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The Paul Problem

[ 254 ] January 3, 2012 |

I think a couple commenters have been persuasive that I was too charitable toward Ron Paul, as my closing line implies that he’s having a meaningful and positive impact on the debate. It would probably have been better just to say that he is indeed better than Obama on a handful of issues in addition to having hideously immoral positions on countless issues, because Paul’s impact probably isn’t positive. The first problem, as Kevin Drum notes, is that his handful of good positions are just false positives generated by an exceptionally pernicious and reactionary worldview:

Can we talk? Ron Paul is not a charming oddball with a few peculiar notions. He’s not merely “out of the mainstream.” Ron Paul is a full bore crank. In fact he’s practically the dictionary definition of a crank: a person who has a single obsessive, all-encompassing idea for how the world should work and is utterly blinded to the value of any competing ideas or competing interests.

This obsessive idea has, at various times in his career, led him to: denounce the Civil Rights Act because it infringed the free-market right of a monolithic white establishment to immiserate blacks; dabble in gold buggery and advocate the elimination of the Federal Reserve, apparently because the global economy worked so well back in the era before central banks; suggest that the border fence is being built to keep Americans from leaving the country; claim that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional and should be dismantled; mount repeated warnings that hyperinflation is right around the corner; insist that global warming is a gigantic hoax; hint that maybe the CIA helped to coordinate the 9/11 attacks; oppose government-sponsored flu shots; and allege that the UN wants to confiscate our guns.

This isn’t the biography of a person with one or two unusual hobbyhorses. It’s not something you can pretend doesn’t matter. This is Grade A crankery, and all by itself it’s reason enough to want nothing to do with Ron Paul. But of course, that’s not all. As we’ve all known for the past four years, you can layer on top of this Paul’s now infamous newsletters, in which he condoned a political strategy consciously designed to appeal to the worst strains of American homophobia, racial paranoia, militia hucksterism, and new-world-order fear-mongering. And on top of that, you can layer on the fact that Paul is plainly lying about these newsletters and his role in them.

All of this might be acceptable if his presence might actually make opposition to the War on (some classes of people who use some) Drugs or anti-imperialism more common in American political discourse. But, of course, it will do no such thing. If you think either issue will play any role in the upcoming election, or that either candidate will pay a price for ignoring them, all I can say is “care to make it interesting?” Indeed, his constant neoconfederate arguments that federal power is inherently illegitimate — which Greenwald skated over in his tendentious-in-the-extreme comparison of the candidates, pretending that the differences between Obama and Paul on economics, civil rights, civil liberties protections against the state governments most likely to abuse them, and regulatory enforcement are marginal — is far more likely to affect political discourse than the handful of good positions he espouses.

Comments (254)

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  1. actor212 says:

    I think of Ron Paul, and am reminded that Mussolini did indeed make the trains run on time

  2. c u n d gulag says:

    Government steals, Mr. Paul?
    Aren’t you a part of that government, and have been for years?
    What, you didn’t get enough, so now you’re running for President?

    You sound like Henry Hill bitching about the Mob because he couldn’t get “made,” while plotting an even bigger job than the Lufthansa one.

    Oh, that’s right, you’re here to stop the thieving, isn’t that right, Mr. Paul?
    Or, at least for black people and women, you racist and misogynistic little Randian Libertarian, you.

    And just because he’s sane on drug legalization and war folks, doesn’t make his other positions any less crazy.

    There’s a difference between a “crank” (wonderfully defined by Charles Pierce is his great book, “Idiot America) and a “loon.”

    Ron Paul is pretty close to being a real crank.

    Michele Bachmann is the very definition of a loon.

    And both “cranks” and “loons” are dangerous when involved in politics.
    They have too many people in this country just like them – ready to vote for one of their own.

  3. ploeg says:

    The flip side of being a crank is that you are almost guaranteed to lose. Which is a problem if you want to make a practical difference in the debate.

    If I were truly concerned about these issues, I could not find a faster way to marginalize myself and discredit my position than to pick Ron Paul as my standard bearer.

  4. DivGuy says:

    One good effect that Paul has had on our discourse is that glibertarians are much less likely to be engaged in incoherent warmongering. They’ve been tribally convinced to a position of skepticism about American military power.

    I’ve seen very little evidence that Ron Paul articulating laudable positions on the drug war and American imperialism has had a positive effect on the discourse outside of the effects on glibertarians.

    Whether you think it matters in any way what glibertarians think is up to you to decide.

  5. david mizner says:

    If the left is to have any hope of reversing the
    bipartisan war-making machine, which has killed about a million Muslims since 1980, or the creeping bipartisan police state at home, which has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of people of color, we need to work with conservatives and cranks. That’s why Barney Frank, Kuninich, and Alan Grayson have all teamed up with Paul. And it’s why the NAACP has teamed up with Grover Norquist. It’s why the ACLU has teamed up with wingnuts of all stripes. This kind of work is pretty much the definition of pragmatic politics, and to reject it because the odiousness of some of their positions or because of the odiousness of their underlying worldview is just stupid, short-sighted — the kind of rigid litmus-testing that many Obama admirers claim to abhor.

    As for the impact on his discourse, that’s party up to progressives. We could be using the Paul candidacy to, for example, help us mount a critique of imperialism; instead we’re using it to dissect the blog posts of Glenn Greenwald.

    .

    • david mizner says:

      As for the underlying ideologies that produce one’s political positions, I’m not sure that his paleconservatism compels him to say that the drug war is racist and that American violence overseas leads to anti-American violence, or even if does, I don’t think we should entirely dismiss someone uttering such important truths.

      And by the way: what is the underlying doctrine or ideology that leads the establishments of both parties to support killing Muslim children? What is the ideology that leads Panetta to say the Iraq war was “worth it”? Is it liberalism?

      • Amanda in the South Bay says:

        Yes, we should dismiss them. Paul is an odious, racist fucker, and quite honestly if you think Obama is the world’s biggest killer of Muslims, then you are fucking crazy as well.

        • lawguy says:

          No I’m sure that Bush killed his fair share.

        • Kal says:

          “world’s biggest”

          What does this have to do with anything?

        • Ed says:

          Yes, Bush was able to dispose of quite a few (Clinton did his part on a smaller scale). The true body count to be claimed by the Prince of Drones won’t be known for some time to come, I expect.

          • commie atheist says:

            Considering the body count in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002-09, that would take a hella bunch of drones.

          • mpowell says:

            This is idiotic. The decision to invade Iraq and dispose of Saddam caused at least a million Iraqi excess deaths. Bush gets credit for deaths occurring after his presidency due to the fact that once the Iraq state was broken, there was no way to put it back together. Even if you run a thousand drone strikes, you’re going to be looking at roughly 30K deaths. There is a tendency to insist that Gore would have invaded Iraq, but that is, in my opinion, bull shit. Heck, 9/11 probably wouldn’t have even happened if FL had gone for Gore. Vote for Democrats. You get less foreign deaths by an order of magnitude.

      • Malaclypse says:

        I’m not sure that his paleconservatism compels him to say that the drug war is racist

        But he does not say this. He says the war on drugs is bad. That’s not the same as saying it is racist.

        • rea says:

          He doesn’t even say that the drug war is bad. He just says that it ought to be left to the states.

          • lawguy says:

            Obama does seem to indicate (see California medical marijuana busts) that the drug war shouldn’t be left to anyone but the feds and that it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

            And that is the discussion we should be having but aren’t.

            • mark f says:

              Weren’t those California busts just a few firms (accused of) flagrantly selling non-medicinal marijuana in violation of previous cease-and-desist orders? You can question the wisdom of that, but given that medicinal marijuana appears to be readily available in many states, saying that Obama is “prosecut[ing providers] to the fullest extent” seems a bit hysterical.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Actually, I read something recently where he attempted to spin his position on the war on drugs as pro-Black….hmm, where was it…Aha, via Ta-Nehisi’s twitter stream (which has a hilarious series of like tweets):
          Ron Paul slams the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It’s OK because he’s against the drug war. huff.to/tXzaZ7

          From the post:

          Paul explained that while he supports the fact that the legislation repealed the notorious Jim Crow laws, which forced racial segregation, he believes it is the government, not the people, that causes racial tensions by passing overreaching laws that institutionalize slavery and segregation. Today’s race problems, he said, result from the war on drugs, the flawed U.S. court system and the military.

          “The real problem we face today is the discrimination in our court system, the war on drugs. Just think of how biased that is against the minorities,” he said. “They go into prison much way out of proportion to their numbers. They get the death penalty out of proportion with their numbers. And if you look at what minorities suffer in ordinary wars, whether there’s a draft or no draft, they suffer much out of proposition. So those are the kind of discrimination that have to be dealt with, but you don’t ever want to undermine the principle of private property and private choices in order to solve some of these problems.”

          Paul’s comments on how to improve race relations come at an interesting time, following the recent revelation of a series of racist and homophobic newsletters that were published under his name in the 1980s and 1990s. Paul has denounced the newsletters, and he says that although he was the publisher, he didn’t write or review any of the offensive comments in them — only the “economic parts.”

          “I’m the true civil libertarian when it comes to [race relations], and I think that people ought to, you know, look at my position there, rather than dwelling on eight sentences that I didn’t write and didn’t authorize and have been, you know, apologetic about,” he told ABC’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “Because it shouldn’t have been there, and it was terrible stuff.”

          So The Drug War Is Racists and we should Leave It Up To The States! Disenfranchisment laws anyone?

        • david mizner says:

          No — if you’d chose to do 30 seconds of research before spouting, you’d know that he’s argued that racism is at the heart of the war on drugs.

          http://ronpaulflix.com/2011/12/msnbc-is-ron-paul-right-about-the-drug-war-being-racist-yes-dec-28-2011/

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            It’d be nice if you’d apply the same 30 seconds to reading the rest of the threads! Thanks!

          • Sebastian Dangerfield says:

            Interesting that this idea seems not to have occurred to Paul until he started taking fire over the racism in his newsletters.

            Also difficult to reconcile with Paul’s monomaniacal focus on the federal government, inasmuch as most drug offenders are incarcerated by the states (I guess the states never enforce laws in discriminatory ways).

        • DrDick says:

          He actively supports racism and sexism, or at least opposes any efforts to legally eliminate them, which is effectively the same thing.

      • ploeg says:

        I don’t see any problem with working with conservatives. I see a big problem with working with cranks (who generally prefer grandstanding and posturing to the hard work of governing and making a difference). And I reserve the right to vote against the conservative anyway.

