August 29, 2012

This is why conventions are relentlessly scripted. In this clip, several things appear to be happening all at the same time. All of them make the Republicans look like jerks.

—At the exact moment Zoraida Fonalledas, a member of the Republican Party’s actual organization, was walking to the dais to speak, a group of Ron Paul supporters started shouting “let them sit!,” demanding that the delegation from Maine, which included lots of Paul delegates, be recognized and allowed to vote. (Maine was not seated due to typical party shenanigans.)

—In response, Romney delegates began shouting “USA” over the Paul delegates, drowning them out. As a woman with a Puerto Rican accent began to try to talk.

—leaving cameras and microphones hearing and seeing chants of “USA! USA!” as Puerto Rican woman tried to speak.

Even if one accepts — as I do — that the USA chants were not directed at the speaker, but were intended to quell the Paul rebellion, this is a tough scene for the Republicans. Their reputation among Latino/a voters is not good, and given the long term demographics of the US population, no party can survive unless it can figure out how to appeal to such a large and fast-growing constituency. Democrats have been far more successful at appealing to most groups of voters who immigrated or whose families recently immigrated from Latin and South America. Republicans haven’t.

From the Party’s point of view, this is a nightmare. Rogue, angry delegates set in motion an event that has the potential not just to cost the party an election, but to cost the party whatever chance it had to appeal to a group in the long term. So they script the conventions to the point of a Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, and hope for no protests.

Welcome to American conventions, pretty much ever since 1984 …

January 6, 2012

A supposed Ron Paul video attacking Jon Huntsman. If it’s from the Paul camp, he’s beyond the pale disgusting. If it’s a fake, we all need to be very careful in overclaiming.

Let the abuse begin.

December 26, 2011
Coding Race

Let me offer some thoughts about an important issue in American political life that is informed by the Ron Paul flap, but that many Paulites might not be thinking about as they defend him: the concept of code. (Note that this discussion is about Ron Paul, not libertarianism as such.)

Code means using words that sound neutral but in fact have explicit racial or other discriminatory content. In the South, where I grew up just as segregation came to an end, and where Ron Paul grew up in the profoundly racist era of Jim Crow, code is the way polite people express racist attitudes and support policies that have racist effects. It is also a tool that can be used to encourage people who do not perceive of themselves as racists to support plans and programs that are nonetheless racist in their implementation—and were usually intended to be implemented to racist effect.

An easy example of “code” in the South is “crime.” Crime, of course, exists independent of race, but it is nonetheless deeply intertwined with racial content in America—especially in the South. One example of such intertwining can be seen in the notion of African American men as over-sexualized beings who need to be repressed in order to prevent them from raping white women. This theme has been common since the slavery era. (That this trope also induces women to stay at home and not risk their safety by going out and getting jobs or exploring the world is, from a certain point of view, a bonus: each idea reinforces a white, male-dominated worldview.) Other examples—rampaging hordes of looters; gang lords; etc.—of coded race/crime exist across society.

Images of racialized crime have had profound effects in the criminal justice system in the US. African American males are vastly more likely to receive the death penalty than are white males, for example; and on average sentences for drugs more typically used by African Americans (crack is one example) were significantly higher than for those used by whites (say, cocaine) until quite recently. African Americans—especially males—have been the primary target of the “war on drugs,” and we imprison a staggering percentage of that population.

But, importantly, lots of people who insist on the need to crack down on crime aren’t racists: the shibboleth “crime” obscures the racist outcomes the system perpetuates … and that at least some of the policy makers who created the “war on crime” intended.

Another common code phrase is “states’ rights.” The notion of states’ rights is, of course, deeply embedded in American life and culture, and rests on the fact that the US constitutional order is federal: states exist and have rights. It is perfectly possible to believe in “states’ rights” without having a racist bone in one’s body.

However, the notion of “states’ rights” has been most commonly evoked in very specific contexts: to defend slavery in the years prior to the Civil War, and to defend segregation against federal efforts to end it in the hundred years after the Civil War. In other words, states’ rights are most commonly asserted when states are insisting that they have the right to discriminate against large percentages of their populations, and that the federal government has no business trying to stop states from practicing or allowing discrimination within their borders.

I should be clear and state directly that the people who started using the term “states’ rights” to oppose desegregation in the 1960s (like George Wallace and Richard Nixon, among others) were absolutely clear in their own minds that the term was a political tool. They fully understood that the term “states’ rights” was linguistically neutral on the matter of race, and so allowed them to appeal for political support among people who might not have perceived themselves as racists, but didn’t like what the federal government was doing to end segregation: busing children to racially-mixed schools; ending racially-exclusive businesses, etc. They meant to appeal to racially-sensitive supporters (albeit in different degrees of racial tones) through apparently neutral concepts like states’ rights.

Note, again, that you might not mean to defend segregation when you evoke the notion of “states’ rights,” but the association is there regardless of your intent. Your audience is free—even in some cases (like in the South) likely—to make the association for itself.

Now add crime and states’ rights together. Imagine a politician in the American South giving endless numbers of speeches about the need to control crime and the importance of protecting states’ rights. Not a word needs to be spoken about race … but the racial component of the speeches is clear for any audience to see. “Vote for me,” the candidate is clearly claiming, “and I’ll lock up those dangerous black men and make sure your children never have to go to a desegregated school.” That may not be all the candidate means, but he or she means this, too—as anyone who understands the code knows.

This leads me to the question: if Ron Paul wrote, endorsed or didn’t bother to read the racist diatribes when they went out in his name—diatribes flooded with concerns about crime and states’ rights—is the fact that he now uses code words that are deeply embedded in racial meaning a representation of a core racism that he has just learned to hide better? Or is Ron Paul the only person in the South who can’t read code?

