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  • That book “Jefferson Davis, American” really should be called “Jefferson Davis, Traitor”.

  • Jordan

    It would really be something if Paul somehow manages to get the Republican nomination. It might be the first election I’ve been alive for where the Democrat isn’t obviously better than or equal to the republican on every.single.issue.

    Which isn’t to say the democrat wouldn’t still be better overall. Of course she would. But still.

    • Jordan

      That last link is great, too.

      • Davis X. Machina

        +n for all possible positive values of n.

        I’ve been thinking it for years — a crisis of legitimacy and a cold civil war more clearly describes the politics we’ve seen lately than any normal partisan parliamentary politics.

    • Aimai

      I guess I really don’t think of a politician like Paul having more than a public stance on “issues.” He and people like him remind me of the essay written by (I forget whom–maybe Daniel Davies–about “fibber’s forecasts” in economics. Its about whether you can or should believe anything that a liar told you about Iraq during the run up to the war. His point was that its not like you can trim a bit off the projections or stories that a liar tells you and get to the truth. Once they have begun lying about something its impossible to get down to the bedrock facts of the case from any of their accounts.

      Similarly Paul strikes me as a pure opportunist and true believer in–himself and his selfish needs. He comes from a family of true believers, racists, neoconfederates and libertarians so that is the row he has decided to hoe because its the most convenient, the path has already been broken, and the rewards are pretty clear. But as for caring about “the issues” or any issue in a principled way? Fuhgeddaboutit. I doubt very much that a President Rand Paul (or even a primary candidate Rand Paul) wouldn’t sell his own grandmother for the salt in her bloodstream if he needed the cash. He will always find an opportune explanation for why he, or his government, needs to violate the shit out of some deeply held principle five minutes after it becomes expedient for him to do so. Anti war? Fuck that shit. It will be bomb Iran when he and his advisors say its time. Dronez? He’s already on record as being perfectly willing to see them used in this country as long as its in defense of rich people’s property.Wiretapping? He’ll be all for it when he gets to see whatever he wants.

      • Jordan

        This is mostly true, and to be clear, I loathe Rand Paul.

        That said: I disagree on the bombing/war stuff. I honestly think Paul would have a lower chance of getting us involved in a shooting war than Clinton would. Most of the rest of the foreign policy stuff: Clinton would be way better. But invasions/bombings? not so clear.

        There are other areas where his stated positions are going to be better than Clinton’s, but as you note, stated positions mean shit.

        • Aimai

          Why do you think that a selfish man, a man who has never for one moment had a single thought for another person, would be less likely to “get us into a shooting war” or invasions/bombings? The first thing a President has to have is imagination–the ability to imagine the refugee crisis that follows on a war. I get that HRC seems hawkish compared to some imaginary perfect mommy-president who has never existed and will never exist but for fuck’s sake she has an actual history of compassionate engagement with foreign affairs, with women’s rights, and with refugee crises around the world. She would never bomb for bombings sake without considering the ramifications on a civilian population. Rand Paul? The guy invented his own lisencing scheme in order to avoid simple, ordinary, duties with respect to his patients.

          • I agree. The damage a proven sociopath like Paul could do both domestically and internationally terrifies me.

          • Halloween Jack

            HRC seems hawkish compared to some imaginary perfect mommy-president who has never existed and will never exist

            Or to Ralph Nader, or whoever gets put forth as the brogressives’ purist candidate in ’16.

          • Jordan

            It just seems to me that is a pretty strong part of his ideology?

            This isn’t to say Paul would be better on foreign policy in general. He wouldn’t, for the reasons you say.

        • I wonder if any other Republican pres candidate ever ran on the promise of less boots and bombs.

          If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I’m going to prevent that…


          If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us. If we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us. Our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that’s why we have to be humble, and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom.

          How’d George Bush work out?

          Per usual, even if they aren’t lying per se, you don’t just get the candidate, you get a Republican administration. You should not expect restraint in foreign policy or competence in FEMA.

          • Lee Rudolph

            Maybe Robert Taft?