        There’s also a difference between a group like the ACLU and a politician. The ACLU takes the positions that it does because that is their function, to focus on a single set of issues to the exclusion of everything else. When you support a politician because of one issue, you must bear in mind that you get the rest of the politician for free. So it matters if your politician is great on that one issue but shits the bed on everything else.

        • ploeg says:

          And yes, I agree that this applies to Obama as well as to Paul. The thing is to pick a politician that 1) matches your values and priorities reasonably well and 2) prefers getting things done over grandstanding and preserving one’s own ideological purity.

        • wiley says:

          What should be a motivating idea to ALL U.S. citizens is the simple truth that a violation of one citizen’s Civil Rights is a violation of everyone’s Civil Rights. The way I see it, if you don’t embrace that, you’re not really getting the whole “Freedom” and “Liberty” things. Seems a lot of the right-wing gets the “America— Fuck yeah…” thing which really isn’t what the founders were going for.

    • Jason says:

      Yes, one needs strange bedfellows to get things done in politics. No one doubts this. It has nothing to do with any point made by Scott or Drum, up to and including their criticism of Greenwald.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Tactically teaming up with for the sake of votes: No one has a problem.

      Throwing blacks, womens, poor people etc. under the bus for a transiently newsworthy kook: Forgive me for thinking that’s somewhat less effective or worthwhile.

      Who started this bit of conversation? Oh, that’s right, Greenwald. Who could have written a post: “Look, let’s forget all about Paul per se and try to figure out if we can use his articulation of important views that Obama gets wrong which are awful to have a reasonable shot at mitigating those policies.” I would still argue that we can’t, cf Drum for why. But that would be a vastly different conversation.

      Oh, and kudos for your sterling efforts to steer the conversation that way! I’ve every confidence that you’ll wrench the discussion back to what matters instead of jumping in on Greenwald’s side and ignoring most of what everyone else has written!

      Soon, at least. I wait eagerly, with all sincerity, for that moment.

    • Sebastian Dangerfield says:

      It is important to distinguish between working with a crank like Paul in his capacity as U.S. Congressman to, say, pass the audit-the-Fed bill (in my mind a good thing) and giving aid and comfort to Paul’s presidential candidacy. The former is pragmatic legislative politics on a particular issue. But no-one’s voting on or evaluating the merits of particular issues right now, they’re talking about candidates — candidates for quite a high office. To endorse Paul — or to try to stake out some ridiculous non-endorsing Paul-curious position like Greenwald has done — does nothing to advance anti-war or anti-”war on drugs” causes. Paul is a crank. He has no good views or positions. He has insane views that lead him to one or two conclusions that overlap with those that progressives reach for entirely different reasons, along with a slew of conclusions that are anathema to progressives. Having the only advocate for those conclusions be a known crank advancing an insane world-view does not help. It will convince very few, and the few it does will likely be buying the overall insane world-view.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        It is important to distinguish between working with a crank like Paul in his capacity as U.S. Congressman to, say, pass the audit-the-Fed bill (in my mind a good thing) and giving aid and comfort to Paul’s presidential candidacy.

        This.

        • david mizner says:

          So you agree with his audit the Fed bill yet he “He has no good views or positions.”

          Beyond the incoherence of your comment, I don’t understand how pointing out that Paul is right to oppose racist policies gives “aid and comfort” to his candidacy, unless you think agreement from liberals is going to help him win Iowa.

          That said, a Paul victory in the primary would be better for liberals and liberalism. Obama would win but would be forced to defend indefensible policies. Win win. With a Romney candidacy, the bipartisan support for racist policies would only be further entrenched, and Obama could lose.

          • mark f says:

            [A] Paul victory in the primary would be better for liberals and liberalism. Obama would win but would be forced to defend indefensible policies. Win win. With a Romney candidacy, the bipartisan support for racist policies would only be further entrenched, and Obama could lose.

            How does this work? In either scenario the bad policies win and become further entrenched. In your Paul-is-the-GOP-nominee hypothesis the candidate of the party normally accused of being “weak” on those policies wins — at least partly owing to his support of the same — against a candidate explicitly against them; how does that in any way advance the anti position?

          • Sebastian Dangerfield says:

            [A] Paul victory in the primary would be better for liberals and liberalism. Obama would win but would be forced to defend indefensible policies. Win win.

            Wildly improbable, yes. Freakin’ hilarious, definitely. But other than by causing a GOP implosion, I see no benefits for “liberals” w/r/t the few issues where Paul’s Krazy Kompass points in the right direction. Obama would be able to defend the bad GWOT and drugs policies against the stupidest arguments on the face of the earth, and further drive legitimate legitimate arguments against them to the margins of our political discourse.

            • david mizner says:

              So a race in which both candidates basically share the same view on racist policies does more to advance the non-racist position that a race in which one candidate, backed up with hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, argues forcefully for the non-racist position. The good news is, the drugs you’re doing Paul wants to legalize.

              And you still haven’t answered my question:

              I don’t understand how pointing out that Paul is right to oppose racist policies gives “aid and comfort” to his candidacy, unless you think agreement from liberals is going to help him win Iowa.

              • Hogan says:

                the non-racist position

                ITYM “one non-racist rationalization for one position amid a forest of racist positions.”

                backed up with hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising

                Assumes facts not in evidence. From whom is Ron Paul going to raise hundreds of millions of dollars?

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                If the kooky candidate argues for the “non racist” position on racist grounds and couples them with other, rather racist, positions, then, yeah. Here’s to the quality of Paul’s “forceful advocacy” I quote again:

                Paul explained that while he supports the fact that the legislation repealed the notorious Jim Crow laws, which forced racial segregation, he believes it is the government, not the people, that causes racial tensions by passing overreaching laws that institutionalize slavery and segregation.

                So those are the kind of discrimination that have to be dealt with, but you don’t ever want to undermine the principle of private property and private choices in order to solve some of these problems.”

                Do you want to own this? Do you think that this is a good way to advocate against the drug war? Do you think devolving power to the states is more or less likely, in today’s conditions, to produce e.g., more or less enfranchisment?

                Did you notice Walker? Iowa? Florida?

                Obviously, progressives supporting Paul isn’t going to make Paul any more likely to win. But “acknowledging that he’s right on the drug war” isn’t going to make his advocacy against the drug war any more effective (or right in hypothetical execution). So why throw him a bone? Why not throw a bone to communities who find lots of Paul’s positions personally threatening and have a history of leftists & democrats treating them and their concerns like crap?

          • Sebastian Dangerfield says:

            So you agree with his audit the Fed bill yet he “He has no good views or positions.”

            Sorry that you’re having difficulty distinguishing candidates from legislation. Let me try to unpack it further. Let’s say that X is a U.S. Congressman and that X introduces legislation eliminating U.S. military aid to Israel based on X’s belief in the Blood Libel. Congressman Y believes that U.S. aid to Israel should be eliminated due to the IDF’s tactics in the occupied territories and votes for the bill. Even though I too support the bill for the same reasons that Congressman Y does, I am not compelled to concede that Congressman X’s views or positions are sound. Nor would I concede that it would be a good thing to have Congressman X advocating against military aid to Israel from his pro-Blood Libel position. Congressman Y and I just made a tactical move on a legislative issue that advances our cause.

            You can run that scenario with audit-the-fed bill, given that it was based on Paul’s view that there should be no central bank.

      • Kal says:

        This would be a stronger argument if it was based on the fact that Paul’s only real candidacy is for spokesperson for anti-imperialism; he has no chance of winning the presidency (at least, without selling out). As a spokesperson, he’s horrible, and there’s no reason to favor him. If by some miracle he could become president, well, I don’t know about you, but many here are willing to accept many things in a president that are anathema to them if they think the alternative is worse.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        It is important to distinguish between working with a crank like Paul in his capacity as U.S. Congressman to, say, pass the audit-the-Fed bill (in my mind a good thing) and giving aid and comfort to supporting Paul’s presidential candidacy.

        FTFY

        I totally agree that progressives should oppose Paul’s presidential candidacy. I’m not sure what it means to “give aid and comfort” to a candidacy…other than setting up a Greenwald trap.

        Up until this latest post, Scott had actually been saying very similar things about Paul to what Greenwald had said: that it was, at least, a good thing that Paul was advocating more sensible positions on the drug war and American imperialism. (As I suggested in an earlier thread, Greenwald and Scott differed more on their views about Obama than their views about Paul.)

        In fact, as I’ve also been suggesting, to the extent that Scott’s view of Paul is harsher than Greenwald’s, I’m actually on Scott’s side…which is why I was a bit puzzled by Scott’s unambivalent opinion–now sensibly withdrawn==that Paul was simply improving the debate on, e.g., the drug war and imperialism.

        Here are some bottom lines for me:

        1) Progressives should not support reactionary kooks for president, even if they hold a handful of (relatively) attractive views on some important issues.

        2) When it comes to single-issue campaigns (out of Congress) or passing legislation (in Congress), progressives should always be willing to consider working with kooks, left and right…provided that doing so actually advances the issue / legislation. If we don’t treat these potential alliances pragmatically, we’re just cutting off our noses to spite our faces. The problem with Jane Hamsher working with Grover Norquist on healthcare reform wasn’t that working with Grover Norquist is ipso facto wrong (it isn’t), but rather that, in that particular case, doing so had zero chance of improving healthcare reform and a significant chance of making things worse.

        3) It is very problematic when the only major party presidential candidate on the right side (more or less) of important issues like the drug war and American imperialism is a reactionary kook. When this happens, there is a far greater chance that those positions will be further marginalized than that they will be advanced.

    • A smarter version of David Mizner might have noticed that Barney Frank et al have taken absolutely no criticism from pro-Obama liberals for working across the aisle on specific measures.

      This person would also understand the difference between such narrow, defined legislative alliances and lauding Paul, in toto, as a superior alternative to an actual liberal in a race for president.

    • Except that Paul doesn’t believe in doing much of anything to actually stop war, he just wants the U.S. to take an aloof position in world affairs due to his Buchanan-esque America-First beliefs. There’s no common cause to be made with progressives here once you get below the surface.

  6. dave says:

    Gold buggery? Is it an Olympic sport now? Or a practice that only those with a very understanding jeweller can undertake?

  7. J. Otto Pohl says:

    I am not an overall Paul supporter. But, he is the only US politician to not pledge his complete political loyalty to the State of Israel rather than the US. That brave stand alone should be worth something.

