Monday, December 31, 2007

Ron Paul's Immigration Misfire

Since there is only One of woman born who was perfect, it's hardly a news bulletin that Ron Paul, though a decent and principled man, is susceptible to error.

It's easy to make allowances where Dr. Paul is simply mistaken, since he has proven repeatedly that he's willing to change his views as dictated by the facts, while remaining true to his principles. But it is disappointing to see him succumb to the impulse to pander to a certain slice of the GOP's activist base, as is the case with his most recent campaign ad on immigration policy. (See it here or at the bottom of this essay.)

One suitable definition of the verb “to pander” would be: “To promise something clearly impossible in the hopes of winning votes.” By that definition relatively little in that advertisement qualifies as pandering.

Three elements of the five-point plan recommended by the ad – no amnesty for illegal immigrants, no welfare benefits for the same, and an end to “birthright citizenship” -- are either sound or at least defensible. But they are sandwiched between two thick, crusty slices of pure pandering – the promise to secure the border physically, and to end “student visas from terrorist nations.”

It's always a bad sign when a candidate begins his pitch by offering something that is impossible. It is entirely impossible to create a physical barricade around our nation that will prevent illegal immigration. Attempting to do so (as I've pointed out before) will cause immense harm to the property rights of American citizens who live near the border. And with the Regime increasingly taking on the character of an undisguised garrison state, do we really want it to be in the business of sealing up the border?

Dr. Paul, an immensely intelligent man, knows all of this, which is why this element of his ad is particularly disappointing.

In his critique of the Paul campaign ad, Justin Raimondo correctly points out that the second slice of unmitigated pandering – the promise to end “student visas from terrorist nations” -- traffics in “the concept of collective guilt....[I]s every citizen of these unnamed `terrorist nations' to be declared persona non grata on account of the actions of a minuscule number of their countrymen?”

If we're going to get into the business of assigning collective national guilt for the terrorist actions of a few, how could we object if Americans were subject to international travel restrictions because of the crimes committed by Bush and Cheney and their ilk?

While the other points presented in the ad are worthier of Dr. Paul, the same can't be said of their presentation. The imagery of dusky-skinned immigrants swarming into the country is a classic Brown Peril trope, as is the ominous voice-over informing us: “Today, illegal immigrants violate our borders and overwhelm our hospitals, schools, and social services.”

Why the border fence won't work, assuming it's ever built.

Speaking on his own behalf in the Republican debates, Dr. Paul has dealt with the same subject in a way that addresses the fundamental economics of the issue: We cannot have a centralized welfare state and a fiat money economy and long, permeable borders without having immigration-related problems of the sort under discussion.

Witness Dr. Paul's comments during the Univision debate earlier this month. Taking issue with the idea of a “tamper-proof ID for illegals or immigrants,” which he said (correctly) would lead to a national ID card, Dr. Paul offered a brief lecture on the economics of immigration:

“But we have to realize where the resentment [against illegal immigrants] comes from. I believe it's related to our economy. When the economy is weakening and there's resentment because of our welfare system – jobs are going overseas; our good jobs, [and] pay is going down.... There's a lot of resentments because the welfare system is based on mandates from the federal government to put pressure on states like Florida and Texas to provide services which the local taxpayers resent. Some of our hospitals are closing. So it's an economic issue, too. If we deal with the welfare state and a healthy economy and a sound money [system] and all this wasteful spending overseas, we would have a healthy economy; I think this problem [with illegal immigration] would be greatly reduced.” (Emphasis added.)

This analysis puts the blame for overburdened “hospitals, schools, and social services” on the central government and its onerous mandates, rather than placing it entirely on the backs of the swarthy northbound masses from Latin America.

Lest it be thought that Dr. Paul was pandering in that answer – seeking to ingratiate himself in a Spanish-language debate before a Latino audience – it's worth recalling what he did just a few minutes later.

In one of the most insanely courageous acts of political principle I've ever seen, Dr. Paul – speaking in the teeth of outraged boos from the audience – defended re-opening diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba and Venezuela on the basis of the principles laid down by George Washington. He then managed to win over at least part of the house by explaining that “we create the Chavezes of the world, we create the Castros of the world, by interfering and creating chaos in their countries” -- a process which also does quite a bit to generate pressures that lead to illegal immigration.

In an interview with Newsweek, Dr. Paul reflected on the fact that as an obstetrician (is there any profession that can more properly be described as “doing God's work”?) he delivered children now referred to as “anchor babies” -- US citizens born to parents here illegally – who were “immediately put on [welfare] benefits. They can get housing allowances, food allowances, and Americans resent it because our economy is weak.... I want a healthy economy. Then we will be able to have a much more generous immigration policy, which would fit my personal philosophy and our Constitution.” (Again, emphasis added.)

