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January 14, 2008

More Ron-ness

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Some red meat for those fascinated by the Ron Paul story.

Lester Hunt -- who has followed Ron Paul's career for many years and who has met the man too -- has published some shrewd and tough-minded musings. Steve Sailer shines a light on the "Bizarro World" vision that drives New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz, the man who published Jamie Kirchick's article about Ron Paul's newsletters.

Steve also reminds us of the average age of the New Republic's know-it-all political-news staffers. Me, I never fail to use the term "wet behind the ears" when referring to The New Republic. Nothing quite like taking the opinions of Ivy brats who are barely out of their teens seriously, is there?



posted by Michael at January 14, 2008

Nothing quite like taking the opinions of Ivy brats who are barely out of their teens seriously, is there?

You're barking up the wrong tree. The article in the New Republic wasn't an op-ed or opinion piece where the subjective political biases of the author is assumed. The article was totally fact-based. I've read quite a bit of the commentary from Paulites about Kirchick's article, and I have yet to see the facts discredited.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 14, 2008 8:25 PM

Peter -- I don't think anyone has disputed the direct quotes in Kirchick's article, have they? Certainly not me, not even Ron Paul. So I'm not sure what your point is. I do think that, if you're accepting the Kirchick article as a heavily-pondered, well-adjudicated piece of "objective journalism," you're being a little silly. It's a political shot, fired by a political magazine that's headed by a man with strong biases and that's staffed by eager-to-be-noticed, ambitious Harvard and Yale brats. You don't think it's a coincidence that the article was published on the eve of the primaries, do you? Or that Peretz is gung-ho for military action in the mideast while Ron Paul is the one hardline antiwar candidate? Nothing wrong with any of this, of course. At the same time, it doesn't hurt to know these things either.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2008 9:33 PM

The attack against Paul follows a typical pattern of attacks by D.C. social networks against those who threaten them. The pattern goes far back in history. Their favorite tool is taboo-mongering, now known as political correctness.

Political correctness in political debate is a very strong signal of statism. In the mind of a statist, something is either required or banned. Either homosexual behavior is banned or it is required that everybody respect homosexual behavior. Either races are discriminated against by law or it is required that everybody treat races as equal in their own decisions. Statism, exemplified by its ideology of political correctness, recognizes no middle ground where all preferences and tastes can be respected by law. In the world of the statist, racial equality under law cannot occur without expunging private racial discrimination by screaming taboo and force of law, nor can homosexuals “be equal” unless everybody is forced to recognize homosexual marriages.

In a world of liberty homosexual freedom and “homophobia” would coexist. Racial equality under law and racial discrimination in personal decisions by those who prefer such discrimination would coexist. Neither side would need to feel politically threatened by the other. All persons could satisfy their preferences, whether “vices” or “bigotry” or otherwise, as long as they are not initiating force.

More at my new blog,

Posted by: formerbeltwaywonk on January 14, 2008 10:37 PM

My point is that Peretz's political motive, which you infer from what I think is weak circumstantial evidence, for publishing an article critical of Ron Paul is completely irrelevant, at least to me. Peretz and the New Republic may hate Ron Paul and wish to destroy him, but if Kirchick hadn't turned up the facts against Paul, there would be no article, no matter how powerful Peretz's motivation was.

The New Republic merely pulled back the curtain to reveal the real Ron Paul. Maybe I misunderstand you, but you seem to think the reasons for publishing this now has some bearing on the validity of it's content or relevance. I don't. Also, as to the timing of its publication, the magazine is simply taking advantage of the same upsurge of attention that CNN and the rest of the msm have recently shown to Paul. The article could have been written in 2005, but nobody was interested in Paul then and he displayed no political viability until very recently.

I'm amused by the paranoia needed to conjure up an image of Martin Peretz, rubbing his hands together like Simon Legree, so worried and preoccupied with the nearly impossible prospect of Paul becoming president and, by executive fiat, cutting off Israel's yearly military subsidy (which, for the record, I oppose), that he made it his mission to seek out and assign little Jamie "Rottweiler" Kirchick to take down Ron Paul. I can just see Peretz now, sending Kirchick on his mission: "Get out there, Kirchick and get the goods on Paul. And remember, if you don't tear the last scap of flesh from his bones, don't bother coming back! You'll never work in the Beltway press again if you don't."

LOL. I am reminded of the late Jim Garrison, who believed that the critics of his fraudulent JFK conspiracy trial were CIA assets determined to stop him from bringing the real killers and the shadow government they colluded with to their knees. For many, there must always be a secret agenda.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 15, 2008 4:35 AM

As usual, M.Blowhard just stopped short of pointing finger at "Israeli lobby".