    • Malaclypse says:

      That brave stand alone should be worth something.

      Bravery:

      For example, he strenuously does not believe the United States had any business getting involved in fighting Hitler in WWII. He expressed to me countless times, that “saving the Jews,” was absolutely none of our business.

      • J. Otto Pohl says:

        I fail to see what a hypothetical position on a past war has to do with the fact that every other politician kow tows to the Israeli lobby because they are craven cowards. Again I am not a Paul supporter. But, it is nice to see somebody say nuking Iran for Israel is not a good idea. Nobody else in American politics has the cojones to do it.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Nobody else in American politics has the cojones to do it.

          That because nobody else in American politics except David Duke and Pat Buchanan think that Hitler was not all that bad.

          • J. Otto Pohl says:

            I take it that you think nuking Iran for Israel is a good thing?

            • Malaclypse says:

              Yes, that clearly follows from my statements, as well as my consistent advocacy here and elsewhere of wars of choice.

              I take it that you can come up with an actual US politician making an actual statement that Iran should be nuked? Not bombed, mind you, but nuked?

              • J. Otto Pohl says:

                Well bombing nuclear facilities is what I meant. And yes almost all the other Republican candidates seem to support an attack on Iran. Obama has not come out in favor of it, but he has not come out against it either. If you think Paul’s opposition to bombing Iran is equivalent to supporting the Holocaust well that is your problem. But, I not sure why you are pretending there is not a lot of mainstream political support for attacking Iran on behalf of Israel. The Republican primary seems to show that there is.

                • commie atheist says:

                  Yes, and with your help, one of those Republicans will be elected President. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecies.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Well bombing nuclear facilities is what I meant.

                  Okay, but what you typed, twice, was that the US supports nuking Iran. That’s not actually at all the same thing. That’s not kind of the same thing.

                  If you think Paul’s opposition to bombing Iran is equivalent to supporting the Holocaust well that is your problem.

                  No, I think Paul’s statement that Hitler was no big deal is the problem.

                  You know what? I’m a Quaker. I don’t support bombing anybody. But I also think that I’m completely unwilling to make common cause with anybody who engages in Hitler apologia. Because I have an IQ over room temperature, and understand that Nazi apologists are not my friends.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  The opposition, as has been pointed out previously, is not exactly strong.

                  I mean, he hasn’t, afaik, come out and said, “Even if they are building a nuke, I won’t bomb them or support Israel’s bombing them.”

                  So the courage of Sir Robin “How about letters of marque and reprisal and I did vote for AUMF unlike Barbara ‘Actually courageous’ Lee” Paul is in some doubt.

                • Seitz says:

                  Obama has not come out in favor of it, but he has not come out against it either.

                  Well, considering he’s the Commander in Chief, and we have not yet bombed Iran, I think that’s fairly good evidence that he’s against it. At least at the moment.

            • I take it that you think nuking Iran for Israel is a good thing?

              I take it you suffered a head injury prior to your cranial plates fusing?

        • wiley says:

          My crazy uncle George had some lucid moments and was really sorry his father died because he wanted to kill him; but no one with an ounce of sanity and sense would say that we should give our impossibly tragic relative some credit for being sorry that his father died, even though most of the rest of us were glad to see the bastard dead.

          You know what I mean? It’s best not to play along into the insane part of a crazy person’s brain in order to agree with one of their sentiments, however that particular sentiment might seem, when it is aligned with a dangerous impulse, it is best not to feed it.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          I fail to see what a hypothetical position on a past war has to do with the fact that every other politician kow tows to the Israeli lobby because they are craven cowards.

          In many social and political contexts, attacking US participation in WWII is a fast track to opprobriation. Thus, doing so can be a sign of courage of some sort, but it can also be a sign that you are a kook. I don’t think it’s a useful measure of how well Paul would stand up to institutional pressures, much less the actual institutional action that could be mobilized against him.

          Indeed, since he suffers not a whit from saying all sorts of awful, counter to sense things (really, is it a sign of his courage that he stands up against the tyrannous power of the new dollar bills?), I don’t see the courage.

          Barbara Lee’s vote against AUMF is a sign of political courage. Pauls vote for it is a good measure of his.

    • Spud says:

      But, he is the only US politician to not pledge his complete political loyalty to the State of Israel rather than the US. That brave stand alone should be worth something.

      No it isn’t.

      Its part and parcel with his other forms of bigotry and his completely reactionary views of foreign policy. He doesn’t give a crap about any of our foreign allies. The fact that it would harm Israel is just a happy bonus for you.

      • Holden Pattern says:

        “The fact that it would harm Israel is just a happy bonus for you.”

        Yes, because the only reason to think that unconditional US support of the most reactionary and militaristic of Israeli policies is a shitty idea is BECAUSE YOU WANT TO HARM ISRAEL.

        More and better Likud trolls, please. It really increases the standard of discourse.

        • Spud says:

          Yes, because the only reason to think that unconditional US support of the most reactionary and militaristic of Israeli policies is a shitty idea is BECAUSE YOU WANT TO HARM ISRAEL.

          9 out of 10 times the people bitching and moaning the most about our relationship with Israel, actually DO wish harm to them. Its not my fault that the bigoted trolls mix in well with the reasonable people on the issue.

          Of course their response inevitably involves making wild sweeping generalizations and ad homenim.

          The trolls hold Israel to a standard unlike any other nation. Show me a single ally who we treated with conditional support?

          Did we hold back support of the UK over their treatment of the Irish or Indians?

          Do we scale back our defense of Japan because we don’t like how ethnic Koreans and Chinese are treated?

          No.

          • You have a sound point about Paul’s motivations being important (Paul certainly doesn’t care about Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian or the injustice of the lack of a Palestinian state), but I think whether it harms Israel or not is immaterial. Paul is just a pretty typical isolationist who doesn’t want the U.S. engaged in geopolitics.

            • Spud says:

              The motivations part had to do with poster, J. Otto Pohl.

              J. Otto’s responses with Mal are chock full of junk. “Bombing Iran for Israel” is a ridiculous screed being touted by those looking for AIPAC under their beds.

              Paul’s own motivations were pretty much discussed ad nauseum in an earlier thread. Even if Paul has a valid point or two its mired in a cesspool of truly abhorrent ones.

          • BobS says:

            “9 out of 10 times”? Wow. When you pull numbers out of your ass, you don’t fuck around.
            And no, we didn’t hold back support of the English over their treatment of the Irish or Indians. But of course you realize that was a time when ‘we’ weren’t particularly critical of Alabama or Mississippi regarding their treatment of black people, right? However, you do make a good point by comparing Israel and it’s atrocities with the bad behavior of colonial powers of bygone centuries.

            • Spud says:

              That figure is based on my own experiences with discussing the matter. Maybe out of ten people in the conversation 9 will be “AIPAC is after us” trolls and 1 reasonable person. You still haven’t shown me to be one of the reasonable types.

              Its not easy to take someone seriously when they hurl eptithets like “Likud Troll” instead of provide a real argument.

              Besides, the Japan reference is not from a colonial past, it is present day behavior. You made an ignorant excuse for what amounts to be vacant, overused, half baked sloganeering.

              So how many of our allies have we conditioned support based on their internal policies?

              None.

              Buh-Bye

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                So how many of our allies have we conditioned support based on their internal policies?

                Egypt?

                All the members of the coalition of the unwilling? Or does committing troops not count as internal?

                Mexico?

                South Africa?

                Turkey?

                I mean, are you serious?

                Israel also gets a huge amount of aid (the most? top 2 I’d think, with Egypt). With huge aid can reasonably come strings, yes?

                • elm says:

                  Mexico and Turkey we are certainly more willing to criticize based on internal actions than we are willing (and by ‘we,’ I mean the U.S. government) to criticize Israel. But have we ever withdrawn tangible support to them? Did we even use the threat of expulsion from NATO to get the Turks to stop oppressing the Kurds?

                  I think we do treat Israel different when it comes to rhetoric, but I think spud is right that we have rarely withdrawn aid from a country we consider a strategic ally due to poor human rights behavior or dictatorial governments or the like. (Serious question: was S. Africa ever a U.S. ally? If so, this would be a case in which the U.S. did do that.)

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Here’s the best I could find on South Africa:

                  In the cold war era, containing Soviet influence around the world dominated U.S. calculations toward South Africa as was the case with many other countries. U.S. officials viewed South Africa as an important strategic ally in an unstable region that stood against the spread of communism. Consequently all U.S. administrations in the 1970′s and 80′s opposed strong economic sanctions against South Africa while still rhetorically condemning the apartheid system.

                  In 1986, we imposed sanctions. (Aid, in principle, should have more strings, right? I don’t think we gave aid to SA, but I don’t know.)

                  Re the rest: I’m confused…have we ever withdrawn tangible support from Israel? The Armenian genocide resolution hardly seems friendly, right?

                  Israeli does get special treatment, but far more in favor, I’d say overall. If you are getting the most aid (and a big ton of aid), then it’s seems reasonable to think one should have more say or to make some of that aid conditional. Any (non-humanitarian) aid, really. Plus, Israeli’s policies very clearly are affecting us, aren’t they? Treatment of Palestinians isn’t purely internal, right? (Palestine is occupied, yes?)

                  Look, you can advocate a certain treatment of Israel, but the double standard line is really bonkers.

                • Spud says:

                  Mexico?
                  South Africa?
                  Turkey?

                  I mean, are you serious?

                  Turkey is the only one of the lot with an analogous mutual defense treaty (as a member of NATO) but even then we did nothing about their treatment of Cyprus (and its ongoing tiff with another NATO nation, Greece)

                  Not once have we threatened to withdraw our military and economic support of them.

                  As for

                  Israeli’s policies very clearly are affecting us, aren’t they? Treatment of Palestinians isn’t purely internal, right? (Palestine is occupied, yes?)

                  It actually has more to do with Israel’s neighbors than anything else.

                  Scapegoating Israel and the West in general along with extoling “Palestinian cause” is used as a way to direct potential dissent away from Arab governments and towards outside enemies. Its more of an excuse to create a false sense of outrage (not directed at the government) than actual concern.

                  IMHO the Hamas and Fatah will find themselves very lonely should the Arab world democratize.

                  Frankly, the Israeli government would not keep electing hard-liners like the Likud if there was a widespread belief that the situation can be resolved with good faith negotiations with the Palestinians. Palestinian leadership these days hardly inspires that kind of confidence.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Why does mutual defense treaty’s make aid inviolate and lack of a mutual defense treaty

                  Suez crises?

