In My Family, We Always Toast Marshmallows

by Belle Waring on January 8, 2012

Did Ron Paul vote for MLK day, as Andrew Sullivan (quoting Chuck Todd) suggested in his debate live-blogging? “9.40 pm. Chuck Todd notes that Ron Paul voted for the MLK national holiday. Gingrich voted against. I find the notion that Ron Paul is a racist to be preposterous.”

Sadly, No!

Ta-Nehisi Coates thoughtfully quotes some Ron Paul newsletters so you don’t have to read them:

Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.

Hate Whitey Day is actually one of my favorite holidays. It doesn’t have all the pressure to be perfect, like Christmas, or everybody getting along, like Thanksgiving. Just white people cowering in their houses/retreating to their heavily armed compounds in rural Oklahoma while America’s non-white population runs riot, more or less totally burning shit down. And the clean-up and re-building costs always add a bump to the January jobs report, as Matthew Yglesias has noted.

The question of whether Ron Paul’s having voted for MLK day would bring about the state of mind in which one would find the charge of racism against Mr. Paul “preposterous” is left as an exercise for the reader.

P.S. The real Sadly, No!

{ 68 comments }

1

Lee Hartmann 01.08.12 at 2:32 pm

Perfect. Just perfect.

2

P O'Neill 01.08.12 at 2:42 pm

I thought Hate Whitey Day was when minorities used Acorn gangs to get unaffordable mortgages, eventually bringing down the global financial system.

3

Belle Waring 01.08.12 at 2:46 pm

No, I think that was La Raza somehow.

4

Uncle Kvetch 01.08.12 at 2:52 pm

Insert obvious but obligatory comment asking why anyone pays the slightest bit of attention to Andrew Sullivan here.

5

Jeffrey Kramer 01.08.12 at 2:59 pm

I always get a tear in my eye during the Hate Whitey ceremony on the White House lawn, when the President chooses one black convict to pardon in perpetuity for any crimes — past, present or future — against white people.

6

Antonio Conselheiro 01.08.12 at 3:15 pm

Andrew Sullivan will occasionally be right about something, but I think that his track record is bad enough to justify his being cast into the outer darkness forever.

7

Trent 01.08.12 at 3:31 pm

“… while America’s non-white population runs riot, more or less totally burning shit down. And the clean-up and re-building costs always add a bump to the January jobs report, as Matthew Yglesias has noted.”

Sadly, no.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

Neo-Keynesians are a special bunch.

8

Barry Freed 01.08.12 at 4:31 pm

All you smug folks and your snide remarks act like you’ve never seen Michelle Obama’s infamous “Hate Whitey” tape. No? Well neither have I but I hear Larry Johnson has a copy. Or will. Any day now. Soon. I think.

9

J. Otto Pohl 01.08.12 at 4:53 pm

Whitey is not the preferred nomenclature. It is obruni. In my case I prefer Dr. Obruni.

10

G. Mcthornbody 01.08.12 at 5:48 pm

Just white people cowering in their houses/retreating to their heavily armed compounds in rural Oklahoma while America’s non-white population runs riot, more or less totally burning shit down.

Ron Paul knows how to deal with this apparently. There’s even more Pat Robertson-esque claims at the link.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/01/ron-paul-newsletter-iowa-caucus-republican?

“From the Ron Paul Political Newsletter, June 1992 (PDF):

“Order was only restored in LA when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began…What if the checks had never arrived? No doubt the blacks would have fully privatized the welfare state through continued looting. But they were paid off and the violence subsided.”

People seem to think this guy is presidential material.

grismcthorn

11

Dr. Hilarius 01.08.12 at 7:39 pm

Belle and Kramer@5: So well done I won’t even try to add anything.

12

Dave 01.08.12 at 8:35 pm

“…as Matthew Yglesias has noted” ought to be appended to all blithely cited pseudo evidence forever. Sublime.

13

Tedra Osell 01.08.12 at 8:40 pm

Andrew Sullivan is seriously pissing me off on this one. He would never accept this kind of special pleading about gay rights–nor should he. I want to smack him.

14

Freddie deBoer 01.08.12 at 8:47 pm

Paul is the pits. The guilt by association that is being used by cruise missile liberals the blogosphere over to attack non-interventionism is too.

15

Antonio Conselheiro 01.08.12 at 8:50 pm

Chuck Todd could go into the outer darkness too, AFAIC, but I don’t expect many people to agree with me on this. What he said when during his argument with Glenn Greenwald about journalistic ethics and methods was awful.

The real question about Ron Paul is “How did the Democratic Party become so decrepit and loathsome that anyone would think of voting for this guy?” Let’s see, on the one hand a permanent state of war, a permanent drug war, and private prisons as the big growth industry. On the other hand, anti-abortion racism and the liquidation of the welfare state, and more! As Brecht asked “Which one of your kids should we kill, lady?”

16

Steve LaBonne 01.08.12 at 10:10 pm

“Hate the Village Pundits Day” can be celebrated every day of the year.