Perhaps his clearest expression of this point came in Dr. Paul's interview with an Iowa newspaper editorial board, in which he elaborated on the dangers of government-enforced multiculturalism, including compelled bilingualism and welfare benefits for non-citizens.

Something to remember, lest we get just a
little too sanctimonious in decrying the immigrant "invasion"....

After reiterating his complaints about the impact of those policies on local communities, Dr. Paul cut to what he considers the nub of the issue: "I'm also convinced that if we didn't have the welfare state, this would be a non-issue. If we had sound money, no welfare state, and we were thriving.... It's because we're having these economic problems that I say the illegal alien becomes an easy scapegoat."

There's the word that only Ron Paul, of all the Republican contenders, would have the candor and credibility to use. And that's the word, tragically, that best summarizes the use of illegal immigration in the most recent Paul campaign ad.

That ad is redolent of the influence of opportunistic PR flacks -- people who reflexively seek to blunt principled messages, as if they're afraid of cutting themselves on sharply defined positions. It certainly doesn't reflect what Dr. Paul has described as his "personal philosophy" regarding the issue. It also suggests that Dr. Paul needs to impose some message discipline on his campaign right now, before it falls victim to consultants and others lured by his fundraising achievements -- the sort of people who would re-brand him as the thinking man's Tom Tancredo, as if such a creature could exist.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Establishment "Libertarianism": Better Living Through State Aggression

Father Abraham, Progenitor of the Modern Fascist State
-- a fact attested by the Roman-style fasces displayed in this familiar monument in the Lincoln Memorial.

(Thanks to Lew Rockwell for pointing out this significant artistic detail.)

When it comes to the matter of individual liberty, there is no fact too conspicuous, or principle of logic too obvious, to escape James Taranto's understanding.

Responding with canine servility to the command that he attack Ron Paul (Taranto didn't need a memo, a dog whistle was sufficient), the Wall Street Journal columnist dutifully produced a brief broadside accusing the Congressman of being a bogus libertarian because Dr. Paul doesn't burn incense at the shrine of Abraham Lincoln, or support the proto-totalitarian 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Taranto offered a poorly performed grace note to his essay in the form of an insipid gibe:

As the old joke goes, if you want to find out if someone's really a libertarian, ask him: Do you think children should be allowed to buy heroin from vending machines? A real libertarian will answer: Only if the vending machines are privately owned.”

The urbane James Taranto, our infallible tutor in the ways of "true" libertarianism.

An honest formulation of that question would destroy the punchline, such as it is, because a genuine libertarian would respond by asking, “By what authority does the government forbid the consumption of heroin?”

A libertarian of a federalist bent – and Dr. Paul is the most consistent exemplar of that tendency – would point out that, while the powers reserved by the Constitution to states and communities would include the power to regulate or forbid drug consumption (whatever one thinks of the wisdom of such a policy), the federal government has no proper role here. A libertarian of minarchist or anarchist persuasion would insist that no government of any kind has a proper role in regulating drug consumption.

Those views all take into consideration the fundamental insight of libertarianism: Government is, at all times and in all circumstances, the single greatest threat to freedom, property (beginning with one's person), and social harmony.

Taranto, however, insists that the federal government, through the so-called Civil Rights* Act, was “siding with liberty against government-enforced oppression” in the Jim Crow South.

That system of petty apartheid was fraught with pointless cruelties and pointed indignities. But given the economic and social costs of maintaining Jim Crow, it's perfectly reasonable to believe that it was susceptible to reform and abolition through means other than federal intervention (as Martin Luther King, Jr. may have understood before he became the figurehead of a movement devoted to abolishing federalism). When the "civil rights" movement decided to enlist the power of Beelzebub to cast out a smaller devil, did it really expect that Beelzebub would still be enthroned decades after Jim Crow perished?

It's worth reflecting on a largely ignored point raised by Dr. Paul in his Meet the Press interview: Like the Black Codes that preceded it, the Jim Crow system in the southern states was inspired and fortified by the predictable generational hatred growing out of a war that killed 600,000 Americans, and the vicious occupation that followed in the name of "Reconstruction."

And the war itself was not begun as a campaign of liberation, but one of conquest and consolidation: Lincoln's view -- contradicted by the best scholarship of the pre-war period, and by explicit provisions in some state constitutions (Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island) -- was that the states, as fully digested components of a unitary government, had no right to secede.

