My Xmas tree; perhaps the only tree ever built to incorporate Nietzsche, Voltaire, Lucretius, and John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The topper, sent to me from Korea by my friend Bora, is based on a work by Frédéric Bartholdi; it depicts the Dragon of Justice wielding the Sword of Virtue, embracing La Liberté éclairant le monde.
If Ron Paul should be slammed for anything, it’s not some silly remarks he’s made in the past in his Newsletters. It’s over his simply outrageously horrendous views on foreign policy, Israel, and national security for the United States. His near No vote on Afghanistan. That is the big scandal. And that is what should be given 100 times more attention from the liberal media, than this Newsletter deal.
I'm reposting here a blog post I wrote back in 2003 (on my old, no-longer-publicly-accessible blog) on the question of whether the Defense of Marriage Act violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause. I think it's pretty clear that, whatever other flaws DOMA has, it doesn't violate this particular constitutional provision:
According to our friends at Lew Rockwell.com, of course. “For the relatively small price of only 3,000 souls, the US has aggressively dealt with issues effecting [sic] all totalitarian empires: controlling not only the world, but clamping down on its own people.... The men who flew those airplanes into those buildings gave America a reason to unveil its true identity; that of a war mongering, totalitarian police state.”
The anti-vaccine nut-jobs have bought a huge ad to run in Times Square over New Year's. The ad, which appears at first to be a harmless invitation to obtain more information, directs people to a website full of falsehoods about the alleged risks of vaccinating children. These people--whose efforts are contributing to a resurgence of once-defeated diseases and pose a significant threat to the health of children around the world--have already managed to get their ads into movie theaters and on airplanes. Even dangerous nuts like these people have a right to free speech, but it is time for the pro-science community to make sure the public knows the true facts.
Of course, there are still many people who are ignoring the newsletters. But I think Kirchick doesn’t quite get why, and I’ll use myself as an example. I’m proud to consider myself among the most outspoken of Paul’s libertarian critics, and yet I haven’t written or talked much about the newsletter thing because, as I see it, they are relatively minor in the scale of Paul’s failings. First, Paul can plausibly claim that the objectionable newsletters were written by someone else, so that his fault in the matter is “only” negligent. And that does win some people over—I saw one comment on Facebook, for instance: “I do, however, think it crystal-clear that Dr. Paul didn't write these. Therefore, I continue to support him.” This attitude is wrong, if for no other reason than that a President’s duties include overseeing others. But still, it is one reason the newsletter story doesn't really stick for many of his supporters.
But the deeper reason why the newsletter story doesn’t have that much purchase with them, or even with people like me, is that the newsletter story isn’t really about ideas. It’s more about stupid epithets and offensive verbiage that really lack any intellectual content. Paul’s newsletters are nasty, childish name-calling, which Paul shouldn’t have indulged in, and which indicate at best a startling lack of awareness, and at worst an indulgence in disgusting race-baiting tribalism. But in the end, that is unrelated to what attracts or repels people when it comes to Ron Paul’s message. What Paul offers voters, and what isn’t offered by any other candidate left or right, is ideas: policy, philosophy, economics, morality. Paul is satisfying a hunger for genuine ideas, among a populace starved on a diet of empty media-driven brain candy, Progressive mystique and hand-waving, and worn, emotionalistic campaign sloganeering. The newsletter story sounds to such people like still more emotionalism, and that’s why they don’t care as perhaps they ought to. Kirchick spins this, of course, in a Progressive direction: people aren’t interested in the newsletter story, he says, because “[l]ibertarianism is an ideology rather than a philosophy of government.” This is a meaningless phrase, but strip it down and what Kirchick means is that libertarianism is based on principles instead of pragmatic, momentary, anti-intellectual puffery, so that one can only meet Paul’s message in an interesting way by countering it with other ideas—something the newsletter story fails to do.