Yeah, it's the Joooes.

Posted by: Tatyana on January 15, 2008 9:59 AM

As usual, I bomb out on these political arguments. (Although I've got to say, Tatyana, that as we approach a possible nuclear exchange with the Arab world over Israel, I don't think any type of political dialogue should be taboo. We're talking about the potential for millions of casualties.)

Years and years ago, I steeped myself in political argument. Now, I can barely stay awake through it all. I've lost the belief that it's really that important for me to have an opinion. In general, I'm in favor of my self-interest, and I don't care much beyond that.

My wife's death took all the steam out of me when it comes to political fighting. What does it matter, all of these intellectual arguments? We all have differing self-interests, and it is human to demonize those who don't want to play to our self-interest. We all pretend to understand the inner psychological workings of the people we hate... and I don't find these types of arguments very convincing.

As much as I like Sailer, if his articles exceed four paragraphs, I stop reading. The broader he casts his net, the less he has to say. This is true of just about all pundits. The briefer the better.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on January 15, 2008 10:34 AM

PLW -- "My point is that Peretz's political motive, which you infer from what I think is weak circumstantial evidence, for publishing an article critical of Ron Paul is completely irrelevant, at least to me." Fair enough, though Peretz's character and motives have been established in a general way over and over again, often by people who know him or have worked with him.

"The New Republic merely pulled back the curtain to reveal the real Ron Paul." Debatable. Testimony from lots of people who have known Ron Paul personally has cropped up to the effect that they have never, ever seen anything like racism or nutcase-ism in the man. In other words, from what evidence we have, "neglect" is as likely an explanation for the newsletters as anything else. But maybe "neglect" is part of the "real Ron Paul" too? But if you have proof that in his spare time, and alone with intimates, Ron Paul is like something out of "Dr. Strangelove" I'd be interested in hearing about it. Incidentally, for all I know Ron Paul is a raving loony. But Jamie Kirchick certainly didn't turn up irrefutable evidence of it.

"I'm amused by the paranoia needed to conjure up an image of Martin Peretz, rubbing his hands together like Simon Legree ...etc." Ah, now I think it's you being silly.

Look, The New Republic is avowedly a magazine of political opinion -- it doesn't even try to be an "objective" news source. Everything in its political coverage is -- and is meant to be -- a political move in its own right. (Which is OK, of course. Though it's OK to know this and say this out loud too.) Jamie Kirchick isn't trying to make it as a shoeleather-style reporter, he's trying to make it as an opinionator. He has no disinterested devotion to the truth, he wants to make it as a political-opinionatin' star. Look at his background, and check out his previous writing. *Of course* people at The New Republic sit around scheming and calculating and plotting out political-opinion-journalism moves. They're supposed to. That's what they go to work to do.

I wonder if the word "conspiracy" is where we hang up ... You're a smart and shrewd guy -- you know that every business has a kind of power establishment. Doctors have theirs, NY publishing has its, the health-tips industry has its establishment .... The words "status quo" wouldn't have any reason for being if it weren't for this fact.

These establishments may be more or less open, and more or less official. But they're all at least a little exclusive and a little clubby. They also value their own position, and are happy to take action to protect it. Why wouldn't they? They worked hard to get there.

(The reason I've been focusing on the Gary Taubes book recently, for example, is that it's a great demo of the way 1) there's an establishment, in this case the health-tips establishment, and 2) how badly these establishments can go wrong.)

Anyway, these status quos may not act as flat-out conspiracies, at least not most of the time. But they (whether lobbyists, lawyers, schoolteachers, newspaper editors) certainly do what they can to prosper. Again, nothing wrong with this -- it's to be expected.

Well, there's a political-opinionating class. And the New Republic is one of the main places where this class finds itself. The NY media world, the world of foundations and think tanks, D.C. itself ... They're all studded with people who have been through the Crimson, the Yale Daily News, internships, the Washington Monthly, the New Republic ...

These people often know each other from before they graduate from college. Big deals like former Secretaries of State take these kids on as proteges and advance their careers. It's a pretty cozy (if highly competitive) place once you're on the inside. And -- as is to be expected -- the clubhouse members can be very vicious towards anyone who isn't on the inside. These are simple facts of life. I've seen it from from my janitor's p-o-v in the NY media world, Formerbeltwaywonk has seen it from his p-o-v in D.C.

Anyway, like any other in-group with some power, status quos get highly displeased when an outsider (particularly one with some oomph) threatens to disrupt things. They like the smooth functioning of the usual thing -- status quos flourish when the usual thing rolls right along. And they're perfectly happy to take stern action to correct matters when challenged. They may not be able to stem the tide that is the web, where everyone has an opinion. But they're certainly happy to take action to put the kibosh on many other populist phenomena.

