because we get so few candidates like that. Win or lose, she's inspiring. But the Democratic establishment will keep throwing up candidates like Ben Nelson. Or maybe they throw up themselves. [pun intended] They may have the money, the wealthy friends, and the corporate support to compete with Republicans in our money-trumps-all political system, but it does our state no good, it does our country no good, and it does the Democratic Party no good.
Two South Carolina legislators say state employees shouldn't have to answer the phone with Gov. Nikki Haley's mandated cheery greeting unless it's truly a great day in South Carolina.
Democratic state Reps. John Richard King and Wendell Gilliard have filed legislation saying no state agency can force its employees to answer the phone with, "It's a great day in South Carolina," as long as state unemployment is 5 percent or higher. Their bill also would prohibit requiring the greeting as long as all South Carolinians don't have health insurance.
At a September meeting, Haley ordered her Cabinet agencies to embrace the greeting, saying it could help change the mood of state government.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
The incident occurred mere moments after the House went into session. Hoyer made a motion for a vote on the Senate’s payroll tax cut extension, which would extend the lower rates for another two months, but the Republican presiding over the House did not acknowledge the motion. He instead adjourned the House, then got up and walked out.
“As you walk off the floor, Mr. Speaker, you’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from taxpayers, the unemployed, and very frankly, as well, from those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors, 48 million senior citizens,” Hoyer can be heard saying.
“We regret, Mr. Speaker, that you have walked off the platform without addressing the issue of critical importance to this country, and that is the continuation of the middle class tax cut, the continuation of unemployment benefits for those at risk of losing them, and a continuation of the access to doctors for all those 48 million seniors who rely on them daily for help.”
And that’s when the audio cut out. Seconds later, footage faded to a shot of the capitol from outside.
Moments later, someone at C-SPAN took to Twitter and explained: “C-SPAN has no control over the U.S. House TV cameras – the Speaker of the House does.”
It’s for reasons just like this, one might infer, that Boehner told C-SPAN back in February it would not be allowed control its own cameras.
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) didn’t break any rules when he accepted $60,000 — far over the $5,000 limit — in donations to his legal fund from entities that were controlled by the same family, the House Ethics Committee found this week. But they’re making sure that other members can’t exploit the same loophole in the future.
Young, according to the House Ethics Committee’s report, received the donations in an envelope from fishing buddy Gary Chouest, who is president of a marine transportation company.
“When it comes to campaign finance law, that’s clearly a violation,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told TPM. “It’s well established as a violation of that type of rule.”
The House Ethics report makes it clear that donations to legal funds from entities controlled by one individual will be counted together in the future, even though they cleared Young of any violations.
GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.
The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.
If Republicans didn't want to extend the payroll tax cut on the merits, then they should have put together a strategy and the arguments for defeating it and explained why.
But if they knew they would eventually pass it, as most of them surely believed, then they had one of two choices. Either pass it quickly and at least take some political credit for it.
Or agree on a strategy to get something in return for passing it, which would mean focusing on a couple of popular policies that would put Mr. Obama and Democrats on the political spot. They finally did that last week by attaching a provision that requires Mr. Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days, and the President grumbled but has agreed to sign it.
But now Republicans are drowning out that victory in the sounds of their circular firing squad. Already four GOP Senators have rejected the House position, and the political rout will only get worse.
Their first mistake was adopting the President's language that he is proposing a tax cut rather than calling it a temporary tax holiday. People will understand the difference—and discount the benefit.
A mostly irrelevant side note to the Wall Street Journal editorial everyone’s talking about is that they don’t seem to know what policy they’re talking about.
“House Republicans yesterday voted down the Senate’s two-month extension of the two-percentage-point payroll tax holiday to 4.2% from 6.2%,” the editors wrote. “They say the short extension makes no economic sense, but then neither does a one-year extension. No employer is going to hire a worker based on such a small and temporary decrease in employment costs, as this year’s tax holiday has demonstrated.”
They seem to have their payroll tax cuts mixed up. The two percent holiday that’s been in effect for the past year, and the extension Congress is fighting about right now, are both to employees’ share of the Social Security FICA tax. The theory behind the policy is that by increasing worker take-home pay, the cut provides suffering consumers with additional purchasing power, and thus stimulates demand, which is exactly what this sluggish economy needs.
Earlier in the year, President Obama proposed broadening this tax cut to include the employer share of the Social Security FICA tax. That policy operates on the theory that reducing cost-per-employee will create the incentive for job creation. It’s a weaker theory — a lot of big employers are already sitting on a bunch of cash, but aren’t hiring because they don’t have enough customers (see above about demand). But this is what the Wall Street Journal’s editors seem to think has been going on all year — and they’re completely wrong.