Once the campaign to “restore the Union” (actually, to transmute it into a centrally ruled monolith) was underway, it was cynically re-defined as a campaign to end chattel slavery, an objective Lincoln resisted as long as it was politically feasible to do so. (It's worth pointing out that by introducing the military draft and the first income tax, the Civil War created precedents for institutionalizing slavery, rather than abolishing it.)

The re-definition of the Union's war aims actually undermined the cause of individual liberty by claiming on behalf of the central government the power -- both in war and during Reconstruction -- to reconfigure social customs within the states that created it, and to police private relationships apart from the odious and unlamented custom of chattel slavery.

There is a large and growing corpus of revisionist works on Lincon's war, not all of which have been produced by libertarian or paleo-conservative authors. One of the most provocative of those books is Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy, by George P. Fletcher, a Marxist Columbia University School of Law professor.

Fletcher sounds very much like a libertarian or paleo-con critic of Lincoln, in that he insists that Father Abraham's true purpose was not to restore the constitutional union, but to create a new order – one born from successful and continuing aggression by the central government against the states of the union and the people of the country.

The new order inherits an operating Congress, Executive, and Judiciary,” writes Fletcher, and although federal institutions have been “recast in new functions, the forms remained the same.” Behind a change in federal functions is a new ruling ideology, in which the central government elite now acts on “the consciousness of setting forth a new framework of government, a structure based on values fundamentally different from those that went before.”

The heart of the new consensus is that the federal government, victorious in warfare, must continue its aggressive intervention in the lives of its citizens,” writes Fletcher approvingly. As written in 1787, ratified by the states, and generally understood today, the Founders' Constitution was proscriptive, defining the few and specific things the people would permit government to do, and forbidding government action beyond such license. This was changed by Lincoln's war, according to Fletcher, since “the liberty that comes to the fore in the intended postbellum constitutional order and under the Secret Constitution requires the intervention of government. Liberty is born in the state's assertion of responsibility to oversee and prevent relationships of oppression.” (Emphasis added.)

Liberty,” on this construction, is the gift of the state, requires the state's constant supervision, and is provided through state coercion. This view could be digested into a doxology: Wherever the spirit of state coercion can be found, there is liberty. Then again, Mussolini's famous dictum captures the essence of Fletcher's views quite tidily: Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

I grant that Fletcher is not the official spokesman for the Cult of Lincoln (he is infinitely more readable than the demented Harry Jaffa, who presently occupies that post) – but he expounds the central tenet of that cult with commendable candor: One is “free” only to the extent he supports, and is subject to, unlimited aggression by the infinitely wise and and peerlessly noble people who preside over the central government in the name of freedom.

Of course this means allowing the central government to dictate the limits of one's property rights, associations, public speech, and even private opinions in the name of combating “discrimination.” But it also means being willing to consecrate all with which the state has blessed him – including his wealthy, property, and even his own life or the lives of his children, if necessary – to the prosecution of wars of “liberation” abroad.

This gospel of “liberation” was first preached by the rulers of revolutionary France, as David Bell points out in his valuable book The First Total War (about which I'll have more to say on a future occasion). But because of Lincoln's war, the government ruling the United States of America would eventually become the most powerful and aggressive promoter of that doctrine (once other contenders, such as the Soviet Union, dropped out of competition).

(Continues after break)

"I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo," wrote English historian John Dalberg Acton in a November 1866 letter to Robert E. Lee. Lord Acton recognized that the triumphant Union embodied the same revolutionary doctrine of "liberation" through aggression that had propelled Bonaparte's campaigns.

In a December 1866 letter to the English historian Lord Acton, Robert E. Lee presciently lamented “the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”

Once a government gets in the business of “liberating” people through aggression, it will only get out of that business if forced to through external conquest or national bankruptcy. The latter is nigh on arrival, making the former -- which, as Lincoln himself observed, was once all but unthinkable -- a dim but valid possibility, albeit in the form of re-possession by foreign creditors.

Such as the consequences of Establishment-approved "libertarianism," as preached by seers and savants such as James Taranto.


*The Framers understood that the central government, particularly its instruments of coercion, would be the single greatest threat to destroy what Hamilton called (see the Federalist, essay number 8) the "civil and political rights" of individuals. This is why the political instrument called the "Civil Rights Act" is a masterpiece of Orwellian manipulation.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ron Paul: The Smearbund Hates What It Can't Control and Doesn't Understand (Updated, 12/26)

Uncompromising men are easy to admire. They have courage – so has a dog. But it is precisely the ability to compromise that makes men noble.”