17

ezra abrams 01.09.12 at 12:39 am

WYSIATI
why do liberals and progressives waste so much time on R Paul, M Bachmann, etc ?
Seriously, aside from the gossip aspect, why ? Does anyone on this blog think that R Paul and M Bachman are not neanderthals ?
Wouldn’t it be more productive to figure out postiive steps to take, or at least spend time researching the question, did M Romney/Bain loot pension funds (imho, the gop race is essentially over; the media are talking about it only cause it is easy cheap reporting; no one in the media, from the NYT down, ever got fired for reporting ona presidential primary race)
Seriously, unless there is a big upset in SC, romney is already the nominee (you saw this same dynamic at work in 2008; after the PA primary, if you bothered to do the math, Obama had won; it was, mathwise, almost impossible for hilary to beat him, Yet the media kept the story alive for weeks with stupid factfree punditry)
So, if you think Obama is better then Romney (perhaps doubtful after NDAA 2011, but if you consider unemployment etc, I think Obama will mean a few fewer homeless kids then romney) then the main thing is to discredit Romney; R Paul is an irrelevant side show (other then shedding light on the strong hold looney ness has, but the post about the GA school system does that a whole lot better – my inlaws have a place in HIlton Head SC, which due to the many snowbirds is far more “liberal” then the rest of SC; at teh little prof bookshop near sea pines circle (this is several years ago, I don’t know if it is still there) there were little labels on the shelves; in the history section, YOu had SC History, Southern History, etc, and, a sign that read “War of northern aggression” end quote

18

John Quiggin 01.09.12 at 2:05 am

@Ezra We’ve pretty much ignored Bachmann (I used her snark about the 6-6-6 plan as a jumping off point for a post, but that’s about it).

The problem about Paul is what AC said. To show he’s worse than (pro-war, indefinite detention, warrantless assassination) Obama overall, you have to demonstrate some really appalling stuff about him. Sadly, that’s not hard, which raises the question of why we are all so keen for Obama to have a second term.

And which brings us, I guess, on to Gary Johnson.

19

geo 01.09.12 at 2:35 am

JQ @ 18: To show he’s worse than (pro-war, indefinite detention, warrantless assassination) Obama overall

It’s not JQ’s fault, or anyone’s in particular, that we’re reduced to the absurdity of trying to decide the undecidable question of whether Paul’s horrible positions are more horrible than Obama’s horrible positions. It’s the fault of our horribly absurd political system (two-parties, winner-take-all, token representation, no effective accountability) that we have to vote for people rather than positions. But do we really have to join the game?

20

Tedra Osell 01.09.12 at 2:38 am

To show he’s worse than (pro-war, indefinite detention, warrantless assassination) Obama overall, you have to demonstrate some really appalling stuff about him.

Disagreed. Even if he weren’t racist, he is sexist as hell, completely out of step with his party as well as general American (and for that matter, international industrialized nation) foreign policy norms–which may be laudable, but would certainly make him a completely useless executive. His ideas on economics are absolutely terrible and would make our current economic woes far worse.

I find the Obama administration’s actions on civil liberties and international laws of war appalling, but I think it is insane to think that Paul is an attractive candidate in any way. (And that doesn’t amount to dismissing his ideas about American interventionism because “he’s a loony.”)

21

Cahokia 01.09.12 at 2:39 am

Vote Communist. Курица.

22

geo 01.09.12 at 3:37 am

Tedra@20: completely out of step with his party as well as general American (and for that matter, international industrialized nation) foreign policy norms—which may be laudable, but would certainly make him a completely useless executive

The fact that he is completely out of step with “general American foreign policy norms” is enormously to his credit. American foreign policy is devoted to advancing the interests of the American (and affiliated international) investor class and indifferent — actively antagonistic, in fact — to the freedom and welfare of either foreign or American domestic populations. It is systematically hostile to international law and institutions. It is militarized to an insane degree, and makes use of illegal covert action on a vast scale. Paul is virtually the only major-party candidate willing to acknowledge all this. Moreover, he is the only major-party candidate willing to criticize the country’s precipitous slide into a national-security state under both Bush and Obama.

Does this make Paul worth voting for, despite his horrible positions on race, reproductive freedom, environmental protection, regulation, and the welfare state? As far as I know, no one on the left (except possibly Alexander Cockburn) has said so. Certainly Glenn Greenwald didn’t. John Quiggin didn’t. I don’t. Obama may be the lesser evil — though concentrating at this stage on the question of which major-party candidate to vote for is, for leftists, and putting it mildly, to miss the point. But let’s not underestimate, or understate, just how evil Obama is.

23

Steve Williams 01.09.12 at 4:34 am

I liked this paragraph from Will Wilkinson on Ron Paul:

‘Somebody’s going to ask “Isn’t Ron Paul making a difference?” So I’m going to say, “Yes.” None of this is to say that right-fusionism of the Ron Paul variety isn’t now having an influence, or that none of it is good. I’m glad to see Paul spreading a few profoundly important ideas about foreign policy. But that doesn’t mean Paul’s decades of bilking paranoid bigots with bullshit prophesies of hyperinflationary race war was really a stroke of strategic genius after all. Or maybe it means it was. But that doesn’t make it right. I don’t think Paul would be where he is today without all those years of vile fear-mongering. And I don’t think anyone ought to get away with climbing up that evil ladder, kicking it away, then pretending he was born a thousand feet off the ground in the pure mountain air right there next to heaven. He knew what he was doing, chose to do it, and none of it can be justified by a little TV-time for salutary anti-imperialist and free-market ideas. I’d rather not be affiliated with a “movement” that includes him in even a conflicted way.’

