Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Ron Paul Debate Deepens on the Left - A Sampling of Recent Articles

Here are short excerpts from some articles on the web that were posted over the past weekend:

Glenn Greenwald, at

As I’ve written about before, America’s election season degrades mainstream political discourse even beyond its usual lowly state. The worst attributes of our political culture — obsession with trivialities, the dominance of horserace “reporting,” and mindless partisan loyalties — become more pronounced than ever. Meanwhile, the actually consequential acts of the U.S. Government and the permanent power factions that control it — covert endless wars, consolidation of unchecked power, the rapid growth of the Surveillance State and the secrecy regime, massive inequalities in the legal system, continuous transfers of wealth from the disappearing middle class to large corporate conglomerates — drone on with even less attention paid than usual.

Because most of those policies are fully bipartisan in nature, the election season — in which only issues that bestow partisan advantage receive attention — places them even further outside the realm of mainstream debate and scrutiny. For that reason, America’s elections ironically serve to obsfuscate political reality even more than it usually is.

This would all be bad enough if “election season” were confined to a few months the way it is in most civilized countries. But in America, the fixation on presidential elections takes hold at least eighteen months before the actual election occurs, which means that more than 1/3 of a President’s term is conducted in the midst of (and is obscured by) the petty circus distractions of The Campaign. Thus, an unauthorized, potentially devastating covert war — both hot and cold — against Iran can be waged with virtually no debate, just as government control over the Internet can be inexorably advanced, because TV political shows are busy chattering away about Michele Bachmann’s latest gaffe and minute changes in Rick Perry’s polling numbers.

Then there’s the full-scale sacrifice of intellectual honesty and political independence at the altar of tongue-wagging partisan loyalty. The very same people who in 2004 wildly cheered John Kerry — husband of the billionaire heiress-widow Teresa Heinz Kerry — spent all of 2008 mocking John McCain’s wealthy life courtesy of his millionaire heiress wife and will spend 2012 depicting Mitt Romney’s wealth as proof of his insularity; conversely, the same people who relentlessly mocked Kerry in 2004 as a kept girly-man and gigolo for living off his wife’s wealth spent 2008 venerating McCain as the Paragon of Manly Honor.
 Philip Weiss, at Mondoweiss:
Andrew Sullivan has my view of the matter, that Paul represents a strong grassroots antiwar feeling, and that people like David Brooks are seeking to delude us on this score. And he explains the youth attraction to Paul as not being xenophobic.
So most Americans seem to disagree with the Beltway that Ron Paul is somehow an impermissible candidate for president. Why am I not surprised?
Meanwhile, Ron Paul has grasped the Iran question more aggressively as the voting nears. He is the only candidate who has taken military force off the table with respect to Iran's nuclear program. Obama is still threatening, with poor Leon Panetta being dragged back and forth in public by the Greater Israel lobby. Paul, in other words, is the only candidate we can be sure will not take us into a third war with a Muslim country in a decade. And he seems to believe this is a strength. No wonder Washington is still scratching its collective head.
The mindset that the world is our plaything remains entrenched. Only Paul has moved beyond that. If you ask me, that's the core of his appeal to the young.
I do wonder if any of those young people are ethnic minorities...
Ross Douthat, in the New York Times:
The United States is living through an era of unprecedented elite failure, in which America’s public institutions are understandably distrusted and our leadership class is justifiably despised. Yet politicians of both parties are required, by the demands of partisanship, to embrace the convenient lie that our problem can be pinned exclusively on the other side’s elites — as though both liberals and conservatives hadn’t participated in the decisions that dug our current hole.

In this climate, it sometimes takes a fearless crank to expose realities that neither Republicans nor Democrats are particularly eager to acknowledge.

In both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Paul has been the only figure willing to point out the deep continuities in American politics — the way social spending grows and overseas commitments multiply no matter which party is in power, the revolving doors that connect K Street to Congress and Wall Street to the White House, the long list of dubious policies and programs that both sides tacitly support. In both election cycles, his honest extremism has sometimes cut closer to the heart of our national predicament than the calculating partisanship of his more grounded rivals. He sometimes rants, but he rarely spins — and he’s one of the few figures on the national stage who says “a plague on both your houses!” and actually means it.

Obviously it would be better for the country if this message weren’t freighted with Paul’s noxious baggage, and entangled with his many implausible ideas. But would it be better off without his presence entirely? I’m not so sure.

Neither prophets nor madmen should be elected to the presidency. But neither can they safely be ignored.
Robert Scheer at Truthdig:
Paul is being denigrated as a presidential contender even though on the vital issues of the economy, war and peace, and civil liberties, he has made the most sense of the Republican candidates. And by what standard of logic is it “claptrap” for Paul to attempt to hold the Fed accountable for its destructive policies? That’s the giveaway reference to the raw nerve that his favorable prospects in the Iowa caucuses have exposed. Too much anti-Wall Street populism in the heartland can be a truly scary thing to the intellectual parasites residing in the belly of the beast that controls American capitalism.

It is hypocritical that Paul is now depicted as the archenemy of non-white minorities when it was his nemesis, the Federal Reserve, that enabled the banking swindle that wiped out 53 percent of the median wealth of African-Americans and 66 percent for Latinos, according to the Pew Research Center.

The Fed sits at the center of the rot and bears the major responsibility for tolerating the runaway mortgage-backed securities scam that is at the core of our economic crisis. After the meltdown it was the Fed that led ultra-secret machinations to bail out the banks while ignoring the plight of their exploited customers. 
 Andrew Sullivan, on former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson's endorsement of Rep. Paul:
Which kinda undercuts the argument that libertarians repulsed by the language in Ron Paul's old newsletters should switch to Johnson. Meanwhile, Paul is now firmly in second place in New Hampshire in the poll of polls behind Romney. He over-took Gingrich a few days back.
Cenk Uygur, on the establishment's siege on Rep. Paul (a compilation from 11 days ago):

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