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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Iowa Caucus onslaught against Ron Paul

As we approach the Iowa caucuses the ruling political class becomes more and more desperate that despite daily non-stop attacks from chattering heads on TV news, Ron Paul remains tied with Mitt Romney in the Iowa polls.  As I write this a former Bush speechwriter and a relatively unknown foreign policy analyst from a relatively unknown religious group have just appeared, back to back, on Fox and Friends Saturday, answering soft ball questions from a blonde and awake (but not much more) anchor, about how Ron Paul would let Iranian mullahs take our women and put them in harems.

The constant deployment of multiple flaks of the ruling political class daily on Fox and other networks and outlets has gone on for over a week now, with these PR people for the establishment virtually never being asked any follow up questions or challenged on the routine errors on points of fact.  Neither the media nor the politicians involved seem to get it -- that their dishonesty and incompetence is precisely the source of Paul's appeal and what is growing his campaign and the organizations he is going to leave behind after him.

So let us revisit the reportorial origin of much of this onslaught, the coverage of Ron Paul's two decades old newsletters, by my friend James Kirchik, formerly of the New Republic.

James Kirchik, or Jamie as his friends and associates know him, is a young journalist, Yale educated, Jewish and gay, a fan of the late Christopher Hitchens and a friend of many DC libertarians and conservatives, from tv and radio personality Mary Katherine Hamm to the editors of reason magazine.

For full disclosure I should say that I know Jamie, have gone out drinking with Jamie and his new boyfriend in the past two months, have attended one of his birthday parties, have chatted with him at reason magazine happy hours and CPAC events, and in my day time job as a real estate agent, sold him a property a couple of years ago.    Indeed at CPAC 2011 I introduced Jamie to a friend of mine who is Ron Paul's press person in his Congressional office, since I socialize with both of them occasionally, and got to watch them be awkward with each other before Jamie had to depart to his next event.  He's smart, I think probably far more decent than many Beltway journalists and political junkies, and good company.  He also has lovely parents, both of whom I have met.

Jamie made his name back when he was on the staff at the New Republic (in whose offices I used to meet him to work on real estate contracts) by exposing that some newsletters written 20 years ago by associates of Ron Paul that ran under Ron Paul's byline, contained noxious, bigoted, content (Paul associates Lew Rockwell, the late Murray Rothbard, and their entourage are usually fingered as culprits).  There were among the many years of this newsletter a few passages critical of gays, blacks, Israel and AIPAC.  I am choosing my words carefully here because in the current brouhaha some, including Jamie, are saying the newsletters are anti-Semitic, and I do not think merely criticizing Israel or the AIPAC lobby amounts to anti-Semitism; and neither did (Jewish) libertarian writer Jacob Sullum (whose wife is a rabbi) when he reviewed the material for reason magazine during the last election cycle.  And whether Ron Paul or his policies are or are not "good for the Jews," they certainly have been good for one Jew, since they have gained Jamie most of the publicity his writing (which is by the way, usually very good, and is usually on deeper topics) has received.

When I blogged about this earlier this week, Jamie answered by referring to, but not quoting, a passage in a Ron Paul newsletter that he says blames the 1993 World Trade Center bombing on Mossad, the Israeli espionage agency, as evidence of anti-Semitism.  That quote, in an incomplete form, is currently bandied about on the conservative blog RedState (, as evidence of Paulian anti-Semitism.  In a continuation of typical anti-Paul, half-witted, intellectual dishonesty, where one can't tell whether your interlocuter is stupid, dishonest, ignorant, or some combination, the quote RedState actually produces says that it does not matter whether the 1993 bombing was done by Mossad or Islamic terrorists:

Whether [the 1993 World Trade Center bombing] was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little. 

So as it comes to the hermeneutics of Ron Paul newsletters, here's the funny thing:  if you want to believe that Paul, or libertarians, or paleolibertarians, or paleoconservatives, or anti-statists, or people who do not agree with you, or gentiles, or whatever, are all bigots and anti-Semites, you assume, parochially and perspectivally, that this clause is a sneaky aside asserting the guilt of the Jews.  Or you could assume that the clause should be interpreted as "even under the most outlandish assumptions, like that some Jews were behind false flag fake Islamic terrorist events" the same outcome follows.  Jamie assumes the former; I read it as the latter.

