Reason, of course, in it’s new incarnation as the official organ of the libertarian movement’s aging hipsters and would-be “cool kids,” vehemently opposes reaching out to middle and working class Americans. Moreover, the decidedly “square” Dr. Paul—a ten-term Republican congressman from Texas, no less, and a pro-life country doctor of decidedly conservative social views—was and is anathema.">

Why the Beltway Libertarians Are Trying to Smear Ron Paul

January 18, 2008

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The hysteria that is energizing the campaign to smear Ron Paul and his supporters as “racist” is reaching a crescendo of viciousness, as the Beltway “libertarian” crowd revs up its motors for a righteous purge. Writing in the online edition of Reason magazine, David Weigel and Julian Sanchez (the latter of the Cato Institute) aver that the whole brouhaha is rooted in a “strategy” enunciated by the late Murray N. Rothbard, the economist and author, and Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., founder and president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, designed to appeal to “right-wing populists”:

“During the period when the most incendiary items appeared—roughly 1989 to 1994—Rockwell and the prominent libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard championed an open strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist “paleoconservatives,” producing a flurry of articles and manifestos whose racially charged talking points and vocabulary mirrored the controversial Paul newsletters recently unearthed byThe New Republic.

“….The most detailed description of the strategy came in an essay Rothbard wrote for the January 1992 Rothbard-Rockwell Report, titled “Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement.” Lamenting that mainstream intellectuals and opinion leaders were too invested in the status quo to be brought around to a libertarian view, Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an “Outreach to the Rednecks,” which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes. (Duke, a former Klansman, was discussed in strikingly similar terms in a 1990 Ron Paul Political Report.) These groups could be mobilized to oppose an expansive state, Rothbard posited, by exposing an “unholy alliance of ‘corporate liberal’ Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America.”

Reason, of course, in it’s new incarnation as the official organ of the libertarian movement’s aging hipsters and would-be “cool kids,” vehemently opposes reaching out to middle and working class Americans: that is far too “square” for the black-leather-jacket-wearing Nick Gillespie, formerly associated with something called Suck magazine, and Matt Welch, who was an unknown quantity before getting the job at Reason.  Right-wing populism? As far as the Suck-y crowd is concerned, one might as well tout the appeal of “right-wing botulism.” Libertarianism, as understood by the editors of Reason, is all about legalizing methamphetamine, having endless “hook-ups,” and giving mega-corporations tax breaks (so Reason can keep scarfing up those big corporate contributors). The decidedly “square” Dr. Paul—a ten-term Republican congressman from Texas, no less, and a pro-life country doctor of decidedly conservative social views—was and is anathema to Team Suck.

What would the “Smearbund” do without David Duke? No smear campaign is complete without dragging him into it. No matter what the subject—the Iraq war, the Mearsheimer and Walt book, affirmative action—if you take the politically incorrect position, according to the neocons, then you’re marching shoulder-to shoulder with the former Klansman and professional nut-job.

And sure enough, the Kirchick piece takes the Paul newsletter to task for supposedly having “kind words” for Duke. Yet, if you go and read what the newsletter says about Duke, it is clear the author was merely saying Duke’s success is due to his opposition to affirmative action and the welfare state: indeed, Kirchick cites a passage (without citing it in full) in which Duke is taken to task for his lack of a “consistent package of freedom.” Yet the willfully ignorant Radley Balko, another Cato type, avers: “I simply can’t imagine seeing any piece of paper go out under my name that included sympathetic words for David Duke. That a newsletter with Paul’s name did just that demands an explanation from Paul.”

The explanation, which would be apparent if Balko had actually cited what is written, is that these weren’t sympathetic words for Duke, per se, or his political ambitions, but for the issues—legitimate issues—that he raised (and exploited) in his Louisiana campaign. After all, libertarians such as Paul reject affirmative action, racial set-asides, and all other forms of state-enforced special treatment for “minorities” precisely because they oppose racism, or any form of collectivism.

By the way, libertarians also oppose so-called civil rights legislation that outlaws discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, because it violates the rights of property-owners. William F. Buckley Jr. famously derided libertarian (and “right-wing populist”) opposition to such legislation as valorizing Lester Maddox’s refusal to “serve a Negro a plate of pork chops.” Buckley’s quip surely underscored the venality and small-mindedness of Maddox and his ilk—and yet, lost in all this, is the reality of the libertarian position, which is that people have the right to be venal, small-minded, and, yes, viciously, stupidly, horribly wrong, provided they don’t initiate the use of force.