          • matt w

            There was also Richard Nixon: “new leadership will end the war and win the peace in the Pacific.”

          • Jordan

            Yeah, that is very true. But Bush was always going to be a conventional Republican with a conventionally staffed administration. Paul, I think, would be different (and, in many ways, different in a much *worse* way, of course).

        • Bruce B.

          Keep in mind that the younger Paul is, like his father, in favor of letters of marque and reprisal. I think this makes bloodshed by American killers much more likely than any foreign policy Democrats are proposing – no need to worry about the work of maintaining the armed forces, just let mercenaries pick up sanction and go to it, followed by looking shocked that anyone would link the atrocities they like to commit with our good and pure country.

          • Yeah, I keep wondering wtf people are thinking when they say the Paul’s are good on foreign policy: It’s all bullshit. Letters of marque and reprisal just means “under direct congressional control” which would disappear as soon as they have executive power.

            • Hogan

              Well, yeah, but no DROOOOONES

          • Jordan

            Well, this is something I hadn’t heard about. Is that for real?

        • STH

          If the Republican base is pushing for war, do you really think he would risk not getting reelected for the sake of “principle”?

          • Jordan

            Not really. But I also can’t really imagine a scenario where the Republicans don’t renominate a sitting president

    • NonyNony

      See, no. By the time of the election it would be patently obvious that Rand Paul would be worse than whatever Democrat wins the nomination.

      Because in order to win the primary, Paul will need to “refudiate” a number of stances that people think that he has. Stances that he’s never actually claimed to have, but that he allows people to believe that he has by simply not coming right out and stating what he believes. By the time he’s done with that, it will be pretty damn clear he’s just a generic Republican with a few quirky ideas.

      Witness how his principled stance on drones in US airspace turned from “NO DRONES IN AMERICA” to “well, if you’re going to use drones to gun down a suspect in a liquor store robbery I’ve got no problem with that – just don’t fly them over my house and spy on me”. The latter is a powerful stance against a straw argument that nobody believes in – much like the rest of Rand Paul’s beliefs when the rubber meets the road.

      • Jordan

        Yeah, thats certainly possibly and probably probable.

    • joe from Lowell

      I lived through Bill Weld vs. John Silber as the Massachusetts gubernatorial race.

      That’s the only example I can think of.

      • Jordan

        Huh. Well, when you put it like that, the Idaho Dems nominated a Larouchite for congress back in the day when I was living there.

        Still think I might have voted for the guy if I’d been old enough.

  • cpinva

    a commenter on ms. greenhouse’s column raised the same issue I did, when the Halbig opinion was first issued: that the use of the term “state” in reference to the subsidies wasn’t accidental.

    “David Palo Alto, Calif. “Established by the State under section 1311″


    state – a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government. synonyms: country, nation.”

    the intentional use of the term “state”, in its common definition, was clearly (to me, anyway) meant to encompass all the insurance exchanges, whether established by the individual states, or the organized political community, known as the United States of America, under one government, the federal government.

    so, both the plaintiffs and the majority DC Circuit Court appellate judges seek to overturn the ACA, by denying a historical definition of the term “state”, which the author’s of the bill clearly had in mind, when they used the term to begin with. of course, in order to at least pretend to justify their opinion, it was absolutely necessary to disappear a commonly accepted definition of the word “state”. to do otherwise would have removed the already thin foundation their opinion rests on.

    they also know the rest of the judges know it as well, hence their desire to get this before the USSC, vs an en banc re-hearing before all of the court’s judges, which they shall most assuredly lose.

    • Denverite

      Two problems with this. First, federal legislation generally doesn’t use “state” in this way.

      Second, and much more importantly, section 1311 addresses exchanges run by the states. A separate provision (section 1321) addresses the federal exchange.

      • rea

        What section 1311 does, oddly, is mandate that exchanges be established by the states, without exception.