You might adduce as circumstantial evidence all the other bigoted passages that are not about Jews, and conclude that if these people hate the gays (or more precisely, if these people are willing to appeal to paleoconservatives with inflammatory rhetoric about gays), then they of course hate the Jews too (even if they themselves were Jewish).  Yes, yes, tell that one to Midge Decter (

Jamie also thinks the "Jewish friend" is a fiction.  I think I can dig up a number of cranky anti-war Jews on both the left and the right, several of whom trash me on the internet, who think the Irgun blew up synagogues to scare native Sephardic Jews into fleeing Iran or Iraq for Israel, etc., etc.  I suspect that the actual authors of these newsletters include a few such Jews, like the late Murray Rothbard.  (Indeed we should adopt a Straussian practice when writing about these newsletters:  there is the historical Ron Paul, and the Rockwellian/Rothbardian Ron Paul, just as there is the historical Socrates who is not the Platonic Socrates nor the Aristophonic Socrates.  Of course, the historical Ron Paul had not yet drank the hemlock and could have sued his followers for identity theft if he had paid more attention.)

If you try to find the context for this one sentence pull quote about a hypothetical attributed to a friend of the passage's author, which is not, as the RedState headline asserts a claim that "Jews" are responsible for Islamic terrorism, the link sends you to a compilation of heinous Ron Paul newsletter quotes in an article at The New Republic. 

If you click on the link at this TNR article attributed to anonymous TNR staffers (shades of both Shattered Glass -- the movie recounting a TNR editor who fabricated stories for years --  and Ron Paul newsletter authordom there, noTNR?) you reach a very short blurb in Ron Paul newsletters that is not about Zionism, Jews, Israel, the World Trade Center bombing, Islamic terrorism, the middle east, or American foreign policy.  It's about gun control.  It urges the reader to acquire a weapon because cities are becoming more dangerous and the government is failing to protect citizens against violence -- which of course, was proven true on a grand scale by 9/11 less than a decade later, when the trillions of dollars of debt and taxes the ruling political class from Newt Gingrich and The New Republic  to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies have advocated saddling generations of American taxpayers with was so stupidly spent by their friends that there was no plan or equipment to shoot down a plane being used as a weapon against Manhattan or the Pentagon.  (And parenthetically let me say that the reason such rarer establishment figures as John Bolton, who seem relatively honest and reasonable for members of their class, have had far less effect than they hoped in their barrage against Ron Paul this week, is that their assertions that he is "crazy" are seen against the backdrop of their failure, the ruling political classes' continued bipartisan failures in foreign policy, at massive, impoverishing, and enslaving debt and expense -- including now a call that American blood and treasure should be used to protect oil that goes to Europe and Japan that flows through Iranian sea lanes, rather than producing our own oil in the United States or buying it from Canada and letting Europe and Japan themselves deal with Iran and oil they buy from the middle east.)

Odious as one might think it is to even express a hypothetical aside in which Mossad is imagined to bomb allies as a thought experiment, it is a false accusation to say that the quote in question blames Mossad and is therefore anti-Semitic -- it says the problem we face (violence and a failure of government to protect us) is independent of what notion, however outlandish, you may have of who will be causing the violence.  And for all those tired hacks throughout the mainstream media who constantly say Paul's support derives from young ignorant people or protest voters let me make one thing clear to you sycophants:  Paul's support derives from people who hold you and your political masters in contempt for constant lies and stupidity and are reacting to your anencephalic coverage of everything from him, to the campaign generally, to the economic crisis.

Two questions I have never seen asked nor answered are:  1) where did 20-something Jamie learn of these newsletters, since they were written when he was a pre-teen (Kirchik was born in 1983), and most libertarians and Ron Paulistas were ignorant of them until after his original TNR story?  AND  2) who financed his excursion to the one or two libraries in Kansas or Nebraska where he could find a still extant paper copy back in 2007-2008?  Perhaps The New Republic financed it, as TNR has a long-standing fear of libertarianism, with regular articles attacking fictional libertarian straw men (which are then routinely exposed over at reason).  The answers are likely perfectly innocent (though rumor is Jamie was connected to the Giuliani campaign in 2008 and is supporting the Gingrich campaign in 2012) and yet it would still be very interesting to know (feel free to reply here).  Jamie's repetition and follow up of his 2008 articles in the Times and the Weekly Standard is timed both for the Iowa caucuses, which the political class fears Paul may win -- and also, more innocently, for the week when most readers would be interested and it would result in the most website traffic.