The Earl of Carrick, leprosy-stricken and utterly amoral father to King Robert I of Scotland, as (plausibly) depicted in the film Braveheart

The proverbial “Hand” that manipulates public opinion may be invisible, but it is readily detected by those who consume the news with any degree of critical intelligence. The Invisible Hand has rarely been less subtle than it's been during the past several days when it has summoned into existence a classic hate campaign against Ron Paul. The Hand has assumed a very familiar configuration – a pointing finger of spurious accusation at the end of a limp wrist.

In using the term “Invisible Hand” I do not mean that we are seeing the product of a highly organized conspiracy, with dozens or hundreds of people working with Jesuitical guile and Prussian efficiency. It is most likely a “conspiracy” in the precise etymological sense of the expression – a large group of people “breathing together,” or sharing the same inspiration.

It is certainly possible that “Mordor sent out the memo the libel Ron Paul,” in the words of the somewhat (but not entirely facetious) comment by the estimable Lew Rockwell. But whether or not a specific directive was handed down, it's certain that there has been a distinct change in the direction of the prevailing suck-up wind. Pundits, power brokers, and blogosphere second-handers know that in order to cultivate the favor of an alarmed but potent Power Elite it's necessary to join in the unfolding smear of Ron Paul. The result has been a torrential outpouring of unfiltered ... well, in the interests of decorum, suffice it to say that it's been a real colon-full.

The currency of this smear is the language of guilty insinuation, denominated in hints, winks, smirks, and “I'm-just-passing-this-along” deniable libels. None of the people giving circulation to the charge that Dr. Paul is somehow “linked” to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups appears to believe that Paul himself harbors such views or impulses. This includes Don Black and others of that persuasion who are, as my perceptive friend Tom Eddlem points out, most likely looking for the free publicity they've obtained from Paul's detractors. (There is, as I've noted, an imperceptibly small chance that the Stormfront set might convert to libertarianism,which would require a complete re-examination of their premises.)

The first to put a whetted finger to the suck-up wind, and the source of some of the seminal smears against Ron Paul, was Eric Dondero, a former staff aide to Paul who has announced his intention to run for Paul's congressional seat.

Dondero's resume proudly boasts that he's a “20-year federal appointee [to the] Selective Service Board” for the Houston area. Authentic liberty activists seek the abolition of the SSS, not a seat at the table on the local draft board.

[Correction, 12/26: As can be seen in the comments section below, Mr. Dondero insists that his objective in taking a seat on the draft board was to help bring about the end of the SSS. Since he is the expert regarding his own motives, I accept that explanation -- while pointing out that the militarist foreign policy Dondero supports -- see below -- will eventually require conscription.

And as long as we're in the business of corrections and clarifications, I will exploit this opportunity to encourage Mr. Dondero to begin what would be the long and daunting task of fumigating the blogosphere to abate the foul-smelling insinuations he has made regarding Ron Paul's supposed anti-Semitism. A good place to begin would be to retract his misrepresentations regarding Dr. Paul's views of foreign aid -- again, see below. I would hope that Mr. Dondero's zeal for accuracy would not be purely self-serving. -- WNG]

But Dondero's soi-disant “mainstream libertarianism” makes generous allowance for imperial militarism: Like a number of celebrity libertarians, Donadero seems to believe that it's possible to have minimalist government at home while following a foreign policy of endless and unlimited interventionism. Or it's possible that he doesn't care at all about intellectual consistency, and he's just in the habit of spitting out words to watch them splatter.

Dondero announced his desire to unseat Dr. Paul following the now-famous confrontation between the good Doctor and the Demented Rudy Giuliani over the origins of the 9-11 attack.

That isn't a kilt, folks: Rudy Giuliani, Eric Dondero's vision of martial virtue, appearing -- as he frequently has -- in drag.

“I have spent the early morning scanning the major political blogs, and news sites,” wrote Dondero on, which is sort of a cyber-Volkischer Beobachter for Red State Fascists. “It's unanimous," declared Dondero after a small poll of people who agree with him. "Ron Paul got slammed by Rudy Giuliani last night for suggesting that we - the United States of America - are to blame for the attacks on 9/11. He even had the audacity to cite Osama bin Laden.”

One of the basic understandings shared by all libertarians is that the people of our country, and the government ruling us, are not identical, and our interests very rarely – if ever – coincide. Ron Paul has underscored that principle by pointing out that the attack on innocent Americans that took place on 9-11 was in large measure “blowback” from Washington's decades of foreign adventurism.

Although it requires a certain kind of dogmatic ignorance to do so, I can imagine how someone of a certain political bent could regard the government to be completely blameless in its foreign policy, and insist that its actions abroad have no material connection to 9-11. A person of that sort, however, couldn't honestly call himself a libertarian.

