Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Genuinely Idiotic Defense of Ron Paul

Ahead of tonight's Iowa caucuses, Jonathan Krause does a characteristically lazy job of explaining his support for Ron Paul:
I had someone ask me recently what is the appeal of Ron Paul as a Presidential candidate.  Paul heads into the Iowa Caucuses tonight neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney for the lead in the polls--despite getting ZERO attention from the cable news networks.  I gave that person my new answer to explain Ron Paul: He is Barack Obama for people who actually know something about politics.  By that, I mean that when Ron Paul speaks everybody is able to hear what they want to hear.
Saying that the appeal to both Obama and Ron Paul are based on their Rorschach-test-personalities is asinine. In terms of policies, both candidates ran campaigns that jived with their legislative records and were very specific about what kinds of goals they hoped to achieve while in the White House. The appeal of each candidate lies mostly in the presentation of their personalities. In 2008 Obama painted a portrait of the future that promised to unify the country and move passed the contentious years of the Bush Administration, and he did it with soaring rhetoric. Since the mid 1970s Ron Paul has waded into the fever swamps of some of the worst elements of American politics in order to grow a movement based on apocalyptic fear and resentment.

But just what the hell does "when Ron Paul speaks everybody is able to hear what they want to hear." mean? Here Krause's weak explanation:
For those of us Deficit Hawks we hear him talk about reducing government spending and balancing the books (the only candidate to do so in the 2008 campaign).
Paul is noted for being a "deficit hawl" only by accident. What he does want to is cut government spending, not on fiscal grounds, but on ideological grounds. One former congressional budget expert gave his budget plan a solid F for missing the entire point of budget "balancing" altogether:
Paul says he wants to eliminate the income, estate and capital gains taxes. That would be fine if he also at least mentioned in passing that he'll also need to eliminate almost everything the federal government does to prevent the deficit and debt from rising. He doesn't.
The unfortunate thing about this analysis is that it underestimates Paul's inclination eliminating the Federal government, of which he has claimed up to 80% is "technically unconstitutional."
Those opposed to expansion of government hear him talk about limiting Federal powers to those only contained within the Constitution.  
See above. Paul's "interpretation" of the Constitution is something of a joke in the legal community, where it is widely considered to be so narrow and arbitrary so as to be only useful to militia members and "sovereign citizens" acting as pro se council.

Krause is also tacticly adopting the classic "state's rights" argument here, which historically speaking, has been fraught with contradictions at best, and malicious intent at worse
The anti-war crowd hears him talk about bring the troops home immediately.  
Nope. Paul's appeal is strictly to isolationism, which another contradiction of Paul's brand of Libertarianism that exposes a nasty and ugly xenophobia while simultaneously betraying an apparent hatred for "free markets" on a global scale. Paul is titanically out of his element on foreign policy.
The Occupy crowd hears him talking about doing away with the Federal Reserve and breaking down the big banks.  
This statement betrays the fact that Krause knows nothing about banking. Paul is dead set against breaking up big banks. He's against bail-outs, which would lead to mergers that would actually increase the size of some banks given another situation like the meltdown of September 2008. Paul's opposition to the Fed would actually make banks more powerful.
The potheads hear him talk about ending the war on drugs.  Gay rights activists hear him say he doesn't care who gets married to whom. The Tea Party hears him talk about doing away with the IRS.  
Again, see the above discussion re: budget-cutting. 
Even the anti-Semites hear him talking about ending unquestioned support for Israel.  
I don't even know where to begin discussing this line. We can argue about the policies and merits of all of the groups mentioned above, but anti-Semites have no value whatsoever. Krause wants to treat them like just another constituency. This is deplorable.

But Krause's arrant slip is telling: Paul's brand Libertarianism is really nothing more than an aggressive version of post-modernism tied up in "conservative" packaging. Paul goes beyond just telling crowds that they can live better with less government, he tells them that whatever they think about very important concepts like morality, justice, ethics, etc. -- they're right. Everyone's right in Paul's Libertarianism because everyone is an individual. This has horrible consequences that allows some of the worse elements of society to justify racism and other truly contemptible notions. 
Like the Apostles who spoke in tongues in the Bible--everyone hears Ron Paul talking their language.
And that language is relativism. That's the big picture point Krause is missing here. Ron Paul is the great 21st century evangelist of conservative relativism.

Krause continues:
But by being everyone's candidate, Ron Paul is no one's candidate.  
Well, if that's not the stupidest and most meaningless thing I've read in a long time, than I don't know what is.

Now, the next part is such a blatant tautology that it defies my already exceedingly low expectations: 
Even if he was elected by some major miracle, he would have ZERO political base in Washington.  As other pundits have pointed out, there is no "Ron Paul Caucus" in Congress.  Outside of the deficit reduction idea, he would have no chance of passing any of the other legislative ideas he proposes--and Washington would be plunged into even deeper gridlock.

Got that? A victory for Ron Paul would mean chaos in Washington. It would mean that all the things Paul stands for would never have any hope of actually being realized. It would mean absolutely zero progress for all of his causes. It's a Catch-22 that all Libertarians must reconcile before placing their votes with Paul. Krause has spilled the beans here: a vote for Paul does nothing.

But that's not going to stop Krause from voting for him: 
I voted for Ron Paul in 2008 as a form of protest against two other candidates who were only talking about new ways to spend even more money we don't have.  If he somehow was the GOP candidate in November, I'll be writing in Paul Ryan on my ballot--as a form of protest against two candidates who have no ability to lead a country.
See, Krause will be voting for the guy he has just has no possible chance to effectively lead the country to protest the blah blah blah. Now recall Krause's introduction to his post: "Ron Paul: He is Barack Obama for people who actually know something about politics."

Does this kind of reasoning sound like Krause knows the first damn thing about politics?

Or anything, for that matter?

Ron Paul appeals to folks like Jonathan Krause because Paul's message is simple: you know better than anyone else how to live your life. That's fine up until a point where the individual must function with others. This is the point where many Ron Paul supporters struggle in life and the frustration from that struggle results in a lot of resentment. Ron Paul provides these people with justification for that resentment and an alternative to the status quo. That's the central message people hear when they listen to Paul, not his stand on the War on Drugs or the Fed.

This is a major part of the reason Paul appeals to conspiracy theorists: Paul's message validates what they believe. It's also one of Paul's major selling points to Krause, who isn't a conspiracy theorist (so far as I know), but does not let his ignorance of any subject get in the way of proclaiming his expertise. Not so long ago, conservatives railed against this kind of relativism. Now they celebrate it.

MORE: Boy, did I fuck up the landing on this one. See the comments below for more.

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