The utter dishonesty of the Reason crowd, when it comes to this issue, is breathtaking. Balko laments that

“Unfortunately, the quotes pulled from these newsletters will for many only confirm those worst stereotypes of what he represents. The good ideas Paul represents then get sullied by association. The Ann Althouses of the world, for example, are now only more certain that opponents of federal anti-discrimination laws should have to prove that they aren’t racist before being taken seriously.”

It’s all about impressing Ms. Althouse, the notoriously dyspeptic and cranky lawyer-blogger-know-it-all.

Gee, that’s the first time in a long time I’ve heard a single one of the Reasonites declare their opposition to anti-discrimination laws: perhaps it is the first mention of it in the online supplement to the magazine. Because, of course, such a position is starkly counterposed to today’s au courant political correctness, an atmosphere in which all criticism of, say,  Barack Obama is typified as racist agitation. The fear of being branded a “racist” is so all-pervasive that it has had an appreciable effect on the polls: exit polls in New Hampshire foreshadowed an Obama-sweep that never materialized. Democratic primary voters were ashamed to say they hadn’t voted for Obama: talk about white liberal guilt!

The charges leveled at Paul by his accusers both the neocons, and the “libertarian” and leftist enablers, are therefore especially toxic this election season. Yet when one examines Paul’s alleged “hate crimes,” I can come up with only four sentences, lifted out of context, that are out of bounds:

“[O]ur country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists—and they can be identified by the color of their skin.”

“I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

“We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational.”

“If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.”

These statements are offensive, and I’d bet my bottom dollar that Ron Paul not only didn’t write them, but never read.

(One might quibble about the “fleet-footed” quip: it seems more like a compliment, albeit a left-handed one, rather than an insult—but never mind.) It isn’t Paul’s style or voice. In any case, when we examine the rest of the statements Kirchick cites, in context, it becomes immediately apparent that the “libertarian” witch-hunters out for Paul’s scalp didn’t even bother to read the newsletters in their entirety before they broke into a chorus of denunciations. A former beltway wonk has published an excellent chronology of the various postings by the Reason/Cato/neocon crowd after the Kirchick piece was published and the pdf files of the newsletters were posted by Pajamas Media, on January 8. He makes it clear that what he calls the “Orange Line Mafia” didn’t have time to go through and read the material in the newsletters before firing their fusillades:

“The Ron Paul Newsletters are voluminous and even a small fraction of them could not possibly be read in the very few hours that passed between the posting of the actual newsletters (the afternoon of the 8th) and the smear campaigners’ posts (also the afternoon of the 8th). All of these ‘hit and run’ blog posts, except Kirchick’s original, must then be based on Kirchik’s piece rather than on actual reading and analysis of the newsletters. Clearly the purpose of these posts was not to initiate a thoughtful discussion of the newsletters, it was to spin libertarian voters on the most crucial election day short of the November general elections.”

It was a rush job, and a sloppy one at that, because, on closer examination, the material that is being called “racist” turns out to be no such thing.  When we go to the source of the above, and other examples cited by Kirchick, we come to a rather conventionally conservative analysis of the Rodney King riots of 1992: the rioters are condemned, the Koreans are valorized, and the culture of black entitlement and its relation to the welfare state are delineated in no uncertain terms. Nothing, in short, that would be out of place in any conservative magazine. The above-cited phrase about the enemy being defined “by the color of their skin” is here placed in its original context:

“Regardless of what the media tell us, most white Americans are not going to believe that they are at fault for what blacks have done to cities across America. The professional blacks may have cowed the elites, but good sense survives at the grass roots. Many more are going to have difficulty avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists—and they can be identified by the color of their skin. This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable.”

In context, the author was clearly saying that people will draw unfair conclusions – that racism will increase—as a direct consequence of the Los Angeles riots. How, exactly, is that “racist”? If anything, it’s a warning that the sociological consequences of statist policies – and the failure of the elites to address them—will lead to the rise of the David Dukes of this world, if more responsible politicians don’t face them head on. In linking to the source, one wonders if Pajamas Media isn’t really trying to help the Paul campaign win over conservative Republicans – because I don’t think many would disagree with much of it. Another phrase that has been lifted out of context—“only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions—placed in context reads quite differently:

“Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action. I know many who fall into this group personally and they deserve credit—not as representatives of a racial group, but as decent people.”