If you don't think this is the case, then I guess you also figure that the car industry would welcome a serious new competitor with open arms ... that the AMA thinks it'd be great if licensing weren't so absurdly biased in their favor ... that school-teacher unions think vouchers are a great idea, etc ... I mean, obviously these groups are going to take action to defend their cozy nests. But that's life, right?

Tat -- You seem to be really obsessed with the Israel Lobby. Or with defending it, or denying its existence. Or something. Beats me, anyway. What's with that?

ST -- I'm pretty much with you in my attitude towards politics. Only difference may be that I never had much interest in it, let alone much rooting interest in it. (I kind of slept through Watergate, for instance, marveling at how obsessed many friends were with it.) I could never understand why anyone would find the scene sexy, or appealing. I had an even harder time understanding why anyone would ever put much in the way of hope or trust or faith in politics, let alone any politician. "An unfortunate necessity" ... "Lesser of two evils" ... "Minimize the damage ..." That's about as far as my own personal hopes ever extended. I mean, like me you've met people in politics -- I wouldn't trust any of them with a nickle, let alone a life. Anyway, nonetheless I sometimes get fascinated by the scene. And I'm totally fascinated by the way people get obsessed by politics -- it's an interesting psychological phenomenon. What on earth do they get out of it? What kind of person puts a lot of faith and hope (religious, erotic, and poetic feelings, as far as I'm concerned) in politics? Why would anyone do so? I also like keeping track of these funny little moments when the beast (the establishment) gets riled and you see its truly vicious nature ... Fun!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 15, 2008 10:45 AM

Speaking as one who supports Ron Paul on many issues, I have to say that I agree with Mr. Winkler - I simply don't see that Paul has in any way been wronged in this matter, or that the political motivations of the New Republic are in any way germane to the situation. Had Hillary or Obama or Huckabee or McCain or any other candidate published a newsletter that contained views as out of the mainstream as Paul's newletters were, the media would have been all over it, and the only remarkable part of this story is how long it took in Paul's case. Regardless of how one feels about Israel or Iraq or AIPAC or anything else, the facts of the matter are that Ron Paul allowed his name to be associated with views that are not just controversial, but actually loony, and he's paying a price for that, and that's wholly to be expected. Blaming Peretz for revealing what Paul did is infantile.

Posted by: tschafer on January 15, 2008 10:55 AM

If the "real" Ron Paul didn't write said offensive material, has distanced himself from it now for almost 20 years, has never said anything similar or acted similarly in his private and public life, then the said quotes have nothing to do with the "real" Ron Paul at all.

Hey, did anyone who hates Ron Paul notice that the head of the Austin branch of the NAACP, Nelson Linder, who has known Ron Paul for 20 years, said that Paul is not a racist and that the media witch-hunt was a "smear" campaign?

Maybe the assholes at the New Republic should have talked to Linder first.

As far as the "Jooos" being responsible for big push to carry on the war in the Middle East in Iraq and now, if Israel's wishes are granted, to Iran, I think its obvious. How many dual-citizens are there in our fine government from Israel? Gee, do you think that might have some bearing on our foreign policy?

Its time to stop giving jews and Israelis a pass on self-centered and destructive behavior due to past anti-semitism. I'm so sick of the Middle East obsession that our government and the media has, and we know that it is because of the split loyalties and dual citizenship of American and Israeli jews. Hey, what's best for America? Are we Americans or not? Which country comes first, America or Israel? Eighty percent of Americans are against the war. Its time to bring the troops home.

Posted by: BIOH on January 15, 2008 11:07 AM

Tschafer -- Hmm. No one around here is "blaming" Peretz for anything. Peretz is a mover and shaker, and he runs a well-connected opinion journal. Moving and shaking is what he does, and that's OK. And no one around here is denying that the newsletters contained what they contained. Ron Paul isn't trying to deny it. What the explanation for it might be seems to me to be a little more up for grabs than the New Republic makes it out to be. But ignoring that for a sec ...

I'm trying -- apparently ineptly -- to use the brouhaha as an opportunity to point out how politics gets played, and what kind of game it is. (My own agenda: suggesting that it's silly to take politics as anything other than a giant con that various establishments put over on us. Except, of course, when it isn't.) It seems maybe not undeniable but certainly HIGHLY likely that the New Republic's Ron Paul article is an example of the status quo lashing out at a genuinely populist phenomenon. The signs are all over it, in the text of the article itself, as well as the timing of it, the source of it, the background of the guy who wrote it ... I mean, I guess it's theoretically possible that the article came about because someone said, "Hey, nifty idea! Let's run it!" But I really, really, really, really doubt it. Happy to be proved wrong, of course.