Dondero, it should be noted, wrote in the immediate aftermath of the first debate, in apparent anticipation that the machinery of mass conformity would make quick work of Dr. Paul. He described the exchange as “a horrible moment for Ron Paul. My former boss looked like a complete nutcase. He looked frail. His hands shaked [sic]. He showed his age. He was completely unprepared for Giuliani's romping response.”

Well.... not exactly. More than half a year later it's clear that Dr. Paul – whose demeanor was actually quite composed, and who made his points with plangent conviction – impressed millions of Americans (and millions more abroad) by the courage and decency he displayed in that exchange. He has become an increasingly effective spokesman of truths largely unspoken – about the Constitution, about the Federal Reserve, about our impending descent into bankruptcy and ruin.

Uncompromising men are easy to admire. This is why those accustomed to compromise feel such urgency to compromise them somehow or, failing that, to traduce them by any means necessary.

Dondero takes credit for inducing Rep. Paul to cast one of the few votes with which I've taken issue, and one he now publicly regrets – his “yes” vote on the post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force. Although described as authorizing military action against Afghanistan, the AUMF is now widely recognized as little less than an Enabling Act – in the Reichstag Fire sense of the expression, if you will.

Donadero, who is Jewish, has likewise been chumming the waters with greasy intimations that Dr. Paul is anti-Semitic. Donadero claims that Paul was somehow guilty of tokenism in hiring him and using him as his “Jewish staffer,” even though he admits Paul had no idea he was Jewish until after hiring him.

Ron and I finally departed [sic] ways, partly because I was ashamed to work for such an explicitly anti-Israel advocate,” Donadero wrote on one occasion in typically malapropism-strewn prose. “If you still doubt his anti-Jewish/anti-Israel views, ask yourself this question: Why is it that when Ron Paul talks about the evils of taxpayer dollars going overseas for foreign aid, he only singles out Israel as a recipient? Why does he never mention the billions we send each year to Egypt for foreign aide?[Sic] Turkey, the Palestinians, other Nations?”

Leaving aside, for the nonce, the fact that Israeli government is by far the largest and most influential aid recipient (that nation's people don't benefit therefrom), it's a lie at once bold and inept to say that Paul has been fixated only on Washington's aid to Israel. Consider this 2006 essay which doesn't mention Israel, and condemns foreign aid for enriching domestic middle men in this country.

Consider as well this essay from last January – several months prior to Donadero's above-cited denunciation.

In that piece, the congressman protests: “We give Israel about $3 billion each year, but we also give Egypt $2 billion. Most other Middle East countries get money too, some of which ends up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists....Our foolish and unconstitutional foreign aid has produced more violence, not less. Congress and each successive administration pledge their political, financial, and military support for Israel. Yet while we call ourselves a strong ally of the Israeli people, we send billions in foreign aid every year to some Muslim states that many Israelis regard as enemies. From the Israeli point of view, many of the same Islamic nations we fund with our tax dollars want to destroy the Jewish state. Many average Israelis and American Jews see America as hypocritically hedging its bets.”

Even more germane to this discussion is a long and thoughtful speech given by Dr. Paul on September 25, 2001 – while Donadero was on Paul's staff – in which he condemned, in detail and at great length, financial and military aid given to various radical Islamic states and movements; in that speech he doesn't mention Israel at all, which is a curious omission for someone so fixated on that nation, as Donadero would have us believe.

Like others who seek to bemerde the name and character of Ron Paul, Donadero accuses the mild and principled doctor of being obsessed with Israel because he doesn't share their obsession with that foreign state. (Rudolph Giuliani, incidentally, has surrounded himself with such people.) Paul obviously and indisputably wants to see the Middle East at peace, which would certainly be to the benefit of the Israelis, as well as everyone else in the region. Dr. Paul has expressed understandable misgivings about the process through which the United Nations created the modern nation-state of Israel.

But his chief concern is to extricate the United States from its entanglements in the region because he is convinced that our national interests – which is to say, the interests of the individuals who compose our nation, rather than its ruling elite – requires it.

Robert the Bruce in Battle: Although he equivocated in his career, and even signed a dishonorable peace accord with England's King Edward I, The Bruce found his true calling at Bannockburn, winning his country's independence in 1314.