The idea that people are not to be treated as representatives of racial groups is the antithesis of bigotry. While the author of the above is most emphatically anti-racist, he is also anti-looter, anti-violence, and justifiably angry at the sight of white motorists being pulled out of their cars by thugs of whatever color. The author of TNR’s hit piece was a mere babe when the Los Angeles riots scorched the national consciousness, and his reaction to the description of the rioters—and the circumstances surrounding it—is untouched by either experience or understanding.

The crudeness of Kirchick’s cut-and-paste method shows how little he cares for the concept of truth. In the context of a discussion about Paul alleged antipathy to blacks, he writes that a “June 1991 entry on racial disturbances in Washington, DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood was titled, ‘Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.’ ‘This is only the first skirmish in the race war of the 1990s,’ the newsletter predicted. In an October 1992 item about urban crime, the newsletter’s author—presumably Paul—wrote, ‘I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.’”

As James Fulford points out, however:

“People seem to think that he was calling blacks ‘animals.’ This was actually the Mount Pleasant riots, the largest in DC since the 1968 Martin Luther King riots, and it was immigrant Hispanics rioting against the African-American city government, so that’s not what what’s going on here, it’s just a normal headline like ‘Inmates Take Over Asylum.’”

But what matters the color of the rioters’ skin? Are we not allowed to say what is, or must fear reduce our language to strings of euphemism? Is every word to be examined and measured in terms of its political correctness quotient? Thus do self-righteous little prigs of Kirchick’s ilk seek to define what’s legitimate and what’s not.

It’s all downhill from there. Kirchick goes after Paul on the basis of his association with the scholars at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a brilliant writer by the name of Thomas E. Woods, whose Politically Incorrect Guide to American History is a runaway bestseller among conservatives and is issued by Regnery, the Fox News of the publishing world. Again, nothing out of the conservative mainstream – a point that will no doubt horrify the readers of The New Republic. But that’s not many people, these days.

The idea that opposition to Lincoln idolatry is evidence of “racism” is absurd, as any serious person would immediately recognize. Is anyone really surprised that Paul doesn’t idolize an American President who locked up his political opponents, repealed the writ of habeas corpus, and closed down opposition newspapers? Give me a break. It’s not for nothing that the academic branch of the Lincoln cult is headquartered over at Claremont College, where the more extreme neocons hold sway: they openly admire his authoritarian methods That may be news to what’s left of The New Republic’s readers, but I doubt much of anyone else finds this beyond the pale, never mind proof of “racism.”.

Kirchick is shocked—shocked!—by the idea that secession can be a legitimate means to achieve one’s political objectives. He equates this with “support for the Confederacy” – but then one has to ask how the Soviet empire imploded so quickly and relatively bloodlessly. Wasn’t it because individuals, as well as the captive nations, seceded from the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”?

Kirchick pays tribute to his “libertarian” collaborators, averring “The people surrounding the von Mises Institute—including Paul—may describe themselves as libertarians, but they are nothing like the urbane libertarians who staff the Cato Institute or the libertines at Reason magazine.” They, of course, would never endorse the idea of secession. Or would they?

In any case, there are some pretty odd formulations in Kirchcik’s essay: “To be fair,” he concedes,

“The newsletter did praise Asian merchants in Los Angeles, but only because they had the gumption to resist political correctness and fight back. Koreans were ‘the only people to act like real Americans,\’ it explained, ‘mainly because they have not yet been assimilated into our rotten liberal culture, which admonishes whites faced by raging blacks to lie back and think of England.’”

One wonders on what other basis the author of this newsletter piece could have praised the Asian merchants of Los Angeles—just because they’re Asian? Yet why should someone merit accolades for what they are, rather than on account of the content of their character? To do so would be—dare I say it?—racist.

Another odd touch to this slapped-together smear job is that Kirchick and his pals point to the Paul newsletter’s claim that the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party was involved in helping to trigger the Los Angeles riots as yet more proof of “conspiracism,” but as the RCP’s Wikipedia entry puts it:

“The RCP upheld the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles and nationally as a “rebellion” in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdicts. Then-LAPD chief Daryl Gates alleged that the RCP was involved in the riots. Los Angeles has long been one of the RCP’s larger and more active branches.”