BTw, my p-o-v here has nothing of "rah-rah Marty Peretz" or "rah rah Ron Paul" in it. I'm not cheering for either side. (Though I'm personally sympathetic to a lot of Ron Paul's policies.) It's just a snapshot of what the game is and how the game works.

If you and Peter think that the New Repub article is just an example of, I dunno, nothing in particular ... that it just kinda happened .... y'know, as a random, everyday bit of reporting ... Ahahahahaha!!!!! Oh, sorry. Ahem. Well, I think it's likely that you're being a bit naive.

You've heard of "spin," no? Where politics goes, and political-opinion journalism goes, it's safe to assume that 99% of the time there's someone behind the scenes who's spinning. There are exceptions but they're few and far between. Does the Jamie Kirchick article strike you as a huge exception to the general rule?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 15, 2008 11:09 AM

The issue is more Paul's inept handling than anything else. If he can't even manage to keep a newsletter published in his name, without other attributions, remotely in line with what he professes to believe, and then totally bungles his handling of the ensuing controversy, then he's in no way competent to be president. He'd have to handle things bigger than this before breakfast every day as president.

Sure TNR is taking shots at him, it's an opinion magazine. Everyone is taking shots at everyone else, it's called an election.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on January 15, 2008 11:26 AM

No, MB, don't switch it to me - it's you who constantly or so subtly is pointing fingers to "Jewish lobby".

I gave you a benefit of a [over-patient]doubt. But after years of raised eyebrows (mine) and ever more pronounced negativity towards Americans of Jewish origin (yours), I closed the case on you.

Posted by: Tatyana on January 15, 2008 11:55 AM

How did Ron Paul "bungle" the handling of the controversy? He said that he didn't say those things, and he handled the situation long ago--you just don't know about it.

The really inept people are the ones who believe this garbage and natter about, repeating endlessly what they read in the media like parrots. Think for yourself. Its obviously a smear campaign.

Posted by: BIOH on January 15, 2008 12:06 PM

Tat -- Your reasoning seems to be, "You're resisting my interpretation of what you're saying, and that can only mean that I'm right about what you're really saying!" You've got a nice future as a therapist if you want one -- that's the kind of self-fulfilling reasoning many of them specialize in. ("Your denial that you want to boff your mom is just further proof that that's what really drives you!") In any case, I'm pretty upfront about what I'm saying and what I intend to say. If you want to raise the topic of Jews here, go right ahead. But I certainly didn't.

But I suppose that's proof that I really meant to? Is that how it works? ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 15, 2008 12:12 PM

I'm a Sailer-phile from way back, but his article on the Paul/Peretz thing was a real disappointment: lots of stuff about how young the (male) favourites of M Peretz always are; lotsa chat about the Glass-fraud; and next to nothing substantial about Kirchik's piece, and what it says about Paul.

Posted by: PatrickH on January 15, 2008 1:29 PM

i saw this jamie kirckland guy on tucker carlson's msnbc the day before the piece came out. he was such a smug douche about the whole thing that i can't help agreeing with michael's view of the establishment striking out at a grassroots phenom. by the way, people should watch carlson's (a ron paul supporter with a lot of sympathies to his politics as well) show, if one is tired of people like chris matthews, jon stewert, o'reilly, wolf blitzer and the rest, he has a refreshing news show. he can be annoying sometimes but overall i think his lack of popularity is undeserved. liberals and conservatives hate him so he's alright in my book.

Posted by: t. j. on January 15, 2008 2:43 PM

t.j.- It's funny that you mention Tucker Carlson, since he wrote a quite favorable article about Ron Paul last month for...wait for it...
The New Republic.
wait for it...

Posted by: James M. on January 15, 2008 8:11 PM

There was far more to the New Hampshire day attacks against Paul than The New Republic. A shocking number of "libertarians" living or working near TNR HQ were also very eager to propagate extreme opinions about the newsletters, having read only (at most) Kirchik's account of them, while the polls were open in New Hampshire, traditionally the most critical of the primaries. It's all laid out in excruciating detail here:

The Orange Line: anatomy of a smear campaign

Sunshine patriots or malicious smear campaigners? Perhaps some of both. When dealing with claims coming from the Orange Line, I do suggest being very skeptical.

Posted by: formerbeltwaywonk on January 15, 2008 10:32 PM

tucker carlson is one of the only new shows for ron paul stuff seeing that he's a supporter. he also voted for him when he was running on the libertarian ticket in the 80s. he can be funny too.