Basically about sums it up, as far as I can see. There is no-one to support or like on the Republican bench. They’re all awful. They may be awful for different reasons, but they are all awful. The country desperately needs anti-war candidates, but they need to be less morally compromised. However, I totally accept the argument about Obama being dreadful on the military side.

24

Belle Waring 01.09.12 at 4:35 am

Yeah, Obama’s evil. But you have to admit he’s put on a waaay better Hate Whitey day than his predecessors. Remember the GHW Bush fiasco? So, so faking it.

25

Keith Kisser 01.09.12 at 4:43 am

geo@22:

Paul sponsored the Letter of Marque an Reprisal Act, which would authorize congress and the president to issues bounties on suspected terrorists. So, no he doesn’t want to send the US Army to Iraq he just wants to let Blackwater hunt foreign nationals for sport. Add in his gold standard obsession and he’s a shark tank away from being a Bond Villain.

26

anonymous 01.09.12 at 4:56 am

@Keith

Well, if anyone on the left (except possibly Alexander Cockburn) was advocating voting for Ron Paul that would be a good point.

27

ezra abrams 01.09.12 at 4:57 am

“why we are all so keen for Obama to have a second term.”
who exactly is this “we” ?
Or maybe I misunderstand the word “keen”, which to my mind connotes enthusiasm and positive feelings.
I know I’m not the only one who has been unhappy with Obama for a long time. the question is what to do. On the national stage, the best we can do is consistently push a positive, progressive agenda (althou if you can find two progessives who agree on more then 3 things, its a miracle)
However, on the local stage, there is a lot to do; for instance, K Hochul, D-NY (20th district) voted for the NDAA; surely that is some one worth challenging in the primary
Here in my own district in MA, B Frank, whom I consider a fake liberal, is retiring – perhaps we can get a real liberal in his place, And so forth.
it is painful to acknowlegde, but liberalism is loosing, badly, on the national stage; I think this has driven most liberals almost literally insane, to the point where many are seriously considering R Paul as an alternative. Another symptom of incipient insanity is the endless drivel over obama, good guy or bad. Obama is what he is; from a liberal perspective, he isn’t that good, but he is better then the GOP
If Obama is re elected, there will be at least one more kid who isn’t homeless or without healthcare, compared to the GOP; maybe even a few 1,000 kids. Not a great thing for our country, but from the perspective of the kid, it means a lot.
In the meantime, our fight is just; even thought times are dark, we must keep on fighting.
For economists, a good fight is raising taxes on the wealthy doesn’t keep the rich from hiring people. In my personal experience, talking to ordianry people, the idea that raising taxes on the rich will keep them from expananding their business, and hiring is a potent argument, and one that is difficult to refute, as it is based on seemingly obvious common sense ( if my taxes go up, I’ve got less money, I’m not gonna hire a lawn guy or cleaner…)
The other common argument I hear from people is that you can’t borrow your way into prosperity; I read krugman and delong and the other liberal econ guys, and I must say, sadly, I don’t think they have really put the argument into terms that are simple and understandable.

28

John Quiggin 01.09.12 at 5:27 am

@Belle – a lot of the credit goes not to Obama but to gentrification. Twenty years ago Hate Whitey Day in, say, Southeast DC was pretty much a symbolic celebration. Now, it’s a great time to meet the new neighbors.

29

Marc 01.09.12 at 1:18 pm

@26: It’s flatly intellectually dishonest to pretend that people like Greenwald aren’t using Ron Paul as a tool in an effort to defeat Obama. Words mean things.

From the invaluable Roy Edroso (http://alicublog.blogspot.com/), this is Greenwald in comments (unedited):

“Roy – I appreciate the post, but I actually did lay out in detail exactly why one could still rationally and reasonably support Obama despite the issues you flagged (on which I do think Paul is clearly better). This is what I said could constitute exactly that sort of endorsement:

Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court. “
——————————————-
Making believe that this is anything but an endorsement is laughable. After a long diatribe against Black Hitler , we’re told that Hero Paul will have weaker regulations. Then we’re piously told that “this is not an endorsement of Ron Paul”. Yup, and Anthony came to bury Ceaser, not to praise him; and Galileo endorsed the earth-centered Ptolemaic system in his dialog on the two world systems. After all, he clearly said so at the end!

30

Rich Puchalsky 01.09.12 at 1:39 pm

“it is painful to acknowlegde, but liberalism is loosing, badly, on the national stage; I think this has driven most liberals almost literally insane”

It’s not really any better when a liberal goes on about those liberals are almost literally insane than when a conservative does it.

Chance of Ron Paul winning: zero. Chance of whoever the GOP candidate ends up being getting a vote from a liberal Ron Paul supporter: zero. It sounds pretty much costless to me.