    • actor212 says:

      How seriously do you take many of those pledges, tho?

      Let me put it this way: Bill Clinton probably made as much progress on the Palestinian question as any President, and as much progress on Middle East peace as any President since Carter.

      He pledged loyalty to Israel, but his actions speak of someone who has a different Israel in mind than the extant one he pledged to.

  8. John says:

    Here’s the thing with Paul – I’m not really convinced that any aspect of his foreign policy positions is better than Obama in any way. I find it very hard to get worked up over drone killings, or Awlaki. War is war, and Awlaki was effectively engaged in war against us. And I don’t understand why we should get so worked up about *methods* of killing – why is a drone worse than a bomb? I’m not reflexively opposed to any exercise of American power abroad, and I don’t really think Obama has done a bad job with any of that. We’ve already left Iraq. Our continuing presence in Afghanistan is perhaps problematic, but I’m not sure that withdrawing cold turkey would be any better. I believe in the United Nations and, more broadly, in the US having an engaged commitment with the outside world. Invading Iraq was a horrible mistake, but it’s one that both Paul and Obama opposed. I know there are liberals who are basically opposed to the very idea of American military intervention, but many liberals do not hold that position. What, exactly, are those of us who do not have a kneejerk opposition to American use of force supposed to like about Paul’s positions on foreign policy?

    As far as civil liberties go, I don’t know. Is Obama less than ideal on certain civil liberties issues? Sure. But I remain to be convinced that he’s any worse than any other president of the past 70 years or so. I look at Greenwald’s litany of Obama’s sins, and most of them are either “disappointing, but exactly what I would expect of any president” or “some utterly trivial thing which has been elevated by Greenwald into evidence of Obama’s utter monstrosity” or “something Obama doesn’t actually have any control over” or “not actually a bad thing at all.” I don’t really see anything that’s genuinely outrageous, or any real reason to be disappointed in Obama compared to expectations. Is Paul better on indefinite detention or federal involvement in the drug war? I don’t know, maybe in theory. But comparing Paul in theory to Obama in practice is exactly the problem with this whole enterprise. Even on the narrow range of civil liberties issues that Greenwald gets worked up about, I am deeply distrustful that, in the real world where tough decisions have to be made, Paul would make decisions that have better real world consequences than Obama would.

    • david mizner says:

      Yikes.

      “I find it very hard to get worked up over drone killings.”

      • DocAmazing says:

        There’s a lot of that going around.

      • John says:

        Yup.

        I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be so upset about. Is it that innocent people are getting killed? That happens in war. It is inevitable. I wish it didn’t happen, and maybe, on the margins, the Obama administration could take steps to insure fewer innocent people get killed, but that’s just the world. And I’m certainly not convinced that Ron Paul’s plan of basically evacuating all US troops abroad would result in a smaller number of innocents dying.

        Or is it that killing innocent (and not innocent) people with drones is worse than killing them with bombs and shells and missiles and bullets? I don’t understand that argument at all. It’s like the argument that chemical weapons are somehow “weapons of mass destruction” that are somehow worse than modern explosives that are actually much more effective at killing people.

        Either way, I don’t see any particular reason to get worked up about it.

        • Kal says:

          Speaking only for myself, I’m not upset with drones per se, only that they allow the bombing of people in many countries with which the US is not at war and which most Americans probably don’t know we’re bombing, not only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya, but Yemen, Somalia, maybe Iran, and perhaps even more which are not yet public. And that the bombing is not isolated but rather is part of a series of proxy wars the US is waging with various bloody-handed allies against a number of groups with local grievances who may be tangentially connected to Al Qaeda. And that a lot of innocent people are dying in these drone strikes and related violence, and nothing good is being accomplished, and US actions do not even seem to be intended to accomplish anything that I would recognize as a good, since I don’t count the perpetuation of US hegemony as one…

          But I can’t make an argument that you ought to be worked up. I don’t know what motivates you.

          • John says:

            This is a reasonable argument, although I do think you make some assumptions that ought to be teased out. The purported purpose of these efforts, after all, is not to perpetuate US hegemony in the Middle East, but to go after Al Qaeda. At least a fair amount of the effort does seem to be going after that purpose – certainly someone like Awlaki was involved in Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-like activities.

            Which is to say, I think I disagree with your premise that “nothing good is being accomplished, and US actions do not even seem to be intended to accomplish anything…good.”

            If these kind of strikes become open-ended long-term military commitments, that’s quite another thing, of course. But I don’t see much evidence of that.

          • wiley says:

            I understand having a problem with secret bombing, but if you consider Laos and Cambodia, and “The Pentagon Papers”, for a moment, then it becomes clear that our government has secretly bombed countries with manned aircraft for years.

            It’s a tendency in the U.S. for most people to think of technology as always being in the driver’s seat, and I think that might be especially true for young people (not casting any aspersions on you, this is just what I was thinking when reading John’s comment) when they see the technology in the context of their limited experience of war and presidents and different kinds of media spin and straight-forward reporting (and not always being able to tell or KNOW the difference).

            Unless one is studying a history in-depth (usually with introspection and hindsight), it is easy to look at the most popularized events in recent memory and mistake that for sufficient information by which to judge something like the performance of a president of the United States as a president, among presidents.

            President Obama exists inside a structure much more complex with far more history than what people want right now or think is “best” or “principled.”

            The president isn’t and should NOT have the power of a dictator. Anyone who came of age in the millennium whose conscious experience with presidencies doesn’t go back any further than the Bush presidency, is likely to have a very warped view of what power a president should yield.

    • commie atheist says:

      Even if you take Greenwald at his word that he’s not endorsing Paul, but just pointing out that Paul is better than Obama on certain issues, I don’t see what purpose this entire discussion serves, other than to guilt-trip liberals into sitting out the election, or wasting their votes on a third-party candidate who can’t win, in either case helping to ensure that a terrible, horrible, no-good Republican (pick one) will become President. Combine that with the possibility that a depressed turnout will also give Republicans control of the Senate and continued control of the House, it means four really, really bad years for liberals (not to mention the rest of America).

    • But comparing Paul in theory to Obama in practice is exactly the problem with this whole enterprise.

      Except it’s even worse than that. On military detention, for instance, Greenwald compares Paul in theory to an imaginary Obama who hasn’t 1) also denounced the use of military detention, and 2) spent three years in office processing every single terrorist suspect in America, citizens or no, through the civilian court system.

    • Bart says:

      Eventually the trivia gets us all.

  9. commie atheist says:

    One thing that is so totally pissing me off about this whole bullshit argument is the accusation that, because I plan on voting for Obama rather than whichever Republican wins the nomination, or some pie-in-the-sky third party candidate who can’t win and a vote for whom would only help the Republican, I am applauding and enabling the killing of innocent Muslim children. Yes, not taking Ron Paul seriously means I support the killing of brown people in distant lands.

    Enough, already. It’s a bullshit argument, and I’m tired of hearing it. Voting for Clinton twice did not make me pro-NAFTA, pro-Welfare Reform, or even pro-blow jobs (in the White House, anyway). Make your argument on the merits, david mizner et al, but stop with the guilt-tripping, already.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      Well, the guilt-tripping goes both ways, dunnit? Say you’re not all slobbery-drippy-gung-ho about Obama and you get “So you’re objectively pro-Perry/Romney/Santorum? Why are you such an entitled asshole?”

      • commie atheist says:

        Well, that’s cute. I’ll vote for Obama, well aware of his faults and failures, as well as his accomplishments, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. Anyone who wants to enable Republicans by voting third party, or not voting at all, be my guest. Hopefully the next four years won’t be as awful as the eight from 2001-2009.

    • Kal says:

      Does it also totally piss you off when Bijan above accuses Paul supporters* of “throwing blacks, womens, poor people etc. under the bus”? If you’re entitled to vote for Clinton without being pro-NAFTA, I’m not sure why a Paul supporter doesn’t get to vote for him without being anti-abortion.

      *Once again, I’m not one.

      • Amanda in the South Bay says:

        Because Paul really would throw minorities under the bus? Do you really want to throw in your towel with white supremacist groups?

      • John says:

        It is about weighing the balance of which candidate you are closer to. If you weigh all the issues and find you are closer to Ron Paul than to Obama, then you are not actually a liberal.

      • commie atheist says:

        As others have said better than I possibly can, any progressives who are pro-Paul are doing so because of some magical conception they have of Paul as a champion of civil liberties, when all he really is is anti-federal government (except, oddly, when it comes to abortion or gay marriage), with a willingness to support (or at least not oppose) the subjugation of civil rights at the state level. Plus, he’s a racist, misogynist fuck.

        If someone could show me that Obama was executing the GWOT because of his innate hatred for Muslim children, rather than a realpolitik calculation of the best way to suppress militant Islamic movements, then I would have second thoughts about supporting him. Otherwise, I accept him as the politician he is, warts and all, whose values more closely mirror my own than any of the Republicans.

        • Kal says:

          It sounds to me like you’re saying that supporters of a candidate are responsible for that candidate’s heartfelt convictions, but not for his actual policies. Is that really your position?

          • Malaclypse says:

            I think CA is saying that any progressive that supports Paul, knowing that, for example, a Paul administration will not enforce the CRA, will defund EPA, will mismanage FEMA, and so on, is an idiot.

            • Kal says:

              Ok, but the question is not whether some hypothetical Paul supporter is being smart. The question is why its fair to tar them with opposing the CRA when it’s apparently not fair to tar Clinton supporters with NAFTA.

            • Malaclypse says:

              The question is why its fair to tar them with opposing the CRA when it’s apparently not fair to tar Clinton supporters with NAFTA.

              Because there was no viable candidate in 1992 who did not support NAFTA (and yes, I do remember the electoral juggernaut that was Ross Perot). You need to go out of your way in 2012 to find someone who is vocally opposed to the CRA.

              • Kal says:

                So supporters of a candidate are responsible for all that candidate’s positions if the positions are unpopular, but not if the positions are popular? That seems to me even less defensible than the last proposal I tried to draw out.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  So, people who choose to vote the lesser evil are being rational. And anybody who thinks Paul is the lesser evil does not remember a damn thing about this nation’s history.

                  Again, if you don’t like NAFTA in 1992 (and I did not) what do you do?

                • Hogan says:

                  Uh no. I voted for Cinton in ’92 even though I opposed NAFTA because there were no non-crazy NAFTA opponents running for president. That’s different from voting for an anti-CRA candidate this year, when the entire rest of the field is, if not pro-CRA (on the Republican side), at least not vocally advocating its repeal.