Posted by: t. j. on January 16, 2008 12:19 AM

Dear Michael:

These establishments may be more or less open, and more or less official. But they're all at least a little exclusive and a little clubby. They also value their own position, and are happy to take action to protect it. Why wouldn't they? They worked hard to get there.

What exactly are they or the New Republic protecting themselves from? How would a Ron Paul presidency possibly threaten the Ivy League-incubated political elite and their think tanks and house organs like the New Republic? Explain that to me, please. Would President Ron Paul shut down or somehow inhibit the operations of the New York Times, New Republic, the Washington Times or National Review? Will he somehow close down the Ford Foundation, Brookings Institute, Kennedy School of Government, American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation? These organizations draw their funding and constituencies from political factions that are unsympathetic to a libertarian philosophy, so they would keep on rolling along undiminished during a Paul presidency. Paul poses no threat to them that I can see, so the idea that the New Republic torpedoed Paul to neutralize his threat is laughable.

Though he is running as a Republican, Ron Paul is a classic third party candidate, with no support from an entrenched political party. His support comes from a small group of supporters whose enthusiasm and financial generosity toward Paul make them seem more significant than they are. Why bother to fire a cannon to squash a gnat? The typical New Republic reader would be unlikely to have voted for Paul even before the article and the typical Paul supporters probably never read the New Republic or any other political magazines anyway, so who’s minds and votes did the New Republic think they were going to change anyway?

Your whole conspiracy theory falls apart even worse when considering that the New Republic has a small circulation to begin with. In order for the “political shot” against Paul to have any effect, it should have come from one of the major newspapers or TV networks.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 16, 2008 3:19 AM

Here's the link to Tucker Carlson's article about Ron Paul published in the Dec. 21 issue of - wait for it - the New Republic.

I guess Marty Peretz or Peter Beinart are such incompetent defenders of the beltway cabal, they don't tell their left hand what their right is doing. Oh, I forgot, they only have left hands at the New Republic. That explains it.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 16, 2008 4:06 AM


Franklin Foer is the editor of TNR now, not Peter Beinart. Foer disgraced himself over the Scott Beauchamp fraud-slander of the troops in Iraq, so the question of his ideology causing him to let a hit-job smearfest be slopped all over the innocent for political reasons isn't completely out. As Foer has already demonstrated, his editorial standards sometimes get squeezed out of his head by his oh-so-snugly fitted set of political blinders.

Posted by: PatrickH on January 16, 2008 10:38 AM

Well, if Ron Paul is good for nothing else, he's great at keeping comments-conversations on blogs going ...

PLW -- We're apparently turning in circles now, so I wonder if it isn't time to move onto the next topic. But I confess that I'm surprised by your determination to think of an attack article written by an ambitious opinion-maker wannabe published in that influential self-identified journal of political opinion The New Republic as an unbiased, detached act of objectively pure reporting. You're generally a brainy cynic -- what's happened to that? I mean, the New Republic itself would laugh at you for thinking of them and of what they do as pure, detached angels. They're partisan battlers.

Incidentally, that's OK with me. I'm not putting them down for that. As Todd Fletcher says, that's politics, such is life, etc. And that also doesn't mean that the facts they've turned up aren't facts. I'd certainly quarrel with some of Kirchick's interpretations, but no one disputes the fact-i-tude of the facts his article presents. What isn't OK with me is people fooling themselves about the nature of these people (partisans) and these battles (vicious).

I'm also surprised by your conviction that status quos need reasonable reasons to take actions against outsiders. Er, there goes the entire genre of teen comedies, with their running theme of nasty in-groups vs. loners.

Incidentally, if you need reasonable-reasons (and, given human nature, why?), how about these: anyone who can command 10% of a party's votes has some real power to disrupt the smooth functioning of the usual thing (think Nader, and the anger many Dems still have towards him); and Ron Paul is the one really-truly antiwar candidate, while TNR has been exuberantly pro-war. I'm just speculating here, but I've certainly seen status quos take aggressive action with less good reasonable-reasons than those two. And then there's the whole question of unreasonable reasons ...

I shouldn't make conjectures about what's behind your case, and apologies if I'm far off here, but I'm fascinated by your attachment to the notion that the Kirchick article wasn't a partisan attack job ... Anyway, I wonder if our difference doesn't boil down to this: You want to think of Ron Paul as having been nailed good by an unimpeachable source. I see the same story a little differently. It seems to me that Ron Paul has been nailed pretty good by a source that is itself a pretty hilariously biased one. Does that seem like a fair assesment of our difference here?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 16, 2008 10:59 AM

MB- You didn't comment on the Tucker Carlson piece in TNR. Did you read it?
I guess you could spin it into your conspiracy theory by noting the common practice of writing a positive piece about a candidate shortly before an attack piece, as this provides the illusion of balanced reporting. Or something.