If, on the other hand, you think that it’s important to take a moral stand and argue for the right things, then why are you still a liberal? All that liberalism in the U.S. has to offer these days is lesser-evilism. You can debate with someone else what the lesser-evil calculus is, but you coming up with different numbers than the “Ron Paul is at least anti-war” person doesn’t mean that he or she is crazy and you aren’t.

31

geo 01.09.12 at 3:04 pm

Marc @29: Very eloquent, but exactly wrong. There’s an excellent chance that I, and many commenters on this thread, and thousands of other left-leaning Americans, will make — consciously and explicitly — the very calculation you say is inconceivable and then go ahead and vote for Obama.

32

Steve Williams 01.09.12 at 3:38 pm

‘After a long diatribe against Black Hitler , we’re told that Hero Paul will have weaker regulations.’

If you think the actions described make Obama ‘Black Hitler’ Marc, which was your interpretation, then maybe it’s you who needs to re-evaluate your feelings towards him.

33

ezra abrams 01.09.12 at 4:06 pm

@30
Quote “It’s not really any better when a liberal goes on about those liberals are almost literally insane than when a conservative does it.”

Is it bad if a doctor delivers an unpleasant diagnosis, does that mean that the doctor dislikes the patient ? If the doctor mistakenly delivers a bad diagnosis, maybe.

If not insanity, how else would you define the preoccupation of the “left” with the blithering of bachmann et al; the best example is thinkprogress.org; they are nearly 100% whining. I bet if you take all the “liberal’ (defined however you want; critisism of NDAA 2011 is agood litmus test) blogs and magazines and organizations, the ratio of whining about R Paul/usefull proposals to move forware is >>1

Paying to much attention to your enemies is a sign of stockholm syndrome, or something like that – the powerless have a pathology of preoccupation with the powerful. (in a way, it is the same as R Pauls wierdo consipracy theorys; the ultra right is also powerless, so they are prey to the exact same psychological problems)

In Lenin in Zurich, I think solzhenitsyn talks about this, about how being out of power drives you crazy

In your last paragraph, I think we are arguing about the definition of liberalism; if you want to use a new word to distinguish yourself from liberals like obama, go ahead – I think it is kind of sterile to waste time on that, rather then enunciating posistions, but it is afree country

34

politicalfootball 01.09.12 at 4:52 pm

I wish Greenwald hadn’t framed the Obama/Paul comparison in the manner that he did. Paul wouldn’t have given trillions to bankers, sure, but he would have crashed the economy even harder, and would have withheld assistance once the economy crashed. If you have to compare Obama’s Fed vs. Paul’s Fed, then Obama wins hands down, despite Greenwald’s insistence otherwise.

And Paul isn’t particulary against imprisoning people for no good reason – he just wants states to do it instead of the federal government. And etc.

But these are quibbles. Paul is saying important things that nobody else is saying on a national level. For this, Greenwald rightly praises him.

35

Tedra Osell 01.09.12 at 6:15 pm

“The fact that he is completely out of step with “general American foreign policy norms” is enormously to his credit.”

Maybe so, but it would make him a completely ineffective executive is what I said.

36

geo 01.09.12 at 6:21 pm

Tedra @35: Given what Bush and Obama managed to effect, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

37

Salient 01.09.12 at 6:44 pm

Making believe that this is anything but an endorsement [of Ron Paul] is laughable.

Just in case anyone accepts this interpretation without clicking to follow the source, Greenwald said immediately thereafter, “I think it’s far from clear that the issues in bold (the ‘in exchange for X, Y, Z’ stuff) are insignificant or outweighed by the horrible positions Obama has taken.”

Tune the sarcast-o-meter down a couple dozen notches and reread the statement, Marc. It’s a completely literally true and honest statement, and if anything it’s really a (lukewarm and recalcitrant) endorsement of Obama. Greenwald is just being brutally cognizant of the repercussions of the choice we’re currently making when we lefties agree to vote for the Lesser Evil.

38

Marc 01.09.12 at 6:46 pm

@31; I’m reacting to the numerous claims here that statements like the one that Greenwald made are not endorsements. Do you think that Greenwald is honestly presenting both sides of that argument there? Is there a way in which those particular words are anything other than an endorsement of one candidate over the other?

Ron Paul opposes the Civil Rights Act and called MLK Day “Hate Whitey Day” in a column printed under his name. The difference between him and Obama is not just “stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities”.

39

Marc 01.09.12 at 6:56 pm

@37: Greenwald hates Obama with a burning passion, and it’s extremely obvious that he wants Obama defeated by any means possible.

“Literally true?” The entire Greenwald comparison is propaganda and filled with misleading claims and outright falsehoods. It’s implied that Obama is pursuing war with Iran. Is there any evidence for this? Now there is a lot of evidence that his Republican opponents want war with Iran – but Obama? Any mention there of his ending the war in Iraq, or opposing it in the first place?

The first line is also deeply dishonest – we’re in a war in Afghanistan. People die in wars, including civilians. Any US president involved in any war in any Muslim country will be “killing women and children.” Even Saint Paul.