I don’t know if Ron Paul is a racist or simply a political opportunist. In either case, his is a particularly disgusting form of politics: one that draws support from the worst elements of American life and history while claiming to have no knowledge of them … even though he grew up in and still inhabits a society in which everyone—and I mean everyone—“gets it.”

December 23, 2011
The Paul Defense and the Presidency

So Ron Paul is now claiming that he did not read or know about the racist diatribes that went out under his name for many years in various newsletters he ran.

And people think he ought to be President? Someone who couldn’t manage to read a few newsletters a week or a month that actually had his NAME on them? Who for years profited as a result of those newsletters? THIS is the kind of person some people think ought to be President of the United States?

Don’t make me laugh. Taking responsibility for what people do in your name is a key part of what presidents do. At least Reagan took responsibility for Iran-Contra. At least he made the non-apology apology and said that while he didn’t know about the Iran-Contra affair, it happened under his administration and he was responsible for it.

Ron Paul? Not so much.


September 23, 2011
"We ought to obey the Bible on the monetary issue!"

Ron Paul, speaking at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom forum. Captures the Paul essence really well: a paleoconservative cultural stance married with economic crankery. Via Dave Weigel. (via ilyagerner)

—I take it, then, that Paul is opposed to money lending as such. Should make for an interesting version of capitalism. (PP)

10:44am  |   URL:
Filed under: Politics Quotes Ron Paul 
September 22, 2011
Five things to know for the Google Debate


Welcome to the Fox News-Google Debate, the third in fifteen days for the GOP presidential hopefuls and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s first trip to the debate stage with the national spotlight firmly on the primary. 

Decoder has prepped debate primers before - see our tea party debate primer, and Iowa debate bit - but this time we’ve lassoed some of Tumblr’s most interesting political commentators for their perceptions, expectations and questions about tonight’s debate. (For the questions they would ask, see our prior post with commentary from Bart Hinckle, MostlyPolitical and HipsterLibertarian.)

Below, you’ll hear from:

1. Will anybody knock the Perry-Romney showdown narrative off track?

For a view of the debate from 10,000 feet, who else would you turn to but a Political Prof?

Will anything happen that destabilizes the media narrative that it’s a Perry vs. Romney race? Nothing - not Ron Paul’s standing in the polls, not the exclusion of candidates like Gary Johnson, has managed to break through the media frame that it is a two-person race for the nomination. Two candidates have been anointed months before a single Republican votes. This isn’t reporting. It’s taking charge. Will this tale get knocked off track?

2. Will social media doohickeys and other debate gizmos obscure the discussion?

Take it away, Ernie of Shortformblog:

To put it simply, tonight’s debate should prove interesting from the perspective of attention spans — who gets the time to talk? That doesn’t just break down to the politicians on the podium (though clearly Rick Perry and Mitt Romney will get most of it), but to the crowd and to all the social media doodads that made the first CNN debate a teeth-gritting experience.

Google is actually sponsoring this event, assuring we’re going to see some of this social media seep in. But it can’t be social media for the sake of it. These voters have real questions to ask these candidates, from Perry on down, and we worry that questions from YouTube users and instant polls of social media users take away from the debates.

You know who we’d like to see sponsor one of these events? Politifact. Instant fact checking? That would be awesome. Instead, we’re in serious danger of getting distracted from the real issue at hand, which is that in 14 months, we’re going to have to vote for one of these people, and we need to know more about them than if they prefer iPhones over BlackBerrys. We hope Fox News finds a balance

3. Ron Paul has a fellow libertarian candidate on stage for the first time - Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. Johnson is more eloquent than Paul, in Evilteabagger’s estimation, but “needs to make sure he can portray himself as more than the ‘Pot Candidate.’” Moreover,

Read More

(Source: dcdecoder)

September 22, 2011
DC Decoder: Who's on first? I-don't-know's on third? (Wait, didn't we miss something?)


New polling data shows Mitt Romney cruising in New Hampshire, with nearly quadruple the support of Jon Huntsman, the candidate in third place. Wait, why’d you skip to the third place guy? Who’s in second?

Ron Paul, of course.

Even though Huntsman and Paul both gained the same amount…

(Source: dcdecoder)

September 12, 2011
"The airlines are responsible for carrying their cargo and their passengers. Why should we assume that a bureaucracy can do better?"

Ron Paul, during the Republican presidential debate at the Reagan library.

I know I blogged this the other day, but I just ran across something that I forgot to mention:

  • On 9/11, airport security in the United States was performed by private companies hired by the airlines. 

If only Brian Williams had thought to follow up on that.

September 9, 2011
"The airlines are responsible for carrying their cargo and their passengers. Why should we assume that a bureaucracy can do better?"

Ron Paul, R-TX, during the Republican debate at the Reagan Library.

I say go for it. And let’s not stop there:

—auto manufacturers never resisted seatbelts, airbags or antilock brakes (or fireproof gas tanks, or break away steering wheels, or … ), so I am sure they will spontaneously adopt new safety technologies going forward.

—the food and drug companies never put rat carcasses in sausages, or cocaine in “health pills” when they were unregulated, so I am sure they can be trusted to never do anything like that again.

—the financial markets have always been made up of sophisticated, self-interested investors who would never buy an interlocking set of mutually reinforcing investment packages that they actually didn’t understand, crashing the global economy as a consequence, so I am sure they’ll not do it in the future.

—manufacturers never used to make cribs that collapsed on babies’ heads, strangling them, or clothes that were fire hazards filled with toxic chemicals, so I am sure they’ll never do it in the future. The same can be said for food products, lead painted toys, etc.

I mean really—the market is perfectly self-regulating and all government ever does is wreck things.

Then again, if pigs had wings they might be able to fly.