        • Denverite

          Yep. This demonstrates one of the big problems with strict textualism. The canon that “shall means must” is subordinated to the canon that every word must be given meaning. But why? This is as much of an extratextual interpretive tool as legislative history. It gives the court just as much opportunity for mischief as any other statutory interpretation approach.

      • Srsly Dad Y

        Third problem, the default definition of “State” in the Internal Revenue Code plainly (!) indicates it means either a State of the Union, or DC.

        26 U.S.C. 7701(a)….

        (9) United States

        The term “United States” when used in a geographical sense includes only the States and the District of Columbia.

        (10) State

        The term “State” shall be construed to include the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out provisions of this title.

        It doesn’t mean “State” in the Poli Sci sense of “Seeing Like a State,” state actor, state power, etc. As I wrote before, the right answer in Halbig is easy but not that easy.

  • The comments on the “Not a Tea Party” article were suitably nauseating.

    Never read the comments.
    Never read the comments.
    Never read the comments.

    • matt w

      There’s a whiff of “All Cretans are liars” about this comment.

    • Aimai

      Yes. It was a great article but the comments were just jaw droppigly awful. However, I bookmarked the article because it very much jumps with my own reading at the moment. Here are the books I’m reading/have read in the last month that speak to these issues.

      The Watch an amazing sci fi story about what happens to society when Prince Kropotkin is brought forward, from his death bed, to Richmond Virginia in 1990 and 1) discovers other time travellers there, 2) pursues his idealistic anarchism in a city riven by post civil war racism and classissm, 3) brings imprisoned Union Soldiers and Slaves forward in time to fight for liberty.

      One of S.M. Stirling’s Draka novels about what the logical extension of pure racism would be when wedded to a sucessful military policy starting in the late 1700’s and running right up through the 1940’s. Creepy and disgusting.

      The Sea Captian’s Wife–a biography of a Lowell mill girl who wrote letters back and forth to her extended family on both sides of the civil war and who, after the war, married a “colored” sea captain from Grand Cayman Island and moved with him to live there.

      Whiteness of a Different ColorA very good book on the specific history of the thrashing around of race/ethnicity/culture ideas in the US from 1790 on.

      All together they make very interesting reading, and lead you inevitably to the same conclusion which is that we are always and forever fighting those bastard confederates.

      • I read all of Stirling’s Draka novels a few years back. Quite good and very chilling.

        • Aimai

          Yes. I can see why they make his fans (of whom I am one) uncomfortable. He really did his research on early 18th and 19th century racist philosophers though. I don’t think he gets the economics of it quite right and I’m very sure that he doesn’t get the moral/intellectual and creative side of it right either since slave owning societies such as the ones the world has really seen don’t tend to produce innovations in anything when all creativity and freedom are limited to a tiny aristocracy. He can make the argument that you can raise a tiny portion of your society to be super soldiers but they won’t end up being super scientists, architects, or anything else. Edward Ball’s “Slaves in the Family” revealed a decadent, intellectually numb, parasitic overclass that was completely dependent on slaves for labor and outsiders for innovation.

          • rea

            slave owning societies such as the ones the world has really seen don’t tend to produce innovations in anything when all creativity and freedom are limited to a tiny aristocracy

            Periclean Athens?

            • Aimai

              Sure, but he specifically models the Draka on Sparta.

          • rea

            But the Draka stuff always made me feel like I was reading S&M porn . . .

            • Aimai

              I found it difficult to read because, at least the first one, reads like he threw a mil tech manual into a blender with Gobineau and Calhoun and then poured it out on the page. Marching Through Georgia is largely taken up with the completely uninteresting details of a small military group defending a destroyed village in a high mountain pass. Unlike the Nantucket series he doesn’t really do a very good job of exploring the ways in which a particular political and technological state of mind (modern American democracy) would intersect with unlimited land, limited technology, and bronze age cultures.

              Also he has clearly decided not to give you a sympathetic stand in for your viewpoint. Even his protagonist, Erik, is only faintly sympathetic (because he gets his helot daughter out of the system entirely) and then Erik decides the only way to help his people is to help them become even more estranged and vile and dominant than they are. Stirling wants to explore what bleak future would exist if there is no “good” person who can successfully fight back against the Draka. He’s not writing a book in which good will triumph.