Now Saint Ron Paul will end foreign aid completely, which will cost a lot of lives of women and children all over the globe. You’d think this might make a spot in an honest balance sheet; yet it’s strangely absent.

Similarly, the part about the downside of Ron Paul is, to put it mildly, hack apologetics of the highest order. Paul has repeatedly opposed civil rights and abortion rights, wants to abolish the EPA and slash the safety net – and those are the words to describe those differences? His long history of hostility to blacks is “association with racist views in a newsletter?” Go over to Coates at the Atlantic and get chapter and verse on why this is a toxic lie about Pauls actual racist views.

40

William Eric Uspal 01.09.12 at 6:57 pm

‘I wish Greenwald hadn’t framed the Obama/Paul comparison in the manner that he did. Paul wouldn’t have given trillions to bankers, sure, but he would have crashed the economy even harder, and would have withheld assistance once the economy crashed. If you have to compare Obama’s Fed vs. Paul’s Fed, then Obama wins hands down, despite Greenwald’s insistence otherwise.’

Exactly what I’ve been thinking. Centrist technocrats have kept the ship afloat, albeit listing; whereas the Austrians and gold-bugs propose to set off charges in the boiler room.

41

geo 01.09.12 at 7:17 pm

Marc@37: Again, this doesn’t compute. I certainly hate Obama with a burning passion, for all the excellent reasons Greenwald has been laying out, brilliantly and persistently, for the last three years. Yet it isn’t true — much less “extremely obvious” — that I want to see Obama defeated in November, given any of the likely alternatives, including Paul. I suspect Greenwald feels the same way, but I don’t know, and neither do you. All we have to go on is what he’s written, which not only doesn’t support but directly contradicts your claim.

Why can’t you get your mind around the fact that X — i.e., Obama’s foreign/national security policies are horrendously bad, and at least some of Paul’s criticisms of them have been more cogent than any equally prominent Democrat’s or Republican’s — does not imply Y — i.e., anyone who points out X must be advocating a vote for Paul rather than Obama in a two-party, winner-take-all national election?

42

geo 01.09.12 at 7:17 pm

Sorry, that’s Marc@39, not 37.

43

politicalfootball 01.09.12 at 7:23 pm

The first line is also deeply dishonest – we’re in a war in Afghanistan.

The first line doesn’t mention Afghanistan. Using the war in Afghanistan to justify killings in Yemen, Pakistan and Libya seems unreasonable, though I’m sure you’re right that Greenwald also disapproves of many of the killings in Afghanistan.

Now Saint Ron Paul …

I think you’re going to continue to fail to reckon with Greenwald’s point as long as you continue to mischaracterize his view of Paul. He’s made it quite clear that he doesn’t regard Paul as a saint, or even a particularly laudable figure, except in the context of a narrow range of issues in the current political situation.

Come to think of it, that’s a pretty common defense of the repugnant things that Obama has done. How is it possible that Obama could fail to prosecute war crimes, for instance?

People often criticize Greenwald for writing at excessive length, but it seems no matter how many words he devotes to an argument, some people are unable to actually read those words, and will insist he comes down on the opposite side of a position he has taken at tiresome length.

44

politicalfootball 01.09.12 at 7:27 pm

geo says this well.

I, too, find Obama’s positions repugnant on some issues, and am in more-or-less complete sympathy with Greenwald’s stated position. I almost literally can’t imagine a circumstance in which I won’t vote for him in November. There isn’t even the tiniest contradiction between the first two sentences of this paragraph.

45

Antonio Conselheiro 01.09.12 at 10:32 pm

I think that Marc is wrong about Greenwald. But his big problem is that he thinks of this as a Who Do We Vote For problem. It’s not that. It’s a We’re Totally Fucked problem.

At this point I spend approximately zero time thinking about who to vote for. I don’t expect anyone to challenge Obama in the primary, I don’t expect a serious third party candidate and have my doubts about third parties anyway, I don’t expect Ron Paul to be nominated or elected and probably wouldn’t vote for him anyway.

I’ve been hoping for something to get better for 30+ years, and workign toward that end for a certain part of that time, and I don’t see progress. My understanding is that the US has entered a period of permanent imperial war, that civil liberties and the significance of political participation are going to be more and more restricted, and that the rich-poor gap will increase as the government becomes increasingly controlled by the wealthiest.

People who think about those factors customarily put their hopes on the Democrats, but they’ve converged with the Republicans on those issues.

Now, we do have a candidate who has promising positions on civil liberties, the War on Drugs, and military interventionism. But he’s objectionable in other respects. That’s just a reminder that we have no one, and that the Democrats are no good at all on the issues mentioned and probably never will be.

There are plenty of bipartisan militarist, authoritarian Democrats who accept the planned “belt-tightening” on social spending. And since they want us to vote for their guy on the basis of other issues, they pretend that we’re all on the same side. But we aren’t. Their main way of persuading us seems to be insults.

46

chris 01.10.12 at 2:36 am

It’s not JQ’s fault, or anyone’s in particular, that we’re reduced to the absurdity of trying to decide the undecidable question of whether Paul’s horrible positions are more horrible than Obama’s horrible positions. It’s the fault of our horribly absurd political system (two-parties, winner-take-all, token representation, no effective accountability) that we have to vote for people rather than positions. But do we really have to join the game?