Posted by: James M. on January 16, 2008 11:22 AM

I see Reason has an interesting update to the newsletter story. Looks like Ronny was pulling in a hefty little paycheck from those newsletters that he paid no attention to.

Posted by: Steve on January 16, 2008 1:28 PM

PW: How would a Ron Paul presidency possibly threaten the Ivy League-incubated political elite and their think tanks and house organs like the New Republic?

The answer is straightfoward analysis of economic incentives, with some common cultural patterns thrown in.

Familiarize yourself with the main economic plank of Paul's platform: eliminating the income tax with no replacement. If it succeeded, most of the friends, fellow partiers, sources, and sex partners of the Orange Line journalists and think tankers would be out of work. Even partial success (for example influencing other candidates into advocating deeper tax cut to win Paul supporters, or motivating more Congressional candidates to run on an anti-tax and anti-war platform and thus creating a libertarian base in Congress) would harm their economic interests. Furthermore, there would be far fewer spoils for the lobbyists to lobby over, and fewer important articles for the journalists to write, so they'd suffer personally as well as socially.

There are also "economic preferences" in politics not reflected in money -- desires for power, desires to "change the world", etc. (These two motivations are easily interchangeable near the Orange Line). D.C. attracts people from all over the country with strong preferences along these lines. These, too, would be hurt by a growing success of anti-tax libertarianism. To the extent Ron Paul succeeded, they would be less able to shut down the madrassas and save Muslim women from the dastardly Muslim male. They'd have less control over oil. They couldn't provide all Americans with health insurance. And (keeping in mind this is only one of many motivations) they couldn't provide as much protection for Israel. Generally speaking, practically everybody who came to D.C. did so to get the federal government to solve various problems they are passionate about. They feel very strongly about these: much more strongly on average than people who do not live near the Orange Line. Success by Ron Paul or his acolytes would start stripping away from them the power they believe they need to solve these problems.

Remember, Paul ranks right up there with McCain, Huckabee and Romney for the 18-29 year old vote. Paul has come very close to winning a plurality of that vote in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Michigan, ranking far ahead of Thompson and Giuliani for the young vote in all three. Paul ranks ahead of _all_ the other Republican candidates in Internet searches and search results. Contrary to myth this represents not "spam" but just the high concentration of Paul supporters on the Internet, comparable to the high concentration of Democrats in the MSM. Both the Internet and MSM are unrepresentative slices of American political opinion.

But the Internet is growing at the expense of the MSM and Paul represents a large chunk of the future of Republican politics. The MSM finds the Internet threatening. Orange Line bureaucrats think of radical libertarians as maniacs out to destroy their jobs. Ron Paul brings these two fears together.

Moving beyond economic incentives and to human cultural patterns, the Orange Line crowd are a tribe, a monoculture defending itself from an alien tribe that is hostile to them, namely libertarians who don't like how the federal tribe makes its living (via skimming off their paychecks). It's tribal warfare.

All in all, it would be extremely surprising if the Orange Line did _not_ try to attack Paul. The only surprising thing for me has been to observe how much Orange Line "libertarians" are culturally aligned with the Orange Line rather than with anti-government libertarians.

This analysis has been a straightforward matter of economic incentives with some common human cultural patterns thrown into the mix. This economic analysis gets obscured because, on the one hand, those not privy to the workings of D.C. can only describe it metaphorically in terms of conspiracy theories. The Orange Liners laugh them off the stage. But the economic analyses in their rough form sound a bit like the conspiracy theories, so they too are shouted down by the bullhorns of the Oranger Liners and those who parrot their authoritative opinions. They are laughed off as "conspiracy theory" before the analysis can even start to begin. Most of the MSM when it comes to political issues, and even much of the "alternative media" like Reason Magazine and the Orange Line bloggers, are part of the Orange Line culture. Using these Orange Line bullhorns to make fun of or smear independent thought and independent sources of political power is one of the main levers of federal power.

Posted by: formerbeltwaywonk on January 16, 2008 3:33 PM

Ron Paul, his newsletters, and the New Republic -- it's the story that keeps on giving ....

James M. -- I confess that I'm not sure what debate it is you're having, or which side of it you're arguing. Let me spritz away for a minute anyway ...

Formerbeltwaywonk has done a priceless job of spelling out the mindset and incentives of the Beltway world. I mean, really: Bravo. Those comments of his are like wonderful passages from the shrewdest Beltway novel ever. It's a great thing to run across writing and brains like that. And for free!