    • KmCO

      Come on now–it’s an article about the Tea Party. Reading the comments to that would be an obvious exercise in masochism. Or a strictly academic pursuit along the lines of a cultural anthropological case study, but one had damn well better have a stomach made of steel.

      • KmCO

        EDIT (tried to on the previous comment and ran out of time): But seriously, that article is nothing short of fascinating. I’ve bookmarked the blog and look forward to reading more.

    • mud man

      Even so, we agree that it’s better not to fight wars that we’re going to loose, surely?? I mean, obviously you don’t always know ahead of time, and definately there are times to lay down your individual life, but as a matter of state policy.

  • matt w

    Scott, did you make that Buzzfeed page yourself? I liked the Most Interesting Man in the World one (and I’m sure he does too).

    • Rob Patterson

      It just says, “This post was created by a user”. Is that how Buzzfeed works? No one gets credited? It’s a very good compilation article.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Nope — it was the Constitutional Accountability Center.

  • CP

    I like the analogy between Iraq and Reconstruction in the Confederate Party article. Thought for a while that there were a lot of similarities between these wars… and that rooting out the ISIS types in the region was going to be every bit as daunting as going after white supremacy was in the South. (If anyone succeeds at it, it won’t be us).

    Great article all around. Doesn’t pull its punches about the black hole of American memory in re the post-Civil War era.

  • leftwingfox

    I twittered this to Loomis, but if it’s link day, I may as well share here. I caught a video last night which really changed my mind about the role of automation and technology in the workplace.


    Basically, automation has gotten to the point where the role of humanity on the workforce may well be where horses were at the dawn of the automobile.

    • Lee Rudolph

      I, for one, welcome Overlord Robot Eric Loomis’s forthcoming photo series “Dead Humans in American History”.

    • Anna in PDX

      That was incredibly interesting and I am so glad you posted it here. I wonder if we can even have a discussion over whether people *should* work for a living.

      • leftwingfox

        That’s my feeling. I’m increasingly in favour of a guaranteed minimum income system; guarantee people an income to live above the poverty line. Much of the income security net (TANF, Social Security, Disability etc) could be eliminated, along with the redundant bureaucracy policing the system. Hell, you could even eliminate the minimum wage, because no person would be in a position of economic coercion to take on a job. People would still work to follow personal goals or improve their economic position.

        This would still allow a market economy and a capitalist system, but the need for higher taxes for the income redistribution would act to limit the floor and ceiling of wealth distribution.

        • All well and good, but how are you going to get it past our “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, “Let ’em die!” political system?

          Our current political dialogue is stuck somewhere between late 1800s and mid 1960s (and that’s being very generous).

          Good luck with that.

          • leftwingfox

            Oh I know. Believe me I know. I have no illusions of it becoming policy anytime soon.

            But what about talking about it? Why not talk about it, share it, debate it and promote it, so that more people consider it as at least a viable possibility? Grass roots, not green lanterns.

  • Halloween Jack

    Now, to be sure, this isn’t a completely fair measure for Paul. He is a relatively new figure on the national scene, and perhaps more exposure will bring his appealing qualities to the surface.

    Oh, NYMag. Don’t stop believin’.

    • Hogan

      Maybe he meant “appalling.”

      • We need to transfer the word “Paulbearers” from the fans of the father to the fans of the son.

  • I don’t read TIME, but 3 quarks sent me to

  • joe from Lowell

    They myth of Ron Paul’s appeal to young voters gains traction from the left wing, which wishes that his foreign policy stance was popular, and has a tendency to let wishful thinking about the electorate cloud its judgement.

  • Regarding the Civil War link, I was taught in American History in 1972 (by this guy) that in several key ways the South more or less won the Civil War. Their region was trashed, of course, but it foisted its own view of itself onto the rest of us. He also stressed that Reconstruction was a continuation of the conflict.

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