No; we could recognize that a great many policy issues, especially domestic policy, are actually decided largely by Congress, and look at that rather than the focusing monomaniacally on the Oval Office. Anyone looking at the differences between _Boehner’s_ and _Pelosi’s_ positions would quickly be forced to the conclusion that the parties are, in fact, quite distinguishable, if you bother to try.

The fact that only the blandest centrists available are ever nominated for President, and then end up having their face painted on whatever sausage eventually comes out of negotiation between the branches of government and houses of Congress, shouldn’t be allowed to obscure that point.

Even FDR couldn’t have done jack without a favorable Congress. And FDR is like three sigmas on the high side of presidential importance in outcomes.

P.S. Of course I agree it’s dishonest to make a comparison in which you dwell on everything you like about Paul and minimize everything you dislike. But it’s also poetic justice, in a sense — the whole reason there are so many disappointed Obama ex-supporters is that they did exactly the same thing with him. Cynics knew he was a mixed bag all along, it just didn’t bother us because we expected nothing else.

47

Antonio Conselheiro 01.10.12 at 5:28 am

On the things Greenwald talks about the executive can do a great deal, as G W Bush proved. But between January 19, 2008 and January 21, 2008, the executive lost all of its powers.

48

geo 01.10.12 at 5:32 pm

Kicking-People-When-They-Are-Down Department: Would Marc like to comment on Greenwald’s column on Obama’s disgusting choice of a new chief of staff? http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/

49

Rich Puchalsky 01.10.12 at 6:00 pm

“My understanding is that the US has entered a period of permanent imperial war, that civil liberties and the significance of political participation are going to be more and more restricted, and that the rich-poor gap will increase as the government becomes increasingly controlled by the wealthiest.”

Become an anarchist! It’s more fun. “Fun” is a bad choice of political positions as long as there are people’s lives depending on what you do, but in fact your not voting as an anarchist will have just as much effect as your voting as a liberal for the Democratic Party would: i.e. none. And doing things with your neighbors leads you to actually do more things than you would as a Democratic Party drone anyways.

50

Substance McGravitas 01.10.12 at 6:10 pm

Kicking-People-When-They-Are-Down Department

Wow. The Enron folks were prosecuted under Bush…

51

Hidari 01.10.12 at 6:35 pm

It’s funny how categorisations and language affect people. A lot of people are still hypnotised by the fact that Obama stands for the (ironically named) Democratic Party.

But as Greenwald and Juan Cole and various others have pointed out, Obama is not really a Democrat at all (i.e. not a Democrat in the way that political appellation has been generally used since the 1930s). He is an Eisenhower era Republican. He hasn’t ‘appeased’ anyone or ‘given in’ to anyone else. He has expressed his his core beliefs, and they are Republican ones. There is a similar situation in Britain. The fact is, by the standard usage of these words since 1945, Ed Milliband is a ‘one nation’ Tory, and not a particularly ‘wet’ version of that breed either.

So let’s not hear any more nonsense by liberals (immediately after the usual disdain is expressed for Obama) about how ‘awful though he is’ ‘I could never vote for a Republican.’ When you vote for Obama, you are voting for a Republican. In the same way, if you vote for the (ironically named) ‘Labour’ Party, in the UK, you are not, in fact, voting for the Labour Party, in terms of what the Labour Party has stood for since 1945. You are voting for a Tory. A telegenic, pleasant seeming Tory, but a Tory nonetheless.

Now you could argue that it’s better to have a sane Republican in the White House rather than a batshit crazy nutjob Republican, but that’s a different argument. The fact is, in terms of political parties and ideologies, the American voter has no choice, of any sort, whatsoever. You can vote for the black Republican, or the white Republican. Those are your choices, and discussions of ‘which is the lesser of two evils’ should begin from this premise.

(In the UK, you have the choice between Tory Lite (Milliband), Tory Heavy (Cameron) and Tory Doesn’t Really Matter as No One Will Ever Vote for His Party Ever Again (Clegg)).

52

Salient 01.10.12 at 6:44 pm

it’s extremely obvious that he wants Obama defeated by any means possible.

This is not a terribly useful or interesting mode of conversation. We’re not in battle, you and I. Let me clarify again, I’d be happy to take Greenwald’s words as my own, and if I spoke them, I would mean them completely literally. If you’d like for me to explain why I feel that way, or what prompts me to accept his characterizations at face value, I will be happy to. If you’d like to persuade me that I should modify my own conceptualization of the situation we’re in (which I think Antonio Conselheiro summarized just fine), go for it, I’ll at least try to listen.

If you’d like for me to fight you in defense of Greenwald, admittedly I just don’t see the point. I agree with what he said, but he’s not, like, my HERO, or someone in need of the services of a white-knight champion.

I guess I could pretend to take your comment absurdly literally, and argue that “by any means possible” is hard to take seriously, since Greenwald is not advocating armed revolt, assassination, or mass murder of potential Obama voters. But again: WTF is the point of doing so? What are you wanting to get out of this?