I suppose little Jamie Kirchick, who was something like four years old when the riot occurred, knows more about what happened than the chief of police. Or is Daryl Gates, too, a “conspiracist”? More malarkey from Monsieur Kirchick. (For what it’s worth, David Horowitz concurs.)

The rhetoric aimed at Martin Luther King is really odd, considering that the Ron Paul campaign is launching its latest “money bomb” on the civil rights leader’s birthday. In addition, Paul himself has praised MLK as an exemplar of nonviolent civil disobedience. It is true, however, as the newsletter avers, that King had some connections to Communist Party members, and had the full support of the CP. Without the Communists, there would have been hardly any civil rights movement, especially in the early years. In addition, the Rev. King was indeed a philanderer of epic proportions, as are many strong-willed individuals of the male persuasion. Why be prudish about it? Suddenly the “libertines” of swingin’ Reason magazine are blushing virgins, but, somehow, it’s not a very convincing act.

According to Daniel Koffler, a former Reason staffer now at Pajamas Media, whose compendium of Paul’s un-PC “pullquotes” was posted shortly after the Kirchick piece went up, the charge of “conspiracism” is supposedly buttressed by a statement in the newsletter to the effect that “Hillary Clnton is the most dangerous politician in America” – in which case, all the GOP presidential candidates are guilty. Are we supposed to take this stuff seriously?

As evidence of Paul’s alleged “homophobia,” Kirchick whines that the newsletter writers termed AIDS a “politically protected disease” – and yet that is the same view held by the late Randy Shilts, an openly gay reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, in his book on the epidemic and the political response to it, And The Band Played On. Shilts, who who died of AIDS in the 1980s, describes, at length, how political correctness and fear of “homophobia” delayed the closing of the San Francisco bathhouses that were incubating the epidemic and spread the virus far and wide before the gay community began to wake up.

As addle-brained as this tack is, Kirchcikt gets even sillier:

“Commenting on a rise in AIDS infections, one newsletter said that ‘gays in San Francisco do not obey the dictates of good sense,’ adding: ‘[T]hese men don’t really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners.” Also, “they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.’”

As much as I, a gay guy, hate to admit it, the statement that “gays in San Francisco do not obey the dictates of good sense” rings true to anyone who lives in what Herb Caean used to call “Baghdad-by-the-Bay” and knows anything about the sexual practices prevalent in the gay community. Priapism as a lifestyle and even a social philosophy is the norm, not the exception, and while that may offend the delicate sensibilities of those rather more priggish homosexuals who want to take the sex out of homosexuality – well, that’s just tough, now isn’t it? And not very realistic.

Furthermore, it has been widely reported that some AIDS victims had actually sought out the disease and refer to it as “bug-chasing” and “giving the gift”—albeit some years after the newsletter described such behavior. Kirchick, a sometime gay activist, has got to know about this. Not that he’ll ever admit it.

Speaking of “hate crimes,” yet more alleged “evidence” that Paul is a gay-basher is the newsletter’s attacks on hate crimes legislation – which, again, is a pretty standard conservative Republican (and libertarian position). Are the editors of Reason magazine agreeing with Kirchick that opposition to such legislation is de facto “homophobia”? Just asking ….

As for the piece on “I Miss the Closet,” now that’s a sentiment I admit to feeling with increasing intensity over the years, as homosexuality devolved into “gayness” and a lifestyle morphed into a political movement—a movement, moreover, that demanded complete ideological conformity on questions ranging from the origins of homosexuality (politically correct answer: it’s genetic) to the desirability of a national “civil rights” bill forbidding “discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation. To disagree with the leaders of this “movement” is to court the charge of “homophobia.”

Kirchick is perturbed by Paul’s talk of an “industrial-banking-political elite” – any criticism of bankers, and their federally-insured con-game, is “conspiracism” and probably “anti-Semitic,” too. When the banks get bailed out, us plebeians had better not complain, on pain of facing Kirchick’s wrath. Worse, by Kirchickian standards, Paul is “promoting his distrust of a federally regulated monetary system utilizing paper bills” – a charge that seems slightly comical, coming as it does during the most precipitous decline of the currency since the phrase “not worth a continental” was coined.