Ron Paul is obsessed with individual liberty and prosperity, national independence, and international peace. As someone consumed with principle rather than individual ambition, he's willing to retain his integrity and lose, rather than compromise and "win" politically. This makes him utterly incomprehensible to the Smearbund -- and it may make him invulnerable to their tactics.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Hopelessness of Neil Cavuto

[Caveat lector: There is a photograph below that can properly be considered offensive. It is included here to illustrate a point, not to cater to prurient interests. ]

Nature played a vicious trick on Neil Cavuto by making him a near clone of Eddie Munster. Being victimized by a cruel caprice of that kind should be sufficient hardship for one lifetime. But Mr. Cavuto has also had to contend with both cancer and multiple sclerosis, beating the former and enduring the latter with commendable grace.

I suspect that there is a decent and knowledgeable man behind Mr. Cavuto's television persona. Tragically, the corporate (and corporatist) culture of Fox News apparently requires him to keep those facets well-hidden, as befits someone cast in the role of a media herd-poisoner.

His calling is to fling State-glorifying slogans and sound-bites at his audience, and, where appropriate, to act as a kind of media prosecutor when dealing with public figures who threaten to infect the public with unauthorized opinions.

It was in that latter role that Cavuto attempted to put Ron Paul on the defensive regarding a $500 donation to the Paul presidential campaign by white supremacist Don Black, who operates the Stormfront neo-Nazi website.

By focusing on this one aberrant contribution, Cavuto – or, most likely, those who sign his paycheck and determine the specific length of his leash – wanted to convey the impression that the significance of that donation eclipses the Paul campaign's accomplishment of collecting roughly $18 million, most of it in very small individual amounts, in a fund-raising drive that is being carried out almost entirely by volunteers.

A related assumption here is that a $500 contribution from a marginalized, malodorous crank somehow trumps the huge donations the Paul campaign has received from active-duty and retired military personnel, who see the candidate as an heir to the patriotic foreign policy of Washington, Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Robert Taft.

Does Cavuto, or the other adolescents peddling this complaint, really believe that Ron Paul's allegiance could somehow be purchased by a white supremacist for a mere $500 investment? Of course not.

Apart from the mathematics of the proposition, Dr. Paul is either renowned or notorious for being inhospitable to lobbyists who seek to purchase his support in exchange for far larger blandishments. While other congress-entities are being plied with expensive lunches charged to K Street expense accounts, the abstemious Dr. Paul (who at 72 still has the physique of a state track champion) can be found in his Capitol Hill office eating an austere meal while working at his desk.

Rarely, if ever, has American politics produced a statesman less compatible with the politics of rent-seeking, or more thoroughly “over” himself, than Ron Paul. In tribute to his near-incorruptibility, the lobbyists who swarm the Imperial Capital, Dr. Paul have more or less written him off, their absence from his office being a singularly eloquent testimony to his character.

Mr. Paul does have standards regarding the money he'll accept. He will not vet private donors regarding their worldview, and will take their money as long as it is honestly and legally earned. He will not receive stolen property, however, which is why he won't accept "matching contributions" from the federal government.

Mr. Cavuto must have known at least some of this when he raised the issue of the tainted donation. He appeared to be a little ashamed and reluctant to broach the issue. And when he did, he fell victim to one of the most thorough and humiliating forensic demolitions ever captured on film – an experience that must have been made all the more painful by the polite and earnest way in which Dr. Paul applied the scalpel. (See below.)

We are taught by the Source of all wisdom that it is pointless and self-destructive to obsess over the mote in a neighbor's eye while our own vision is occluded by a beam. In this case, the comparison is not between a mote and a beam, but rather between a sub-microscopic particle of matter and an obstruction roughly the size of the Sears Tower.

Ron Paul's supposed offense was to accept an unsolicited donation – a minuscule amount, delivered in perfectly legal fashion – from a deservedly obscure figure who reeks of wretched opinions. His moral auditor is a figure who was among the most conspicuous supporters of an illegal, immoral war that has cost tens of thousands of lives, and the better part of a trillion dollars.

Neil Cavuto, moral tutor:
In keeping with the corporate priorities of his employer, the Fox "News" personality interviews two largely non-biodegradable participants in the "Lingerie Bowl."

In April 2003, Cavuto addressed a “Common Sense” segment to “all those who opposed the liberation [sic] of Iraq." At the time, Fox "News" was emitting a gale-force wind of flatulent flackery promoting the Dear Leader and his war. Cavuto did his part by regurgitating a thick slurry of partially digested triumphalist buzzwords.

I want to show you all the joyous scene in downtown Baghdad today,” he declared. “People oppressed. Now people free. People once hopeless. Now hopeful. People you forgot. But we remembered. If you had things your way, they'd still be under the thumb of a dictator. And you were fine with that. We were not. You had no problem telling them, live with it. We had a big problem telling them, get over it. Look at their faces. See their smiles. Feel their joy. Their freedom. Their fervor. How do you feel now? Still sure going the extra mile for them wasn't worth it? I don't think they'd agree.”