                • Kal says:

                  So, people who choose to vote the lesser evil are being rational.

                  I’m not asking about what positions are rational here. At the top of the sub-thread, I asked if & why it’s ok to “guilt-trip” people who (mistakenly) think Ron Paul is the lesser evil, but not people who think Obama is. If it all comes down to Paulites choosing the wrong evil, that makes sense, but it makes talking about what kind of moralizing arguments are and are not legitimate kind of disingenuous.

      • djw says:

        Does it also totally piss you off when Bijan above accuses Paul supporters* of “throwing blacks, womens, poor people etc. under the bus”?

        Yes, but only because I never want to here the phrase “throw under the bus” ever again unless someone is thrown under an actual bus, because it’s one of the stupidest cliches in our political discourse. On the substance, however, it seems perfectly unobjectionable and obvious.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        Look, if you want to frame the debate as a true hypothetical, i.e., “Quick, would you accept an abortion is murder amendement to the constitution in exchange for an end to American empire”, fine. Go ahead. We can play the intuition testing game. (But then, do it right. As Echine points out:

        Strong stuff, especially as the first list of things is written with emotion (children being slaughtered) and the second one not. How could any ethical person not choose to save the lives of innocent children when offered those two lists?

        But what if the environmental degradations or cutbacks in health care spending mentioned in the alternative dry list also kill children? Don’t we have to know how many children would die under the various scenarios to make up our minds if it is based on the killing of children?

        Greenwald et al don’t even try to do the analysis. Heck, I’ve asked time and again for a scenario where Paul’s advocacy actually advances the discourse on any of the key issues. Crickets.)

        Can we agree that Paul is not going to bring ending drone wars, restricting presidential power, ending the drug war to the conversation in any meaningful way? That is, he’s not going to win (charitably grant that if he did, he would do the good bits and be able to do the good bits) and he’s not going to affect Obama or Romney’s positions on these points or the way they govern after the election?

        GIVEN THESE FACTS, how do you describe talking positively about Paul? If I were black, I’d be pretty disturbed by a line like, “Ok, but if you put aside Paul’s racism, Obama has killed tons of brown people!” If I were a women, I’d be similarly disturbed by, “Well, yes, he’s a thug on abortion even compared to the usual Republican thuggery, but, war on drugs!” I’d doubt your commitment to women’s issues. Heck, I would just not feel any solidarity. I might well resent being told that my defending my rights was being bought by mass incarceration.

        I might ask you how you intend to make your symbolic vote for Paul be for his anti-drug-war views and not for his anti-abortion views. How does that work out? I might ask you about Paul’s brave AUMF vote.

        I did ask Ampersand how he thought voting for Paul (or talking about voting for Paul) actually helps my Iranian relatives (or how increasingly-squishy-on-Iran Paul would actually keep us out of war).

        I’m much happier with the Alas post than the scoldy Greenwald post. I support Obama because he has an actual chance of winning and his winning is far better than the alternative. I think it’s really weird to champion Paul for his antiwar views when he has no chance of winning, little chance either of achieving the good bits or sticking to the good bits if he did, and is a kooky racist, sexist jerk.

        But go ahead. Or agonize over it. Just don’t imagine that you are monopolizing the principled progressive position. Or even inhabiting it.

        • commie atheist says:

          I know it’s nutpicking, but this comment over at the Kevin Drum piece sums the whole thing up for me nicely:

          If anyone from this site does not support Ron Paul then you are for endless war, assassinations, life in prison without charge, deficit spending and the murder and maiming of brown people everywhere.

          Q E to the fucking D.

  10. lawguy says:

    Once again you can hate Paul for all sorts of things, but lets face it he is right (for whatever reasons) about the drug war. And as I said above if he is willing to let the states handle it as they choose, that is a better position then the guy who currently holds the office has. On that Paul is bette than Obama.

    As far as going to war against Hitler is concerned, we had no choice. Hitler declared war on us before we declaired war on him. So it appears that Paul is no more ignorant that most Americans are concerning our history.

    • Lee says:

      No, Paul isn’t right about the drug war. Paul would be fine if California went the Netherlands way via drug policy and New York decided to stay full Rockerfeller (sp).

    • Malaclypse says:

      So it appears that Paul is no more ignorant that most Americans are concerning our history.

      I have the perhaps unreasonable preference that candidates for President be above-average in historical, and other, knowledge. I mean, it was funny when Bluto said that the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, but I’d be pretty dismayed if even a President as woefully ignorant as, say GWB said that.

    • “And as I said above if he is willing to let the states handle it as they choose, that is a better position then the guy who currently holds the office has.”

      Given basically the entire history of the modern “states rights” movement that seems exactly wrong to me, and a Drug War that’s “left to the state,” is likely to be even MORE disproportionate in the race of victims.

      • commie atheist says:

        What? Don’t you want to see what a dozen or more Joe Arpaios could do to civil liberties at the state level, especially when free of federal oversight? Come on, it’ll be fun.

        • wiley says:

          Handmaiden’s Tale, anyone?

          What the crank Republican’s are working toward is state (with a little “s”) fascism. Pure and simple. This is not Godwinning the thread. They want fascism— God, Guns, Country for the (white/christian) men; kirche,kuche,kinder for the (white/christian) women.

          All the blah, blah, blah about the problems of racism being worked out when the Feds are out of the way is nothing but a bald-faced lie to keep the rabble from responding the way rabble tends to respond when it becomes acceptable to talk about what you’re going to do for your (master) race publicly at the expense of everyone else— that’s the forewarned is forearmed thing that despots try to avoid; though they still can’t whip up enough support to be elected despot without a lot of loud, shrill, dog-whistles.

          After they get elected, the ball is in OUR court, and the more we waste our time arguing over semantics, the quicker they take over all kinds of functions that are NOT in their job descriptions.

          Taking the bait and switch seriously as a talking point is called “BEING A SUCKER”.

  11. DocAmazing says:

    If you think either issue[The War On Drugs and anti-imperialism] will play any role in the upcoming election, or that either candidate will pay a price for ignoring them, all I can say is “care to make it interesting?”

    Yeah, that 2000 election sure was interesting, wasn’t it?

    • commie atheist says:

      Funny you should say that. This “Ron Paul is totes better than Obama on Civil Liberties” reminds me of nothing so much as the “not a dime’s worth of difference” argument of 2000, and will probably end up having the same effect.

      • mark f says:

        If Paul were to run on the Libertarian Party ticket I think it would draw more conservaties/Republicans dissatisfied with Romney than those you’d normally expect to vote for the Democrat.

        • commie atheist says:

          I’m thinking more of the depressed turnout among Dems. The more we get the “Obama=Bush” arguments, the lower the turnout, the more likely a win for Romney (and I don’t think conservatives are likely to do anything other than grumble and pull the lever for Mitt, unless someone like Palin runs third-party. I don’t think Paul appeals to enough of them to make a difference).

          • I’ve ceased worrying about that dynamic completely. The only people who are the slightest bit moved by the internet whining of people like Glenn Greenwald are a minute fraction of a segment of a wing of a faction, who couldn’t swing a state representative race in Montana.

            The biggest threat they pose to our republic is that they annoy me.

            • commie atheist says:

              I’m not quite as sanguine. The economy sucks, and that’s enough to turn a lot of voters off, if not turn them Republican. A full year of concern trolling by the Purity Police might depress enough of the youth vote to make a difference. I don’t know. I’m a pessimist by nature, but these bullshit arguments by people who really should know better (and who have already lived through one recent purity clusterfuck) just depress the hell out of me.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              Yes, that’s one thing late-period Nader accomplished: completely discredit third-party wankery on the left for a long time. It wasn’t worth it, but…

          • mark f says:

            It wasn’t the usual activists who were depressed in 2010 and I don’t think they will be in a presidential year, either. I imagine voter intensity among black voters will be close to as high as it was in 2008 also.

            A depressing number of Republicans seem to think Paul has sound views on economics and the Constitution. A significant enough number of them (which doesn’t necessarily mean a lot in absolute terms) might be willing to overlook his foreign policy trangressions, knowing he won’t win anyway, to protest the Romney/Obama consensus on the greatest thret to freedom ever, the individual mandate.

            But those are just my guesses.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Yes, it was. I head many times that Ralph Nader’s campaign to elect George Bush would move the Democrats to the left and “change the discourse.” How did that work out?

      • commie atheist says:

        Bingo. It gave us two centrist, corporatist Democratic cadidates in 2008, one of whom was elected President. And who know may lose re-election as a result of this circular firing squad. And not a magic pony in sight.

        • Kal says:

          Yeah, politics moved right because of Nader. The hegemonic strategy among Democrats of picking the guy one notch to the left of the leading Republican bears no responsibility. And people who call anyone criticizing a corporatist Democrat a “concern troll” are doing more to advance left-wing ideas than anyone else.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            How did Nadar’s candidacy combat this?

            I think pre-last days of the 2000 election, there were a bunch of reasonable ways to think that supporting Nadar (not to the point of electing Bush) was reasonable. A national green party, participation in debates, etc. all seemed at least somewhat like it could help move democrats to the left by making progressives a coherent voting block that might go elsewhere.

            In reality, Democrats saw the splitting as betrayal and hardened their views of Nader and the Greens and, indeed, the left wing. In point of fact, Nader fucked up the election (both for the dems and for the greens) and the Green party. He did nothing useful afterwards. Etc.

            And, really, please critique away. Who’s against that? People may disagree with you (e.g., Joe is more pro-Libya intervention than I or Rob was, though I find I have to consider his arguments carefully; etc.), but I don’t think critique per se is a problem.

            Off base critique, or critique coupled with calls to make things worse, otoh, get push back.

            • Kal says:

              How did Nadar’s candidacy combat this?

              Nader’s candidacy had no good effects. But part of that is thanks to the Supreme Court, part of that is thanks to leftish Democrats (including one-time Nader supporters like Michael Moore) who “hardened their views of… the left wing”, ie made a political choice to move right, and part is thanks to Nader’s own refusal to continue building a party or any kind of organization after the election. This is not mean to be an exhaustive list, either – the point is just that 2000 and the years after were something other than an unambiguous refutation of all third party politics.

              And, really, please critique away. Who’s against that?

              commie atheist says:

              The more we get the “Obama=Bush” arguments, the lower the turnout, the more likely a win for Romney

              and

              It’s high-level concern trolling, with the unintended (or perhaps intended) consequence of making progressives consider not voting for Obama.