I really can’t bear to examine much more of Kirchick’s farrago of falsehoods: it’s like wading through waist-high muck without your pants on. I have to say, however, that this supposedly “devastating” attack on the Paul campaign is devastating, all right – to the author’s reputation as a credible reporter. His writing is crude, his manner slapdash, and his abilities seem to consist primarily of the artful use of ellipses. Intellectually dishonest, inauthentic in its outrage, and unintentionally humorous at times – don’t you realize that it’s a hate-crime to criticize Kirchick’s boss?—TNR’s attempt to portray the avuncular country doctor who preaches liberty, the Norman Thomas of libertarianism, as some sort of neo-Nazi is ludicrous – yet the neocons and their “libertarian” allies persist. Why?

“If a person cared about liberty,” asks the blogger who calls himself “a former beltway wonk,” “why would they be eager to mindlessly repeat smears about the most popular libertarian candidate in decades on the very day of the most crucial ‘king-making’ primary in the United States?”

It’s no mystery, really: Ron Paul is, in many ways, the exact opposite of the Beltway fake-“libertarians.” He’s a populist: they suck up to power, he challenges the powers-that-be; they go along to get along – he has never gone along with the conventional wisdom as defined by the arbiters of political correctness, Left and Right. And most of all, he’s an avowed enemy of the neoconservatives, whom he constantly names as the main danger to peace and liberty – while the Beltway’s tame “libertarians” are in bed with them, often literally as well as figuratively.

In short, the Beltway fake-libs are in bed with the State, and all its works, while contenting themselves with the role of court jester and would-be “reformer” of the system. As long as they don’t challenge anything too fundamental to the continuation of the Welfare-Warfare State, the pet libertines of the neocon-led GOP “coalition” are deemed “urbane” and “cosmopolitan,” the highest compliment the Georgetown party circuit can bestow. Once they begin rocking the boat, as Paul insists on doing, they become fair game for the Smearbund.

Another major reason for the antipathy to Paul coming from these quarters is his uncompromising opposition to U.S. foreign policy. A good half of the Reason crowd were pro-war, some ambivalent, and a powerful minority within the Cato Institute rallied to the cause of “liberating” Iraq, or was at least sympathetic to the idea of “exporting” free market liberalism at gunpoint, once the war was a fait accompli. Reason itself took no position on the most important question of the day, I’m told because of the influence of big contributors. And now I learn, from inside sources, that Reason senior editor Brian Doherty, author of the monumental Radicals for Capitalism, a “freewheeling” history of the American libertarian movement, is in danger of being fired because he’s too pro-Paul.

The most shameful aspect of this episode is the active role played by the Orange Line Mafia in the smearing of Paul. The Reason/Cato lynch mob is really threatened by the existence of a mass libertarian movement—because it’s a movement over which they have no control. They no longer get to define libertarianism to the general public, and most importantly, the media: who needs them, when we have a much more appealing and successful salesman for liberty?

Besides, it’s embarrassing for them: while they’re begging our rulers to allow us just a little freedom, and timidly seek to trim the empire around its rougher edges, Paul and the movement he’s spawned seek a much more radical application of libertarian principles: a consistent anti-statism on the home front, and a call to dismantle the empire before it dismantles the last vestiges of our old republic.

Look, I’ve been critical of the Paul campaign—see here—and I have to say I have my issues with the way the operation is being run, and I know I’m not alone in that. I would say that the antiwar message has not been pounded home, and that their strategy—particularly their California strategy – shows a complete lack of understanding of how to get delegates under the new, congressional district-based allocation system. Another major mistake: failing to make opposition to the war and the new imperialism the centerpiece of Paul’s television ads. When the candidate gets up there on stage at the debates and speaks in his own voice, from the heart, he nearly always puts the issue of war and peace front and center. The campaign does Paul a great disservice, however, when they water down his message for some imaginary political gain that has yet to materialize and probably won’t.

Yet these criticisms are minor: the overwhelming reality is that the Paul campaign has put libertarianism on the political map as never before—and the Orange Line Mafia just can’t stand it.. Real libertarians can have but one answer to the fifth columnists in their midst, the neocon-enablers and Vichy “libertarians” who hang on every word harpy-like shriek that comes out of Anne Althouse’s gullet: Screw them, and all their works.

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