You were sickening then,” Cavuto concluded, referring to pre-war opposition to the invasion. “You're sickening now.”

Even at the time it was clear that "liberated" Iraq was about to descend into unalloyed barbarism. By now, four and a half years after Cavuto composed and recited his juvenile philipic, any honest and rational person would admit that the critics and opponents of the war at the very least had a point. There's no point in expecting as much from Cavuto, of course.

As someone who has done nothing to promote or advance Don Black's views, Ron Paul has no responsibility to apologize for them. Had he returned the check, Dr. Paul would not have placated those who feign offense over the donation. Instead, he would have given them fresh ammunition: The next talking point would be that the Paul campaign "had to return a donation from a neo-Nazi."

In this instance, the association was chosen by Black, who did so on Ron Paul's terms, rather than the reverse. Rather than inferring that Paul has been influenced by Black, it may be reasonable to hope that Black, after decades of devotion to bigotry, might succumb to the appeal of a movement (not just a candidate, a movement) that promotes liberty, prosperity, and peace for all people.

I grant that this is an anorexically slender hope. But on the available evidence, Don Black is more susceptible to reason than Neil Cavuto.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Of Course He's a Fascist

A little man in search of a balcony:
Mike Huckabee, practitioner of pseudo-Christian statism.

The gang at Fox & Friends was happily engaged in their familiar morning routine – applying a glaze of insipid cheerfulness to their network's authoritarian partisanship – when one of them made the mistake of asking Rep. Ron Paul about a campaign ad produced by a rival presidential aspirant, Mike Huckabee.

If the object of that odd query was to solicit a trite soundbite it was the wrong question to ask, and the wrong person of whom to ask it, given Dr. Paul's unflinching candor. Rather than indulging in the expected morning show banter, Dr. Paul offered this assessment of the Huckabee ad, in which the former Arkansas Governor, bathed in beatific light and flattered by the camera's soft focus, appears to have a cross floating over his shoulder:

"It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said. He says, 'when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.' Now I don't know whether that's a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using a cross, like he is the only Christian or implying that subtly. So, I don't think I would ever use anything like that."

By vowing never to use “anything like that” Dr. Paul was not foreswearing the use of Christian imagery in his campaign materials. He was effectively promising never to depict himself as the embodiment of Christian virtues and as God's anointed vessel of political redemption. That's a conceit that Huckabee embraced when he publicly attributed his recent political good fortune to the power of the One who miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the hungry multitudes.

But it was Dr. Paul's boldness in using the “F-word” that caused his hosts at Fox & Friends to suffer a brief fit of the vapors. It's not as if the inhabitants of the Fox News Universe are unfamiliar with the term; it's just that they have been programmed to assume that it can only be used in a purely historical context unless it follows the prefix “Islamo-.” The morning show pixies were pixilated that Dr. Paul would apply that term to a fellow Republican, even – or perhaps especially – one as deserving as Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee's "cross" wasn't the first artfully staged GOP photo-op.

Let there be no mistake: Huckabee, like every other major Republican presidential candidate save Dr. Paul, is unambiguously a fascist. He is an ardent supporter of the welfare/warfare/homeland security state and all of its works and pomps. His objective is to expand, not to diminish, the power of the State.

And Huckabee has displayed a perfectly abhorrent enthusiasm for State-sanctioned bloodshed: It was Huckabee who insisted that although the Iraq war was misbegotten, the “honor” of the government requires that the killing continue for the indefinite future. Just this morning (December 19), Huckabee expressed the view that Washington has used “underwhelming” force in Iraq, when victory requires overkill. And in reacting to a recent ad from the polyurethane candidate Mitt Romney, Huckabee boasted that he had signed sixteen death warrants as the Arkansas chief executive, "more than any other governor in my state's history."

That last fact offers a telling contrast between Dr. Paul (who was an obstetrician) and Rev. Huckabee. Dr. Paul's campaign literature highlights his role in bringing thousands of new lives into the world; Huckabee takes conspicuous pride in presiding over the execution of more than a dozen people. Even those who support the death penalty (a position I can't understand, given the corruption and viciousness of the Regime that rules us) should agree that trading on the death of human beings, even those who “deserved” it, for political advantage is entirely depraved.*

Here's the difference: Unlike other politicians, when Ron Paul admires a baby, he's not looking on the child as merely a future taxpayer or coffin-stuffer.

Celebrating the State's power over life and death is a familiar fascist theme, but not one exclusive to fascism. The same is true of the cynical co-mingling of politics and religion. To understand why Republican statists like Huckabee deserve the description “fascist” it's useful to review the analysis offered by John T. Flynn in his 1944 book As We Go Marching.