              • commie atheist says:

                Yes, saying Obama=Bush is concern trolling.

                I readily accept the fact that Obama has not been a progressive superhero (not that I ever expected him to be one). I am frustrated by his lack of action with regards to the foreclosure crisis, as just one example. But what we are discussing here is Glenn Greenwald saying that Ron Fucking Paul is a mo’ better progressive than Obama. That’s not just concern trolling – that’s fucking nuts.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                Nader’s candidacy had no good effects.

                I’m glad we agree. Which makes me very sad since I had high hopes at the time.

                But part of that is thanks to the Supreme Court,

                Institutional factors.

                part of that is thanks to leftish Democrats (including one-time Nader supporters like Michael Moore) who “hardened their views of… the left wing”, ie made a political choice to move right,

                Institutional factors.

                and part is thanks to Nader’s own refusal to continue building a party or any kind of organization after the election.

                Supporting a kook (alas), although rather less a kook than Paul.

                This is not mean to be an exhaustive list, either – the point is just that 2000 and the years after were something other than an unambiguous refutation of all third party politics.

                I think the evidence of those years is stronger than you think. The things you appeal to as disconfirming actually seem to be mostly confirming. Even the kookiness. In the US, 3rd parties attract them (Perot, Nader, Buchanan, etc.).

                So, if you are going to argue for any third party strategy, that strategy has to take all these enormous blocks.

                And how is what commie atheist wrote an expression of being against all critique? They are explicitly again Obama=Bush style critique. Guess what, so I am! Because that’s bonkers critique (in the general case). Critiquing Obama’s continuation and even expansion of Bush style wiretapping…fine. But even within presidential power and civil liberties, there are so many ways that Obama is so much better than Bush, it’s really ridiculous to compare them.

                Any oncern that infighting might depress turnout is, perhaps, overblown. Obama will have enough resources; PUMAs and Greenwaldites aren’t a significant force; structual factors matter most; working against voter suppression is a waaay bigger deal.

                The practical innocuousness of these sorts of critiques, like the practical innocuousness of Paul’s views, does’t make them less ridiculous or offensive, of course.

                • Kal says:

                  But on certain issues, Obama really does = Bush. Take immigration – any distinction between them is going to be very fine (both pro-border enforcement, in theory pro-’path to legalization’, in practice pro-deportation). Or Afghanistan policy (unless you think Bush would have been *less* likely to send more troops once he had them available, which I don’t). And though Obama & Bush have important differences, they’re very close from a world comparative perspective. And that’s important – we should realize how narrow conventional US politics are and not let them define the limit of the thinkable.

                  So, yeah, it would indeed be silly to say Obama & Bush are identical, but please forgive me if when someone is attacking a strawman that’s wearing my clothes, I take the intention as an attack on me. Especially when the conversation started out as a debate about Greenwald, who neither said “Obama=Bush” in the silly sense nor endorsed Paul.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  But on certain issues, Obama really does = Bush.

                  Tell that to the people of New Orleans.

                • actor212 says:

                  Kal was funnier on House

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Kal, I’m sorry, did you miss this part of my comment:

                  Critiquing Obama’s continuation and even expansion of Bush style wiretapping…fine.

                  This wasn’t meant to be exclusive, but merely an example. I.e., where Obama’s policy is the same or worst or almost as bad as Bush’s, it’s perfectly fine to call that out. It’s more helpful, as well as honest, to point to the places where he’s quite different from Bush as well or to give a fair shot at assigning responsibility appropriately. (It’s much harder to get out of a war than it is to start one, for example.)

                  And though Obama & Bush have important differences, they’re very close from a world comparative perspective. And that’s important – we should realize how narrow conventional US politics are and not let them define the limit of the thinkable.

                  I think the first sentence is pretty obviously wrong, at best, and most likely useless, esp. for achieving the second. At the very least, you really need to be way more specific about your comparison. Comparing US policy with Norway is instructive, of course, but so too is comparing it with Israel.

                  Take health care: Many progressives were all over making international comparisons. And they are, indeed, instructive. But I don’t see how anything much better (rather than much worse or different around the edges) was reasonably possible. So what does that tell me?

                  We need to understand the realities of conventional US politics as well, right?

                  So, yeah, it would indeed be silly to say Obama & Bush are identical, but please forgive me if when someone is attacking a strawman that’s wearing my clothes, I take the intention as an attack on me.

                  Er…you mean how I, at least, feel about Greenwald? :)

                  I note, however, that you’ve been responding with a broad rather than a narrow brush (e.g., I had to ask you to get the specific accusation against CA which, I think, you were in fact wrong on). That makes me feel a little less sympathetic.

                  Especially when the conversation started out as a debate about Greenwald, who neither said “Obama=Bush” in the silly sense nor endorsed Paul.

                  And neither of these things are bits I, at least, have complained about at length.

                • Kal says:

                  Hit “post” too soon. On Nader, you have correctly labeled “institutional factors”, but those factors don’t come into play in the same way in all circumstances. In 2000, of course, if Gore had just done a few thousand votes better, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have had the chance to appoint Bush, and liberals wouldn’t have had occasion to become so bitter.

                  I’m not interested in spending my energy on a third party in 2012. (And I’m not in a swing state, so my presidential vote won’t be a difficult choice.) But I can imagine doing so at some future conjuncture.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Who are you critiquing again? And for what? Do you really think that if a super leftist, third party arose with a good chance of winning and effectively governing that most everyone here wouldn’t be delighted?

                  I mean, if all we need to do is say, “We can imagine circumstances, unlike the current election, where supporting a third party would be a good move.” then you are quite easy to please.

                • Kal says:

                  @Bijan: I didn’t accuse you of telling critics to shut up, so I’m not sure why you think I missed part of your comment.

                  Re world perspective, Obama & Bush are closer to each other than either is to a German Social Democrat, let alone a CCP leader or a Le Pen or a Moqtada al-Sadr. We shouldn’t mistake Bush for a fascist, or Obama for a socialist, or what’s possible in conventional US politics for what’s possible in peacetime in an advanced capitalist country. Do you disagree with any of that?

                  We need to understand the realities of conventional US politics as well, right?

                  Of course.

                  @Mal I’m not sure what New Orleans specifically has to do with immigration or Afghanistan.

                  @actor212 Ouch. Or did you mean you actually like House?

                • Kal says:

                  @Bijan again: Scott thinks “late-period Nader… completely discredit[ed] third-party wankery on the left for a long time”, and that this was a silver-lining positive accomplishment. If he didn’t mean to characterize all third party activism as wankery, then I guess we don’t disagree, but I’m also not sure what point he could have been making.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Kal, you start your response as “But on certain issues, Obama really does = Bush.”

                  “But” usually indicates some surprise in the following. So, it suggests that you read my comment as saying that Obama != Bush in all cases. Which is clearly not the case, as my self quotation shows. I don’t know how you can read CA as saying that Obama != Bush in all respects rather than as sufficient as to make the comparison both wrong and (at least on the margin) unproductive.

                  BTW, is CA your only example? I mean, there are dozens of commenters in these threads. Perhaps you should modify your generalizations?

                • Kal says:

                  you read my comment as saying that Obama != Bush in all cases

                  I read your comment as being against “Obama=Bush style critique”. It wasn’t clear to me what exactly you meant by that, and it still isn’t. You say “it’s really ridiculous to compare them”. It always confuses me when people say they are against a certain comparison, because you can compare many different aspects of things, and it seems to me that whether a comparison is accurate depends on which aspects are being equated and which are being contrasted.

                  I have run into other examples of people who think critics of the Democrats should shut down prior to elections, here and elsewhere, but I’m too lazy to track any down, so feel free to disbelieve me.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  @Kal, well, I didn’t read that as any and all 3rd party talk is, in itself, wankery. However, it is hard to see a left wing 3rd party in the US being effective given institutional structures.

                  Heck, just look at the UK which is inherently more 3rd party friendly institutionally. Lib-dems have been a disaster.

                • Kal says:

                  Lib-dems have been a disaster.

                  The Liberal Democrats started off as a centrist third party, not a leftist one, and their flirtation with posing as left of Labor seems to have ended pretty decisively.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Whether they were centrist or leftist, they didn’t deliver anything to the people who supported them. Nor did they meaningfully move the Tories even to the centre. Reform party…how’d that work out?

                  My point is that actual embodied 3rd parties in winner take all, Anglo-American contexts do not have a remotely good track record. And that track record doesn’t seem incidental.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Kal, you wrote:

                  I read your comment as being against “Obama=Bush style critique”. It wasn’t clear to me what exactly you meant by that, and it still isn’t. You say “it’s really ridiculous to compare them”.

                  Let’s go to the tape on steroid emphasis added:

                  They are explicitly again Obama=Bush style critique. Guess what, so I am! Because that’s bonkers critique (in the general case). Critiquing Obama’s continuation and even expansion of Bush style wiretapping…fine. But even within presidential power and civil liberties, there are so many ways that Obama is so much better than Bush, it’s really ridiculous to compare them.

                  And to be clear, it’s really ridiculous to say that Obama is Bush in toto on civil liberties (i.e., to equate them; my use of “compare” above was an enthymeme: “compare in such a way to suggest that they are nearly the same). On some things he’s about the same or a straightforward extrapolation (both of which are awful. Most other things he’s at least somewhat beter to a lot better (voting rights?). Lots of things he’s constrained (Guantanamo).

              • Hogan says:

                Not all criticism of Obama takes the form of “Obama=Bush.”

          • wiley says:

            Politics moved right because no matter how crazy the GOP alpha-males talk, the party works consistently for the long-term and focuses on placing in ALL levels of government and lobbies from the PTA to the presidency; AND REPUBLICANS VOTE.

            All the (middle class and up) “liberals” who cry for purity and are too distraught and “betrayed” because unemployed people had their unemployment benefits extended and poor people got health care coverage for their children but NOBODY got anything because they didn’t get their fucking pony—-

            Isn’t it about time these people started calling themselves something other than “liberal” or “progressive?”

            How about self-absorbed, solipsistic titty babies? I think that’s a more accurate term than “liberal” or “progressive”.

      • pete says:

        Right. And anyone who thinks Ron Paul’s campaign will change the discourse in any direction except the one it’s already been going (no taxes, no regulations, no help, I got mine) meeds to get out more. In contrast, OWS actually did manage to change the discourse, by virtue of simply and clearly saying what they thought was important.