My comments here are explications of how the opinion-journalism set (as it shades into policy wonkery, schools, think tanks, and foundations) works. My comments may not be up to Formerbeltwaywonk's by a long shot. But I am sharing a bit of what I've learned and witnessed during (gulp) around 30 years in the media. I ain't making it up, that's for sure.

Perhaps we're both crazy or stupid -- mustn't discount that possibility! Still, based on our experience, both of us think that the Ron Paul campaign likely represents a threat to the mainstream, and that the NR article (and other actions that happened around the same day) likely represents the mainstream smacking down a phenomenon that threatens them. Why? For the many reasons Formerbeltwaywonk spells out, and because that's what in-groups do.

BTW, I don't think either of us is cheering for a partisan team here, though I do think that we're both a little exasperated that civilians are often as naive as they are about how media-and-politics games are played ...

Of course, in this specific instance I suppose we might both be wrong. If you have first-person info that you can share that would prove us wrong, please do so.

But it does seem to me that the presumption *has* to be that the NR piece was a deliberate hit job. It's *highly* likely that Jamie Kirchick is prancing around today, beating his chest like King Kong, shouting out, "I *nailed* that fucka!" and thinking about how charmed he must look in the eyes of the people who run the world that he's ambitious to succeed in ... He zinged the enemy good, in other words, and he's hoping for his just rewards.

Which is OK -- that's the way the world works, politics is a rough game, etc. But why would anyone pretend that that *isn't* the way the world works?

But maybe I'm missing your point?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 16, 2008 5:28 PM

"I confess that I'm not sure what debate it is you're having, or which side of it you're arguing."

You are maintaining that TNR, by publishing Kirchik's piece, is out to get Ron Paul. If that's the case, then why did TNR publish Tucker Carlson's piece on Ron Paul recently, which portrayed the candidate and his positions in a highly favorable light? Short of Reason magazine, it's probably the most favorable article on Ron Paul in the Beltway media (in addition to be entertaining in a Hunter S. Thompson kind of way). So it's hard for me to square your assertions in light of the Carlson piece, and I would greatly appreciate your reading it in light of the source (PLW has provided the link above).

I hold no brief for Kirchik, but this seems to be one of your efforts to say "I'm part of the elite media by day cause I've got my benefit package to consider, but as a muckraking blowhard it's my duty to tell to you that the rascals are up to no good!" I enjoy your efforts, but methinks you're blowing overly hard on this one.

Posted by: James M. on January 16, 2008 7:57 PM


Are you kidding? Ron Paul's economic policies - laissez faire and no taxes, no regulatory mechanisms and likely no anti-trust enforcement - are a dream come true for corporations and the rich. For them, a Paul presidency would be like Christmas every day.

I have no more to say on this that I haven't already, except to say that I've learned some surprising things about my fellow bloggers. You people are too much!

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 17, 2008 3:09 AM

Yeah, low taxes only benefit the rich! Yes, we need much more regulation, like socialized heathe care, inspections of homes, carbon taxes, etc. Of course, with the other candidates we have the promise of more war and blowback and bankruptcy that comes with it. Not to fear that, though!

Ron Paul = Wild, wild west. Total anarchy! More smear jobs. Blah blah blah. Be very afraid of Ron Paul, be very afraid!

Posted by: BIOH on January 17, 2008 11:06 AM

PLW, James M. -- Fun to try to puzzle this stuff out, isn't it? Fun comparing notes too.

Incidentally, I hope no one takes me as a *member* of any media elite. That'd be like taking the Rockefeller family's chauffeur or gardener as a member of the Rockefeller family. He may have seen more of the Rockefeller family than most people have had occasion to. But he certainly isn't a member of it.

Anyway, the weakness (as I see it) of your case is that you offer no alternative hypothesis. If the NR story wasn't a deliberate hit job, then what was it? Let's venture an alternative hypothesis and see how it works out.

Let's suppose that the NR article was just a random, everyday, unremarkable, un-politically-loaded work of objective journalism.

How does that hypothesis stand up? What does it have going for it?

* It isn't a conspiracy.
* The NR also published a Tucker Carlson article about Ron Paul.

I honestly don't see much else going for this hypothesis, do you? Meanwhile, here are some factors that work against this hypothesis:

* The NR isn't and has never been a source of balanced and objective journalism. It's a journal of opinion, and it wants to be a player in the policy arena. But don't take it from me, check out Wikipedia's entry on the NR.
* In other words, it's sensible to take everything the NR publishes as a political act as well as a journalistic one. And it's wise to assume that the motivation behind every piece it publishes (editorially as well as from the individual writer) is a political one.
* Jamie Kirchick isn't a truth-driven reporter, he's an ambitious opinion-maker/policymaker wannabe with close connections to a pro-war D.C. insider.
* The timing of publication. Funny how the article -- based on facts that have been public for years -- just happened to come out on the eve of the primaries, as well as on the same day (I think) that Fox News also went after Ron Paul.