53

Mrs Tilton 01.10.12 at 7:58 pm

Steve @32,

without in any way endorsing Marc’s views, it would probably be fair to point out that the “Black Hitler” trope he uses originated with the indispensible Roy Edroso, who used it in opposing Greenwald and supporting Obama (for certain values of “supporting”).

54

js. 01.11.12 at 6:15 am

Re: geo and politicalfootball:

I’m a little late to this, but I think there’s a real problem here. The thing is, I entirely agree with your position, but it doesn’t make it less weird. Suppose someone said the following: in the areas that really matter, (or: in a lot of the areas that really matter), X’s positions are entirely morally repugnant; nevertheless I support X (and moreover, will help enable him to continue implementing his morally repugnant policies). And this of course is the position that you’re defending and that I too have often defended, though the defense is never quite in these terms. But this basically sounds like massive cognitive dissonance.

The out, or explanation, here is supposed to be that X is the “lesser evil”. But when people talk about opting for the lesser evil, they don’t often take the evil in “lesser evil” all that seriously (or maybe literally). But once it’s very clearly pointed out that that’s what we’re talking about choosing, that we’re talking about opting for evil, though admittedly a lesser one, the choice starts seeming very very odd. And what you’ve both done rather well is show the evil in the lesser evil that is Obama.

So while I have little to no sympathy with the hack-ish Marc-style argument, I think I understand the impulse to defend the candidate of your choice—the other option can seem quite unnerving. And again, I say this as someone who shares your lesser evil position on Obama but still finds this position to be genuinely worrisome.

55

Z 01.11.12 at 8:52 am

X’s positions are entirely morally repugnant; nevertheless I support X[...]. But this basically sounds like massive cognitive dissonance.

It comes dangerously close to it but I don’t think it is. I think that if you militantly advocate the reasons why you find some positions S of X entirely morally repugnant and defend superior (to you) alternatives on a daily basis, you can spare one vote every four year for X without necessarily succumbing to schizophrenia. And this is especially true if you have good reasons to believe that, come election day, any realistic alternative will be at least as repugnant concerning S and possibly more so for other positions S’.

So I think one can choose the lesser evil once in a while, as long as one fights evil in all its form most of the time. Much more pernicious is, to my mind, the situation where, in the words of the medieval commentary of the psalter, one takes viam pro patria et stabulum pro domo; that is to say where one confuses the necessary realistic road to a better future with the better future itself.

56

Rich Puchalsky 01.11.12 at 12:55 pm

“you can spare one vote every four year for X without necessarily succumbing to schizophrenia.”

What does that one vote every four yeara actually do?

There was one case, recently, in which an election was actually close. In that case the election was decided by the Supreme Court. People are engaging in “massive cognitive dissonance” for the sake of symbolism, nothing more — symbolism that is intended to reassure them that their choice matters.

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Antonio Conselheiro 01.11.12 at 1:40 pm

Which candidate is more repugnant? The Democratic Party actually splits on that question. Probably Obama should send out flying squads of campaigners explaining how much less repugnant he is than Paul or Romney. The election may hinge on this question.

58

basil 01.11.12 at 2:52 pm

I understood Greenwald’s piece to ask that the American voter consider both the global and the local impact of his vote, so whereas Paul’s proposals may be abhorrent in the local context, Obama’s would have a similar impact in the global one.

This should then extend to the American voters’ calculation on what they could live with morally, and what effect their holding their noses and choosing either Paul or Obama (this is wholly hypothetical vote) would have on their and other people’s lives. For example, would Paul’s ideas on Medicare or the EPA make it past Congress, and what kind of resistance could be put up against them there. Would Paul be more effective on foreign policy, an area in which progressives have learned over the years that popular resistance or even Congress has very little if any influence?

I am not sure Marc quite understands how foreign aid works, and in particular American foreign aid. Take out the bit that’s military aid to Middle Eastern states, take out that chunk that goes back to US companies in payroll, equipment and profits and there’s very little that’s actually changing lives in the poorest countries.

Overall, as a non-American and perhaps not as sensitive to US history and its impact on present politics as an American would be, I am unimpressed with the argument that a states-rights agenda necessarily hands power to conservatives and intrigued by the possibilities of bringing power closer to the people. Thinking about say gay rights or the death penalty or even health-care, I’m persuaded that there’s more scope for progressives to influence politics in a way that remedies present inequalities and their effects at state level than at national level. I believe for example that there would be several ideas on local alternatives to replace the welfare state’s interventions.

I’m also not convinced that challenging the Fed is bad for progressives or anyone who’s concerned about increasing economic and political inequality in the United States. It seems to me overall that an Obama defeat, raised in comments as an unthinkable horror, would return American progressives and liberals to their position under GWB’s reign, when they were united in building movements that oppose war, torture, elite capture of the state and the economy and not squabbling over the motivations of those who called out evil when they saw it. I think there’s lasting damage that is done to movements for people power when a Democrat is in office. How powerful would Occupy be under a Republican administration? Where is MoveOn.org in today’s politics?