As a critic of the New Deal and one-time leader of the America First movement, Flynn was effectively blacklisted from the prestige press on the orders of FDR. Such obscurity was both frustrating and liberating, since a consummated threat no longer has the power to paralyze its target. Freed from worrying about the consequences of tactless truth-telling (for there is none so free as someone with nothing to lose), Flynn used As We Go Marching to dissect and document the kindred relationship between German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and the American equivalent that had its origins in the New Deal and was brought to malignant maturity during the war.

While stinting not at all in his loathing for Hitler and Mussolini, Flynn quite properly pointed out that “good fascists” like FDR and his clique represented a far more immediate threat to American liberty. As if specifically foretelling Mike Huckabee, Flynn also predicted that the future would bring those devoted to “the impossible task of purging fascism of its ugly features, cleaning it up, offering us a polite, religious, democratic fascism.” (Emphasis added.)

Flynn's brief description of fascism was a dictatorial political system “in which the government assumes responsibility for creating adequate purchasing power through the instrumentality of national debt and in which militarism is adopted as a great economic project for creating work as well as a great romantic project in the service of the imperialist state.”

What Flynn describes here was known – until the phrase became an embarrassment – as “National Greatness Conservatism.”

Flynn went on to list eight defining “devices” of the fascist system, however labeled and in whatever country it has taken root:

* “A government whose powers are unrestrained” -- what, if any, are the limits on government power currently recognized by Republicans?

* "A leader who is a dictator, absolute in power but responsible to the party which is a preferred elite";

*An economy in which property is privately owned, but politically controlled;

* The all-encompassing influence of “great government bureaus which have the power to make regulations or directives with the force of law”;

* The “socialization of investment” through “comprehensive integration of government and finances” -- a characteristic that has become quite salient during the era of Bush the Lesser;

*The creation of “streams of purchasing power by federal government borrowing and spending as a permanent institution” -- once again, a process that has thrived under the reign of "Borrow-and-Bomb" Bush;

*Militarism as an all-pervasive cultural attitude, and the military as a pillar of the industrial economy;

*Imperialism as the organizing principle of national life, whether overtly embraced or tacitly understood, with the population constantly presented “with some national crusade or adventure on the heroic model touching deeply the springs of chauvinistic pride, interest, and feeling.”

"Where these elements are found," concluded Flynn, "there is fascism, by whatever name the system is called.”

Apropos of Flynn's final point – the central role of “heroic” national crusades in a fascist political system -- it's worth noting that Huckabee recently told the New York Times that (in the paper's paraphrase) “the next president of the United States will have to lead Western civilization in a worldwide conflict with radical Islam.”

Huckabee, like Romney and Giuliani, doesn't see the president's role as one of seeking to mitigate conflicts, but rather that of maximizing them. He believes in subordinating the rights and interests of the individual to the power of the State and the ambitions of the political class; he assumes that the lives and property of Americans (not to mention those foreigners who would be on the receiving end of his belligerent piety) would be his to dispose of in whatever grandiose ventures “God” lays on his heart.

Were he a genuinely Christian statesman, Huckabee would recognize that our government for decades has eagerly courted Ruin, and Ruin is about to grant the government's entreaties. He would understand, and tell the truth about, the economic consequences of Washington's imperial foreign policy, and demand immediate and dramatic changes to it.

Changes will come, as the value of our currency evaporates and foreign coalitions take shape to rein in Washington's arrogant adventurism. It would be more desirable, of course, for change to come on terms favorable to individual freedom and national independence, but this would require a measure of humility foreign to the make-up of those who embrace pseudo-Christian statism.

The version of “Christian” statecraft that has prevailed under Bush II, and that would be taken up by Huckabee, has no use for truth and justice: It is preoccupied entirely with power – the power to conduct aggressive war; to order and carry out torture and indefinite detention; to bend the law to the whim of the Chief Executive; to confer material blessings on the powerful and privileged through government redistribution, both vulgar (as in the Iraqi "reconstruction" effort) and subtle (through monetary inflation).

This is what is hiding in the shadow of Huckabee's cross. And that's why only an authentic Christian statesman had the wisdom to perceive it, and the boldness to call it by its proper name.


*As to the question of who “deserves” death, remember that “all the souls that were were forfeit once, and He that might the vantage best have took found out the remedy....” Or, as Clint Eastwood's character William Munny in Unforgiven put it, after being told by a youth that a man Munny had killed “had it coming”: “We all have it coming, kid.”

Dum spiro, pugno!