Jamie a day or two ago wrote an article called "Ron Paul's World" in the New York Times (here), rehashing the newsletter story and responses by liberalish writers like Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic who are endorsing Ron Paul.  Jamie strings together all of Ron Paul's past and present associations that an urban liberal would find suspect.  And they definitely exist.  I attended, and even sponsored, Ron Paul's Liberty Political Action Conference this fall in Reno, Nevada, which included libertarian and liberaltarian elements, tea partiers, independents, Republicans, Democrats, and some far right third party types (who were local to Idaho, Wyoming, Montana etc. and did not have far to come).  Though the speakers and VIPs at LPAC were all respectable Senators and academics and celebrities, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Mike Lee, Prof. Walter Block, actor Vince Vaughn, some of the booths were manned by ultra-conservative Christian groups.   Strangely, these theocrats were very friendly to me, offering me pamphlets and trying to chat me up so much that I was tempted to slap on a pink triangle to test their ardor or their gaydar.  Jamie concludes from Paul's "failure" to tell off all of these donors and supporters that Ron Paul is a conspiracy theorist.  I conclude that Paul, an open and congenial man (I have met him) has been frozen out of public debate by the ruling political class for so many years that he will indeed go on a conspiracy kook's radio show if invited as long as the kook supports his ideas about ending the Fed or the American empire. 

That may now be seen to be practically unwise and a strategic error in hindsight.  But it may be the only venue he had years ago when the ruling political class was censoring him the way they are still censoring former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson -- a two term Republican Governor whose absolutely shameful treatment by the media gatekeepers in collusion with the Republican Party establishment is driving him to join a third party and very possibly hand the 2012 election to Obama, all because and only because the Republican and media powers that be did not want his ideologically non-establishment voice to be heard.  As Johnson observed, media left him out of polls after he initially out polled Hunstman and Santorum, so that in subsequent debates they could then offer as a reason for excluding him that he did not show up in national polls -- because he was not included in the choices presented to those polled.  And now New Year's Day weekend we learn that CNN is only polling currently registered Republicans about how they will vote Tuesday in the Iowa caucuses, even though it is known that many independents and Democrats intend to register on site as Republicans and vote for Ron Paul (

Jamie and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (who he is affiliated with, according to the Times piece, as is presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, which is not disclosed by Jamie or the Times are upset in part that Paul is not an automatic supporter of anything they believe is necessary for Israel's survival.  There is nothing wrong with that.  My own views are a rather recherche form of libertarian Zionism that makes no one happy, neither many libertarians nor many neoconservatives and other Zionists.  (And I am perfectly content with my specialness.)  Nothing that is, as long as one understands his actual ideas and does not misreport his ideas or policies.  (There are also Zionists, and Jewish Zionists, who have endorsed Ron Paul as a presidential candidate or

And Jamie does not understand much about Paul's economic policies. I google chatted Jamie yesterday, about how his gold standard/"goldbug" riff was a repetition of Dick Morris's inane misunderstandings/lies about Paul told daily with no challenge or follow-up questions to the anchors of FOX News shows, after this article was posted and he replied that he -- horrors -- did not get his ideas from Dick Morris. When I explained that Paul, following economists like Nobel laureate FA Hayek (The Denationalization of Money) and Lawrence White (Competition and Currency), believed in a free market of privately issued, competing currencies, backed by whatever consumers liked and thought would save value and protect savings against inflation, and NOT a 19th century government currency with a government gold standard, Jamie replied that he had never heard of such a thing and that that was even crazier.  (And I must apologize to Jamie in that, though he knows I blog and reads my blog, I did not tell him I was going to write this, though at the time I didn't know I was going to write this.)  In this Jamie is following along in the zoo chatter of most the animals in Beltway and Manhattan media and political campaigns, Republicrats and Demopublicans, who like to challenge each other with graphs about when living standards or employment rates were highest in terms of higher or lower marginal income tax rates, while "abstracting" from and ignoring what was being done with the money supply and interest rates at the time or in the preceding period.

How can you decide who is and is not a kook and what is and is not a "conspiracy theory" if one has a Dick Morris level grasp of someone's ideas about economic theory, history and policy?  For Ron Paul and other students of Hayek's "Austrian" school of economics, the fact that half of every economic transaction (money) is government owned, and that interest rates are centrally planned by the State and its appointed banking cartel, is the fundamental cause of economic disruption and unemployment, and hence poverty and much racial inequity.  You can't judge how Paul's policies would affect racial minorities or economic opportunity or prosperity if you are in the shallow water, thinking that his critique of corporate statism is along standard Republican lines dealing with marginal tax rates or welfare reform or affirmative action.

If you are going to write articles on Ron Paul for 5 years, you should have heard of a basic, well-known (among Paul supporters) idea put forward by one of Ron Paul's major intellectual sources, a Nobel Prize winning economist.  And it is not a "crazy" idea because the ruling class is invested in the current system where a government currency is used to finance government debt and bail out banks (and fund the American military empire) by stealing the average person's purchasing power through inflation or because they fail to even discuss it in undergraduate classes at Yale.