      • How did that work out? You’re kidding, right? As every schoolchild knows, it led to the Kucinich Administration in 2004, featuring Treasury Secretary Bernie Sanders, Attorney General Russ Feingold, and Secretary of State Noam Chomsky. I didn’t care for Marianne Williamson as Secretary of Peace, but hell, at least no one calls it “Defense” any more.

        And Nader himself was awesome as chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. Even you have to admit that.

        • commie atheist says:

          I thought it was a shame when the Senate blocked Richard Alpert’s appoitnment to head the Department of Good Vibes.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          I thought Chariman Bob Avakian was an inspired VP choice. When he cast the tiebreaking vote to pass the Legalize Hemp and Free Mumia Act that Kucinich used the bully pulpit to force Evan Bayh to sponsor, that was truly a historic moment.

          • Yeah, but that Senate vote should never been been 50-50 in the first place. Problem was, Kucinich waited to use the bully pulpit for more than three weeks after I advised him to do so in a comment on a Kos diary, and by that time it was too late to get Ben Nelson to sign onto the “full employment/ single-payer health care” amendment to the bill. So we got that half-measure hemp/Mumia law instead.

            And that’s why I’m voting Paul in ’12.

        • Malaclypse says:

          The modesty of Secretary of Education Most Dangerous Academic in America Bérubé is boundless. Your edict that all education be consistent with the dialectic helped usher in the classless society, and forcing all schools to offer mandatory gay abortions was a stroke of genius. I cannot sing your praised enough. Indeed, after General Educational Order 47, failing to sing your praises would be wrongthinkful.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, but having Zack de la Rocha rewrite the national anthem was just bizarre.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        I head many times that Ralph Nader’s campaign to elect George Bush would move the Democrats to the left and “change the discourse.” How did that work out?

        About this much we agree.

        That argument was wrong then and it’s even more clearly total nonsense now. If there was any doubt, just look at how the Democratic Party emerged from the Bush era. Making things even worse doesn’t make things better in the future. Moving the country to the right tends to move the Democratic Party to the right, too.

        However, who exactly is aguing that we ought to elect Ron Paul (or any other Republican) to teach the Democrats a lesson…and that we can afford to do so because there’s no difference between the GOP and the Democrats?

        To the extent that progressives are arguing for Paul (and I’m not convinced that many of them are; Paul-Supporting Progressives:2012 :: PUMAs:2008), the supposed case is very different: that Paul is notably better and different from the Democrats on a set of key issues. (Though this supposed progressive case for Paul is, as I say upthread, also a very bad argument.)

        • commie atheist says:

          It’s high-level concern trolling, with the unintended (or perhaps intended) consequence of making progressives consider not voting for Obama. Not exactly equivalent to a protest vote for Nader, but with a similar outcome possible.

      • jeer9 says:

        And the strategy for turning the Dems left is … (long drum roll followed by pepper spray, accusations of purity, and denials of duopoly.)

        • mark f says:

          The work is hard but the answer is not:

          Join the party. Work to elect the leftmost viable candidate. Work to pass the leftmost viable legislation. Accept that sometimes you’ll lose primaries, general elections and legislative votes. Pro-tip: a political party doesn’t actually consider its “base” to be a bunch of “activists” who run off to other parties’ candidates on a whim.

          • Right; support the candidate closest to you who can win. This was conservative movement dogma for decades, and it’s quite clearly the best strategy for affecting the outcome you want to see.

            Throwing a temper tantrum and pretending anyone that matters cares about it is much more cathartic though.

            • BradP says:

              Right; support the candidate closest to you who can win.

              You know, only one can win and your strategy would seem to fall right in line with the way Greenwald described our election cycle marginalizing dissent.

              • Why? No one is saying no-chance candidates can’t run for office and speak their mind on the issues, but if you don’t have a realistic chance of winning, I’m not going to consider using my one vote on you.

          • jeer9 says:

            You can tell the Dem party is serious about reform by the way in which they work to get rid of the Senate filibuster and threaten to primary those members who continue to support it. Ohhh, wait. The Dem party actually campaigns for and props up its most recalcitrant corporatist hacks. Pro-tip: a “base” doesn’t actually consider a candidate its leader when he perpetuates the other party’s agenda. The Right has money. The Left has principles. There is no mystery why the political spectrum has moved in the direction it has. I wish OWS would get the news about temper tantrums.

            • commie atheist says:

              OWS is a legitimate response to income inequality (and a myriad of other things). Calling Ron Paul more progressive than Obama is a temper tantrum.

          • mark f says:

            Bijan and IB, I agree with both of your responses to me. I’d add that forming blocs within the Democratic coalition (e.g. unions) is important as well. My note to jeer9 was limited to the electoral side; you can’t loudly abandon the party (in relatively small numbers) on election day, then call yourself its base and demand that it be responsive to you. A party’s base is its faithful members; the more left its median member, the more left the party will be.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          I’m often quite pessimistic about the chances of turning Dems significantly close to my desired set of positions. But as comparing the last two congresses shows, getting more leftist outcomes can be achieved by getting Democratic control of the presidency and both houses of congress. The benefits of a more Democratic judiciary, I trust, are obvious.

          Does this strategy get us left enough? Not for me. Lots of horror there. But it really pales beside the alternative.

          If one is progressive and willing to support (in whatever indirect mealy mouthed way you like) a racist, sexist, etc. kook like Paul, shouldn’t you be doing so for a somewhat better chance of a good outcome?

        • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

          Actually the best strategy for turning the Dems left probably involves a lot of non-electoral politics.

          Witness the way that OWS helped shift the Obama Administration’s attention from deficit hawkery to unemployment.

          • Kal says:

            Almost this. Only, I don’t think “turning the Dems left” should be the goal so much as “placing political constraints on whoever’s in power such that they act left”. Think Nixon & Medicare or the withdrawal from Vietnam.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

              Agreed…but this subthread concerned how to turn Democrats to the left.

              And the answer “progressives should just keep voting for them” is almost as incorrect as “progressives should just stop voting for them.”

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                I think “keep voting for them” is way less incorrect.

                • R Johnston says:

                  Only when paired with aggressively and routinely primarying “moderate” and establishment Democrats.

                  Voting for “moderate” and establishment Democrats in general elections without putting the fear of god into them in primaries is a good way to push the party right.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  I think it’s a good idea to do those things, of course.

                  On the other hand, absent an influx of Dixiecrats, just having more Dems is quite useful. (This is really new me.)

                  I mean, a 60 Dem Senate with Ben Nelson is almost certainly significantly more left than a 59 Dem senate.

                • Holden Pattern says:

                  Yeah, just try floating the idea of primarying the Dem squishes from the left and see how fast you’re beaten down by Team Dem.

              • Kal says:

                No argument from me, except I’d drop the “almost”.

                OWS is where it’s at right now, at least where I am, even in slightly subdued winter mode.

          • DivGuy says:

            Right. Given our relatively limited personal activism resources, I think that actively working for Democrats isn’t the best way to move the country to the left, as the outcomes of the mass mobilization of 2008 shows, and as the variety of recent radical protests have helped to show. Voting for Democrats remains the best thing to do in the voting booth, generally.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          And the strategy for turning the Dems left is … (long drum roll followed by pepper spray, accusations of purity, and denials of duopoly.)

          This is my very favorite jeer9 line. “Well, how do you propose that we produce magic unicorn farms? Until I hear a better idea, I’ll keep hitting myself in the head with a hammer and see if that starts working.”

          Well, with Naderites it’s more “hitting other people in the head with a hammer,” but…

          • jeer9 says:

            My favorite Lemieux line is that spousal battery is not really that bad. It’s better than a shelter, and occasionally your husband will buy you a nice dinner (repeal of DADT) for some rough sex (extension of Bush tax cuts). If the Dems keep slapping you around long enough, pretty soon you come to regard those bruises as love taps.

            • John says:

              Wow. You are horrible.

              • mark f says:

                Come on, John. Failing to primary Ben Nelson with Bright Eyes or one of the other dozen or so True Leftists in Nebraska is absolutely the same as being a battered spouse, and there’s nothing repugnant about saying so.

                I find jeer9′s discussion of “The Democrats” as an undifferentiated mass bizarre. Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln both faced significant primary challenges, after all. One won, one lost. How did that work out, for progressives? Which isn’t to suggest that there’s no value in doing it, but it’s not the panacea jeer9 would have us pretend it to be. It’s just another way for him to value The Bold Gesture over the hard work of politics.

                • jeer9 says:

                  Not an undifferentiated mass, but the group which supports the filibuster. Are you trying to tell me the party has no leverage over those individuals?
                  Obama has much more in common with Ben Nelson than not.

            • Malaclypse says:

              Someone has *issues*.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                Well, he did make his first appearance at this blog as a “free Roman Polanski” apologist.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  The loss of your comments archive really is a tragedy.

                • mark f says:

                  Jeer9′s a specialist in the “You think [child rape] is bad? What about voting for the corrupt duopoly?!?!?” field.

                • jeer9 says:

                  The “extradition of Polanski is a waste of time” argument still bothers the Duke of Sphincter. If only Mal as unofficial archivist and masthead fluffer were more influential. That exchange was amusing.

            • This isn’t quite as revealing as soullite’s confession to not caring about anyone other than himself and people like him, but it’s close.

              Seriously, if the first analogy you can think of for the rather mundane reality of lawmakers compromising on legislative goals to pass a bill in the U.S. political system is a woman accepting being beaten by her husband in exchange for a nice dinner, you need some serious therapy. No joke.

              • jeer9 says:

                The spousal battery metaphor was in response to Lemieux’s equally ludicrous unicorn farms remark and that the Left trying to reform the centrists was similar to hammering oneself in the head. I look forward to his hippie-punching OWS in the near future. The magic pony I hope for from a Democratic administration is adherence to the rule of law (prosecution of the banksters and torturers) but apparently too much wallowing in the cesspool of party politics makes these betrayals more acceptable because the real shits need to kept away from power – for they certainly won’t … wait for it … adhere to the rule of law.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  And your choice of metaphor reveals nothing at all about you.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Do you think the two metaphors are equally repellent?

                  They aren’t. Scott’s is just absurdist. Yours is, at best, creepy. I’m sorry you need this explained.