So, as I see it, the case for the random-piece-of-journalism hypothesis is very, very weak. It consists of the Tucker Carlson article. Meanwhile the case *against* the random-piece-of-journalism hypothesis is very, very strong. The random-piece-of-journalism theory doesn't take into account the nature of the New Republic as a publication, the identity of Jamie Kirchick as a media creature, or the timing of the article.

Happy to abandon my hit-job theory if anyone comes up with a more plausible one, of course. But I haven't run into one yet.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 17, 2008 11:42 AM

TNR has a long history of publishing hit jobs on politicians they don't like. Its treatment of Ron Paul is nothing compared to what its done to the Clintons over the years. But hey, the National Review and Weekly Standard are even worse. The measure of effectiveness for any hit piece is does it contain damning truths? And in the case of the Ron Paul article, it pretty clearly does. (In this respect, it's similar to the hit job TNR did against George Allen a few years ago, on his race-baiting, Confederate-loving past.) The follow-up articles in Reason magazine only confirm it.

Face it guys, Ron Paul's over. As Kevin Drum says, we're not idiots. It's obvious that he knew what was being published in his newsletters in his name. Racist demagoguery was part and parcel of his political strategy back then. Time for a new Libertarian standard-bearer.

Posted by: Steve on January 17, 2008 12:42 PM

Here's the damning truth about Ron Paul--

His congressional district's boundaries were redrawn in order to include more blacks in the district, from a more rural area to a largely urban one, which is now about 50% black. These smears were tried on the blacks in that district for many years now, and Ron Paul has won bigger and bigger majorities in his congressional district each time he has run for re-election!

Smear job! Hit piece! Old news! Not working to stir up the old divide-and-conquer paradigm!

Hahahaha! Nobody's buying it guys! If the blacks in Paul's congressional district, and the head of the NAACP in Austin aren't buying it, nobody else will either. Get a new smear. Good luck finding one with this guy.

Posted by: BIOH on January 17, 2008 2:18 PM

PW, Marxism is not reality. I'm sorry to have to break it to you.

Posted by: formerbeltwaywonk on January 17, 2008 10:06 PM

MB- I think mags publish articles about Ron Paul and his campaign because it's fun to read about. He's a fringe candidate, an idealist amidst a rabble of say-nothings and know-nothings. And his supporters! To paraphrase an earlier post of yours, I don't know what was funnier, Tucker Carlson's report in TNR, or the Pauliac comments on it claiming he was trying to smear their white knight.

But for all the internet excitement about Paul he's still just fringe, maxing out at 6% in the actual results, maybe more in Nevada if the hookers get the afternoon off. He's not big enough to be a target, though supporters, even passive ones like you, might consider him so.

Posted by: James M. on January 18, 2008 8:21 AM

Yeah, all that needs to be taken into account, that's for sure.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 18, 2008 11:01 AM

Seems a lot of those newsletter quotes were taken way, way out of context. Justin Raimondo has the details:

Posted by: Thursday on January 18, 2008 1:24 PM

If Ron Paul is just an internet fringe, then why does he have 100,000+ members in his Meetup groups all over America (and growing)? that's more than all the other candidates in both parties combined. His support among republicans is WAY more than 6%. Just look at all the straw polls he's won.

Primaries and caucus votes are more difficult to guage, given the rigged voting machines that are in place all over America (people have been sent to prison in Ohio over this types of vote fraud).

There's currently a recount in New Hampshire contesting these machines, as the differences between the hand counted ballots and the machine counted ballots were huge, and the machine voting tallies were very different than the polls prior to the vote.

What I really get a kick out of are fringe commenters that are scared of Paul and his Constitutionalist message. What is so scary about small government, individual rights, and peace? You'd think the Founding Fathers were certifiably insane.

Very very scary and fringe. Radical. A return to the rule of law and peace. A government that taxes and spends far less, has much less power, and leaves people alone. Frightening!

A revolution and a return to Constitutional government is growing, not ebbing. I'll bet if Ron Paul doesn't get the nomination, he'll run as a third party candidate. And his support will swell tremendously by this summer with the continued faltering of the economy, the attack on civil liberties, and the escalation of the war to Iran. You watch--shaking and frightened in the corner, of course!

Posted by: BIOH on January 18, 2008 2:58 PM

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