But more than anything else, I’d think that US progressives, long despairing of the way the two-party system has put many issues dear to them outside of the scope of contested politics, would be happy that anyone, even an unrepentant racist, was returning them there.

59

basil 01.11.12 at 2:57 pm

Also, I think Greenwald, and others, have put forward evidence to show there’s already a silent, covert war against Iran.

60

Uncle Kvetch 01.11.12 at 3:00 pm

It seems to me overall that an Obama defeat, raised in comments as an unthinkable horror, would return American progressives and liberals to their position under GWB’s reign, when they were united in building movements that oppose war, torture, elite capture of the state and the economy

All of which movements were utterly ineffectual in actually stopping war, torture, or elite capture. This is a good thing?

61

Guido Nius 01.11.12 at 3:11 pm

If you are presented with two choices you have three options: choose the best one out of those you are presented with, walk away or challenge the choice you are being faced with.

Theoretically you also can choose the worst one of those you are presented with and you may interpret this as a challenge to the choices you are presented with. The latter is very common in modern elections but being common isn’t mutually exclusive with stupidity.

62

basil 01.11.12 at 3:24 pm

Uncle Kvetch @ 60,

I’d say that they were building up to something that could be effective in turning things back or away from the path they are/were set to run on. The building and sustenance of these movements certainly seems much more promising than the surrender that the US left is being recruited into.

When HRC said something about obliterating Iran in 2008, I remember the strong negative reaction from many in the US left, rather US progressives and liberals and even from Obama. Now, I see people pretending that the Dems don’t want war with Iran.

Back then, I seem to remember both McCain and Obama rejecting torture, now we’re pretending it doesn’t happen any more. The movements of the time pressed Obama into declaring he’d close Guantanamo, now he’s expanding Bagram and not closing Guantanamo. Also the NDAA.

The list is endless. I think the coming US election will be denied the impact of those movements in shaping debate and on the American public’s awareness/ acknowledgement of many of these very real issues. The tangible result of movements’ work is often very long in coming.

63

Uncle Kvetch 01.11.12 at 3:49 pm

I see your point, basil, and I’d like to think you’re right in saying that these movements, however ineffectual they may be in the short term, are laying the groundwork for long-term change. But it’s hard to see from here. In the short term, all the movements accomplished was getting Obama to pander to his base with promises he had no intention* of fulfilling. That just undermines those movements you’re talking about and drives the base into a kind of learned helplessness. Which is about where I am right now.

*It should be pointed out that there are left-leaning bloggers like the ones at Lawyers, Guns and Money who make a compelling case that Obama couldn’t have closed Guantanamo or instituted a single-payer health insurance system even if he wanted to, because of various institutional constraints on his power. That takes some of the onus off Obama, but leads inevitably to the conclusion that our political system is so utterly dysfunctional and rotten that Obama is the absolute best we could ever hope for. Which brings us back to that whole learned helplessness thing.

64

Salient 01.11.12 at 6:01 pm

What does that one vote every four yeara actually do?

It lets me (honestly) say I am lefty and I vote, which means there’s more reason for candidates to court me, or at least give me the time of day. (This seems to matter mostly when visiting campaign stops and/or town hall visits, where being able to say “I voted for you” gets one at least sort of listened-to, or at least acknowledged.)

It lets me (honestly) say I am lefty but I voted, which helps buy the ears of self-described moderates that buy into enough patriotic claptrap to not want to listen to someone so radical that they withheld their vote.

“Votes don’t influence outcomes” works both ways; if my vote’s not influential but I personally get something out of voting for lesser evil, even just a smidgen of social access, then I might as well.

65

Antonio Conselheiro 01.11.12 at 6:16 pm

The LGM people, especially Lemieux, are the people I had in mind in #47.

People who want me to vote for Obama should avoid these two arguments:

1. You were really an idiot if you hoped that Obama would be any better than he is.
2. Vote for four more years of powerlessness!

Democrats have become far, far too good at making excuses and blaming others. And I see an excuse-based Obama campaign this year, followed by four years of blaming liberals for his defeat.

66

politicalfootball 01.11.12 at 8:09 pm

js@54: I think I understand the impulse to defend the candidate of your choice—-the other option can seem quite unnerving.

We’ve got two threads going on this right now, and I think I confronted this issue over here.

The short version: If you want to make common cause with 51% of American voters, you’re inevitably going to end up signing on for some pretty noxious policy positions. To the extent the U.S. is democratic, that’s just built into the system.

67

politicalfootball 01.11.12 at 8:10 pm

followed by four years of blaming liberals for his defeat.

Ah, but if we’re better off without Obama, maybe liberals will be getting credit for his defeat.

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Steve Williams 01.12.12 at 1:54 am

Mrs Tilton@53

‘without in any way endorsing Marc’s views, it would probably be fair to point out that the “Black Hitler” trope he uses originated with the indispensible Roy Edroso, who used it in opposing Greenwald and supporting Obama (for certain values of “supporting”).’

My apologies for my misunderstanding. I thought it was Marc’s strawman, but it wasn’t. My mistake.

I just want to say that my views have been expressed far better than I could by Antonio Conselheiro in this thread. His point about the 2 bad arguments @65 just about covers it, really.

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