                • jeer9 says:

                  The comparison of Dem supporters to abused spouses is fairly commonplace and goes back to at least Nader, which is why it infuriates centrist hacks. You both need to get out more. It’s sad that this needs to be explained to you. That Lemieux should want to make it personal is not surprising. He’s the twittiest of twits. Your senseless support of him, Mal, only reveals something about you that I’ve long suspected.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  I fail to see why a metaphor’s being commonplace affects any of its other properties from salience to creepiness.

                  And that Nader used it speaks against Nader.

                • jeer9 says:

                  Must be an election year. Dem apologists have already reached 8 on the sensitivity meter. Comparisons of them to battered wives will simply not be tolerated by Bijan. Someone lead him to the fainting couch.

                  Or to push the analogy further, the black eye you were just given (the Plan B decision) was necessary to necessary to prolong our relationship. In the long run, you’ll thank me.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Actually, jeer8, I’m pretty generally anti-such metaphors all the time, not just in an election year.

                  But I’m genuinely curious as to whether you think it’s a win for you, rhetorically. I understand it’s meant to shock, but it really just comes off as creepy at best. We just had Greenwald being creepy about rape (yes, I think claiming that you sincerely believe that a black women (ABL) would watch a black man (Obama) rape someone on TV and then claim that “she’d say it was justified & noble- that he only did it to teach us about the evils of rape.” is at the very (unrealisitcly) best hugely tone deaf from both a racism and sexism perspective).

                  Of course, creepy at best language aren’t what invalidate the substance of your points…the substance does that all by itself. But it certainly doesn’t seem to be productive toward anything useful, even toward slamming Scott.

                  I don’t think language choices like this are endlessly important or trump substance, but an important chunk of politics is signalling. A big part, if not most, of the problem with Paul-flirtation (in current circumstances) is the signalling.

                • Interestingly for this discussion, the Plan B backdown (which is awful and an embarrassment) comes on the heels of something pretty great that no Republican would ever even consider. What rape/abuse analogy will suffice for this comparison?

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Look, jeer9 just discovered in his junior high civics class that a political leader may not support his positions on every single issue. You can see why he needs offensive analogies to describe this unique truth known only to the most sophisticated political observer.

                • jeer9 says:

                  Bijan,
                  I still haven’t read a substantive reply from the twit on strategies for turning the Dems left; obviously, he hasn’t one. Just more visceral, elementary school barbs about my lack of sophistication. As an English teacher, I’m a big fan of metaphor as a way of coming to understand larger truths (in a Rortyan/Baier sort of perspective) especially in a political sense. I agree that the fireworks over Paul are dumb and more a sign of Left desperation than anything else.
                  Maybe if the twit stops posting about Tebow, he could tell me why the DNC and party bosses don’t make ending the filibuster the key factor in their primary support of Red State Dems, or does he think such an arcane parliamentary issue, which would make the Senate a more democratic institution, would be the major aspect determining the election? Or maybe they’re just powerless like the President on domestic issues? Maybe he thinks that’s just playing into the hands of the Right? The Dem leadership would never be complicit in hindering progressive reform. Or maybe it’s called kabuki for a reason.
                  In any case, I realize there are multitudes of well-intentioned people working every day at the local, city, and state levels to bring about reform; however, I think their faith in the powers above is misplaced. Change can only come from outside the system. It would be nice to have a president with whom I could agree with on half of the issues instead of the cynical clown re-playing Clinton’s gambit.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  As an English teacher, I’m a big fan of metaphor as a way of coming to understand larger truths

                  Are you a big fan of paragraphs, as a way of clearly expressing ideas?

                • jeer9 says:

                  Sorry that post seems garbled, Mal. But you know when somebody thinks William F. Buckley was a WASP, it’s hard to determine what reading level to shoot for.

                  I’m still waiting for the passages on the extradicting of Polanski controversy that reveal my black heart. You seem tragically unable to provide them. Perhaps you should return to your inept attempts at mediation. Failing that, Lemieux and Farley are always in need of a good fluffing.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Why is important that Scott himself articulate a strategy in this thread? Didn’t enough others of us articulate reasonable bits here?

                  If you’ve a coherent reasonable strategy, I, for one, would be glad to hear it. But “Change can only come from outside the system.” glosses over the wide variety of states we can reach within the system and how that change is supposed to come. It seems evident to me that the government under the 111th congress was enormously better than the one under the 112th. It’s equally clear to me that an 111th or 112th congress without the filibuster would be better than the ones we had.

                  AFAIK, Scott vehemently agrees with this. Of course, it isn’t a panacea as the Republicans have shown that no norm or procedural rule per se substantively constrains them. But yeah, it’d be a good move.

                  So……what? I don’t think it matters whether Obama and Reid were personally for or against filibuster reform, afaict, there just weren’t the votes/general political will at the time to make it happen. A good deal of opposition comes from individual senators, as well as the Republican party.

                  I have to say that I’ve grown a bit more leery of such moves because of the way they contribute to the weakening of what have been important norms. I don’t think the filibuster is defensible, but there could be significant unintended consequences of the Democrats being the ones to reform it.

                  Anyway, this is orthogonal to your choice of metaphor. I’m perfectly find with the use of metaphor for illustrative or entertainment purposes. But yours seriously fails, even on its own terms. It doesn’t recognizably parallel Scott’s views (e.g., Scott never says that Democratic fails are good or that we will or should come to see them as good (i.e., “love taps”)). Thus, it functions just to associate Scott with being nasty to abuse survivors or current victims.

                  That’s repellent both as a smear on Scott and for the insensitivity toward abuse survivors and victims. Since Scott is pretty thick skinned and obviously doesn’t hold you in any regard, it falls to even hurt him. It’s obviously not convincing to any of the rest of us and makes you seem really creepy. There’s a slight chance that it would upset someone who doesn’t deserve to be upset or make these comments feel hostile to people I’d see be comfortable. I can’t see why you’d want to risk the latter for the actual gain gotten from the metaphor.

                • jeer9 says:

                  Bijan,
                  I asked for suggestions on how to turn the Dems left and was told my sort of politics involves hunting for unicorns and hitting myself in the head with a hammer. I responded that it’s typical of Dem apologists to act like battered wives, happy for whatever scraps of affection their brutish masters toss their way and willing put up with abuse on a whole host of issues because they’re frightened co-dependents and enablers. You are appalled by the analogy and believe I owe the host an apology. I don’t agree that battered spouse trumps crazed masochist. We’ll have to agree to disagree about the respective creepiness of each depiction. I’ll try to make it up to Lemieux in another thread.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  “believe I owe the host an apology”

                  Nope. I don’t care if you apologize to Scott. I don’t think Scott’s be harmed at all either psychologically or socially. I’d just prefer you didn’t use such metaphors. Mean metaphors are perfectly fine in my book.

                  Btw, my characterization of “at best creepy” is part of an effort to give you the benefit of the doubt re: the misogynistic aspects of it.

                  And that’s a key part of my point: You went with a fairly risky metaphor that doesn’t have a chance, afaict, at reaching any of your own goals (whether as illustration, entertainment, attacking Scott, or convincing Scott to engage with your questions).

                  Is it really very difficult to understand why domestic violence metaphors are not a good idea? Anyway, it’s a request from me. Thanks for considering it.

                • Hogan says:

                  The comparison of Dem supporters to abused spouses is fairly commonplace and goes back to at least Nader

                  Yes, but I seldom heard it then in a way that takes such relish in graphic details of violence. That’s your distinctive contribution.

      • DrDick says:

        Yep. I immediately completely ignore anyone who talks about “heightening the contradictions.” The only thing that has done in the past 30 years is move our political discourse and politicians to the right.

  12. LKS says:

    Ron Paul is a one-dimensional, unprincipled loon to whom the progressive commentariat keeps trying to ascribe dimensions and principles that simply don’t exist.

    Unfortunately, it’s in the progressive DNA to look for nuance, and this leads us to be far more charitable towards asshats like Paul than we should be.

  13. Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Nice to see the drama from BJ has carried over here…

    Anyways, I’ll go so far as to say that anyone who thinks the Civil Rights Act was a bad idea or should be overturned should be considered a really, really horrible person, out of hand. Seriously, the fact that people try to find good things to say about Ron Paul just baffles me.

  14. Bijan Parsia says:

    Ta-Neshsi writes a wonderful piece about all this:

    And then the dispatches must be honestly grappled with: It must be argued that a man who could not manage a newsletter, should be promoted to managing a nuclear arsenal. Failing that, it must be asserted that a man who once claimed that black people were knowingly injecting white people with HIV, who fund-raised by predicting a race-war, who handsomely profited from it all, should lead the free world. If that line falls too, we are forced to confess that Ron Paul regularly summoned up the specters of racism for his own politically gain, and thus stands convicted of moral cowardice.

    Let us stipulate that all politicians compromise. But the mayhem and death which attended the talents of Thomas Watson and George Wallace, renders their design into a school of sorcery all its own. In that light, it is fair to ask that if Ron Paul was willing to sacrifice black people to garner the support of the bigoted mob, who, and what, else might he sacrifice?

    I do not mean to be unsympathetic here. It is regrettable to find ourselves in this untenable space, where all our politicians cower and we are bereft of suitable standard-bearers. I would like nothing more than to join my friends in support of Paul and exhilarate in a morality unweighted by the ugly facts of governance and democracy. But the drug war is not magic. It is legislation passed by actual politicians, themselves elected by actual by Americans. Unbinding that war demands the same.

    The fervency for Ron Paul is rooted in the longing for a reedemer, for one who will rise up and cut through the dishonest pablum of horse-races and sloganeering and speak directly to Americans. It is a species of saviorism which hopes to deliver a prophet upon the people, who will be better than the people themselves.

    But every man is a prophet, until he faces a Congress.

    (Yes yes, Greenwald is about Paul as non-serious candidate. But still, these are just lovely.)

  15. [...] to think a Paul presidency has real promise. You can find good counter-arguments from Echidne, Lawyers, Guns and Money and Noahpinion, but what I’d like to talk about is something related that this [...]

  16. Andrew says:

    Kevin Drum supported the Iraq and “would trust the President’s judgement over my own” on any issue.

    These opinions are vastly worse then anything Ron Paul has ever said including if Ron Paul actually wrote those newsletters.

    The fact that he is so loving cited on this page is proof of what a bankrupt institution the Democratic party is.

    I suppose you can’t expect any better from a writer who thinks making fun of Tim Tebow is a great advance for progressive causes.

    Tim Pawlenty in 2012

  17. [...] a desirable approach by any means. And, yes, yes, since several commenters ignored this when I said it the first time, a hypothetical President Paul would not in fact succeed in fully realizing his vision [...]

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